March 25, 2020

The Story behind the Story of In Black and White (Part 2)

MaryAnn Diorio     @DrMaryAnnDiorio

To refresh your memory from Part 1 of MaryAnn Diorio's post she said, "His words struck my soul like a nuclear bomb. For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Never had I experienced prejudice on a personal level. And it stung!"

Part 2

Back then, legal options were few for rebuttal. So, I took my degrees and ended up accepting a job stuffing envelope at a local library.

And I forgave the superintendent.

I began to have a new appreciation for African-Americans and for the discrimination they had suffered. Unbeknown to me, God was preparing me to write In Black and White many years later.

Time passed. I had children, and those children grew up. Then, my older daughter announced that she and her husband were adopting a baby. A black baby! My heart leapt with joy!  Shortly thereafter, my daughter placed a beautiful African-American baby in my arms, and my heart was stolen forever!

Some of the pieces of my story puzzle were coming together. My African-American granddaughter was a huge piece of that puzzle. I began to learn the African-American culture.
I began to understand prejudice in a new way as people made unwittingly hurtful comments when we were out in public. I began to notice the undercurrent of racism still prevalent in our society. Assumptions abounded. Misunderstandings surfaced. Opportunities for loving clarification ensued.

As I watched my daughter learn how to braid my granddaughter's beautiful thick hair into lovely cornrows, I gained a new appreciation for the special camaraderie that existed among black women. They were eager to teach my daughter their traditional hairstyling techniques, and they warmly encouraged her in her efforts.

Since that initial start on my novel in the 90s, nearly twenty years transpired, during which time I wrote three other novels, two novellas, several short stories, and several non-fiction books and articles. Then, at the beginning of 2018, I heard the Lord's voice say to me, "It's time!"

Instantly, I knew what He meant. So, in January of 2018, I picked up the manuscript for In Black and White and resumed writing the story.

I spent weeks researching racism, and racism in the 50s, in particular. What I learned broke my heart. What I learned fueled my already passionate desire to write this book.

What I learned confirmed that In Black and White is a story for this time—and for all time. For prejudice is still alive and well. Not only regarding skin color, but also regarding ethnicity. We all see that anti-Semitism is on the rise and many people groups are still cruelly marginalized.

The writing of the story did not go easily. In fact, I wrote the book once and then, after a year of writing, I discarded what I'd written and started over again. The reason? The first book was not the story of God's heart. The second one was. It took writing the first book to discover that truth.

But the fact that I was now writing the book of God's heart did not make the writing any easier. In fact, it made it more difficult. Satan was not about to allow this book to be written without a fight.

Or more than one.

Obstacle after obstacle pounded me. Health challenges. Family challenges. Computer challenges. They came, one after another, with no respite in between.

But I persisted.

And in the end, victory came as well—as I knew it would because God was behind this book.

In Black and White is, indeed, a book of God's heart. It is also a book of my heart. And I fervently hope that, as you read it, it will become a book of your heart as well.

I never planned to be a writer. When I was a teenager, the thought of studying journalism crossed my mind but left quickly when I walked into my first French class. The language mesmerized me, hooked me, and consumed the next 15 years of my life as I went on to earn the PhD in French. I was all set for a career as a university professor. 

But God had other plans. Shortly after I celebrated my 30th birthday, I began having this unusual desire to write. It seemed to come from nowhere. No matter how hard I try, I could not shake it. Finally, I went to the Lord and asked, “Is this desire from You? If it is, increase it. But if it isn’t, take it away because it’s becoming an obsession.”
You’ve probably guessed the answer by now. The desire increased. Even then, however, I had to be sure. So I asked God to give me a sign that He was calling me to write for Him.
He did.Through a fascinating series of events–which I won’t go into here (This is the short version, remember? :)), I ended up getting a poem of mine published in The Saturday Evening Post. Now, if you know anything about the publishing industry, for an unknown like me getting published in The Saturday Evening Post is the next closest thing to winning the Olympics when you haven’t even trained!


  1. Thank you MaryAnn was this Part 2 section. It breaks my heart that
    prejudice is still alive and well today. God made us all. Thank you for being persistent and obey God to write this book. I pray many will read it and it will touch their hearts too.

  2. Thank you, Susan, for allowing me to appear on your wonderful blog. Thank you also for the way you always encourage fellow writers. May our Lord richly bless you!

  3. Congratulations on your book, MaryAnn! It's nice to hear the story behind the story, and how the Lord brought it forth. Wishing you much success! :)

  4. In about the same time frame as you set your book, my husband-to-be Chinese classmate at evangelical Wheaton College and I, a white Czech girl of immigrant parents, were dating and feeling the heat of prejudice warning us that "God established borders" and that our poor children would suffer for our sinful choice. We were pioneers, married 46 years. My book just released: SLOW BOAT TO CHINA recounts those years and brings everything full circle. I am rushing to order your book! Thank you for your courage and perseverance.