My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2019-09-18 00:39Z by Steven

My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

The New York Times Magazine
2019-09-17

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Thomas Chatterton Williams at home in Paris this summer with his wife and children, from left, Marlow, Valentine and Saul.
Thomas Chatterton Williams at home in Paris this summer with his wife and children, from left, Marlow, Valentine and Saul.
Christopher Anderson/Magnum, for The New York Times

My father was raised under Jim Crow. My children could pass for white. Where does that leave me?

I left the cafeteria where my brother, Clarence, was racing the wooden kit car he built with the older Boy Scouts, and made my way down the long corridor to the restroom. The building was virtually empty on a Saturday and charged with that faint lawlessness of school not in session. When I finished, I fixed myself in the mirror and, on the way out, ran and leapt to swing from the high bar joining the metal stalls to the tiled wall. In third grade, this was hard to do, a feat of superior athleticism that I savored even in the absence of a witness. The bounce in my legs linked me with my favorite athletes. I wore my hair like them, too, shaved low on the sides and back and slightly higher on top with a laser-sharp part engraved on the left. As my feet thrust forward, the door shot open and B. stepped in. An eighth grader, the eldest of three freckled, blond, almost farcically preppy brothers — Irish Catholic but still WASPier than the sons of Italians, Poles and Ukrainians who formed the backbone of the student body at our parochial school — he watched me dismount. In his costume of boat shoes and Dockers, B. was far from an intimidating sight, but he was bigger than me, and he smiled at me strangely.

I made to pass him on the way out, but he blocked me, his smile turning menacing. “What?” I managed, confused. We’d been in school together for years without ever having exchanged a word. “Monkey,” he whispered, still smiling, and my whole body froze: I was being insulted — in an ugly way, I could sense from his expression more than from what was said — but I couldn’t fully grasp why. I’d been swinging like a monkey, it was true, but this was something else. I tried again to step around him, at a loss for words; he blocked my way again, looming over me, still with that smirk. “You little [expletive] monkey,” he repeated with deliberate calm, and to my astonishment I realized that, although I could not understand why, there was, however vague and out of place, suddenly the possibility of violence. Out of nothing more than instinct, I shoved past him with all the determination an 8-year-old can gather.

He let me go, but I could hear his laughter behind me as I made my way back to the cafeteria, my heart pumping staccato, my face singed with the heat of self-awareness, my inexperienced mind fumbling for the meaning behind what had just transpired. But I knew enough to know that I could not tell my father what happened. I could see his reaction — see him shoot from his leather desk chair where he spent a majority of weekends as well as weekdays bent over a book. “Let’s go,” he would say in a clipped tone, with that distant expression, as if he were looking at something else, not at me, and by that time he would already be at the hall closet throwing his dark gray overcoat around his broad shoulders, keys jangling in his strong hand.

If I had told him what that white boy said to me in the restroom, Pappy — as we called my father, in a nod to his Southern roots — would have descended into an indescribable fury, the memory of which can tense me up to this day. He would have lost a week of work and concentration — that was as certain as two and two is four. But I also knew that he would be shot through with pain, unable to sleep, up at his desk in the dark, transported to his past, agonizing over this awful proof of what he’d always suspected: that no matter how strong he was, he was not strong enough to shield — not fully — his sons from the psychological warfare of American racism that whispers obscenities at little boys when they find themselves alone…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Carnival Row’: Philo and the Politics of Passing

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-16 20:11Z by Steven

‘Carnival Row’: Philo and the Politics of Passing

Fangirlish
2019-09-11

Lissete Lanuza Sáenz, Co-Executive Editor


CarnivalRow_Ep101_D22_JT_0621.CR2

Usually when I watch a show, almost without fault, I relate to one of the female characters. This probably has a lot to do with how male characters are written – emotions, what are those? – and of course, also with the fact that, as a woman, it’s easier to see myself in the experiences of another woman.

The exact opposite happened to me with Carnival Row.

Sure, part of that might have been that the first time I actually felt Vignette was somewhere around episode seven. Before that, her storyline, while not a total bore, just wasn’t hitting any emotional chord with me. And well, despite how much I ended up liking Imogen, it’s fair to say that, for at least half the season, it was impossible to actively like her.

There was Tourmaline, of course, but she was treated a bit like a love interest, even if her relationship with Vignette was never the main focus of Carnival Row; she barely got any storyline on her own.

Yes, these are the justifications I gave myself. The rationalization for what I’m about to say.

Philo is, by far, my favorite character on Carnival Row

Read the entire article here.

