Read The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride Online

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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.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'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.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 marriage; 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....

Title : The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
Author :
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ISBN : 9781573225786
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 291 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother Reviews

  • Michael
    2019-02-26 16:56

    Such a gem to me. McBride is a black journalist, novelist, and jazz musician who recognizes what a wonder his mother Ruth was when she raised him and 11 siblings and gets her to open up about her secretive past. The book is lyrical and tender, tough and heartbreaking, and suffused with tales of courage balanced with humor. McBride alternates skillfully between Ruth talking about her early history and his own perspective from the inside of the family she nurtured in Brooklyn and Queens in the turbulent 60’s. James struggles to find a path to his black identity, taking a short tour of juvenile delinquency. He comes to understand his grounding in how his mother never saw things in black and white. When asked by her children about how it is she is not black, she just deflects the question by saying she is light-skinned and nagging them to get back to their education. Somehow the values she upheld was an anchor that contributed to all 12 kids getting a college education and most advanced degrees. When McBride as an adult gets her to submit to taped interviews, her marvelous voice finally comes through about her hidden past as a Polish Jew with a tough upbringing:I’m dead.You want me to talk about my family and here I have been dead to them for fifty years. Leave me alone. Don’t bother me. They don’t want no parts of me, I don’t want no parts of them. Hurry up and get the interview over with. I want to watch Dallas. …I was born an Orthodox Jew on April 1, 1921, April Fool’s Day in Poland. I don’t remember the name of the town where I was born, but I do remember my Jewish name: Ruchel Dwajra Zylska. My parents got rid of that name when we came to America and changed it to Rachel Deborah Shilsky, and I got rid of that name when I was nineteen and never used it again after I left Virginia for good in 1941. Rachel Shilsky is dead as far as I am concerned. She had to die for me, the rest of me, to live.From that introduction, you can see the trove of heritage McBride's quest for roots gets into through his mother’s story. Her father was an itinerant rabbi, who came to run a store for a black neighborhood in rural Virginia in the segregated south. His brutality toward her mother and her was one reason Ruth ran away to Harlem; the other was that she had fallen in love at 15 with a black boy and was shunted to New York for family help with an abortion. Ruth finds a niche in the black community after being shunned by aunts and uncles. She gets a job at the Apollo Theater and enjoys the music scene. She ends up marrying a kind-hearted man, Andrew McBride, and having 8 kids with him, including James as the last, born after he died. His future stepfather, Dennis, came to their aid in the aftermath of the tragedy and soon charms her into marriage:He came from a home where kindness was a way of life. I wanted to be in this kind of family. I was proud to join it, and they were happy to have me.The welcoming feeling she got from Dennis’ mother in North Carolina (“God bless you, Ruth, because you’re our daughter now. Marry that man”) is consistent with the community she felt with blacks, accounting for why James had a white mother:That’s how black folk thought back then. That’s why I never veered from the black side. I would never even have thought of marrying a white man.Ruth’s journey seems so improbable, but it still epitomizes a theme from the river of stories that frame the immigrant experience in America. The blending of culture and race made some lovely blooms. Just because a book is a memoir doesn’t mean it can’t have the wonderful architecture of great fiction. I don’t read a lot of memoirs and recognize I should read more. My five stars puts this one up there with “Angela’s Ashes” and “The Glass Castle” (and with more joy, less torment), and for my reading pleasure it was a notch above “The Road from Coorain” and “Growing Up.”

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-02-21 11:02

    Onvan : The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother - Nevisande : James McBride - ISBN : 1573225789 - ISBN13 : 9781573225786 - Dar 291 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 1996

  • Amanda
    2019-02-23 14:13

    I read so many books, that very few actually stick with me, even 8 years after the fact. I cannot recommend this book enough. McBride writes from two different points of view: himself, and his mother. He parallels his growing up in poverty to his mother's story of moving to Harlem, before the civil rights movement. It is amazing. I had the opportunity to meet the author at a writer's conference right after we read this for bookclub, and he is a gentle soul who has the most respect for his mother. It is eye-opening, inspirational, and an amazing read!

  • Sawsan
    2019-03-19 09:50

    سيرة حياة ملونة بالأبيض والأسود وكأنها توثيق لفترة التمييز العنصري في أمريكاالفكر السائد والجائر عن الآخر المختلف في اللون والعِرق والديانة يحكي الكاتب والموسيقي جيمس ماكبرايد سيرته الذاتية بالتناوب مع سيرة والدتهالبولندية اليهودية البيضاء المهاجرة مع أسرتها إلى أمريكا, وزواجها من أمريكي مسيحي من أصول افريقيةحياتها مع أبناءها ال12 في حالة من الفوضى المنظمة, وقوتها الواضحة في المواجهة والتجاهل سرد ذاتي يكتب فيه ماكبرايد بصراحة عن تفاصيل حياته, أفكاره وتساؤلاته وأخطاؤهويعرض أيضا صورة للحياة العامة وأحوال وتغيرات المجتمع مشوار عمر طويل في ظروف معيشية صعبة اجتماعيا وماديا

