This is the kind of book that should be assigned in all the university classes that pretend to be about “mixed race studies.” The novel is very true to life about the realities and trials of the whiter mixed-race [part-black] people growing up in small Southern towns in which they are expected to pretend to be some variety of “light-skinned” Negroes/blacks or whatever without ever being so indecorous as to publicly declare themselves to be of mostly white ancestry — no matter how obvious. Some of the things you will never see in junk books written by one-drop apologists like Danzy Senna are: the unease of knowing that you’re being lied to about your “race”; the understandable tendency of whiter mixed-race people to band together in school; the fanaticism of blacks (especially those with mixed-white relatives) in insisting that the “one drop” nonsense be honored and upheld (even though it is based on the presumption of THEIR supposed genetic inferiority); the ignorance of most whites about the “one drop rule,” despite black claims to the contrary. The book is also very realistic in showing how anyone who moves away from the South’s black/white dichotomy into the melting pot of New York City has to have a “racial” revelation — especially if they’ve been victims of “one drop” or other types of hypodescent. Puerto RIcans and Dominicans who have obvious “black blood” (But it’s not supposed to count!”), Indians as dark as most of the people who are supposed to be “black” — all those urban realities have to change anyone who is not totally dense or ideologically rigid.
As for those people who will argue that the protagonist can’t possibly be racially different from his black mother (even though they are literally like day and night, respectively), you will no doubt find that none of them have a problem with mulattoes (a la Lacey Schwartz) and quadroons (a la Michael Sydney Fosberg) who “grow up white” and declare themselves “black” as adults based on their ignorant assumption that the “one drop” myth legally and/or morally obligates them to do so.