When White is Black

From new Author John A. Martin, Jr., When White is Black is a history of race in one American family.

When White is Black,  published by Rivers Bend Press of Stillwater, MN, relates the real life experiences of the author’s mixed race family, who, despite significant Caucasian ancestry, lived as Negroes, due to the uniquely North American One-drop rule.

The book focuses on the author’s mother; her mixed race beauty; her pride; her loving triumphs and failures as a mother; and the scourge of her evolving alcoholism and its impact on those she dearly loved. The book also highlights the fascinating racial evolution of the author’s maternal grandmother, her strength, courage, strong belief in racial justice, and boundless love for her children and grandchildren.

When White is Black features riveting stories in the lives of its characters while illuminating the socio-psychological implications of its black/white theme, and the historic, absurd, racist, divisive, American imperative known as the One-drop rule, and its frequent and ironically unifying impact on African Americans.

About the Author

John Martin’s interest in American race relations is so deeply embedded in his family heritage, that he finds it impossible to identify its beginnings. He believes that race as a social construct became an unavoidable fact of life at the point of conception for most African Americans of his generation. Nevertheless he considers himself fortunate to be a small part of the continuing movement toward a brother/sisterhood in America, which transcends race. Martin fervently hopes that When White is Black, his first published book, will offer some help in our ongoing quest to understand and move beyond the many onerous repercussions of race in America.


“Looking back on his family’s history, John Martin visits a fascinating cast of characters, some of whom he knew and loved, some of whom he heard about and admired, all of whom, whatever their lineage or skin tone, fought to survive in a nation where the One-drop Rule of racism relegated African Americans to what U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney described in 1857 as a “subordinate and inferior class of beings.”

Martin has written a memoir that matters.”Mason Drukman, author of Community and Purpose in America, Wayne Morse – A Political Biography

“Very moving because of its painful honesty. He records the corrosive effects of racism and discrimination on real people in American society. He is courageous in revealing his own emotional responses to that racism and to the disruptions in his own life that it has caused. When White is Black represents the culmination of a long and important career during which (Martin) shaped the program of Stiles Hall at the University of California at Berkeley to educate generations of young men and women to be leaders in the fight against racism. His life is a true model of activism and this book should be an inspiration to young leaders as they pursue their goals of a just society.”Clara Sue Kidwell, Professor and Director of the Native American Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma

“An extraordinary story — a richly textured genealogy that is also a vehicle for searing social commentary about two centuries of race in America. John Martin displays an uncanny ability to combine passion and restraint — and he provides us with unusual insight into the lived experience of navigating along the nation’s most volatile faultline.”Troy Duster, author of Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Colorblind Society; Director, Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge, NY University; and Chancellor’s Professor, University of California, Berkeley

“A deeply moving story of a mixed-race family’s struggle for survival and identity through several generations. The characters are impressive, charming, funny, flawed, sad, even tragic. They and the underlying theme of racism make this family story a compelling and truly American tale.”Michael O’Neill, Professor of Nonprofit Management and Founder of the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at the University of San Francisco

Purchase When White is Black from Amazon.com or River’s Bend Press

For more information, send email inquiries to info@johnmartinjr.com

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