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The General’s Cook, A Novel

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2019-09-16 00:52Z by Steven

The General’s Cook, A Novel

Arcade Publishing
2018-11-06
336 pages
Trim Size: 6in x 9in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781628729771

Ramin Ganeshram

The General

Philadelphia 1793. Hercules, President George Washington’s chef, is a fixture on the Philadelphia scene. He is famous for both his culinary prowess and for ruling his kitchen like a commanding general. He has his run of the city and earns twice the salary of an average American workingman. He wears beautiful clothes and attends the theater. But while valued by the Washingtons for his prowess in the kitchen and rewarded far over and above even white servants, Hercules is enslaved in a city where most black Americans are free. Even while he masterfully manages his kitchen and the lives of those in and around it, Hercules harbors secrets—including the fact that he is learning to read and that he is involved in a dangerous affair with Thelma, a mixed-race woman, who, passing as white, works as a companion to the daughter of one of Philadelphia’s most prestigious families. Eventually Hercules’ carefully crafted intrigues fall apart and he finds himself trapped by his circumstance and the will of George Washington. Based on actual historical events and people, The General’s Cook, will thrill fans of The Hamilton Affair, as they follow Hercules’ precarious and terrifying bid for freedom.

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Episode 13: Passing as White

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-16 00:31Z by Steven

Episode 13: Passing as White

The Nasiona Podcast
Being Mixed-Race Series
2019-09-12

Julián Esteban Torres López, Host, Founder, Executive Director, and Editor-in-Chief
Nicole Zelniker, Interviewer
Sam Manas, Guest

Since European settlers brought enslaved Africans to the United States, there has been passing. In terms of race, passing means presenting as a race you don’t identify as, such as when an escaped enslaved person pretended to be white to avoid being sold back into slavery. More recently, former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal made headlines when it came out that she was a white woman passing as black for many years.

Not all passing is intentional, however. Sam Manas, for example, is white and Panamanian, although because he is much lighter-skinned than most people from Panama, people tend to think he’s only white.

Sam Manas is a reporter from Baltimore, Maryland, currently studying investigative journalism at the University of Missouri. He writes about local politics and his interests include technology and society. At the time of this interview, he was an intern at The Conversation.

Listen to the episode (00:35:41) here.

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Three-Fifths, A Novel

Posted in Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2019-09-11 01:18Z by Steven

Three-Fifths, A Novel

Agora (an imprint of Polis Books)
2019-09-10
240 pages
5.5” x 8’5”
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-947993-67-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-947993-82-2

John Vercher

The very first title from Agora, the new Polis Books imprint dedicated to crime fiction from diverse and underrepresented voices. Available in hardcover and ebook September 10, 2019.

A compelling and timely debut novel from an assured new voice: Three-Fifths is about a biracial black man, passing for white, who is forced to confront the lies of his past while facing the truth of his present when his best friend, just released from prison, involves him in a hate crime.

Pittsburgh, 1995. The son of a black father he’s never known, and a white mother he sometimes wishes he didn’t, twenty-two-year-old Bobby Saraceno is passing for white. Raised by his bigoted maternal grandfather, Bobby has hidden his truth from everyone, even his best friend and fellow comic-book geek, Aaron, who has just returned home from prison a hardened racist. Bobby’s disparate worlds collide when his and Aaron’s reunion is interrupted by a confrontation where Bobby witnesses Aaron assault a young black man with a brick. Fearing for his safety and his freedom, Bobby must keep his secret from Aaron and conceal his unwitting involvement in the hate crime from the police. But Bobby’s delicate house of cards crumbles when his father enters his life after more than twenty years.

Three-Fifths is a story of secrets, identity, violence and obsession with a tragic conclusion that leave all involved questioning the measure of a man, and was inspired by the author’s own struggles with identity as a biracial man during his time as a student in Pittsburgh amidst the simmering racial tension produced by the L.A. Riots and the O.J. Simpson trial in the mid-nineties.

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Black Like Me: A Pittsburgh native’s memoir of racial identities lost and found

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-11 01:09Z by Steven

Black Like Me: A Pittsburgh native’s memoir of racial identities lost and found

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2019-08-30

Bill O’Driscoll

Sarah Valentine, author of
Sarah Valentine

Of all the racist things people do, living out white privilege might be the most insidious. White privilege is not just the assumptions that get white people treated better by employers and loan officers. It’s also the mental architecture that permits white people to avoid thinking of themselves as “white” — even as whiteness is assumed as the norm, and everyone who lacks it as “other.” White privilege is most potent when it goes unconsidered.

It will be nearly impossible to avoid considering white privilege after reading “When I Was White: A Memoir.” Author Sarah Valentine is that rare person who has lived both with white privilege and without it, and her account is moving and analytically rigorous.

