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Integrity and an Open Mind

Posted on 30 April 2011 (17)

Here I am, trying to move past my white-bread mindset, in hope of being able to listen with an open mind to the perspectives of people of color.  At the same time, I think of Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true, and thou canst not be false to any man” and I wonder: how do I keep an open mind and my integrity, knowing how deeply flawed my “honest” reactions may be? […]

Everything You Need to Know About …

Posted on 30 April 2011 (3)

When I became determined to free myself of group stereotypes based on ignorance, I first tried a shortcut, reading book with titles like Everything You Need to Know About Latino History, Everything You Need to Know About Asian American History, 100 Things Everyone Should Know about African Americans, or The Arab-American Handbook.

As for Native Americans, I’d read Tony Hillerman mysteries set on Southwestern reservations and thereby thought myself in the know about Navaho and Hopi cultures.

So when I made a date to speak to the head of Harvard’s Native studies center, I readied myself to shake hands with respectful limpness, as Hillerman’s Native characters did , and to speak in a soft, unmodulated voice to the person I expected to be soft-spoken, and pictured as wearing long braids and turquoise jewelry. […]

Books I Read Recently and Recommend

Posted on 28 November 2010 (2)

Here are the best fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read recently, most during one of our “reading weekends,” when Jon and I went away to read, this time in a sweet little B & B, Acorn’s Hope,Great Barrington (MA).  

 Try to Remember, by Iris Gomez (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group, 2010). This novel “grabbed” me from the very beginning: I read it straight through. The main character is a Columbian immigrant girl whose father loses jobs, obsessively composes demand letters and forces his daughter to type them, has violent and paranoid rages. […]

Eye Opening

Posted on 23 May 2010 (2)
 Liz Petry, author of "At Home Inside: A Daughter's Tribute to Ann Petry" and
"Can Anything Beat White? A Black Family's  Letters" 
comments on her blog
Barbara Beckwith has done a brave and wonderful thing in writing What Was I Thinking?: Reflecting on Everyday Racism. I’ve long believed that no one in the United States is without racism. It’s impossible to live in this country and not harbor prejudice of some sort. I acknowledge a problem with white southerners. The accent makes my skin crawl, and I just assume that they won’t like me because I’m black. Rational? Of course not. But understandable since I was shot at in Virginia when I was sixteen by two good ol’ boys in a pickup truck with a battle flag flying from the antenna. […]

Join the National Writers Union

Posted on 23 March 2010 (0)

If you write for love, if you write for money, if you write for both, you need to be a member of the National Writers Union ( and our Boston Chapter ( You can get advice on negotiating fair terms for your written work (free contract reviews). When a publisher or other employer doesn’t meet the agreed-on conditions, the NWU will back you up. We speak out on issues affecting writers from health care to copyright, to saving the U.S. Post Office that so many literary publications rely on. You’ll get two monthly newsletters (national and chapter, regular programs, social-networking opportunities (member directory, Writers’ Night Out) opportunities to promote your work (kudos, website, annual book party).  Join us! — Barbara Beckwith, NWU-Boston co-chair