Passing: A Family in Black & White

Posted in Biography, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Passing, United States, Videos on 2019-07-14 02:23Z by Steven

Passing: A Family in Black & White

Blackstar Film Festival
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 2019-08-03, 10:00 EDT (Local Time)

United States
2019
(00:48:00)

Robin Cloud, Director

After years of hearing the story of her Nebraska cousins, who, unbeknownst to them, were passing for white, filmmaker Robin Cloud reaches out to the lost cousins in an attempt to bring them back into the family. We follow Robin as she travels through the South and Midwest.

For more information, click here.

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Hollywood at the Intersection of Race and Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Passing, Social Science, United States, Women on 2019-07-12 17:45Z by Steven

Hollywood at the Intersection of Race and Identity

Rutgers University Press
2019-11-15
314 pages
31 b-w photographs
6 x 9
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8135-9931-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-9932-8
PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-9935-9
EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8135-9935-9

Edited by:

Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett, Professor of English, Cinema/American/Women’s Studies
University of New Hampshire, Durham

Contributions by: Ruth Mayer, Alice Maurice, Ellen C. Scott, Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett, Jonna Eagle, Ryan Jay Friedman, Charlene Regester, Matthias Konzett, Chris Cagle, Dean Itsuji Saranillio, Graham Cassano, Priscilla Peña Ovalle, Ernesto R Acevedo-Muñoz, Mary Beltrán, Jun Okada, and Louise Wallenberg.

Hollywood at the Intersection of Race and Identity explores the ways Hollywood represents race, gender, class, and nationality at the intersection of aesthetics and ideology and its productive tensions. This collection of essays asks to what degree can a close critical analysis of films, that is, reading them against their own ideological grain, reveal contradictions and tensions in Hollywood’s task of erecting normative cultural standards? How do some films perhaps knowingly undermine their inherent ideology by opening a field of conflicting and competing intersecting identities? The challenge set out in this volume is to revisit well-known films in search for a narrative not exclusively constituted by the Hollywood formula and to answer the questions: What lies beyond the frame? What elements contradict a film’s sustained illusion of a normative world? Where do films betray their own ideology and most importantly what intersectional spaces of identity do they reveal or conceal?

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Hollywood Formulas: Codes, Masks, Genre, and Minstrelsy
    • Daydreams of Society: Class and Gender Performances in the Cinema of the Late 1910s / Ruth Mayer
    • The Death of Lon Chaney: Masculinity, Race, and the Authenticity of Disguise / Alice Maurice
    • MGM’s Sleeping Lion: Hollywood Regulation of the Washingtonian Slave in The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) / Ellen C. Scott
    • Yellowface, Minstrelsy, and Hollywood Happy Endings: The Black Camel (1931), Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), and Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937) / Delia Malia Konzett
  • Genre and Race in Classical Hollywood
    • “A Queer, Strangled Look”: Race, Gender, and Morality in The Ox-Bow Incident / Jonna Eagle
    • By Herself: Intersectionality, African American Specialty Performers, and Eleanor Powell / Ryan Jay Friedman
    • Disruptive Mother-Daughter Relationships: Peola’s Racial Masquerade in Imitation of Life (1934) and Stella’s Class Masquerade in Stella Dallas (1937) / Charlene Regester
    • The Egotistical Sublime: Film Noir and Whiteness / Matthias Konzett
  • Race and Ethnicity in Post-World War II Hollywood
    • Women and Class Mobility in Classical Hollywood’s Immigrant Dramas / Chris Cagle
    • Orientalism, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Go for Broke! (1951) / Dean Itsuji Saranillio
    • Savage Whiteness: The dialectic of racial desire in The Young Savages (1961) / Graham Cassano
    • Rita Moreno’s Hair / Priscilla Peña Ovalle
  • Intersectionality, Hollywood, and Contemporary Popular Culture
    • “Everything Glee in ‘America’”: Context, Race, and Identity Politics in the Glee Appropriation of West Side Story / Ernesto R. Acevedo-Muñoz
    • Hip Hop “Hearts” Ballet: Utopic Multiculturalism and the Step Up Dance Films / Mary Beltrán
    • Fakin da Funk (1997) and Gook (2017): Exploring Black/Asian Relations in the Asian American Hood Film / Jun Okada
    • “Let Us Roam the Night Together”: On Articulation and Representation in Moonlight (2016) and Tongues Untied (1989) / Louise Wallenberg
  • Acknowledgments
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index
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Three-Fifths, A Novel

