Marilee J. Layman (mjlayman) wrote,
Marilee J. Layman

This journal has been placed in memorial status. New entries cannot be posted to it.

Pearl's Secret by Neil Henry

Full title: Pearl's Secret: A Black Man's Search For His White Family

The most important thing about this book is that Henry considers himself black even though he has white ancestors. Not close to him, but still there. His family has some papers and pictures from the dividing point and his book is framed by his search for his white family in the few years before the book. Between those bits, we hear about racial situations from slavery times, segregation, riots after MLK, Jr. died, and so forth. We also hear about his family and how they managed.

When he finds his white relatives, it turns out that his family is in a better situation, primarily because they moved to Seattle in the early 1950's. The white relatives stayed in Louisianna and when the boll weevil took their crop, became poverty-stricken. When he goes to meet them, they accept him and share other information that they have of his side of the family. He finds out that the first two generations of the white family were in favor of slavery, and someone who is rather old and used to be in the Klan comes to dinner.

Henry thought he might get in a rage or crying when he met them, but instead he became sort of numb. It took him several weeks to realize that:

What counted most through the generations, far more than any other factor, regardless of our race, was how we treated those we loved and how well we loved. That seemed the transcendent lesson or moral that my search had revealed.

I didn't like the frame of the book very much, even though he implies in the Acknowledgements that someone else helped him with it, and thought that there was a lot of information I already knew in some of the parts between the frame. Nevertheless, if you'd like to see how segregation and integration have progressed via a personal history, it's a good book to read.
Tags: book

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