Monday, March 25, 2019
A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Thomas Williams’ forthcoming book “Self- Portrait in Black and White” is the story of one American family’s multi-generational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. A writer and national fellow at the New America, Williams will discuss how he spent his whole life believing the all-American dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he never rigorously reflected on its spurious foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children in Paris has led him to question these long-held beliefs; it’s not that he believes that he is no longer black or that his daughter is white, but believes that these categories cannot adequately capture his family or anyone else for that matter.
Thomas Chatterton Williams is the author of “Losing My Cool” and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's and the London Review of Books. He is a 2019 New America Fellow and the recipient of a Berlin Prize.
Food for Thought: Podcast with Thomas Williams