Has anything about your attitudes towards race and/or identity changed or evolved since you were interviewed for BWO?
I have a much deeper understanding of my family history from both the Italian and African American cultures. I have learned much more about the social and political climate during the time my parents were dating and in the case of my father’s family, going back before 1830. I have made it my personal work to continue to be aware of the knowledge gained from my history research and how those things impact the choices I make.
I now live about 10 miles from where my father grew up in rural North Carolina. The racial norms held here in the 1930s would surely have been unacceptable for him. I have a deeper understanding of why my father left the South and chose not to return here to live especially after his marriage to my mother.
Something that’s stayed the same?
My attitudes toward race and my own racial identity have not changed since my first interview. I cherish the bravery of my parents and the unconditional love they gave us.
Any ways in which our society has evolved in terms of attitudes about mixed race people?
Generally, I believe people are more accepting of mixed race people now. I would not have expected to see mixed race people on national TV commercials 20 years ago. It’s always funny to me to see how each group “claims their part.” I worked on both Obama campaigns here in North Carolina. I was happy and proud that so many people (both black and white) came together to get our candidate elected, especially here in rural NC given the history. Unfortunately, some of the fears and bad memories are still alive here in rural NC and we are still struggling with them. This is certainly NOT the Granville County, NC, my father faced in 1930 but we still have work to do (both black and white). At the end of the day, it’s all about fear that keeps us from moving forward regarding race.
Did anything happen to you as a result of participating in this book?
After the book was published, I had some direct/face-to-face communication with members of my mother’s family who had read the book and had not communicated with us previously. We discussed some of the comments in the book and shared our feelings about them. While we don’t have regular communication, we have had at least some communication that was not present before. I am satisfied with that.
Any general comments about the book?
I have always appreciated the book and look forward to reading the “updates” from those who contribute.