Passing Revisited: Racial Passing and White Supremacy

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-09-13 00:34Z by Steven

Passing Revisited: Racial Passing and White Supremacy

Medium
2020-09-04

Jennifer Rittner

In the wake of the white supremacist marches in 2017, I wrote a short reflection on racial passing. In that essay I wrote about my Black mother, my white son, and the absurd mythologies of racial purity needed by white supremacists to support their beliefs. Those marchers surely counted among them many who had direct African American heritage as a result of near ancestors who had passed for white in the inhospitable environments of legal slavery and Jim Crow.

The White Supremacy of Masquerading as Black

White supremacy rears its head again in another form of passing, as men and women who have grown up as white children in white families have taken to masquerading as Black adults in order to achieve personal success as race warriors. Jessica Krug and Rachel Dolezal, two sisters-in-deceit, both manipulated their ways to success by passing as a Black woman, and in the process, denying actual women of color the opportunities they took for themselves. Their behavior should cause us to reflect on our United States of Racial Anxiety as we are all, in fact, oppressed by our nation’s historical, collective weaponization of race. While adamantly censuring both of these women, we can use their deceptions as opportunities to reflect on how the social conditions we construct and perpetuate demand certain forms of racial authenticity, often built on the anxieties we all feel about passing as something.

First, two resources for anyone interested in the history of passing:

Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life is a well-researched and beautiful read on the topic. James Baldwin, Another Country was one of the first books in which I felt seen around the question of passing as a social act…

Read the entire article here.

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No white person, no non-Black person, has the right to claim proximity to or belonging in a Black community by virtue of abuse, trauma, non-acceptance, and non-belonging in a white community.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2020-09-12 21:40Z by Steven

No white person, no non-Black person, has the right to claim proximity to or belonging in a Black community by virtue of abuse, trauma, non-acceptance, and non-belonging in a white community. The abuse within and alienation from my birth family and society are no one’s burden but my own, and mine alone to address. Black people and Black communities have no obligation to harbor the refuse of non-Black societies. I have done this. I know it is wrong and I have done this anyway.

Jessica A. Krug, “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies,” Medium, September 3, 2020. https://medium.com/@jessakrug/the-truth-and-the-anti-black-violence-of-my-lies-9a9621401f85.

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On Jessica Krug and Mixed Race Identity

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-09-10 01:27Z by Steven

On Jessica Krug and Mixed Race Identity

Medium
2020-09-08

Josephine

The revelation in fall 2020 that Jessica Krug, a white American woman, just like Rachel Dolezal before her, spent years holding herself out as Black and Black Latina woman made us all cringe. Krug took pains to make her skin appear bronzed, she dressed in form-fitting clothing, and kept her hair dyed dark black, adding in curly or wavy texture for good measure. We all remember Dolezal’s kinky textured blonde hair and braids that gave her a distinctly ‘mixed race’ look. These women hogged the limelight and took employment and community outreach opportunities from Black women.

Their masquerade has prompted a conversation within the Black and Latinx communities around colorism: the way that light-skinned, mixed race, and white-passing Black women seem to get opportunities that are not available to dark-skinned Black women.

As long as I can remember, American movies with a Black man as the protagonist invariably had him fall in love with a Black woman who appeared mixed race. As a mixed race woman, I noticed this, and I could see how unfair it was: the subtle message was that I would be accepted as beautiful in the black community. Looking back, I see how those same films and series made dark-skinned women question their worth.

Remember Dorothy Dandridge’s ‘exotic’ beauty? We wonder why black women feel pressure to straighten their hair and lighten their skin, but in popular culture, we have all been conditioned to see light-skinned women as the only presentable face of black womanhood. The use of mixed race women as the face of blackness has long left out the majority of Black women who have a beauty that is not contingent on detectable quantum of white blood…

Read the entire article here.

