An Excerpt From When White is Black

“Mother said that for a long while after my grandmother’s sudden racial metamorphosis, Maud was consumed with thoughts related to its impact on her life and the lives of her parents. At first the teenaged Maud felt a mixture of confusion, anger, resentment, paranoia, and fear. She couldn’t understand why or how the words of an ignorant black ingrate, uttered on her family’s front porch, could instantly change her life and the world around her. It made no sense to her.

“The questions that perplexed Maud early on she was able to answer when she became aware of the pervasive nature of racism and the pain this evil inflicted upon Negroes. For the first time in her life, Maud’s senses became tuned to how colored people experienced daily life, the humiliations they suffered, and the real barriers they had to overcome just to exist. Listening to what colored people had to say about their lives, she realized that even her new powers of observation missed the mountains of degradation colored people had long endured.”

When White is Black is a 191 page paperback book, published by River’s Bend Press, Stillwater, Minnesota. U.S.A. It may be purchased at

About John A. Martin, Jr.

John A. Martin, Jr. was raised in Berkeley, California, where he later spent the bulk of his professional career, as the general director of a social service agency. His life journey has included four years of service in the U.S. Air Force, B.A. and M.A. degrees from San Francisco State University and the University of Omaha respectively, post Master's degree study at Tufts University and the University of California at Berkeley, and a wonderfully satisfying professional life working in anti-poverty programs, social service, education, and civil rights organizations. Martin is currently retired and resides in Novato, CA.
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3 Responses to An Excerpt From When White is Black

  1. Denyse & Alyce Jones says:

    Hello Johnny Boy;

    This is such a beautiful, well designed and heartwarming site. I’ve had such a challenging time finding a thoughtful web designer. So glad to see you are on it.

    Since reading our family history (your tome), I’ve been doing some research on Whoa can that be addicting, in a fantastic way!

    We’ve always respected you as the Family Archivist. We hope you will continue to enlighten and make us all better people.

    Let’s make plans to all go to dinner in the near future.

    Your cousins

    • John A. Martin, Jr. says:

      Hi Cousins,

      So glad you like the website. All the credit for its beautiful design belongs to my gorgeous, and amazing youngest daughter. The website was her surprise birthday present to me this past November. I had absolutely no idea what she was up to. “Dad,” she said, “give me a few short pieces of your writing that you wouldn’t mind eyes other than mine seeing.” That should have been a telltale clue, but, duh, I still didn’t get it. I thought maybe she wanted to show a friend examples of bad writing, and knew she could count on ole dad to provide a few.

      Yeah, ancestry research can be addictive. If you’d like I’d be willing to share Professor Henry L. Gates’ reply to my letter. My letter to Gates is posted on this website, and he sent me a polite response, which didn’t yield the assistance I desired, but you may find his suggestions useful. Let me know if you’re interested. My e-mail address is

      Dinner in the near future would be terrific. We can select a restaurant in the City, Marin, or wherever you’d like.

      Love you both,

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