Negroland

Negroland

A Memoir

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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At once incendiary and icy, mischievous, and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author's rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned to distance itself from whites and the black generality, while tirelessly measuring itself against both. Born in 1947 in upper-crust black Chicago--her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation's oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite--Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, "a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty." Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments--the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America--Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Aware as it is of heart-wrenching despair and depression, this book is a triumphant paean to the grace of perseverance.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307378453
0307378454
Characteristics: 248 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

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a
asjahmonroe
Jul 17, 2017

I think the book is well-written. Ms. Jefferson is definitely a skilled writer. She's also able to extend her insiders' knowledge in a clever and creative manner. I like that she makes observations rather than definitive statements. The only thing I was hoping for more of from her was vulnerability.

t
TheresaAJ
Dec 27, 2016

Margo Jefferson, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, has penned a book that is part memoir, part cultural critique of American race, class, and gender. She recounts her family's history as part of the "Talented Tenth", the upper-class black society that saw itself as neither black nor white but rather as a "third race". As an "integrationist", Jefferson had a bird's-eye view of the many ideas, philosophies, and methods from her girlhood in the 1950's through the turbulent Civil Rights era to today's social media campaigns. Along the way, the reader catches glimpses of society's contradictions and morals as well as short biographies of the amazing women who were her ancestors. Jefferson writes, near the end of her story, "I won't trap myself into quantifying which matters more, race, or gender, or class."

b
bradallen
Feb 21, 2016

It's pointless for me to attempt to describe what I found so great about this book. I encourage you to pick up this book and enter Margo Jefferson's world yourself. I cannot speak for her. She writes deftly about race, class, gender, and identity. A must read book from 2015.

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