I received a free copy of Real American: A Memoir in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Julie Lythcott-Haims takes you through her childhood, young adulthood and overall life experiences as she tries to identify and find where she fits into the race spectrum. As a product of a bi-racial marriage to an African American father and Caucasian British Mother you see Julie trying to make sense of how she is treated by some. You get to see as she struggles to fit into a race always feeling like she doesn’t necessarily belong. She’s either not white or not black enough to feel like she belongs in either group.
As I flipped through the pages of Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims, I was immediately able to identify with some of the feelings that Julie expressed. I’m not of mixed race but, I am a first generation American. My family is Jamaican and I have a very unique name that people seem to butcher all the time so I just shorten it to “Jen” which they all think is short for Jennifer and I let them! I was able to empathize with not fitting into certain groups and trying to find myself throughout the years.
I could totally relate to her growing up in a predominantly white area and being the token “black girl” and always being seen as different. It’s relatable to being around white people a majority of the time and getting a good education and “sounding” white when you speak. I’ve never and still don’t understand how someone can “sound” white. I just speak proper English and it’s afforded me a lot of good opportunities. I’ve been called the whitest black girl some people ever knew. I laugh it off!
Julie Lythcott-Haims is able to share her feelings of racism and her journey to love herself even though she encounters some feelings of self-doubt and not belonging to any particular racial group until she is introduced to the multi-cultural/bi-racial race after she graduated from college. It wasn’t until then that she was able to see that there were other people just like her that she was able to identify with. There’s something about having a sense of community whether race related or not.
Truly feeling like you are a part of something feels good. We get to see how she navigates racism as she is in a biracial relationship herself and marries her Jewish boyfriend Dan. As a couple they experience some things that Dan may not immediately be able to identify with because he’s never really had to. Julie is more aware and takes the lead on dealing with some of these situations and it ends up teaching her husband a few things in the process.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Real American: A Memoir and was able to identify with a lot from a cultural and ethnic point of view. My mom identifies as a black woman and she is (Jamaican) African American mixed with some Asian (Chinese) to be specific and German. My dad is a Jamaican African American male. I was born in the United States and my parents tried to always instill Jamaican culture in my siblings and me. I grew up listening to reggae music and wasn’t aware that some of the songs were re-makes from original American versions. It was eye opening!
I can see that Julie’s parents always wanted to instill that she was indeed black by staying culturally aware and always having that black doll or book written by an African American author within reach. Being of mixed race seems hard to navigate when you are trying to see where exactly it is that you fit in. You shouldn’t have to choose one race over another. I know the one drop rule comes into play but, just stating my opinion.
Real American: A Memoir will keep you turning the pages as you see Julie cross these important experiences throughout her life that you may be able to identify with yourself. Check out the website for more information and to grab your copy. It’s a great read! I won’t bring up our current political climate or racial incidents that have taken place because that’s a whole other ball game! No matter what love yourself and search for no one’s acceptance or validation but your own.
Have you ever had to deal with racial identity, or felt you didn’t belong?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.