Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love (Hardcover)

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Say I’m Dead is the true story of family secrets, separation, courage, and trans-formation through five generations of interracial relationships. 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, New York. 

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. Later, as a Harvard-educated business executive feeling too far from her black roots, she searched her father’s black genealogy. But in the process, Johnson suddenly realized that her mother’s whole white family was—and always had been—missing. When she began to pry, her mother’s 36-year-old secret spilled out. Her mother had simply vanished from Indiana, evading an FBI and police search that had ended with the conclusion that she had been the victim of foul play.

About the Author

E. Dolores Johnson’s writing focuses on the evolution of attitudes on interracial relationships through American history, with an eye to the accelerating browning of America’s future. She has written for Narratively, Buffalo News, Lunch Ticket, The Writer of Color Anthology: Boundaries and Borders and Pangyrus, among others. Johnson has consulted on diversity for universities, major corporations, and nonprofits and has served as a panelist for the Harvard Faculty Seminar on Inter-racialism.

Praise For…

"Powerfully important and deeply moving, Say I’m Dead is a story of race, family, and identity. Dolores Johnson is the daughter of a black man and a white woman—but how and why it took her years to realize that, and to unearth the secrets that defined her family along the way, testifies to the complicated his-tory of race relations in America. Johnson lived the changes our country has gone through and continues to wrestle with, and her story will both inspire and educate.” —Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

"With protests since the killing of George Floyd pushing the issue of racial justice to the fore, this timely book tells a Buffalo story with powerful appeal." —The Buffalo News

Product Details
ISBN: 9781641602747
ISBN-10: 1641602740
Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Pages: 288