*Five-time Grammy singer and recording artist Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling female solo recording artists of all-time, with a portfolio full of memorable hit songs since bursting onto the music scene in the late 1980s.
Yet, she also has vivid memories of the racism she endured growing up a bi-racial child in the 1970s and early ‘80s in Huntington, New York, about 32 miles from New York City. Carey is one of three children born to a white mother and an African American and Venezuelan father.
In her new book, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” the 50-year-old writes about several incidents that opened her young eyes to bigotry and racism. One incident that stands out in her mind was when she was a young girl and one of her grade school friends came over to the house for a visit.
“The parents didn’t know I was Black. They didn’t know that she (their daughter) was going to go into a Black man’s house,” Carey writes. “They’d only met my mother. The girl burst into tears because she was so freaked out. Mind you, my father is this gorgeous, tall man that looked like a movie star to me and then to see that happen. It just changes your perspective on things, and it twists it. It was just heartbreaking.”
Carey writes about another incident in school that involved a teacher that didn’t know that the future singing star had a Black father and white mother. When students were assigned to draw their parents, the teacher corrected Carey after seeing what the youngster had drawn and colored.
“I was basically traumatized by the teacher who thought I had used the wrong crayon because I had drawn my father with a brown crayon,” recalled Carey. “These are the kinds of experiences that stay with someone at such a young age, even if there isn’t malicious intent on the part of a teacher, or even perhaps a close friend who was unaware that my father was Black.”
Carey is happy that her book has been released in this present climate of racial discord and the heighten national debate about racism. The book, which Carey said took three years to write, is an important tool to talk about racial attitudes between white and Black people. She shared, however, since the release of the book, her nine-year-old son Moroccan has been bullied by a white supremacist he thought was a friend.
Carey said her book is more than reflections of the racism she endured as a child, as she also writes about her 2001 hospitalization due to mental health issues because of exhaustion and other factors; her strained relationship with her mother; dating baseball star Derek Jeter, who was also biracial; her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola’s role in trying to sink the success of “Glitter,” which she starred in 2001; throwing shades on J.Lo; and much more.
During a recent interview on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” Carey said that there’s a possibility that the book may someday come to life as a film or mini-series with Lee Daniels’ involvement. “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” the songstress told Cohen, “is written in a very ‘visual way.’ ”