Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book: Precious - A black woman's story about white foster care, identity and survival (UK)


"As a young child I hated being black and I honestly felt that all black people, especially me, were naturally ugly," said Precious Williams, the British author of the book Precious in an interview with Belinda Otas.

Williams's book is a true story about childhood, abandonment, identity, relationships, family, life’s obstacles and survival

As a toddler, the British-born daughter of a Nigerian princess Precious Anita Williams, was advertised in Nursery World in 1971: “Private foster parents required for a three-month-old baby.”

These ‘temporary’ fostering arrangements were apparently common in the 1970s as well as the unregulated care of African children which followed.

Precious or Anita (Neety) - her childhood name - was placed with a 57 year-old white woman ‘Nanny’, who had a penchant for fostering black children after reading Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as a child. Read full story at www.thenewblackmagazine.com

Some snapshots of the interview with Belinda Otas

Precious Williams: "My definition of beauty as a child, growing up in a white town was that to be beautiful you had to look as white as possible. I honestly didn’t feel it was possible for a black person to be physically attractive unless they had white blood. That was the prevailing attitude.

When I spent time with my Nigerian family I’d notice they’d tell me how pretty I was but instead of making me feel good, it made me feel humiliated. I was convinced they were taking the p*ss.

The negative attitude I absorbed regarding black women and beauty didn’t only come from white people though. My Nigerian relatives would confuse the hell out of me by praising my relatively “fair” skin and at the same time lamenting my “tough” hair.

......

As a young child I hated being black and I honestly felt that all black people, especially me, were naturally ugly.

In feeling this way I was reflecting the prevalent attitudes around me that time. My memoir ends with me as a young woman, entering Oxford University in the early 1990s.

By that point I no longer hated my physical appearance. My shift in attitude about my looks had a lot to do with what was happening in pop culture at that time.

I was still living in a predominately white environment but black women had suddenly, to an extent, stopped being ‘invisible’. Naomi Campbell had arrived on the fashion scene. Hip-hop was capturing mainstream attention. Janet Jackson was one of the nation’s hottest pin-ups." Read the interview at Belinda Otas

Read more at www.preciouswilliams.com
and at her blog at http://preciousthebook.blogspot.com

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