Racial Repression and Doubling in Nella Larsen’s Passing

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2022-09-04 03:06Z by Steven

Racial Repression and Doubling in Nella Larsen’s Passing

South Atlantic Review
Volume 87, Number 1, Spring 2022

Doreen Fowler, Professor of English
University of Kansas

Critics of Passing have often observed that the novel seems to avoid engagement with the problem of racial inequality in the United States, and Claudia Tate goes so far as to write that “race … is merely a mechanism for setting the story in motion” (598). In the apparent absence of race as the novel’s subject, scholars have identified class or lesbian attraction as the novel’s central preoccupation. (1) While same sex attraction and class are certainly concerns of the novel, I would argue that critics have overlooked the centrality of race in the novel because the subject of Passing is racial repression; that is, a complete solidarity with an oppressed, racialized people is the repressed referent, and, for that reason, race scarcely appears. As a novel about passing, Larsen’s subject is a refusal to fully identify with African Americans, but Larsen’s critique is not only directed at members of the black community who pass for white; rather, Passing explores how race is repressed in the United States among both whites and some members of what Irene refers to as “Negro society” (157). Throughout the text, darkness is blanketed by whiteness. Even the word black or Negro seems to be nearly banished from the text. As I will show, the novel explores how an association with a black identity is repressed by many characters, including Brian, Jack Bellew, Gertrude, and other members of Harlem society, but Irene Redfield, the central consciousness of the novel, through whose mind events are perceived and filtered, is the primary exponent of racial repression. Jacquelyn McLendon astutely observes that Irene Redfield “lives in constant imitation of whites” (97). (2) Building on this observation, I argue that Irene, who desires safety above all, identifies safety with whiteness and represses a full identification with the black community out of a refusal of the abjection that whites project on black people. For this reason, Irene not only imitates whites in her upper-class bourgeois life, she, like a person passing for white, works to erase signs of her black identity–but those signs of blackness return to haunt her in the form of her double, Clare. While many scholars have recognized that Irene is ambivalent about her African American identity and that Clare and Irene are doubled, my original contribution is to link the two. In my reading, Clare is Irene’s uncanny double because she figures the return of Irene’s rejected desire to fully integrate with the black race.

In this essay, I propose that Larsen turns to Freudian theory to analyze the psychological dimension of racial repression. As Thadious Davis observes, Larsen was “very much aware of Freud, Jung, and their works” (329), and the cornerstone of Freud’s theory is repression. According to Freud, “the essence of repression lies simply in turning something away, and keeping it at a distance from the conscious” (“Repression,” SE 14:147). Repression, then, is a form of self-censorship, which occurs, Freud explains, when an instinct is driven underground because the satisfaction of that desire…

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Growing up with a Jewish mom and a famous dad he never knew — the jazz musician Roy Ayers

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2022-09-04 02:48Z by Steven

Growing up with a Jewish mom and a famous dad he never knew — the jazz musician Roy Ayers

Forward
2022-08-15

TaRessa Stovall

Author Nabil Ayers, left; his father, jazz musician Roy Ayers, right. Courtesy of Nabil Ayers (author photo and book cover); and Scott Dudelson/Getty Images (Roy Ayers photo)

Nabil Ayers’ memoir reflects on family, identity and his journey to connect with a Black father who was ‘really just DNA’

Nabil Ayers carries the surname of a famous father he barely knows, except in the ubiquitous music of Roy Ayers – most famously in the 1976 jazz-soul-funk album by that name featuring the hit “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” For the younger Ayers, it pops up to surprise him when he least expects it.

Flashback to 1970, when Louise Braufman, a white Jewish former ballerina working as a waitress in New York took one look at the rising African American jazz composer and vibraphonist and thought she’d have a baby with him.

After a few casual dates, she asked Roy Ayers and he agreed, cautioning her that his career was his priority, and he wasn’t available for a serious relationship or any form of parenting.

Nabil Ayers was born of that union and grew up with a strong sense of self, despite his father’s absence. His new memoir, “My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family,” explores his unconventional but richly diverse childhood, his own rise in the music industry and the search to connect with his father, which led to discovering paternal Black half-siblings and an enslaved ancestor…

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Meghan Markle, colorism and the archetype of the ‘tragic mulatto’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2022-09-04 02:15Z by Steven

Meghan Markle, colorism and the archetype of the ‘tragic mulatto’

The Washington Post
2022-09-04

Karen Attiah, Columnist

Meghan Markle in New York on Sept. 23. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Aug. 31 marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Also killed were her Egyptian lover, Dodi Al Fayed, and their driver, who was trying to evade a horde of photo-seeking paparazzi chasing them.

