Saturday, January 25 at 4:00 pm

Speaker Series: Clifford Thompson, Author of What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues

Join us as we welcome Cliff Thompson, author of What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues on Saturday, January 25 at 4:00 p.m.

Thompson was raised to believe in treating every person of every color as an individual, and he decided as a young man that America, despite its history of racial oppression, was his home as much as anyone else’s.  As a middle-aged, happily married father of biracial children, Thompson finds himself questioning his most deeply held convictions when the race-baiting Donald Trump ascends to the presidency–elected by whites, whom Thompson had refused to judge as a group, and who make up the majority in this country Thompson had called his own.

In the grip of contradictory emotions, Thompson turns for guidance to the wisdom of writers he admires while knowing that the answers to his questions about America ultimately lie in America itself.  Through interviews with a small but varied group of Americans he hears sharply divergent opinions about what is happening in the country while trying to find his own answers–conclusions based not on conventional wisdom or on what he would like to believe, but on what he sees.

About the Author: Clifford Thompson received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction in 2013 for Love for Sale and Other Essays, published by Autumn House Press, which has also published his memoir, Twin of Blackness (2015).  His personal essays and pieces on books, film, jazz, and American identity have found homes in publications including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, The Times Literary Supplement, The Threepenny Review, The Iowa Review, Commonweal, Film Quarterly, Cineaste, Oxford American, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Best American Essays 2018.  He is the author of a novel, Signifying Nothing.  For over a dozen years he served as the editor of Current Biography, and he has taught creative nonfiction writing at The Bennington Writing Seminars, Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, Queens College, and  New York University. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thompson is also a visual artist.  One of his paintings, Going North, appears in the public television documentary The Bungalows of Rockaway.


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