Biracial Portraits


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The story you aired "Secret Daughter" was a very good one, intensely interesting for both my husband and myself. We could relate to June Cross pain and agony of being a secret child, and in my case this is surely so. Although, I am not a child of a racial mix, I am a child who was born to a single mother and a married father. This situation always caused me great pain in itself but, what hurt the most was the fact my father kept me a secret to a certain degree. By this I mean his wife had an idea I existed, yet I was never apart of my fathers life with her and my other family. There is a world of heartache and confusion that dwells in a persons mind when they fall into such an existence. Thoughts of suicide plague the mind, frustration, doubt, loneliness, sadness,etc. All placed there because two people decided to do the tango on your life.

Although, we can not control the families we are born into,the feelings that will stick into our minds when we are down no matter what kind of upbringing we have, we can in fact trust in God. God was the driving force into my being reborn, through belief and faith in his son Jesus I have come to realize, it's not important who my parents are on earth but, who my spiritual parent is. When it is all said and done it will not matter that my father never had the courage when he lived to claim me as his daughter in front of his wife, it will not matter that June's mother could not expect her in front of her white conservative friends, who by the way will have to answer for the wages of their sin when they die like all the rest of us. None of this none since will not even matter when we die but, our response to them will. So to (June Cross and others who fall in that category like me) you I say don't worry because you are someone's child, you are Gods child, he always loves you and will never deny you.

Tucker L. Tracy

June Cross, your life and perspective are inspirational. As the white mother of a biracial child and the daughter of a mother who gave her children away, I was touched on various levels. I hope and pray that my son grows up with the strength and courage that you possess. I was touched most by your response to the friend in regard to the anger toward your mother. I understood your perspective and I constantly find myself defending my stance of being "over" my anger and moving forward.

I must say, above all, your journey into your past to understand your future is so familiar to me. I was astounded by the generational connections dealing with abandonment. I strive daily to deal with my past in an effort to provide my son with everything that I savored as well as everything that I missed in not being with my parents.

You are truly an inspiration.

Katy Sullivan
Atlanta, GA

What can I say? I am always impressed by your programs and the great influence potential for your audience and our society. I say this because I am the mother of daughter who is a mix of a great many ethnic varieties, but in this society she would be labeled as malotto or just black. Her biological father is african american and I am "white." She was born out of an unmarried relationship of several years when I was 24 years old. I am now married to my soul mate, who is hispanic with whom I've had 2 other children. We are quite a mix, but its so beautiful and I couldn't be more proud of my family. For some wonderful reason I have always had the knowledge that the color of someone's skin, the money in their pocket, or the family they come matters little in life. I wasn't raised that way, I come from a fundamentally racist family, but somehow I came out believing otherwise. Thank God. Since leaving the nest at 18, I have struggled with issues of race tirelessly trying to understand them...

Stacey M.

Congratulations on a very moving picture of a girl who overcame being "not good enough" to succeed in her chosen profession. June has the rare capacity to look beyond herself to see the bigger picture. I can't imagine many of the rest of us able to put aside our own grief and resist the temptation to "blast" those that cause that pain (given the opportunity), in order to tell a compelling story that crosses racial lines.

I am the white mother of a biracial child, one who is beautiful, smart, and talented. She looks like her father (who is Jamaican by birth), with coffee skin and soft curly hair. She is seven, but even now I can see the comparisons begin. She wants my hair, skin, eyes. I buy her Black dolls, she wants White dolls. No matter how much I tell her how beautiful she is and how much she means to me, she is beginning to realize that she does not look like me or her older half-sisters. This concerns me greatly, because I want her to know she is beautiful in her own right (and she is!). I do not want her to think that the epitomy of desirability is seen in White terms, but I'm afraid that despite my efforts, she is beginning to think so. She visits her father's brother and sister, but they live quite a few miles away and she is only able to see them once or twice a year. So, she is pretty much left in a White household, with a White mother and White sisters, and although some of her friends at school are Black.

My solution for this has been to keep her busy in activities that show her she has the ability to excel. Neither gymnastics nor karate require her to "look" a certain way--her success is based on her own accomplishments. I believe that June has also had these successes in her life as well, and that this has allowed her to forgive, to some degree, a mother who didn't want herself and her child to "get in each other's way."

June, you go girl.

Orlando, Florida

I license foster parents. Cardinal rules in addition to safety from further abuse and/ or neglect are:

1) do they have warm hearts?
2) will they put the child first? Is their primary concern, " what can I give a child, what does a child need from me?" rather than, "what kind of child do I want to parent?"

