By MRN Historian: Nicole Belisle
The Multiracial Network is known for many things, whether it is supporting scholars, presenting multiracial scholarship or simply providing community to multiracial and transracial adoptees within higher education. One of the ways in which MRN has connected with members in the past has been through sharing books written by Multiracial/Transracial adoptee authors or books that support those who identify that way. While the Multiracial or Transracial Adoptee experience is far from new, there has been an increase in the creative voice within this community. Keeping up this tradition, I am thrilled to share this interview with Alison Hart the author of MOSTLY WHITE.
Alison Hart studied theater at New York University and later found her voice as a writer. She identifies as a mixed-race African American, Passamaquoddy Native American, Irish, Scottish, and English woman of color. Her poetry collection Temp Words was published by Cosmo Press in 2015, and her poems appear in Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2016) and elsewhere. Hart lives in Alameda, California.
Alison: I am so excited to share my book MOSTLY WHITE with the Multiracial Network community. Thank you for this opportunity.
Nicole: Tell us a little bit about your book. What is it about?
Alison: MOSTLY WHITE is a mixed-race family saga loosely based on my Passamaquoddy Native American, African American and Irish ancestors in Maine. It is a fictional narrative whose main characters are mixed-race women. MOSTLY WHITE begins in 1890 where Emma, a mixed-race Native American and African American girl is beaten by nuns and confined in a closet for speaking her language at an Indian Residential school in Maine; from there a tale that spans four generations of women unfold. The novel explores intergenerational trauma as well as intergenerational resilience or power as these women fall, survive and rise above poverty, racism and abuse through connection with community, music, the power of nature and their ancestors.
Nicole: How do you racially/ethnically identify? And do you think the way you identify has impacted your perspective about the book?
Alison: I identify as a mixed-race African American, Passamaquoddy Native American, Irish, Scottish and English woman of color. I hold all of these identities as whole, integrated not separate parts. I am coming from a mixed-race lens so yes; absolutely my identity has direct impact on my book. For me, one of the benefits of being mixed is having a fluidity around race, to belong to a gray area of existence allows for an ability to develop empathy from many perspectives. My characters, whatever race, are fallible humans and readers have an opportunity to experience empathy with these many different characters.
Nicole: What was the inspiration for writing this book?
Alison: I wrote MOSTLY WHITE to create a mixed-race narrative that I needed to experience and to honor my mother’s Black, Passamaquoddy Native American and Irish ancestors in Maine. Unfortunately, I knew little about this side of my family, and there was an emptiness, a wound and a yearning for connection and understanding. My mother had an extremely difficult childhood and she didn’t talk about it much, it was enough for her to survive it. I was compelled to write this story to piece together my mother’s childhood and ancestry in order to gain knowledge of my family roots. Like most mixed-race people, I longed to see myself represented in literature, film, and TV, so I created my own narrative. This novel is my testimony as a mixed-race American woman writer, my drop in the bucket of literature and art. I honor the following writers before me: Nella Larsen, Jean Rhys, Danzy Senna and Heidi Durrow for paving the way.
Nicole: Who is your intended audience?
Alison: I intended to connect my book with the mixed-race and multiracial community to share an American experience rarely heard. It can be so debilitating to hardly ever have your experience reflected back to you, and my novel holds space for mixed-race experience, history, and perspectives.
Nicole: Why was it important for you to write this?
Alison: Mostly White is my medicine story. Identifying the thread of trauma over the generations helped me heal. I have a son and did not want to pass down the baggage that was passed to me. I was able to release unnecessary shame as I came to terms with the fact that intergenerational trauma is not due to my own personal failings, but in fact, much bigger than me. And on the other side, intergenerational power is just as real: the fierceness of my ancestors and researching their traditions has been so empowering to integrate into my life and share with my son.
Nicole: How might reading this book be impactful for people who identify as Multiracial or mixed race?
Alison: Mixed race readers may feel relieved and affirmed when they identify with the shared experiences of the mixed race characters in the book. Characters are exoticized, and deal with colorism and racism as they navigate and cross over color lines. Perhaps readers may be compelled to delve into their own family history, to seek out the generational patterns, and gain knowledge and healing to share with others.
Nicole: Is there anything else you would like to share? Or like readers to know?
Alison: Keep creating, and putting your work out there, this world needs it!
Please feel free to contact me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are links to my book, events, recent podcast and video of the incredible award winning best selling author Isabel Allende interviewing me at Book Passage.
Nicole: It has been such a privilege to learn more about Alison Hart’s new book MOSTLY WHITE and to share it with you all. Check it out and share it with others!
Alison: Here are the ways to order MOSTLY WHITE:
My website: http://www.mostlywhitenovel.com
Direct from the publisher Torrey House Press: https://www.torreyhouse.org/mostly-white
Your Indie Bookstore:
Mostly White | IndieBound.org
Check out Book Event Video with my idol, Best-Selling, Award-winning author Isabel Allende: Alison Hart and Isabel Allende discussing Alison’s new book “Mostly White” at Book Passage:
Recent Podcast with Militantly Mixed: