Life along the color line in rural Ohio was hard. Being Black often meant feeling frightened and alone. For a family like Ric S. Sheffield's, examining this reality closely meant confronting challenges and tragedies that often felt overwhelming, even as their odyssey also included the joyful and inspiring. Navigating day-to-day existence in a world where trusting white neighbors required a careful mixture of caution and faith, Sheffield and his kin existed in a space where they were both seen and unseen.
Spanning four generations and assessing the legacies of traumatic events (arrests, murders, suicide) that are inextricable from the racial dynamics of the small community his family called home, this gripping memoir is a heartfelt, clear-eyed, and rare chronicle of Black life in the rural Midwest. Experiencing the burden of racism among people who refused to accept that such a thing existed only made the isolation feel that much worse to Sheffield and his relatives. And yet, they overcame the obstacles and managed to persist: they got by.