“A Part, and Apart”: Passing and Belonging as a Multiracial Person

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-08-24 21:14Z by Steven

“A Part, and Apart”: Passing and Belonging as a Multiracial Person

Psychology Today
2018-08-21

Tiffany McLain, LMFT
San Francisco, California

Here’s how to navigate passing and belonging as a multiracial person.

Tiffany note: For the past few months, I have been writing about the experience of white mothers of biracial children. For the next set of articles in this series, I will be sharing the stories of white fathers of biracial children. The following article is a brief interlude that invites us to consider the experience of the biracial person who has been raised by a white mother, despite being multiethnic.

The following article is written by Bay Area psychotherapist, Deva Segal, MFT. In it, she describes the experience of being a light-skinned biracial person in a society that desires a clear binary when it comes to racial identifications…

…Over the course of my life, I have identified myself in many ways: half Indian-half White; just White; Other; South Asian; Desi; multiethnic; biracial; multiracial; light-skinned Indian; light-brown-but-probably-needs-to-go-back-in-the-toaster-a-little-bit-longer. In recent years, I have identified a “publicly white person and privately a person of color” in efforts to acknowledge my privilege. Still, that doesn’t always fit. Half my story is gone. Owning my own experience as a woman of color without apology while still kinda passing for white is a delightful grab bag of identity crises…

Read the entire article here.

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“You Should’ve Seen My Grandmother; She Passed for White”: African American Women Writers, Genealogy, and the Passing Genre

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Women on 2018-08-22 04:27Z by Steven

“You Should’ve Seen My Grandmother; She Passed for White”: African American Women Writers, Genealogy, and the Passing Genre

University of Sheffield
October 2015

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

Ph.D. Dissertation

This thesis critiques the prevailing assumption that passing is passé in contemporary African American women’s literature.

By re-examining the work of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Dorothy West, Alice Walker, and Barbara Neely, I argue that these writers signify on canonical passing narratives – Brown’s Clotel (1853) and Clotelle (1867), Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900), Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912), Larsen’s Passing (1929), and Hurst’s Imitation of Life (1933) – in order to confront and redress both the historical roots and contemporary contexts of colourism.

As well bridging this historiographic gap, I make a case for reading passing as a multivalent trope that facilitates this very process of cultural interrogation. Rather than focussing on literal episodes of passing, I consider moments of symbolic, textual, and narrative passing, as well as the genealogical and intertextual processes at play in each text which account for the spectral hauntings of the passing-for-white figure in post-civil rights literature.

In Chapter 1, I examine the relationship between passing and embodiments of beauty in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), Bambara’s “Christmas Eve at Johnson’s Drugs N Goods” (1974) and Neely’s Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994).

In Chapter 2, I discuss passing, class, and capital in Naylor’s Linden Hills (1985) and Dorothy West’s The Wedding (1995).

In Chapter 3, I suggest that Walker and Morrison revisit Larsen’s Passing in their short stories “Source” (1982) and “Recitatif” (1983).

Finally, I conclude this project with a discussion of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child (2015) in order to demonstrate the continued centrality of the passing trope for authors interested in colourism, genealogy, and black women’s experiences.

Embargoed here until October 2020.

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‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-08-22 00:48Z by Steven

‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

The Guardian
2018-08-20

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

SUSAN KOHNER and JUANITA MOORE in Imitation of Life
Crossing the colour line … Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore as daughter and mother in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959). Photograph: www.ronaldgrantarchive.com

Rebecca Hall’sdirectorial debut is an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, a theme little seen since the likes of Show Boat and Pinky

Hollywood once loved films about passing. The genre was popular in the 1940s and 50s, when segregation was rife and the “one-drop rule” – which deemed anybody with even a trace of African ancestry to be black – prevailed. Box-office hits included Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949) and George Sidney’s musical Show Boat (1951), which featured light-skinned, mixed-race characters who passed for white in the hopes of enjoying the privileges whiteness confers. The secrets, the scandal and the sheer sensationalism of it all made for excellent melodrama.

