Real American, Julie Lythcott-Haims Books ‘Real American’ tackles cultural and self acceptance

Real American, a memoir written by Julie Lythcott-Haims, is a process of socialization and cultural acceptance. Lythcott-Haims, a New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult, invites us into her life experiences over a series of prose. Prose that will make you laugh, scratch your head (only 3 visits to a black salon), and cry.

We’re introduced into her world with a question that most well-spoken black folk have been asked, “Where are you from?” A loaded question masked as an innocent one. Lythcott-Haims hits the nail on head when she writes, “The truth is, that’s not what they were asking”. There is an unintended racial bias with that question. It isn’t about understanding someone but more so classifying how they occupy a space that you thought was closed off to them. It is a microaggression. And Lythcott-Haims has spent her entire life experience haphazardly dodging microaggressions whilst making those around her comfortable with her otherness.

Lythcott-Haims is the byproduct of a Black father born in the Jim Crow South and a white British mother. Her parents met and fell in love in Accra, Ghana.  Lythcott- Haims, born in Nigeria, spent the first three years of her life living in Nigeria, before moving to New York City, Northern VA, and Wisconsin. She eventually settled in Northern California with her husband, Dan.

Most of the microaggressions Lythcott-Haims experienced whereby her white peers in high school, college, and law school. However, her father put her in a position to have these experiences. He made the active decision to relocate his family from racially diverse Washington DC to rural Wisconsin. A town 45 minutes outside of Madison with only one other black family.

Lythcott-Haims recalls the time a neighbor’s daughter mistakenly thought her father was the gardener. The daughter with a racial prejudice she didn’t realize she had, couldn’t understand a black man owning a home within that town. Many fathers, of all races, mow their own lawns but when spotting Lythcott-Haims father proudly riding his lawnmower around his yard, she assumed he was the gardener.

Adolescence in Wisconsin was difficult for Lythcott-Haims. She experienced blatant racism on her 17th birthday when a classmate attempted to write Nigger on the birthday decorations covering her locker. Her inept classmate wrote, “Niger”, instead, but even in his error, he inflicted damage on Lythcott-Haims that would last a lifetime. Her father also explained to her that white boys will only be your friend and never your boyfriend, leaving her insecure and begging the question, why did you bring me to this town?

Lythcot-Haims spent her college and law school years living up to expectations that weren’t entirely hers but the expectations of peers, whether real or perceived. For example, she took classes that didn’t interest her at Stanford only because her dormmate took those classes.  After failing most of her fall quarter, she eventually took classes that piqued her interest, leading her to public policy and political science. The high-powered job she landed after Harvard Law School in Silicon Valley was only because she didn’t want her peers to think she could only work within public advocacy or non-profits. The insecurities of Lythcott-Haim were exhausting and fascinating to read.

Lythcott-Haims met her husband Dan at Stanford. A white man who loves her even though her father once told her a white man would never be her boyfriend. Within her relationship with Dan, Lythcott-Haims becomes comfortable with her curly textured hair and stops painstakingly straightening it every day.

There is no doubt that she loves Dan and the life she has made with him. But she struggles with not being able to give her Black son a Black father, to help him walk this world as a Black man. In the same token, she also struggles to accept that her daughter is racially ambiguous. The clarity that she had gained in her relationship with Dan was eroded with her fears for her children’s experience in a world that isn’t always accepting of Black people and their lives.

Lythcott-Haims speaks very fondly of her father throughout her memoir, only criticizing him when she eventually has the courage to ask her mother why she let her father place them in such a white community. A community that left her feeling alienated, alone, and insecure.

Real American left me wondering if her life would be different if she grew up in the midst of a more racially diverse community or even among her black relatives. Instead of growing into an insecure and racially confused adult, perhaps she would have been a confident and thriving Black woman before the age of fifty.

Disclaimer: The author of this review received a complimentary copy of Real American.

This review originally appeared on BlackGirlsNerds.

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Back to Basics.

I’ve taken a step back from my natural hair care regimen. I’ve stopped making my whipped shea butter cream and avocado conditioner and have taken it back to the basics. I’m just using water, oil (jojoba & almond), and a Shea Moisture conditioner.

My twist outs aren’t as epic as they used to be but I’m going to start making flax seed gel (again). Since going back to the basics I’ve noticed that my scalp isn’t nearly as dry and I don’t have huge dandruff flakes in my hair. These suckers were huge and itchy but since going back to a simple routine I’ve noticed that my scalp is better moisturized and I don’t have flakes.

I thought that I had seborrheic dermatitis (aka seborrheic ezcema) which would be fitting as I’ve suffered from ezcema since I was a child. However with a little bit of change my scalp is feeling a lot better. This doesn’t mean I’ve left my avocado conditioner forever but that I needed a bit of a break.

