A Way of Sharing

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Campus Life, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2017-12-05 22:20Z by Steven

A Way of Sharing

UMKC Today
University of Missouri, Kansas City
2015-06-08


Photo credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Knowledge, Expertise and Experience

Women from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and nearby states in North America attended the 2015 Women of Color Leadership Conference.

MC Mia Ramsey strolled across the stage in her black sweater, black skirt, white T and pink sneakers. An energetic lady, Ramsey was ready to inspire and encourage women through song, jokes, personal stories and rousing introductions of presenters.

The 10th annual conference, “Together We Rise: 10 Years of Paving the Way,” at the University of Missouri-Kansas City focused on improving the lives of all women of color. More women of diverse backgrounds attend each year to share their expertise and to learn from facilitators and speakers.

Shortly after keynote speaker Lacey Schwartz took to the podium, she made an emphatic statement: “Tell the truth about things that are hard to tell the truth about.” If that had been the case, her life would have been less complicated, and she would have known far sooner exactly who she was.

In the documentary “Little White Lie,” Schwartz tells her story of growing up in New York with her parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity, only to discover she was not white, but biracial. She created the documentary to start a conversation about difficult conversations…

Read the entire article here.

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The Concept of “Passing”…

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-12-05 03:50Z by Steven

The Concept of “Passing”…

Another View Radio Show
WHRV 89.5 FM
Norfolk, Virginia
2017-10-07

Barbara Hamm Lee, Executive Producer and Host

It’s a phenomenon unique to communities of color – those with very light skin “passing” for white, particularly for African Americans, during the Jim Crow era. On the next Another View we’ll talk with Donna Drew Sawyer, author of Provenance: A Novel, about what happens in the life of a fictional character who passes for white; and historian Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander who shares the history of this practice.

Download the interview (01:00:00) here.

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Do Not Pass

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-12-03 02:50Z by Steven

Do Not Pass

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2010-02-16

Touré

This may come as a shock to you, especially if you look at whiteness as a boon and blackness as a burden, but I have never once wished to be white. If a fairy godfather came to me and said I could switch races, I’d open the window and make him use it. I think 99 percent of black people would do the same. That’s not a knock on whiteness — it seems to be working out well for many people — it’s that I love blackness, even if passing would allow me to unhook myself from the heavy anchor called racism. It’s cool: I’ve learned how to be as quick as a Br’er Rabbit, even with the anchor attached. Still, you might argue, wouldn’t switching from a disadvantaged race to the dominant one be as liberating as a winning lottery ticket? Well, for those who’ve been able to complete the sociopolitical fantasy trip and become racial transvestites, it usually ends badly.

The character who jumps the color line is a fascinating American rogue, a self-­constructed person, a trickster who’s discovered that race is not an unscalable wall but a chain-link fence with holes big enough for some people to slip through. But once they cross the line, they’re fugitives hiding in plain sight, on the lam from themselves and their histories, cut off from their families, unchained from racism but chained to a secret whose revelation would bring an end to a life built on lies and a stolen place in the dominant culture. All that makes racial shape-shifters a fantastic opportunity for a writer: they’ve got Huck Finn’s independence, an identity in turmoil, a secret that could destroy their world, a refusal to be defined by others and a vantage on race that very few ever get to have. And in the story of a racial fugitive, there’s always a ticking bomb. It’s a corollary of the literary law that if you put a loaded rifle onstage, it has to go off: if a character shifts races, eventually he’ll be unmasked, and usually it’s painful physically or psychically or both…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal is now an artisanal lollipop saleswoman

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-28 23:35Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal is now an artisanal lollipop saleswoman

The New York Post
2017-11-15


Rachel Dolezal has a line of homemade lollipops. Polaris

Rachel Dolezal wants to sweeten her image.

The disgraced NAACP activist — who claimed to be of African-American descent, though she’s a white woman — is now hawking homemade lollipops for extra cash…

Read the entire article here.

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Do people feel privileged when they are white passing?

Posted in Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2017-11-28 22:59Z by Steven

Do people feel privileged when they are white passing?

Cut
Seattle, Washington
2017-11-15

Do people feel privileged when they are white passing? Check out the post interview to People Guess Who is White In a Group of People.

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Why Do People Pass?: The Complex Journeys of Belonging and Identity in America

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-27 03:13Z by Steven

Why Do People Pass?: The Complex Journeys of Belonging and Identity in America

Beacon Broadside
2017-11-07

Brando Skyhorse, Associate Professor of English
Indiana University, Bloomington

Lisa Page, Acting Director of Creative Writing
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.


Image credit: Bob Kosturko

America has a long and complicated history of passing. We’re familiar with the stories of African Americans who passed as white in the past in order to improve their social mobility. Nowadays, we are hearing a variety of personal experiences about passing that transcends additional modes of identity—class, religion, gender, sexuality, and more. Writers Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page have brought together some of these stories in their new essay anthology We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America. As they point out in the introduction of the book, excerpted below, there have always been many ways in which people pass, and many reasons to do so.

In June 2015 a surprising number of Americans stopped to gawk at a thirty-seven-year-old “African American” woman named Rachel Dolezal who, after an almost decade-long act, was outed by her parents as a white woman who chose to pass as black. The national response, culminating in a Today Show appearance, was extreme. Some were outraged by her deception, while others drew parallels between her right to live her “truth” the same way Caitlyn Jenner embodies hers.

Rachel—or “#BlackRachel” as she trended online—never once “broke character.”

