carol channing

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In her autobiography, Just Lucky I Guess, the 81-year-old performer told the story of the day she learned that she is biracial.

She recalled that she was 16 years old and heading to college when her mother told her that she was “part Negro.”

“I’m only telling you this,” Channing recalls her mother, Peggy, saying, “because the Darwinian law shows that you could easily have a Black baby.”

Her mother continued by explaining Carol’s unique look. She told the doe-eyed performer that because of her heritage that was “why my eyes were bigger than hers (I wasn’t aware of this) and why I danced with such elasticity and why I had so many of the qualities that made me me.”

The revelation didn’t bother Channing, who said, “I thought I had the greatest genes in showbiz.”

George Channing, Carol’s father, was the son of a German American father and a Black mother. While still very young, his mother, who worked as a domestic, moved him and his sister from his birthplace of Augusta, GA, to Providence, RI, where she thought people would never recognize his “full features.”

Channing’s paternal grandmother didn’t raise her father and his sister because she “didn’t want anyone to see her around her children” because she was “colored,” the performer surmised.

 

 

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TRANSCRIPTS

CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Carol Channing

Aired November 27, 2002 – 21:00 ET

…….

KING: Lets start early in that truth. Your father was black. 

CHANNING: No, he was not black. I wish I had his picture. He was — he was a — his skin was the color of mine. I don’t know maybe. Yes, it’s all right. Well any, no. My father — you read the tabloids, don’t you? 

KING: No, it says in my notes your beloved father, George Channing, a newspaper editor, renowned Christian Science lecturer listed as colored on his birth certificate.

CHANNING: Yes, and the place burned down, but nobody ever knew that. But I know it. Every time I start to sing or dance, I know it, and I’m proud of it.

KING: So he was black?

CHANNING: No, He had in — there was a picture in our family album and my grandmother said — I never saw them. My grandfather was Nordic German and my grandmother was in the dark. And they said no that was — she was — and I’m so proud of it I can’t tell you. When our champion gave me that last third (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on “Hello Dolly!” Again. No white woman can do it like I did. KING: So you’re proud of your mixed heritage?

CHANNING: Very, when I found out. I was 16-years-old and my mother told me. And you know, only the reaction on me was, Gee, I got the greatest genes in show business.

KING: Some people years ago discovering that might have been disturbed by it?

CHANNING: Yes, years ago because when I found out about it, you don’t want to do that.

KING: You don’t say it.

CHANNING: You don’t say it. There’s a lot of it down South.

KING: People are ashamed of it.

CHANNING: I’d proud of it.

KING: I’m glad to hear it. 

CHANNING: I really am. I mean look, what makes you, you? You don’t know. None of us knows our heritage. Not in the United States. 

KING: We’re all immigrants. 

CHANNING: Exactly, this is the changing face of America. I’m part of it. Isn’t it wonderful? 

KING: You damn right. 

CHANNING: I’m young again.

………

Tiffany: She’s proud, but she can’t name “it”….

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85 thoughts on “carol channing

  1. I think it seems confusing at first because of how it seemed that she didn’t answer his question about her father. Depending on how someone views it, it may look like she is dodging the semantics of pinning down her father as black. I can understand that since sometimes people want a simple answer to questions that aren’t so simple. Especially in her generation where things were forced to be simply this or that.

  2. I think maybe I hadn’t slept enough and I had spent waaay too many hours writing papers. I just couldn’t follow what in the world she was saying or not saying in the interview.

  3. cool. i just wanted to make sure that i hadn’t cut and pasted in a confusing way :)

  4. I hope someone does a biopic on Carol Channing soon. I’d love to see Faith Evans in the role of Carol Channing.

    What do you think?

    La Reyna

  5. being from “down south”, i am well aware of the semantics of racial secrets, etc. she is probably telling the truth about having pride but at the same time, skirting the embarrassing issue of “passing” for so many years. which, in this day and times, with OBAMA and everything, people are beginning to see the “real’ picture of our great country and its homogenous make-up. we have native americans, chinese, irish, italian, russian, you name it., all of which have mixed witth african at some point in time. you cannot look at a young cat like, say, “justin timberlake” and tell me that his family tree is not scattered and sprinkled, if you will! i think he’s from florida……come on, now? we are the world, as michael jackson so aptly pointed out. lol!

  6. i think you’re right about carol channing. funny you bring up j.timb cuz when I found out that Matt on American Idol has a biracial mom, i thought about justin because matt reminds me of him. did that make sense?

  7. I think I know what’s up with her “evasiveness” — She of my generation, in fact she’s even older than I am. I grew up in an atmosphere of huge racial prejudice, although my mother tried to raise me to be better than herself. One way some people of my generation dealt with this was to deny, inwardly, that there was any such thing as “black” except as a color of someone’s skin.

    Her father would not have been very dark-skinned, so she would balk at calling him “black”.

    Interestingly, since no racial terms were used around my kids at all, they got to a considerable age before they stopped just describing people by skin tone. My daughter would say “You know Gary? That brown kid on the next block?”

    Later, when we lived in “black” and integrated neighborhoods, they were introduced to the term, but they continued to argue that it wasn’t accurate, being pretty argumentative kids.

  8. I am not American so I don’t really get the Black/White thing. Where I live there are black skinned people, they are the natives not immigrants, and there is a myriad of mixed types. The main problem is cultural not racial, the way one sees things, and how one thinks.

