Ragusa, Kym

views updated

Ragusa, Kym

PERSONAL:

Female.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Brooklyn, NY.

CAREER:

Writer, curator, educator, and film director. Director of documentary films, including Passing, 1996, Demarcations, Threads of Memory, and Remembering the Triangle Fire.

AWARDS, HONORS:

New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Film, 1999.

WRITINGS:

The Skin between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Kym Ragusa is a writer, novelist, and documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. In her personal and family memoir, The Skin between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging, she explores the variety of issues facing a woman growing up biracial in the still racially turbulent 1960s and 1970s. Ragusa's mother was African American and her father Italian American; she was born from their brief but intense affair. Her parents were not interested in marriage, so Ragusa found herself frequently staying with her grandmothers from either side of the family. Traveling back and forth between homes in Harlem and New Jersey, Ragusa discovered how the two neighborhoods might as well be on opposite sides of the globe for all they ever came together and understood one another. Though she was well aware of the tension between the two worlds she occupied, she still recognized the essential humanity of the family members who helped raise her. Within her narrative, she winnows out stories of departed ancestors and family members, such as her maternal great-grandmother who was a vivacious flapper during the Harlem Renaissance. For the story of her own parents, she is compassionate and generous, noting that each gives a different reason for why they parted. Throughout her story and that of her family, Ragusa "never sugar-coats, but neither does she indulge in rancor or endless complaining about dysfunctional family dynamics," observed a Kirkus Reviews reviewer. She also does not fail to grasp the political implications of her story of mixed-race upbringing, but that is not the major thrust of her recollections and family history. Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman observed that "the particulars of Ragusa's story reveal the universal anxiety about belonging and about finding a home in America." A Publishers Weekly contributor stated that Ragusa's memoir is "refreshingly intent on creating compelling portraits and contextualizing family history rather than rehashing a personal, emotional journey."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Ragusa, Kym, The Skin between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Skin between Us, p. 67.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of The Skin between Us, p. 280.

Publishers Weekly, March 20, 2006, review of The Skin between Us, p. 49.

ONLINE

Elle Magazine,http://www.elle.com/ (November 22, 2006), Rachel Holtzman, review of The Skin between Us.

Montclair State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Web site,http://www.chss.montclair.edu/ (November 12, 2006), biography of Kym Ragusa.

Thirteen/WNET New York Web site,http://www.thirteen.org/ (November 22, 2006), Kathy High, interview with Kym Ragusa.

W.W. Norton & Company Web site,http://www.wwnorton.com/ (November 12, 2006).*

About this article

Ragusa, Kym

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article