Biracial Portraits

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Dear FRONTLINE,
As one who puts great emphasis on family, I was appalled that a mother would deny her daughter based on race. The excuse about the time in which it happened doesn't hold water, because there have always been mixed race relationships and marriages.

The mother is a very, very selfish woman who seems more concerned about her "station" in life and what her so-called "friends" think. It was amazing how she ignored her daughter in a room full of people because she was concerned about what one person would think. Her daughter is a very intelligent woman who I wish had enough self esteem to get on with her life without seeking the approval of a shallow,cold and selfish person like her mother. How can you want to be with a person who would say and do the things the mother has done?
A. P.

Silver Spring, MD


Dear FRONTLINE,
The day after the show, a friend said she hadn't any desire to watch "A Secret Daughter". She asked me what did the subject of the show contribute to anything other than to reinforce what we all know -- that race relations between blacks and whites have always been bad and will always remain bad. I thought about it and realized that though the situation between June and her mother would not have existed had race NOT been the issue, it affected my emotions as a mother more than anything else.

It saddened me that June AND Larry suffered as result of their mother's selfishness. And though I believe June thought that having her mother admit the truth to the world would have been cathartic for her, it was still apparent that June was so desperate for her mother's love that she was able to deny some very hurtful truths about how she was treated as a child.

I don't know if it would be too late for her mother's public admission to make a difference in their relationship. But if it provides June with some final assurances, so be it. Who are we to judge?
Kim Cameron-Dominguez

Washington, D.C.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I was very saddened to see the Secret Daughter program. I thought June was very courageous. I too am biracial, and was fortunate to be raised with my mother and father. I am thirty-three and was born in Dublin, Ireland. My early childhood was spent in the Carribbean.

June's mother came across to me as very selfish and caused so much damage to so many people. She damaged nearly all of the lives that she came into contact with. Her mother's, Stump Cross's, June and her half-brother's. Okay, if racism did not exist, maybe things would have been different, but I suspect that June's mother would have pursued her own ambitions anyway. She may have cried when she gave June away, but she still did it.

I thought it was outrageous that told June at around 7, or 9, that if her skin color had been lighter that she could have stayed with her.

June has turned out to be one hell of a woman, bright, talented, courageous and sensitive despite everything. All of those qualities are to her credit and no one else's.

I would agree with June's aunt that June has to feel tremendous rage toward her mother. Any feelings of rage that she feels toward the white race, I would respectfully suggest, probably displace her feelings of rage toward her mother. Feeling love and anger at the same time are difficult to acknowledge. It's much easier to put the anger somewhere else. So sad.
M.R.

Miami, FL


Dear FRONTLINE,
I was moved. As a mother of a child who looks bi-racial I felt compelled to watch the entire program. In a way I did not feel sorry for June's Mother, she chose to be white, whites can do that. June on the hand is looks black and continued to refer to herself as black the entire show. I thought the most touching moment was when June's Mother asked her, "When did you begin to see yourself as black?". June answered "When we were in the tub togther and you said if you weremn't so dark you would have stayed with me." My heart then bled for this eight year old to hear her mother say such a thing. I hope I never disregard my child's feelings because she is lighter than me.
N. Chantal McGrady


Dear FRONTLINE,
I believe that the real conflict that june felt was more a daughter-mother issue. I think if she was white and had still been semi-abandoned like she did, she will still have had anger. Here, it has more than only one issue. The mother was young, unwed and had an affair with a black man. Imagine , if she was just unwed, pregnant no matter from whom, it will still have been a very delicate issue. people at that time weren't as openminded as they are now I don't think that her mum was right, and i cried when i saw the show. I think people made choices pressure by their peers, by society and didn't always made the right one but often, they didn't know any better.

I am a white women, european. My sister is married with a black man from the carribean. They have 2 kids together. her marriage, her kids are a pleasure to both famillies because they are very happy but, if this was 20 or 30 years ago, well, we don't know how i would have been.

