A woman learned that her mother, who passed as white during her lifetime, was actually Black and kept the secret until her mom died.
After growing up noticing her mother always wore gloves and a hat and avoided the sun, Gail Lukasik, author of “White Like Her,” said her mom never mentioned her grandfather — or had a single photo of him, according to “Megyn Kelly Today.”
In 1995 at 48, Lukasik did some digging and discovered records of her grandfather. She also obtained her mother’s birth certificate, which had the letters COL on it. Then, she learned it was the designation for “colored.”
“How could my mother know this and why did she never say anything to me?” Lukasik says.
Lukasik explained she confronted her mom about the birth certificate in 1997 but her mother got “indignant” with her and proclaimed her birth certificate showed she was white. When Lukasik said she had other documents proving her mom’s blackness, she got quiet.
“She looked at me and she said, ‘You have to promise me you will never tell anyone until after I die … because how will I hold my head up with my friends if they know.'”
Lukasik said her mom does look white but is listed in the census and on her birth certificate as mixed-race or Black. When her mom married her dad, who is white, in 1944 and settled in Ohio, “she went from being designated Black to being designated white.”
The writer said the discovery left her confused about her racial identity.
“It was shocking to me,” she says. “It’s like finding out you’re another person and you didn’t know.”
On top of that, Lukasik discovered her white dad was racist and her mom, who always wore a little foundation to bed, knew that.
“If he saw something on television that inspired him he might use a racial slur,” explains Lukasik, who said her mom would tell her dad he “really shouldn’t” say things like that.
And although her mother chose to live as white for more opportunities, Lukasik said she “had to turn her back on her mixed-race heritage, she had to leave family behind. So it was a sacrifice to do that.
“And she could never live her truly authentic self,” Lukasik says. “She could never be herself.”
As for how Lukasik herself identifies in light of discovering her mom’s racial heritage, she has now settled on being white.
“I identify as a white woman with a mixed race heritage because I was socialized as a white woman,” she says. “I grew up in a white neighborhood and that’s what I know and that’s my upbringing. So [race is] a social construct in my mind.”