Book: The Color of Water
James McBride is the author of the book The Color of Water, a story about his mother past and how they struggled when he was growing up because of the racial discrimination of that time. When growing up, James McBride never knew where his mother had come from. When he asked her if she was white, she simply replied that she was "light skinned", triggering a long standing confusion about his own racial identity. As an adult, McBride offers the reader his story by alternating between his mother's voice and his own. Ruth McBride Jordan was born in Poland to an Orthodox Jewish family that immigrated to the United States when she was two.
Her name then was Rachel Deborah Shilsky, and her father was a traveling rabbi who abused his family and forced them to settle in the small Southern town of Suffolk, Virginia. It was a violent time: schools were racially segregated, and there was pervasive discrimination against both blacks and Jews. Tateh, Ruth's father, opened a grocery store, and became rich off of his black customers. Ruth suffered from teasing and discrimination as a Jew in the largely Protestant school, and the house in which she was raised was bereft of love. Her own mother had been crippled on the left side from polio when she was younger, and became a source of embarrassment to Ruth because she could not speak English and was visibly handicapped.
Ruth was her mother's "eyes and ears" in America. After graduating from high school, Ruth moved to New York City and began working in her aunt's leather-goods factory. She returned to Suffolk when she learned that her mother was sick, but in the end refused to stay. Upon resuming her life in New York she fell in love, and in 1942 she married a black man named Andrew McBride. By the time Ruth learned that her mother had died, she had been disowned, considered to be "dead" by her Jewish family.
She converted to Christianity to deal with her feelings of grief and guilt, and ultimately found...