    I didn’t like Channing’s evasiveness. In the US, the one drop rule says you are Black irregardless of how light skinned, blond or blue eyed you are. Her father George was a Black man passing as a White man. There is no judgement on my part for his passing for White. It was his decision and probably the correct one for him. Channing herself is a Black woman. Some mixed people in my country say they are black and the fact they have European Whites, Chinese or East Indians in their background is irrelevant as they see themselves as black and people see them as black, their families are black and they are culturally black. With Americans it is hard to say someone like Oprah lives in a black culture. With her it is her appearance they makes her a Black woman. Personally I think someone who is of mixed race but with African black as one of the mixes who sees themselves as wholly black is a problem for me. Regretting half or more of one’s inheritance is wrong whether that half is black or other.

  9. Yes Ms. Channing was being evasive, and she could have clearly set the record straight. However, there is no need to in these United States of America. One drop make you black. In the words of Channel 4 New York’s Sue Simmons, who is clearly bi-racial but could pass if she wanted, under those circumstances if you did not consider yourself, black, you’d only be folling yourself.

  10. I’m half black. I grew up with my white mother and her family, in an all white community. In fact, I integrated their small town. I am married to someone white, and my daughter is one fourth black like Carol Channing. I want her to embrace all parts of her heritage…..but since she doesn’t look black, it’s unlikely that she’ll identify as black. She is nine months old. Here are her comments on being black: ‘============================================================================================================================================================w2esd cvi9]]]]===================================================================================================ccccccccccccccccccccccccdcccccczzzzzxxxxxxxxxxxx0] ‘\=
    She wrote this herself.

  11. I think people who still subscrbe to the one drop rule are themselves embracing tha slave mentality. Why continue such ignorance? Does this apply to other races as well?

  12. I guess most every black n america wonder bout blood flown n them how much of this and that,whose pass n who not,like tiger,look @pixs of adam clayton powell who was bk people liv n adopt sides r unfair 2self as all they come n contact with u r what u r even if u dont looj it or show it,stop fooln us and self today people come on down!

  13. i just saw carol channing with her little white pants and floral pink flowers on The View last week with her new husband. why didn’t whoopi goldberg ask her about this ? i’m just hearing this for the first time. i just read in wikipedia that she didn’t know her husband was gay of 41 years and had S*x only TWICE ? wouldn’t someone know something was wrong with that picture ? i wonder why she had come out the closet NOW and not back in the day ? i always thought she was SO Ugly and wondered why she LOVED Louis Armstrong so much but he was a good man. how many more people are IN the Closet and i’m not talking about being GAY ? i heard a few weeks ago that actor wentworth miller ( from Prison break tv series ) grandfather was black/mulatto. when i first saw him on TV with his features /texture of hair ( when its cut low/cropped it has the appearance of black men hair that is wavy/slightly kinky) i assume he was spanish . if carol channing can get married for the 2nd time in her late 70s then all the younger women shouldn’t have any problems finding a MATE !

  14. Carol has brought laughter and joy to many people. Who cares about her human background.Let’s dwell on qualities and character,not skin or matter.

  15. nana, you are showing how unintelligent you are. if you don’t like someone’s comment then just MOve along.

  16. Carol Channing is older, and when she was a young woman people passed to have a better life. With that decision for some there was a lot of pain. Making the choice not to see other family members. A fascinating book on the subject is ‘One Drop’ by Bliss Broyard. She writes about her father Anatoyle Broyard whom she later discovers was black. I would imagine to have a family secret and being able to talk about is must be very freeing. I saw Ms. Canning perform once. and what a powerhouse! She was absolutely amazing!
    I have the feeling that those who are doubters, when they see Ms. Channing, begin to wonder about the African roots, of what they grew up to believe was only of their own purely European heritage.
    When Obama is touted as the first African American President, when he is Biracial may point to the denial, and perhaps even schizophrenic nature of the American psyche.
    I’m of African American, and Caribbean descent. and only recently found out that my great,great grandfather was Scottish. I found this out after my father died. Older generations are not as comfortable with this topic. Someone once asked me ” Why is it the the Blacks get lighter, and lighter, but the Whites don’t get darker and darker?” This is really a mixed society, and I question why do we define ourselves by the ” one drop” rule which was invented by slave-owners whom are long dead? We live in the 21st century, and are now only beginning to deal with the legacy and absurdity of racism.

  17. I have to agree w/Laurence – the “one drop” rule was created to keep people down and “in their places”. It should be banned/outlawed/whatever you want to call it. I hold both blacks AND whites responsible for perpetrating it.

  18. She looks white to me…I was confused by her interview too, but honestly sometimes it seems like ‘interviews’ are hard to read but you’d understand them better if you could see them being done.

    Umm, I think of myself as African American even though sometimes people are confused as to my heritage. I always thought it was cool to be black but I grew up in a liberal upper middle class neighborhood during the 90′s. I had white suburban boys saying “I wish I was black.” lol.

    I have alot of friends who are ‘mixed race’ like, Japanese/Chinese/German or Mexican/Norwegian…it’s nice to have these people in my life, it lends a real perspective.

    We’re all part of the HUMAN race right? Thats the most important thing to remember…color doesn’t and shouldn’t mean much.

