Sunday marked the mournful passing of Essie Mae Washington-Williams, mixed-raced daughter of staunch segrationist Sen. Strom Thurmond. "Boldfaced Lies," a bestselling historical novel set in 1925, the same year Washington-Williams was born, brings to the forefront the fear and secrets that Washington-Williams and other mixed-race women of her time buried far below skin-deep.
Fear mongering is an old trick used by devils playing saviors. From Khan to Bin Laden, no matter how large their arsenal, it was their ability to spread fear that brought them to terrifying power. In NAACP Image Award nominee Charlene Porter's "Boldfaced Lies," an enthralling historical novel set in 1920s Ku Klux Klan-controlled Denver, Co., Margaret, the wife of an ambitious terror master and KKK leader, finds out she is one-quarter Negro. Margaret must decide if fear will paralyze her or push her to survive.
"Boldfaced Lies" eloquently paints a multidimensional portrait of race, love, deception and regret. Readers follow Margaret's plight, learn of the tragedy in her father's past, and are led into the minefield of African Americans who passed as white and their dread of being found out by the KKK and their supporters.
There is nothing black and white about bigotry, and "Boldfaced Lies" strikingly illuminates its complexity. Many white supremacy devotees were exposed to have black lovers and Porter uses this fact, along with others as equally hypocritical, to showcase people's uncanny talent for justifying their behavior.
"Boldfaced Lies" illustrates that though race is made the impetus, bigotry is not skin-deep. It goes straight to the bone.
"Boldfaced Lies" was one of five finalist selections for an NAACP Image Award in the category "Outstanding Literary Work: Debut Author," and is deemed, "an important book ... about Colorado history" by the Denver Public School Libraries. Boldfaced Lies was recently re-released in ebook version. Charlene Porter is available for African American History Month interviews.