cover image Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood

Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood

Gerald Early. Addison Wesley Publishing Company, $17 (234pp) ISBN 978-0-201-62724-4

Early, director of African American Studies at Washington University, here offers candid, warm sketches of his middle-class black family living in a white neighborhood in St. Louis. Although he maintains that this is a story in which race plays ``only a very small role,'' and that class is ``a great deal more important,'' race is a constant subtext: When Early queries his two young daughters, Rosalind and Linnet, about their lack of black friends and they reply, ``We have as many as we want,'' he confronts them with ``You have no black friends at all.'' His daughters are uncomfortable with their less-than-genteel inner-city Philadelphia relatives and are accused by black schoolmates of being ``biracial'' because they ``sound like a white person.'' Early argues that blackness is not an ``Afrocentric lesson'' but a realistic belief in human transcendence by a people who have ``reinvented'' their humanity after the experience of slavery, and he is relieved when his daughters eschew commodified Afrocentrism. These are personal stories, not meant to represent a race, and Early is a thoughtful and engaging writer. (June)