2019-04-09 04:20:48 UTC
"Most people who saw Otis perform during his heyday in the 1950s thought he was
a light-skinned black man. He used "we" when talking about black people, married
his black high school sweetheart and stayed in substandard "for colored only"
hotels with his black bandmates when they toured the South.
Johnny Otis, though, wasn't his real name. He was born Ioannis Alexandres
Veliotes to Greek immigrants in Northern California. He grew up in a black
neighborhood where he developed such a kinship with black culture that he walked
away from his whiteness and became black by choice."
Otis: "I do not expect everybody to understand it, but it is a fact. I am black
environmentally, psychologically, culturally, emotionally, and intellectually."
"Otis wouldn't be such a mystery today. He was a pioneer in what people now call
'racial fluidity.' It's the belief that race, like gender, is a choice, not a
biological identity you're assigned at birth. Racially fluid people reject the
box they're put in and craft their own identity."