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  • Writer's pictureJanna Zonder

Swirl Girl: Coming of Race in the USA by TaRessa Stovall

TaRessa Stovall does an excellent job of pulling the reader into her compelling story of growing up "mixed" in America. Stovall is the child of a White Jewish mother and a Black Jazz drummer father. Her parents shared a love of Jazz, dancing, and a Bohemian lifestyle in a "created" community of interracial couples in Seattle's Central District. While their marriage didn't last, both her parents held an idealized vision that Stovall and her brother had been given the "best of both worlds" through their union.

For Stovall, their idealized vision never materialized. From a young age, she experienced emotional pain caused by her Black and White friends, teachers, relatives, and parents. She had light skin and straight hair, and everybody was always trying to figure out exactly "what" she was.

Stovall came of age during the social unrest/growth of the 1960s. She weaves the events of that time and how they affected her emotionally into her personal story. Through her participation in civil rights activism, the reader can feel her confusion, anger, and especially her pride in being Black. She intersperses her story with official Census reports and how they changed (or didn't change) in the way they categorized people of so-called "mixed" race. While Stovall identifies as Black, she carries a deep sadness that no category exists to fully encompass her rich background, and that of other mixed-race people. As she says, "Mixed-race identity -- especially when it includes Black -- is inherently controversial in a society that manipulates race in service to power and domination."

You can purchase TaRessa Stovall's memoir at Alchemy Media Publishing.

Alchemy Media is the brainchild of Donald Brooks Jones. Jones and his artist brother, Philip Mallory Jones, are dedicated to nurturing and bringing forth multi-media projects from the African-American experience that might never be told. Another book I enjoyed from this publishing company was Jones' own memoir Little Did I Know: The Coming of Age of a Black Boomer. To learn a little more about the talented Jones brothers, click on their names.

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