These Walls Between Us: A Memoir of Friendship Across Race and Class


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
She Writes Press
Publish Date
5.51 X 8.98 X 1.1 inches | 0.93 pounds

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About the Author

Wendy Sanford grew up in an upper-middle-class white suburban family in Princeton, New Jersey, and attended private schools throughout her life. During the socially turbulent time of the 1970s, she became a feminist, a lesbian, and a Quaker. A founding member of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Wendy coauthored and edited many versions of the women's health and sexuality classic Our Bodies, Ourselves from 1973 to 2011. In seminary at Harvard Divinity School in the '80s, she began to read works of women of color as "devotional reading," to remedy her previous exclusive exposure to white and mostly male authors. She served for nearly a decade in campus ministry in the Boston area. In her fifties, she began reckon with her own white skin and the benefits that came to her through being white. In 2003, she earned an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. She is grateful to Mary Norman for partnering with her to create this book. She lives in Cambridge, MA, with Polly Attwood, her spouse of forty-one years.


"The politics are crystal clear at all levels, the characters are fascinating and it's a superb read! Sanford presents the humanity of the characters, in all their contradictoriness, while remaining unrelenting in her condemnation of systemic racial and class violence. White people are all complicit in racism, and all responsible for taking it down, relationship by relationship. This memoir shows how tortuous and slippery that is . . . and yet, between humans who will recognize one another as such, always possible."
--James Seale-Collazo, Faculty, Escuela Secondaria, University of Puerto Rico

"This is powerful book with an important lesson that we all must learn in trying to understand others--a book that both blacks and whites should read so that we can enter into a productive dialogue with each other."
--Rev. John Reynolds, author of The Fight for Freedom

"A compelling take on how our personal experiences of racism arise from the history and structures of white supremacy, and an emotional glimpse into a lifetime anti-racism journey. Non-profit board members, government leaders, and executives from all sectors will be transformed by Wendy's journey and her painfully earned pearls of wisdom in her effort to become an anti-racist white person."
--Sue Gallagher, EdD, Chief Innovation Officer, Children's Services Council of Broward County, FL

"I found These Walls Between Us very informative, especially the way the author deconstructs the subtle and overt ways that white privilege influences the lives of so many. White privilege is like an invisible thread that maintains the status quo. Thank goodness Wendy Sanford is doing the work that only she can do!"
--Byllye Avery, MacArthur Genius Grant Winner, Founder, Black Women's Health Imperative

"A repurposed white identity that separates itself from internalized white supremacist ideology brings joy and satisfaction to human rights work by embracing the power of hope and transformation. These Walls Between Us models such reclamation for everyone."
--Loretta J. Ross, founder of Dred Feminist, activist, visiting associate professor at Smith College, and author of Reproductive Justice: An Introduction

"Finally, a story from a white woman raised with 'help' who interrogates the relationship's complexities. As Wendy looks inwards to examine her socialization into a racial hierarchy and strives to break from her inherited role in order to step differently into a potential friendship with Mary, I found myself gripped by the overwhelming forces working against both of them. Their mutual love and courage to choose differently again and again renders a tender, honest, cringeworthy, and powerful read."
--Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race