African American Studies


Daphne Moss has been a nurse, an educator and a community activist in the Bronx. Her parents both came from Jamaica and met while out dancing in the 20s. They started out in Harlem before coming to the Bronx. Her parents lived on Prospect Avenue and then ended up on Simpson set by the time she was born in 47. Her father had many jobs while growing up; Daphne describes him as a handy man. Her mother on the other hand was a homemaker with seven children. Her father passed away in 1954 when she was 7.

While growing up, her block was transitioning form Irish and Jewish to predominantly Puerto Rican. She says there weren’t many African Americans on her block and her family was the only Jamaicans. Her neighborhood was relatively safe until the 60s and 70s where she says she could sense a change in the atmosphere. She equates the rise in crime to increased population and eventually the drug presence. In the 60’s there was a steady influx of heroin. There were territorial fights. She describes an undermining of the neighborhood because of the drugs. A lot of people she knew were sent to jail or deported because of the involvement with drugs.

Daphne remembers feeling like an outcast in the predominantly Puerto Rican neighbored. But she describes a bit of cultural diffusion, her Puerto Rican friends taught her how to salsa dance and her mother put very few limitations on who she could hang out with. She went to Morris High school and describes the dramatic racial makeup of the school. This was the first time were she encountered a lot of Africana Americans. While she didn’t really understand what it mean to be Jamaican, Daphne admits that her family and many other Jamaicans did not see themselves as African American. In fact, she says there was a certain degree of arrogance from the Jamaicans to the African Americans due to prejudices and biases at the time. Daphne says it too her some time to come to terms with her racial identity, especially since she has siblings of all different phenotypic traits as well as family members who have married Hispanic and white spouses.

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Moss, Daphne.mp3 (130878 kB)