cover image Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World

Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World

Cole Brown. Arcade, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5107-6188-9

Brown, a recent graduate of Georgetown University, offers a heartfelt and insightful debut memoir documenting his conflicting experience of race and class in America. Born to an Ethiopian mother and a Black American father, Brown grew up in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Philadelphia’s wealthy Chestnut Hill neighborhood, where he attended private schools and encountered other Black teens primarily on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard or in bourgeois social organizations such as Jack and Jill. To his white friends, Brown’s socioeconomic privilege rendered him “Not Really Black.” But as he got older and came face to face with people of color who were far less elite than he was (in particular, during a vacation to the Bahamas), Brown began to see himself as a “greyboy,” or “one caught in the between place.” He describes his parents’ awareness that their financial security (his father is a “Fortune 100 executive”) would not protect their children from the threats posed by systemic racism, the tumultuous 18-month period before high school when his parents split up, the challenges of both intraracial and interracial dating, and, most movingly, his and other young African-Americans’ experiences of “the reveal”: the moment when even the most privileged Black American realizes that he or she is not immune from racism. Brown’s lyrical prose makes this coming-of-age story a pleasure to read, despite the sadness of much of his narrative. Readers will empathize with Brown’s struggles and celebrate his eventual decision to “take pride in my mix.” [em](Sept.) [/em]