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Novels, Passing, United States on 2019-07-12 17:43Z 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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Color Me In, A Novel

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Judaism, Novels, Passing, Religion, United States on 2019-07-12 17:42Z by Steven

Color Me In, A Novel

Delacorte Press (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2019-08-20
384 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780525578239
eBook ISBN: 9780525578246
Audiobook ISBN: 9781984889140

Natasha Díaz

Color Me In

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

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Historian, master storyteller

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-07-10 18:15Z by Steven

Historian, master storyteller

PUNCH Magazine
March 2019
pages 30-34

Sheri Baer, Editorial Director
Irene Searles, photography

Allyson Hobbs distinctly remembers the first time she saw Stanford University. After flying out from Chicago for a final interview in January 2008, she was chatting with a faculty member as they arrived on campus. “We were talking about Ohio State football and we turned down Palm Drive,” she recalls. “All of a sudden, my breath was taken away. I couldn’t believe the beauty of it. I thought to myself, ‘Wow! I desperately want to teach here.’”

Allyson secured the position and made the move. Now an associate professor of American History, she is also director of Stanford’s African and African American Studies program (AAAS), which is marking its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in 1969, AAAS was Stanford’s first ethnic studies program and the first of its kind at a private academic institution. “Many programs are having their 50th anniversary around this time,” Allyson notes, adding that it’s no coincidence. “These programs were created in response to student protests in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Originally from Morristown, New Jersey, Allyson says that she was raised in a very supportive community. “My parents really shielded me and gave me an idyllic childhood,” she says. “They always talked about how lucky we were to live in that kind of environment.” Allyson attended Harvard in the mid-’90s, where she was exposed to a broader perspective. “There was a robust conversation about race at that time in college, and I think that really ignited my interest.

Allyson especially appreciated the rich storytelling of her aunt, who served as the family historian. When Allyson came home fascinated by a story about racial passing, her aunt recounted the experiences of a distant cousin who had grown up on Chicago’s South Side in the ’30s and ’40s. According to her aunt, this cousin was very light-skinned and when she graduated from high school, her mother encouraged her to move to Los Angeles and pass as a white woman. “Her mother was insistent and believed that passing as white would give her daughter a better life,” Allyson was told.

That story inspired Allyson to write her first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, tracing the practice back to the late 18th century. “People who passed were able to access better jobs and live in better neighborhoods, but I wanted to uncover what it really meant to the people who walked away, what they had to give up,” Allyson says. “Writing the history of passing is really writing the history of loss.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Women on 2019-06-21 20:13Z by Steven

Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South

Yale University Press
2019-09-24
352 pages
6⅛ x 9¼
9 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300242607

Adele Logan Alexander, Emeritus Professor of History
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Born in the late nineteenth century into an affluent family of mixed race—black, white, and CherokeeAdella Hunt Logan (1863–1915) was a key figure in the fight to obtain voting rights for women of color. A professor at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and a close friend of Booker T. Washington, Adella was in contact with luminaries such as Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Despite her self-identification as an African American, she looked white and would often pass for white at segregated suffrage conferences, gaining access to information and political tactics used in the “white world” that might benefit her African American community.

Written by Adella’s granddaughter Adele Logan Alexander, this long-overdue consideration of Adella’s pioneering work as a black suffragist is woven into a riveting multigenerational family saga and shines new light on the unresolved relationships between race, class, gender, and power in American society.