  • Meredith Holley (Sparrow)
    2019-03-18 17:14

    If Cheaper By the Dozen, by Frank Gilbraith Jr., and The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, ever somehow met and had an "I like you as a friend, not a lover" child, The Color of Water would be it - race and a ridiculous amount of kids. The concept is compelling, and I would recommend this book to anyone who was disappointed that Run, Ann Patchett's most recent book, didn't deal more directly with race issues in a mixed-race family. Nominally, this book is a tribute to James McBride's mother, who was an unarguably interesting person. McBride's personal issues with his mother clouded her story, however, and his inability to emotionally separate from her enough to treat her as a character left me feeling that he bit off more than he could chew when he decided to write this "tribute". McBride reflects that his mother was not comfortable having her story told and preferred not to discuss her past with him, which leads me to ask whether "tribute" is an appropriate word to put in the title of this book. It would have been a stronger narrative if McBride had openly written The Color of Water as his own story, not his mother's.Toward the end of the book, McBride admits that he experienced more emotion hearing his mother's story than his mother did telling it. This comes through awkwardly within the narrative. For example, he names his mother "Mommy", and that continues as the name of her character throughout the entire story. Though he reminds his reader four or five times that Mommy's name changed from Ruchel Dwarja Zylska in Poland to Rachel Deborah Shilsky in America to Ruth McBride Jordan (after her marriages and renouncing of the Jewish faith), and though his sisters seem call her Ruth or Ruthie, he continues to refer to her as Mommy. His character rebels, grows up, becomes a successful journalist, but still his mother's character is "Mommy".At first, when I read The Color Purple, Mr._______'s name was awkward to me. I didn't know how I was supposed to say it. I honestly wondered a little bit if Walker couldn't come up with a name for him, so she just left it out. By the end of the novel, the genius of both robbing Mr.________ of the right to a name, and calling him something that effectively gives him the potential to be Everyman deepens the novel. Not so with Mommy. McBride writes a specific woman, not a stock character. Mommy "waddles", likes her privacy, and doesn't like to do housework. While with Mr._______ I eventually hope that my last name never fills that blank, with Mommy I know it doesn't. She's not my Mommy, so do I have to call her that? Does McBride still think of her as he did when he was a small child?McBride divides this book a' la The Grapes of Wrath, with alternating chapters that are vignettes from Mommy's point of view and chapters that are a continuing story from his point of view. His mother's vignettes are at times very lovely, but at some point his chapters started repeating hers as though the stories had not been told already. This was not in an artistic, Rashamon way, but rather seemed like bad editing or, worse, some kind of psychological disassociation with his mother's story that needed to be dealt with before writing the book. At first, Mommy's story is supplemental to his memories of her from when he is a child. Later, however, one chapter tells a story from her point of view, and then the next, from James McBride's point of view, repeats the same story by recalling the circumstances of her telling that story to him. That's not necessary.Also, who is his "sister Jack"? I officially do not understand what her relation to the family is if she is not literally his sister. I will be sad if I find out he explained that and I missed it, when I didn't miss the many times he described his mother's name change and who her childhood best friend was.Unfortunately, while The Color of Water has the potential to be a truly great American story, it does not live up to that potential. McBride's ambivalence as to whether to tell his story or his mother's story sabotaged it and left me feeling uncomfortable - like neither he nor his mother were well represented. I read this for a book club, and many of the people in the club were not distracted by the way McBride told the story. To them, the fascinating life his mother led and his psychological journey in learning about her were not conflicting storylines that distracted from each other, both stories were part of united by the larger journey of him learning to forgive his mother. I think they could stay with the story because they were rooting for the mother/son relationship. I, on the other hand, am more interested in being entertained than other people's psyco-health. It's shallow, but true. Basically, McBride failed me as an entertainer.

  • Debra
    2019-03-17 10:02

    4.5 starsSuch beautiful writing. Some books grab me right away just as some do not. This one grabbed me right away. This book was a tribute to the Author's mother who raised him and his 11 siblings. How she raised them and sent them all to school/ college, etc. Through the telling of his Mother's life story we also learn the Author's story as well. I enjoyed how he mixed in his Mother's history with his upbringing. I thought his writing was candid, matter of fact, and frank. His mother never discussed the fact that she was White or Jewish instead telling him she was colorless and "the color of water". We got a glimpse of what it was like for her to have a mixed marriage, to endure prejudice, hate, racism and misunderstanding. We also see what it was like for the author to be a mixed race child. He shared how he at times feared for his mother's safety, and at times was embarrassed by her. He was also confused. His mother never talked about her life, her past, her color, or her family. While shopping he heard her speak Yiddish to store owners haggling for a better deal but never knew what she was saying or why she knew Yiddish. Ruth McBride Jordan was born Racehl Shilsky, the the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi and his handicapped wife. She endured a lonely, isolated upbringing in the south. She was ostracized by most of her peers because she was Jewish and was sexually molested by her father. She moved to NYC, found a home in Harlem, married a black man (the author's father), became, converted to Christianity, started a church with her first husband and began a family. All through this she suffers hardships and despair yet manages to keep her head up, stand by her principles, and raise her children to work hard in school. She remarries after the death of her first husband and has more children with him. Throughout her life she showed resiliency, resourcefulness, determination, devotion, strength and grace. Which is why I think her children did so well in life. They may have had bumps along the way but they all made their way utilizing the life skills they learned from their Mother.This book was very, very good. Highly recommend.See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

  • Diane Barnes
    2019-03-09 12:00

    The mere fact that this woman raised 12 children, sent them all to college and watched them become successful professionals, with no money, with no help from her own family members, really with not much at all except her belief in God and incredible courage; well, this qualifies her for sainthood in my book. That she did this as a white woman married to black men, loved them both, watched both of them die, then struggled on alone, is a superhuman feat. Throw in the fact that she was the daughter of a Rabbi who converted to Protestantism and you can see why this book has become a classic in just 20 years.James McBride is a pretty special guy himself. "The Good Lord Bird" was one of my favorite books this year. He is a writer and musician who seems to be very much at home in his own skin. I saw him speak at the NC Literary Festival in April, and he's a good speaker as well, using a lot of humor and common sense to make his points. It took me a while to get around to this book, but it was worth the wait.

