One Drop By Bliss Broyard

By Chance Kelsey,

ONE DROP: My Father’s Hidden Life–A Story of Race & Family Secrets by Bliss Broyard

Two months before he died of cancer, renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard called his grown son and daughter to his side, intending to reveal a secret he’d kept all their lives and most of his own: he was black. Born in the French Quarter in 1920, Anatole began to conceal his racial identity after the family moved from New Orleans to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and his parents resorted to "passing" in order to get work. From his bohemian days in the cafés of Greenwich Village in the 1940s to his ascension in the ranks of the literary elite, he continued to maintain the façade.

Serving as a daily book critic for the New York Times for more than a decade, and as a columnist and editor at the New York Times Book Review for several years after that, Anatole was an influential voice in American culture. To his children he was a charming and attentive father who had strived to raise his family in the lush enclaves of Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard, providing an upbringing far removed from his own childhood. But even as he lay dying, the truth was too difficult for him to admit, and it was finally their mother who told Bliss and Todd that their sheltered New England childhood had come at a price.

In her remarkable memoir, Bliss Broyard examines her father’s choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. Seeking out unknown relatives in New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, she uncovers the 250- year history of her family in America, and chronicles her own evolution from privileged Wasp to a woman of mixed-race ancestry. The result is a beautifully crafted and touching portrait of her father, and a provocative examination of the profound consequences of racial identity.

Read related article Anatole Broyard The Creole   

Bliss Broyard (Photo) is the daughter of the Late New York Time book critic Anatole Broyard       






  1. blancsurblanc

    he wasn’t black, he was French.

  2. Chance

    @ blancsurblanc,

    Yes he was a white creole mixed with coulered creole. So his phenotype was white.

  3. LSGH

    Monsieur Chance:

    In Divine Defence of Monsieur Broyard’s Whiteness, I recommend to you the following Scroll:

    In Defeat of White & Black America respectively,

    General LSGH
    Global Mulato Revolutionary Army [GMRA]

  4. Chance

    Thanks for the link and essay was very well written and thought provoking. A.D. Powell did a good job.

    thanks for the link, and yes the black elite and many white liberals are the main people who keep the one rule going. This is a type of racism too.

    Thanks for the link LSGH

  5. BSB, AB was French? The Louisiana Purchase was in 1803. His problems were distinctly American as were his opinions, I read his reviews for years. Curiouser and curiouser, big hint, real white people don’t have darker relative hiding in the closet or in Brooklyn. AB’s “crime” was not passing professionally. He was talented and ambitious and deserved the fruits of his hard work. What’s disturbing is his turning his back on his family. I agree that almost anything HL Gates says is suspicious. But a revolutionary army of mulattoes?
    Can someone on this site please offer a rational explanation of what real power black people have to negatively affect your lives? Last I looked, with few exceptions, the presidency, CEOs of most multinational companies, the senate were still mostly white and Blacks were disproportionately poor and the targets of discrimination. Do you folks have anyone legitimate amongst you– I mean unemotionally and scholarly articulating the mulatto cause? Any good books out there? Whose AD Powell? Does he/she write?

  6. Chance,I meant to say as were his opinions. Thanks for changing it.

  7. Chance

    I changed (edited) it for you Marisol!

  8. Chance

    [quote comment=”26079″] Do you folks have anyone legitimate amongst you– I mean unemotionally and scholarly articulating the mulatto cause? Any good books out there? Whose AD Powell? Does he/she write?[/quote]

    My response: Here are some books by credible authors Marisol, they write about how U.S. racialism has affected America and the mixed race people of America.

    “passing” for who you really are
    by A.D. Powell
    paperback, 136 pages, isbn 9780939479221, $11.95
    twelve essays in support of multiracial whiteness

    From Mulatto Pride to Krishna Consciousness
    The Bhagavad-Gita in Black and White
    by Charles Michael Byrd (Charukrishna)
    Paperback, 218 pages, ISBN 9780939479276, $16.95
    The Philosophy of Multiracialism
    Krishna and Arjuna at Kurukshetra
    An indispensable aid for anyone seeking to transcend America’s oppressive race-consciousness. Each section is fashioned after the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad-gita, the essence of India’s Vedic wisdom and one of the great spiritual and philosophical classics of the world. Along with synopses of each Gita chapter is commentary culled from Mr. Byrd’s Interracial Voice editorials as well as from other contributors. In addition to each chapter’s race commentary is a specific Gita verse or two that expands on that commentary from the Vedic perspective.
    This book is a revised and enlarged edition of Beyond Race: The Bhagavad-gita in Black and White with
    • Expanded introduction.
    • Dozens of new quotations from articles published in Interracial Voice.
    • Deeper understanding of the Gita’s relevance to the United States today.
    • New sections added with many precise parallels between scripture and the philosophy of multiracialism.

    Legal History of the Color Line
    by Frank W. Sweet
    Paperback, 542 pages, ISBN 9780939479238, $36.95
    The Rise and Triumph of the One-Drop Rule
    Every Year, 35,000 Black-Born Youngsters Redefine Themselves as White
    About 1/3 of “White” Americans have detectable African DNA

    Genealogists were the first to learn that America’s color line leaks. Black researchers often find White ancestry. White genealogists routinely uncover Black ancestry. Molecular anthropologists now confirm Afro-European mixing in our DNA. The plain fact is that few Americans can truly say that they are genetically unmixed. Yet liberals and conservatives alike agree that so-called Whites and Blacks are distinct political “races.” When did ideology triumph over reality? How did America paint itself into such a strange corner?
    Americans changed their concept of “race” many times. Eston Hemings, Jefferson’s son, was socially accepted as a White Virginian because he looked European. Biracial planters in antebellum South Carolina assimilated into White society because they were rich. Intermarried couples were acquitted despite the laws because some courts ruled that anyone one with less than one-fourth African ancestry was White, while others ruled that Italians were Colored. Dozens of nineteenth-century American families struggled to come to grips with notions of “racial” identity as the color line shifted and hardened into its present form.
    This 542-page book tells their stories in the light of genetic admixture studies and in the records of every appealed court case since 1780 that decided which side of the color line someone was on. Its index lists dozens of 19th-century surnames. It shows that: The color line was invented in 1691 to prevent servile insurrection. The one-drop rule was invented in the North during the Nat Turner panic. It was resisted by Louisiana Creoles, Florida Hispanics, and the maroon (triracial) communities of the Southeast. It triumphed during Jim Crow as a means of keeping Whites in line by banishing to Blackness any White family who dared to establish friendly relations with a Black family. This analysis of the nearly 300 appealed court cases that determined Americans’ “racial” identity may be the most thorough study of the legal history of the U.S. color line yet published.

  9. Marisol

    Thanks for the citations!

  10. Chance

    [quote comment=”26122″]Thanks for the citations![/quote]

    Your welcome!

  11. Sharon Joseph

    I am reading these responses and want to know one thing: What the hell is so bad about being black????

    My grandmother passed into this country before 1952 when the color restrictions in American immigration law was passed. She left my father and my aunt in Grenada because they were too black. My father lived with that pain until the day he died. My other grandmother was half white. Her father was Welch and remembered by my oldest uncle fondly. Although he left my grandmother with some land, his real family got the true wealth.

    I know that if I took genetic test I would probably come out half white. Until America can accept that African Americans are not as black as whites want them to be to maintain white privilege. I will remain proudly and contently BLACK.

  12. Chance

    @ Sharon Joseph,

    I support your right to be black Sharon, you have a right to identify as you please.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: