Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
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In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.
Pictured in lefthand photograph on cover: Habiba Akumu Hussein and Barack Obama, Sr. (President Obama's paternal grandmother and his father as a young boy). Pictured in righthand photograph on cover: Stanley Dunham and Ann Dunham (President Obama's maternal grandfather and his mother as a young girl).
the city swirling above his head, and the technology that spits out goods from its robot mouth. If he’s ambitious he will do his best to learn the white man’s language and use the white man’s machines, trying to make ends meet the same way the computer repairman in Newark or the bus driver back in Chicago does, with alternating spurts of enthusiasm or frustration but mostly with resignation. And if you say to him that he’s serving the interests of neocolonialism or some other such thing, he will
The street was empty, the buildings on either side boarded up, a bulk of rectangular shadows. Eventually, a young Puerto Rican woman emerged from the building, throwing a nervous look my way before heading down the street. I rushed to catch the door before it slammed shut, and, pulling my luggage behind me, proceeded upstairs to knock, and then bang, on the apartment door. Again, no answer, just a sound down the hall of a deadbolt thrown into place. New York. Just like I pictured it. I checked
more,” I had told him once, “they’d be more responsive.” Will had shaken his head. “I do listen. That’s the problem. Everything they say is wrong.” Now, after the meeting in Altgeld, Will had a new idea. “These mixed-up Negroes inside St. Catherine’s ain’t never gonna do nothing,” he said. “If we wanna get something done, we gonna have to take it to the streets!” He pointed out that many of the people who lived in the immediate vicinity of St. Catherine’s were jobless and struggling; those were
contours of my own youthful struggles. Sometimes Ruby would question me about him, exasperated with a mediocre report card or a cut on his chin, baffled by a young man’s unruly mind. “Last week he said he was going to be a rap artist,” she would report. “Today he tells me he’s going to the Air Force Academy to be a fighter pilot. When I ask him why, he just says ‘So I can fly.’ Like I was stupid. I swear, Barack, sometimes I don’t know whether to hug him or beat his skinny behind.” “Try both,”
the court as the other players pulled Kyle away. His eyes were wide, his voice trembling as he watched the orderly struggle to his feet and spit out a wad of blood. “I ain’t no punk,” Kyle muttered. And then again, “I ain’t no punk.” We were lucky; somebody had called the security guard downstairs, but the orderly was too embarrassed to admit to the incident. On the drive back, I gave Kyle a long lecture about keeping his cool, about violence, about responsibility. My words sounded trite, and