PATRICIA HICKEY TALKS ABOUT ENDURING RACISM WHILE WITH MARIAH'S FATHER

“Someone Fired A Shot” — Mariah's Parents Alfred Roy Carey & Patricia Hickey's Brush With 60s Racism

MARIAH CAREY'S PARENTS Patricia Hickey and Alfred Roy Carey endured a barrage of racism after they married in 1960 — including being shot at through their kitchen window. By Ben Arogundade. [Mar.14.2016]

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IT WAS 1960, and Patricia Hickey — opera singer, vocal coach and soon-to-be-mother of music star Mariah Carey — was about to marry an African American named Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer of Venezuelan ancestry. It was a decision that would have far reaching consequences for her and her family. “I was in love with him, and I felt it was the right thing to do,” she recalled on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

PATRICIA HICKEY & ALFRED ROY CAREY RUN THE RISK
Interracial couplings were frowned upon within 1960s America, and many of those who dared to love across the race divide faced rejection, victimisation and sometimes violence. Barely five years earlier in Mississippi, 14-year-old African American Emmett Till was brutally murdered after an alleged flirtation with a 21-year-old white woman, Carolyn Bryant.

In Patricia Hickey’s case, she was disowned by her mother for her relationship with Alfred Roy Carey. For years after her daughter’s marriage, her mother’s feelings of shame were such that she kept their union a secret from the rest of the family, and Patricia was banned from bringing her black husband home for family gatherings. Instead she had to pretend that she was single.

THE CAREY’S DENIED
But this was just one facet of Patricia and Alfred Carey’s struggles. After they were married they decided to set up home in an all-white neighbourhood, but it was Patricia who actually had to transact the purchase of the house, as the couple knew the owners would never sell to a black man.

Soon after settling there, the Carey’s became concerned that there were no other blacks living in the area, and so they decided to move again, this time to a mixed neighbourhood. But once there, there were new problems. “They didn’t like us because we were living as a black and white couple, and that just wasn’t done,” says Patricia. Wherever the couple went, it seemed, fierce opposition to their love was waiting for them.

FAMILY STRUGGLE IN THE BACKGROUND
Mariah herself, star of the films Precious and The Butler, was shielded from these hardships, as she was not born until March 1970. That year the family moved yet again, this time to a more affluent New York neighbourhood, but the problems simply intensified. They were subjected to racist attacks — amongst them, their dogs were poisoned and their car was blown up. “That was the beginning of a nightmare,” says Patricia. “When we were eating one night, someone fired a shot through the window. Luckily, none of the children were in the room.”

These perpetual struggles against racism, “put a strain on their relationship that would never quit,” Mariah recalled in People magazine. “There was always this tension, and they just fought all the time.” Eventually, Alfred and Patricia Carey divorced in 1973, when Mariah was three. Her sister Allison stayed with their father, while Mariah and her brother Morgan were brought up with by their single mother, just as Alicia Keys’ mother Teresa Augello had done in similar circumstances over in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Mariah gradually grew apart from her father. He eventually succumbed to cancer, and died in December 2002.

'Black Beauty' by Ben Arogundade is out now.

WITH FATHER AND MOTHER: Music celebrity Mariah Carey, pictured as a youngster with her parents Alfred Roy Carey and Patricia Hickey. Mariah's mother is of Irish ancestry, while her late father was of Venezuelan and African heritage. The couple endured much racism after they were married in New York City in 1960, including being shot at in their home.

Ben Arogundade Author

Beauty History & Culture by Ben Arogundade, Author of 'Black Beauty'.

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THE EARLY YEARS: Music star Mariah Carey as a teenager with her mother, former Opera singer Patricia Hickey. Mariah as a young child. Her parents shielded her from the racism the family endured in the 1960s.

Ben Arogundade Author