"How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood"

May 20, 2015

On this installment of StudioTulsa, we chat with the well-regarded Atlanta-based author, Jim Grimsley, who is best known for his novels "Winter Birds," "Dream Boy," and "My Drowning." Grimsley has a new memoir out, "How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood," which he tells us about. In this book, which looks back on his rural 1960s North Carolina childhood, he writes: "White people declared that the South would rise again. Black people raised one fist and chanted for black power. Somehow we negotiated a space between those poles and learned to sit in classrooms together.... Lawyers, judges, adults declared that the days of separate schools were over, but we were the ones who took the next step. History gave us a piece of itself. We made of it what we could." As a critic of this autobiography noted in The Charlotte Observer: "Excellent.... Layer by layer, young Grimsley sheds his deepest beliefs, prime among them that white skin bestows superiority.... A must-read book." And further, per Bookreporter.com: "Grimsley has a powerful tale to tell, about change and the fears and triumphs that go with it.... Despite the continued crossfire, [the author] and his classmates...desegregated the schools of Jones County and became instruments of its history."