I felt very moved. Please, keep an open mind about all races and all people. whatever our colour is, we still are on the same boat. Iam glad that you and your mother came to a closure about your relationship I will always keep your story in my heart.
Veronique


Dear FRONTLINE,
It took a great deal of courage for June Cross to explore such a very personal and complex subject through a public medium. As a parent of biracial children I was quite happy to see a program that made an attempt to deal with some of the experiences of a biracial person. However, I thought June's apparent acceptance of Norma's justification suggests that on a certain level she is not yet ready to deal some crucial questions. June takes us to the critical point of raising the issues but simply backs away. She has a distinctly different recollection of her grandmother's comment ("qute little monkey") than does her mother but yet she does not probe that difference. She also shares a crucial recollection a comment her mother made to her "if you did not get darker" but again she does not question how her mother could have said that to her without recognizing the obvious pain it caused.
Patrick Hewitt


Dear FRONTLINE,
I am happy that despite everything that happened, June turned out okay. I don't believe that Norma (June's mother) was acting in June's best interest. I believe she did what was convenient for her. June cramped her style. Norma did what was best for Norma. Her main concern was only what her friends thought of her. I believe that even though June did not express her appreciation for Peggy at the time, that Peggy knew that June cared and that June would realize it later. I think that Secret Daughter will help June with her healing process. It has reveal to the world that June is not a secret anymore.
Erica Sterling


Dear FRONTLINE,
I once learned that we decide whether we like a certain film or documentary not while we view it, but while reviewing it later in our minds. If this is true, than certainly I loved "Secret Daughter." I keep thinking about June Cross and her family today. The hurtful words she heard as a child ring in my ears ("She's a cute little monkey..." "If only your skin hadn't gotten darker you could have stayed with me."); I can only imagine how those words lodged and festered in young June's heart and mind. The mother-daughter relationship is often fraught with pain. I was deeply moved by this story of racism unfolding within the most intimate of bonds.

No one, white or black, who has been a daughter, a mother, a grandmother, will forget June Cross's story. I thank them for sharing it.
Suzanne Roeder Allen

Albuquerque, NM


Dear FRONTLINE,
The program kept my attention for two hours. The mother, though she gave her daughter to close friends to raise, loved her daughter. There is no doubt that. She always kept in contact with her daughter. Normally, people who surrender their children to others, usually by adoption, curtail all contact. The mother, though a white woman herself, is a victim of white racism, and her action was in response to white racism.
Joseph Cohen

Hillcrest Heights, MD


Dear FRONTLINE,
I watched your show last night with my wife who is from Atlantic City. She was raised by her grandmother, who was also a teacher and best friends with Mrs. Bush. She remembered you and never knew your background. I noticed that you did not mention Mrs. Bush much in the light that she raised you to become what you are today, a Harvard Grad. If it had not been for Mrs. Bush's mothering I doubt that your birth mother could have provided such an environment. You should go and find your Atlantic City family since they helped cement your foundation that you now have.
C. J.


Dear FRONTLINE,
As the grand parent of a bi racial child i understand in a small way how Norma's mother must have felt, but i got over those feelings right after i held my granddaughter the first time. I have the best son-in-law that Any one has ever had. My grand daugher and I watched secret daughter together. I know she has many questions But won't ask them until she is ready. I suppose i should say that i am "white" and my grand daughter is a beautiful Brown.
L. O.

Brandon, Florida


Dear FRONTLINE:
June's mother's ambivalence in raising a black daughter was reason enough to relinquish her rearing. Biology is not enough. At least one person has to be absolutely crazy about a child and that child needs to know it if she is to flourish. Apparently June's aunt was able to embrace her and what lovely results! This was a facinating account of converging and diverging paths.
Sharon Waters
Baton Rouge, LA


Dear FRONTLINE:
A Letter to Mother.....Obviously, Norma, you were more concerned with your own social climbing than you were with the welfare of your own flesh and blood: who is just coincidentally a beautiful, talented, and extraordinarily forgiving human being that you do not deserve to have call you "mom."

You patronizingly extoll the wonders of the "black world," how unjudging and accepting it is, yet you spent your life clamoring for acceptance in some white material and social fantasy you manufactured, admitting how cruel and judgemetal the company of those you freely sought was.

Now that the looks you admit you never had are gone for good and the acting career that never was never will be, do you think all those hours spent at Schwab's or in nightclubs at the expense of your children were worth it?

What kind of animal tells any child, not to mention their own, "If I'd had the money, I would have aborted you?" Maybe it is a good thing your priorities WERE completely confused, otherwise you would have spent the money you blew on glamor shots and nightclubs doing just that.

This is not an issue of race, Norma, which you have hidden behind all these years: you were no better to your son, who was white, than you were with June, and when you were better, one is left to assume that it had only to do with the fact that he was less a threat to your being invited to all the right parties.

