During the socially-distanced interview, the icon opened up to host Trevor Noah about the racism she experienced growing up mixed race — including one particularly disturbing memory she recounts in her book about being invited to a birthday party as a child, only to be locked in a room and repeatedly called the n-word by her peers.
“Yes, that was a very harrowing experience,” she said. “I don’t know that I ever felt the need to talk to anybody about it because I don’t feel like I’m the only person in the world that ever went through something traumatic. But that was very specific.”
“I think the reason why most people wouldn’t expect it is because…I don’t know. Because of the racial ambiguity? Because of whatever. But I didn’t always have my hair done and makeup and clothes and nice things, you know?” Carey continued, going on to explain that she grew up in “predominantly white neighborhoods with people that had nice houses.”
“And I’m not even gonna say they were predominantly white. They were all white,” she corrected herself. “And there I was, to most of them — I hate to use this word but — a mongrel. So they really didn’t have a very high opinion of me for that reason.”
Noah went on to point out that Mimi’s memoir is filled with her signature wit, and asked the superstar whether she’s been hiding Mariah Carey the comedienne from the world throughout her record-breaking career.
“I definitely go to the place of humor as opposed to, like, ‘Oh, I’m so sad, I’m crying and depressed,” she confirmed. “That’s why labels on people and ‘Oh, you’re this and you’re that’ or whatever…It’s hard. You know that it’s difficult, I don’t have to tell you. But…yeah, I would rather laugh than cry.”
The Meaning of Mariah Carey is now available via Andy Cohen Books. Check out Mariah’s full Daily Show interview — including more on her enduring love for “All I Want For Christmas Is You” below.