The Color of Water

what comments does she make about discrimination?

in the book called the color of water by james Mcbride

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 2
Add Yours

"I thought it would be easier if we were just one color, black or white. I didn't want to be white. My siblings had already instilled the notion of black pride in me. I would have preferred that Mommy were black. Now, as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds."

Here James muses on the particular difficulty of being biracial. He says that he underwent a complete attitude transformation during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. He went from resenting his mother's race to feeling blessed to have come from a mixed race union. When James was a child, he knew nothing about his mother's Jewish background, and his siblings' fostered in him a resentful attitude toward whites. As a result, he found his mother's whiteness problematic. When he grew older, however, and became more aware of the state of race relations in the country and in his family, he began to accept and eventually appreciate his dual racial identity.


You know death was always around Suffolk, always around. It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off.

Here Ruth discusses her upbringing in Suffolk, Virginia in the 1920s and 1930s, when racial tensions reached a fever pitch. She captures a particular quality of the South in this statement—the covert nature of death and hate that lay beneath sugarcoated Southern manners. This disgust at the South and at the Southern way of hiding menace with smiles remains with Ruth, who stills refuses to set foot in the South except for brief visits.


On page 101 James' mother says,"Come and let's walk to the store". He replied,"I can go by myself".

James has a distinct feeling that he needs to "hide" his mother due to her race and color. He is learning about discrimination, and even discriminating himself as a form of protection.


The Color of Water