Marginal Eyes

A Mixed American's Journey to Identity
in a Nation of Black and White

A memoir by Aaron Douglas Keller

My Life,

My Story,

My Protest.

"I am writing this memoir now, not because it is the Black Lives Matter moment, but because of the ways in which this moment gave me back my own space to breathe as a Mixed man and thus more completely tell my story. I am writing it now, before I hear violent whispers again saying to me that it doesn’t matter."

The US has, on the whole, chosen to forget what it’s done to BIPOC, rather than acknowledge and forgive itself its transgressions and seek to rectify them. I want to convey that Americans can’t whitewash BIPOC stories or categorize them in red, white, and blue canisters to make sure Old Glory still shines brightly in their hearts—to keep fragile American ideals safe and clean.
That isn’t the way to deal with the mistakes of the past. And the truth isn’t actually binary as this forget-instead-of-forgive approach dictates. As much as some like to think a life in the US is a blessing, and that anyone who challenges this idea, either speaking to his own experience or working to make our country better, is selfish, confused, or ungrateful, it just isn’t so.
I think I’m as American as they come: a confluence of two European-American and African-American families (and a good deal of Indigenous-American blood), with ancestry spanning many generations, back to before the Union formed. Whether truly native to this land, emigrated willingly, or brought here by force, my ancestors were here at the start. Could I be more American . . .?
To be honest, I believe they must hold two truths in tandem and wrestle with their harsh intersection: first, my American upbringing was what many idealize and call “The American Dream,” . . . Second, and as effectively, my experience coming of age in this country dismantled me and filled me with hatred for our culture and its violent shortcomings.

- From the Introduction to Marginal Eyes

Get a note from me when the book lands

have a look at these

Excerpts from the Book.

“A Distinctly American Childhood”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 2 My dad was a good dad, an American dad. And if I didn’t say so succinctly then this story would be horribly incomplete. I had parents who stayed married, I lived among good people, I was put through

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“There’s Power in the Blood”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 1 The choir, clapping and swaying in unison, joined in for the chorus, their voices booming and rolling with strength. Many in the pews were clapping now. Some were rocking in their seats. Others stood and swayed to the

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“Separated from the Pack”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 3 “Hey, look at that old Black lady,” he said insistently. In my previous world there would have been nothing strange about seeing an “old Black lady” anywhere, but in Chesterton it was curious … What do I do?

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“Into the Fire (and Mike Pence’s office?)”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Five Outside of my time in Mike Pence’s office I was also more widely exposed to the vibe of Washington, D.C. as I rode the Metro each day, engaged in the program’s other activities and attended social outings with

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“… But I’m Transcending It.”

An Excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Eight “Stand against the trunk of the car and spread your legs,” the officer behind me directed. It was all going too far now. Because I had accidentally put the wrong plate on the front of the car? The

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“Don’t Look Down”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Seven My songwriting had hit a peak in the summer of 2004 when I spent countless hours with my mind and a keyboard. Whereas the lyrics I had written to audition and make my first recording with Tommy were

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