View Full Version : Cane River

12-28-2003, 04:24 AM
Has anyone read this? It was on Oprah's Book Club list a long time ago and I read it recently. It's about a black woman who traced her Louisiana roots.

I respect her for being so honest and candid about her ancestors' interracial/extramarital relationships. The thing that really got to me was the mentality of the New Orleans black women back in the 1800s who believed that in order for their children to get jobs, have opportunities, go to college, make money, etc., they had to be fathered by white men who would provide the money for it and having light skin and straight hair didn't hurt. It sent the message that anything black and nappyheaded was destined to fail. It made the black women seem kind of whorish since these women did not love these white men but after them for money, inheritance, property, etc. Most of the other readings about interracial relationships painted a pictue of sex being non-consentual between white men and black women. This seemed to fester more in New Orleans than anywhere else in the south. Did anyone else read the book have any strong feelings about it?

BTW, I have no problems with interracial marriage/relationships and hope that this thread doesn't get heated like some other crazy threads I've seen. It's not about that.. I just wondered what other people thought about the book.

12-29-2003, 04:23 AM
i read the book. i enjoyed it. as it relates to skin color in the book, some people honestly felt that way. i know relatives of mine that enjoyed benefits from being light skinned blacks. my mother had an uncle who passed for many years.

12-29-2003, 10:14 PM
I read Cane River and thought it was a good book. I appreciated it for several reasons. I read it a while ago so it's not fresh on my mind, but one main thing I remember is being enlightened on how white men were treated for courting/dating/marrying black women. I never knew they were tortured so severely for that. Remember the character that had his house and all his belongings burned down for "taking up" with a black woman? Then he married a white woman he didn't love just to satisfy the white community. I can't remember the character names, but anyway, I thought all of that was a trip. I had no idea. I often wonder if that is why you don't see as many white men with black women now-a-days.... some type of innate fear??

As for the white is better message, I agree with Aquababie, some people honestly felt (and still feel) that way. I mean I can remember not always feeling good about myself as a black woman with nappy hair (and I'm "light skinned" - I only say that b/c light skinned sisters are not supposed to have issues) and I have NEVER dealt with anything remotely close to what our ancestors did during slavery. We all probably have ancestors that "passed" during that time and were okay with it. They felt that they were doing what they had to do. I can only imagine. I'm just happy that I've over-come my level of self-hate and I can help others in their struggle.

I thought it was good book.

12-30-2003, 01:29 AM
I read the book some time ago as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. I like books of this genre (the quote in my sig is from a similar book). I find it very interesting how the people of that time chose to deal with their reality. I was both touched and confused by some mothers who wanted their children to be "mixed-race" so they'd have a better life. I came to an understanding that I didn't have before. I also found it interesting toward the end of Cane River when one of Tademy's family members specifically chose a dark skinned black woman because of the issues that the family had faced in the past.

The book also made be realize how blessed my hubby and I are to be together, be in love, and be able to live without all the drama interracial couples have had throughout history.

12-30-2003, 09:07 AM
i read cane river almost 2 years ago. i really enjoyed it. like luvmylocs said, i didnt know about the way white men were treated for openly having black lovers. that was pretty crazy. i might read it again. hmm...

12-30-2003, 01:54 PM
The relationships ranged from functional to dysfunctional. I had to do some soul searching as I read about the dysfunctional ones. It's not really fair to be judgemental of black women during those times since they were operating with all that they had to work with and within the boundaries of what they knew, and they also wanted better lives for their children. They didn't have therapists, Nappturality.com, books by Cornell West, and TV images like Oprah.

When I visited New Orleans the tour guides talked a lot about interracial relationships and how the white men honored their black children by providing for them. Everyplace else in the south, the mulatto children still had slave status and never got acknowledged by their white fathers.
I thought that it was facsinating.

12-30-2003, 06:06 PM
I read Cane River and I loved it. It was a good book and it just opened my eyes to what we as a people have been through. It may me sad and kinda mad to see people thinking they were doing something great for their family by trying to get each generation lighter than the other. I never really understood why some of them just didn't leave New Orleans, when I looked at the pictures, they looked white to me. If people didn't know their family, they probably would have passed which is what they seemed to be trying to do anyway.

12-30-2003, 06:50 PM
I read this book this past summer and I enjoyed it. It had me going through a range of emotions. But it's all history. I was surprised to see that some of these white men did try to take care of their children even though they did not publicly acknowledge them.

When Thurmond's daughter came out with her story, I understood why she had no bitter feelings towards him. It immediately reminded me of this book.

12-30-2003, 07:07 PM
I read Cane River about a year ago. Excellent book! I agree with Peaches in that it's hard to judge black women back then who were just working within their reality. It's easy for us to say, today, what we would and would not have done back then if.... The book also touched me personally when I read about Tademy marrying a woman darker than himself. My great grandfather was white and black (and he could have passed). He was very angry about who his father was - a white man who raped his mother. My grandmother, in turn, wasn't thrilled about her light skin and married my grandfather who had dark skin, so that her children could have some color! Back then many blacks were trying to lighten future generations hoping for a better life for them!! My grandmother was trying to darken us up! I really think the book is an excellent one to read and discuss.


12-31-2003, 05:16 AM
I read this book and absolutely loved it, another book that deals with a simular topic is "The Feast of All Saints" by Anne Rice...loved that book too!

12-31-2003, 02:01 PM
Originally posted by Mahoganyqt@Dec 31 2003, 12:16 AM
I read this book and absolutely loved it, another book that deals with a simular topic is "The Feast of All Saints" by Anne Rice...loved that book too!
I saw the movie.. "The Feast of All Saints". It's at Blockbuster now. It was really good but I admit it was hard for me to deal with some of the characters. Child abuse bothers me.

01-01-2004, 02:58 AM
Peaches, I saw the movie also..that's why I had to read the book! If you liked the movie you will love the book..the movie does not do the movie much justice.

01-02-2004, 08:26 PM
I thought this was a very good book. It was an eye opener to know that some white men really fell in love w/ their slaves & went to all measures to be together.

01-07-2004, 04:27 AM
I am so glad ya'll started this thread!!!! I bought this book last month at Marcus books,on the reccomendation of a complete stranger in the store!!! It is next on my list to read. I also loved "Feast of all saints" as well. It is funny,because my paternal family is all from New Orleans and I have yet to visit..my screen name is linked to my heritage there and the zulu float during Mardi Gras...

01-13-2004, 10:27 PM
I also really enjoyed this book. I read it as a time piece. There were a lot of people then who thought that the lighter the better and that the key to a better life was to find a white protector. I think that the book portrayed the difficulties associated with making such a choice without being judgmental. It was good to see one character not buy into the whiter is better mentality that so many of his family member espoused. I cheered for him.

01-15-2004, 02:35 AM
OK I have been reading it all week and i love it!

01-15-2004, 04:54 AM
Originally posted by frizzyme@Jan 13 2004, 05:27 PM
It was good to see one character not buy into the whiter is better mentality that so many of his family member espoused. I cheered for him.
I want to comment on that statement but don't want to tell the ending to Zulumama, so I'll comment later. :razz