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Ambiguous hues: (1) Drop by Yaba Blay

 

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The New York Times highlighted, yesterday, a new book by New Orleans native Yaba Blay, (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race.

The book features essays exploring questions of race by 60 contributors from 25 countries who self-identify, at least partly, as black, even if they are not always seen as such because of light skin, facial features, or interracial ancestry. Each essay in the book is accompanied by a portrait of its author.

The book includes essays by New Orleans writers (and Room 220 contributors) Kristina Robinson and jewel bush.

From the NYT article:

As Dr. Blay notes, racial identity has not always been a matter of choice. In this country, well into the 20th century, legal standards existed in much of the South to delineate the races and preserve white racial purity. In a time when one’s race was solely a matter of biology and the law, as little as “one drop” of African blood would render a person black.

The subjects in the book responded to a series of questions, among them how they identified themselves, whether assumptions were made about their race, whether their blackness was questioned by others and whether the light complexions that many have afforded them social privilege.

People of color have long asked these questions of themselves, and scholars and writers have explored these issues for decades. What distinguishes “(1)ne Drop” is its ability to recast a difficult and still controversial subject in personal, visual and lyrical terms.

As the book eloquently reveals, blackness and whiteness, through centuries of miscegenation, have melded together into ambiguous hues.

“All my life, people ask me: ‘You white?’ ” Angelina Griggs, 105, observed in her vignette. “I say: ‘No, I ain’t white. I’m colored, just like you,’ cause we all different colors.”

See the full article here, and read more about (1)ne Drop here.

 This article was reposted from Press Street: Room 220, a NolaVie content partner.