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Arnold Adoff’s All the Colors of the Race contains thirty-six short free-verse poems celebrating heritage, identity, and a sense of self. The poetry can be read as individual works or as one narrative work. The poems are told in the first person from the point of view of a daughter who is a member of a biracial family. They are vehicles to express the girl’s thoughts and feelings about her ancestors, about her place in the world, and especially about the place that she feels most welcome—the satisfying home created by her Jewish father and her African American mother.

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The themes of pride in a diverse family background, of appreciation of one’s ancestry, the cultural bias prevalent in the world, family love, and hope for the future transcend the daughter’s immediate situation and become a mirror for both races and sexes. The language is simple, and the recognition of the positive aspects of both her black and her Jewish heritage on the girl’s personality is evident throughout the poems. The works are sometimes thoughtful, sometimes reminiscent, sometimes observant, and sometimes questioning, but they always reveal a pride in diversity and hope that people will become more tolerant of others.

The poems fall into rough groupings. The first two deal with the colors that all human beings share, and the next four examine the past, such as ancestors and heritage. The largest section of poems treats the search for self-identity and the recognition and appreciation of the girl’s racial background, as well as her Protestant and Jewish faiths. These poems are followed by more general reflections about race relations in the United States and the prejudice that often arises. The last poems offers a celebration of family and hope for the future.

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