Race and Family Secrets
One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life, Bliss Broyard, Little Brown
Weeks before his death, reknown literary critic Anatole Broyard revealed to his children that he was a black man. While reading One Drop I wondered how many people are “passing” for one ethnicity or another in these times?
In Broyard’s case, her father chose to live without reference to ethnicity. Of the many issues brought to the forefront of Bliss Broyard’s life, once his secret was revealed, the most challenging of them all was whether or not her father rejected his blackness.
Did he abandon his family and roots in favor of passing as white? The next most challenging issue was whether or not she herself could truly accomodate her newly discovered “blackness.”
Her father had his own way of seeing himself in the world, he thought that blacks could best “authenticate themselves” by proving that they were “fundamentally different
Because he was perceived as white, he made use of the priviledges of whiteness for himself and his family. However, his rejection of his blackness is evident in the fact that not even his children knew he was black. Bliss Broyard was 24 when she was told the family secret.
After seeking out her father’s family and researching the history of New Orleans Creoles, Bliss Broyard painstakingly consumes, but does not assimilate the information she gathers. She has not really brought herself any closer to answering her own questions of race and identity.
She takes the easy way out. “I may never be able to answer the question What am I? yet the fault lies not in me, but in the question itself. And with that realization, that letting go, I can finally say goodbye.”
Thanks for this post. I recently read a book review for “One Drop” and had forgotten about this title until your post.
Does sound like a very interesting story!
KyraPosted by kyra on 12/26 at 12:33 PM