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The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-09-03 19:17Z by Steven

The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies

Medium
2020-09-03

Jessica A. Krug, Associate Professor of History
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies.

Not just any lies.

To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness. I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring. People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love…

Read the entire essay here.

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I Am a Descendant of James Madison and His Slave

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-03-22 02:26Z by Steven

I Am a Descendant of James Madison and His Slave

Zora
Medium
2020-03-17

Bettye Kearse


Illustration: Sophia Zarders

My whole life, my mother told me, ‘Always remember — you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.’

President Madison did not have children with his wife, Dolley. Leading scholars believe he was impotent, infertile, or both. But the stories I have heard since my childhood say that James Madison, a Founding Father of our nation, was also a founding father of my African American family.

In my childhood, whenever I whined or squirmed or got into trouble, my mother repeated the refrain: “Always remember — you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.” This is my family’s credo, the statement that has guided us for 200 years.

Though many in our family have heard we descend from President Madison and his slaves, only the griots — the one-in-a-generation oral historians in the family — know the full account of our ancestors, White and Black, in America. Gramps had told me many stories, but the detailed family history was Mom’s responsibility to convey to me when I became the next griotte.

The night my mother passed those stories on to me, I understood for the first time why some of the details of our family history were passed only from the griot of one generation to that of the next. Not only were some of the stories intimate, but this tradition safeguarded their accuracy, truth, and longevity. I sank into the sofa with my mother and listened with a new awareness of the significance of her words and what they meant to me. She began…

Read the entire article here.

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Identity angst is a luxury of the privileged. And I was privileged. And I was/am angst.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-10-27 16:28Z by Steven

Identity angst is a luxury of the privileged. And I was privileged. And I was/am angst. The fact that I have time space and a vocabulary to tease out my own relationship to race and represent Asian, and to lobby for more gender equity or fight for diversity in Western media and culture, means that I am already living my mother’s American dream. It wouldn’t look like that to her. Nope. She used to sigh and roll her eyes when I did shows like “Birth of a nASIAN” at the Smithsonian about Asian American identities. She was furious when I got into Juilliard because it meant I was not going to morph into a blonde doctor by sheer force of her will. And she would still be mad today that I am not pursuing her dream of passing as one of the Real Housewives of Assimilation Hills.

Kate Rigg, “My Asian Mom bought me a Blonde Wig.Medium, October 25, 2019. https://medium.com/@katerigg/my-asian-mom-bought-me-a-blonde-wig-6158df9c7a3a.

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My Asian Mom bought me a Blonde Wig.

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-26 23:07Z by Steven

My Asian Mom bought me a Blonde Wig.

Medium
2019-10-25

Kate Rigg


Yeah I wore it ONE TIME. To Wigstock at the end of high school. Doesn’t count.

And Other Adventures in Internalized Racism

“It will make you feel like success! You can be anyone you want in America. So why not have blonde hair and blue eyes?”

My mom’s big idea was that I should go to my first day of high school wearing a blonde wig and blue eye contacts.

“Why not? It will be a change! Fantastic! I will buy them for you! we can get matching it will be fun!”

So many exclamation points! So much fun! Gesturing at me with a People magazine with Pam Anderson on the cover! I was fourteen; and even then I knew that this situation was no fun. Not for me. And deep down, I bet, not for her.

I tried to verbally tap dance out of it. “I don’t have time for all that. I have to get school supplies and clean my room. Ok see you later byeeee.” Tried to lie my way out of it. “Oh yeah, sure I would totally do that, but I want to pay for it myself so it really feels like me.” Tried out reverse psychology out of it “People should like me for who I really am. Isn’t that what you taught me?”

The one thing I didn’t do was flat out say “No.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Kamala Harris, Birtherism, Race and the Unscrupulous, Sinister Antics of the Far Right!

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-07-05 00:44Z by Steven

Kamala Harris, Birtherism, Race and the Unscrupulous, Sinister Antics of the Far Right!