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“Black Wimmin Who Pass, Pass into Damnation”: Race, Gender, and the Passing Tradition in Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life and Douglas Sirk’s Film Adaptation

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-06-21 20:07Z by Steven

“Black Wimmin Who Pass, Pass into Damnation”: Race, Gender, and the Passing Tradition in Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life and Douglas Sirk’s Film Adaptation

Journal of Narrative Theory
Volume 49, Number 1, Winter 2019
pages 27-54
DOI: 10.1353/jnt.2019.0001

Lauren Kuryloski, Assistant Professor of Teaching
State University of New York, Buffalo

Fannie Hurst’s 1933 novel Imitation of Life is ostensibly the story of Bea Pullman, an entrepreneurial, white, single mother who establishes a successful waffle-house restaurant chain with the help of her black maid and friend, Delilah. It is also a story of ‘passing,’ and Hurst’s only novel explicitly dealing with issues of race. The novel was later adapted into two films, with Douglas Sirk’s 1959 version the adaptation discussed here. While both Hurst’s and Sirk’s versions of Imitation of Life were met with widespread commercial success, each treatment illustrates the narratological challenges of working with the passing trope, particularly when attempting to represent the relationship between black and white characters and acts of gender and race passing. Hurst’s and Sirk’s depictions of passing, and more specifically their employment of the ‘white passing’ narrative, reveals the irresolvable paradox of all such acts. To pass is to both subvert notions of fixed identity categories and cement them, a reality elucidated by the complicated representation of gender and race passing in novel and film.

Both literary and cinematic versions of Imitation of Life interrogate passing and its potential to destabilize existing social hierarchies. Although Sirk exercises significant artistic license in his adaptation, both versions of the story adhere to the same essential narrative arc. In each text the central white female protagonist, known as Bea in the novel and Lora in the film, accomplishes a gender pass, moving into the masculinized public sphere to secure financial stability for her family. Similarly, each version of the narrative features the light-skinned black daughter of the protagonist’s maid, known as Peola in the novel and Sarah Jane in the film, who performs the traditional racial pass in an attempt to enjoy the financial and social privileges associated with whiteness. Through the depiction of these double acts of passing, the narratives construct a commentary on the very real limitations that white and black female characters face in an unequal society. Moreover, the characters’ abilities to pass into different identities suggests the inherently performative nature of all identity categories, deconstructing essentialist notions of race and gender and revealing the subversive promise such performances hold. The passing trope’s allure resides in this ability to upend static conceptions of selfhood.

Yet despite the progressive potential to disrupt normative identity codes that passing appears to offer, Hurst’s and Sirk’s texts demonstrate the inherent internal conflict of all such narratives, as passing is often suggestive of subversion while in fact reifying the very same systems it purports to undermine. Although the passer may transgress established social boundaries and upset notions of fixed-identity categories, the move across identity lines simultaneously grants authority to binary constructions of identity. This paradox is at the heart of any act of passing and serves as the primary conflict in both novel and film. The characters in Imitation of Life may achieve varying degrees of financial or material success by passing, but their success is fleeting and mitigated by the system of narrative punishment that is doled out for their actions. While the texts toy with depicting race and gender identity as social constructions to be both challenged and performed at will, both the novel and film conclude that such performances are but imitations of real life, even when ‘real life’ is simply an adherence to essentialist race and gender roles. My work offers an analysis of this punishment and (occasional) reward system through a study of the way in which acts of racial passing are used in the service of moving the white female protagonist toward either her ultimate narrative chastisement (in the novel) or her redemption (in the film), demonstrating that passing relies on the maintenance of normative social hierarchies.

Both Hurst’s and Sirk’s versions of Imitation of Life have received significant critical attention, and the genre of passing has itself been the subject of sustained scholarly debate. However, while both the novel and film…

Read or purchase the article here.

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When I Was White, A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2019-06-20 15:22Z by Steven

When I Was White, A Memoir

St. Martin’s Press (an imprint of Macmillan)
2019-08-06
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781250146755

Sarah Valentine

The stunning and provocative coming-of-age memoir about Sarah Valentine’s childhood as a white girl in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and her discovery that her father was a black man.

At the age of 27, Sarah Valentine discovered that she was not, in fact, the white girl she had always believed herself to be. She learned the truth of her paternity: that her father was a black man. And she learned the truth about her own identity: mixed race.