  • T.J.
    2019-02-24 16:14

    I am so thankful this book exists. As a child of a black father and a white mother, I was immensely drawn into the narrative of James MacBride's life. My story is not one as connected to the racism he encountered, but it nonetheless moved me considerably. He paints a tender, endearing, nuanced portrait of his mother and her life and times, and manages to take a deep and conflicting life story and not sink into maudlin recollection or saccharine moralism. An amazing tale.

  • Rachel
    2019-02-27 13:13

    I found this book to be very relevant to my life. My husband is black and he was raised by his white mother. He has spoken about the conflict that he felt between his white and black side, especially when he was in the Army. To white to hang out with the black guys, to black to hang out with the white guys. He felt very strongly for a long time that it was his duty to marry a black woman because he didn't want his children to feel the same conflict. Of course, that isn't what happened, because I am about as white as a person can get without needing to avoid sunlight, garlic and crosses (although I do often avoid sunlight...). I heard many of the same things that my husband has expressed to me about his upbringing echoed in James McBride's story. It was like a window into the life that in many ways my husband shared. What astounded me though, was that my husband was raised by his white mother in an all white suburb and still his experiences were very similar. It must have been very difficult to be a mixed child when "mixing" was still something new. I hope very much that my daughter doesn't feel the same racial disconnect. She calls herself either "black" or "tan" and when people ask her about it she tells them that her dad is "sweet like brown sugar" and her mom is "sweet like powdered sugar", which makes her "sweet like light-brown sugar". Which I think is very apt. We all have our own texture and flavor, but in the end, we're all still sugar.

  • Jen
    2019-03-22 11:08

    What a beautiful and poignant read. This is McBride's tribute to his white mother. HIs story touches upon issues of racism, socioeconomics, identity and religion. From a young age, McBride struggled to find where he fit into this world as a black man with a white mother. At an early age, trying to find answers, he asked his mother what colour is God. Her response, "He is the color of water." The story is juxtaposed along with his mother's, with the challenges they both faced defining themselves. What she impressed upon all 12 children as being most important were education and getting 'religioned.' Despite the circumstances, she ensured this success in her children as she saw all 12 graduate from University. A great read. 4 stars.

  • Chrissie
    2019-02-21 16:06

    This book is inspirational in tone. Against all odds the author’s mother succeeded in raising twelve well-educated and remarkably successful children. This is something to applaud given her circumstances. Without money, without support from family and of a world that looked with disfavor on those who dare to beat their own drum she succeeds. Racial identity, religious beliefs and an individual’s strength of will are central themes. Here is a book that looks with depth at interracial marriages. The author tells his own story alongside his mother's. To understand himself he had first to understand his mother, Ruchel Dwajra Zylska, from a Jewish Polish immigrant family. The story switches back and forth between mother and son. Each tells their own story, reading as two first person narratives. We see their experiences through their own eyes as the years pass from youth to adulthood. This allows us to feel intimately their disappointments as well as achievements, step by step as they mature. I chuckled at some of the author’s childhood memories and the words used to describe them. I felt both the mother’s struggles and her sense of determinedness. Her hatred of a father who sexually abused her and showed no regard for her disabled mother is poignantly portrayed. The negative side of constructing the story in this way, of flipping back and forth between son and mother, is that you must continually reframe who is being spoken of – the mother is one minute the author’s and a chapter later his mother’s mother. Keep in mind this is a large family and it can be difficult to keep track of exactly who is who. The mother remarried after the death of her first husband. There were eight children by the first husband and four by the second. Husbands and wives, long-ago friends, cousins, aunts and uncles. Furthermore, the telling becomes disjointed. While there is probably no one that could not admire the author’s mother, that doesn’t mean you have to love the book! These are two separate things. I liked the book as much as I did because I came to understand the author’s mother. Her choices would not have been mine. I came to understand why she left Judaism and so fervently supported a Christian God. I have no faith, and yet I thoroughly understand hers. Who Ruchel/Rachel became is a result of her particular personality and her life experiences. The book shows how she came to be who she was. She doesn’t tell us of her views; instead we watch what she does. We are shown; we are not told. I don’t feel one comes to know the author nearly as well as his mother! The author when speaking of his mother calls her Mommy - throughout the entire book! While I understand this completely when he is speaking as a child, as an adult it sounds absolutely ridiculous.I don't understand the title, i.e. the words before the colon. The audiobook narration is fantastic. The voice of Rachel is spoken by Susan Denaker. J. D. Jackson reads James’ lines. That there are two different narrators, one for the son and one for the mother, makes it much easier to listen to, much easier to immediately grasp who is speaking. Both read their lines with the appropriate humor, compassion and feeling. I who rarely appreciates dramatizations enjoyed the performance. Emotions are not exaggerated, just thoroughly real. I have given the narration five stars.

