Our hidden conversations What Americans really think about race and identity

Michele Norris

Book - 2024

"Our Hidden Conversations is a unique compilation of stories, richly reported essays, and photographs providing a window into America during a tumultuous era. This powerful book offers an honest, if sometimes uncomfortable, conversation about race and identity, permitting us to eavesdrop on deep-seated thoughts, private discussions, and long submerged memories."--

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2nd Floor EXPRESS shelf 305.8/Norris Due Apr 1, 2024
2nd Floor EXPRESS shelf 305.8/Norris Due May 1, 2024
2nd Floor New Shelf 305.8/Norris (NEW SHELF) Due May 1, 2024
2nd Floor New Shelf 305.8/Norris (NEW SHELF) Due Apr 27, 2024
2nd Floor New Shelf 305.8/Norris (NEW SHELF) Due May 13, 2024
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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster 2024.
Language
English
Main Author
Michele Norris (author)
Edition
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Physical Description
lv, 471 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781982154394
  • Prologue: A Magnificent Detour
  • Introduction: Post-Racial?
  • 1. Bread Crumbs
  • "Birthday Present: You are Black. Sorta?"
  • Mom's secret children, my mixed-race siblings."
  • "Focus on me. Not your box."
  • 2. How It Grew
  • 3. "I wish he was a girl"
  • The Photo at the Front Door
  • 4. Coins in the Couch
  • "I flourish farming ancient tribal lands"
  • "My ancestor's slave's descendant contacted me"
  • "Why do you 'play' a slave?"
  • 5. Memory Wars
  • Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung
  • 6. How Do You Define Racism?
  • "55 mph means you, Black man"
  • 7. "Black babies cost less to adopt"
  • "Chinese adoptee with two white moms"
  • "Proudfather of multi racial children"
  • 8. "Start with kids and mix well"
  • "With Kids, I'm Dad. Alone, Thug
  • The Loving Index
  • "My daughter's a 'tiggie'(repugnant half-caste)," Korean Kisses
  • "Blackcican Spanish Speaker Didn't Teach Kids"
  • 9. The Patterns Themselves Tell a Story
  • You're Pretty for a"
  • "I'm not the nanny. I'm mom."
  • Yes, I'm tobacco-pickin White trash"
  • "White husband became Iranian September 11th"
  • 10. So, You Want to Talk About Lynching?
  • "But where are you really from?"
  • 11. Color Me Surprised
  • Shifting Altitudes
  • 12. America: A Freight Train of a Word
  • Epilogue
  • "It matters like it or not"
  • Acknowledgments4
  • With Gratitude
  • Image Credits
Review by Booklist Review

NPR and Washington Post journalist Norris hoped that the book tour for her memoir, The Grace of Silence (2011), which shared the stories about racism that her family had held close until the election of President Obama, could provoke candid conversations about race. In order to give her audience a starting point, she created the Race Card Project: postcards with the prompt "Race. Your Thoughts. 6 words. Please send." Over the next 14 years, she received thousands of cards in the mail and online. Strangers sent their six words, expanding on why they chose them and how their lives had shaped them. In Our Hidden Conversations, Norris explores themes that emerged from the thought-provoking, insightful, and often painful experiences people shared. Each chapter tells stories from one postcard, interspersed with six-word responses from others. Norris creates a picture of a complicated moment in American history, in which what it means to be American is a fraught question, and at a time when demographic shifts, political extremism, and violence have increased awareness of ongoing racism in the U.S. This is an eye-opening read and an affecting examination of how race affects our lives.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A notable collection of short, pithy messages about race and identity. As Peabody Award--winning journalist Norris, the author of The Grace of Silence, notes, many Americans find it difficult to discuss race in an open-minded, productive way. In 2010, to gauge opinion about the subject, the author started a project in which she distributed cards, asking them to be returned to her with a six-word message about experiences or views connected to race. She first assumed she would receive a trickle of responses, but it became a flood, representing an impressive range of racial categories in the U.S., from white to Black to Asian to Native American and beyond. Gradually, the project expanded to include longer stories and interviews. This book is a curated collection spanning a wide spectrum of thinking. In many cases, the sense of resentment goes back decades or even generations, so deep it is difficult to see how it can be assuaged. Despite the variety of contributions, there is no clear answer to the central question of whether racial differences should be emphasized or minimized. Many Black respondents tell stories of police who automatically assume they are guilty of something, and many Asians reflect on how they feel persistently stereotyped. Numerous white contributors indicate they believe they are assuming blame for past events in which they were not involved. Norris eventually comes down on the side of the "bridge builders" who can reach across differences, rather than the dividers. "America has made commendable and incredible progress in matters of race," she writes. "I never take that for granted, but continued progress will require collective and constant toil." The author's own message? "Still more work to be done." The book features dozens of full-color photos. Norris offers crucial insight into how Americans think about race, combining the painful with the inspiring. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.