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The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey

The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey
Author: Toi Derricotte
ISBN 13: 9780393319019
ISBN 10: 393319016
Edition: New edition
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 1999-06-17
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
List Price: $14.95

"The Black Notebooks is the most profound document I have read on racism in America today. . . . [It] is not just one of the best books on race I have ever read but just simply one of the best books I have ever read."—Sapphire

Publishers Weekly

Many readers of this book will want to find positive, hopeful images, but poet Derricottea black woman who is sometimes mistaken for whiteprefers to "record the language of self-hate," the internalized racism she sees in herself and others. She began these diffuse but resonant notebooks some 20 years ago, during an increasingly infuriating search for a house in a white suburb of New York City. As her frustrations and isolation mount, her marriage frays; her dark-skinned husband who is a banker acknowledges to her that he married her in part for her light skin, while Derricotte confesses some revulsion at his looks. Her diaries plumb numerous racially freighted incidents. After she fights off a black attacker, the author thinks she hears him disparage her color. The white students she teaches write cathartic poems about childhood but black ones write about race. A white colleague at an artists' colony treats her with condescension. Yet the author also acknowledges she picks white women as confessors, "maybe precisely because they didn't have the same agony about race." Derricotte might have done more to analyze how much of her anguish is personal rather than racial, but her candor is brave. Author tour. (Oct.)