NPR's Michele Norris offers a memoir of growing up black

michele-norris.gifNPR host and reporter Michele Norris' new book is called "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir." It's billed by Random House as a book that set out to be, "in the wake of talk of a postracial America upon Barack Obama’s ascension as president of the United States...a book about 'the hidden conversation' on race that is unfolding nationwide." Instead it became more about her own family. There's a review in Tuesday's L.A. Times by Sandy Banks. Excerpt:

Norris is familiar to NPR listeners for her soothing voice and smooth rapport on "All Things Considered." A former writer for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Washington Post, Norris displays strong reporting skills and an eye for detail as she renders perfectly a familiar slice of middle-class Midwestern life for black families in the 1960s, when every household had a Bible, a World Book Encyclopedia and two parents constantly admonishing us to dress well, speak properly, act right....

Her struggle to understand her parents, absent judgment, reflects a universal longing that often comes too late, as we try to recapture and reframe our memories, to give context to our upbringing. She painstakingly tracks down police records, pores over military documents and interviews her father's contemporaries to find the truth in family lore. Her father, Belvin Norris Jr., had been wounded in an altercation with police in 1946, just after he'd returned from military duty. The police docket recalled his arrest for "drunkenness, robbery and resisting arrest." Her investigation tells a more complicated story.

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