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Books in brief: Negroland by Margot Jefferson

An engrossing dissection of the "coloured aristocracy"

By Sameer Rahim   January 2017

9781783783021Negroland: A Memoir, by Margot Jefferson (Granta, £12.99)

As a child, Margot Jefferson was taught that “you don’t tell your secrets to strangers—certainly not secrets that expose error, weakness, failure.” Fortunately she has overcome her reticence to write a beautifully nuanced account of growing up as a middle-class African-American in Chicago in the 1950s.

Jefferson’s preferred term for her lost world is “Negroland,” a word full of “wonders, glorious and terrible.” It signals white oppression, for sure, but also racial pride. She attends one of the few private schools in Chicago to take…

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