“I was a black woman according to my family, society’s one-drop rule and my birth certificate. It was culturally and legally ridiculous to wonder if I wasn’t. Yet my biological ancestry counted for absolutely nothing. My beloved mother was white.”
Former Andover resident, E. Dolores Johnson will discuss her new book, Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets and Love, with author, Grace Talusan. It's a multi-generational memoir that reveals America's changing attitudes toward race mixing, discovered through the courageous journeys of her family’s women. Johnson's parents fled to Buffalo from Indianapolis so they could marry without violating Indiana's anti-miscegenation laws. Her father was black and her mother was white. Johnson details her journey unearthing the secrets of her family, and in so doing, wrestles with identity, class, and education, aiming a potent lens at what it means to be biracial and shining more light on the racism that continues to sicken this country to this day.
“With unflinching honesty, E. Dolores Johnson shares an enthralling story of identity, independence, family and love. This timely and beautifully written memoir ends on a complicated yet hopeful note, something we need in this time of racial strife.” --De'Shawn Charles Winslow, Author of In West Mills, winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
“Powerfully important and deeply moving, Say I’m Dead is a story of race, family, and identity. E. Dolores Johnson is the daughter of a black father and a white mother — yet how and why it took her years to claim both heritages, and to unearth the secrets that defined her family, testifies to the complicated history of race relations in America. The family's changes over time mirror what our country has gone through and continues to wrestle with. Her story will both inspire and educate.” ―Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body, winner of the Lambda Literary Award