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"The Color Of Water" By James Mc Bride A Tribute From A Black Man To His Jewish Mother

953 words - 4 pages

In The Color of Water, author James McBride writes both his autobiography and a tribute to the life of his mother, Ruth McBride. Ruth came to America when she was a young girl in a family of Polish Jewish immigrants. Ruth married Andrew Dennis McBride, a black man from North Carolina. James's childhood was spent in a chaotic household of twelve children who had neither the time nor the chance to ponder questions of race and identity. Ruth did not want to discuss the painful details of her early family life, when her abusive father Tateh lorded over her sweet-tempered and meek mother Mameh. James weaves his own life story into his mother's story. Ruth's philosophies on race, religion, and work influence him greatly. Ruth always sent her children to the best schools, no matter the commute, to ensure they received the finest possible education. She demanded respect and hard work from her children, and always treated them tenderly. She had an unwavering faith in God and strong moral convictions. To Ruth, issues of race and identity took secondary importance to moral beliefs.Ruth McBride was born in Poland in 1921. Ruth Jordan was a Jewish immigrant to the United States. Her family traveled around the country as her father tried to capitalize on his difference as a rabbi. The family could not make a living this way, and eventually settled down in Suffolk, Virginia, and opened a general store. They lived above the store, which was located in the mostly black section of town.Ruth's father, Tateh, was racist, and overcharged his black customers. Ruth resisted her father's prejudices and pity with the black people in her town. She recognized that the Ku Klux Klan, and the white population in general, fostered a tense, violence atmosphere. As a Jew, Ruth found herself excluded from the white world of the South, and felt she could partially identify with the hardships of her black neighbors.Ruth's adult life differed greatly from her life with her family in Suffolk. She married a black man, Andrew Dennis McBride, and became Ruth McBride. She had eight children with Dennis, who died while Ruth was pregnant with her son James. The family lived in Harlem together for years. In Harlem, Ruth lost the privilege she had enjoyed in the South. She socialized with black people and started to consider herself as a black woman. Ruth converted from Judaism to Christianity after her move to New York. She became increasingly involved with local churches, and eventually opened her own church with her husband. Ruth's parents had forced Judaism on her, causing her to resent religion. She embraced Christianity because she discovered it on her own. After her separation from her family, Ruth needed some source of relief from the guilt she felt, and she found that relief in Christianity's emphasis on...

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