What does family mean to Jacqueline in Brown Girl Dreaming?

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Brown Girl Dreaming is an autobiographical memoir by Jacqueline Woodson. There is a dedication at the front of the book which reads, "This book is for my family—past, present and future. With love." From this dedication, then we can infer that family is very important to Woodson.

Woodson's memoir is written in verse, and there are references to her family in many of the poems. For example, in the poem entitled, "Family," Woodson references the sister who reads to her and her brother, Roman (with his "smile bright"), who reaches out to her when he sees her.

The family member who is referenced most often though is Woodson's mother. Woodson's mother is strong, nurturing, and loving. In the poem entitled, "greenville, south carolina, 1963," Woodson's mother tells her and her brother that "We’re as good as anybody." This is in the context of the civil rights movement in America, when African-Americans were in many places still considered as second-class citizens. Woodson's mother is always very careful to try and protect her children from racial prejudice and from the sense of inferiority which an African-American child might understandably pick up during such a time. This is one reason why Woodson loves her family so much. Family, to Woodson, means, above all else, the love and protection represented by her mother.

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