Now Rebecca Hall, the star of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Red Riding, is revisiting the genre with her directorial debut, an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s seminal 1929 novel Passing. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga will feature in the project, which tells the story of childhood friends, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, who are both light-skinned enough to pass for white but choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line…

…How will Hall negotiate the tricky history of the genre? Even though it was a real-life phenomenon, most films about passing, including Pinky and Show Boat, have literary roots. William Wells Brown’s 1853 anti-slavery novel Clotel, which imagines the fate of Thomas Jefferson’s mixed race progeny, is perhaps the first American passing novel. Brown used passing to expose the arbitrary nature of white privilege. His mixed-race characters were a manifest symbol of the reality that many powerful, supposedly God-fearing white slaveholding men were coercing and raping enslaved black women and condemning their own children to a life in bondage (although, as Beyoncé recently revealed, not all unions were of this nature)…

Read the entire article here.

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Rebecca Hall To Make Directorial Debut With ‘Passing’; Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Adaptation Of 1920s Novel

Posted in Articles, Arts, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-08-07 03:40Z by Steven

Rebecca Hall To Make Directorial Debut With ‘Passing’; Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Adaptation Of 1920s Novel

Deadline Hollywood
2018-08-06

Amanda N’Duka

Rebecca Hall Tessa Thompson Ruth Negga
Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Hall has set up Passing, an adaptation based on Nella Larsen’s 1920s Harlem Renaissance novel that explores the practice of racial passing, a term used for a person classified as a member of one racial group who seeks to be accepted by a different racial group. Hall has penned the script and will direct in her feature helming debut, with Westworld star Tessa Thompson and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga attached to star in the film.

Margot Hand of Picture Films and Oren Moverman of Sight Unseen are producing, with Angela Robinson serving as executive producer.

First published in 1929, Passing follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, Clare Kendry (Negga) and Irene Redfield (Thompson), whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities…

Read the entire article here.

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Converse, Converse

Posted in Arts, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2018-07-30 01:36Z by Steven

Converse, Converse

2016
video/sound installation: 2-channel color HD video projection,
4-channel audio, 2 floating screens, bench
Projected image size: 14’3”x 8’, TRT 16 minutes

Elizabeth M. Webb

Converse, Converse is a two-channel video installation that creates a virtual conversation between family members who have never met.

At age 18, I discovered a family history that had gone unspoken for a generation: my father’s father, whom I never met, was African-American—my father had been passing as white. He had also decided to raise our family as such, giving us no knowledge of our black ancestry. I have since connected with that side of my family and spoken with my father about his decision. Through a process of recording conversations with my father and separate conversations with the women I learned were my second cousins, I positioned myself as a go-between, filming each side watching the other’s interviews and finally, the reactions to their respective reactions.

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Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah To Bring Racially Charged ‘The Rhinelander Affair’ To Screen With Zero Gravity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing on 2018-07-30 00:28Z by Steven

Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah To Bring Racially Charged ‘The Rhinelander Affair’ To Screen With Zero Gravity

Deadline Hollywood
2018-07-23

Anita Busch

Octavia Spencer Queen Latifah
REX/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: It’s a great story that delves into the caste system, racism and sexism. The Rhinelander Affair, written by William Kinsolving, follows the controversial 1925 divorce trial in New York involving a man from an upper-class New Rochelle family who married a bi-racial, working-class woman. It is a ripped from the headlines story from the 1920s with many meaty roles in what was a roller coaster ride about money, love, racism and betrayal.

The project is now being produced for the big screen by Mark and Christine Holder (who found the story), Octavia Spencer, Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Dave Broome (The Day I Met El Chapo). The Kingsolving manuscript, repped by Trident, is going out to publishers this summer.


Alice Jones and Leonard (Kip) Rhinelander

The story revolves around Leonard Rhinelander and Alice Jones, who fell in love (she was 22 and he 18), and then were kept apart by Rhinelander’s family. However, they married in secret before it spilled into the papers and stayed that way for three years. At issue was whether Jones duped Leonard into marrying her by hiding the fact that she was bi-racial (she was the daughter of an English woman and an English-West Indian taxi driver). Leonard stood by Alice under intense media scrutiny until pressures — both internally with the family and externally — caused them to divorce…

Read the entire article here.

