Turning Black by Turning White

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My twenty years as a ghetto shrink made me a guest in the world of inner-city Blacks. I miss parts of that world. I admired the rhythm of my clients’ speech, the words they had for things, and the stories they told. They got me started writing fiction because writing fiction is a way of living more than one life at a time. I wanted to sound like them. I wanted to tell stories the way they told them. Turning White was one short story I wrote, back in 2000. It was my way of turning Black.

I submitted Turning White to a literary magazine called New York Stories, published out of LaGuardia Community College, in the heart of it all. The kids at the college said I got it right. Somehow, they thought I captured the experience of an inner-city Black without being anything but White and without my ever setting foot in a Bed-Sty project. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me.

The story got nominated for the Pushcart Prize, which is the thing to win if you’re a writer of short stories. It didn’t win, but the encouragement of it all kept me going with my writing.

I have re-published the tale on Medium. You can read it here.

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