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AfriGeneas Discuss! Forum Archive 2


This clip is taken from the internet on a remarkable story by a remarkable lady named Shirlee Taylor Haizlip. It tells us where some of our mysterious ancestors may be. What if some of our own are passing right now? This is just a point to think on in our research into our own family members. Joseph

From Booklist , December 1, 1993
Haizlip's family tree has "roots in many gardens"; a striking image that translates into the fact she and her siblings are black, white, and Indian, a heritage far more common in our country than is ordinarily acknowledged. While Haizlip's father, a prominent Connecticut Baptist minister, could trace his family lineage with ease, her light-skinned mother's past was shrouded in mystery and sorrow. As Haizlip grew older and learned more about her mother's painful and bizarre childhood, she devoted herself to the task of tracking down her mother's convoluted, zealously concealed family history. It all began with the love between an Irish immigrant and an escaped slave, a match made in hell in terms of the hierarchy of skin tone that ruled nineteenth-century society. Color and hair texture dictated levels of privilege and prejudice to such an extent that parents abandoned children, siblings disowned one another, and entire family units "dropped out of the race," usually to pass as white and enjoy greater freedom. As Haizlip tells one astonishing true story after another, we're both appalled and saddened by the degree to which color madness has shattered lives. At least Haizlip was able to mend fences in her own family, reuniting her mother and aunt after a 76-year separation across racial lines, while her riveting and beautifully told tale forces all of us to redefine the concept of family. Donna Seaman

Copyright© 1993, American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews , November 15, 1993
A provocative memoir that goes to the heart of our American identity as Haizlip (owner of a public-relations firm), while searching for her mother's family--blacks who passed for whites- -confronts the deeply intertwined but often suppressed tensions between race and skin color. From childhood, Haizlip was aware of her mother's underlying melancholia, and as Margaret Taylor neared her 80th birthday, her daughter decided to find the family that the woman had lost when, at age four, she'd been left in the care of her darker-skinned relatives. The beautiful, alabaster-skinned Margaret had grown up to be ostracized because she was identified with the black side of the family--the side her own siblings chose to ignore by passing as white. ``I am a black woman, but many of you would never know it, my skin is as light as that of an average white person,'' Haizlip observes, raising the delicate question of pigmentocracy among blacks as she traces her family's roots. These include Martha Washington; an Irish grandmother; Native Americans; and a white indentured servant. The author notes that some geneticists claim that 95% of ``white'' Americans have varying degrees of black heritage, while 75% of African-Americans have at least one white ancestor. But Haizlip's memoir is more than a lesson in genealogy or race: It's also a family story, with memorable heroes, heroines, and villains. The author contrasts the Dickensian horrors of her mother's early life with the relatively idyllic childhood she enjoyed as the daughter of a prominent Baptist minister, and covers her own education at Wellesley; her marriage and professional life; and the happy outcome of her search--the reuniting of her mother and her remaining siblings. Finally, Haizlip admits to having ``grown less certain about the vagaries of race...more cautious in labeling or pigeonholing others.'' A moving tale of family sorrows and secrets--as well as a courageous and candid search for the truth, however painful it might be. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Tracing six generations of one family, both those who lived as blacks and those who assimililated into white society, Haizlip's chronicle mirrors the emotional, social, and racial journeys made by countless American families. "A riveting and fascinating account of the limits and limitedness of race."--Audrey Edwards, Essence. Photos.

Haizlip's timely and provocative memoir tells the story of her seach for her mother's family, which passed for white, setting it against her father's successful black family. Tracking the origins of both families, she finally reunites two sisters--one "white," the other "black"--after 76 years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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