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The Bi-Racial Artist Using White-Passing Characters to Talk About Blackness

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-06-08 02:42Z by Steven

The Bi-Racial Artist Using White-Passing Characters to Talk About Blackness

Sleek
2018-06-07

Harriet Shepherd, Junior Editor


Drive-By, Side-Eye, 2016 © Genevieve Gaignard, courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles

Genevieve Gaignard uses American stereotypes and comfortable settings to confront uncomfortable issues surrounding race and identity.

American artist Genevieve Gaignard is a homebody. Not in the sense that she’s confined to the couch every Friday night, but rather that she’s infatuated with domestic spaces. “I’ve always had this fascination with what people surround themselves with in their homes,” she tells SLEEK. It’s a theme that’s been a constant in her work since she threw in the towel at cookery school and headed down a fine art path. From the panoramic interiors she lensed for her Yale application, to the carefully curated domestic installations that made up her solo show, Smell the Roses, at the Californian African American Museum earlier this year, to the household-centric creations currently on display at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London — home is where Gaignard’s heart is.

Though she’s what you’d call a multidisciplinary artist, it’s Gaignard’s photography that’s earned her such widespread attention. Known for turning the lens on herself, Gaignard’s Cindy Sherman-esque self-portraits occupy a complex realm where class, race and gender intersect, seeing the artist assume caricatured roles that toy with her own bi-racial identity and the way that blackness and whiteness is perceived. And the home, more often than not, provides the comfortable backdrop for Gaignard’s more uncomfortable subject matter…

Read the entire article here.

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Steve William’s Column: Invisible blackness, can you see it?

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-05-28 02:33Z by Steven

Steve William’s Column: Invisible blackness, can you see it?

South Strand News
Georgetown, South Carolina
2015-05-25

Steve Williams

Steve Williams (copy)
Steve Williams

Last weekend’s royal wedding in England was a beautiful thing to behold. Many have likened it to Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Social media is abuzz with millions who witnessed it; perhaps because Meghan Markle, who is of mixed racial heritage, didn’t diminish her African heritage rather, she celebrated it. When talking about her mixed heritage, race isn’t something she leads with, but she’s clearly comfortable talking about it. She tells a story of growing up and having her mother pick her up from school; how her friends would often ask — “who’s that black lady? Is she your maid?”

A self-described feminist and egalitarian Meghan has proudly supported many causes for those who are marginalized. Her wedding ceremony spoke volumes for her character. Likewise, kudos must be given to Prince Harry and the royal family for allowing her to express it. Maybe they’re more progressive than I thought…

While more and more celebrities like Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Sade, Drake, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are celebrating their multicultural heritage today, this was not always the case — particularly those black celebrities who could “pass” for white

…Yet, the question of race for many blacks in America was determined by the so-called “One Drop Rule.” The law adopted by most Southern states originated during slavery and reinforced under Jim Crow, said if an individual has one single drop of “black blood” in their ancestry, then that individual is black regardless of his or her appearance.

In the early 1900s, being “black” or “colored” had drastic practical consequences even for whites.

The story is told of John Kirby who was the son of Big John Godbolt. Godbolt was one-eighth African and seven-eighths European. That meant Big John was legally classified as “colored” under South Carolina law. But John Kirby’s mother was white which meant John Kirby and his siblings had less than one-eighth African blood and were legally not “colored.” Instead, having only one-thirty-second African blood they were legally coded as “white.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, Women on 2018-05-22 02:17Z by Steven

Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2018
pages 197-204
DOI: 10.1353/jnc.2018.0015

Christine “Xine” Yao, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
University of British Columbia

