Red Diaper Baby
What’s black, white, and “red” all over? The old riddle has a new answer: Dexter Jeffries, the youngest son of Communist parents—a Jewish mother and a black father—growing up in 1950s America.
Too light to be black, too dark to be white, from a very early age Dexter wondered where he fit in. Finding his place in a changing country would be a journey filled with anger, turmoil, pain, and enlightenment. In a loving, racially mixed home where being progressive meant not only having radical views, but acting on them, Dexter helped break the color barrier at nine years old when he was among the first group of black children bused to a white Queens neighborhood. But it was much earlier—at the age of five—that he had his first identity crisis, caught in the limbo between black and white.
Therapy, a name change, a stint in the U.S. Army, and jobs ranging from cab driver to filmmaker and English Professor all played a part in forging his character and beliefs. While his brother became a rebel bent on self-destruction and his sister emulated Richard Wright as an expatriate in Mexico and Europe, Dexter followed his own path, discovering conflicts that had as much in common with Kafka as Ellison. In literature he found a window into truth, and the message—conveyed by Joyce, Thoreau, and DuBois—that would change everything. Create yourself.