Rebecca Walker
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HOW REBECCA WALKER FOUND HER IDENTITY,
By Temii Tellis, © Dimensions Archive, March 19, 2001


     
 

Activist, author, actress and founder of Third Wave Direct Action Rebecca Walker came to McKenny Union ballroom March 14 to discuss the issues she faced growing up as an interracial child in a judgmental society.

Walker's parents met during the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson, Miss. Her father, a Jewish man from Brooklyn, was working to desegregate public schools, and her mother was an African-American woman from the Deep South. The two of them made it clear they were a couple when they shared each other's ice cream; her mother was eating vanilla while her father was eating chocolate.
"I really think that it's important that activism comes from your heart," Walker said. "I don't think it's enough for a person to intellectualize their way into taking a stand."

"After that they fell madly in love," Walker said.

According to the laws in Mississippi at that time, interracial marriage was illegal, so they got married in Jackson, NY, where the law permitted it.

Walker said they wanted to have a "mixed love child." She was born in 1969 in Jackson, Miss.

"I was born and I had this identity from birth of being a movement child, being the embodiment of new vision for America," she said. "My parents talked a lot about how, in my body, black and white came together in love, hope and optimism as opposed to hatred, rage and despair."

Meanwhile, her parents divorced when she was only 7 years old.

"I think they separated because of the rise of Black Power Movement," Walker said.

After the divorce, they eventually remarried someone of each of their own races.

Most of her childhood was spent moving back and forth physically, mentally and even in terms of her identity, because she felt as if she had to beware at all times because someone would hate something about her.

During Walker's sophomore year, as she walked home from school, she witnessed a woman being physically abused by her husband. She ran to the woman and made an effort to stop the man from hitting his wife. However, he acted as if he were going to hit Walker, too. The following day, Walker wrote about the incident in the school newspaper, her activism branched off from that point.

"I really think that it's important that activism comes from your heart," Walker said. "I don't think it's enough for a person to intellectualize their way into taking a stand."

Walker attended Yale University and graduated cum laude in 1992. It was there when she became comfortable talking about her interracial background.

"I found myself in a group of friends that thought the way I thought about race. Everybody had different backgrounds, but everybody spoke the same language," she said.

Throughout the years, Walker has spread her wings by publishing three books, writing in magazines such as Essence, SPIN, Harper's Bizarre and Vibe. She was also the host of a television show focused primarily on youth activism. She has received the Paz y Justicia award from the Vanguard Foundation.


 

 

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