The Color Of Water Before I read ‘The Color of Water,’ by James McBride, I saw his appearance on 20/20, discussing his quest to discover the background of his mysterious, marvelous mother. McBride said he didn’t even know his mother’s maiden name, much less about her Orthodox Jewish background, until he prodded it from her because he needed it for school records. ‘Shilsky,’ she told him, impatiently, offering no further details. McBride, who is now about 42 years old, said he asked no more questions of her, but added when he was ‘bonding’ in Black Pride with his college friends, playing bongo drums and jazz music, he’d think: ‘Shilsky.
Shilsky. Something’s funny here… .’ . Watching him on television, such a fascinating, articulate and yet entertaining man, made me curious about his amazing mother. This curiosity was of course dismissed, but then I was given a copy of his book for your class. None of Ruth McBride’s 12 children knew anything of substance about her background.
When they asked what color she was, she would answer, ‘I am no color’ and say that God is ‘the color of water.’ Ruth Shilsky, whose father was an abusive Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, treated her and her mother extremely cruelly when she was a young girl in Suffolk, Virginia. Jews were discriminated against second only to blacks. But Ruth fell in love with a young black man, became pregnant by him, and was sent to live with an aunt in New York City. She never went home again. She felt much more at home in 1940 s Harlem, and fell in love with another black man, having a baby and living with him for more than a year before they were wed and had several more children.
Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood, which defines us." Color is the main character in The Handmaiden's Tale written by Margaret Atwood. I believe that this new world is a division of color. It is used to define each persons station in their new life, sets them apart from each other at a glance. Gilead is a new culture that is being used to build on a new way of ...
They made a good life together, but he died. Ruth later married yet another remarkable black man, having more children with him for a total of 12. James was in the middle, precocious, curious, and bright and at risk for becoming a street kid. But he didn’t have that much time.
He didn’t know why at the time, but his mother made him and his siblings attend a Jewish school out of their neighborhood, feeling that they would receive a better education there. As a young man, McBride started down the wrong path — smoking dope, stealing, hanging out with bad company. But his stern mother seemed to intervene at the right time, delivering the fear and discipline McBride needed. All 12 of Ruth McBride’s children received college degrees, masters’ degrees, and several became physicians, attorneys and scientists. McBride has been a journalist for some of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers, and also is a jazz musician whose songs have been recorded by Anita Baker. McBride’s loving tribute to his mother shows a deep respect, appreciation and compassion for a young, frightened outcast Jewish girl who found comfort, religious fulfillment, love and acceptance in New York City’s black population, and at a time when it took great courage to do so.
Feisty Ruth considered herself ‘born’ again when she moved to New York. She eventually received her own college degree, with all of her successful children attending. Readers can be grateful for McBride’s curiosity and persistence in getting is intensely private, mysterious mother to finally share her remarkable story with both her children, and the world.