Say I'm Dead

Say I'm Dead
Say I'm Dead

Say I'm Dead

A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love
By E. Dolores Johnson


288 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, Mobipocket, EPUB, PDF

PDF, $20.99 (US $20.99) (CA $27.99)

ISBN 9781641602754

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Jun 2020)
Lawrence Hill Books


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The true story of family secrets, separation, courage, and transformation through three generations that mirrors America's changing attitudes on race
Say I'm Dead is the true story of family secrets, separation, courage and transformation through three generations that mirrors America's changing attitudes on race mixing from abomination to acceptable. Fearful of prison time—or lynching—for violating Indiana's antimiscegenation laws in the 1940s, E. Dolores Johnson's black father and white mother fled Indianapolis to secretly marry in Buffalo. Her mother simply vanished, evading an FBI and police search that ended with the declaration to her family that she was the victim of foul play: either dead or sold into white slavery.When Johnson was born, social norms and her government-issued birth certificate said she was Negro, nullifying her mother's white blood in her identity. As an African American, she withstood the advice of a high school counselor who said that blacks don't go to college by graduating from Harvard. Then, as a code-switching business executive getting too far from her black roots, she searched her father's black genealogy. Johnson was amazed to suddenly realize that her mother's whole white side was—and always had been—missing. When confronted, her mother's decades-old secret spilled out. Despite her parents' crippling and well-founded fears of rejection and reprisals, and her black militant brother's accusation that she was a race traitor, Johnson went searching for the white family who did not know she existed. When she found them, it's not just their shock and her mama's shame that have to be overcome, but her own fraught experiences with whites.Decades later, Johnson's millennial African American daughter joins a growing interracial demographic and freely marries her white husband. Her white father-in-law gives the toast at their reception and both families celebrate together. Nevertheless, Johnson's family remains vigilant, fully aware that America's struggle with race is far from over. 

Author Biography

E. Dolores Johnson has consulted on diversity for think tanks, universities, major corporations and nonprofits and has served as a panelist for the Harvard Faculty Seminar on Inter-racialism. Johnson is a former Fortune 500 marketing vice president who later oversaw the digitization of John F. Kennedy's presidential papers. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Howard University. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.