This annotated reading list was prepared by Jonathan
J. Hutson, Program Manager of "Dialogues Online:
Racial Healing in Our Communities," a joint initiative
of America Online/Digital City, Inc., and the nonprofit
Western Justice Center. This list of case studies,
surveys, and personal narratives is not intended to
be comprehensive. However, these recently published
titles describe a range of real-life experiences,
viewpoints and strategies of couples who are learning
to deal with differences.
Age Different Relationships: Finding Happiness with
an Older or Younger Love
Jack Mumey and Cynthia Tinsley. Fairview Press, 1993.
In the first of two collaborative projects on relationships,
Tinsley teams with Mumey--the author of several books
on sobriety and living with recovering alcoholics--to
offer anecdotes and advice from couples bridging differences
Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White
Mother of Black Sons
Jane Lazarre. Duke University Press, 1996.
Novelist Lazarre renders an autobiographical account
describing the emotional costs and rewards of her interracial
marriage and motherhood of two sons who are black
and Jewish. "Most of the time," she writes,
"there are two different worlds, and I see it,
feel it, am no longer privileged to be blind to it,
as most white people are.''
Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About
Lise Funderburg, editor. William Morrow and Company,
A biracial journalist presents personal accounts of
life on the (dotted) color line from 46 children of
biracial unions. The autobiographical essays invite
readers to question whether the myth of the "tragic
mulatto" matches the reality of biracial children,
who reveal feelings about family, work and community
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White
James McBride. Riverhead Books, 1997.
A loving portrait of Ruth McBride Jordan, who was raised
in Poland as an Orthodox rabbi's daughter, and who
traveled to New York, married a man from Harlem, founded
a Christian congregation, and put twelve children
The Modern Madame Butterfly: Fantasy
and Reality in Japanese Cross-Cultural Relationships
Karen Ma. Charles E. Tuttle, 1996.
Ma, a Hong Kong native, re-evaluates Western stereotypes of Asian
women, notably Puccini's operatic treatment of Madame
Butterfly as a servile, self-sacrificing, tragic figure.
She describes traditional and modern gender relations
in Japan, and explores Japanese views of Western men
and women, including people of color and European Americans.
Through dozens of case studies, she investigates the
illusions, assumptions and aspirations of a spectrum
of contemporary Japanese-Western couples.
Cross-Cultural Marriage: Identity and Choice
Rosemary Anne Berger and Rosanna Hill, editors. New
York University Press, 1998.
This compendium on mixed marriages spans the globe
to present a variety of worldviews on couples who cross
borders of culture, faith and ethnicity. Contributors
explore social, political and legal treatments of
cross-cultural marriages in several nations, including
Mallorca, Uganda, Germany and East Nepal. Topics include
political ramifications seen in the case of a Ghanaian/African-American
couple; intermarriage between Africans and Indians
in Guyana; ideals and realities of cross-cultural marriages
within Islam; and an examination of English and North
American daughters-in-law in the Hindu joint family.
Different Daughters: A Book by Mothers of Lesbians,
Louise Rafkin, editor. Cleis Press, 1996.
Twenty-nine mothers of lesbians trace their journeys
toward acceptance of their daughters. Sharing complex
feelings about their daughters, their grandchildren,
the meaning of community and the role of religion,
this diverse group of authors raises questions common
to all mothers: How can we accept our children for
who they are? How can we love our children even when
they are different from us? Some updated entries follow
their original accounts to show how relationships
have evolved since the first edition of 1987.
Enabling Romance: A Guide to Love, Sex, and Relationships
for the Disabled (And the People Who Care About Them)
Ken Kroll and Erica Levy Klein. Mark Langeneckert,
illustrator. Woodbine House, 1992.
This guide to creative intimacy and physical relations
for disabled people and their partners addresses how
couples build self esteem, enjoy romantic relationships
and plan families.
How My Family Lives in America
Susan Kuklin. Simon and Schuster Children's, 1992.
Photo essayist Kuklin illustrates first-person accounts
of urban family life by three children--Sanu, a girl
whose father was born in Senegal and whose mother
grew up in Maryland; Eric, whose mother was born in
New York and whose father is from Puerto Rico; and
April, whose parents were born and raised in Taiwan.
The families are shown enjoying American cultural
activities, such as baseball, while preserving values
and traditions reflective of their ethnic heritages.
For example, Sanu and her father shop for an African
dish, and April accompanies her siblings to Chinese
school, where they practice calligraphy.
Interfaith Wedding Ceremonies: Samples and Sources
Joan C. Hawxhurst, editor. Dovetail Publishing, 1996.
This practical guide describes a variety of sample
ceremonies and discusses how interfaith couples have
negotiated issues such as how to honor two families
with different faith traditions and beliefs, and how
to choose an officiant. Hawxhurst serves on the Interfaith
Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches.
