The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging
An unflinching look at the challenges and misunderstandings mixed-race people face in family spaces and intimate relationships across their varying cultural backgrounds
In this emotionally powerful and intellectually provocative blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and theory, scholar and essayist Samira Mehta reflects on many facets of being multiracial.
Born to a white American and a South Asian immigrant, Mehta grew up feeling more comfortable with her mother’s family than her father’s—they never carried on conversations in languages she couldn’t understand or blamed her for finding the food was too spicy. In adulthood, she realized that some of her Indian family’s assumptions about the world had become an indelible part of her—and that her well-intentioned parents had not known how to prepare her for a world that would see her as a person of color.
Popular belief assumes that mixedness gives you the ability to feel at home in more than one culture, but the flipside shows you can feel just as alienated in those spaces. In 7 essays that dissect her own experiences with a frankness tempered by generosity, Mehta confronts questions about:
- authenticity and belonging;
- conscious and unconscious cultural inheritance;
- appropriate mentorship;
- the racism of people who love you.
The Racism of People Who Love You invites people of mixed race into the conversation on race in America and the melding of found and inherited cultures of hybrid identity.
Praise for The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging
“Thoughtful meditations on identity.”
“Throughout, Mehta pulls off an impressive set of balancing acts, weaving theory through stories, knitting personal memories, public histories, family dynamics, and cultural norms together with brutal honesty and no small amount of tenderness as she attempts to understand hurtful behavior without excusing it.”
“Samira Mehta interweaves laugh-out-loud personal vignettes with piercing reflections on life as a biracial person. Drawing also on her multireligious upbringing, she conveys moments of joy and pain in ways that let us all in on the experience. The Racism of People Who Love You is relatable for all kinds of readers, with especially important insights for all of us who have people of mixed racial and religious backgrounds in our families and social circles.”
—Khyati Y. Joshi, author of White Christian Privilege
“Samira Mehta’s The Racism of People Who Love You has the qualities of my favorite writing: insightful, provocative, and revealing. Her unique story provides a window into the common yet underrepresented experience of mixed belonging, and she displays the unique ability to share these stories in ways that welcome the reader to see the world afresh.”
—Simran Jeet Singh, author of The Light We Give
“Moving fluidly between personal storytelling and theoretical analysis, Samira Mehta offers an unblinking examination of the complexities, dangers, and possibilities of being of mixed heritage—not only in America writ large but also within one’s own family. At once intellectually rigorous, personally invested, and uncommonly well-written, The Racism of People Who Love You is an essential read for anyone interested in negotiating difference, confronting injustice, and extending compassion to those who both love and hurt you.”
—Lynn Casteel Harper, author of On Vanishing
“Samira Mehta’s searching essays have prompted me to think about love and race in deeper, more nuanced, more intimate ways. As a white person in a multiracial family, I know all too well how tempting it is to buy into the myth that love is enough. Samira insists instead that love is just the beginning.”
—Briallen Hopper, author of Hard to Love
“We are finally, thankfully, seeing more books that delve into the personal experience of race. Mehta’s work is an important addition to our ongoing discussions about race in America.”
—Kavita Das, author of Craft and Conscience
“The Racism of People Who Love You is by turns gripping, challenging, funny, and compassionate, effortlessly entwining personal experience with global, religious, and literary histories. Samira Mehta is an important new voice grappling with the complexity of American identities.”
—Peter Manseau, author of One Nation Under Gods