Generation X (born 1964 - 1981)
Dawn Marie Roque Dance began her childhood in Los Angeles, California, born to Creole parents who had roots in Louisiana. Her father, Earl, was born in Brooklyn but grew up in the Bronx, New York. He worked for the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), retiring as a Civil Transportation Engineer, and was in the U.S. military reserves. By night, he sold shoes at The Broadway until she was eleven years old. Her mother, Deloris, born in Pass Christian, Mississippi, ran a home daycare until licensing was required, then was a homemaker.
Growing up with her three siblings, Dawn admired her parents for all that they did for them. She cherished family camping trips, which were especially fun because her dad was in town, and surprise evening drives to the beach. However, in Inglewood, she experienced "white flight" when white neighbors moved out as blacks moved into the community. After going from a racially diverse to a mostly black neighborhood, although mixed race, she was considered the "white" child in school and called a honkey by her classmates. When Dawn was twelve, her father moved the family to a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills called Cameron Park which had only a few minorities, where she was then called the “N-word” by fellow students. With no public transportation or access to a ride from school in the foothills, Dawn was unable to stay after school to participate in extracurricular activities or pursue employment.
As an adult, Dawn triumphed over multiple physiological challenges. A sleep disorder causing excessive daytime sleepiness, which began in her early teenage years, made holding a desk job and attending college practically impossible. Interested in medicine and science, Dawn studied medical assisting and held jobs in a bakery, deli, and grocery store. She married at age twenty-four and had her daughter, Krystal. Divorced when her daughter was six years old, Dawn took on the job of raising her on her own. After receiving a proper diagnosis and developing methods to manage her condition, she was able to work for the state of California until she was hit by a car and then suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, causing memory loss and resulting in her losing her state job for which she had worked so long and hard to attain. After six years of recovery and rehabilitation, Dawn was able to be reinstated as an employee of the state of California, where she has worked for nearly twenty years and is currently an Administrative Analyst in Water Resources. Dawn has continued her education as time permits and is considering returning to college when she retires.
Dawn describes her most significant life accomplishment as raising her daughter to adulthood.
She enjoys genealogy, cooking, baking, gardening, travel, theater, camping, photography, thrift shopping, and collecting craft supplies for future projects.
Dawn lives with her second husband, David. She is the mother of one daughter from her first marriage, and treasures spending time with her first grandchild, Levi. Dawn has three adult stepdaughters. She has an older sister Robin, younger sister Erika, and brother Loren, who passed away from cancer.
Dance, Dawn Roque
Oral History Summary
Brain trauma survivor. I’m not “nothing” anymore.
Dawn discusses surviving multiple traumatic brain conditions; being called both a honkey and the “N-word” as a Creole mixed race child growing up in California; being a Georgetown University 272 slave descendant; and descending from Marie Therese Coin Coin, a slave owner of African descent who was herself formerly enslaved, seeming like cannibalism, the love match of her Frenchman Revolutionary War patriot Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer from Natchitoches, Louisiana. She shares accounts of suffering from non-cataplectic narcolepsy, a non-obvious brain condition causing excessive daytime sleepiness, undiagnosed for seventeen years, hypnagogic hallucinations (vivid and terrifying sensations while falling asleep) and sleep paralysis (a frightening inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking) which started at age thirteen; mother worrying it was demonic possession as a child; her condition feeling like a deep dark secret which shook her Catholic faith, feeling she had experienced the devil thus, knowing there was a God, but after being diagnosed knowing it wasn't the devil then questioning whether there is a God; attending school for medical assisting; managing her condition as an adult, fulfilling self-actualization by using her brain to work for the state, instead of only holding physical jobs at a deli and grocery store to avoid falling asleep, when she got hit by a car, thrown eighteen feet, landing head first, resulting in mild traumatic brain injury, causing memory loss; losing her job, ending up on welfare six months later; taking six years to get back to work; achieving happiness; growing up in Los Angeles and then northern CA having Creole parents with Louisiana roots; her mother wanting her to pass for white and be anything but black; not having ethnic pride because of being "nothing"; not having a problem being black but "woman of color” a great descriptor; mother's family Dawes file, denied Choctaw membership, having 13% Native American DNA; her father discovering a book written about Metoyer family while visiting Louisiana; hard to swallow learning was a descendant of an African American who owned slaves; Coin Coin using slave labor to purchase her children; Metoyer marrying white to have an acceptable family to which he could leave property; defining Creole as being a mixture of African American, Spanish, French and Indian, the food, the traditions; her dark skinned father; great-great grandmother from Lafourche, Louisiana marrying the grandson of the Georgetown 272 Harriet enslaved by Jesuits selling slaves to build college; questioning why join DAR since she felt "it is all those white women who wouldn't let Marian Anderson sing"; joining after listening to a podcast episode about DAR by black host Bernice Bennett; DAR members being welcoming, having more in common than differences with members; mother never having a birth certificate, never able to travel out of country or vote; discovering her mother's birth certificate, grossly misspelled and identifying her father, previously unconfirmed; joining the Sacramento DAR chapter before the Cane River DAR chapter of Metoyer descendants was formed; never having met other DAR Metoyer descendants, estimated 10,000 descendants of Metoyer and Coin Coin; "I don't feel like 'nothing'" belonging to a society in which multiple descendants are members; serving as a chapter officer; father always asking "have you gone to any of those racist DAR meetings lately?", DAR sisters showing up for father's funeral without telling them, feeling very cared for that they came, having a big impact on her life; reconciling DAR's past history of racism by “judging others by their character and not color of their skin and that goes for DAR”.
Dawn Dance's oral history was recorded on April 6, 2021
Membership State: California
DAR Patriot Ancestor(s)
Metoyer, Claude: Lousiana
European Descent Male