Tragic Mulatto with a Different Spin




The image above is from ” Imitation of Life”. This movie details a story of self hate and self depreciation. The main character Sarah 

Tragic Mulatto: Sarah Jane 

-Black and White


-Well Taken Care of 





– Internalized Racism 

-Identity Crisis 


This poor girl is so ashamed of being black that she shuns the one person in the world that loves her conditionally, her only parent, her mother. She spends her mother’s living days being ashamed of her because she is black and dark skinned. To go through life hating yourself, exiling a part of you, hating a mixture of blood that makes you who you are, is heartbreaking, yet it is a tale of so many people of color.

However, I also know a couple of people who are the opposite of the Tragic Mulatto. So what do you call people those who are half white and half black, but hate the white side of their blood? Is this tragic? A set of twin girls transferred into my high school during my senior year. They were biracial, black and white and I thought they were beautiful. I became smitten with one of them and did my best to befriend her, incidentally, in order to be in her company I spent a fair amount of time with her sister as well. Because my school was very “cliquey” and it was senior year, all the friend groups were established and comfortable so no one showed interest in befriending the twins. I took it upon myself to show them around the school, help them with their work, and just be kind. After getting to know them and spending a good amount of time at their house and with their family I was shocked and intrigued with their story. Their mother was a white and from a wealthy family, but she chose a life of prostitution. She met their father, a dark skinned black man at a hospital where he worked as a security guard. They started dating and soon after the twins came.

Their mother’s family was ashamed of them and completely shunned them and their mother and. They never made an effort to meet or get to know the girls. Their mother was killed in a car crash when they were two and their father died of cancer when they were eleven. Their father’s family, filled with dark skinned black people, took them in and showered them with unconditional love. Somewhere in all this the girls started to hate white people, and shunned their white blood. They hated their curly blond hair and dyed it all sorts of colors, usually a honey brown. They embraced and flaunted their curves and made fun of girls who they called “flat ass like a white girl”.  They were ashamed of their white blood so much that they only dated dark skinned black people. So I wonder is this a different tale of the Tragic Mulatto? What do you make of this? 



  1. The tragic mulatto is an interesting character. This is a different tale of the tragic mulatto but I would still consider this a story of the tragic mulatto. Although in most cases the tragic mulatto’s desire is be white the concept is similar in the twins’ story.

    I am biracial (Mexican and Black) myself and I find myself in a very similar situation of the tragic mulatto. Not in the sense that either race is desired but in regards in the split of identifying with each race. Whenever I attend a new school the cycle of identifying with one of my races continue. At first glance, many people cannot identify my race and always asked me what I am mixed with. As a biracial student I feel that in a new setting I either have to prove that I am Mexican or prove that I am Black. I am not the best spanish speaker so I am often revoked my Mexican card and I didn’t grow up in “the hood” so I could not identify with my Black friends.

    Although I would not consider myself a wholeheartedly mulatto, I still think my story is relevant. I agree wtih you DG, I think the tragic mulatto’s “traditional story” can be modified depending on each situation.

  2. I think that you bring up a good point DG. What happens if you do not like the lighter side of your ethnicity? To be honest, I believed this has not been brought up often, because most people cannot imagine why someone would be ashamed of being part White. Think about it, with the portrayal of biracial women and men in the media, it is assumed that the reason that they are not accepted by society is because they have “dark heritage in their blood”. In regards to the girls you met in high school, I believe that it is an interesting look at how your perception of yourself is shaped by others, and your environment. Since they were rejected by their White relatives, they ended up associating Whiteness with cruelty, ignorance, and racism. Whereas growing up in a loving, Black family, they associate Blackness with love, caring, and acceptance. I feel as though if the story was switched around, then those twins would reject the Black side of their heritage, and would embrace their Whiteness more. However, this is a sad situation knowing their background and reasons behind their identity. -CeCe

  3. Wow. That is something I never even thought about. Because of the oppression of Black people in this country and the things we constantly have to deal with, it is way more accepted (and encouraged, maybe) for a biracial person to identify only with their Black side than with their White side. I know several biracial people who do not identify as simply Black and get a TON of criticism for it, yet the biracial people I know who identify as simply Black are way more accepted by the minority community. I don’t think people even consider the effects of someone hating the White part of themselves. That was a super powerful story and it really makes me think of the issue with a new set of lenses.

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