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The Color Line

***The staff of the Jim Crow Museum receives dozens of letters and emails. Some of these communiques offer insight into race relations -- historically and in the present. While some are hateful, we have decided to share some of these letters and emails with our Internet visitors.***

Subject: Your Article on the Tragic Mulatto

I grew in a segregated Louisiana as a mixed blooded person. There are thousands of people there who share in the same heritage and the many of those people, especially the more white or exotic looking ones, felt the very pain of the "tragic mulatto." It was and is very real. A friend of mine was in car with a bunch of white kids once and one of the white kids made a black racial slur because he didn't know she wasn't white. She wasn't passing she was just living. Imagine having to tell everyone you met that you were a man if the world assumed you were a woman. You would naturally assume that people knew you were what you were. I live in California now and I have even met a couple of "white people" from New Orleans that I know to be quadroons. It was never polite to call people out on their identities for I have long held the belief that people should be allowed to be who they want to be. Most mixed bloods are quite content identifying with thinking of themselves as black but it is sometimes much more challenging for people who group in mixed blooded communities to feel the way.

I do love your website. I spoke to my children about Jim Crow and I told them of the story of Homer Plessy. He of course was a white looking New Orleanian who tried to sit in a whites only railcar. I don't know if they will ever truly understand.

Jeffery L. Richard
Detachment Commander
-- Feb. 17, 2005