Biracial Portraits

Woman born in 1963
Self Identification: African American
Father's Racial Identity: European American (Jewish)
Mother's Racial Identity: African American

Well, I identify myself as African American not because of what I think but because of what everybody else thinks. And it's easier. And you don't write "mulatto" or "halfbreed" on a form;...those aren't nice words, but it's very descriptive in terms of what I am, because I don't feel like a Black person; I mean I am; it's just being Jewish. You know, I was raised Jewish; I went to temple--Reformed, and that's the way I was raised, but...I'm not practicing...because of the way I was brought up, Black people look at me like I'm strange too! I mean, you know, when I was at Columbia, I'd walk down the streets in Harlem and they knew I didn't live in Harlem, they knew that I went to Columbia, they knew that there was something different about me. I mean I'm able to speak standard English, if nothing else.

[Being biracial] is kind of interesting, because...I sort of get to sneak up on people. When they start--Black people and White people, when they start talking about "those dirty Jews" and I say "Well, excuse me."

And the one thing that I try to really do on a daily basis--not consciously--but I do try and I tried a lot harder when I was [younger] to break that stereotype that people who don't like Black people--that's not only White people in America, that's--there are a lot of people who don't like Black people in America--to break the stereotype of the ignorant welfare mother who would prefer to have children and do drugs than work, and I think that I'm a good counter example. And I enjoy that a lot. I enjoy being able to hold conversations with people that don't expect me to be able to; I enjoy going to stores and talking to saleswomen who would really prefer to treat me or probably anybody else like they're less than, and I like that.

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