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Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love by [E. Dolores Johnson]

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Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

E. Dolores Johnson has consulted on diversity for universities, major corporations, and nonprofits and has served as a panelist for the Harvard Faculty Seminar on Inter-racialism. A former Fortune 500 marketing vice president, she later oversaw the digitization of John F. Kennedy’s presidential papers.

Allyson Johnson began her entertainment career as an Emmy Award-winning child news anchor. A graduate of Brown University, she is a working actress, singer, and audiobook narrator. She currently resides in the New York City metropolitan area.
--This text refers to the audioCD edition.


"Powerfully important and deeply moving, Say I’m Dead is a story of race, family, and identity. Dolores Johnson is the daughter of a black man and a white woman—but how and why it took her years to realize that, and to unearth the secrets that defined her family along the way, testifies to the complicated his-tory of race relations in America. Johnson lived the changes our country has gone through and continues to wrestle with, and her story will both inspire and educate.” —Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

Say I’m Dead is not only a candid, compelling, and ultimately hopeful story of one woman’s quest to understand her family and herself through the lens of identity, it is also the story of an American identity riddled with secrets, lies, grievance, and thinly veiled shame. In telling her own alternately painful and exhilarating history, E. Dolores Johnson is subtly asking us all to turn the mirror on ourselves.” —Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

"Say I’m Dead is a beautiful and probing family history of a woman’s deep secret: she left behind her White family in 1940s Indiana to marry a Black man in New York. Decades before the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case overturned anti-miscegenation laws, Ella and Charles affirmed Du Bois’s prescient theory that the problem of the twentieth century was indeed the problem of the color line. Their mixed-race daughter lives on the color line, a Black woman who comes to question her White background. This compelling story with related themes of race, class, education, and history furthers the exigent discussions of biraciality in the United States."
—Dr. Donavan L. Ramon, Kentucky State University, author of
Betraying Their Colored Descent: Psychoanalysis and Racial Passing

"During the 1940s, it was better to disappear or die than break anti-miscegenation laws. When Dolores wants to search for her White mother’s estranged family, 'Say I’m dead,' is what her mother tells Dolores to say should she find them. The prose is clear, sharp, and insightful, and the writer’s quest to find the truth about her family is as gripping as any mystery. Through one family’s story, the memoir explores the tragedy of how racism divides us and also how one family moves beyond fear and bias. A must-read memoir for readers interested in a daughter’s courageous search for her history, which is inextricably intertwined with the story of race in America." ―Grace Talusan, author of The Body Papers, winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing in Nonfiction

"With unflinching honesty, E. Dolores Johnson shares an enthralling story of identity, independence, family, and love. This timely and beautifully written memoir ends on a complicated yet hopeful note, something we need in this time of racial strife." —De'Shawn Charles Winslow, author of In West Mills

"With protests since the killing of George Floyd pushing the issue of racial justice to the fore, this timely book tells a Buffalo story with powerful appeal." —
The Buffalo News

Say I'm Dead is a compelling tale about the legacy of racism in America, family and the power of love.”—WBUR’s The ARTery --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07XSH73GK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lawrence Hill Books (June 2, 2020)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ June 2, 2020
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 9556 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 230 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 185 ratings

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About E. Dolores Johnson

E. Dolores Johnson is the author of “Say I’m Dead”, a multigenerational memoir that shows America’s changing attitudes toward mixed race through the courageous journeys of the women in her family.

Dolores was born in Buffalo, NY. She earned degrees from Howard University and Harvard Graduate School of Business in Boston. After a career in tech, she took an MFA equivalent course to learn creative writing. Johnson is a published essayist focused on inter-racialism, and now her first book, “Say I’m Dead” will be published in June 2020.

Dolores lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To learn more about her and her work, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @elladolo and Instagram at edoloresjohnson

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
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