Contrast: A Biracial Man's Journey to Desegregate His Past by Devin C. Hughes on the Independent Author Index
Contrast: A Biracial Man's Journey to Desegregate His Past by Devin C. Hughes
August 21, 2012 |
Posted by Devin C. Hughes
in Amazon CA
, Amazon UK
, Amazon US
, Angus & Robertson
, Barnes & Noble
, Better World Books
, Book Depository
, Chapters Indigo
, iTunes US
, Powell's Books
In 1967, the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in America. Devin Hughes was born two years later to a black father and white mother who fled to Washington DC to escape the racism of the Deep South. Bigotry still ran rampant up North, and light-skinned, green-eyed Devin felt its pull from both ends: strangers who didn’t know he was half-black and friends who didn’t care he was half-white. In racial limbo, Devin found himself more consumed with his dysfunctional family life—a father who offered an alternative “street” education and a mother whose drug use zombified her for most of his childhood. Despite his parents’ flaws, they were Devin’s greatest believers. From his dad founding a neighborhood baseball team to his mom advocating for him in school, they taught Devin that anything imaginable was within reach, that their mistakes needn’t be his choices, and that his destiny was for greatness. Ultimately, Contrast: A Biracial Man’s Journey to Segregate His Past isn’t a book about race; it’s a book about acceptance, perseverance, and love.
The author has rated this book PG-13 (questionable content for children under 13).
Throughout my life, relationships have been transient. My parents fled the dangerous bigotry of the South in 1960s, leaving their families behind for good; as a result, I had little to no connection with my extended family. The friends I made in elementary school were forgotten by the time I started middle school. I had close friends in high school whom I never spoke to again after graduation. I conditioned myself to enjoy relationships when I had them, and if they went, they went. It was like reading a book and burning each chapter as I completed it, remembering but not integrating it with the chapter to come.
The inability to connect to people around me stemmed, in large part, from my inability to connect to my own identity. You can’t be present in the moment with others if you are not comfortable with who you are as a person. As a biracial child, I tried for years to define myself via race, but I didn’t know which one I was. From childhood through college, I viewed the world from lower-middle class, black eyes—the eyes of my father. I used black vernacular, and I didn’t trust white people. After I graduated college in May of 1991, I went into the witness protection program, so to speak, about my racial makeup. I have been there until now.
In some ways, maintaining secrecy about my background has been like spying. With the light skin, “good” hair, and green eyes of my mother, I’ve felt like a CIA agent in hostile territory—cooperating, collaborating, and cohabitating with folks who don’t know my background. One reason I’ve kept quiet is silent protest: why should I have to tell people I was mixed? Why did race have to enter the equation at all? Was I supposed to carry around an index card with my DNA on it and share it with everyone I met? At this point in my life, I’m tired of the secrecy, tired of pretending, tired of playing the social chameleon. If people don’t know who you are, you can’t let your guard down and establish an authentic connection.
It’s a new thing for me, opening up to people around me and reaching out to those who drifted from my life years ago. I reconnected with folks from high school in D.C., with whom I played basketball and who are predominantly black. It felt good to reestablish those bonds, both with the people and that part of my heritage, so I started an alumni association for my high school basketball program. I have also organized an annual reunion event. It’s a catalyst to get people back together.
If the racial divide I’ve struggled to overcome in myself echoes the larger conversation of race in this country, it is an impediment to moving forward. As a society, we have become so PC that most people are afraid to broach the race topic, even when the intent may be a better mutual understanding. Someone has to make the first move, let down the guard, open up. I’m finally willing to do that.
As a happily married father of four and an entrepreneur, I’m looking for meaning, not money. I want my legacy to be an impetus for change. My hope is that this isn’t the kind of book you read once and put away. I hope you reach for it when you need motivation to connect with your identity or a reason to ignite a conversation with others in your life who feel unsure, ambiguous, or disconnected. I hope my story encourages you to move forward . . . while not completely discarding what you leave behind. [NP} “Little red nigger,” my father’s family sneered. Dad was born in Mullins, South Carolina, in 1935 to an absentee father and an alcoholic mother. With a lack of real parental figures, he spent much of his childhood with his uncle, aunt, and cousins; life wasn’t much better there. He wasn’t referred to by name but rather the lighter color of his skin next to theirs. They made his color something to be ashamed of, though my father secretly felt they were envious. Even as a child, he recognized that skin was not just skin.
By the age of nine, Dad was essentially on his own. Segregation was a part of his daily life. He used separate bathrooms and school water fountains from whites, and he needed to be off the streets before the seven o’clock curfew. One of his aunts did the laundry for the Ku Klux Klan—shocking to me, the idea of washing those white hoods for the very people who would lynch folks like her, but my dad said that was life; you just made do. When he was ten, he was molested by one of his older cousins. Under the same philosophy, he kept it to himself.
Copyright© Devin C. Hughes. All rights reserved.
amazonamazon.caamazon.co.ukangus & robertsonbarnes & noble
better world booksthe book depositorybooks-a-millionbooktopia
!ndigoindiebounditunes uspowell’s books