That Mean Old Yesterday: A Memoir

Stacey Patton, Author . Atria $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9310-5

Patton, a graduate student at Rutgers, was a baby when she entered New Jersey’s foster care system. Five years later, she was placed with a middle-class New Jersey couple eager to adopt. Myrtle and her husband, “G,” were both African-American, like Patton, but also deeply committed Pentecostals. While G was laid-back, Myrtle was a mean woman who believed she needed to beat and whip Patton to make her “submissive,” to prepare her “for the modern realities of being a little black girl growing up in America.” All the black children Patton knew “got whipped whenever, wherever, and with whatever. This was part of our identity as black children.” Patton believes this behavior came from the slave experience: “It was what their parents knew and what their parents’ parents knew. It was a behavior that had deep roots in the plantation legacy.” Patton intercuts the story of Myrtle’s abuse with vivid descriptions of the torture and beating of antebellum slaves. Unfortunately, G, “helpless and emasculated... like many slave men,” couldn’t stop Myrtle’s abuse. Eventually, Patton ran away, lived in youth shelters and won a scholarship to a good prep school. Patton’s account is brutal and will likely become controversial, as her racial stereotypes, particularly her assertion that most black children are abused by their parents, may raise eyebrows. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/16/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-1-84739-228-2
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-4575-0
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-7432-9311-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-0380-4
Paperback - 978-1-4711-2703-8
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4711-0969-0
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