..I could see it in the faces of the white people who stared at me and Mommy and my siblings when we rode the subway, sometimes laughing at us, pointing, muttering things like, 'Look at her with those little niggers.' I remember when a white man shoved her angrily as she led a group of us onto an escalator, but Mommy simply ignored him. I remember two black women pointing at us, saying, 'Look at that white *****,' and a white man screaming at Mommy somewhere in Manhattan, calling her a 'nigger lover.'"
Ruth experienced all kinds of racial and religious discrimination and prejudice in her life but refused to succumb to these negative forces. She never regretted her decision to marry two black men and was well aware of the fact that prejudice was a result of man's lack of education and knowledge. While the rest of the world around her was debating which race was superior to the other, she would tell her children that "God is the color of water" (McBride, p.51) thus holding on to her color-blind beliefs and views.
Ruth and her children were strangled by a society that couldn't accept them as they were. While she encountered prejudice in a black society for being white, her children battled against racist attitude of white folks but this helped them develop a more balanced view on this issue than other African-American children. Ruth would have left the black society if she could but knew that in a white world, she simply wouldn't be accepted as interracial marriages were absolutely unheard of. "I stayed on the black side because that was the only place I could stay... With whites it was no question. You weren't accepted to be with a black man and that was that" (232).
Yet despite her brave spirit, Ruth couldn't discuss racial issues with her children. It wasn't easy for her to explain why her children were discriminated against or why she looked different than other women. For this reason, she would never talk about her past and discussions on racial problems were simply not permitted in the McBride household. James writes, "The question of race was like the power of the moon in my house. It's what made the river flow... But it was a silent power, intractable... indisputable, and thus completely ignorable" (94).
Ruth faced prejudice in various forms but stood firmly against it to protect her children from its negative impact. But she was also well aware of the fact that fighting wouldn't make the problem go away and thus decided to arm her children with quality education as that was the only way they could become better than the opportunities available to them. Color of water is thus appropriately subtitled 'A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother' for it was indeed very courageous of Ruth McBride to raise a black family in a society where interracial marriages were looked down upon.
James McBride, The color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother Riverhead…