  • Trish
    2019-03-21 14:59

    I never read this book when it was first published in 1996, but it was required reading in the high school of the town where I lived after publication. In fact, I have the Tenth Anniversary edition of this book and in the Afterword, McBridge tell us by the tenth anniversary over two million copies had sold worldwide, translated into more than twenty languages, serialized in the New York Times, and studied by thousands of students each year in literature, sociology, history and creative writing classes.What strikes me now, reading it twenty-two years later, is the parallel between James McBride’s white mother and Trevor Noah’s black one. Both women crossed race lines romantically and tried to give their mixed children the best possible education within their reach. The kids didn’t take advantage in the ways their mothers had hoped, but the love the mothers had for their children did magic and something about the striving stuck. iIn his Afterword McBride tells us that may be the reason the work resonated so widely: more families than not have some mix somewhere in their family trees, and they relate strongly to this history. Details change but the basic struggle remains the same.McBride, along with his eleven brothers and sisters, is multi-talented. Everyone in the family learned to play an instrument or sing, tell stories or draw. James’ special skills are telling a story and playing music, and all his life he moved between the two, getting hired and leaving one or the other, then starting a new book and playing music for diversity and cash. It is fascinating to me that kind of rounded life always seemed enough for him; he didn’t get caught in the racket of making money for its own sake. One sister, Helen, left home early and precipitously. The kind of rough-and-tumble upbringing the family experienced doesn't work for everyone. Some of us are simply more sensitive and require a softer hand. It can be traumatic to be in such a large, rambunctious group, whatever James' experience was. At least he noticed, and mentioned it.Since most of you reading this will be familiar with this book, I will just quickly point out a few things I admired. His process of getting the story from his mother was kind of ingenious. Plenty of families will have the experience of bumping up against their parents desire to keep some areas of their life private, with the result that the whole doesn’t make as much sense as it should. If I am not mistaken, McBride worked on this story for fifteen years at least, or at least he dreamed about working on it. He had a job working for the Boston Globe right out of college when a Mother’s Day piece he wrote ran to huge acclaim. To expand it, he had to convince his mother to tell her story…but it was years and years before she dropped the last veils.Ruthie, or Rachel as she was known growing up, was unhappy about leaving her own family, but realized she had no other option. It must have been such a wrenching experience for everyone, that time of giving an ultimatum and having it accepted. But Ruthie was looking forward to living with black people because “they did not judge.” She apparently never changed her mind about that.When McBride left on a Greyhound for Oberlin at seventeen, his mother accompanied him to the station. He’d been some trouble in high school, acting out and skipping school, playing music but also hanging around with an iffy crowd. His mother was very glad he’d found a place that would take him with his poor grades, and he’d won a scholarship to boot. She had to give him up and though she stood strong through the goodbye kisses and hugs, she broke down crying just around the corner of the building as the bus took off. Yes, the book could be studied for lots of reasons, but it is a great example of how to write a memoir that doesn’t feel past. It feels as though it is all happening now, or close enough to it to still have fragments of the past showing up in the present. I wonder about that…how he did that, what he was thinking, what the struggle was, and whether or not it was heavily directed by an editor. I don’t think it was, actually, because no one could come up with that kind of structure without it being integral to the material and the creation process. But McBride does this kind of brilliant sleight of hand in his other works as well. And reading this has given me some insight into the John Brown character he drew for us in National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. McBride’s narrator Onion appeared to have a real affection for Brown, despite recognizing the man was bonkers. He wasn’t condescending. I couldn’t quite figure that out when I read it the first time. I think I might get it now.

  • Claire Grasse
    2019-03-21 13:00

    Yet another book that I wanted desperately to love like everyone else. I just couldn't though. While the rest of America seemed to be inspired, I just found it mildly depressing. I hate it when that happens. Synopsis in a nutshell:Mean, stingy rabbi beats his crippled wife, makes his family miserable, and repeatedly molests his daughter.Daughter (white) gets pregnant by a man (black) and has an abortion (circa 1940s. Both actions highly illegal.).Jewish family falls apart in an irredeemably depressing manner. Everyone hates everyone else. This does not change, or in any way get better. Everyone dies lonely and sick, after disowning everyone else.Daughter(white) runs off and marries another man (black) and fathers 12 children who practically starve as they grow up (father dies) and mother is too busy to raise them properly. They live in squalor and poverty. Not the inspiring kind. Graphic descriptions of dog poop all over the floors. All children grow up with serious baggage about their white/black parentage and the fact that, somehow, God is the Color of Water, and society does not accept them.Children, after much drug use, many love children, and various run-ins with the Law, all go on to earn advanced degrees and shine in their chosen fields. YAY! Mad applause. Curtain down.The thing is, this book is supposed to be a tribute to Mcbride's mother. But the mother is constantly portrayed as this unstable, barely-holding-it-together basket case who raises 12 kids in filth (I kept wishing someone would bring along some birth control). She never really DOES anything inspirational - in fact she refuses to talk to her kids about any important issues, and repeatedly tells them not to think too hard or their brains will dry out like prunes. Mcbride claims she put them all through college, but then lets on that they all put themselves through college with the help of grants, loans and the rest.Perhaps I'm too harsh. This would be better portrayed as a tribute to the kids themselves, for rising above their barren, neglectful upbringing.

