The major conflict in The Color of Water has to do with racism in America and how it affects all the characters as they attempt to go about their lives.
James McBride 's book is about the life of his family, including his white mother and black father. At a...
time when interracial relationships socially taboo, they faced a lot of prejudice for deciding to be together. Though her children are half-black and half-white, they face the same prejudices that other black people in America face as they grow up. They also at times experience issues due to living in poverty.
Eventually, James finds out that his mother had a difficult past: her father was abusive. She grew up in Virginia when things were still segregated and became pregnant in a relationship with a black boy, which wouldn't have been accepted at all by the community. She moves to New York, has an abortion, and finds that she prefers spending time around the black community there. She finds them more accepting and welcoming to her. Eventually, she marries her first husband.
James is, at times, embarrassed by his mother. He has to deal with issues of being a child with parents of different races, especially one who often doesn't have the financial resources to overcome systemic barriers. But he and his siblings take to heart the lessons taught by their parents and others and (aided by their own personal drives) are able to be successful.
Ruth sees people as beyond color as she ages. She won't admit to her children that she's white and says that God is the color of water. She wants them to see themselves as more than their racial identity, even if the great majority of the world will never be able to do so.