For those who are oblivious, Mariah Carey’s racial identity has long been a bit of an enigma. The singer whose mother is white and whose father is Black and Afro-Venezuelan has been forced to live with racism as a permeating theme throughout her life and career. After Carey’s emergence as a star on the music scene, various media outlets often misreported and assumed her racial identity. In 1990 Playboy ran an article that described her as “white girl who can sing” and Carey responded saying that her father who is of African-American and Venezuelan descent was very upset. ‘It seems” she told New York Post at the time, “That most people don’t know much about interracial children.” Around the same time, Australia’s Herald Sun described Carey “the new white U.S. soul singer with a reputed eight-octave range.”
This past June after coming forward with her bipolar disorder diagnosis, Carey told People Magazine that she believed struggled related to her racial identity had an impact on and might have roots in her mental health. Speaking about her racial identity, Carey told the magazine that she “had to go through so much in my childhood just to feel accepted and feel worthy of existing on Earth because I felt so different from everybody else growing up, because I was biracial, because I was so ambiguous-looking and because we didn’t have the money to escape whatever the everyday realities of life were.”
Still, In her most recent interview, Carey spoke about her newest album “Caution” and what it has been like to straddle two racial identities.
Carey’s latest interview showcases the lasting upsets that come with being a mixed-race child.
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Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul. The Icon. The ultimate singers' singer. The greatest singer and musician of my lifetime. The power of your voice in music and in civil rights blew open the door for me and so many others. You were my inspiration, my mentor and my friend. You showed me I could sing the songs I wanted to sing and bring God with me. You've inspired millions everywhere yet never left home, never left church. Today the entire world mourns your home-going and celebrates all the brilliance you left behind. I will forever cherish the moments I spent in your presence. Your indelible impact was earned not only by your incomparable voice but by your bigger than life personality, wit and humor. I say a BIG prayer for you. You will forever have all our RESPECT. Love, Mariah ♥️
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Directly speaking about how her experience with race left an impression on her music, Carey explained that much of her song “8th Grade” which made a debut on her latest album, stems from her experience of enduring racial bias as a child. Calling her time in eighth grade one of “lowest points” of her life, the singer revealed that as a child she struggled any oned anyone place that would make her feel accepted as a biracial person. “My mom chose to live in predominantly white neighborhoods, where people had more money than us, and I didn’t fit in there. Or in an all black neighborhood when my parents were together; as a mixed couple, they had problems there,” she said.
Going onto to describe how in the previous year before she entered eighth grade, in which she’d dyed her hair orange “by mistake,” shaved her eyebrows and “had no clothes,” the Grammy winner explained that during this formative time in her she was often made to feel like an outsider. To cope, she relied primarily on her building her artistry. Describing her younger years as “very difficult” the singer told Pitchfork that most of her fans aren’t totally familiar with this time in her life because for the most part, she has “been pretty vague.” Still, she underlines she has “alluded to it in certain songs” such as her 1996 song “Close My Eyes” in which she spoke about having a “wayward” childhood. One, which the song’s lyrics stipulate, saw “many things little ones shouldn’t know.”
Even despite her career success racial discrimination still affects the singer.
As Pitchfork underlines in the interview Carey recently was met with misinformed comments from Twitter users after she posted a photo of Colin Kaepernick on social media. In response various ignorant comments were made about her race. as Pitchfork notes one user even asked “What does she know? She’s white.” In response, Carey admitted her frustration. “This is how many years later? That ignorance level. When you have a black father and then people are calling you white, and then white people are like, ‘But her father is black,’ it’s very difficult. People don’t understand. It’s really a hard place to lay.”