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Evenings with an Author: Thomas Chatterton Williams in conversation with Lauren Collins

November 19 @ 19 h 30 min - 21 h 00 min

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

It is not that he has come to believe that he is no longer black or that his kids are white, Thomas notes. It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of them—or anyone else, for that matter. Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

Thomas is the author of Losing My Cool and Self-Portrait in Black and White. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor at the American Scholar and a 2019 New America Fellow. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Harper’s and elsewhere, and has been collected in The Best American Essays and The Best American Travel Writing. He has received support from Yaddo, MacDowell and The American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Paris with his wife and children.
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Lauren Collins began contributing to The New Yorker in 2003 and became a staff writer in 2008. She is the author of When in French: Love in a Second Language, which the Times named as one of its 100 Notable Books of 2016. She is working on a second book, about a coup d’état perpetrated by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, and its effects on the city during the past hundred and twenty years.
A public reception and book sale will follow the event, with books provided by The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore.

Details

Date:
November 19
Time:
19 h 30 min - 21 h 00 min
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