Stephen Majors ’89

HIGH YELLA by Steve Majors is a family memoir that follows Steve’s life, growing up as the youngest, white-passing son in an all-Black family; and later, marrying his husband and adopting their two Black daughters. In this “heart-wrenching and honest” (Eman Quota, Bride of the Sea) book, Steve reckons with family secrets and his troubled childhood of poverty, abuse, and generational trauma in order to find and understand himself. This memoir shed light on the difficulties that multiracial people face in the U.S.—even within their own families. Written with clarity and grace, HIGH YELLA walks alongside the tradition of The Color of Water to share an extraordinary journey of Blackness, queerness, and parenthood. 

“A definitively modern writer wrestles with haunting questions from his family’s hidden past…. A brave reckoning with multiple questions of identity, class, family, race, and other thorny issues.”—Kirkus Reviews

High Yella speaks to anyone yearning to feel at home in their own skin, who need to know they can belong somewhere inside a less than welcoming society. As Steve Majors eloquently reveals a legacy of racial confusion through his own personal lens, he exposes our limitations and our capacities for love, tolerance, and generosity. His foibles and insight, especially when it comes to his own children, provide us with a substantial dose of hope and inspiration.”—David Tabatsky, author of American Misfit and coauthor of Dear President Obama

“This delicately crafted memoir is a testament to the unquantifiable things that connect family―not cells and DNA, but shared experiences and unconditional love.”—Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, author of Survivors Club

“Steve Majors’s gripping memoir provides a glimpse into the soul of a tormented man caught in the crossfire of two cruel worlds––one black, one white––as he struggles to find where he truly belongs.”—Ray Studevent, author of Black Sheep

“Steve Majors’s heart-wrenching and honest family memoir never sugarcoats, romanticizes, or dehumanizes. Whether he’s tackling growing up poor and Black, family abuse, racial passing, substance misuse, interracial relationships, marriage, or raising adopted kids as a gay dad, Majors tells every part of this singular, moving, and necessary story with clear eyes and care. Just like family, this beautiful, heartbreaking book will find its way into your bones.”—Eman Quotah, author of Bride of the Sea

“Steve Majors’s memoir, High Yella, is a feast of literary brilliance. As a Black child of the American South, I understand the weight of the title and the struggle of those who bear it. This is why I was so deeply moved by Majors’ courage and vulnerability in opening up about his struggle for a definable racial identity. Inside this struggle are the lives of three generations―their stories raw, beautiful, authentic, and unrelentingly poignant…. High Yella is a gift to society and a book that I will always treasure.”—Jeffrey Blount ― author of The Emancipation of Evan Walls