Henriette Delille and Vanessa Williams

Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 02:04:30 -0600
From: A.D. Powell
Subject: Henriette Delille and Vanessa Williams

The “Lifetime” cable channel is showing a film called “Courage to Love” in which the “mulatress” Vanessa Williams (the former, so-called “black” Miss America) is trying to portray the Creole and predominately European 19th century Roman Catholic nun Henriette Delille.

Not only does Williams not look like the “quadroon” she is supposed to be playing, she uses the term “black” to refer to obviously mixed-race people. Creole society in the 19th century distinguished between “free people of color” and “blacks.” Williams seemed to be promoting a “one drop” agenda.

Some “Black” Catholics in the U.S. are on a crusade to have Delille declared a “black” saint. Her picture is below. Does she look “black” to you? If “blacks” come in “all colors,” as the “one drop” idiots contend, why are they afraid to have Delille and others like her portrayed by actors who actually looked like them? They know that, if they told the truth, it would be clear that the people they are desperate to claim were NOT BLACK.



  1. Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 13:36:05 -0800 (PST)
    From: Ron
    Subject: Letter to the Editor

    Mr. A.D. Powell

    Mixed Race History is black History. Some Of the First “Black” in any field where people who were light skinned and mixed. It seems like the people on this board wanna move away from black and move with white or Latino. Some of the first judges and doctors and lawyers and people who made it into the upper parts of the corporate world were people black people of mixed-race background. This especially true in the entertainment world. There vision of black beauty is Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams. Halle is biracial but Vanessa Williams mother is black and her father is Biracial. This is fine with me but I see these women as black and they identity themselves a black people along with people like Jasmine Guy, Michael Michelle, Lenny Kravtis and Faith Evans, Mya and Cindy Herron of En Vogue. Hollywood will promote Latino actress like Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek rather than there more Ethnic looking Latin actresses cause Jennifer and Salma look more mixed with maybe white than looking like most other Latinos who look more Ethnic. White people didn’t want blacks in certain places so they would accept light-skinned blacks or light skinned mixed-race black people instead of the dark-skin cause that would be less of a threat. I think that people who are mixed should be proud of the background but I think that people who are mixed are pushing this multiracial thing a bit much

    1. Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 14:03:31 -0800 (PST)
      From: Kev
      Subject: Letter to the Editor

      First, thanks for a great site it is well over due and definitely needed. Many of the multiracial community are dying to find support and friends to relate to and need something like this. Also many are living closeted lives, much like gay and lesbians once did, hoping one day to find a voice and freedom to become liberated.

      Secondly, I’d like to address Ron concerning his points about multiracials not identifying with blacks. Sir, let me say that genetically they are no more black than they are white, they are a hybrid between the two. All blacks are not mixed with other races, however, a great number in this country are. But there are many who have not been mixed, like there are some whites that have not. But the bigger picture is why is it important to you sir? If 90% of whites and Blacks marry their own race then you should have nothing to worry about. But those who do intermarry have the right to privacy of thought and lifestyle. How would you enjoy someone telling you who to marry or where to live, what to eat or how to raise your kids? Well that is the way we feel hearing people saying how we should live our lives, especially people who do know us and have no stake in our lives. Whatever I do I don’t need your or anyone else’s approval. Unless you want to pay my bills and take care of all my needs. Don’t worry about what I call myself or who I relate to and I won’t try and control how you live.

      Thanks–A ardent Multiracial activist

      Shalom and Be Well.

    2. Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 09:18:59 -0800 (PST)
      From: “Maribel” larosa_info@yahoo.com
      Subject: Letter to the Editor

      Although I’m real late on this.
      I would like to respond to the post from <<<>>>

      Ron wrote <<>>

      Funny thing is how people confuse nationality and race..
      Now Salma who “Hollywood” claims as a Latina..
      Was born in Mexico which makes her Mexican do to birth.
      Salma has No Spanish blood..
      No Aztec blood..
      No Mayan blood..
      Her parents are Lebonese as is the singer Shakira..
      These people are light skin because they are of a totally different race.
      It is true Hollywood will use the lighter skin Latins..but it is much More on Spanish television who uses white skin blonde hair Latinos as they are seen as more attractive.
      I grew up being told I was special because my skin is brown.. And that Morenas are “more” than the blanqitas But now as everyone starts to worship the european look, I wonder if it’s Hollywood or us.

  2. From what I have read about Mother Delille, is that she made sacrifices because of her faith in God. How disappointed she would be because a “mixed race group” of people are getting upset because she is portrayed as being black. She chose to help slaves that was suffering and illiterate. We are all “God’s Children”. Get over it, and get on with your life whether you are black, white, red, green, who cares, I don’t. Just live your life and treat all of God’s Children with respect.

  3. “society in the 19th century distinguished between “free people of color” and “blacks.””
    Actually, that society distinguished between Free People of Color and near-pure-African Slaves. Free People of Color included not only Afro-European people, but near-pure-African Haitian migrants (Edmond Dede), free Native Americans, Mestizoes, and Afro-Amerindian peoples as well.

    3/18/2004 11:32:13 AM

  4. Hey, get a life! First of all, the one drop rule was ceated and ENFORCED STRICTLY by whites, not blacks! The plantiff in the Supreme Court case that established “separate but (un)equal” facilities in the U.S. was a black man so lightskinned that he, like Delille, could have passed for white, but chose not to. Thus, the discrimination for people of African American descent in this country was not only based on appearance, but ancestry. There are many cases of light skinned blacks, back in the days of Jim Crow, who tried to pass for white, were discovered, and were booted from their jobs, churches, schools, etc. This was based on ANCESTRY (one or more people of African descent in their family tree), not appearance! Hence, Henriette Delille is seen as a potential first African American saint, not based on her appearance, but on her ancestry. It is because she refused to live as her mother and sister did (wives or misstress to rich white men), and totally identifying with slaves, even though physically she did not look like one, that she is remembered with love by African Americans in Louisiana, whether they are Catholic or not.
    Second, Hollywood/media has a long-standing habit of not “matching” actors of color to the color of the person they portray. Example: Sidney Potier, who is very black, portrayed NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, who was much more light skinned, in the TV miniseries “Separate But Equal”, about the legal work done to present the civil right case known as Brown vs. Board of Education to the Supreme Court. This is because they wanted the pull that an established star like him could bring to the production, despite the FACT that he and Thurgood Marshall look nothing alike! The same factors were obviously at play in the selection of Vanessa Williams as Henriette Delille–she has the name recognition that other actresses that may have looked more like the real Delille did not have. On TV, pulling in an audience matters more than historical accuracy. It happens all the time; get used to it!

    Third, you need to read up on New Orleans history. Thanks to marriages and affairs during (and after) slavery, there are tons of citizens that have Africans in their ancestry–whether they will ever admit it publicly or not! As (Sly)Sylvester Stewart used to sing, everybody’s everything! Surely you don’t want to say that a European heritage automatically negates anything African in your background. With that logic, a good portion of the African American population could claim “white” status overnight!

    Fourth, Vanessa Williams is a Black Catholic, has known about Henriette Delille since childhood, and jumped at the chance to portray her! I saw the movie and enjoyed it!

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