The color of water: a Black man's tribute to his white mother

Book Cover
Average Rating
Riverhead Books,
Pub. Date:
1997, c1996.
Accelerated Reader:
IL: UG - BL: 6.1 - AR Pts: 11
Lexile measure:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird , winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, and Kill 'Em and Leave , a James Brown biography. Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother .

The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion--and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.

In The Color of Water , McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marria≥ her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.

At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college--and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.

Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.  

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID dcf8604d-cc58-d031-2963-d6545aa64d52
Grouping Title color of water a black mans tribute to his white mother
Grouping Author mcbride james
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-07-09 04:16:58AM
Last Indexed 2019-07-15 04:29:10AM

Solr Details

accelerated_reader_interest_level UG
accelerated_reader_point_value 11
accelerated_reader_reading_level 6.1
author McBride, James, 1957-
author_display McBride, James
detailed_location_santafe Southside
format_category_santafe Books
format_santafe Book
id dcf8604d-cc58-d031-2963-d6545aa64d52
isbn 9781573225786
item_details ils:.b11720980|.i15739909|Southside|BIO McBRIDE-JORDAN, R|||1|false|false|||||Due Aug 5, 2019||co||
itype_santafe Regular Circ
last_indexed 2019-07-15T10:29:10.997Z
lexile_score 1140
literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_santafe BIO McBRIDE-JORDAN, R
owning_library_santafe Santa Fe Public Library
owning_location_santafe Southside Branch
primary_isbn 9781573225786
publishDate 1997
record_details ils:.b11720980|Book|Books||English|Riverhead Books,|1997, c1996.|xvii, 291 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
recordtype grouped_work
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
ils:.b11720980 .i15739909 Checked Out Checked Out false false true false false true 9999
subject_facet McBride, James, -- 1957-, McBride-Jordan, Ruth, -- 1921-2010, Mothers -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography, New York (N.Y.) -- Biography, Racially mixed people -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography, Racially mixed people -- Race identity -- New York (State) -- New York, Whites -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography
title_display The color of water : a Black man's tribute to his white mother
title_full The color of water : a Black man's tribute to his white mother / James McBride
title_short The color of water :
title_sub a Black man's tribute to his white mother
topic_facet McBride, James, McBride-Jordan, Ruth, Mothers, Race identity, Racially mixed people, Whites