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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Inquiry on the Color Line
In Response To: Inquiry on the Color Line ()

Welcome to Afrigeneas Daniel.

You might also want to consider how many people passed selectively - for economic reasons, but refused to permanently disassociate themselves from their roots and kin.

The choice to walk away from everyone in your family is a difficult one, and I can name dozens of people who, when faced with that choice refused to cave in and escape into white anonminity.

Yes, race is a social construct, but culture is something valued by many of those who are part of it, and to abandon one's culture is a drastic step - a form of personal annihilation.

I grew up with a number of elders who when faced with having to support families, decided to "pass" on the job, but to continue to lead well-balanced lives within the black community.

One of my earliest role models in anthropology was Council Taylor, who passed to get a college degree, and who with Yale degree in hand, went back to being black.

My grandmother was listed as white at birth (by accident - not design). She migrated from Virginia to New Jersey and took a job as white, which paid better than one as a black domestic. She married my grandfather (who could not pass) quit work at his insistance, became a housewife, and lived as the black woman she was until her death after the birth of her fifth child, my mother.

My other grandmother was white. She lived "as black" after marrying my grandfather in 1915, and had to give up her entire family as a result. A painful choice, but such was the reality of life in the racially divided world of those times. She continued to work "as white", which she was, but her husband could never visit her on her job. He would bring my father to see her, with my dad in the back seat of the car - as if my grandfather was the chauffer bringing a little white child to see his mom.

Thanks in part to Afrigeneas - and to my own website - I have been "reunited" with part of my grandmother's family who stumbled across my webpages.

Enjoyed reading your article, and will put in on my students reading list. Congratulations on your NEH Fellowship.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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