The Skin Between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging

The Skin Between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging

W. W. Norton
May 2006
240 pages
5.8 × 8.6 in
ISBN: 978-0-393-05890-1

Kym Ragusa, Professor of Nonfiction &  Professor Writing
Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina
Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Massachusetts Inistitute of Technology

A memoir of astonishing delicacy and strength about race and physical beauty.

Kym Ragusa’s stunningly beautiful, brilliant black mother constantly turned heads as she strolled the streets of West Harlem. Ragusa’s working-class white father, who grew up only a few streets (and an entire world) away in Italian East Harlem, had never seen anyone like her. At home their families despaired at the match, while in the streets the couple faced taunting threats from a city still racially divided—but they were mesmerized by the differences between them.

From their volatile, short-lived pairing came a sensitive child with a filmmaker’s observant eye. Her two powerful grandmothers gave her the love and stability to grow into her own skin. Eventually, their shared care for their granddaughter forced them to overcome their prejudices. Rent parties and religious feste, baked yams and baked ziti—Ragusa’s sensuous memories are a reader’s delight, as they bring to life the joy, pain, and inexhaustible richness of a racially and culturally mixed heritage.

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