In “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian,” Edith Maude Eaton, writing as Sui Sin Far, reflects on her time in Jamaica as a white-passing mixed-race woman.1 Rumor of her Chinese ancestry provokes a white English naval officer to seek her out for sexual favors, a scenario still all too familiar to women, particularly women of color, today: a predatory conversation sheathed in friendly euphemisms. At first Far believes his visit has to do with her work as a journalist, but his repeated “silly and offensive laugh” suggests otherwise.2 When she attempts to dismiss him, he laughs again, “There’s always plenty of time for good times. That’s what I am here for.”3 After commenting on her “nice little body,” he invites her to sail with him where “I will tell you all about the sweet little Chinese girls I met when we were at Hong Kong. They’re not so shy!”4 The officer’s framing of her presumed affective and sexual availability, and the foregrounding of his own sexual and social prerogative, are an everyday life manifestation of what Lisa Lowe names a “‘political economy’ of intimacy … a particular calculus governing the production, distribution, and possession of intimacy” predicated on empire and settler colonialism.5 The man’s proposition to Far is a demand for her friendliness because those other Chinese girls in Hong Kong are “not so shy.” In her rejection of his desire for intimacy, she risks the dangerous backlash that attends injured white masculinity along with broader social consequences that could impact the relative privilege of her personal and professional life in the Caribbean. Still, instead of a “friendly” relationship to whiteness, Sui Sin Far seeks alternative intimacies. In the same section of her memoir she juxtaposes this incident with musings about her position as a white-passing mixed-race Chinese woman in relation to her observations about antiblackness in the West Indies. Despite the warnings of the English who tell her to fear the “‘brown boys’ of the island,” the writer considered the mother of Asian North American literature affirms a sense of transnational solidarity between peoples of color in her affective racial identifications. “I too am of the ‘brown people’ of the earth,” she confides to her readers, prefiguring, in this assertion, the anti-colonial alliance between African and Asian nations that would be formalized in 1955 at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia.6

Intimacy operates, here, as a heuristic for understanding how the racialized and gendered pressures of domesticity, sentimentality, and sexuality are imbricated with the projects of empire. These exploitative relations undergird the transnational violences of settler colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude—systems which, as Lowe argues, enable the liberal fictions of white Western individuals, who are able to claim intimacy as one of the privileges associated with the private sphere, as a property of their citizenship in modern civil society. In the shift from the late nineteenth-century threatening “Yellow Peril” to modern-day deserving “model minority,” Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian descent, are lured by false promises of inclusion into this liberal fiction on the basis of intimate affiliation with whiteness. Among the processes of comparative racialization that emerge from transnational intimacies, Ellen Wu traces how Asian Americans were complicit in the anti-black creation of the “model minority” category in the American cultural imaginary.7 Nonetheless, the solidarity work of activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama, along with studies of earlier black-Asian cultural and political engagements by scholars like Edlie Wong and Julia H. Lee, indicates an alternative genealogy of counterintimacies that disrupts those aligned with the afterlife of imperial exploitation.8 In defiance of the coercive pressures made manifest through sexual violence and emotional labor, the mixed-race Asian and black women of Sui Sin Far’s fiction and nonfiction writings reorient these indices of transnational power relations away from their focus on whiteness and toward the possibility of resistance through affective connections that center peoples of color.

In Far’s rediscovered Jamaican stories and journalism…

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Passing or Transracial?: Authority, Race, and Sex in the Rachel Dolezal Documentary

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-05-18 15:32Z by Steven

Passing or Transracial?: Authority, Race, and Sex in the Rachel Dolezal Documentary

Beacon Broadside: A Project of Beacon Press
2018-05-10

Lisa Page, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Rachel Dolezal
Photo credit: YouTube/Dr. Phil

For some of us, racial identity is elastic. We can pass. For white, for black, for Middle Eastern. For Latinx. I am one of those people. I know what it is to assimilate to a group you identify with, because I did it myself, against my white mother’s wishes. She hated me calling myself black.

For this reason, my response to The Rachel Divide, Laura Brownson’s new documentary about Rachel Dolezal, is complicated. Dolezal famously passed for black, for years, before her white parents outed her in 2015. I feel two ways about this. I completely get the outrage that followed the reveal. But I also have sympathy for Dolezal. I know what it’s like to turn your back on the white side of your family.

The film opens with clips of Dolezal’s activism, as president of the Spokane NAACP, which came to a screeching halt once she was revealed to be a white woman who darkened her complexion and wore a weave.

Dolezal doesn’t call that passing.

“Who’s the gatekeeper for blackness?” she asks, near the beginning of the film. “Do we have the right to live exactly how we feel?”…

Read the entire article here.

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