Fear of the Dark: Exorcising the Ghosts of Racism which Haunted My Family

Fear of the Dark: Exorcising the Ghosts of Racism which Haunted My Family

by Sarah Rivas, Francis Megahy

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Overview

Our identity, our self-image, is built up through our childhood, our youth, into a mosaic of all we have learned about the world, about ourselves and our position in it.
But what if a key part part of that information suddenly turns out to be false? What if, for instance, one of our parents turns out not to be the person we thought they were, but someone else altogether?

I always thought that my father was a Canadian, of Irish descent. But in my middle age, long after he had been taken from the world by a car accident, and after my mother had died, I made the astonishing discovery that he was in fact not Canadian at all, that his entire life story as I and my mother and her family understood it, was a fabrication, a lie, that he was from the Caribbean, and that his real ancestry was African. Black.
You may ask, didn't you know your father? In a literal sense, of course I did. But in more existential terms - who was he "really"? - no, I didn't. You may ask, didn't he look black? Well, his appearance was...ambiguous. The facts I stumbled on about his life were not.
In a lifelong effort to avoid the shackles of racism by constantly re-creating himself, my father went to four medical schools and for several decades shuttled his life backwards and forwards between the Caribbean, the US, Europe and Canada. He demonstrated extraordinary resilience, ingenuity and determination in his pretense to be white - but what was the price he paid?
And if my father wasn't who I thought he was, where does all this leave me? Am I still the person I thought I was? If one of the fundamental pillars of my understanding of myself has collapsed, what is now my image of myself, what is my "real" identity?
These were some of the questions I set out to answer as I embarked on a journey of discovery to unravel the tangled deceptions of a fine man's life, to investigate the forces which had pressured him to re-invent himself, and to face the effect his decisions have had on me.
Along the way, I have had to confront questions of identity and race, which sadly resonate powerfully to this day, not only in the US where the scars of slavery remain unhealed, but also in Europe, and indeed throughout the whole world...
Among my many discoveries was that this was not just my story, it is a universal story of the destructive power of bigotry and prejudice, forces which we must resist to the last drop of blood.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477550700
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 07/31/2012
Pages: 322
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)

About the Author

Francis Megahy, who started out in life as a stand-up comedian, is a lifelong documentary film-maker and divides his time between London and the US.
His work has always reflected his interest in social issues, and he wrote and directed more than forty documentaries, mostly for British television channels, winning awards for One Pair of Eyes, a comparison between the life of an Oxford-educated Indian journalist and that of a Indian textile workers in the North of England; Big Fish, Little Fish, a study of corporate mergers and takeovers; and What Shall We Tell the Children, a documentary about sex education, which is in the British National Film Archive.
His Death of an Informer, which told the story of a British government cover-up and an IRA murder, which created the trend for dramatized documentaries, was so explosive that the British evening ITN News was moved to accommodate it.
The Last Round, his documentary about the framing of New Jersey boxer, "Hurricane" Carter for murder, generated a million-plus signature petition to Jimmy Carter asking for his namesake's release.
In 2003 and 2004 Megahy was a member of the Board of the Open Society Institute Documentary Fund in New York, which helped to create the House of Documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival.
His independent movie The Disappearance Of Kevin Johnson, an ironic fictional documentary about a Hollywood con-man, featuring Pierce Brosnan, James Coburn and Dudley Moore, was the opening film at the Slamdance Festival, was shown at the Sedona Festival [where it won the Audience Award], the Palm Beach, Boston and Scottsdale Festivals, where it also won the Audience Award. World rights were acquired by Sony Home Entertainment, and it received excellent reviews when it opened theatrically in London. Sight and Sound commented, "Orson Welles would have grunted his approval."
His 2011 documentary, The Best Government Money Can Buy, about the links between campaign contributions and Congressional votes, is available on Amazon.
He has just completed a new film about the NGO, Global Witness.

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