‘High Yella:’ A Multiflavored Family Memoir Of Race, Love And Loss

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-29 17:05Z by Steven

‘High Yella:’ A Multiflavored Family Memoir Of Race, Love And Loss


Dawn Ennis, Contributor, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Cover of “High Yella” by Steve Majors The University of Georgia Press

“I was born a poor Black child.”

Fans of writer and actor Steve Martin’s early work will recognize those words from his 1979 comedy, The Jerk. Readers of Steve Majors’ powerful family memoir, High Yella, learn early on that the author used this memorable line in a key moment of courtship; An awkward attempt to use humor to explain a childhood marked by racism, shadeism, poverty, abuse, alcoholism, homophobia and the black magic that Black women in his family called “hoodoo.”

“The fact that I was born a poor Black child was just a part of my past,” Majors writes. “The full story of how that poor Black child grew up and escaped his past is wilder and crazier than any screenplay Steve Martin could ever dream up.”

The central part of High Yella involves race, identity and family. Majors, 55, is a light-skinned, cisgender Black gay man from upstate New York who was the youngest of five children, raised Roman Catholic, and married to a cis, white, gay Jewish man. He writes how he “checked boxes” when he needed to, and is perpetually plagued by people who presume to question his identity because he is white-passing. Majors also shares his own challenges—and failings—as a parent, and recounts painful recollections of family dysfunction and strife as a child…

Read the entire interview here.

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Racism And Redemption At The Tournament Of Roses Parade

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-02 02:59Z by Steven

Racism And Redemption At The Tournament Of Roses Parade


Andrew Bender, Business Travel Blogger

Joan Williams holds the portrait from 1957, when she was Miss Crown City. On January 1, 2015, after 57 years, she will finally get to ride in the Tournament of Roses Parade. (Photo credit: Savannah Wood)

The theme of 2015′s Tournament of Roses Parade is “Inspiring Stories,” and the person leading it has a doozy: a tale of racism and redemption from a 57-year-old injustice involving the parade itself.

Riding on the first float in the 126th edition of this New Year’s Day tradition, before some 700,000 spectators in Pasadena, Calif. and an estimated 70 million television viewers, will be 82-year-old Joan Williams. She was first slated to ride in the parade in 1958 as Miss Crown City, but later denied the honor because she was African-American.

In 1957, Williams, her husband and two daughters had just moved to Pasadena (about 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles), where she worked for the city’s Department of Water and Power. She didn’t even know there was a Miss Crown City – a Pasadena city employee who appeared at civic ceremonies and rode on the city’s Rose Parade float – until her colleagues had nominated her for the position…

Read the entire article here.

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