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Jan 10

Written by: Diana West
Saturday, January 10, 2009 10:23 AM 

From a book review of "The Black Girl Next Door" by Jennifer Baszile in yesterday's NYT:

Jennifer Baszile grew up in Palos Verdes Estates, an elite and nearly all-white suburb of Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s, and she and her family were sometimes called, without a hint of irony, “the real live Huxtables from ‘The Cosby Show.’ ”

They seemed to have it all figured out. Ms. Baszile’s father ran a successful metals business and drove a Mercedes; her mother was known for her volunteer work. They had a large house a block from the ocean; they were attractive and well dressed; they took expensive vacations. Ms. Baszile’s older sister was her high school’s first black homecoming queen; the author was the first black student-body president. (Today Ms. Baszile is Yale’s first black female professor of history.)

Beneath the placid surface, however, Ms. Baszile writes in her new memoir, “The Black Girl Next Door,” lay churning emotions and brewing drama — “consuming fears of poverty, failure, exclusion and rejection” — as well as a debilitating kind of rage. By moving to one of America’s most exclusive suburbs, the Basziles thought they had outrun race.

“We were sorely mistaken,” she says.

Someone should break through Ms. Baszile's ivy-covered tower to inform her that such fears are part of the human condition, Maybe then the "debilitating kind of rage" she feels would subside. But then so might her inspiration for her book. 


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