James and Ruth's Find Themselves

The many turning points they face help with self acceptance

Power To The People

“Black power!” while the crowd roared. It frightened the shit out of me. I thought to myself, these people will kill mommy". (McBride, 27 ).
  • James finds fear in the rise of black power as he views the black activists as a threat to his caucasian mother. Although he is just a small boy, he is exposed to the harsh realities of the world and has a clear understanding of the severe turmoil between the black and white race.

Cuts Like a Knife

“Instead it smashed me across the face like a bottle when I walked into the real world”. (McBride, 204).


    • The reality of racisms cruel ways hits James emotionally as he ventures into the world on his own. As he matures into a young adult he learns more and more about how severe racism is at this time, and although he briefly hopes it will come to an end with a short matter of years, he begins to understand that this will be a brutal endeavor for justice.

Ruth's Transformation

One In the Same

“[Mommy] viewed the civil rights achievements of African Americans with pride, as if they were her own. And she herself occasionally talked about ‘the white man’ in third person as if she had nothing to do with him, and in fact she didn’t, since most of her friends were black women from church”. (McBride,32).

  • Ruth finds a connection with African Americans on a personal level and prides the civil rights achievements as if she were one and the same of the black people. She resonates with the black people as she has many black friends who influence her outlook and personality.

Not All That Glitters is Gold

“Am I black or white?” “You’re a human being,” she snapped. “Educate yourself or you’ll be a nobody!”


  • Ruth tells her children that education is key to having a great future. She knows that education is important because she didn't have a great education and she wants that for her children. Ruth explains that an educated mind is everything. Regardless of color, a small mind is valueless. Ruth helps James understand that it is not what color you are but who you are inside that matters.

Open Arms, Grateful Heart

“My black friends never asked me how much money I made, or what school my children went to, or anything like that. They just said, "Come as you are."

pages 109-110

  • Ruth appreciates the humble quality she finds in black people. She feels safe with them and for the first time feels genuinely welcomed as she is viewed as an outcast by many others at her school. Ruth feels that the black people accept her for who she is regardless things such as financial status or race.
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"The question of race was like the power of the moon…It’s what made the river flow, the ocean swell, and the tide rise, but it was a silent power, intractable, indomitable, indisputable, and thus completely ignorable. " (McBride, 94)


  • In the McBride household race was something to be proud of but also not a big topic of conversation. Race was who you were and the children were to be taught to be proud of that.

“I was ashamed of my mother, but see, love didn't come natural to me until I became a Christian." (page 38)


  • Ruth explains that in this quote that loving people didn't come easy to her. She didn't learn to love until she became a christian. Ruth learned how to accept and love others. She learned how to love others and her mother.
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“in fact that’s what I liked about black folks all my life: They never judged me. My black friends never asked me how much money I made, or what school my children went to, or anything like that. They just said, “Come as you are.” Blacks have always been peaceful and trusting.” (pgs.109-110)
  • Ruth sees in her community of black that the people accept her for who she is. They do not judge her on her color or that she's a white women with black children. As they accept her she learns how to accept who she is and to come as herself.