Jennine Capó Crucet on Her Time Among the Whites
The My Time Among the Whites Essayist on The Literary Life
with Mitchell Kaplan
This week on The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan, Jennine Capó Crucet, author of My Time Among the Whites, discusses her American experiences growing up in Hialeah, Florida, her years as a student at Cornell University, her thoughts on Disney World, and her new life as an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
From the episode:
Mitchell Kaplan: What was it in your parents’ makeup [when you were accepted to Cornell] that said, For my daughter this is something that is worth us sacrificing?
Jennine Capó Crucet: It’s a good question, but I don’t exactly know the answer. Sometimes you think about something for long enough that you default to a kind of answer or a kind of moment. If they were here, they would answer it differently than they would have ten years ago.
I really tried to remember what sealed it for them, and I write about that moment in one of the essays. There was this recruitment event that Cornell held for all the students that were admitted but hadn’t committed yet. It was at a house here in Coral Gables. We drove up to the house, and everyone there had come in really nice cars. It was this beautiful home, with an old tree out front. It was the dream house. It wasn’t flashy or showy either. It was the kind of money that showed real class.
I made a big impression on my parents, and they said that they wanted me to have this chance. They thought, She’s got to do something with the opportunity. They understood that in a way that I didn’t.
Jennine Capó Crucet is the author of the novel Make Your Home Among Strangers, which was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice book, the story collection How to Leave Hialeah, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize, the John Gardner Book Award, and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, and the essay collection My Time Among the Whites, out now from Picador. Raised in Miami, Florida, she is currently an associate professor at the University of Nebraska in the Department of English and the Institute for Ethnic Studies.