A Mixed American's Struggle for Identity in a Nation of Black and White

Marginal Eyes

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A personal journey through memoir . . .

At the age of ten, Aaron’s childhood within a diverse community shifted abruptly when his family moved to small-town Indiana. There, racist mentalities stereotyped him for his Mixed features and heritage. Marginalized as a Black person within his new, overwhelmingly European-American community, he learned to hide parts of himself that were rejected, hoping to escape harsh racial prejudices.
 
Driven by fear down a road to build a “pure” identity beyond others’ criticism, desperate to relieve the shame he felt about his own humanity, Aaron pursued varied and often extreme paths in politics, religion, artistry, and education. The utter brokenness, great generosity, and inner voice he met along the way brought with them the truth that his perfectly imperfect humanity was all he ever needed.
 
AARON DOUGLAS KELLER recounts the struggles, adventures, and lessons of his journey to self-remembrance, acceptance, and celebration in this revealing, surprising, and inspiring memoir accompanied by insightful social commentary. Along with renewed happiness and freedom, he gained empathy for what so many of us grieve: inner clarity and peace we lost, when our nuanced humanity was covered by racism, religious ideology, nationalism, and other black-and-white mentalities. Aaron shares his story of trauma and addiction survival, as part of his escape from toxic US racial dynamics, along with insights he gained about safeguarding our humanity from inhuman forces in American culture.

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As Americans, some of us identify as "Mixed";

as humans, we're all mixed.

"This book was part of a very real journey that I took to more completely understand, love, and liberate myself and my human diversity. By taking part of that journey with me, seeing the often ignored and hidden truths I have to share, I hope others can add to their own experiences of human liberation. I also hope that they will treasure and safeguard that opportunity for others." - From Chapter One

My dad strapped me to his back and carried me to the top of the Indiana sand dunes; he taught me to play baseball in our backyard; he kept me active at the library and read with me regularly; he drove long hours on our family vacations to see places of national history; he taught me to follow the Golden Rule.
Dad earned a lot of our living at a job he didn’t love, made sure I had a healthy lunch to eat each day, helped save up funds for college education . . . My dad voted thoughtfully in each election, bought Made in the USA products whenever he could find them, and made a point of helping others at no cost when they needed it.
From big to little things, he did a lot that looks like the ideal of an American. If I don’t say that succinctly, this story won’t be complete. Because, here’s the thing: I had parents who stayed married despite their issues; I lived among good-hearted people; I was given quality education; I always had enough to eat, clean clothing to wear, and a middle-class roof to live under.
Nothing is perfect, but many would envy this life and consider it privileged. And it is. It is the American Dream everyone says BIPOC can achieve.
Despite all of it, all that two parents in our nation might hope and be promised for their child, by the time my parents raised me with great effort, by the time I graduated high school (with honors to boot), my cold conclusion was that life in the America I knew wasn’t worth living.
How did it come to that?
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- From Chapter Four

Have a look at these

Excerpts from the Book.

“A Distinctly American Childhood”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 4: My dad strapped me to his back and carried me to the top of the Indiana sand dunes; he taught me to play baseball in our backyard; he kept me active at the library and read with me

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“There’s Power in the Blood”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 3: Their voices boomed, rolled, and penetrated the air with a strength only Gospel can have. Many in the pews were clapping, others were nodding their heads, and some stood and shifted their weight side to side, putting their

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“Separated from the Pack”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 5: Despite ridicule coming so frequently, few incidents presented a choice as stark as one did during my sixth-grade year. On a Saturday afternoon, the nearby elementary school hosted a youth basketball game, and I attended it with a

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“. . . and Mike Pence’s office?”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Eight: One of the male staffers, who quickly nicknamed me “AK” (as in AK-47), was the picture of a hardworking and socially adept political aide. He kept all hours to establish his place as a valuable asset in the

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“I’m Transcending It.”

An Excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Thirteen: “Stand against the trunk and spread your legs,” the officer behind me directed. As he grabbed me roughly around my mid-section to adjust my stance and started to pat me down, Tommy lit into them. “Hey, man, this

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“The Voice Within”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Fourteen: I clambered to my feet and walked away from the group to sit alone in an austere bedroom down the hall. There I found a soft sleeping bag on the wood floor, and in the dark emptiness, I

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