Say I’m Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2020-06-09 16:01Z by Steven

Say I’m Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love

Chicago Review Press
288 Pages
6 x 9
Formats: Cloth, Mobipocket, EPUB, PDF
ISBN: 9781641602747

E. Dolores Johnson
Boston, Massachusetts

Say I’m Dead is the true story of family secrets, separation, courage, and trans-formation through five generations of interracial relationships. Fearful of prison time—or lynching—for violating Indiana’s antimiscegenation laws in the 1940s, E. Dolores Johnson’s black father and white mother fled Indianapolis to secretly marry in Buffalo, New York. When Johnson was born, social norms and her government-issued birth certificate said she was Negro, nullifying her mother’s white blood in her identity. Later, as a Harvard-educated business executive feeling too far from her black roots, she searched her father’s black genealogy. But in the process, Johnson suddenly realized that her mother’s whole white family was—and always had been—missing. When she began to pry, her mother’s 36-year-old secret spilled out. Her mother had simply vanished from Indiana, evading an FBI and police search that had ended with the conclusion that she had been the victim of foul play.

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After more than 200 years, the census had stopped dictating who people had to be and asked me to define myself.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-11-17 03:00Z by Steven

For the first time, the 2000 Census offered an option for mixed race that gave the respondent the chance to self-declare the components of his or her own identity. Dozens of racial and ethnic categories were listed for those who wished to check all the boxes of their multicultural, multi-racial, selves, including a box for white, allowing people like me to acknowledge, legally and honorably, both sides of their heritage. After more than 200 years, the census had stopped dictating who people had to be and asked me to define myself.

E. Dolores Johnson, “The Census Always Boxed Us Out,” Narratively, October 30, 2017.

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The Census Always Boxed Us Out

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-17 01:36Z by Steven

The Census Always Boxed Us Out

Narratively: Human Stories, Boldly Told

E. Dolores Johnson

Illustration by Xia Gordon

For most of our history, the U.S. government treated biracial Americans as if we didn’t even exist, but my family has stories to tell.

In June, 1967, I walked across the quad of Howard University, a light-skinned, 19-year-old sophomore. It was Black Power days, when I was on fire to learn the black history America had largely ignored. On that wide walkway, I ran into a boy from class who broke into a toothy smile, stuck out his much darker hand and shook mine vigorously, laughing like he had no sense.

“Congratulations,” he said.

“Congratulations for what?”

“For not being a bastard anymore.”

“What are you talking about?” I said, snatching my hand away. “I was born legit.”

“No you weren’t,” he said. The day before, the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia had overturned laws in 16 states outlawing interracial marriage, and he assumed that this meant my parents’ marriage was finally legal. In fact, my parents were married in New York, where their union was officially sanctioned, but the Loving decision was still a watershed — the start of a long journey to learn the truth about my mixed family’s place in America’s racial landscape…

Read the entire article here.

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Under the skin

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-10-15 20:43Z by Steven

Under the skin

Havard University Gazette

Aaron Lester, Harvard Correspondent

Deep experience informs panelists’ views on mixed-race life in U.S.

When Carmen Fields’ future husband asked her to meet his mother, Fields refused. “No way. I didn’t want to be the reason she opened up the front door and dropped the Easter ham,” she told a Harvard audience on Wednesday.
An African-American whose spouse is white, Fields knows from experience that life in the United States holds unique challenges for mixed-race couples and their children.
Fields and fellow panel members — among them College junior Eliza Nguyen —addressed some of those issues during a discussion called “American Masala: Race Mixing, the Spice of Life or Watering Down Cultures?” at the Student Organization Center at Hilles.

Nguyen, president of the Harvard Half Asian People’s Association (HAPA), distinctly remembers the moment it dawned on her that she was neither white, like her mother, nor Vietnamese, like her father. “I was in the fourth grade, taking a standardized test. And they had that box you were supposed to check off.” There was no box for biracial, and she was instructed to check only one. Nguyen, perplexed, asked her teacher which box to check. She was the only nonwhite student in her school. “Asian, of course,” her teacher told her. “I was confused,” said Nguyen. “Who am I?”…

Read the entire article here.

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