What types of things did James Mcbride inherit from his mother, Ruth Mcbride?
James inherits his intellect, his committment to education as a form of self-empowerment, and his revolutionary philosophy of race through a spiritualized lense. When McBride honors his mother's achievement by lifting up the educational successes of her children he reinforces the power of education. But the most astonishing thing about the book is the way he and his mother bring a new racial identification metaphor and theory to bear, Ruth in her life and James in his book. It takes extraordinary discipline, imagination, and innovation to teach her children that since God is indeed the color of water, then a spiritual reality truly can revise the way we view race. When James as a young child asks his mother what color God is, trying to see if God loves blacks or white more, she rejects his whole paradigm and replaces it with the metaphor of clear, flowing, purifying water. Perhaps in other families this would seem overly idealistic, but Ruth makes it tenable in her life as well as that of her children. This revolutionary racial theorization informs and indeed controls the racial definition in the book of those who live on that razor's edge that McBride shows Ruth riding between the races on her old wobbly bicycle. McBride's double memoirs (which alternate between his voice and his mother's) provide a new theory of what it means to bi-racial in America. He inherited that ability to reframe reality from his mother.