Rachel Dolezal and racial identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2022-01-24 01:38Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal and racial identity

jennifer j. roberts
2015-06-13

Jennifer J. Roberts

“…and she also chairs a police oversight commission”

Writing about race, to me, always seems to require a “side”, a perspective: I’m writing as a black woman… I’m writing as a white woman… I’m writing as a bi-racial woman. I could never fully dig my heels in on a side, because I never fully felt like any of those things completely. I was never quite sure what I was, so taking any perspective under those labels felt like taking a side and that felt like fraud.

Each of those racial designations stem from how you experience yourself in the world and, more importantly, how you are experienced by others. It felt different for me every day. There was no template, and my race was a moving target. Black to some, Hispanic to others, mystifying to most. White, as far as my mother was concerned. I looked just like her and she was, according to her, Irish.

My mother countered every swing of the racial bat with our Irish heritage, which was real but clearly, only part of who she was or we were. That other part, the part she didn’t want to know about, was me, looking her in the eyes…the spit of her; dark skinned and frizzy haired

Read the entire article here.

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Surnames, by Counties and Cities, of Mixed Negroid Virginia Families Striving to Pass as “Indian” or White by Walter A. Plecker (ca. 1943)

Posted in Census/Demographics, Law, Letters, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States, Virginia on 2022-01-20 22:18Z by Steven

Surnames, by Counties and Cities, of Mixed Negroid Virginia Families Striving to Pass as “Indian” or White by Walter A. Plecker (ca. 1943)

Commonwealth of Virginia
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Richmond, Virginia
(Source: Encyclopedia Virginia)

December 1943

To Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixtures:

In our January 1943 annual letter to local registrars and clerks of courts, with list of mixed surnames, we called attention to the greatly increased effort and arrogant demands now being made for classification as whites, or at least for recognition as Indians, as a preliminary step to admission into the white race by marriage, of groups of the descendants of the “free negroes,” so designated before 1865 to distinguish them from slaves.

According to Mendel’s law of heredity, one out of four of a family of mixed breeds, through the introduction of illegitimate white blood, is now so near white in appearance as to lead him to proclaim himself as such and to demand admission into white schools, forbidden by the State Constitution. The other three find it more difficult to make the grade. As a climax of their ambition, colored people of this type are applying for licenses to marry whites, or for white license when intermarrying amongst themselves. These they frequently secure with ease when they apply in a county or city not the home of the woman and are met by a clerk or deputy who justifies himself in accepting a casual affidavit as the truth and in issuing a license to any applicant regardless of the requirements of Section 5099a, Paragraph 4, of the Code. This Section places the proof upon the applicants, not upon the clerks. We have learned that affidavits cannot always be accepted as truth. This loose practice (to state it mildly) of a few clerks is now the greatest obstacle in the way of the proper registration by race required of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in that Section. Local registrars, who are supposed to know the people of their registration areas, of course, have no excuse for not catching false registration of births and deaths.

In many cases negroids have white marriage certificates, while the Bureau demands correct Legal registration as to race when their children’s births are reported. Armed with the clerk’s marriage certificate, they leave home and easily pass as white, when a birth certificate with the pedigree on the back is not requires. They are even threatening legal action against the State Registrar but have difficulty in securing a lawyer if he first applies to the Bureau of Vital Statistics for the facts.

The Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, through the exceptional, painstaking, and laborious work of the highly trained genealogist whom it is fortunate in having, has made a study by groups and families of the principal borderline aspirants for racial change. The chief sources of information are the early birth and death records, made by tax assessors from 1853 to 1896; marriage records from 1853 to date; United States Census reports for 1830, 1850, and 1870, especially a printed list of free negroes by counties from the 1830 Census; county tapayer lists by races, now in the State Library, which have been studied back to 1808; and, not of least value, their own proclamation of race made by applicants for registration as voters, made soon after the War Between the States, to United States military authorities, now preserved in the State Library. The progenitors of the present would-be whites then marched up voluntarily and registered, for the first time in the life of their race in Virginia, as negro voters—not as Indians, not as whites.

Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, ana in the State Library, indicate that there, does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood. Since our more complete investigation of all of these records and the statements (mostly signed) of numerous trustworthy old citizens, many now dead, all preserved in our “racial integrity” files, no one has attempted by early recorded evidence to disprove this finding. If such evidence exists, our research worker would have found it.

