I love reading, and often wonder about how the voices of authors sound. Many times the narration I read in my head sounds quite different from the authors themselves.
I read Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away years ago, and was delighted to hear June Cross’s voice in my ear on The Moth podcast. In both the book and the memoir, June describes growing up as the secret daughter of a white actress and black comedian during the 1950s. In the podcast “Walk the Line,” June describes attending a Johnny Cash concert with her mother, and how that experience gave her a way to “walk the line” and thus balance her African-American and white identities, which she had previously seen as separate, and believed that she had to choose between the two.
I discovered memoirist and actor Kambri Crews through the opposite path. I first heard “A Blind Ear,” in which Kambri, a child of deaf adults (CODA) shares a dramatic story that caused her to re-evaluate her understanding of her parents and their marriage. My interest piqued, I read her memoir, Burn Down the Ground.
The act of “burning down the ground” refers to a moment from Kabri’s childhood where Kambri’s parents had to set a brush fire to clear the land where they built their home in rural Texas. Her father had explained that they needed to burn down the ground so that fresh new plants could spring up. Burn Down the Ground is a metaphor for how Kambri balances her past and present.
Both memoirs and podcasts are compelling, linked together in my mind because of how the authors describe traversing barriers based on race and disability to forge their own identities.
Read and listen to June Cross
1. Cross, June. Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away. 2006. http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Daughter-Mixed-Race-Mother-Gave/dp/067088555X
2. “Walk the Line: Stories of Balancing Acts.” The Moth. 2011. http://www.podcasts.com/the_moth_podcast/episode/june_cross_secret_daughter
Read and listen to Kambri Crews
1. “A Blind Ear.” The Moth. Oct 23, 2012.http://www.podcasts.com/the_moth_podcast/episode/kambri_crews_a_blind_ear
2. Crews, Kambri. Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir. 2012. http://www.amazon.com/Burn-Down-Ground-A-Memoir/dp/0345516028