Later that month, the Daily Beast reported on Andrea Smith, an Anglo woman and esteemed professor of Native American studies at the University of California, Riverside, who presented as Cherokee for over twenty years. She had a long history of American Indian activism and published articles and books purporting to speak on Indian issues as an American Indian despite not a trace of Indian ancestry being found after two rounds of genealogical research.

If you’re looking for historical precedent, how about jazz clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow? A middle-class Jewish kid from Chicago, he married a black woman, moved to Harlem, self-identified in the 1940s as a “white Negro” and was listed by his draft board as “Negro.” His understanding of being a black American was an odd brew of sincere cultural musical appreciation and promoting the oversimplified “shuck and jive” stereotypes. Go back further and you’ll find Clarence King, a nineteenth-century blue-eyed white scientist and best-selling author who thrilled in “slumming.” For thirteen years, King passed as a black Pullman porter, complete with a black common-law wife and five mixed-race children.

American history is filled with innumerable examples like these. Why, then, did “#BlackRachel” fascinate and outrage so many of us? The answer lies in the complex phenomenon of passing…

Read the entire article here.

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The Skyscraper’s Unseeing Eyes: Louis Sullivan, Nella Larsen, and Racial Formalism

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-25 02:26Z by Steven

The Skyscraper’s Unseeing Eyes: Louis Sullivan, Nella Larsen, and Racial Formalism

American Literature
Volume 89, Issue 3
2017-09-01
DOI: 10.1215/00029831-4160846

Sue Shon

Since its inception, the skyscraper has served as an icon of American innovation, modernity, and freedom. Upholding this image has erased the racial thinking and racist practices foundational to this born-and-bred American architectural form. This essay restores the import of race to the skyscraper by reading formalist theories by the father of modern architecture, Louis Sullivan, alongside a work of African American modernist fiction, Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929). Reading Sullivan alongside Larsen explains how skyscrapers and blackness together have defined what gets seen as modern. The unexpected pairing reveals the visual racial logics built into skyscraper aesthetics and adds an architectural thread to the well-established scholarship on Larsen’s novel.

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My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-21 03:34Z by Steven

My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

The Washington Post
2017-11-20

Gail Lukasik


The author’s mother, Alvera Fredric, was born into a black family in New Orleans but spent her life passing as white. (Family photo)

I’d never seen my mother so afraid.

“Promise me,” she pleaded, “you won’t tell anyone until after I die. How will I hold my head up with my friends?”

For two years, I’d waited for the right moment to confront my mother with the shocking discovery I made in 1995 while scrolling through the 1900 Louisiana census records. In the records, my mother’s father, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, and his entire family were designated black.

The discovery had left me reeling, confused and in need of answers. My sense of white identity had been shattered.

My mother’s visit to my home in Illinois seemed like the right moment. This was not a conversation I wanted to have on the phone.

But my mother’s fearful plea for secrecy only added to my confusion about my racial identity. As did her birth certificate that I obtained from the state of Louisiana, which listed her race as “col” (colored), and a 1940 Louisiana census record, which listed my mother, Alvera Frederic, as Neg/Negro, working in a tea shop in New Orleans. Four years later, she moved north and married my white father…

Read the entire article here.

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One in Twelve

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 01:54Z by Steven

One in Twelve

Mary Frances Berry
2014-12-25

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

When I read in the New Orleans Times Picayune that about 12 percent of Louisiana residents who identify themselves as white have at least 1 percent African ancestry, or one African ancestor within the last 11 generations, I thought of Louis Antoine Snaer and his family. Louis Antoine was one of many New Orleans free men of color who joined the Union army in the Louisiana Native Guards, but the only one to remain an officer after the Union capture of New Orleans in 1862. The others were ejected when Union commanders decided African Americans as a race were “naturally” unfit for leadership, and could not expect white officers to respect them. But Snaer did not identify himself. He passed as “white” in silence and stayed in the service. He became a Union military hero who led troops at the Battle of Port Hudson, and retired as a decorated officer.

Snaer was later elected to political office as a “Negro” and then like other Colored Creoles moved his family to northern California after Plessy v Ferguson (1896) leaving behind their identities and their histories as Colored Creoles, and becoming white for all intents and purposes…

Read the entire article here.

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Review: Identity in Passing: RACE-ING and E-RACE-ING in American and African American History

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 01:19Z by Steven

Review: Identity in Passing: RACE-ING and E-RACE-ING in American and African American History

The Journal of African American History
Volume 101, No. 3, Summer 2016
pages 344-355
DOI: 10.5323/jafriamerhist.101.3.0344

Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History
Arizona State University, Tempe

Passing is a long-standing theme in American and African American history.1 Indeed, because identity has been an ever-present element in history, passing has been an ever-present element in history generally. Distinguishing between and among groups and categorizing individual members has again and again prompted questions about who is who, about what exactly distinguishes one from another, and about who belongs where. But passing is about more than contested and oft-disputed categories. When it reaches to lived-experience, passing is about self and society, about individual image and imagining, about self-image and self-imagining, about social image and social change. Passing is about the scope, source, substance, and control of individual identity.

Despite its centrality, identity appears in historical narratives typically as a given, or at least as taken for granted. Except for persons cast as “others,” group labels conveniently cover flawed lines of distinction. Our focus concentrates on identity only when it becomes contested, when uncertainty or ambiguity raise doubts; when identity becomes an issue of power, when such questions as “who…

Read or purchase the article here.

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