Literature has given us light-skinned blacks who “passed” as white, from famed critic Anatole Broyard to figures in the poetry of Pittsburgh-based poet Toi Derricotte. Ms. Valentine’s story is something else again. She was born in 1977, and grew up mostly in the North Hills, one of three children in a tightly knit Catholic family. Her parents were white, and so, therefore, was she — until she learned, at age 27, that her biological father, whom she never knew, was African American…

Read the entire article here.

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Anthony Ekundayo Lennon on being accused of ‘passing’ as a black man: ‘It felt like an assassination’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2019-09-09 00:36Z by Steven

Anthony Ekundayo Lennon on being accused of ‘passing’ as a black man: ‘It felt like an assassination’

The Guardian
2019-09-07

Simon Hattenstone

Head shot of actor and director Anthony Ekundayo Lennon against turquoise background
Anthony Ekundayo Lennon: ‘I didn’t think I had anything to answer.’ Photograph: David Vintiner/The Guardian

All his life, people have assumed the theatre director is mixed race – and he was happy to embrace that identity. Then he was accused of faking it

Anthony Ekundayo Lennon remembers the moment his life spun out of control. It was late morning, Friday 2 November 2018. The actor and director was giving a talk about the performing arts to university students, and his phone kept flashing. It was so incessant that the students suggested he’d better take a look. He told them it wouldn’t be anything important, turned the phone over and got on with his lecture. When the class broke for lunch, he saw missed calls from Talawa theatre company, where he had been working for the past year, as well as several unknown numbers and messages.

One text stood out. It was from a journalist at the Sunday Times, asking for a comment on a story the paper was preparing to run about Lennon’s place on a prestigious scheme – the artistic director leadership programme (ADLP) for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) theatre practitioners. Lennon had been awarded an 18-month residency with Talawa, Britain’s best-known black-led theatre company. He scrolled down the text…

Read the entire article here.

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#ArtistatCB: Genevieve Gaignard on “Black is Beautiful”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2019-09-04 22:53Z by Steven

#ArtistatCB: Genevieve Gaignard on “Black is Beautiful”

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art
Bentonville, Arkansas
2019-03-13

Genevieve Gaignard

“I photograph myself to talk about how we navigate through the world and how others see us.”

Genevieve Gaignard is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work focuses on photographic self-portraiture, sculpture, and installation to explore race, femininity, class, and their various intersections. The daughter of a black father and white mother, Gaignard’s youth was marked by a strong sense of invisibility. Was her family white enough to be white? Black enough to be black? Gaignard interrogates notions of “passing” in an effort to address these questions…

Read the entire article here.

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New Hampshire: Beyond Black & White

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2019-09-03 00:28Z by Steven

New Hampshire: Beyond Black & White

Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire
2019-2020 Elinor Williams Hooker Expanded Tea Talk Series
Keene State College
Young Student Center
Mountain View Room
229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435
Sunday, 2019-11-10, 14:00 EST

Contact information:
JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director
603-570-8469

Panelists: David Watters, Darrell Hucks, & (TBA)
Moderator: Dottie Morris

Moving beyond rigid racial identities, this talk will explore the contemporary as well as historic intersection between Black and Indigenous communities, the presence of “passing” mixed race individuals, and the most recent immigrant experience within a New England context. These complex interactions, connections conflicts, experiences, and resistant efforts of Black, white and multi-racial citizens will be explored through scholarly research and an analysis of the film Lost Boundaries.

For more information, click here.

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The Tale of Hollywood’s Most Curious Career Imposter

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-01 02:44Z by Steven

The Tale of Hollywood’s Most Curious Career Imposter

Messy Nessy: Cabinet of Chic Curiosities
2019-07-11

Francky Knapp

Korla Pandit (John Roland Redd)

Sex sells, and it sells even better with a dash of mystery. For every housewife in mid-century America, the enigmatic charm of Indian performer Korla Pandit was the ticket to getting weak in the knees before the kids came home from school. In the 15 minutes allotted to The Korla Pandit Program, the performer brought a scintillating new rhythm to suburbia’s ho-hum beat. Every week, he’d grace the small screen and play the sultry sounds of Miserlou with a coy smile, wearing a bejewelled turban, and flashing those soul-searching bedroom eyes. It was all part of his schtick, of course, and one of the most strangest in Hollywood history, given that Pandit wasn’t Indian, but African American. Today, the persona he created opens up a dialogue about race, fame, and surprising flexibility of truth…

Korla Pandit (John Roland Redd) as a child

Read the entire article here.

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