My new routine:

  • Cowash hair every other week with Shea Moisture Conditioner
    • I let the conditioner set for about 45 minutes – two hours
  • Part hair and massage a mixture of  jojoba oil & tea tree oil
      • Both are excellent for fighting dandruff and my dry scalp
      • You can also use it to remove makeup as well (bonus)
  • After my scalp massage I part my hair and detangle with a spray bottle filled with water and tea tree oil

My hair seems to like it and I’m enjoying keeping things simple as I roll into fall!

I’m Back.

It’s been well over a year since I’ve sat down and really wrote on NSB. A year is entirely too long and I didn’t realize how much I missed writing until I logged into WordPress. I miss you guys and I hope you miss me too.

There’s more coming…I’ll write you all soon!

 

Liebster Award Nomination:

Yoga and Donuts, was kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award! Thank you so much for the love Yoga and Donuts 🙂

This award is given by bloggers to other bloggers, recognizing bloggers and encouraging new bloggers and readers. I am definitely encouraged to continue writing  about my experience being Nappy, Sweaty, and Broke and sharing some of my favorite blogs! As part of the nomination I need to do the following:

Acknowledge who nominated me (thank you Yoga and Donuts)
Answer the eleven questions they’ve listed (below!)
Share eleven random facts about myself – this should be very interesting!
Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and give them 11 questions to answer

My 11 Questions
1. What made you want to start blogging? This is my second time blogging and I wanted to start NSB because I’ve recently started a new adventure and thought it would be great to properly document everything that I’ll be doing while teaching yoga, living in Australia and traveling the world.
2. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go? If I could go anywhere on vacation I would go to Portland, Maine. There is nothing better than Maine in the fall (well maybe Maine in the summer!).I started visiting Maine while I was living in New York City. I am a massive lover of seafood and lobster in particular and where else to get fresh lobster than Maine? I got the idea to road trip to Maine in the fall of 2009 and took off with two friends for a great weekend in Maine (New Hampshire). Maine (and Portland) in particular have a very special place in my heart – I decided to attend teacher training while I was in Maine on June 7th, 2014.
3. What is your favorite thing about yourself? My Smile.
4. Who is your favorite band? Of all time? Hands down TLC. I loved listening to them as a little girl – Left Eye was my favorite. Right now, I would have to say that Galatic is my favorite band.
5. What is the last book you read? The last book I read was A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald – I love reading about the writers of the Lost Generation from their wives perspectives. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors and it was interesting to read about him from his wife’s perspective.
6. What is your biggest, most irrational, pet peeve? Sniffling – if you’re sniffling please blow your nose. It’s easy – pick up a tissue and blow your nose. Thank you! Also, leaving hair in the shower drain; it’s just gross.
7. What is your favorite food? Lobster. In any form – lazy lobster, boiled, fried, sauteed, etc.
8. If you could do anything (occupation) what would you do? I would be a novelist.
9. What was your most proud moment? Leaving NYC
10. What did you learn from your biggest regret? Not applying to Howard University.
11. What is your favorite post that you have written to date and why? My favorite post is a post I’ve recently written – Don’t Close Your Eyes. I love this post because it goes deeper than just the yoga. It’s a post about loving yourself and always being open to seeing yourself.

Eleven Random Facts About Me:

1. I was born at 9:18 on Sunday January 13th, 1985
2. Both my mom and I are capicorns
3. I hardly ever wear matching socks – weirdly enough as I’m writing this my socks match but that’s the exception not the rule
4. At the age of 16 I had a 1990 gold sedan cavalier that I called the gold mine
5. After that I had a purple cavalier that I named the purple
6. I’ve always wanted to be a cheerleader
7. My first job was a busboy (busgirl!) at Bob Evans
8. I worked at Bob Evans for four years (16 – 20)
9. My nickname is Btown that I got from summer camp – I was a camp counselor
10. I also wanted to go to summer camp but my mom wouldn’t send me so I went as camp counselor and had the best summer
11. I love Jiffy mix blueberry muffins – my grandmother would make them for me growing up.

My Nominee – I don’t follow a lot of blogs but I would like to nominate the following blog:

1. https://naturallyrissuh.wordpress.com/

Questions:

1. Who is the biggest influence in your life?
2. What is the book that you can read over and over?
3. What is your favorite movie?
4. Why did you start writing your blog?
5. What’s your favorite quote?
6. Who is your favorite author?
7. What do you do on a lazy Sunday? 8. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?
9. What’s your favorite room in your house?
10. What is your favorite food?
11. What is the one meal that you cook for yourself all the time?