  19. My mother is white and my father black. I was born in 1965 in Ohio. I went to a prodominantly black jr high school. I’ll never forget one St. Patrick’s day when my mother made me wear a shirt that said “Kiss me I’m Irish”. I told her I could not wear that shirt to school everyone will laugh at me. My mother told me “Your just as much Irish as you are Black. Your wearing the shirt.” From that point on in my life I have never said I’m only Black. I’ll never deny one for the other. I’ll be leaving something very dear to me out. Who should I deny? Besides, haven’t you ever heard of “Black Irish”? lol

  20. I am not surprised by Channings 1/2 black father. But its interesting that people would like her to identify as black. What makes someone black really? She’s not black & One Drop is no longer law. Race is fickle & in this country all about perception!

  21. An interesting book on the subject is ” One Drop” by Bliss Broyard. It’s about her father Anatole Broyard who was a literary critic for the New York Times. It was only when he was dying that her mother told her that her father was black.
    I found this book fascinating in its in-depth portrayal and the absurdity about race in America. I highly recommend it!

  22. I so agree with alot of the comments…I am a black american so I choose 2 say im american-african..it makes more sense…I grew up in an all white community on long Island and I thought being black was cool[ never questioned why wasnt i white..I grew up in the 80′s..Thingz were at a norm…

  23. People like Carol Channing and Bliss Broyard are proof as to the idiocy of the “one drop” rule. People act like “black” is a blemish or a stain, and if you have one drop of it you are ruined. That’s Jim Crow type of thinking. You notice they never have this issue with the descendants of slaves who were raped by their white slave masters?? No one tells them “unh unh, you got one drop of white, therefore you’re white”.
    I’ve seen Carol Channing on TV many times. I thought of her as a white woman then, and nothing has changed in my opinion even after learning she is probably less than 1/8 black. If her father passed as white, then he was less than 1/4. I know of the rules of the past that forced people to be something they were not. She should never have had to sit through that interview and deny she was black, that’s like making me sit through an interview and say I am not white, lol! She is not black. My ancestors were raped as slaves, does it make me white? Certainly not!
    She probably took that information her mother gave her, and said “interesting”, but it doesn’t change who she is. I really hate labels. One day before this earth passes away, we will be able to look at each other and not let the color of our skin be the most important thing that we notice or focus on.

  24. I like Bill Cosby’s analogy. Calling an interracial person one or the other is incorrect. You can’t take an apple pie, remove half of the pie and replace with it with cherry pie and then still call it an apple pie! My children are interracial and we teach them to embrace both sides and that they are made up of many different backgrounds.

  25. You all should stop applying quantitative values to a person’s race. Half this, a quarter that. Sounds like a recipe. And those other stupid terms – biracial, mulatto, octoroon, mixed. All of it is ugly and stupid. Just say, “my mother is this and my father is that. Leave off the labels?

  26. The reality is it is based on what you look like. Both of my parts a 1/2 black, but the black was the dominant part of their skin tone, my mother is lighter with long blondish hair and my dad is darker with with curly hair. Me I look like a black woman with curly hair. So although I can say I am 1/2 black & 1/4 this & 1/4 that, I identify with what I see in the mirror a black woman, who happens to have other races in my DNA. I think Halle Berry’s mother said it best, ” I stood with my daughter in the mirror and said you are a black woman with a white mother”
    It’s all well and good to celebrate who you are but you have to be honest, we don’t live in a world where we say oh hmmm that must be the asian/mexican/black guy from across the street, we go by what we see if the asian part is more prevalent, then we will say oh that is the asian guy, if its black the most you will it’s the black guy with the chineese eyes, hmmm he could be mixed I wonder..it may sound messed up to some but its true.

    And that is my two cents :-)

  27. Race is a timeless, passionate topic and everyone has a belief or opinion to share. Personally, I would love to see people disregard race and concentrate on ability, creativity, personality, etc. I have friends of all colors and backgrounds, however, I do not identify them as my “black” friend, or “blue” friend, or “purple” friend…the person is simply “my” friend. And, no one feels they are being racist or predjudice in their own words or actions, but when racist or predjudice attitudes or behaviors are directed at them they recognize that behavior as racist/predjudice. Until everyone can become aware of their own racist/predjudice behaviors, thoughts and opinions there can be no tolerance or acceptance. There are deep predjudices bred into people of all colors and backgrounds that need to be overcome before we can evolve to a higher, more enlightened way of living. FYI – All you predjudice people are missing out on knowing amazing, phenomenal, outstanding people of all colors, backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. It’s very sad that as smart and advanced as our society is today that we all can’t live together peacefully and be friends.

  28. Also…forgiveness and respect are necessary ingredients in this process. Until we can forgive, accept, respect and tolerate there will be no forward progress. One must forgive pass wrongs, accept people for who they are, develop the tolerance of opposing beliefs and opinions, and treat every single person you meet with the respect that you would like for them to show you. Sadly, we’ve come a long way but are eons from reaching this point. I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime. This world and its people just break my heart.

  29. I am mixed. Many years ago my father and mother watching Carol Channing
    on TV, my dad turned to my mom and said.” She has some colored blood.” My mom asked how do u know? and he replied I am looking at her!! There is some colored blood in her !….He also told my mom that Rock Hudson was gay, no one believed him about either celebrity. But I am sure other people of color recognized her blood lines and Anatole Broyard’s race,,was an open secret. The sad fact is both were afraid to admit their heritage. Maybe eventually we can move past this disdain of non-white blood.