And so Sarah began the difficult and absorbing journey of changing her identity from white to black. In this memoir, Sarah details the story of the discovery of her identity, how she overcame depression to come to terms with this identity, and, perhaps most importantly, asks: why? Her entire family and community had conspired to maintain her white identity. The supreme discomfort her white family and community felt about addressing issues of race–her race–is a microcosm of race relationships in America.

A black woman who lived her formative years identifying as white, Sarah’s story is a kind of Rachel Dolezal in reverse, though her “passing” was less intentional than conspiracy. This memoir is an examination of the cost of being black in America, and how one woman threw off the racial identity she’d grown up with, in order to embrace a new one.

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Looking white and being Aboriginal

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2019-06-11 20:18Z by Steven

Looking white and being Aboriginal

CBC News
2017-06-21

Regan Burden


Regan Burden is from Port Hope Simpson, but now lives in St. John’s. (Evan Smith)

It was a beautiful summer day in downtown St. John’s; my friend was working a food truck and on my way to work, I’d often stop to say hello, maybe grab a poutine to eat on my way to work.

One day, he had a friend with him; he was tall, handsome, had dark hair and a nice smile. He told me he had seen me at a show before, but I couldn’t quite remember talking to him. I met a lot of people that night.

We got to talking about ourselves and he asked me where I was from.

Port Hope Simpson. It’s a tiny town in Labrador that I promise you haven’t heard of.” I was right about that. I always am.

He told me he was from Gander, but had spent some time in Stephenville. His mother was a judge and she got asked to go to Labrador but didn’t want to.

“Stephenville was bad enough, all those f—ing jackytars stealing everything and sniffing gas. Can you imagine what it would have been like in Labrador?”

I grew up in Labrador and I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t even know what a jackytar was and whatever he thought about whatever they were, I certainly didn’t. I had to get him to explain. “You know, Indians.”

I explained to him that I was an Aboriginal person and I found what he was saying to be really offensive. He just looked confused.

“Come on. You can’t be thaaaat Aboriginal, look at you.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Rethinking Transracialism: Ariana Grande and Racial Ambiguity

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-06-03 17:34Z by Steven

Rethinking Transracialism: Ariana Grande and Racial Ambiguity

Cult Plastic: Dance And Culture In The Plastic Age
2019-02-19

Anh Vo


Ariana Grande from the 2018 Billboard Woman of the Year Cover Shoot

This article revisits, revises, and expands on the arguments I make in Blackface and Pop Princesses: A Brief Genealogy. Previously, I wrote three brief paragraphs on Ariana Grande, trying to position her donning of black and brown visuality (i.e. blackface/brownface) alongside similar practices of other pop princesses such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Miley Cyrus. However, I no longer think blackface as a phenomenon can quite account for how Grande is manipulating the racial ambiguity of her image. Even though she certainly inherits the history of pop princesses borrowing the cultural signification of blackness/brownness to shed their young and innocent facades and sell their more sexually dangerous personas, Grande also departs from this “tradition” radically. She does not borrow; she becomes black, becomes brown, becomes something not quite black or brown, yet not quite white either. She becomes transracial.

At stake here is not the matter of people simply being confused about Grande’s racial identity. Confusion is almost always inevitable when it comes to race, because the colonial fantasy of racial purity, and even of race itself, always falls apart as it tries to categorize the unruliness of the body to create a hierarchy of humanity (with whiteness at its apex). What so disturbing, then, is the fact that Grande successfully mobilizes, amplifies, and capitalizes on this (trans)racial confusion, and gets away with crossing into non-whiteness the way Rachel Dolezal cannot. My goals in writing this essay are two-fold: (1) to articulate Ariana Grande’s image transformation not as an act of racial passing, but as a gradual racial transitioning from whiteness into ambiguity (2) to redirect the discourse on transracialism away from the monopoly of Dolezal, who, together with her transracial “identity” of blackness, has been too easily brushed off as a joke, a lie, or at best an individual anomaly…

Read the entire article here.

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