Could you imagine growing up thinking that you are of one race, then later finding out you are of another?
The Chicago Daily Herald reports that this is exactly what happened to two Illinois men, Mark Cannon and Michael Fosberg. Both men were born to white mothers, and did not know that their fathers were black until later in their lives.
Fifty-seven-year-old Mark Cannon, owner of M Cannon Roofing Company, is often perceived to be Puerto Rican, Italian, Hawaiian, Samoan, and other ethnicities. Yet, he is actually half-white and half -black, something he didn’t realize until he met his African-American biological father.
According to the Herald, Cannon discovered that he was black after his mother drove him to a parking lot one night and give him away to his black father when he was a toddler. Before this, Cannon had never met his father.
Although Cannon told the Herald that he initially cried and screamed when he was given over to his father, now he is more understanding of why his mother gave him away.
“Today, as an adult, I can start to understand what she was dealing with,” Cannon told the paper. In addition, he credits his father, who has passed away, with guiding the direction of his life.
“Life is good,” he said. “I know from where I came. I appreciate where I am. And I try to do what’s right,” Cannon said. “I’m comfortable in my skin.”
Cannon was inspired to share his story after reading about another man, Mark Fosberg, who encountered the same situation. Cannon reached out to Fosberg over email to share the unusual life path that they share.
“Mark’s story and his desire to reach out to me and talk are exactly why I continue to do what I do,” Fosberg emailed to the Herald from Washington, D.C. Fosberg shares his parallel tale with the world through a one-man performance called Incognito. The play centers around his experience of suddenly discovering his true racial background. Fosberg believes the play has encouraged others to more openly discuss racial issues.
“The one thing that comes to mind about our stories is the deep pain, caused by our society’s entrenched racism, that both our mothers endured in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s,” Fosberg told the Illinois paper.
Indeed, Fosberg also grew up in a white family and believed that he was white for his entire life. However, according to the Herald, at the age of 33, he found out that his father was black.
Although both men and their families may have encountered racial prejudices, they both hope that sharing their stories help solve racial problems that continue to plague society.