I had the pleasure of interviewing author Marra Gad about her book, The Color of Love in preparation for her talk at the JCC on March 17th. Marra who is a “mixed-race Jewish” woman who tells the story of how she chose to help her racist, abusive, estranged Great-Aunt Nette after Nette developed Alzheimer’s. Since her adoption, Marra has always had trouble finding a community that would accept her. She is not “black enough” for black spaces and, in the Jewish community, she has often been cast aside or disrespected. In the book, she talks about how helping her abusive aunt once she had Alzheimer’s became the pathway for love and acceptance and closure. I asked her many thought-provoking questions and she asked me to hold some of those questions because they would create a thoughtful conversation about her journey with our community.
The book is well written and raw. Marra was willing to share not only her painful memories but took the reader to the place where she was in real time. With each sentence I found myself wanting to ask her questions about how she processed the events then and now. In one part of the book where her aunt Nette gifted jewelry and trips to her siblings and unapologetically
left her own was so sad, I couldn’t help but relate and have empathy for the child that had to go through this.
Here are some questions she did answer:
Why did you decide to write this memoir now, at this point in your life?
We live in a time when racism, hatred, anti-Semitism, and intolerance are on full display so now there is space to share my story. I hope this story can be a part of the long-overdue larger cultural conversation about acceptance for all and the ways intolerance, racism, and hatred affect others. We need to talk more about the impact of these things on all fronts.
Your book deals with so many painful experiences. Were there any parts that were particularly challenging to revisit?
The chapter about my father’s death and the funeral was excruciatingly painful for me to write. To this day, that remains one of the most searingly painful times of my life.
It was also difficult to be so open about the times when I allowed myself to be made less—whether it was related to my dating life or to Nette. I speak openly in my book about times in my life when I lessened myself, and to write it and then read it is difficult.
What do you hope readers will take away from The Color of Love?
It is my deepest hope that people will come away from it considering that love is always an option, especially when it might seem easier to choose the opposite of love or when others are choosing the opposite of love. The choice is always ours, and love is always, always, always an option.