  • Sara
    2019-02-28 16:47

    this book spent two years on the new york times bestseller list and it's easy to see why. mcbride's "tribute" is a beautiful story, rich with detail, about his own life and his mother's. he smartly introduces almost every chapter with memories from his mother's life, in her own voice. as he tells us at the beginning and reminds us at the end, he spent 8 years talking to her and recording their conversations, so the memories in her voice are an interesting contrast to the memories in his own voice. throughout the book, mcbride explores issues of race, class and gender through the lens of his own experiences and reflecting on his mother's experiences. his thoughts, told through these memories, are never didactic or exclamatory. he does not provide us with any answers to the sometimes very difficult questions that are raised in his story as a black man raised by a white woman, his mother, who was herself raised as an orthodox jew. instead, we are given the stories of his and his mother's life journeys, complicated but much more satisfying than any neat answers.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-09 14:50

    This book made me feel lucky, lucky that James McBride and his mother were willing to share their story with the world. I wished I could be a family friend and get to know the characters event better. But since that isn't possible I'm glad that the author decided to write this memoir and share his family story so that people like me can experience it and learn from it.

  • هالةْ أمين
    2019-03-20 16:14

    إن لم تكن تعلم فلا بد أنك قرأت شيئا أو سمعت عن تلك المعضلة في زمن الستينات والسبعينات وما قبلهمامشكلة البيض والسود العنصرية والتضييق المعيشي على كل من هو أسود في مجتمع البيضوكره كل من هو أبيض في مجتمع السودأضف على هذا الموضوع رشة يهودية أو فلنقل رشة دينية ..التناوب في سرد السيرة الذاتية لحياة شخصين أحدهم أبيض والآخر أسودكان جميلا وممتعا يجذبك الحديث لتعرف كيف عاش كلا من الطرفين تحت ظل تلك الظروفذلك الصخب الذي حوته حياة جيمز مؤلف الكتابوتلك الشجاعة التي تحلت بها راخيل إو روث والدة جيمزوفكرة انجابها لاثني عشر طفلا في زمن كذاك وظروف كتلك الظروف دليل شجاعة ايضا..اعجبتني المنطقية في ردودها على تساؤلات ابنها عندما كان يسألها هل هو أبيض أم أسودفتقول له: لون بشرتك غامق ولون بشرتي فاتحعندما سألها عن لون الله فقالت له:لون الله هو لون الماء،والماء ليس له لونومن هنا اشتقت الرواية أسمها..ربما في أمريكا قد تخلصوا هذه المعضلة وان ظل بعض ضيقي الأفق يصنفون الناس إلى أبيض وأسودلكن هذه العنصرية في بلادنا لا تزال قائمةوشخصيا عانيت منها أو فلنقل بأسلوب ألطف رأيت ملامحها ترتسم في معاملات البعض..عنصرية الهوية او الجنسية عنصرية غبية لا معنى لها وليس لها في الدين أساسوأستغرب كثيرا وحقا من تلك العقول التي تمارسها وكأنها حق ولا مستنكر لما يُرى إلا فيما ندرالوحدة العربية التي يحلمون بها لن تتحقق مادامت بعض العقول السخيفة ترى أنها عرق أعلى من غيررهاكونها تنتمي لبلد ما أو لقبيلة ما -.-..نسأل الله الهداية

