The Trouble with Virginia

The Trouble with Virginia

Michele Beller: writing the mixed-race experience of America, from Buckingham County, Virginia, to Dominica, West Indies, and beyond

Michele Beller

Finally. My book project is coming to life. My dream of writing is here. As I learn new things or have something interesting to share, I promise you, I’ll post it here. Now. Here is the story of my (first) book:

The Trouble with Virginia is a historical novel based on the true story of my great-great grandmother, Virginia. She was the daughter of a prosperous white plantation owner and a mulatto slave who lived openly as husband and wife — a dangerous way to live in the antebellum South. Virginia grew up with many privileges of her white father, yet her father had to buy her a husband from a nearby plantation. Her first two children were born into slavery—her father’s property. Then came the Civil War, marching right through Virginia’s front yard.

But this isn’t just a story about our distant past. My parents married in 1958–a time when it was still illegal for them to marry in sixteen states; like Virginia, my father is white and my mother is black. My parents believed there’s no such thing as race or color. I didn’t understand until I grew up how defining race still is; it may have been a hundred years later, but when I left home, neither side knew what to do with me. My parents loved me, but they didn’t prepare me for the fight that awaited me out in the world. I had no idea race was such a defining issue…

Read the entire article here.

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