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Self-Portrait in Black and White

Nonfiction: Autobiography & Memoir
Unabridged   6 hour(s)
Publication date: 11/19/2019

Self-Portrait in Black and White

Unlearning Race

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684574995
Digital Download ISBN:9781684574988


A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

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Product Description

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family's multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a "black" father from the segregated South and a "white" mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he'd never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

It is not that he has come to believe that he is no longer black or that his kids are white, Williams notes. It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of them—or anyone else, for that matter. Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.


“A standout memoir that digs into vital contemporary questions of race and self-image....[I]t succeeds spectacularly for three main reasons: the author’s relentlessly investigative thought process, consistent candor, and superb writing style. Almost every page contains at least one sentence so resonant that it bears rereading for its impact....An insightful, indispensable memoir.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“A provocative philosophical argument about the role of race in human identity....intellectually rigorous, written in fluid prose, and frequently exhilarating.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Author Bio

Thomas Chatterton Williams is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Self-Portrait in Black and White and Losing My Cool. He is a 2019 New America Fellow and the recipient of a Berlin Prize. He lives in Paris with his wife and children.