Books That Inspire 2001


 
Neither Black nor White yet Both: Thematic Exploration of Interracial Literature
Werner Sollos


Here’s my son Samuel, “la miel de mi lengua,” his sister Sela says, and an illustration for this book. Their mom is Afro-American, and they speak only Spanish with their dad, an “Irish” gringo. They are typical Americans: hybrids. Sollors documents in encyclopedic detail what Oklahoma writer Ralph Ellison called “the true inter-relatedness of blackness and whiteness.” In 300 years of literature Sollors traces “the emergence of ‘race’ out of the denial of ‘interracial’ and ‘biracial’ realms.” As Albert Murray says, “the mainstream in America is not white but mulatto.” None of us, culturally speaking, are really black and white. We are all co-creators of the “mulatto mainstream.” Sollors’ survey of literary expressions of themes like passing and the “tragic mulatto,” leads me to this conclusion: We made the babies. Now we share the responsibility to raise them, rather than merely assigning blame for how they came into being.
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Gregory Stephens
Visiting Assistant Professor Human Relations