Brown White Black is a portrait of Nishta J. Mehra's family: her wife, who is white; her adopted child, Shiv, who is black; and their experiences dealing with America's rigid ideas of race, gender, and sexuality. Her clear-eyed and incisive writing on her family's daily struggle to make space for themselves amid racial intolerance and stereotypes personalizes some of America's most fraught issues. Mehra writes candidly about her efforts to protect and shelter Shiv from racial slurs on the playground and from intrusive questions by strangers while educating her child on the realities and dangers of being black in America. In other essays, she discusses growing up in the racially polarized city of Memphis; coming out as queer; being an adoptive mother who is brown; and what it's like to be constantly confronted by people's confusion, concern, and expectations about her child and her family. Above all, Mehra argues passionately for a more nuanced and compassionate understanding of identity and family.
Nishta J. Mehra was raised among a tight-knit network of Indian immigrants in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the proud graduate of St. Mary's Episcopal School and holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Rice University and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. An English teacher with over a decade of experience in middle and high school classrooms, she lives with her wife, Jill, and their child, Shiv, in Phoenix. She is the author of The Pomegranate King, a collection of essays.
Rebecca Carroll is a cultural critic and the editor of special projects at WNYC, and a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. She is also the author of several books about race and blackness in America, including 1997’s Sugar in the Raw. Her essays and op-ed pieces have been published widely, and she is currently at work on her memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, due out from Simon & Schuster in 2020.