She may be one of the world’s most well-known and successful singers today, but Mariah Carey says she was not always accepted as a biracial child growing up on Long Island, NY.
As she noted in a press conference in New York on Monday (reported by Yahoo! Movies) for her new movie “The Butler,” one incident in particular still sticks with her: She was spat on by a white person when she was a child.
In “The Butler,” protesting college students assembled at a sit-in are attacked — and spat on — and as Carey noted, “That actually happened to me. I know people would be in shock and not really want to believe or accept that, but it did…. That right there, that was almost the deepest thing to me in the movie because I know what she went through — and it happened to be a bus as well. It was a school bus.”
Other members of the cast were on hand for the conference, including Oprah Winfrey. When Carey recalled the event, Winfrey asked further about the spitting incident, and where she was spat on.
“In the face and in the same way (as the movie),” added Carey.
In “The Butler,” Carey has just a few scenes, playing the mother of Forrest Whitaker’s character. She is raped off-camera and her husband shot in front of her son’s eyes.
Carey’s parents are white Irish-American and African-American/Venezuelan. She’s mentioned in the past that her mom’s family disowned her for marrying a man of color in 1960. Her parents divorced when she was three.
Last year, she was interviewed by Oprah and spoke of another racially-charged moment from her childhood:
“One of the first memories I have is when I was in kindergarten or nursery school and they asked us to draw a picture of our family; and so I was drawing everybody and I got to my father and I started to make him brown,” she recalled then. “Kindergarten teachers are often young, and the two women were standing behind me giggling. And I turned around, self-conscious, and asked, ‘Why are you laughing?’ And they said, ‘You’re doing that wrong. Why are you making your father the wrong color?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s the color that he is.’ They made me feel like something was wrong with me, that it was a bizarre freakish thing.”