By Donald Clarke
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Additional resources for Billie Holiday: Wishing On The Moon
She already knew all about hypocrites, and she knew what kind of world she lived in. ' If the world seemed to be a howling wilderness, Eleanora was going to tame it the best she could. Pony went on: A lot of people don't like you calling 'em motherfuckers; they beat you for it. A lot of men, a lot of women. Not everybody cuss their men. Hilda don't; she knowed she was going to get her ass beat. But Eleanora say it anyways: 'Suck my ass, suck my ass . ' She be half a block aways, and some would let it slide, and some would say, 'I am going to suck your ass, bitch,' and beat her ass too .
But Eleanora didn't like it either. ] She come to the house to spend a night and get a meal and listen, but she never did give a damn. Years later, in her autobiography, Eleanora/Billie described scrubbing the marble steps of Baltimore's famous row houses, and claimed to have made more money than the other girls because she brought her own bucket and rags. This much may have been true: Pony says that they both scrubbed steps. But Eleanora soon found that there were easier ways to make better money.
I n fact, the 1910 census was the last one to allow the mulatto designation; the bureaucracy henceforth demanded more rigid racial bifurcation, and while swarthy Europeans and even some Asians and Hispanics came to be regarded as white, a few drops of Afr~canblood remained powerful stuff. Light skin is commonly assumed to have meant more social status, but it could be confusing: Lena Horne, born in Brooklyn, moved to Georgia as a child, and found that her light skin (as well as her speech) were made fun of.
Billie Holiday: Wishing On The Moon by Donald Clarke