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The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir

by Jennifer Baszile

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The Book
The Black Girl Next Door - Paperback cover
  • The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir
  • Publisher: Touchstone/ Simon & Schuster
  • Pub. Date: January 13, 2009
  • ISBN: 1416543287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416543282

A powerful memoir of a black girl's coming of age in an exclusive Southern California suburb in the 1970s and '80s.

At age three, when Jennifer Baszile's family relocated to predominately white Palos Verdes, she formed the questions that would define her girlhood: "Why did we move here? What am I doing here?"

"We love the ocean view," her parents would nervously reply. Or, "The schools are really outstanding."

But Jennifer knew they weren't telling the whole story. If her school was so great, why, when she won a footrace in first grade, did her teacher agree with a classmate that blacks "have something in their feet to make them run faster than white people"? And why, when Jennifer's father accompanied her to school next day, was he careful to "assert himself as an informed and concerned parent and not simply a big, black, dangerous man"?

There were many more skirmishes—and questions—as Jennifer struggled to define herself as "the black girl next door." Meanwhile she and her older sister were expected to be the smartest and achieve the most. There was no excuse for failure, but the quest to be the perfect black family created an unbearable burden.

A deeply personal view of a significant period of American social history, The Black Girl Next Door deftly balances childhood experiences with adult observations, creating an illuminating and poignant look at a unique time in our country's history.

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Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
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