  • Jan Rice
    2019-03-08 16:00

    This book had me cringing, like when Ruth McBride Jordan's father was stingy, when he was a slave driver, when he was abusive, when he was racist. It made me proud, when the author, more than once, talked about Jews who related to him like a person (instead of differently because he's black).Rachel Shilsky's family immigrated to America with her parents and siblings in 1923, when she was two. Her father was a vigorous person, a survivor, but not a good person. He had used his wife as a ticket to America because she had a married sister already here whose husband could sponsor them, but he never loved the mother. They were Orthodox Jews escaping from pogroms and from eastern-European shtetl life. And he was a rabbi--not a good one. He lost every job after the first year and the family would have to move on. I wondered whether in fact he was a real rabbi since the narrative includes that at that time Orthodox Jewish immigrants sometimes simply set themselves up as rabbis. The family eventually ended up in the South where he had more success, at least in the sense of permanence, at running a grocery store, with the whole family as essentially unpaid labor. The mother was sweet but disabled in part and unable to fully adapt to America, much less offer the children any protection from the father's meanness--in Rachel's case, from some degree of sexual abuse as well. Love or approval from the father was nonexistent.Rachel became Ruth because she thought it sounded less Jewish but that didn't alter the prejudice she experienced. She did have a best friend who reached out to her. But the first male who smiled at her and loved her and became her first boyfriend was black. And that was crucial in her eventual move across the color line to "the black side." Note--In this book both Ruth and the author James McBride, one of her twelve children, use that language, as though it were the childhood game of "Red Rover, Red Rover--Send Ruthie right over." It's my thinking that a person--a child--will stay where he or she is loved. And if there is no love to be found there, the child will gravitate to where there is love. In Ruth's mind, in her experience, that is, love was to found on the black side. She married a good man, and after his death, a second, and with those two husbands had her large brood. And she converted to Christianity, in its black Baptist version. She associated that, too, with love and strength and survival and, more than that, with thriving. Sadly, in her mind and experience, Judaism and the customs as she had known them were ever after associated with her father and abuse and deprivation, lovelessness and loneliness and being cut off. That, too, could be cringe-inducing.Yet the values by which she raised her twelve children so that they all ended up professional people and doctors and college professors--the poverty that followed her being widowed the second time notwithstanding--were essentially those of Jewish immigrants succeeding via education and discipline. The author saw the heroic success of her ambition for her children; he saw it as related to the immigrant experience, and to the two fathers' values as well; but it's not clear he realized how typically Jewish was that drive--even though, when living in New York City, Ruth sought out the Jewish public schools in which to enroll her children.Ruth never told her children about herself. When they got old enough to question she just said she was "light-skinned." Because he had a "white mother," the author swallowed many stereotypically white fears whole out of fear for her. Later it was his urge to find out who he was that drove him to write this book, and to do so he had to find out who she was.Similar to the way Ruth redeemed her own mother's wish to see her children grow up as Americans, James McBride surpassed his mother's acceptance of Judaism. I don't mean he really understood Judaism. He didn't, and I'm not even sure to what extent he considers himself Christian or religious (even though that's how he was raised). But he has Jewish friends and testifies to his experience of how Judaism sometimes erases that color line that had been so omnipresent in his relationship with other white people. And for him Judaism doesn't have that ubiquitous association with all the negatives it had acquired for his mother.In 1982 while on his process of exploration, the author traveled back to the southern town where Ruth had lived and worked in her father's grocery store before escaping that life. He met one of the remaining Jews there, who recorded a kind message to his mother:Ruth, this is Aubrey Rubenstein. I don't know if you remember me or not, but if you do, I'm glad to meet your son and I see you've accomplished a great deal in your life. If you're ever down this way stop on by and say hello to us. We all remember you. We wish you the best. (p. 228)The author himself said, I kept the tape with his greeting to Mommy on it for years, and while I never played it for her, thinking it might be too emotional for her to hear it, I played it for myself many times....I wondered about that. The author writes later of learning "that all Jews are not like my grandfather...." Did he doubt his mother could also learn that? He does say his mother just instantly forgot whatever was over and done with. That's true for most people. If they have a conversion experience of whatever kind--religious, political, or even a change of opinion--they forget for the most part how they felt before. Yet it's also true that when people are depressed about some experience they have had, it's usually because we think those involved are all reacting the same way, that is, all universally arrayed against us. That happened to me when at 25 I got fired from a job for the one and only time. In retrospect I had a low-level depression for a couple of years, until I realized not everyone had seen things the same, and the depression lifted. Serendipitously I then began to run into some of the principals, who told me from their own mouths that they'd seen exactly what had happened and how I'd been set up. So I'm still wondering why James McBride never played that tape for his mother.Let me end with a chunk of the paragraph in which the author's statement about Jews not all being like his grandfather is embedded. It serves to exemplify his self-discovery and learning.As a boy I was confused about issues of race but did not consider myself deprived or unhappy. As a young man I had no time or money or inclination to look beyond my own poverty to discover what identity was. Once I got out of high school and found I wasn't in jail, I thought I was in the clear. Oberlin College was gravy--all you could eat and no one telling you what to do and your own job to boot if you wanted one. Yet I laughed bitterly at the white kids in ragged jeans who frolicked on the campus lawn tossing Frisbees and went about campus caroling in German at Christmas. They seemed free in ways I could not be. Most of my friends and the women I dated were black, yet as time passed I developed relationships with white students as well, two of whom...are close friends of mine today. During the rare, inopportune social moments when I found myself squeezed between black and white, I fled to the black side, just as my mother had done, and did not emerge unless driven out by smoke and fire.... Given my black face and upbringing it is easy for me to flee into the anonymity of blackness, yet I felt frustrated to live in a world that considers the color of your face an immediate political statement whether you like it or not. It took years before I began to accept the fact that the nebulous "white man's world" wasn't as free as it looked; that class, luck, and religion all factored in as well; that many white individuals' problems surpassed my own, often by a lot, that all Jews are not like my grandfather, and that part of me is Jewish, too. Yet the color boundary in my mind was and still is the greatest hurdle. ... (pp. 261-262)

  • Chloe
    2019-02-24 12:01

    An amazing ,inspiring story of a white Jewish woman who married a black guy and raised 12 kids and sent them all to college. They all became doctors ,engineers professors leading successful lives. She had no money just her faith in God that helped her face all the hardships in life . A great memoir that will stay with me for a long time.

  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
    2019-03-01 13:58

    A interesting story that really made me reflect, and a GORGEOUSLY narrated audiobook. I had to fight my emotions a little as to not get defensive about the language surrounding Jews in the story (tyrannical, abusive, extremely cheap Orthodox Jewish father who drove his children away), and *breathe*. Yeah, it's a bit hard when Christianity is portrayed as the accepting, welcoming religion and Judaism as something oppressive, but the truth is that Orthodox Judaism itself isn't for the faint-hearted as it is a daily, continual commitment to faith that can test even those raised in a loving home. I found the race-relations to be the most fascinating part of the story, especially the children's own self-image. The way the children's view of themselves was trapped in multiple worlds and ever evolving was interesting and enlightening. Race is extremely complex, and back in a time where mixed-race children were something of a rarity, it was really engrossing to see how Ruth McBride raised her children. The audiobook quality is actually quite poor (it sounds like it was recorded ages ago, which it was), but the voices are excellent. I actually thought it was the author and his mother speaking until I read otherwise. They did a truly wonderful job, and the voices of the narrators sounded just like I pictured from the characters themselves. All in all, a worthwhile read that I won't soon forget.