  30. I think we are. If Anatole admitted his heritage during the 60′s he would not have been working at the New York Times. Nor would have ” When Kafka was the Rage” been published. Did his African heritage make him less brilliant? This shows the absurdity of racism, but many people passed to get ahead for economic reasons. The pain of keeping such a secret must have been unbearable. Your father seems very perceptive :-)

  31. I really can’t stand Channing. She’s a bigot and a waste of space!

    Just because someone is over 70, does not mean they are out of touch.

    Example, my best friend is 86 and a Dutch Atheist. She uses the word “people, or person.”

    Channing, who is like 90, (and a rich white woman) still considers “people” to be “negros.”

    Hell, even my midly racist rich white grandma (1918-2009) upon seeing Omar Epps on The Ellen Show remarked, “What a gorgeous MAN.”

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  33. I was recently heard a story about an African-American man that didn’t like White people and was always talking badly about them. He later found out that his g-g-grandfather was White. I was told that he’s now in therapy and his wife wasn’t speaking to him. I found this amusing because is shows the absurdity of any type of racism.

  34. I AM NOT BI-RACIAL (WOOHOO!)… ANYWHO I JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT I AGREE WITH THE BIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO MIXED RACE OR “MINGLED PEOPLE”. YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE MOSTLY. MEANING, IF YOU ARE MIXED BACKGROUND YOU ARE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. IF YOU LOOK AND ARE 75% BLACK YOU ARE BLACK. IF YOU ARE AND LOOK LIKE 75% WHITE YOU ARE WHITE. IF YOU ARE 50/50 YOU ARE MIXED. PEOPLE WHO ARE 50/50 ARE TRULY THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO GET TO CHOOSE TO ACCEPT BOTH SIDES OR TO PREFER ONE SIDE THAN THE OTHER. ALL OTHER MAJORITY MIXES WILL BE PERCEIVED BY THE WORLD BASED ON YOUR 75% MAJORITY, IF YOU ARE 25/25/25/25 MIXES YOU WILL BE PERCEIVED AS MIXED. SIMPLE AS!
    THE SCRIPTURES SAY CONCERNING INTERMARRYING THAT AN EDOMITE WILL BE NOT BE COUNTED AS ISRAEL UNTIL THE THIRD GENERATION.
    FIRST GENERATION: EDOMITE(WHITE) MAN OR WOMAN MARRIES A ISRAELITE(BLACK) MAN OR WOMAN.
    SECOND GENERATION: THE OFFSPRING OF THE MIX
    THIRD GENERATION: A 50/50 MIXES WITH A 100% ISRAELITE. THAT OFFSPRING WILL BE COUNTED AS FULL ISRAELITE.

    50/50 CAN ALWAYS CHOOSE AND SHOULD ALWAYS BE PERCEIVED AS MIXED/BIRACIAL. PERIOD. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN THEY WILL WANT TO SWAP SIDES OR IF THEY PREFER ONE PARENT OVER THE OTHER.. THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY/LOYAL TO EITHER SIDE. IN TIMES OF RACIAL INEQUALITY AND WARFARE AND THEY ARE GUARANTEED TO BE FENCE RIDERS ON BOTH SIDES. THEREFORE THEY SHOULD ALWAYS BE VIEWED IN CLARITY FOR WHAT THEY ARE.
    NO TRUST UNTIL THEY MAKE A CHOICE (CHOICE BASED ON WHO THEY MARRY) 75% FOR ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER. IF THEY MARRY ANOTHER 50/50 THEN THEIR PASS THE BUCK TO THE NEXT GENERATION WHO WILL ALSO BE VIEWED AS 50/50.

    MY SON IS BIRACIAL AND I STILL STAND BY MY COMMENTS. I DO LOVE HIM BUT I AM AWARE THAT HE MAY TURN AT ANY POINT IN HIS LIFE UNTIL HE CHOOSES TO MARRY INTO ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER. HIS DECISION WILL IDENTIFY WHAT’S IN HIS HEART. NO PRESSURE. IF HE CHOOSES WHITE… SO BE IT. (I DID AT ONE POINT. ) IF HE CHOOSES BLACK THEN GREAT. HIS CHILDREN SHOULD BE RAISED AS SUCH.

    PS
    FOR ALL WHO JUST DON’T GET IT, OBAMA IS BLACK BY CHOICE. HE WAS 50/50 FENCE RIDER UNTIL HE DECIDED TO MARRY AND PROCREATE WITH ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER. HE CHOSE A BLACK WOMAN THEREFORE HIS CHILDREN ARE WHAT THEY SEE IN THE MIRROR, YOUNG BLACK WOMEN. IT’S SIMPLE REALLY. KIM PARSONS IS WHITE. SHE WAS 50/50 UNTIL SHE DECIDED TO MARRY A WHITE MAN AND HER SON AND DAUGHTER ARE WHAT THEY SEE IN THE MIRROR, YOUNG WHITE CHILDREN.
    SURE THEY CAN KNOW THEIR BACKGROUND IS MIXED LIKE MOST OF US BUT THEIR LIFE EXPERIENCES WILL TELL THEM WHO THEY ARE AND NO ONE IS GOING TO SEE SASHA OR MALIA AS BEING WHITE!!!
    ALSO HALLE BERRY NEEDS TO GIVE IT UP. NAHLA IS WHITE. HALLE WAS 50/50 UNTIL SHE MARRIED AND PROCREATED WITH NOT EVEN A 50/50 BUT A WHITE MAN. NAHLA IS 75% WHITE AND SHE WILL BE VIEWED AND LIVE AS SUCH, JUST LIKE WENTWORTH AND NICOLE RICHIE.

