Self-Portrait in Black and White

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

Thomas Chatterton Williams

In Self-Portrait in Black and White, Thomas Chatterton Williams creates a distance between himself and categories like black, white or biracial by putting the terms in quotation marks. Before he became the husband of a “white” woman and the father of two blonde-haired, blue-eyed children, Williams was raised to be keenly aware of the politics of “passing” by his own “black” father. In his book, an analysis of our conception of racial identity, Williams urges people not to let race determine identity or behavior. Instead, he counsels that we should all be aware of the enduring significance of group identities—while limiting how much they define us.

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