  • aarthi
    2019-03-02 11:58

    We read this in my book club, and the consensus was: Incredible story, incredible journey, and in the passages narrated by the voice of his mother, an incredibly moving and authentic voice. However, this seems to suffer from its form/style - the author is trained as a journalist, and expanded an article he initially wrote about his mother and family into a book, and it reads journalistically instead of like a memoir. You feel distant and collected when you want to feel wracked with the emotions, especially given what is happening in the story - a young man of mixed race in a huge family of 12 kids grapples with finding identity; his parents got together when mixed race couples were subject to physical violence for being together. What he went through, you can only imagine, because he doesn't communicate what he felt like, what motivated him when he was younger, etc. He has processed all of this by the time of writing the book, and it's no longer raw. His mother's voice, in contrast, is blunt, unsentimental, honest - not at all digested.

  • Gabriel Encarnacion
    2019-03-13 11:47

    Have you ever thought about not living with your real mom after being with her while you growing up all your life. The book " The Color of Water" is about a teenage kid who thinks that hes not living with his real mother. The reason he thinks that is because they are not the same color skin and his mother wont explain why is it like that. His fathers is in jail for committing a crime so he really doesnt know alot about him because he didnt grow up with him. This kid has a lot of struggles in life he starts doing the wrong thing like dropping out of school and doding drugs which is not a good thing to do. I will recommend this book to anyone who would like to read it because its a very good book and they will learn alot from it and also learn how a person with struggels lives their life. I think that the most important part of the book is when he decides to stop all the non sence hes doing. He decided to stop doing drugs and to start goin back to school which was the best thing he can do. At the end he notices that he is living with his mother, he grew up and he found a women who loved him and he had kids. So after all his struggles he thought about what he was doing wrong and changed it so he can be successful in life.

  • إسراء طه
    2019-03-20 16:13

    لا يوجد لدي من الكلمات ما يعبر عما جعلني ذلك الكتاب أشعر به، كل ما استطيع أن أفعله هو أن اقترحه لك، ولتدعه يفعل بك ما يشاء. لا شيء لدي سوى أن أقتبس:"لم تَعُد لدي دموع لأذرفها فقد نفذت منذ زمن طويل، ولكن ألماً جديداً ووعياً جديداً قد ولِدا بداخلي"

  • Eric_W
    2019-03-03 12:14

    "What color is God?" asks the young James of his mother, confused by all the white images of Jesus that surround him and his black father and mother. "God's not black. He's not white. . . . God is the color of water," is the wonderful response of Rachel, an astonishingly gifted and driven woman who despite numerous adversities managed to raise, often on her own, twelve amazing children. They all grew up to be doctors, lawyers, nurses, a chemistry teacher, social worker or other kind of professional. That she was a white Jew –at least initially, she later converted to Protestantism and started her own Baptists church with her second husband –living in a black ghetto with little income and virtually no support from her family makes it even more remarkable. Two voices complement each other in this moving narrative: Rachel, James' mother, writes about growing up and the Jewish family that ultimately rejected her, and James, her musician and composer son, who describes his own journey from the ghetto to middle class society. Rachel, who almost became a prostitute at one point to support herself, had the good sense to marry two very dedicated black men. Unfortunately, both died young, leaving Rachel to care for an enormous household of children. Their two accounts are suffused with the issues of race, identity and religion. All of these issue are transcended by the force of Rachel's will and her unshakeable insistence that education and religion were paramount. James was puzzled by his mother's whiteness. She was the only white in the neighborhood who was disdained by other blacks who saw her as an interloper, and whites who disliked her for being a white person surviving in a black world. The question of race was always in the background during this time of racial struggle, the civil rights movement, and Black Power. One of the older brothers became an activist; James drifted into truancy and drugs. Finally, after moving to Delaware, he discovered music in the hands of a talented white teacher at an otherwise all black school. Rachel shrewdly used the busing system to have her children attend schools in neighborhoods where learning was a priority. She took them to every free cultural event she could find  it certainly helped living in New York. To top things off, Rachel went back to school herself and earned a bachelor's degree in social work. She ignores her children's pleas to stay out of the ghetto and enjoys walking around the Red Hook Housing Project that was her family's old stomping grounds. This book is a testimony to a mother's love and to education's value in overcoming adversity.

  • Stefan
    2019-03-08 14:11

    Follows the typical memoir formula: Someone lives through countless tragedies and unspeakable abuse from everyone and anyone they encounter, yet manage to be extraordinarily successful--which allows them to write a self-aggrandizing book about themselves. In this case, McBride tells the story of his mother's incredibly hard life as a white Jewish woman growing up in the south, who marries a black man and ultimately raises 12 interracial children, mostly in a Brooklyn housing project in the 1960s and 1970s. Every terrible thing you can imagine happens to this poor woman (sexual abuse, racial hatred, tragic deaths), yet all of her children grow up to be doctors and lawyers--a fact that is simplistically used as evidence of their successful lives. But never mind, because only a few paragraphs here and there are given to the siblings. McBride manages to focus mostly on himself and spends most of the end of the book giving an extended version of his resume, and vacillating on whether or not he should be an extraordinarily successful writer or an extraordinarily successful musician.There are some large inconsistencies and gaps as well, which makes one question the validity of some of the book's claims. Perhaps some of it is due to clunky writing. And when McBride finally starts to dig into his connection to his mother's past, he balks ("it's just too much"), and decides he has a enough material from his mother's brief testimonials and his own fascination with himself.

