What was going through my mother's mind when she made up that story about me being adopted? When Larry, her husband, was in the television series "F-Troop, " the studio took pictures of the stars and their families. And the studio's publicity department wanted to know -- who was the little Negro girl. Larry doesn't remember the day we took that F-Troop picture at all...nor the subsequent cover up. In those days he ceded control of his career to Mama, who made all the important decisions in our lives. Here she explains how she remembers it.
The hardest thing about interviewing my mom was coping with the conflict
between the daughter and the journalist. The journalist knew the hard
questions that needed to be asked. The daughter wanted to soften the blow.
When I was successful , I think the journalist in me helped the daughter in me
understand mom's motives, including some deeper things about Mom's
relationship with her mother, the thought process she went through to go on
national television, and why she chose Peggy Bush as the woman to raise me.
My half-brother Lary is an extraordinary person. So extraordinary that, if
someone were to ask me my cure for racism, I would say, based on how he
turned out, that all white kids should spend some time living in a black
household so they could experience what it's like, up close and personal. Lary
still holds a great deal of respect for the woman who raised me - Aunt Peggy.
He remembers the visits with Peggy as his introduction to a world he'd never
known - the world of the black middle class...and he also remembers having his
eyes opened to the ways his black stepfather - my father - and his friends
thumbed their nose at the white society which kept them down.
In 1975, Jane Goldberg, herself an accomplished tap dancer, interviewed my
father, James (Jimmy) Cross as part of a series of interviews she did with
individual Copesetics. Larry Storch had correctly pinpointed Baltimore native
Snake Hips Tucker as an influence on my father. Here, Jimmy Cross himself
augments that story and talks about meeting George Balanchine....