    I HOPE Y’ALL GET IT. IF NOT GOOGLE THE PICS AND THEN YOU’LL UNDERSTAND. TRUTH IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE BE YOU AND ACCEPT WHAT YOU SEE IN THE MIRROR. 50/50′S USUALLY LOOK 50/50… MEANING YOU CAN SEE BOTH SIDE REFLECTED IN THE PERSON. 75%ERS LOOK MOSTLY ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. DON’T DENY WHAT’S TRUE. PEACE Y’ALL! YEAH!

  35. TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS FUN. MANY LANGUAGES DO NOT HAVE A LOWER CASE. IT’S JUST TEXT ON A SCREEN DON’T BE SO EMOTIONAL. YOU CAN’T YELL WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED AND YOU CAN’T YELL WITH YOUR FINGERS, SO DON’T SAY I’M YELLING. CHEERS!

  36. Pingback: Why Does Skin Color Matter To People? Part 2 | Michelle Karman Writes

  37. I love Carol Channing! Ever since I was a kid I enjoyed her showwoman ship!! Her voice is out of this world..must of got it from her G.G.MOM! Carol Channing had to do what she had to do to survive in “HerTime” Any of us of mixed ancestry can see she had some blood from Africa.The only people she fooled that had to be fooled were the ones who created racism…those crazy racist white folk. If she had told those so called “pure whites” that she had a “colored grandma” they would have shut the door in her face and there would have been no Carol Channing today!
    Plenty of people in my family jump the color line in order to survive back in the day.It was tough being black/colored.A.A./N.A. back in the day!!
    . My great-grandmom was a Mazie Payne owned a designer shop in NYC. She created dresses for the wealthy.Went to Paris etc to get the latest fashions of her day.As long as my great-grandpop didnt come in the shop,she was passing free and clear along with her mom and my grandmom.These people had to eat,to survive.My grandmom use to say,why does this 1 DROP have to matter when ur 3/8ths white.I use to be upset with her growing up in the 60′s & 70′s,but now as a 40+ woman I understand. I look at Mazie Payne’s face in the mirror everyday.I choose to accept my tri-racial mixed race ancestry and Im very proud of it.My ancestors made me who I am today.

  38. When anyone quotes the Bible, I just can’t take their comments seriously.

  39. the fact that this thread is still going two years in speaks to the complexity of race in america, and quite frankly worldwide…

    i just saw the showtime doc on cc…i had a lot of mixed feelings – no pun intended. when she first disclosed her multi-ethnic background, i didn’t see what the fuss was all about. as a child, i recall watching her on sesame street and other shows and just thought she was a light skinded-black lady with funny hair. perhaps i could “see” her ethnicity b/c of the multiple shades in my own family; many folks can identify and not just black folk.

    for us today, the issue of passing is so distant. some entries have discussed the economic advantage provided. the other sub-text that underlies the issue of passing is abandonment. during jim crow, the black community was far more self-sufficient and self-contained than it is now. upper middle class, working class and poor families often lived within the same geographical area of a city or town. there was a greater sense of belonging and connectivity. of course there had to be some animosity toward those who chose to pass due to the aforementioned opportunities facing those who crossed. however, once an individual decided to cross they also left their community behind. they were leaving behind those who knew them, leaving them phyically and emotionally. they weren’t just leaving their blackness, they were leaving the rest of us…and yet even when darker hued folks saw those who were passing living that white life, they still felt a sense of loyalty. very rarely did anyone out them, as it could very well cost them their life.

    cc lived through all of this. i was wondering what it must have felt like for her to watch black performers of her day be treated so badly; perhaps it only reinforced her decision. i also wonder what price she paid emotionally…fellow performers only had glowing things to say about her. how much of all that niceness was a consequence of her “secret,” i wonder? was she trying so hard to be nice hoping no one would find out? and perhaps that first denial threaded her life and taught her to deny other things as well: her long-time husband’s treatment; eventual theft of most of her cherished belongings; and, if true as previously mentioned, his homosexuality.

    deep.

  40. @boondocksjunkie:Your comment is insightful and not reactionary. Two years….. and this tread still continues.

  41. I just saw the documentary about her. Truly amazing story. I don’t care about her heritage, I just loved her energy, still do. I am so glad she found the love of her life, and seems to be enjoying the time they are together. I think she is a treasure and proud that she is an American.

