Chicago Tribune

'When I Was White': At 27, Sarah Valentine found out her biological father was black. A chat about her new memoir

When Sarah Valentine was growing up in the mostly white, middle-class suburbs of Pittsburgh during the 1980s, she assumed her experience was just like that of her peers. She embraced the traditions of her Irish and Italian heritage, did well in sports and school, and hung out with her white friends at the mall. "I didn't know much about race," she writes of a childhood friendship with a girl who looked like her, "but I knew it existed; I thought some people were black, but most people were normal."

But as Valentine came of age and became more conscious of her place in the world, something seemed a little off. For one, her skin was a darker shade than that of her family members. Her classmates called her "Slash," the nickname of the mixed-race Guns N' Roses guitarist. Her high school guidance counselor suggested she

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