Medium
2019-07-04

Elwood Watson, Professor of History, African American Studies and Gender Studies
East Tennessee State University

Elwood Watson

Now that she has emerged as a serious contender for the 2020 democratic nomination for president, Kamala Harris has come under attack from a number of conservative political outlets. Various segments of the right wing echo chamber immediately began working overtime in an effort to discredit the former California attorney general, now U.S. Senator.

Partisan knives have been purchased, sharpened and some have been employed by their unethical owners in an unabashed effort to attempt to stab and discredit the senator’s claim of American roots. Fortunately, for Harris, her formidable mental agility coupled with her acute political acumen has been a tremendous weapon to protect herself and stave off a vicious onslaught of treacherous and wicked attacks.

The most recent genesis of such a sinister ploy originated by a Black conservative internet blogger, Ali Alexander whose online identity was previously known as Ali Akbar and Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar. Alexander is a Black right wing, MAGA-world internet personality who crafted and engineered a website for similar, conspiratorial, like-minded fringe elements of the extreme right who were unable or in some cases, unwilling to either embrace or find a stable home in more mainstream conservative media circles…

Read the entire article here.

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Occupying the peculiar liminal space between the fiction of race and the realities of its imposition has presented me a strange reality as a multiracial Black adult of the African diaspora: Black to some, mixed race to others, generally confusing to many…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-04-20 01:12Z by Steven

Occupying the peculiar liminal space between the fiction of race and the realities of its imposition has presented me a strange reality as a multiracial Black adult of the African diaspora: Black to some, mixed race to others, generally confusing to many; white women touching my hair without permission; South Asian old ladies looking at me with suspicion; sideways looks from cops who presume I’m up to no good. If you’re a Black-coded mixed-race person, the cops don’t care who your parents are. I identify as Black because that’s how the world interacts with me. I am also mixed race. The language of halves and quarters does not serve us. We are whole, complex human beings.

Daniella Barreto, “We Can’t Screw Ourselves Out of Racism,” Medium, March 28, 2019. https://medium.com/shareyournuance/cant-fuck-ourselves-out-of-racism-72d91ecbe87.

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We Can’t Screw Ourselves Out of Racism

Posted in Articles, Canada, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice on 2019-04-19 21:27Z by Steven

We Can’t Screw Ourselves Out of Racism

Medium
2019-03-28

Daniella Barreto, Digital Activism Coordinator
Amnesty International
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Illustration by Maia Boakye (@/ghostyboi)

Multiracial kids won’t end racism. Stop acting like we can.

In case you’ve been living under a six-ton boulder for the last five years, featuring mixed-race couples is the hot new thing in advertising. It’s edgy! It’s progressive! It’s absolutely adorable! Best of all, it is accessible to anyone who’s willing to test out their new Diversity Strategy™ and choose to see the backlash as free PR: banks, clothing brands, jewellers, mattresses, cereals, you name it. We haven’t stopped at plain old mixed race heteros, lord no. Ever heard of representation? Give me mixed race gays. Add some kids! (Just don’t get into that queer or trans business much because there’s not a lot of expendable cash in that.) Diversity’s the in-thing! The opportunities are endless.

Our obsession with diversity reveals far more about us than we think. And serves as a convenient distraction to avoid doing any real equity work.

Mixed race relationships are not inherently progressive, radical, or even healthy. That includes queer ones. The mainstream gawks at multiracial people and mixed-race relationships, turning us into superheroes or weirdos, statistical outliers divorced from the historical impacts of colonization and anti-Black racism — particularly in a Canada so smitten with itself that it has started to believe its own lies about multiculturalism.

It is a gross misunderstanding and a cruel oversimplification of the magnitude and insidiousness of white supremacy (and basic genetics) to think that if we all just fuck each other more or have mixed babies that we will get along better, turn the same shade of beige, and lo, racism will vanish…

Read the entire article here.

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