Tuesday, June 2, 2009
81 - The Black Girl Next Door; Jennifer Baszille
The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir, by Jennifer Bastille is a touching story about a black girl growing up in the 70's and 80's.
At an early age, Jennifer, her parents and sister Natalie moved to a predominately white neighborhood in Palos Verdes, CA. Her parents had only wanted the best for their daughters, but growing up at that time with white classmates was not always easy. For example, at the age of six , after winning a foot race against a white classmate, the author was humiliated to hear her classmate explain that the reason she won the race was because black people "have something in their feet to make them run faster than white people". When Jennifer asked her teacher about this, the teacher said it was true! When she asked her parents the same question, they were stunned and the next morning, Jennifer's father accompanied her to school, careful to "assert himself as an informed and concerned parent and not simply a big, black, dangerous man in a first-grade classroom.". An apology was given by the teacher, however, comments like this pretty much set the tone for her grade school years, which left her often with feelings of isolation .
Having excelled in school, her parents pushed her and her sister to believe in and to live the American dream. Sometimes defying her parents, but through self-determination, success followed as the author became the first black female History professor at Yale.
An interesting memoir, candid, and inspirational, although a bit slow in places, gave me real insight as to how it might have felt to be Jennifer growing up in the post Civil Rights 70's and 80's.
RATING - 4/5 - COMPLETED - 6/2/09
WHERE FROM: My Stacks (courtesy of Simon & Schuster)