  42. All of the comments have been interesting, scientific (DNA )’ religious, laws instituted, but the question is: What is wrong with that one drop of black blood? It appears that the one drop denotes something is wrong. Why is that so? I really don’ t care if you are newly mixed, because that is pretty much the issue and feelings of poor self worth or that you will not be valued as much if you do have black blood seems to be the issue. This is why labels seem so important for those who have to point out that I have a mixed background…it’s really called, “self denial.”. If civilization began in Africa and its a dark continent and the oldest DNA is that a black woman and all people populating the world cane be traced back to her….what is the problem with saying you are or being black? I think history has not been taught and is not being talk to truly tell the role that Africa has played in the race development nor its great contributions. Now, let’s be perfectly clear with each other,the color of your skin does not denote who or what you are…it’s character. Reality, only invidious people try to put people in their places using the color of your skin. If you may have noted, I did not speak to what ethnicity I belong, because I belong to the human race and all the rest is shadow boxing. Carol Channing is a human being with great sow business acumen. Yes, she looks like millions of other blacks and she is a by-product her day and era. Her Dad and Mother did what they thought was best and she continue in the path that she was brought up. The key component here is that they love and protected her from a cruel, racially motivated society and she certainly wouldn’t have gotten as far as she did in show business proclaiming she was black during her heyday. Carol, I applaud your contributions to gay rights, showmanship and your candidness.

  43. how wonderfully priviledged to have a heritage such as this..

    I’m so glad she made great use of her internal spirit and became a creater in the arts! “”

  44. As for those who didn’t understand what she was saying, I didn’t much either…but then I never did understand or follow her story line. But, yes,
    be proud of who you are, because it’s all you’re ever going to have.

  45. Very odd how people seem to equate pale skin with a certain heritage. Since skin color does not mean anything about a person’s heritage, why is there so much hoopla over it?

    There seems to be an inordinate fascination with disconnecting pale skin from having an African connection. If there is no connection to Africa and people with pale skin where did they come from?

    If it seems she is uncomfortable in her response to some of Larry King’s questions, that is probably what happens when one attempts to overcome the centuries of conditioning that to have any connection to Africa and Africans is other than good.

  46. My mother and father went to Vegas to see Carol Channing, sometime in the 1960′s, and mom was so excited to be able to see her perform, and when mom got home she was talking about it forever, it seemed. She was so happy. . I have thought of her happiness and her mimic of the performance often, wish she was here to share it again.

  47. I am a biracial female (black father/white mother), born in the early 1950s. I have have always used the term biracial. I never identified with one over the other. That ridiculous phrase “one drop…” makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. How are you to choose between two different individuals that are involved in your life? Most of the time people think I am Hispanic or white. But as they say, “We come in different shades.” After 9/11, my brother was driving a cab part time and got many hateful stares and comments from various passengers. When he addressed them, they definitely knew he was purely American. Well I could go on and on about life as a mulatto (yes I said “THAT” word!) Why today, as it so frowned upon… “Why?” Because I can.

    Sincerely,
    Back-in-the-Day VLD

  48. I’m a 28 yr old multi-racial female. My father is white and my mother is half black, quarter Italian and quarter Native american. I didn’t figure this out until I was out of my teens. My mother always said she was black. My grandfather(her father) looked black so thats what it was. One day she went over my grandfathers history–his mother(my great-grandmother) was disowned by her Italian family after she started dating then married my great-grandfather, a black man. She died while giving birth to my grandfather. I was shocked to hear this. My grandfather was not “black” he was biracial–I asked questions about my grandmother(my mothers mom) and was told that she was black and half Native American. I was confused. I asked my mom “So…you’re not black. You’re mixed. Why did you lie to us?” I felt upset and betrayed. Her answer? “I didn’t lie. You ARE what society sees you as. I appear to be black so I am black. I have been my entire life” I told her that wasn’t true. Her father was HALF white, her mother was HALF Native American. I told her it wasn’t right to deny what she was. She shook her head as if I didn’t understand. My mothers complexion can be called black but her colored eyes and wavy light hair, cannot. I went over the things in my head wondering why I never pieced it together before…she has 9 siblings…half of them have colored eyes…blue, grey, green and hazel. Half of them are very light skinned. She will never say she’s mixed but does not ignore the fact that her father was half Italian and her mother was half native american. It saddens me. I “look” mixed…I have light brown eyes, lightly tanned complexion and long light curly hair but I know in my heart that if I was born darker, I wouldn’t deny my nationalities. I’m very proud to be what I am–a multi racial aka mixed female.

    I have two kids now…their father is also mixed but doesn’t claim it. His father is creole and his mother is black. Our daughter has a tanned complexion with brown eyes and waist length long curly light brown hair with blond streaks and our son is very fair skinned with light hazel eyes and curly light hair. Our daughter clearly looks mixed but our son can easily pass for white. He doesn’t appear to have any black in him. When it comes to race…my daughter is proud to be mixed. We will also teach my son that it’s something to be proud of as well. I don’t think anyone should deny or ignore what they are. My daughter tells me mom “Youre mixed too grandma” and my mother just smiles. I’m still waiting to hear her say the words and be proud to be mixed but sadly I don’t think I’ll ever hear those words from her. She was raised in an era where it wasn’t ok for black folks to admit to having white in them. My father, who’s white, also was born in that era and he explains that in that time–it wasn’t ok in society for anyone who appeared black to come out and say they were half white. He said there were people who clearly looked mixed and they would only claim to be black and would take offense to anyone who said they were mixed with white. My mother agrees that this was the way it was.

    Apparently, it still happens today. My nephews mother is very fair skinned with curly hair. No african american features to her face whatsoever. Her mother is black and white and her father is white puerto rican and black. She claims to be black majority of the time and occasionally claims puerto rican and black. Never telling anyone she is also mixed with white.There’s african americans and mixed people who say the “one drop” rule is wrong and just carrying on the slave master mentality. I agree. It’s also wrong and carrying on the slave mentality by denying that you have white in you as well.