  • Gray Side
    2019-02-27 10:49

    كتاب لون الماء عبارة عن سيرتين ذاتية للكاتب الأسود جيمز ماكبرايد ووالدته اليهودية البيضاء . يأخذ الحديث عن العنصرية بعداً آخر أكثر عمقاً عندما تكون التجربة من حياة الكاتب وهذا الدمج العِرقي والديني الغريب السابق لآوانه !أسرة والدته (راحيل) أقامت مراسم الحداد على روحها في عادة يهودية قديمة تشير إلى التخلّي عنها واعتبارها من الأموات ، ظلت حياتها السابقة سراً دفيناً حتى كانت تجربة هذا الكتاب الذي شاركت به فقط حتى يصبح ابنها غنياً ..تتحدث راحيل أو روث كما تسمي نفسها عن والدتها شبه الكسيحة ووالدها الحاخام اليهودي البخيل سيء الطباع :"كانت يهودية جيدة، ظلت مخلصة لعقيدتها الدينية تحملت الكثير عبر السنين لأن زوجها عديم القيمة،لم يكن لديها خيار آخر..لو كانت تلك الأحداث في يومنا هذا لكانوا سمّوها (امرأة معذبة) ولكنهم في ذلك الوقت كانوا يسمونها (زوجة) فقط ."تولّد لدى جميز ماكبرايد الكثير من التساؤلات والبحث المضني عن هوية يمكنه الاعتماد عليها ، مع كل هذه الانتماءات المتناقضة من بداية وعيه الطفولي وهو يشعر بالحرج من بياض أمه الشاذ في مجتمعه الأسود، وحتى مرحلة متقدمة من حياته .كانت رحلة البحث عن عائلة أمه وماضيها طوق النجاة من هذا الصراع المضني بداخله .كانت نقلة نوعية في حياته يقول عنها : "ألما جديدا ووعيا جديدا ولدا بداخلي. بدأ الغموض المتوطن داخلي يتبخر، وزال الألم الذي شعر به الولد الصغير الذي حدّق في المرآة، لقد استيقظت إنسانيتي الخاصة. "ويقول عن والدته بعد هذه المرحلة :"هي امرأة سوداء في جلد أبيض، لها أطفال سود ومشكلة صحية تخص المرأة البيضاء ! "

  • Clif Hostetler
    2019-02-21 11:06

    I read this book prior to my Goodreads.com days so I've not written my own review. But I was reminded of it this morning when I found it on my PageADay Book Lover's Calendar. The following review is from that calendar.A beautifully rendered memoir, and a loving tribute to a mother who taught her son that the only identity that matters is the one you carve out for yourself. Raised in the projects in Brooklyn, young James knew his mother looked different from other mothers, but it wasn’t until he was an adult that he found out his mother wasn’t just light-skinned compared to his brown skin­. She was in fact the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who disowned her when she married a black man.THE COLOR OF WATER: A BLACK MAN’S TRIBUTE TO HIS WHITE MOTHER, by James McBride (1996; Riverhead, 2006)I recommend the THIS REVIEW by Eric_W Welch for a longer more complete review.

  • Camie
    2019-03-08 17:10

    Rated 4 stars Read as memoir challenge for KUYH book club. A A black man's tribute to his amazing white mother who raised 12 successful and well educated children through much hardship and personal sacrifice. When as a child he asked his mother what color God was her reply was , " the color of water. " Hence the title of this inspiring read.

  • Lyn Elliott
    2019-03-24 15:53

    This book will stay with me for a long time, partly because of the vivid portrayal of the main characters and the worlds I which they live/d and partly because this adds, for me, new insights into issues of identity that arise for people with diverse cultural backgrounds. In this story, colour, race and religion are all minefields to be negotiated. Ruth, 'Mommy', deals with rejection from her own family and the many whites who despise her marriage to black men by ignoring it, shutting it out of her vision and hearing.I like the non-sentimental tone of McBride's writing. The counter pointing of his own voice with his mother's is very effective, strongly differentiating Ruth's own story from James's writing about her and his own growing into adulthood. I can see why this book was on the U.S. best seller lists for so long. In some ways it encapsulates the old immigrant dream - work hard, believe in God, educate your children and the future will be better for your children, if not for yourself. In this case, the children all succeeded and Ruth herself has become famous as the result of the book's success. Thanks again to the Book Club and the Burnside Library for leading me to such a great read.

  • Joanna
    2019-03-23 14:58

    This book was a revelation full of inspiration and honesty. Being mixed, I understood James' confusion with identity, especially in his mother's time and his time as well: a time when you could only be black or white. His Jewish mother is amazing, ignoring the issue of race and encouraging her children to go to school. She is a strong woman who was able to leave her past and sorrow behind in order to find happiness, which she found in Harlem with the African American community. She fell in love with the people she cared for rather than the ones she was suppose to fall in love with. I look up to her as a woman and as a human being able to look at people's human side rather than skin color. She did not care what whites or blacks had to say about her, but if anyone attacked her children, she turned into a tiger. This story is authentic and honest, and in the end it is really about being part of the human race.

  • Glenna
    2019-03-08 12:01

    This story is about the daughter of an orthodox jewish rabbi who married a black man in 1942. She raised 12 children. Her children grew up not knowing anything about their mother's past. It's written by one of her sons. It is quite an amazing story. Absolutely loved the last chapter. The insights he finds on this journey helps him lay his own demons to rest.