All applicants assume that they possess these minimum qualifications. Like its standard equipment or something but that is far from true. When I first started working at this job, I used to laughingly suggest that all parents should have to be licensed -- some, like Norma, just don't have the equipment to give children the love they need. Some can and do learn it, some never will.

June's birth mother took herself out of the equation recognizing her own inability to give June what she needed and gave her instead to a couple who would put June first in their lives. Norma would not be licensed in my book simply using the two criteria I listed above! I commend her for her judgement and her self-knowledge!

I think that Norma also offered her children the opportunity to visit and taste of her mother's life which is so important to all of us -- to know where and who we come from. That this contact exposed June to some devastatingly racist attitudes is heartbreaking. I think that Norma loved and loves June to the best of her ability which certainly is more limited than other mothers -- it shows, however, that you give out what you got unless you consciously learn otherwise and Norma got little from her own mother. I think this is why June is so forgiving -- she forgives her because she knows her.

I commend June and Norma for their huge courage in telling their stories to us. Thank you and warm wishes....


I am a single mother of a beautiful 5 year old bi-racial daughter. At the age of 20, during a 5 year relationship with my daughters father, I became pregnant and was then rejected by my daughters father and his family. His family did not agree with our interacial relationship and strongly opposed of a bi-racial child. The only parent and family my daughter has known has been mine. I have tried countless times to encourage a relationship between my daughter, her father and his family and countless times she has had to deal with broken promises. I find it a shame that it is the children that get the raw end of the stick. In my case, my child is being judged for my actions. An innocent child not being aloud to be part of a family due to her mothers fair skin. I knew the challenge that lay ahead for me when I decided to keep my child. A decision I have never regretted. It has been well worth it, despite any and all of the struggles both me and my daughter have endured and will continue to endure...

Bridget Seay
Augusta, Georgia

Dear FRONTLNIE and June,
As the mother of two bi-racial boys (14 and seven) I was absolutely riveted by your story. I recently read "The Color of Water," and was so fascinated by not only the parallels and differences in your experiences, but also in comparing my own feelings and experiences as a white mother of biracial children.

There is so much I understand of you, particularly in not wanting to condemn your mother, as others would so easily do. You see, I realize I have the luxury of raising my sons in a time in which being biracial has become, at least in most urban settings, a fairly common occurrence. My sons have not felt much of the sting of discrimination and racism, and we've never been refused housing or admittance to any place, public or private. Those who, in the years of our childhood, would have posed a true threat to the lives of biracial people now just mumble their hatred in hushed voices.

But I too grew up in a segregated world. The only people of color I saw as a young child were the men who came to collect our trash once a week and the women who worked as restroom matrons at the department store where my father worked as an accountant.

Certainly, your mother was thinking of herself when she left you to live with Peggy and Paul, but we both know that was a different time, not to be judged by the standards of today and the relative ease with which I am free to raise my dark-skinned children in a predominantly white society. Being raised in Atlantic City, within a community where you were accepted and nurtured, even if it created with in you those feelings of abandonment, was indeed better than the degradation you'd have met with growing up with your mother.

I've had so many discussions with my family - both white and black - about raising biracial children and of only one thing I am sure: My parents raised white children, my son's grandparents raised black children ... I am raising biracial children in the best and only way I know how. With love, compassion, nurturing and sometimes, explainations of why people (white and black) are such idiots. Parenting is simply the most difficult job anyone can have.

Yet my sons and I are blessed ... blessed to be part of an extended family of two races ... who come together in love and share all that we are with these amazing children. My sons are not confined by being biracial ... they instead are enhancing the possibilities in their lives. Why? Because they are not confined in their love by race ... they are not confined by expectations of what they can be or do in and with their lives. And they have an incredibly rich tapestry of experiences to draw up, and love to be lifted up by that few of us have.

Is it always sweetness and light? Hell no! But knowing that people like June and Norma have made unfathomable sacrifices makes an occasional stare or ignorant comment a matter for laughter. You, and people like you, blazed a trail with your own heartaches, so that people like my sons and me could concentrate on the common challenges of any family ... thumbsucking and attention deficit disorder, fights over the phone and the TV, grades and girls.

In the end, it is my hope that my son's lives are as rich and varied as their genetic makeup. That they grow to be good, decent, productive and happy men. And that they share their personal gifts with the world.

Bless you June. You are an amazing woman!

Wendy Briggs
Kansas City, MO

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