I also made new friends: I had a Jewish boyfriend, with whom I got into my own Jewishness, I had black friends who weren’t in that clique. Getting into the business was so much harder than I expected–almost soul-destroying.Then I met a young [white] actor who seemed to know what he was doing, and I moved to L. to be with him, not realizing that I was glomming on to him for my sense of identity. During my four years at Harvard, K and I had kept up by calling each other and spending some weekends together, trying to translate our love for each other into a relationship that didn’t have tugs and thorns in it. RASHIDA: But instead of bonding with Kidada, I rejected her–not because I wanted to, but because my boyfriend was telling me not to be dominated by my older sister.
But I was happy about relocating, because Kidada was back in L. KIDADA: Rashida said to me: Come hang with my friends. My boyfriend didn’t want me to be at Kidada’s 25th birthday party, so I skipped it. RASHIDA: In 2000, I joined the cast of Boston Public.
When I called her to apologize, she was so beyond anger, she murmured, “Whatever.” KIDADA: That hurt. I also broke off that negative, unhappy relationship.
One day I joined them as usual at their cafeteria table. Sometimes I think of him and how different my life might be if I hadn’t been so chicken. Confused and identity-less, I spent sophomore year crying at night and sleeping all day. ” I said, “No.” Toughing it out when you don’t fit in: That was the strength my sister gave me. If Kidada defined herself as black at 11, I defined myself as multiracial at Harvard.
RASHIDA: Fortunately, I’d gotten interested in acting, and my theater classes roused me from my depression. RASHIDA: After graduating from Harvard, my college boyfriend and I broke up, and I moved to New York to be an actress.
He offered me a job in New York, being his muse, and he left me work in every part of his company–designing, marketing, advertising, modeling. I was working with the hottest hip-hop acts: TLC, Snoop Dogg, Usher.
RASHIDA: And finally I was leaving for college, for Harvard. Harvard was supposed to be the most enlightened place in America, but that’s where I encountered something I’d never found in L. The way the clubs and the social life were set up, I had to choose one thing to be: black or white. I went to black frat parties and joined the Black Student Association, a political and social group.
“Tupac was the love of my life,” Kidada wrote in a first-person account published in her father’s autobiography.
“He and I lived together for four months and then he was murdered in Las Vegas in 1996.
I protested the heinous book The Bell Curve [which claims that a key determinant of intelligence is ethnicity], holding a sign and chanting.
But at other protests–on issues I didn’t agree with– wondered: Am I doing this because I’m afraid the black students are going to hate me if I don’t? ” So I called the girl and…I really ripped her a new one.
KIDADA: I’m sure that’s true, but I experienced all that heart and soul in black families. PEGGY: So one day when Kidada was 14, we drove to Fairfax High, where I gave a fake address and enrolled her. My skin and hair had been inconveniences at my other schools–I could never get those Madonna spiked bangs that all the white girls were wearing–but my girlfriends at Fairfax thought my skin was beautiful, and they loved to put their hands in my hair and braid it. KIDADA: I wanted to live with Dad not because he was the black parent, but because he traveled. RASHIDA: At this time, anyone looking at Kidada and me would have seen two very different girls. RASHIDA: Still, our love for the same music–Prince, Bobby Brown, Bell Biv De Voe–would bring us together on weekends.