The Color of Water

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Some children have difficulties accepting their race. In “The Color of Water” written by James McBride covers the story of a biracial man that is trying to find out more about his white mother. Throughout the book James McBride discusses how racism and acceptance from people can be difficult. In the text “The Color of Water”, racial tensions has had an effect on James mother Ruth’s along with James and other individuals who have dealt with being biracial while looking to being accepted in their environment. The book uncovers how the main character Ruth, dealt with her negative memories of her past experience and how she was able to become a strong individual. In addition, in a Time magazine article “Intermarried..with Children,” by Jill Smolowe and Greg Aunapu, explores how other families deal with interracial marriages. In the Social Science Quarterly there is an article, “Racial/Ethnic Identification of Children of Intermarried Couples” where the author reflects on how biracial families form their identity. Issues like interracial marriage as shown in the Time magazines article and loss of identity are relatable to “The Color of Water.” “The Color of Water” written by James McBride is about a Jewish, white woman named Ruth who married two African-American men and had eight children in the first marriage and four in the second marriage. Their story is told through Ruth eighth child James. James had a conflict trying to understand why his mother was white and he was black. Ruth refuses to tell her children about her past, because she wants them to believe that everyone is equal and fears they will think differently if they hear about her past. She did not want them to learn how hurtful racism could be. “The Color of Water” begins with Ruth telling her son that she is dead. Ruth’s family has told her she was dead in their eyes because she went against their religion by marrying a black man. Her family disowned her because she did not marry a Jewish man and she went against all orthodox rules. Ruth’s contradictions confused her children when they were younger, but they grew into adults that better understood the hurtful side of racism and what their mother dealt with. They appreciate their mother’s experiences since she dealt with both racism and religious prejudice. Even though she was white, her own family had been evil to her. Ruth’s name changes three times in the book. First it is Rachul Dwajra Zylska which was her Hebrew name, then her name became Rachel Deborah Shilsky which was the name given to her when she came to America, and then when her family disowned her she became Ruth McBride Jordan which was her married name. McBride is the last name of the first husband and Jordan of the latter. In “The Color of Water”, James felt as an outcast during his childhood years because he did not resemble his mother and most of his classmates resembled their parents. However, James always had various questions to ask his mother about their background but Ruth was never the type of person to have an open discussion about her past. Some of her children grew up confused, some of them sided with their African-American side, and some didn’t question their background. Not having an open discussion with one’s children about one’s heritage can increase the chances of the child not being educated on their heritage. This also conflicts to them not accepting their heritage. Due to this, some children tend to have negative experiences when dealing with peers who do not accept children of color or mixed race. It is important to educate one’s child of their background so that the child can better handle their peers and the pressures that come with dealing with race and society. The Time magazine article “Intermarried..with Children,” by Jill Smolowe and Greg Aunapu examines some of the increasing number in the United States of racial, ethnic and religious barriers people have before starting a life together. In past and current events...
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