  49. Your story was long but it still points to the fact that you seem to struggle with the black identity. It’s okay, if that is how you want to see yourself. The world is mixed and the struggle to hold on to the white aspect as being acceptable is killing you and will cause nothing but confusion for your children.
    Most blacks these days are proud of their ancestry when they truly learn that it is nothing wrong with having a mixed background that depicts your true genetic makeup(African), but you can’t make yourself be what society cannot fully. And truly accept. Don’t fool yourself, holding on to the white aspect only keeps the the house servant and field servant squabbling over nothing but skin tone and when we all get cut, we bleed red. Read the William Lynch Document and your ideals about your mixed ancestry will be depicted. African ancestry people come in all shades, looks and appearances, but be proud of your heritage and stop looking at the obvious.
    Mixed ancestry does not denote your character or worth. Black, white , yellow , brown is just beautiful and your Mom and other family members have tried to be kind to you and not hurt your feelings but sweetheart , people of color like you and me have been around since time. Learn your history! DNA is what determines your bloodlines…No one really cares about this mixed crap. We all are and get over it! I’m going to pray for you and those like you.

  50. There has always been this issue in Black families where there are skin color differences.One child may be very fair and eventually pass,another may be brown and another very dark-skinned.Did not the slavery issue of Masters taking advantage of certain slave women produce mixed children..I am from the old school where (1940′s)we were bi-racial and knew many other bi-racial families.Nobody talked about it like today where they act like it’s a NEW issue.People stayed with whomever they felt comfortable with. Passing wasn’t a question of being better,but,most of the time Economics.Of course,in America at that time,the saying was that it was better to be anything but Black.Many believe that if one of your parents was Black,their children were considered to be Black.My interpretation is that no matter who you are,there are various races in your background historically.

  51. Accept who you are and be proud of it! One can’t undo the past or their ancestors! The past is like a distant country you can’t return too!

  52. Pingback: re: carol channing or, more rumors of blackness – mulatto diaries

  53. This is all so annoying already!!! How much more are we going to hear about black this or white this or Chinese this or Korean that! Carol Channing has black in her, it does not make her only black, its makes her mixed! Blacks get all excited when a white finds out they have black in them, big wow!!! Its all getting so old and so last century…Greeks were the most people who were slaughtered in World War 11, not JEWS! Do you hear Greeks complaining about the millions that the Germans killed! If the Jews read their books and history, they would learn something!!! Its time to stop living in the past and make the future wonderful…People, let go of all this nonsense already…I’m soooooo bored of hearing it!!!

  54. Masters in the past, the south, had relations with their help, it was normal for back then and the wives were OK with this cause it brought into the world more help and bigger families, thats why so many blacks in this country who are native to this country have English, or German or white last names from their masters…The mixed children integrated into their families with their own children. Most blacks, if not all blacks in this country are mixed with white, you can tell by looking at them compared to a Native African who just comes here…So, when blacks get angry in this country towards white, they are actually mad at their own blood too. Many whites do not know the true history here cause they are from Europe lineage, so they only know about their Italian families or Swedish lineage, etc…but the blacks that are here for hundreds of years, like Oprahs family and many others have been continually mixed with black and white, thats why the skin color is lighter and some of the features alter, but all blacks are mixed now in this country…In England or Europe, the blacks are not mixed with white for hundreds of years, but the American black is a high percentage of white, so its time to recognize people!!! We are all brothers and sisters! and when that tsunami or disaster happens, its time to take care of each other and you will anyway cause skin color will not be the issue anyway!!!!!!!! Learn something about life!!!

  55. Where the Greeks singled out because of their ethnicity and antisemitism? No….
    There aren’t any Blacks in Europe with that are also of European dissent…. Really.
    Or Europeans with black? What to you think the Moors were about? Ancient Carthage? You seem to mean well, but you are misinformed about a lot of things. Alexander Dumas, Pushkin also had Black dna. Acceptable racist remarks like ‘the Jewess’ in 19th century literature. You should really study history before making such informed remarks for all to see.

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  57. My thoughts…

    I won’t vilify Ms. Channing for passing because we all do what we have to do to survive. I’ve noticed that with some white people, they hate/fear mixed folks who can “pass” because they feel like their privilege is being stolen by an impostor. And with some Black people, they claim that the mixed person is running away from blackness but the truth is that they are the same ones rejecting biracial/multiracial people in the same way that whites do.

    The movie “Imitation of Life” is commonly brought up when it comes to passing. In my view, many of Sara Jane’s actions are hurtful and wrong…we only see her rejecting a kind and loving Black mother to pass as white. Most people who have seen the movie don’t understand that behind her behavior, there is a lot of hurt and confusion because of how mixed-race people are treated. She sees her white friend living a life of privilege without the added burden of racial identity. She has to deal with having a mother who looks nothing like her, who loves her but can’t relate to her experiences with being biracial. It is easy to demonize those who “pass” if one doesn’t understand the reasons behind it. As mixed people, we are often told that the Black community will accept us with open arms but the White community won’t. In my experience this is not always true and it is a fallacy that can have serious effects. I am black, but I am also white, and to some people I can “pass”. I don’t try to but I can because of my appearance.

