This is ranked #418 on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. In terms of books, I'm not sure why this made the list. This is more of a story than a book. It's only 15 pages long. In terms of a must read before you die ... I definitely recommend people read this story.
I don't know if I could call myself an advocate for racial equality because I do not participate in any formal groups or anything, but I have a serious issue with people treating others differently just because of their skin color. I grew up in the northern Midwest and moved to good ole southwest Georgia the summer before I turned 14. The differences in culture were astronomically different. Up north, there weren't very many African Americans walking around. In Georgia ... that was the majority of what I saw ... and I loved it!!!
The differences between African Americans and Caucasians were amazing to me. I soaked it up ... so much so that I became involved in quite a few interracial "relationships" ... much to the disappointment of my family. But I didn't care, and I still don't.
I said all of that because it pertains to this story. This story is about a southern lady whose son lives with her and has to ride the city bus with her to the Y for her reduction class (she needed to lose weight). The time of the story was apparently not too long after African Americans had been given their rights as people (i.e. sit wherever they wanted to on the bus, go wherever they wanted, etc.).
Julian's mom kept commenting it didn't matter how others saw you, but how you saw yourself that mattered. As you read the story you realize that his mother still thought of herself as the "better-than-them" white woman. An interaction with a hefty African American woman and her child brings Julian's mother to her senses and it is too much for her to bear.
I loved the message this story portrayed, but a part of me (a teensy-tiny part I might add) felt sorry for Julian's mother. She was ignorantly oblivious to the fact that she was how she was. Her incident with the African American woman destroyed everything she thought about herself, making her realize that, sometimes, it really does matter how others see you.
Please read this story. I highly recommend it and would be interested in what you think of it.
Happy Reading! =)