Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Color Blind - Precious Williams

Prepare to be shocked.  Prepare to be angry. And then prepare to want more. From journalist Precious Williams comes the true story of a brown girl living in a white world, trying to figure out where she fits.  Published in the UK as Precious, Color Blind is the title chosen for the United States' release.

Dating back to the 1950s, it was not uncommon for Nigerian families to send their children to live with white families in England in a situation best described as private fostering.  Rather than go through agencies similar to those here in America, families would simply advertise their child in the local papers, in hopes that a family would be willing to raise them until they were ready to do so themselves.  Unlike foster care in the US, the birth parents paid the families directly for the care of their child.  In most instances, the parents were not poor or seemingly neglectful, as are many parents in America's system.  Rather, these were parents that came to England to pursue education or job opportunities and hindered by their children, sent them to a full time family to care for them until time and money afforded them the chance to do so themselves.

It is into this world that Precious Anita Williams is born.  The descendant of Nigerian royalty, she is deposited with an elderly couple in a small, English town shortly after birth.  In what I can only imagine is a painful and confusing existence, Precious is made all too aware that she fits into neither the predominantly white world she lives in, nor the Nigerian world that her mother thrusts her into on a whim.

Ridiculed at times and ignored the rest of the time by classmates, Anita's small group of friends consists of her sixty year old foster mother, Nanny; Nanny's adult daughter, Wendy; and her son-in-law, Mick.  Occasionally other foster children are introduced into her world, but unlike her placement with Nanny, they never stay for long.  Anita's birth mother, Elizabeth, occasionally sweeps into her world like a tornado bringing with her a whirlwind of criticism and material items, but rarely a kind word or affection.

It is no wonder then that later in life when she finds herself pregnant, Anita seems to have few qualms about giving her own child over to Wendy for fostering while she completes school and begins her career.  The example set by her mother, and from what she has witnessed with other fostered children leads her to this conclusion.
Having babies is something African women can do, but -- from what I've seen in my life so far -- it's only white women who can be truly material...Can someone like me -- a pseudo-African -- really compete with Wendy when it comes to raising a baby properly and being a decent mother?
Though some would find the intentions of Nanny, Anita's foster mother, noble, I found myself questioning her motives several times.  By her own account she had a fondness for, and a fascination with, African children, desiring her own version of Topsy, a character from Uncle Tom's Cabin.  In addition, her nickname for Anita was Nin, short for Pickaninny.  It is no wonder that upon reading Uncle Tom's Cabin at Nanny's recommendation, Anita came away feeling less than desirable.  Imagine reading the following as a child, knowing that the woman raising you had announced you as her own personal Topsy.
She was quite black.  Her round, shining eyes glittered like glass beads.  Her woolly hair was plaited into little tails which stuck out in all directions.  Her clothes were dirty and ragged.  Miss Ophelia thought she had never seen such a dreadful little girl in all her life.
I really had a hard time deciding who I was angrier with: the white foster family that seems to revel in Anita's skin color while, at the same time, trying to white wash her; or her mother, who doesn't provide love, nurturing, stability within her household, or long term education about her cultural background.  I applaud the author for being courageous enough to share her story and overcoming so many obstacles to become the person she is today.

241 pp
Published August 2010
Disclosure: Book was provided by the publisher.






Theme: Someday We'll All Be Free by Donny Hathaway



Tour Schedule
Monday, July 12         Books And... & Literanista
Tuesday, July 13        Reads4Pleasure
Wednesday, July 14   BrownGirl BookSpeak & Notorious Spinks Talks

Thursday, July 15       Arms of a Sister
Friday, July 16           Precision Reviews
About the Author
Precious Williams was first published aged eight when her poem took first prize in a poetry competition (she won £2).

Since then she has been a Contributing Editor at Elle, Cosmopolitan and the Mail on Sunday. Precious' work has also been published in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, Glamour, Korean Vogue, New York magazine, Wallpaper and several other publications. Her journalism focuses on health and lifestyle features and celebrity interviews. Notable interviewees include Nina Simone, Yoko Ono, Jon Bon Jovi, P Diddy, Bryan Ferry, Lenny Kravitz and Naomi Campbell.

Born in the UK, Precious is of Sierra Leonean and Nigerian descent and she has lived in London and in New York. She studied Periodical Journalism at the London College of Printing and English Language & Literature at Oxford.

Her first book, Precious: A True Story is a memoir about her childhood in foster care. The book is titled Color Blind in the US. Both editions will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2010.
www.preciouswilliams.com 


Giveaway: Enter to win your own copy of Color Blind!

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All entries must be received by 5:00 pm CST, Friday, July 16.

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