Shame on you, Norma, not for having June, but for the fact that you loved your child, honored your responsibility, and respected yourself less than you loved, honored, and respected the pursuit of popularity, comfort, and a good time.

Perhaps I am the last white heterosexual liberal male from the South, Norma, but even in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods, we say shame on you.
E.T.


Dear FRONTLINE:
I think the average parents have good intentions at the begining, but lose sight of this once the pressure starts rising. For a white mother raising an inter-racial child, she is dealing with multiple identities for her child. Her own learned prejudices can not be ignored, as she tries to do what is right.

She tries to impose these prejudices on her child not realising the effect it will have in the long run.

I believe genuine love can exist between a white mother and her black child, after all underneath the color it is the same blood that runs through the vein, the same genetics.

It would be a weak mother who would give up her child for the mere reason of color. But this weakness can become strength once she is given the knowlegde of how to cope in a society that punishes people for daring to love out side of themselves.
Jo@traveltalk.com


Dear FRONTLINE:
Secret Daughter..... Don't we all have one??? Why, oh why is it made sooo much more dramatic, or more painful, heartwrenching when it is a black issue. I gave my daughter up for adoption. I am a Caucasian. Father Caucasian, a white daughter was born to me. I gave her up for adoption.. The pain was unbearable. Is it more so if you are Black??I don't think so. She , June Cross said White people think, don't think what is this??? Honorary white?? I do not understand Talk about prejudice??

I am of Italian Decent... Have been called a guinea a greaser, and much more . Should I go around calling myself a Italian white lady, an Italian whatever I am ?? I call myself Janice and I am what I am, because of what I do, how I act, what I can do for the community, how I interact with other people. Not because I am Italian, White or black The PAIN IS STILL AS PAINFUL FOR MOTHER AND CHILD NO MATTER WHITE BLACK YELLOW, PURPLE OR WHATEVER. June Cross FORGIVE?? I think she should THANK her MOTHER for making the greatest sacrifice a mother can give. Every family has a story. Some happy some sad, some more tragic than others. Let's try and lighten up a little.
Janice Clemente
Bedford, MA


Dear FRONTLINE:
Wow! Despite the unresolved questions, this was powerful! As a sociologist, as someone who is white married to someone who is multi-racial, as someone with a daughter who is multi- racial, as someone who is adopted and who has spoken with her birth mother, this really hit home!

June, you are brave and fine - and your mother surrogates Peggy and Gloria did a terrific job! Strange as it may seem, Norma was so very right in giving you to others to raise - she herself is inadequate for the job and knows it.

The fact that she did the same with your brother - who also has grown into a fine person indicates her wisdom in choosing to birth, not to non-parent. The fact that she is what she is and who she is cannot be changed, and I have a feeling that she lives with that. Larry is wonderful, loving, and obviously loves you much. What a gift he is not only to your mother, who needs love, but also to you and your brother. He right- fully considers you royalty - and your father as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed, was touched, was rapt throughout this program.Can I purchase a copy?Much luck and love to you, June - and to your family - bothblack and white, fictive and biological. This show was especially touching coming as it does beforethis holiday -- and considering ALL the history of thanksgiving in our society.
Mary Kirby Diaz
Hauppauge,NY


Dear FRONTLINE:
" Being the Mother of Children of Color" Hattie Jones said that being a white mother of children of color makes one somethingother then 'white' and it is true. My son was born to me in 1966. His father is Black & Native American. I am from a Russian Jewish background. My son Hunter was born handicapped with spina bifida. I have foster a number of Black children and am adopting my daughter who I got 11 yrs ago who is also mixed Black & Native American.

What I did is join my children in the Black Community. And delight in their exsistance and the honor of parenting them.Hunter died 5 yrs agoof AIDS. The world has lost more then it is aware of by the death of this Gay, Black, Indian, Jewish-Quaker crippled most beautiful young man. If you stay away from KKK meeting & Nazi rallies, the world can be a good place.I was very upsetwatching June Cross's film. I am glad she made it and so sorry for the pain she had in her life & her mothers life. In spit of it all, she is wonderful. But the suffering was unforgivable. A pox on us all.Thank you for doing this, June. I hope it helps.
Hug,
Ahavia Lavania
Philadelphia, PA


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