Diana was White female innocence personified — “Shy Di,” who had the sympathy of many women who faced unhappy marriages inflamed by adultery and unwelcoming in-laws. As the years went on, Diana’s story became about her attempts to use both her glamour and relatability to break out of the confining box of the British royal family.

It’s probably not a coincidence, then, that Meghan Markle chose last month to launch “Archetypes,” a podcast that aims to explore the stereotypes and boxes that societies put women in.

Which led me to think about the meaning of Markle’s saga with the royal family.

In a conversation on “Archetypes” with biracial singer Mariah Carey, Markle discussed how she was made more aware of the shifting goal posts of race. “I think for us, it’s so different because we’re light-skinned,” she said. “You’re not treated as a Black woman. You’re not treated as a White woman. You sort of fit in between.”…

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Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2022-09-04 02:04Z by Steven

Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic

Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield)
October 2022
342 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-7936-5263-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-7936-5264-5

Mark Christian, Professor of Africana Studies
City University of New York, New York, New York

In Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic, Mark Christian presents a Black British study within the context of the transatlantic and Liverpool, England. Taking a semi-autoethnographic approach based on the author’s Black Liverpool heritage, Christian interacts with Paul Gilroy’s notion of the Black Atlantic. Yet, provides a fresh perspective that takes into account a famous British slave port’s history that has been overlooked or under-utilized. The longevity of Black presence in the city involves a history of discrimination, stigma, and a population group known colloquially as Liverpool Born Blacks (LBBs). Crucially, this book provides the reader with a deeper insight of the transatlantic in regard to the movement of Black souls and their struggle for acceptance in a hostile environment. This book is an evocative, passionate, and revealing read.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    1. Theorizing Transatlantic Liverpool and the Black Atlantic Paradigm
    2. Life and Times in a Liverpool Black Family – The Christians
    3. Schooling, L8 Community Football, Grassroots Education, and Mainstream Miseducation
    4. Anti-Black Riots, Resistance & Black Organization Demise: 1919-2000s
    5. A Tale of Two Freedoms: Contemporary Self-Reflexivity and the Memory of Frederick Douglass
  • Appendices
    1. Liverpool City Council Slave Apology Minutes – from December 9, 1999
    2. The Age of Slave Apologies: The Case of Liverpool, England – transcript of public lecture presented by Dr. Mark Christian, November 14, 2007
    3. Front cover: CWCN Reports on Historic Slave Apology (Issue 26: December 1999)
    4. Consortium of Black Organisations – Liverpool- Response to LCC Slave Apology
    5. Front cover: CWCN Celebration of College Status (Issue 12: December 1992)
    6. CWCN Editorial denounces drastic cuts to funding by LCC (Issue 21: June 1997)
    7. Liverpool Echo (August 27, 1997) – Report praised CWC teaching
    8. Front cover: CWCN (Issue 1: June 1987) – Evidence of LCC fight to close CWC in 1987
    9. Front cover: CWCN (Issue 25: June 1999) – Reports on Lawrence Inquiry and Racism
    10. CWCN (Issue 12: December 1992, p.13) – Proof of Jacqueline N. Brown visiting CWC.
    11. Front cover: CWCN (Issue 8: December 1990) – Dr. William E. Nelson Jr at CWC
    12. Dr Mark Christian Community Education Award from The Voice 1999
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
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Ruby Red Skies, A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Novels on 2022-09-04 02:01Z by Steven

Ruby Red Skies, A Novel

Roseway Publishing (an imprint of Fernwood Publishing)
October 2022
272 pages
8.5 x 5.5 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781773635606

Taslim Burkowicz

Ruby used to be a fiery, sexy, musical genius. But when she got pregnant as a teenager in the 90s, her life took a turn into banality. Now a middle-aged Indo-Canadian woman, she feels unseen and unheard by her white husband and struggles to communicate with her mixed-race daughter. When she discovers her husband cheating, she embarks on a quest to unearth exciting secrets from her past. To find what she needs, she drives straight into B.C.’s raging wildfires, accompanied only by the fantastical stories her mother used to tell about their ancient Moghul ancestry — a dancer named Rubina who lived in the concubine quarters of the great Red Fort. This book is at once historical fiction and political romance, deftly navigating themes of mixed-race relationships, climate change, motherhood, body shame, death and the passage of time.

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