Praise for These Walls Between Us

“In this beautifully written, bravely honest exploration of her relationship with Mary Norman (her family's long-time domestic worker), Wendy Sanford insightfully explores the class, racial and - to a lesser degree - gender dynamics that emanate from and reinforce inequalities in the U.S. In doing so, Sanford contributes significantly to our understanding of how those hierarchies are maintained.“

Judith Rollins, Professor Emerita, Wellesley College author of Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers


“Finally, a story from a white woman raised with “help” who interrogates the relationship’s complexities. As Wendy looks inwards to examine her socialization into a racial hierarchy, and strives to break from her inherited role in order to step differently into a potential friendship with Mary, I found myself gripped by the overwhelming forces working against their friendship. Their mutual love and courage to choose differently again and again renders a tender, honest, cringeworthy, and powerful read.”

—Debby Irving, Author of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race


“Better interracial understanding is possible if white people learn how to be appropriately white without shame, guilt, or fragility. A repurposed white identity that separates itself from internalized white supremacist ideology brings joy and satisfaction to human rights work by embracing the power of hope and transformation. These Walls Between Us models such reclamation for everyone.”

 Loretta J. Ross, Dred Feminist, Activist, Visiting Associate Professor at Smith College, author of Reproductive Justice, Volume 1


“This is a powerful book with an important lesson that we all must learn in trying to understand others – a book that both blacks and whites should read so that we can enter into a productive dialogue with each other.”

—Reverend John Reynolds, author of The Fight for Freedom: A Memoir of My Years in the Civil Rights Movement


“I found These Walls Between Us very informative, especially the way the author deconstructs the subtle and overt ways that white privilege influences the lives of so many. White privilege is like an invisible thread that maintains the status quo. Thank goodness Wendy Sanford is doing the work that only she can do!”

—Byllye Avery, Founder, Black Women's Health Imperative

"A Black woman and a White woman forge a friendship against the odds. Unique, fascinating, and complex, Wendy Sanford’s wonderful memoir is so rare and engaging that I read the book continuously over twelve hours without wanting to stop."

—Peggy McIntosh, Senior Research Scientist and former Associate Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, author of White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (1989) and On Privilege, Fraudulence, and Teaching As Learning: Selected Essays 1981-2019


“Wendy learns that she cannot simply affectionately call Mary, "one of the family," without acknowledging the interpersonal, historical and structural power dynamics that have stolen opportunity, power, and freedom from Mary and other domestic workers like her. Wendy's story demands just recognition of domestic workers, Black women, and women of color for the essential, yet invisible, role they play in caring for so many families, without the respect and dignity these women deserve. Wendy's story calls on white people to dismantle the walls that have kept us from recognizing and actively combatting white supremacist culture that shows up in our own homes.”

—Stacy Kono, Executive Director, Hand in Hand, the domestic employers network


“The politics are crystal clear at all levels, the characters are fascinating and it’s a superb read!  Sanford presents the humanity of the characters, in all their contradictoriness, while remaining unrelenting in her condemnation of systemic racial and class violence. White people are all complicit in racism, and all responsible for taking it down, relationship by relationship. This memoir shows how tortuous and slippery that is... and yet, between humans who will recognize one another as such, always possible.”

James Seale-Collazo, Faculty, Escuela Secondaria, University of Puerto Rico


“A compelling take on how our personal experiences of racism arise from the history and structures of white supremacy, and an emotional glimpse into a lifetime anti-racism journey. Non-profit board members, government leaders and executives from all sectors will be transformed by Wendy’s journey and her painfully earned pearls of wisdom on the effort to become an anti-racist white person.”

—Sue Gallagher, Chief Innovation Officer Children’s Services Council of Broward County, FL

"This tender and evocative story about friendship across racial and class lines is an important guide for living into this time of racial reckoning. Sanford’s unflinching honesty, insight and wisdom had me saying, out loud, again and again, "Wow, that is so true!"

—Catherine Whitmire, Author of Practicing Peace:  A Devotional Walk through the Quaker Tradition and Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity

"With courage and grace, Wendy Sanford renders a clear-eyed portrait of her growing awareness of the harm white supremacy can wreak on an earnest attempt at cross-racial friendship.  Ms. Sanford does not excuse but is willing to come to terms with the privileges gained from an unexamined Whiteness and a pernicious power differential.  An important lesson in transcending the racial and class barrier between herself and her Black friend, Ms. Sanford’s story is a necessary read for today’s young white people, especially college students interested in Africana Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and Sociology courses. Above all, this remarkable book is a moving testimony for all who believe in fairness and racial healing."

—Pam Brooks, Associate Professor, Africana Studies Department, Oberlin College, author of Boycotts, Buses and Passes: Black Women's Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa

"These Walls Between Us is a deeply researched and unflinchingly thoughtful account of the author’s investigation into the institutional racism that brought Mary Norman into her life and troubled their life-long friendship. I find Sanford’s work uplifting in its openness. She seeks to educate, not castigate, and the narrative force of her story is compelling in its own right. This book is a clear-eyed and riveting gift to those of us who would rather try to repair than ignore this country’s tattered history of exploitation. In less accomplished hands, this might be an exercise in hand-wringing and self-doubt, but Wendy Sanford is a confident and authoritative narrator who makes this timely book at once accessible, gripping and instructive."

—Robin Hemley, Author of Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from The Outskirts of Nationhood