cover image Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender and Parenting in America

Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender and Parenting in America

Nefertiti Austin. Sourcebooks, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4926-7901-1

In this timely, insightful memoir, novelist Austin (Eternity) examines adoption and child-rearing as a single black woman confronting gender and racial bias. At age nine, Austin was taken in by her maternal grandparents, who provided a life that “mirrored white middle class America: a secure household, church, piano lessons” yet lacked legal recognition; it was an informal black adoption, “the practice of raising nieces, nephews, cousins, and grandchildren” that “followed an established cultural tradition.” At 36, eager to become a mother, she trained as a foster parent and learned that “Black boys were least likely to be adopted.” The notion “awakened my Black Power roots. Adopting a baby boy would allow me to lift as I climbed.” Matched with a six-month-old in 2007, she renamed him August and legally adopted him in 2009. Throughout, Austin pegs her son’s daily life to such events as Obama’s election (Obama “was the manifestation of my hopes and dreams for my son”) and the murder of Trayvon Martin (black boys “will be perceived as hypermasculine” and therefore a threat). Juxtaposing tender mother-child moments with the dangers facing African-American boys, Austin captures both the love and fear of her parenting experience in this powerful, spirited narrative.[em] (Sept.) [/em]