One weak point, which is giving us endless trouble, is the fact that many birth certificates since 1912 have, without realization of future danger, been accepted with false registration as “Indian.” Not a few, when we were off our guard, have slipped by as white. The General Assembly should empower us to state the recorded pedigree on the backs of such certificates and transcripts, to protect those desiring the truth now and in the future.

SURNAMES, BY COUNTIES AND CITIES, OF MIXED NEGROID VIRGINIA FAMILIES STRIVING TO PASS AS “INDIAN” OR WHITE.

Albemarle: Moon, Powell, Kidd, Pumphrey Amherst: (Migrants to Alleghany and Campbell) Adcock (Adcox), Beverly (this family is now trying to evade the situation by adopting the name of Burch or Birch, which was the name of the white mother of the present generation), Branham, Duff, Floyd, Hamilton, Hartless, Hicks, Johns, Lawless, Nuckles (Knuckles), Painter, Ramsey, Redcross, Roberts, Southards (Suthards, Southerds, Southers), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Fillis, Clark, Cash, Wood. Bedford: McVey, Maxey, Branham, Burley. (See Amherst County) Rockbridge: (Migrants to Augusta) Cash, Clark, Coleman, Duff, Floyd, Hartless, Hicks, Mason, Mayse (Mays), Painters, Pults, Ramsey, Southerds (Southers, Southards, Suthards), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Wood, Johns. Charles City: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins. King William: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Custalow (Custaloe), Dungoe, Holmes, Miles, Page, Allmond, Adams, Hawkes, Spurlock, Doggett. New Kent: Collins, Bradby, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins, Langston. Henrico and Richmond City: See Charles City, New Kent, and King William. Caroline: Byrd, Fortune, Nelson. (See Essex) Essex and King and Queen: Nelson, Fortune, Byrd, Cooper, Tate, Hammond, Brooks, Boughton, Prince, Mitchell, Robinson. Elizabeth City & Newport News: Stewart (descendants of Charles City families). Halifax: Epps (Eppes), Stewart (Stuart), Coleman, Johnson, Martin, Talley, Sheppard (Shepard), Young. Norfolk County & Portsmouth: Sawyer, Bass, Weaver, Locklear (Locklair), King, Bright, Porter, Ingram. Westmoreland: Sorrells, Worlds (or Worrell), Atwells, Gutridge, Cliff. Greene: Shiflett, Shiflet. Prince William: Tyson, Segar. (See Fauquier) Fauquier: Hoffman (Huffman), Riley, Colvin, Phillips. (See Prince William) Lancaster: Dorsey (Dawson). Washington: Beverly, Barlow, Thomas, Hughes, Lethcoe, Worley. Roanoke County: Beverly. (See Washington) Lee and Smyth: Collins, Gibson (Gipson), Moore, Goins, Ramsey, Delph, Bunch, Freeman, Miso, Barlow, Bolden (Bolin), Mullins, Hawkins—Chiefly Tennessee Melungeons.” Scott: Dingus. (See Lee County.) Russell: Keith, Casell, Stillwell, Meade, Proffitt. (See Lee & Tazewell) Tazewell: Hammed, Duncan. (See Russell) Wise: See Lee, Smyth, Scott, and Russell Counties.

Very truly yours,

W. A. Plecker, M. D.
State Registrar of Vital Statistics

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Racial Passing off the Record: A Journey in Reconnection and Navigating Shifting Identities

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2022-01-20 21:06Z by Steven

Racial Passing off the Record: A Journey in Reconnection and Navigating Shifting Identities

Genealogy
Volume 6, Issue 1 (March 2022)
Published online 2022-01-18
8 pages
DOI: 10.3390/genealogy6010008

Gabby C. Womack, Reference/Access Services Associate, McQuade Library
Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts

Anyone of African descent or with African ancestry who engages in a genealogy project soon learns that the U.S. Census is a helpful yet frustrating tool. In 2016, equipped with my history degree and an online ancestry search engine, I searched for my great-grandfather Leroy in census records after I saw a picture of him as a young man at work in Philadelphia. This image would have been unremarkable had it not been for the fact that my African American ancestor was so light skinned that he seemed to blend in with his co-workers at Kramer’s Fruit and Vegetables. I thought there had to be a story behind this. Classified as, “Mu”, for mulatto in most of his records, Leroy became “Black” on the census in 1930. My first thought was to question whether this categorization changed for other folks like him. My research led me to my master’s thesis “From ‘Mulatto’ to ‘Negro’: How Fears of ‘Passing’ Changed the 1930 United States Census”. Through this research, I also became closer to my father’s family. This piece will take you through this journey of discovery and my frustrations along the way.

