Gail Lukasik grew up never having met her mother’s family. Her mother kept no photographs, and was reluctant to share any information about them. As an adult, Lukasik remained curious about her mysterious family history and decided to do some research. What she discovered led her to question her entire identity, and wonder how her mother could possibly pull off such a brazen lie. In her new memoir, White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing, Lukasik recounts the moment her entire sense of self shattered, and what her journey has been like since.
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Had the author not been so intensely curious, her mother would have died with her secret untold. Instead, Lukasik had the opportunity to ask her mother about it.
“When I questioned her, she vowed me to secrecy until her death. ‘How will I hold my head up with my friends?’ she pleaded.
I’d never seen my mother so afraid. Reluctantly, I kept her racial secret for 17 years. And in the silence of those years, I was left confused over my racial identity.”
Since her mother’s death, Lukasik has been able to publicly acknowledge her mixed race heritage. She has reconnected with that side of her family. “I’m now part of a multi-racial family. Finally I know all my people. Finally, I know who I am — a mixed-race person. You’d never guess.”
Lukasik’s mother’s story is fascinating. It’s hard to put ourselves in that time and place, to truly appreciate the depth of the deception and the risk involved.
White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing was released by Skyhorse Publishing on October 17, and is available at Amazon and major booksellers.