Mariah Carey’s ethnicity — Her diverse heritage

Mariah Carey

Over the past three decades, Carey has established herself as one of the most accomplished and versatile singer-songwriters best known for her five-octave vocal range and whistle register.

Carey has always been open about her diverse background, but after the release of her debut album, press and critics dubbed her as a “white girl who can sing”, even calling her “another white girl trying to sing black”. However, she set the record straight immediately and cleared her identity as a multiracial person.

Mariah Carey hails from an Afro-Venezuelan and Irish Heritage – Her father is part black and Venezuelan while her mother is Irish

Alfred Roy Carey | Patricia Hickey

On March 27, 1970, Mariah Carey was born to Patricia Hickey and Alfred Roy Carey in Huntington, New York. Alfred was an aeronautical engineer of African-American and Venezuelan descent as his father was a Venezuelan immigrant with African roots while his mother was African American.

On the other hand, Patricia is a third-generation Irish American who worked as an opera singer and a vocal coach. Carey once said that her mother was “among the whitest person” she knew.

The interracial relationship of Carey’s parents was not wholly accepted by the divisive society at the time and Patricia was disowned by her family for marrying Alfred, a black man.

The family faced hate crimes and racial slurs from the community, in one instance, the neighbors poisoned their dog and set their car on fire. Carey’s parents divorced in 1973 when she was only three years old. She lived with her mother since then and became estranged from her father.

But she reunited with her father shortly before he passed away from a rare form of bile-duct cancer on July 4, 2002. He was 72 years old.

As a multiracial child growing up, Carey struggled with her identity and heritage

Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, Carey struggled with her identity as a multiracial child and felt that she was not fully accepted by either community she belonged to. She detailed in her memoir that the desire to be accepted drove her to success, saying:

“My father identified as a black man. No one asked him because he was clearly black. But people always ask me. If we were together, people would look at us in a really strange way. As a little girl, I had blonde hair and they’d look at me, look at him, and be disgusted. I understand people want to hold on to their roots. But for me, I was a complete nonentity because of it,”

Carey had a strained and complicated relationship with her mother stemming from her mother’s jealousy over her successful singing career. She explained that while there was beauty, love, and sacrifice in their relationship, there were also hints of betrayal, abandonment, and survival.

“I’ve emancipated myself from bondage several times, but there is a cloud of sadness that I suspect will always hang over me, not simply because of my mother but because of our complicated journey together,” explained Carey.