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MAY 2005

> A REVIEW OF WALKER'S BLACK WHITE & JEWISH (2001) | jason jordan

Yeah, it bothers me to ditch the comma after "Black" in the title of Black White and Jewish, but Walker fought valiantly to have the title comma-free. Why? Well, she says that all those elements were blended together to form her body's genetic makeup (with no regards for separation), so why should those terms be partitioned now? Fair enough, Rebecca, I won't accost you since you provided a reasonable, logical answer.

Anyway, Rebecca Walker is the daughter of famed poet Alice Walker and Black White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self (Riverhead, 2001) follows the former from early childhood until some point in her early thirties. What I liked most about the book was the conversational tone that the author adopts early on. But, she still manages to radiate intelligence, even though the diction and sentence structure isn't that of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a Harvard professor who riddled his memoir with polysyllabic words that "roll off the tongue like boulders," as one critic put it or anyone wanting to appear pseudo-intellectual. Also, another refreshing attribute of Walker's novel is that she spares no content from being brought to light. The reader receives numerous recollected memories of drug use, sexual experimentation, and things of a similar nature. Walker, it seems, had a very difficult childhood.

As you may infer since the title houses three racial identities much of the 300+ page book focuses on Walker's experiences with racial identity. The reactions of peers, when they find out about her mixed heritage, play a pivotal role in the shaping of her personality, and the aforementioned statement is only heightened by the absence of her parents during the formative stages of her life. The writer led a disjointed life, and the autobiography's organization displays that theory fully. Still, the lack of a totally linear chronology is not cumbersome.

Needless to say, by the time the book dies, we should understand that Walker lived a rough life. She was a multi-racial child whose parents divorced early on, and she began experimenting with various vices in order to quell or subdue her problems. When Black White and Jewish closes, though, Rebecca Walker seems satisfied. She delved into the issues with her past, and immerged full of understanding. And, I was cheering her on every step of the way ...

> BIOGRAPHY | about the author

Jason Jordan is many things. He is staff reviewer for this magazine. He is the host of the BEAN STREET READING SERIES. He is an editor of The IUS Review. He has been a featured writer at the Tuesday Night Reading Series in Evansville, Indiana. His writing appears in THE EDWARD SOCIETY and THE2NDHAND. He is a writer.