High Yella: A Modern Family Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2021-10-11 18:20Z by Steven

High Yella: A Modern Family Memoir

University of Georgia Press
2021-10-01
280 pages
Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6031-7

Steve Majors

They called him “pale faced or mixed race.” They called him “light, bright, almost white.” But most of the time his family called him “high yella.” Steve Majors was the white passing, youngest son growing up in an all-Black family that struggled with poverty, abuse, and generational trauma. High Yella is the poignant account of how he tried to leave his troubled childhood and family behind to create a new identity, only to discover he ultimately needed to return home to truly find himself. And after he and his husband adopt two Black daughters, he must set them on their own path to finding their place in the world by understanding the importance of where they come from.

In his remarkable and moving memoir, Majors gathers the shards of a broken past to piece together a portrait of a man on an extraordinary journey toward Blackness, queerness, and parenthood. High Yella delivers its hard-won lessons on love, life, and family with exceptional grace.

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We have grown tired of the pressure to claim one side of our heritage over another.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-09-21 02:03Z by Steven

We have grown tired of the pressure to claim one side of our heritage over another. The antiquated social and legal principle that one drop of blood determines if we’re Black or that complexion, hair texture or facial features decides whether someone of mixed ancestry is more White, Asian or Latino has been harmful.

Steve Majors, “A birth certificate masked my multiracial truth. For me and 33 million others, the 2020 Census asserts it.The Washington Post, August 31, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/s/nation/2021/08/31/its-about-time-2020-census-caught-up-with-my-multiracial-life/.

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A birth certificate masked my multiracial truth. For me and 33 million others, the 2020 Census asserts it.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2021-08-31 13:57Z by Steven

A birth certificate masked my multiracial truth. For me and 33 million others, the 2020 Census asserts it.

The Washington Post
2021-08-31

Steve Majors


More than 33 million people in the United States identify as being of two or more races, according to the 2020 Census, a 276 percent jump from the 2010 head count. (Paul Sancya/AP)

My face burned — whether with anger or shame, I wasn’t sure. In 1994, I stood outside human resources at the CBS offices in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Studio City and listened to my future boss over the phone. You want the job? You need to complete the paperwork and check just one box, he insisted. Hours earlier, my pencil had marked X’s in two boxes on the application form. One designated my race as White, the other Black. The HR representative had called him to intervene, and now she waited inside her office for my decision. In a split second, I decided. I wanted the job at CBS’s flagship TV station in Los Angeles; it would be career-changing. So, though no one had told me which box to check, I had a feeling what the HR rep wanted. The recruiter who had first connected me with the opportunity had explicitly told me CBS was looking to increase diversity among its producer ranks. So I grabbed the pencil and erased the mark that declared me half-White. After all, I thought, no one — not even my own family — had officially told me I was of mixed race. The only evidence I had otherwise was written all over my face.

Decades later, when the “23andMe” response jumped into my email inbox at work, I stopped talking to colleagues mid-meeting to read the results. After years of looking at my pale reflection in the mirror and questioning my identity, I already knew the truth. When I walked out into the world, people looked at my fair skin and perceived and treated me as White. I sensed that the birth certificate that claimed I had the same father as my all-Black siblings was a lie, as was the story of my birth that my mother held on to until her death. Even my family’s nickname for me, “High Yella,” has been a signal to me that I was different from them. Now the results I read confirmed it: 56 percent European, 42 percent sub-Saharan African, with a fraction of East Asian and Indigenous American and other thrown in. I felt a sense of recognition. Science had validated who I was.

This month, I felt a similar sense of validation. After filling out the 2020 Census and checking the box to declare myself as two or more races, I saw the final results. My multiracial identity counts, and I’m far from being alone. According to the data, I’m among 33.8 million people who identify as multiracial, a whopping 276 percent increase since the 2010 Census. It’s proof that the United States is truly a racial melting pot, with the most diverse population in its history…

Read the entire article here.

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I’m a black man with white privilege. I see how it distorts America.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2020-06-14 20:31Z by Steven

I’m a black man with white privilege. I see how it distorts America.

The Washington Post
2020-06-11

Steve Majors
Takoma Park, Maryland


A demonstrator speaks to the crowd on a bullhorn during a protest against racial inequality. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

I walk a racial tightrope. It’s one I’ve struggled to balance on for my entire life. But over the past several weeks, I’ve felt myself teetering. I’m black and outraged that racism continues to kill black people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor while burdening the lives of so many others in our country. But I know that I am not one of those people. I know the freedom of moving through a world that magically removes many barriers from my life and shields me from harm — all because of my ability to pass as white.

My skin tone has given me white privilege. For more than five decades of the journey across my tightrope, I’ve had what feminist researcher Peggy McIntosh calls an “invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.” These are the tools of white privilege, unwanted and conferred on me at birth by a white father who had a fleeting relationship with my divorced black mother. I was the youngest of five and grew up with older siblings in a large, extended black family. They were quick to remind me that what they jokingly called my “light, bright, almost-white skin” did not grant me any special advantage in our family. But they and I could see that wasn’t going to be the case in the outside world.

I want to assure my white friends that white privilege is real, because I benefit from it every day. And I want to explain to my black family that even though this knapsack that whites carry is invisible, weightless and present from birth, it’s possible to teach yourself that it’s there. I say that not so I can seek forgiveness for myself or offer absolution for any others. It’s to explain why so many claim to be blind and unfeeling to something that has been present throughout the history of this country. Even as I continue to reap its benefits, I am ashamed of the white privilege I carry around because I know it comes at the expense of others who have every right to the same opportunities, advantages and freedoms…

Read the entire article here.

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