Black Berry, Sweet Juice
In Black Berry, Sweet Juice, Lawrence Hill movingly reveals his struggle to understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rights activist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, he is imbued with lingering memories and offers a unique perspective. In a satirical yet serious tone, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity — an especially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him as neither black nor white. (From HarperCollins Canada)
When I was seventeen, I decided it was high time to do something about the wild mop that was sprouting in all directions from my head. It had become completely uncontrollable. Even when I drenched my hair with conditioner, I still couldn't comb through all the knots. They shot out like a condensed, fused mass from the sides of my head. The curls had wound and twisted themselves around each other to such a degree that the hair looked like one massive dreadlock. The only time my hair looked presentable was when I emerged from the shower, soaking wet.
I hadn't been to a barber in ages and was a little unsure of where to go. I had just come back from travelling in Europe, and I was about to begin my last year in a private high school where there were no other blacks and almost no racial minorities. I felt like asserting my blackness.
I announced that I wanted to get my hair fixed and that I had decided to get an afro, or as close an approximation as my loosely curled hair would permit. Who helped me line this up? My white mother! In retrospect, I find this fascinating.
From Black Berry, Sweet Juice by Lawrence Hill ©2001. Published by HarperCollins Canada.