jefferson's blood
homevideo reportsis it true?jefferson enigmaslaves' storychronologyview the story

Do you have a family story to share about heritage and identity, or mixed race relationships and love?

Dear FRONTLINE

I am 50% Native American Taino/Carib, 33% White, and the rest Black. If you met me in a social setting you would mistake me for White - Light Hair, Hazel Eyes, Fair Skin, Perfect Diction. In fact, a handsome White Guy! I belong to an otherwise All White Golf Country Club. I've got a 3 handicap and more stories about the difficulties associated with being mixed race than you can ever imagine.

What shall I share with a faceless and nameless person at the other end of a computer screen that I don't know? Why should I choose to do this? I will do it as a catharsis. Perhaps, it will give me peace.

I'm 52 years of age now.

I was a developing teenager during the Civil Rights years - I stayed sane by repeating over and over "Don't think about it. It will drive you crazy. Don't think about it. It will drive you crazy." until I was calm or tired whichever came first. Sometimes, it would take an hour, sometimes longer.

This method enabled me to study my schoolwork even though it took an enormous amount of time to study and remember even simple details. It also got me through the suicide of my older, genious straight "A" cousin whom I admired, repected, loved, and was my hero. He couldn't handle the emotional distress of living between-yet-in this crazy racially conscious world and I couldn't help him. He through himself in front of a subway train.

I was a young adult during the VietNam War - I was drafted but managed to buy time, hoping the war would end, by enlisting in the Air Force as a Pilot until my conscience forced me to protest the war from within the military, as an Officer no less. They bought me off with an Honorable Discharge because they were afraid of my leadership potential.

I had four close friends in high school. One of them was a registerd alien Black and he enlisted so as to gain citizenship. He was killed in Viet Nam. My uncle served in the All-Black World War II Army. He looks whiter than me but he brought his mother to help him enlist. That is the beginning of one of the most amazing and bizarre stories you will ever hear that even involves Colin Powell!!

I was an adult during the Affirmative Action years - I look too White. I never even mentioned it. My superiors would have laughed. I moved up anyway. My younger brother was regarded as Black and went to Medical School. I was happy for him. While he was there, they showed him a video of a person exhibiting schizophrenia - It was our nephew. Our sister's son. He was talking about being White but being Black He looks White even though our sister didn't marry a White person. My brother said that he was making perfect sense explaining what it was like. They diagnosed him and drugged him. We always wondered why this kid seemed to be so useless.

I was an old-timer during the Corporate Downsizing years - Discriminated against because of age?! "The world is just too ridiculous even to bother to live in." - Little Big Man. I took the golden Parachute and multiplied it a few times and now I play golf.

The secret is understanding who you are. It sounds so trivial when I re-read the words. For a mixed race person, however, it's enormously difficult because you are a blend of cultures and from this you must define yourself. What do I take and what do I discard and how do I use it to best make me? That's the hard part but the decisions must be conscious ones and you must be prepared to live with the consequences of your choices. Where do you want to go? What do you want to be? What do you want to do? There is really no one to talk to. You are unique and with that comes a sense of lonliness that can be devastating to any thoughfull person but the reward is strength and with that you can accomplish anything.

Bob Evans


home   view the report   is it true?   the jefferson enigma   the slaves' story   mixed race america
special video reports   discussion   links   quiz   chronology   gene map
synopsis   tapes   teacher's guide   press
FRONTLINE   pbs online   wgbh

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation


SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Prison StateApril 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS