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The invisible line: three American families and the secret journey from Black to white

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Pub. Date:
2011
Language:
English
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"The Invisible Line" shines light on one of the most important, but too often hidden, aspects of American history and culture. Sharfstein's narrative of three families negotiating America's punishing racial terrain is a must read for all who are interested in the construction of race in the United States."
—Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello

In America, race is a riddle. The stories we tell about our past have calcified into the fiction that we are neatly divided into black or white. It is only with the widespread availability of DNA testing and the boom in genealogical research that the frequency with which individuals and entire families crossed the color line has become clear.

In this sweeping history, Daniel J. Sharfstein unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are. The Gibsons were wealthy landowners in the South Carolina backcountry who became white in the 1760s, ascending to the heights of the Southern elite and ultimately to the U.S. Senate. The Spencers were hardscrabble farmers in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, joining an isolated Appalachian community in the 1840s and for the better part of a century hovering on the line between white and black. The Walls were fixtures of the rising black middle class in post-Civil War Washington, D.C., only to give up everything they had fought for to become white at the dawn of the twentieth century. Together, their interwoven and intersecting stories uncover a forgotten America in which the rules of race were something to be believed but not necessarily obeyed.

Defining their identities first as people of color and later as whites, these families provide a lens for understanding how people thought about and experienced race and how these ideas and experiences evolved-how the very meaning of black and white changed-over time. Cutting through centuries of myth, amnesia, and poisonous racial politics, The Invisible Line will change the way we talk about race, racism, and civil rights.
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ISBN:
9781594202827
9781101475805
9781461839910
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID2129b340-df8d-a53b-088d-47488ea4c1df
Grouping Titleinvisible line three american families and the secret journey from black to white
Grouping Authordaniel j sharfstein
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2022-05-17 02:08:33AM
Last Indexed2022-05-17 02:44:31AM
Novelist Primary ISBNnone

Solr Details

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authorSharfstein, Daniel J
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display_description"The Invisible Line" shines light on one of the most important, but too often hidden, aspects of American history and culture. Sharfstein's narrative of three families negotiating America's punishing racial terrain is a must read for all who are interested in the construction of race in the United States."
—Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello

In America, race is a riddle. The stories we tell about our past have calcified into the fiction that we are neatly divided into black or white. It is only with the widespread availability of DNA testing and the boom in genealogical research that the frequency with which individuals and entire families crossed the color line has become clear.

In this sweeping history, Daniel J. Sharfstein unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are. The Gibsons were wealthy landowners in the South Carolina backcountry who became white in the 1760s, ascending to the heights of the Southern elite and ultimately to the U.S. Senate. The Spencers were hardscrabble farmers in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, joining an isolated Appalachian community in the 1840s and for the better part of a century hovering on the line between white and black. The Walls were fixtures of the rising black middle class in post-Civil War Washington, D.C., only to give up everything they had fought for to become white at the dawn of the twentieth century. Together, their interwoven and intersecting stories uncover a forgotten America in which the rules of race were something to be believed but not necessarily obeyed.

Defining their identities first as people of color and later as whites, these families provide a lens for understanding how people thought about and experienced race and how these ideas and experiences evolved-how the very meaning of black and white changed-over time. Cutting through centuries of myth, amnesia, and poisonous racial politics, The Invisible Line will change the way we talk about race, racism, and civil rights.
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subject_facetGibson family
Miscegenation -- Social aspects -- United States -- Case studies
Passing (Identity) -- United States -- Case studies
Race -- Social aspects -- United States -- Case studies
Race awareness -- United States -- Case studies
Racially mixed people -- Race identity -- United States -- Case studies
Spencer family
United States -- Race relations -- Case studies
Walls family
title_displayThe invisible line : three American families and the secret journey from Black to white
title_fullThe Invisible Line Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White
The invisible line : three American families and the secret journey from Black to white / Daniel J. Sharfstein
The invisible line : three American families and the secret journey from Black to white [electronic resource] / Daniel J. Sharfstein
title_shortThe invisible line
title_subthree American families and the secret journey from Black to white
topic_facetGibson family
History
Miscegenation
Nonfiction
Passing (Identity)
Politics
Race
Race awareness
Race identity
Race relations
Racially mixed people
Social aspects
Sociology
Spencer family
Walls family