We Jews and Blacks: Memoir with Poems Willis Barnstone

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Published: April 30th 2004

Kindle Edition

241 pages


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We Jews and Blacks: Memoir with Poems  by  Willis Barnstone

We Jews and Blacks: Memoir with Poems by Willis Barnstone
April 30th 2004 | Kindle Edition | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, audiobook, mp3, ZIP | 241 pages | ISBN: | 8.36 Mb

Willis Barnstones third book of memoirs begins with his childhood and ends with his brothers death in 1987. A central theme is labels - names, ethnicities, all distinctions that cause suspicion, anger, and destruction. Barnstone speaks as a Jew whoMoreWillis Barnstones third book of memoirs begins with his childhood and ends with his brothers death in 1987. A central theme is labels - names, ethnicities, all distinctions that cause suspicion, anger, and destruction.

Barnstone speaks as a Jew who has from early in his life shared parallel experiences with African Americans. He dwells on his own experience of passing, already present in the name Barnstone, a name changed before his birth to conceal - or not to advertise - that he was a Jew, which might affect admission to private schools and college, his integration into society, and his professional life.

But the price of dissembling was self-deprecation, fear of rejection, and guilt. Barnstone makes the analogy to the African American experience explicit. He speaks of his black step-grandmother, of childhood playmates, of the activist Bayard Rustin and the turbulent and exhilarating integration of his Quaker boarding school, of his first publication - a letter to The Nation - protesting the racial and religious exclusionary practices of the Bowdoin fraternities, of being a soldier with blacks in the segregated South, and of the 18th-century slave memoirist Olaudah Equiano.Finally, there is a dialogue with Yusef Komunyakaa and a small selection of Komunyakaas Jewish Bible poems.

We Jews and Blacks is also a dramatic and whimsical literary memoir. It contains a number of Barnstones poems, which give a second view of an event, a crystallization of his thinking. Both sorrowful and joyful, Barnstones memoir is a fresh and significant contribution to American letters.



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