Walker has lived a colorful life. At 30, she's a graduate
of Yale, the founder of a non-profit organization, a writer,
an activist, an entrepreneur and one of Time magazine's
fifty future leaders of America. Add to that growing up
the biracial daughter of author Alice Walker and you've
got the makings of a serious autobiography.
"Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting
Self," Walker's most recent accomplishment and her
first novel, first out in paperback Jan. 2002.
White and Jewish" chronicles Walker's upbringing as
the daughter of a white Jewish civil rights lawyer and a
black activist author who by all accounts married and created
a child in 1960s Mississippi as an act of activism as much
as their love for one another. (Interracial marriage remained
illegal in Mississippi until 1987, and could have resulted
in a ten-year prison sentence for the couple.) The elder
Walker told CNN in a recent interview, "Part of the
lure of our marriage was that it was illegal." But
Rebecca seems to take her raison d'etre in stride.
was born in 1969 in Jackson, Mississippi. Alice Walker and
Rebecca's father, Mel Leventhal split when Rebecca was in
the third grade, leaving Rebecca splitting her time between
her father's Mississippi home, with her white, Jewish step-mother
and her mother's free-wheeling lifestyle and homes in Brooklyn,
San Francisco's Haight Ashbury, Washington, D.C. and the
Bronx. In the novel, she talks of struggling with her own
self-identity against the multitude of settings and her
desperate attempts to fit in.
graduating Cum Laude from Yale University in 1992, Walker
founded Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, a national
non-profit organization devoted to fostering leadership
and activism in young women. In 1996, she launched Kokobar,
"a Cyberlounge/Expresso Bar/Bookstore" in Brooklyn
aimed at bringing education and internet technology to urban
multicultural neighborhoods. In between, she has spent time
as a contributor to such publications as Essence, Mademoiselle,
The New York Daily News, SPIN, Harper's, Sassy, The Black
Scholar. She has also been featured in The New York Times,
The Chicago Times, The Atlanta Constitution, Harper's Bazaar,
Elle, Esquire, and U.S. News & World Report, and has
had guest spots on CNN, MTV, The Joan Rivers Show and Charlie
is hesitant to exist in her Pulitzer Prize-winning mother's
shadow with her first literary offering. (Alice Walker,
herself, has published a novel dealing with her interracial
marriage entitled "The Way Forward is with a Broken
Heart," an excerpt of which is available at CNN.com.)
She even refused an interview with the media giant in an
effort to distance herself from her mother's recent release.
reviews of the book indicate that Rebecca will have no trouble
standing on her own as an author.
on her own as herself, however, is something she's already
learned to accomplish:
all comes to this...I exist somewhere between black and
white, family and friend."