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Tidewater Review by Anne Stinson

How I Shed My Skin ~ Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood by Jim Gr imsley. A lgonquin Book s of Chapel Hill. 275 pp. $23.95. Shortly before the killing spree in Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that took the lives of nine worshipers, Jim Grimsley’s book came out, a soul search for the origin of his lessons in prejudice. Before he even entered the first grade, he was confused about the reason not to play with black children. That was a mystery to the little boy, inasmuch as his family was poor, moved often, but nearly always next to black neighbors, and in the same old, dilapidated houses, often with no bathrooms, only outhouses, and under-the-bed pots. His mother emphasized the importance of being polite, but rarely gave a reason for her order to not speak to and to avoid the “colored children,” as “polite” people spoke of them. The “N” word was only used by men, and especially drinkers. Jim’s father was an alcoholic with a fiery temper who lost one arm in an

accident. Jim’s fear of violence kept him silent most of the time. He was “a bleeder,” the common word for hemophilia, so he was not allowed to join sports with other boys when he entered school. He was taunted by the boys, who called him a sissy. He was content to make friends with girls, a habit that lasted into his adulthood. His first five school years passed easily in the all-white


August 2015 ttimes web magazine  

August 2015 Tidewater Times

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