I'm Down

Introduction

I'm Down is a memoir by the American author Mishna Wolff, originally published by St. Martin's Press in 2009. In the book she relates her experience of being white while growing up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood and having a different financial situation and culture than the other white children than the ones at her upper class, private school filled with mostly white kids. She fights for acceptance in her neighborhood as she is perceived as "too white" while she struggles with acceptance (and accepting others) in her prestigious school. Mishna has trouble dealing with bullying from her peers, meeting the expectations her father sets for her (no matter how unusual they seem), the pressure she puts on herself, and learning who she is while society is pushing and pulling her into what they want her to be. She competes with the children in her neighborhood to be the funniest, the meanest, and the toughest while she strives to be rich, successful, and seemingly carefree like her school friends. When she returns home to her father and his many girlfriends and potential wives, she suppresses her school side to impress her father, while at her mom's house and at school she suppresses her neighborhood life to appeal to her mother. The theme of the book is the conflict she faces as she discovers two very different cultures and how they clash in her own life while she is stressed to discover herself as well. She spends the book (her life) trying to figure out which culture, which household, which side of the family she belonged to.[1]


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