Anatole Broyard was a well-respected writer, editor and literary critic who wrote for the New York Times. His written works were highly regarded and sought after during his time, but he had a secret. He was Black.
Anatole was born to Louisiana Creole parents who were free people of color. His own parents and two of his other siblings (with the exception of one sister), passed for White as well. This helped them to get better job opportunities which led to more money compared to what they would’ve earned as Black workers. When his parents moved to New York to take advantage of more job opportunities, Anatole resolved in his mind that he would never identify with being Black for as long as he lived.
As time went on, Anatole established himself as a great writer amongst his White counterparts. Married twice, Anatole hid his racial identity from both of his wives. His second wife eventually found out about his racial identity and almost left him because the thought of being married to a Black man was too much.
Anatole never revealed his racial identity to his children even though his second wife urged him to. Instead, he continued to live and raise his family as White. When Anatole passed away at the age of 70 in 1990, his true racial identity was exposed and it was a complete shock to his children and to those who knew him.
His daughter Bliss wrote a book about how her father’s racial identity affected her and her family in the beginning. Over time, she accepted it and even forgave her father. She even connected with her Black relatives on her father’s side.
Some people get upset when they hear of stories such as Anatole Broyard’s, but if you really think about it, they did it because they didn’t want to experience the same hardships and injustices that Black people face. It’s quite sad that millions of Black people felt compelled to pass for White because they knew that being White resulted in a better life.
Truth be told, millions are still passing as White down to this day. As a person of color, they are easy to spot, but that’s none of my business to tell. They do it because they know it will lead to better opportunities and a better life and that to me is both tragic and sad.
Until next time…