Real American: A Memoir
I wrote Real American to share my journey of growing up black and biracial in white spaces, where I experienced enough microaggressions and outright racism that I began to loathe myself even though I was outwardly “making it.” It’s been good to get these stories up and out of me, and I feel lucky to get to have the chance to contribute to the national conversation about who we are as a country, who belongs, and the great weight of racism that sits upon the American heart.
At my talks and readings in cities and towns across America, people of all stripes are opening up to why we have such a hatred of blackness, and what we can do about it. People from other marginalized communities share that they can relate to much of what I’ve written. But I think that my greatest pleasure in being the author of this book comes from the connections I’ve made with Black and biracial folk who have had similar experiences. Some come up to me in the book signing line to say that a story I shared “broke open something inside” of them, or they’ll send me a handwritten note, or a message on social media. I’ve been so moved by these conversations – by how they seem to help that person heal, by the joy I feel in holding a space for them - that I’ve decided to try to make room for more of these stories to be told as part of the personal and national healing that so desperately needs to happen. Toward that end, I’m developing a podcast where I’ll create and hold space for someone to share one story about being on the receiving end of microaggressions or outright racism. I know firsthand that when we dare to tell our pain first to ourselves, and then to someone else, we begin to release its grip. Real American has been that tool for me. And I want to help others do the same. Stay tuned!
About the book
Winner of the 2018 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award
"Lythcott-Haims never comes to a tidy conclusion about how to view race relations in America, because there isn’t one. By allowing us to witness a woman coming to terms with herself, and finding nothing but pride and love there, she offers a blueprint for how others might try to do the same.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“In daringly original prose . . . [Lythcott-Haims] wades defiantly into the tricky waters of racism and its devastating impact on building institutions and undermining individuals.”
“[S]ure to invoke your internal amen choir.”
“A necessary and timely read for anyone looking not just to learn but to understand.”
"A candid, deeply personal look at race relations within a family and a nation, and a story that will feel familiar to anyone who hungers for a sense of belonging."