cover image Color Blind: A Memoir

Color Blind: A Memoir

Precious Williams, Bloomsbury, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59691-338-7

Williams offers an English journalist's wry, charming memoir of being a black Nigerian girl growing up in a 1970s white foster home in a village of West Sussex, England. As a baby, Anita Williams was farmed out by her glamorous Nigerian mother to a couple in their late 50s, Nanny and her wheelchair-bound husband, Gramps, to be brought up as a proper English girl with the Queen's accent. Altruistic, Christian, and modest of means, Nanny tells her: "Your colour doesn't matter, Anita. You're just the same as me underneath." Yet Anita stuck out like a sore thumb in mostly white Fernmere, visited occasionally by her haughty, highly critical Mummy Elizabeth, an accountant, and Elizabeth's male sidekick, whom the author recalls molesting her sexually when she was very small. While the town bullies routinely called her names, Nanny and her family doted on her, worried sick that she'd be taken back by her mother. Anita's older stepsister, Agnes, turned up for a visit, while a trip to Nigeria with her mother to visit the far-flung relatives cured Anita of her stereotypical notions of Africans. Gradually, Anita learned that being "black" possessed many complicated connotations, and as she grew up she excelled as a student and rebelled in turn. Her beautifully wrought memoir reaches back deeply and generously to regain the preciousness she felt lost to her. (Aug.)