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Racial Passing in Early Modern England

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Passing, United Kingdom on 2022-01-20 02:26Z by Steven

Racial Passing in Early Modern England

Online- via Zoom
2022-01-20, 17:30-19:00Z (12:30-14:00 EST)

Lubaaba Al-Azami, Ph.D. Candidate in English Literature
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Lubaaba al-Azami (@lubaabanama) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Liverpool, funded by the AHRC NWCDTP. Her research project is a decolonial and feminist consideration of early modern English encounters with Mughal Indian imperial femininity, exploring English theatrical and travel literature alongside Mughal royal memoirs. She is founder of Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs), an AHRC NWCDTP-funded collaborative digital resource on early English encounters with the Islamic worlds.

All welcome. This event is free but booking is required.

For more information and to register, click here.

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Passing: A Film Discussion with Director/Writer Rebecca Hall and Actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga

Posted in Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos, Women on 2022-01-19 03:07Z by Steven

Passing: A Film Discussion with Director/Writer Rebecca Hall and Actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Thursday, 2022-01-13 19:00-19:40 EST (Local Time); (Friday, 2022-01-14, 00:00-00:40Z)

Join us in the New Year for a virtual discussion with Netflix film Passing screenwriter and director Rebecca Hall, alongside actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Based on Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name, Hall’s directorial debut explores not just racial identity but gender, class, the responsibilities of motherhood and the performance of femininity from the perspective of two Black women who choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York. For Rebecca Hall, creating Passing was a deeply personal journey, stemming from the discovery of her own family history. NMAAHC Curator Aaron Bryant will moderate the discussion. This program will be pre-recorded, and there will be no live Q & A. Passing is available now on Netflix.

Watch the discussion here.

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Passing for Racial Democracy

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-01-19 03:00Z by Steven

Passing for Racial Democracy

The Baffler
2021-12-06

Stephanie Reist

Detail from A Redenção de Cam (Redemption of Ham), Modesto Brocos, 1895. | Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

The complexities of the color line in the U.S. and Brazil

A CENTRAL POINT OF TENSION between Irene Redfield (played by Tessa Thompson) and her husband Dr. Brian Redfield (André Holland) in Rebecca Hall’s Passing, based on the Nella Larsen novel of the same name, is whether their family should remain in the United States. While Irene can pass for white out of convenience, the same is not true of her darker sons and her husband, who routinely informs his children about lynchings and white violence. Irene disapproves of this talk, despite her work for the Negro Welfare League. In one pivotal scene, she drives her tired husband home after a long day of visiting patients, and the couple discuss going to South America, specifically mentioning Brazil. The issue returns when the couple fights over the consuming role that Clare (Ruth Negga)—who has chosen to pass as white to the point of marrying a bigoted white husband and having a daughter with him—exerts in their lives and marriage.

In Larsen’s novel, Brian’s longing for Brazil, which becomes conflated with what Irene perceives as his desire for the effervescent, delightfully dangerous Clare, is even more pronounced: Brazil is the one that got away, Brian’s lost hope for a society where he and other black members of the talented tenth could be judged by their merits, not lynched because they failed to stay in their place. Irene even implicitly sanctions an affair between her husband and Clare to assuage her guilt for denying her family the chance to be truly “happy, or free, or safe”—a state she laments as impossible when speaking to Clare about her choice not to pass…

Read the entire article here.

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Rebecca Hall’s Brief But Spectacular take on ‘Passing’ and racial identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2022-01-13 14:53Z by Steven

Rebecca Hall’s Brief But Spectacular take on ‘Passing’ and racial identity

PBS Newshour
2022-01-12

Melissa Williams

Rebecca Hall has been on-screen since age 10, but in her new film “Passing” she steps into the director role for the first time. It is based on a novel that was written in 1929 by Nella Lawson Larsen at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Hall shares her Brief But Spectacular take on “Passing” and on her own racial identity as part of our arts and culture series, CANVAS.

