My Life Among White Folks


Harriet Anna Elizabeth
Jackson Roberts
Grandma Annie

Odessa Roberts Singley

5 and already concerned

At 12, innocent and aspiring

The author at 18, the hopeful Negro roommate

The author, at 22, fearless in a hostile environment (University of Florida College of Law)

The author at 23, engaging in symbolic speech

The author at 24, just in time for "forced busing" (Harvard Law School)

The author at 50, at the scene of an Amsterdam epiphany

Reflecting on a lifetime of playing chess with monkeys

WHEN RACE BECOMES REAL (Chicago Review Press 2002)

WHEN RACE BECOMES REAL (Southern Illinois University Press 2008)

Not simply survivors of UF Law, but triumphant: J. Michael Haygood, Esq., the author, and Jacob A. Rose, Esq. (2010)

2014: The author here and now

The Books

Volume 1
"Why do you hate white people so much? What did they ever do to you?"
Volume 2
I was a raisin in a pot of rice.
Volume 3
Back south of the Mason-Dixon, my life was in their hands...again. Or so they thought. They were wrong.
Volume 4
The first day I walked across Harvard's campus, the only thing I was looking for was the quickest way out.
Volume 5
I coulda been Condoleeza, but I was way too smart for that.
Volume 6
"How can you be friends with them?" Her body was rigid with fury, her light brown face flushed red with rage. "Them"...the white folks.

Quick Links

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My Life among White Folks

About the Series


“I've been really working on this for 30 years, exploring how…two paths intersect, the path where the beautifully said thing meets the really difficult-to-say thing.” Nikky Finney

Like Nikky, it's taken me a long time to get here. But now here I am and it’s all pretty simple from this point on.

BEFORE BARACK: My Life Among White Folks is a collection of true stories about what it was like for me growing up, graduating from college, and earning two law degrees in the U. S. “back when.”

If you don’t know what “back when” means, drop everything, sit down, and start reading.

For now, just know “back when” means life in the U. S. South before the Civil Rights movement, back when no one could even conceive a Black man would ever, ever be President of the United States.

“Back when” is the time the Tea Party and the Republican Party are trying desperately to force the country back to.

When you read BEFORE BARACK: My Life Among White Folks, you’ll understand why right-wingers long for that time. You'll also realize why that time will never come again.

If you already know what “back when” means, then for sure you’ll be utterly mesmerized by BEFORE BARACK: My Life Among White Folks.

And here are five more reasons for you to start reading right now and tell everybody you know to do the same:

1) because this is a collection of really good stories;

2) because even though you’ll be reading about things that actually happened in real life, you’ll feel like you’re reading a novel;

3) because you’ve never read these stories or stories like them;

4) because even though it took years and years to write these stories and arrange them into six books, the books are really short: the longest one is just over 150 pages and the shortest one is less than 50.

That means you can read all six and still have plenty of time left on your clock.

Most importantly of all, though,

5) once you read BEFORE BARACK: My Life Among White Folks, you'll see how the ugly racist stuff that’s happening on Capitol Hill and across the country isn’t new;


6) you’ll see how far we’ve come as a nation and why we’ll never go back to “back when.”

Finally, to top off all those other reasons,

7) you can read all of these books right here right now for FREE.

To start reading, simply click on any book title in the menu to the right--OR click on THE BOOKS in the menu above--and get going!

C’est tout. Es todo. Muchismas gracias!

*Providing you with ample opportunity to correct, critique & otherwise respectfully communicate. Mil gracias in anticipation.