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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Opinion: Hollywood is putting mixed couples on screen. If only they would talk about it.

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2022-01-06 17:17Z by Steven

Opinion: Hollywood is putting mixed couples on screen. If only they would talk about it.

The Washington Post

Tracy Moore, Contributing Writer at Vanity Fair
Los Angeles, California

(Jason Lyon/For The Washington Post)

In Netflix’s holiday rom-comLove Hard,” comedian Jimmy O. Yang plays Josh Lin, a Chinese American everyman who uses the photo of his much-hotter, mixed-race Asian friend Tag (Darren Barnet) to get dating app matches. The ploy works. He links with and falls for Natalie (Nina Dobrev), a White woman so smitten she flies cross-country to surprise him.

But — shocker — Josh isn’t the beefcake in the photos, but a regular guy. Natalie is incensed, though not about his race. Guilty about his catfishing, Josh helps Natalie woo handsome Tag instead.

Natalie also meets real Josh’s Chinese family, where his father is married to a White woman and his brother dates one. These arrangements surprised me — Asian male/White female relationships, called AMWF online, are rarely shown on-screen. That has finally begun to change, but I’m still waiting for the couples to talk about it…

Read the entire article here.

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Morning Joe finally admits GOP ‘radicalization’ is ongoing racist backlash to Barack Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-12-07 18:55Z by Steven

Morning Joe finally admits GOP ‘radicalization’ is ongoing racist backlash to Barack Obama

Raw Story

Travis Gettys

US President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama’s comments on each other have not always been complimentary (AFP Photo/JIM WATSON)

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough has finally come around to admitting that Republicans’ radicalization was a racist backlash against the election of Barack Obama.

The “Morning Joe” host, a former Republican himself, said he had long been skeptical of that notion, but he said the evidence had become too obvious to deny.”I have been a skeptic for quite some time that the election of Barack Obama was such a shock to so many white Americans that they just never got over it,” Scarborough said.

“I was always a skeptic of that. I saw his election, even though they didn’t agree with him ideologically on a lot of things. I saw that as a moment that all Americans — Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals — could stop and go, ‘Wow, okay, the United States of America is the first majority white country that elected a Black man as their leader,’ something to celebrate.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing into Film: Rebecca Hall’s Adaptation of Nella Larsen

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 15:18Z by Steven

Passing into Film: Rebecca Hall’s Adaptation of Nella Larsen

Volume 6, Cycle 2 (2021-11-10)

Rafael Walker, Assistant Professor of English
Baruch College, City University of New York

Fig. 1. Promotional poster for Rebecca Hall’s Passing (2021). Image via IMDB.

Director Rebecca Hall’s recent adaptation of Nella Larsen’s exquisite second novel, Passing (1929), is visually stunning. I had the pleasure of seeing the film on the big screen, during its limited theatrical run and before its Netflix release. It was the ideal atmosphere for absorbing this cinematic rendering of Larsen’s eerie, anxiety-ridden plot: ensconced with a sparse audience (my companion and I comprising two of the four patrons for the 5:10pm showing) in a small independent theater in Manhattan, just a few miles from where the story is set, and with Halloween everywhere looming on this late-October evening.1

These qualities of the novel were only enhanced by Hall’s decision to film it in black and white, a daring choice that she, a first-time filmmaker, had to fight for, as Alexandra Kleeman of the New York Times reports. On the one hand, this artistic decision conjures all the nervous palpitations that Hitchcock made synonymous with black-and-white mise-en-scène, maintaining the unshakable uneasiness one experiences while reading Larsen’s novel. On the other, it hurls the either-or terms of Jim Crow racial binarism into conflict with a predominating grayscale—an all-pervading sign of the fictionality of the dichotomizations structuring American culture. Nothing could be more in the spirit of Nella Larsen’s novel. I suspect, however, that Hall’s departures from the source text will attract the attention of modernists far more than her convergences…

Read the entire review here.

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The Experiment Podcast: How Netflix’s Passing Upends a Hollywood Genre

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-23 20:27Z by Steven

The Experiment Podcast: How Netflix’s Passing Upends a Hollywood Genre

The Atlantic

The American movie industry has a long, problematic history with stories about racial passing. But the actor-writer-director Rebecca Hall is trying to tell a new kind of story.

Hollywood has a long history of “passing movies”—films in which Black characters pass for white—usually starring white actors. Even as these films have attempted to depict the devastating effect of racism in America, they have trafficked in tired tropes about Blackness. But a new movie from the actor-writer-director Rebecca Hall takes the problematic conventions of this uniquely American genre and turns them on their head. Hall tells the story of how her movie came to life, and how making the film helped her grapple with her own family’s secrets around race and identity.

Listen to the podcast (00:31:41) here.

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Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Media Archive on 2021-11-22 17:57Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse

Dr Zélie Asava: Rethinking Representation

Zélie Asava, Academic. Speaker. Author.

Métisse [Mixed-Race] (Kassovitz, France, 1993) adheres to the ethics of beur cinema by reimagining the French nuclear family as black, mixed and white through its central characters. As a pioneering work it is flawed but, by directly engaging with issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, the film challenges the culturally embedded assumptions of its socio-historic moment and space.

Like Kassovitz’s 1995 film La Haine, Métisse visualises a France infused with Americana – various scenes feature fast food chains, basketball, drug dealing, graffiti, and hip hop. This cross-cultural focus belies the mixed history of the French nation, and locates the film in a society and industry profoundly changed by the post-WWII period of American commercial domination.[1] Métisse’s mise en scène evades traditional Parisian tropes – key landmarks are absent and there is little philosophising or romance (only its troublesome consequences). The protagonists are immature anti-heroes – rather than effortlessly chic intellectuals – and embody a mixed-race France. As such, they stand as a contrast to contemporaneous cinema culture – e.g. Amélie (Jeunet, France, 2001) or Les Apprentis [The Apprentices] (Salvadori, France, 1995) – where Paris is visualised through a white lens. Métisse is a conscious attempt to rewrite the city as its ordinary inhabitants know it; to show characters driven by tangible problems rather than ennui

Read the entire review here.

