Being brown in a city of black and white
DETROIT - In a city that would become famous for segregation, Linda Hutcherson’s early memories of her household in Detroit are of carefree times amid a pastiche of skin colors. She had loving parents — a black father and a white mother. Her own skin was the color of caramel, and her sister, Cheryl, just a shade lighter than wheat. There was a steady stream of black visitors to the house, and a group of resident white women — prostitutes, as Hutcherson would only learn much later.
“It was pure joy,” she said. “We grew up in a house full of blacks and whites. We didn’t realize anything was wrong in the world of color.”
But race tensions were simmering in the city, and their inevitable eruption eventually transformed Detroit into one of the nation’s most polarized urban areas. For Hutcherson, the change has been depressing and disorienting. The neighborhood of her childhood long ago fell to the bulldozers of urban renewal. And now, at 55, the Detroit native feels alienated in her black neighborhood, and cut off from the city’s white population.