    The problem is that society forces people to pick sides instead of being who they truly are and allowing them to embrace ALL of their heritage. I used to be around people who insisted that I call myself black, and only black. Nothing is wrong with being Black, but I am more than simply Black, and looking at me it should be obvious. Ms. Channing is elderly now and I guess at this point, she felt like it was OK to share her background…it was something she had to hide in the past.

  58. Very thoughtful post. I was wondering if you read ‘One Drop’ by Bliss Broyard. As an acquaintance said to me as he was getting his book published on this subject :” Why is it that the blacks in the country get lighter and lighter, but the whites don’t get darker and darker”.

  59. I did read that book!! Loved it. In my opinion, whites do get darker…we just call them black at that point…so they count toward the blacks getting lighter thing…however, those are really two sides of the exact same doing. Just depends on how you look at it. We are trained to look at it through the lens of the one-drop rule :)

  60. Don’t we all (blacks, whites, Asians, etc.) have “one drop?” If the oldest woman’s remains were found in sub-Saharan Africa, doesn’t that make us all geographically rooted in Africa? Are we all not cousins? I know, some are now trying to move mythological “Eve” from Africa to Asia. Not to worry. We all would then still have one drop of beautiful Asian blood. Wherever we live on this planet, there was one original woman who gave us her DNA. One drop is unimportant and it’s time to let it go. The only thing important to me about Carol Channing is that she is one talented , entertaining lady.

  61. Carol Channing did what a lot of black people did when they had the chance, “”Pass for white”. I have watched first hand with my own family members who do this today. Life for them is easy. White people willingly afford them the same privileges that they themselves enjoy not knowing who they really are. Even though this reality is very sad, I laugh every time I see it or hear it. What’s even funnier than that is, there are seemingly unaware mixed white people and entirely whole families of white people that don’t know that they have black grandparents or earlier.

    Depending on how old you are, the entire issue of race can not only be very painful but tragic. I am Black and White, Native American Indian And European Ashkenazi Jew as well. On one side of my family they became so white they were ashamed of being Black & Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq (Mi’kmawi’simk, Mi’kmaw, Micmac, Mikmaq) Indians. My family in Nova Scotia started out as runway slaves and discovered freedom among the Mi’kmaq. We are a strange looking bunch. Here in the U.S. most people think we are Puerto Ricans, Cubans, or Dominicans. When ever the question is asked, “What are you, if you are not a Latino?” To their surprise, I simply say, “I’m Black”. On one occasion I was called a liar and on another occasion I was advised to not tell people that I was black. In both situations they were Puerto Ricans, one of them was darker than me.

    “Darker Than”. As if this should actually matter. It matters because an economic premium is assumed by whiteness “White Privilege” and has been defined as the epitome of “American Freedom” while being dark means one is subhuman & inferior and subjected to inhuman treatment nor respect. So now we’re supposed to play this silly racial game forever?

    I think not!

    If anyone is interested, people should see Tim Wise’s “White Like Me” lectures. They are very informative and they offer a very unique perspective on the sensitive issue of “race”.

    Also… The term “mulatto” is actually not a very nice word.

    The etymology of the term may derive from the Spanish and Portuguese word mulato, which is itself derived from mula (from old Galician-Portuguese, from Latin mūlus), meaning mule, the hybrid offspring of a horse and a donkey. Some dictionaries and scholarly works trace the word’s origins to the Arabic term muwallad, which means “a person of mixed ancestry”.

  62. I don’t believe a word of it. It’s just that it is trendy now to be ANYTHING but pure White European Christian– which is what Carol Channing is. She’s a white guilt ridden liberal who is trying to deny her whiteness. Sad, sick.

  63. I saw her perform once at a benefit for a theatre. I wasn’t that excited about see her, and she knocked my socks off! It seems that she’s lead a very privileged and charmed life. We have to bare in mind that she’s from another generation, and for her that’s a big deal. I recently found out about my Scottish g-g-grandfather, when my father died 5 years ago. I really doubt if there’s a pure anything.

  64. Scarlett O’ Hara…interesting perspective. And yes, I agree that some white people feel guilty about being white or they claim other races in their bloodline to seem more “exotic”. But in Ms. Channing’s case, she is NOT “pure White European Christian”. She is a person of mixed heritage who has been able to live as a white person for most of her life. She is fair-skinned with hair that has been lightened to blonde, but she also has some African ancestry. I don’t think it is wrong for her to share that and I also don’t judge her (or anybody else) who feels that they need to “pass” for whatever reason.

    “Passing” on a conscious level is usually more about survival.

  65. Also, passing can be viewed as a response to rejection. If a person with very light skin or ambiguous looks receives hostility from a certain group of people, they might figure that maybe it’s better to identify with those that look more like them instead of constantly facing rejection. I know a person who did this because she felt that most Black people did not accept her, no matter what. So although she still has an open mind and open heart, she doesn’t identify much as being a Black woman in some ways because of the hostility and rejection she endures. And she doesn’t feel guilty about it anymore, either.

    At one time she felt like she had to be ashamed of her appearance and to downplay certain things so that others could feel better about themselves…now she lives a fairly comfortable life and is learning to accept herself. Some might view that as “privilege” but I’m happy for her. We all do what we can to survive. As long as other people don’t get hurt, it’s OK.

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