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“Lying about a Lie”: Racial Passing in US History, Literature and Popular Culture

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-05 16:07Z by Steven

“Lying about a Lie”: Racial Passing in US History, Literature and Popular Culture

Journal of American Studies
Volume 50, Issue 2 (May 2016)
DOI: 10.1017/S0021875816000219

Sinéad Moynihan, Associate Professor of English
University of Exeter

In June 2015, the parents of Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, claimed that their daughter was passing as black. While she professed to be of mixed (white, African American) racial heritage, her parents asserted that she was of white European descent, with some remote Native American ancestry. The revelations precipitated Dolezal’s resignation from her role at the NAACP and a flurry of articles about the story that were disseminated around the world on Twitter under the “Rachel Dolezal” hashtag.

Much of the media coverage attempted to account for the fact that this story should elicit such impassioned reactions given that race has long been acknowledged as a performance. As Jelani Cobb wrote in the New Yorker, Dolezal had dressed herself in “a fictive garb of race whose determinations are as arbitrary as they are damaging.” This does not mean that Dolezal “wasn’t lying about who she is.” It means that “she was lying about a lie.” Meanwhile, in the New York Times, Daniel J. Sharfstein pointed out that the kind of passing we saw in Dolezal’s case – passing from white to black; so-called “reverse passing” – was not as historically uncommon as other writers had claimed. What is unusual is that Dolezal should feel the need to pass as black when there were no legal (and comparatively few social) obstacles to her forming “meaningful relationships with African-Americans, study[ing], teach[ing] and celebrat[ing] black history and culture and fight[ing] discrimination.” For Sharfstein, the explanation lies in the fact that “when blackness means something very specific – asserting that black lives matter – it follows for many people that categorical clarity has to matter, too.”

The pervasive media and public interest in the Dolezal story confirms the ongoing fascination with racial passing within and beyond the United States, a popular interest that has its counterpart in the proliferation of academic studies of the subject that have been published in the past twenty years. The scholarly attention paid to racial passing inaugurated, arguably, by Elaine K. Ginsberg in her edited volume Passing and the Fictions of Identity (1996) continues unabated in two recent works on the subject. Julie Cary Nerad’s edited volume Passing Interest is concerned with cultural representations of passing, while Allyson Hobbs’s A Chosen Exile grapples with its history.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Colin In Black and White (or For Colored Boys Who Considered Suicide After Cutting Their Braids)

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Videos on 2021-11-02 21:34Z by Steven

Colin In Black and White (or For Colored Boys Who Considered Suicide After Cutting Their Braids)

Black Power Media

Jared A. Ball, Ph.D., Professor of Africana and Communication
Morgan State University, Baltimore

At 00:36:02, Dr. Ball discusses the new Netflix series “Colin in Black and White” about the early life of Colin Kaepernick.

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Women and Mixed Race Representation in Film: Eight Star Profiles

Posted in Biography, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-10-27 20:24Z by Steven

Women and Mixed Race Representation in Film: Eight Star Profiles

302 pages
54 photos, notes, bibliography, index
7 x 10
Softcover ISBN: 978-1-4766-6338-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4766-4473-8

Valerie C. Gilbert
Seattle, Washington

This book uses a black/white interracial lens to examine the lives and careers of eight prominent American-born actresses from the silent age through the studio era, New Hollywood, and into the present century: Josephine Baker, Nina Mae McKinney, Fredi Washington, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Lonette McKee, Jennifer Beals and Halle Berry. Combining biography with detailed film readings, the author fleshes out the tragic mulatto stereotype, while at the same time exploring concepts and themes such as racial identity, the one-drop rule, passing, skin color, transracial adoption, interracial romance, and more. With a wealth of background information, this study also places these actresses in historical context, providing insight into the construction of race, both onscreen and off.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1. Josephine Baker: From Exotic Savage to Creole Queen
  • 2. Nina Mae McKinney: Dichotomy of a Hollywood Black Woman
  • 3. Fredi Washington: Paradox of Black Identity
  • 4. Lena Horne: Separate and Unequalled
  • 5. Dorothy Dandridge: ­Star-Crossed Crossover Star
  • 6. Lonette McKee: Mixed Race Heroine Remix
  • 7. Jennifer Beals: White But Not Quite
  • 8. Halle Berry: Imitation of Dorothy Dandridge
  • Chapter Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Screen Title Index
  • Subject Index
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The Emancipation of Mariah Carey: Inside The Making Of Her ESSENCE Cover 15 Years Ago

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-10-25 14:55Z by Steven

The Emancipation of Mariah Carey: Inside The Making Of Her ESSENCE Cover 15 Years Ago


Michaela Angela Davis

As the record-breaking album “The Emancipation of Mimi” turns 15 this week, a former editor remembers why the singer wanted to speak directly to black women for the first time.

“The ESSENCE cover was a milestone in my career. I felt like I was finally being seen. It gave me a sense of belonging.” —Mariah Carey

Cast in a gentle painterly light, the content and confident face of Mariah Carey peers out from the April 2005 cover of ESSENCE. Delicately brushed with “lingerie hues” of makeup and framed by soft romantic curls, her face radiates warmth. But underneath its shimmering surface, this monumental cover took deft hoop-jumping, sharp strategy and a committed circle of sisters…

Read the entire article here.

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