The Burdened Virtue of Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-05-16 19:38Z by Steven

The Burdened Virtue of Racial Passing

The Boston Review
2022-05-13

Meena Krishnamurthy, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

A still from Rebecca Hall’s film Passing, based on the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen. Image: Netflix

Though a means of escaping and undermining racial injustice, the practice comes with own set of costs and sacrifices.

In Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, adapted by Rebecca Hall and distributed on Netfli­x last fall, Clare Kendry—a light-skinned Black woman—decides to pass as white. Clare grows up poor in Chicago; after her alcoholic father dies, she is taken in by her racist white aunts. When she turns eighteen she marries a rich white man who assumes she is white. Clare makes a clean escape until, some years later, she runs into her childhood friend, Irene Redfield, at a whites-only hotel; Irene, it turns out, sometimes passes herself, in this case to escape the summer heat. The storyline traces their complex relationship after this reunion and ends in tragedy for Clare.

Hall’s film adaptation joins several other recent representations that dramatize the lived experience of passing. The protagonist of Brit Bennett’s best-selling novel The Vanishing Half (2020), for example, decides to start passing as white in the 1950s at age sixteen after responding to a listing in the newspaper for secretarial work in a New Orleans department store. Much to her surprise, after excelling at the typing test, Stella is offered the position; her boss assumes she is white. Initially Stella keeps up the ruse just to support her and her sister, but passing also becomes a way for her to escape the trauma of her father’s lynching and the prospect of her own…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing for White

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-07-26 15:48Z by Steven

Passing for White

Barrington Stoke
2017-05-11
112 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78112-681-3

Tanya Landman

She must pose as a master to make herself free.

It’s 1848 in the Deep South of America. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means she can ‘pass for white’. With the help of Benjamin, her husband, she disguises herself as a young white man – and Benjamin’s master. In this guise, the two of them must make their way out of the South, avoiding those they have encountered before and holding their nerve over a thousand miles to freedom.

Inspired by the amazing true story of Ellen and William Craft, this is a powerful tale of danger, injustice and unimaginable courage.

Information for Adults: This book has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock so that even more readers can enjoy it. It has been edited to a reading age of 8.

It features a removable ‘super-readable’ sticker.

Read the first chapter here.

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