The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, is the autobiography and memoir of James McBride first published in 1995; it is also a tribute to his mother, whom he calls Mommy, or Ma. The chapters alternate between James McBride's descriptions of his early life and first-person accounts of his mother Ruth's life, mostly taking place before her son was born. McBride depicts the conflicting emotions that he endured as he struggled to discover who he truly was, as his mother narrates the hardships that she had to overcome as a white, Jewish woman who chose to marry a black man in 1942.
In The Color of Water author James McBride writes both his autobiography and a tribute to the life of his mother, Ruth McBride. Ruth married Andrew Dennis McBride, a black man from North Carolina. James' childhood was spent in a chaotic household of twelve children who had neither the time nor the outlet 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. Ruth had cut all ties with her Jewish family, as they had essentially disowned her when she married James' father.
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