Read the full transcript here.

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Romance and Race: Coloring the Past

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Passing on 2022-01-12 17:14Z by Steven

Romance and Race: Coloring the Past

ACMRS Press
June 2022
160 pages
6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 9780866986946

Margo Hendricks, Professor Emerita
University of California, Santa Cruz

This study brings race and the literary tradition of romance into dialogue.

Romance and Race: Coloring the Past explores the literary and cultural genealogy of colorism, white passing, and white presenting in the romance genre. The scope of the study ranges from Heliodorus’ Aithiopika to the short novels of Aphra Behn, to the modern romance novel Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins. This analysis engages with the troublesome racecraft of “passing” and the instability of racial identity and its formation from the premodern to the present. The study also looks at the significance of white settler colonialism to early modern romance narratives. A bridge between studies of early modern romance and scholarship on twenty-first-century romance novels, this book is well-suited for those interested in the romance genre.

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Can You Be “White Passing” Even if You Aren’t Trying?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2022-01-12 15:59Z by Steven

Can You Be “White Passing” Even if You Aren’t Trying?

Mother Jones
January-February 2022 Issue

Andrea Guzmán, Ben Bagdikian Editorial Fellow


Lisa Taniguchi

The phrase has become popular on social media. But there’s a lot left out of the conversation.

When pop star Olivia Rodrigo released her album Sour in May 2021, listeners took to TikTok to debate whether she was “white passing.” The question was not really about how Rodrigo perceives or publicly identifies herself. She is of both Filipino and white ancestry. Rather, it was about whether others see her as white. The Rodrigo discourse soon enflamed more general discussion about who deems one “white passing.” As one Iranian-born TikToker explained, she “did not grow up being white” when she came of age in post-9/11 America, but after others began to associate her appearance with whiteness—partially because of the rise of the Kardashians—she now recognizes the privilege of being “white passing.”

The conversation differed from how “passing” has traditionally been used in the United States. In the Jim Crow era—when “one drop” of Black ancestry subjected a person to segregation—“passing” was a deception to assume the privileges of whiteness. From 1880 to 1940, experts suspect about 20 percent of Black men passed for white at some point. It was commonly an attempt to “access things that wouldn’t have been available to them otherwise,” says Nikki Khanna, a sociology professor at the University of Vermont. But it was also a certain betrayal—leaving behind collective uplift for personal gain…

Read the entire article here.

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“The Bluest Eye” and “Imitation of Life” (1934): Variations on a Theme (Maggie Tarmey)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-01-11 21:51Z by Steven

“The Bluest Eye” and “Imitation of Life” (1934): Variations on a Theme (Maggie Tarmey)

Toni Morrison: A Teaching and Learning Resource Collection
2021-06-08

Maggie Tarmey

The following essay is written by student Maggie Tarmey, with edits by Amardeep Singh.

While the two appear quite different from one another, Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye and the 1934 film adaptation of Imitation of Life (directed by John Stahl and adapted from Fannie Hurst’s 1933 novel of the same name) share many similarities. The Bluest Eye follows a young, dark-skinned Black girl in a small Ohio town in 1940. This girl, named Pecola Breedlove, wants to have blue eyes. It is her number one desire, and she believes that blue eyes, and only blue eyes, will make her beautiful.

In contrast, Imitation of Life follows the story of a white widow, Bea, and her Black domestic servant, Delilah, as they start a business selling Delilah’s famous pancakes. Delilah has a daughter named Peola who is so light skinned that she passes for white. Peola struggles throughout the film with her identity. While these sound like two entirely different stories, they are really not so different. I would argue that these two works similar stories from rather different perspectives. The Bluest Eye tells the story of young girls struggling with colorism and white supremacy from a Black cultural perspective with a Black audience in mind, while Imitation of Life puts forward a sanitized, far less nuanced version of a similar narrative, one that is authored by white creators (Hurst and Stahl) and targeted to predominantly white audiences…

Red the entire essay here.

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