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IT'S NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE by St. Stephen's Community House


Multiracial Youth Speak Out

by St. Stephen's Community House

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55451-380-2
Publisher: Annick Press

Rawly provocative, this anthology reflects its authors’ complex racial backgrounds and experiences. Like a photo mosaic, each piece stands alone while contributing to a bigger picture.

Originating with a Toronto community-center youth group, the project includes interviews of older, multiracial individuals offering historical perspective. Edgy layout, artwork and photos enhance stories and poems, amplifying the powerful emotions behind them. The assumption that racial heritage should be visible to all provokes pain and exasperation, as in Janine Berridge’s sassy poem about a hair stylist’s discomfort when confronted with hair she can’t “place.” Elizabeth Jennifer Hollo, Hungarian/Guyanese, eloquently describes how her father’s death severed her only connection to her European identity. Andrew Ernest Brankley presents a lively dialogue between his black and white selves. Native/Métis Montana Baerg wanted to dye her long dark hair but was afraid, she told her boss, that no one would know she was Native. The reply resonates: “What you look like doesn’t determine who you are. If you have purple or red hair, it doesn’t make you any less Native.” Navigating a racially essentialist world is especially challenging for multiracial teens, complicating developmental tasks like constructing identity beyond home and family. Whether visibly or invisibly multiracial (each has challenges), too often they’re labeled, stereotyped and sorted into categories determined by others.

This book’s empowering message is that how we identify and express our racial heritage belongs to us.

(Anthology. 12 & up)