The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Jan 13, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 310 pages
18 Reviews

A powerful, beautifully written memoir about coming of age as a black girl in an exclusive white suburb in "integrated," post-Civil Rights California in the 1970s and 1980s.

At six years of age, after winning a foot race against a white classmate, Jennifer Baszile was humiliated to hear her classmate explain that black people "have something in their feet to make them run faster than white people." When she asked her teacher about it, it was confirmed as true. The next morning, Jennifer's father accompanied her to school, careful to "assert himself as an informed and concerned parent and not simply a big, black, dangerous man in a first-grade classroom."

This was the first of many skirmishes in Jennifer's childhood-long struggle to define herself as "the black girl next door" while living out her parents' dreams. Success for her was being the smartest and achieving the most, with the consequence that much of her girlhood did not seem like her own but more like the "family project." But integration took a toll on everyone in the family when strain in her parents' marriage emerged in her teenage years, and the struggle to be the perfect black family became an unbearable burden.

A deeply personal view of a significant period of American social history, The Black Girl Next Door deftly balances childhood experiences with adult observations, creating an illuminating and poignant look at a unique time in our country's history.

  

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Review: The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir

User Review  - Ali - Goodreads

a good read. Reinforces that prejudice is alive and well in every era! Hard to read some of the lengths the family went to to fit in with expected norms. (those hair treatments were incredible...not ... Read full review

Review: The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir

User Review  - Unwisely - Goodreads

For a memoir of growing up in the only black family in Southern California, it was reasonably relatable - many of her childhood and teenage crises were the same as mine. Some, naturally, weren't the ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
27
Section 3
43
Section 4
54
Section 5
79
Section 6
85
Section 7
108
Section 8
130
Section 10
182
Section 11
207
Section 12
214
Section 13
231
Section 14
250
Section 15
274
Section 16
292
Section 17
299

Section 9
156

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About the author (2009)

Jennifer Baszile received her B.A. from Columbia and her Ph.D. in American history from Princeton. She was the first black female professor to join Yale University's history department and has been named one of the "Thirty Leaders of the Future" by Ebony magazine. She lives in Connecticut.

Bibliographic information