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The New Colored People: The Mixed-Race Movement in America.

The New Colored People: The Mixed-Race Movement in America by Jon Michael Spencer NYU Press, October 2000, $18.00, ISBN 0-8147-8072-5

In copious and occasionally capricious text, Spencer critically examines the history of racial mixing in America. There was a time in this country when it was openly considered more admirable to be light than dark. In a book that will surely strike a nerve with some, Spencer attempts to enlighten readers and dispel the sour adage that it is best to be "light, near white." Throughout the book, the author maintains a stoic and slightly pernicious tone. Spencer boldly espouses his belief that interracial parents were active participants in the multiracial movement essentially because they did not want their biracial children to be considered black.

In addition to Spencer's critique, The New Colored People has some revealing numbers and statistics. For example, between 1983 and 1990, there were about 9,100 applications submitted to the Race Classification Board requesting a change in racial classification. More than half of the applicants were approved and granted reclassification to white status. The author writes, "For whatever reasons mixed-race people might choose to desert blackness."

But he is not one to allow all of our chldren to go quietly into the bright light. He writes: "Despite the fact that black children are sometimes cruel to mixed-race black children and the black community is sometimes tentative about mixed-race adults and interracial marriages, there is a measure of acceptance in the black community that is rarely matched by the whites." In the end, The New Colored People is an informative, wildly opinionated read for anyone who is befuddled by the long and tenuous history of race relations in America.

Glenn Townes is a New Jersey-based writer and a frequent contributor to BIBR. His work has also appeared in Essence, Black Enterprise and Upscale.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Townes, Glenn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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