“Baby,” he asked, “do you know you’re Black?”
Those are some of the first sentences in Paula Williams Madison’s memoir Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem (Amistad, 2014). Perhaps not the expected opening lines to a memoir about a woman’s search for her long-lost Chinese relatives. And that’s what makes it so interesting.
I saw Paula Madison speak at last year’s V3 Conference. Seeing a ostensibly black woman onstage and knowing that her career accomplishments most recently included serving as VP of Diversity at NBC, I assumed Madison was there in a purely professional capacity. Well, we all know what happens when one assumes…
So when I heard about the new memoir Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem (Amistad, 2014) and found out it was written by Madison, who is black and Asian, I had to read it. Madison had always known that her light-skinned, melancholy mother was the daughter of a Hakka Chinese merchant and black Jamaican woman, but never knew any of her extended relatives or even much about her family history.