A practicing United Methodist, she lives with her
Jewish husband and two children in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
She is the author of several books for grade school
students, including Bubbe and Gram: My Two Grandmothers
(Dovetail Press, 1996). Bubbe and Gram won the 1998
Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution
to Children's Literature, given by the Church and
Synagogue Library Association.
Lesbian Step Families: An Ethnography of Love
Janet M. Wright. Haworth Press, 1998.
Five lesbian couples demonstrate how they successfully
define parenting roles, cope with the prejudices of
neighbors and families of origin, and negotiate loving
relationships with step children. The book includes
personal experiences and viewpoints, and offers guidelines
for creating functioning family structures and supportive
environments. The study's author, Janet M. Wright,
Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the
Department of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin,
Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial,
Interethnic and Interfaith Relationships
Joel Crohn. Fawcett Book Group, 1995.
A psychotherapist surveys his 14 years of research
on the unique strains and strategies of mixed marriages,
and offers couples practical tools to develop skills
necessary to make their marriages thrive. He includes
exercises, questionnaires, models of conflict resolution,
and sample dialogues to show how mixed couples and
families have bridged differences, plus a resource
section of bibliographies and support groups.
Names We Call Home: Autobiography on Racial Identity
Becky Thompson and Sangeeta Tyagi, editors. Routledge,
Twenty-seven autobiographical sketches show how individuals
integrate many kinds of diversity in building identities
and forming relationships. The narratives, each accompanied
by the writer's photographic portrait, present diverse
viewpoints on the formation of racial identity in the
contexts of childhood education, class struggles,
lesbian and gay identity, academia, immigration, religious
faith and interracial relationships.
Of Many Colors: Portraits of Multiracial Families
Gigi Kaeser, photographer, with an introduction by
Peggy Gillespie and Glenda Valentine. University of
Massachusetts Press, 1997.
Based on an award-winning photo exhibit, this book
documents the feelings and experiences of 39 families
who have bridged ethnic and cultural divides through
marriage or adoption. Contradicting stereotypes, the
children and adults interviewed have much to say about
the most intimate form of integration, familial love.
Slaves in the Family. Edward Ball
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
The author presents factual and emotional discoveries
made in his odyssey to uncover his family origins.
From plantation records, interviews with descendents
of both the Balls and their slaves, and travels to
Africa and the American South, he reconstructs his
ancestral history and considers how the legacy of
slavery continues to resonate in the present.
Still Me. Christopher Reeve
Random House, 1998.
This autobiography tells how the actor best known for
portraying Superman learned to face the challenges
of paralysis with the help of family and friends.
Beginning with the 1995 horseback riding accident
that left him a quadriplegic, Reeve weaves back and
forth in time, recalling his earlier life of adventurous
physical activity and his current role as a champion
of spinal cord research. He describes how he battled
depression and reclaimed his sense of purpose with
the help of longtime friends, such as comedian and
fellow Juliard alumnus Robin Williams, and family,
especially his wife Dana and son Will. Rejecting self
pity, Reeve recounts that soon after the accident,
3-year-old Will asked whether his Dad would ever be
able to walk or to play soccer with him. Dana answered,
"We don't know sweetheart, but maybe not."
Will reflected for a moment before concluding, "Well
he can still smile."
Strangers to the Tribe: Portraits of Interfaith Marriage
Gabrielle Glaser. Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
Glaser, who was raised Protestant and is married to
a Jew, interviewed scores of interfaith couples of
various ages and ethnicities throughout the US. She
details the stories of 12 Jewish-and-Gentile couples,
showing how they reconcile faith traditions and holidays,
relate to inlaws, and rear children.
Swaying: Essays on Intercultural Love
Jessie Carroll Grearson and Lauren B. Smith, editors.
University of Iowa Press, 1995.
This anthology presents essays by women of diverse
cultural and national backgrounds, who describe their
romantic commitments across ethnic, cultural and religious
lines. This book aims "to do two things at once:
acknowledge the sometimes anguishingly difficult, sometimes
unsolvable, dilemmas of intercultural couples and
celebrate the creative solutions that many couples
find." Evocative titles include "Voodo Faust,"
"Another Traditional Arab-Jewish Iowa Potluck,"
and "Crossing Cultures: The Story of a Chinese
Man and an American Woman."
Transplanted Woman: A Study of French-American Marriages
Gabrielle Varro. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1988.
The study examines the dynamics of bicultural, bilingual
families from the viewpoints of expatriate American
wives who take French husbands, reside in France,
and struggle to instill an appreciation of the English
language and American culture in their Franco-American
children. The author emphasizes the role of the father
in supporting or undermining the authority of the
mother in transmitting her language and culture.