The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America – Daniel J. Sharfstein

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-07-30 20:15Z by Steven

The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America – Daniel J. Sharfstein

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
BlogTalk Radio
Thursday, 2014-06-26, 21:00 EDT, (Friday, 2014-06-27, 01:00Z)

Bernice Bennett, Host

Daniel J. Sharfstein, Professor of Law
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Join author, Daniel J. Sharfstein for a discussion of his book and research – The Invisible Line – Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White.

Defining their identities first as people of color and later as whites, these families provide a lens for understanding how people thought about and experienced race and how these ideas and experiences evolved—how the very meaning of black and white changed—over time. Cutting through centuries of myth, amnesia, and poisonous racial politics, The Invisible Line will change the way we talk about race, racism, and civil rights.

Daniel J. Sharfstein is a professor of law at Vanderbilt University. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, he has been awarded fellowships for his research on the legal history of race in the United States from Harvard, New York University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His book is available in paperback as The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America, and it has won three prizes: the J. Anthony Lukas Prize for narrative non-fiction, the Cromwell Book Prize from the American Society for Legal History, and the Hurst Prize from the Law and Society Association. Daniel has also spent the past year as a Guggenheim Fellow, working on a new book.

Defining their identities first as people of color and later as whites, these families provide a lens for understanding how people thought about and experienced race and how these ideas and experiences evolved—how the very meaning of black and white changed—over time. Cutting through centuries of myth, amnesia, and poisonous racial politics, The Invisible Line will change the way we talk about race, racism, and civil rights.

Check Out History Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with BerniceBennett on BlogTalkRadio

Download the episode here.

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Mixed Mondays Film Series at the Brooklyn Historical Society

Posted in Canada, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, Passing, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States, Videos, Women on 2014-07-27 08:59Z by Steven

Mixed Mondays Film Series at the Brooklyn Historical Society

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generatons
Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Mondays, 2014-08-04 through  2014-08-18, 18:30 EDT (Local Time)

Hosted by and post-screening discussion with:

Erica Chito Childs, Professor of Sociology (author of Navigating Interracial Borders and Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture)
City University of New York

This series is co-sponsored by MixedRaceStudies.org.

August 4: Imitation of Life (1959):

The Mixed Monday film series launches with a 1959 Lana Turner classic—Imitation of Lifewhich explores the story of an African-American woman and her light-skinned, mixed-race daughter who passes for white. Come munch on popcorn, watch the film and discuss the history and cultural context around mixed families, race relations and popular culture.

August 11: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985):

British-born, half-Pakistani playwright and novelist Hanif Kureishi won an Oscar nomination for his 1985 screenplay for My Beautiful Laundrette, a richly layered film about Pakistani immigrant life in Thatcherite London.

Come watch the protagonist, Omar, navigate mixed-income and mixed-race arrangements in his family and develop an unlikely, yet beautiful, queer relationship with Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis). Set against the backdrop of anti-immigrant racism and fascism, the story of Omar’s laundrette presents an electrifying set of possibilities around class, race, sexuality, belonging, and love.

August 18: Toasted Marshmallows (2014)

Come watch the first public screening of the documentary Toasted Marshmallows in the U.S.! Follow filmmakers Marcelitte Failla and Anoushka Ratnarajah on a journey across Canada and the U.S. as they document the experiences of other mixed-race identified women, delve into their own cultural and ethnic histories, and tell stories about color, passing, privilege, ancestry, and belonging. An extended preview of the film will be followed by a dialogue with the filmmakers and Erica Chito-Childs.

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How Turbans Helped Some Blacks Go Incognito In The Jim Crow Era

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-07-23 01:10Z by Steven

How Turbans Helped Some Blacks Go Incognito In The Jim Crow Era

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2014-07-19

Tanvi Misra

There’s a weekly trial on the Internet about who may be stealing culture from whom. Earlier this week, the defendants were Iggy Azalea and white gay men. A while back, it was Macklemore and the Harlem Shakers.

Now, we have come across a story from the Jim Crow era about cultural mimicry between people of color.

In mid-20th century America, the turban was a tool that people of color used for “confounding the color lines,” writes Manan Desai, board member of the South Asian American Digital Archive.

At the time, ideas of race in America were quite literally black and white. In some places, if you could pass yourself off as something other than black, you could circumvent some amount of discrimination. People of color — both foreigners and African-Americans — employed this to their advantage. Some did it just to get by in a racist society, some to make a political statement, and others — performers and businessmen — to gain access to fame and money they wouldn’t have otherwise had…

Read the entire article here.

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The Morristown Festival of Books is Proud to Announce the Authors for September 26 and 27, 2014

Posted in Articles, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Passing, United States on 2014-06-29 20:01Z by Steven

The Morristown Festival of Books is Proud to Announce the Authors for September 26 and 27, 2014

Morristown Festival of Books: Where Readers & Authors Meet
Morristown, New Jersey
2014-06-24

We are pleased to present our Friday night Keynote speaker and 21 authors appearing at the all-day Saturday Festival!

They will be sharing their perspectives on writing, on their book topics, answering audience questions, and signing copies of their recent releases. Choose some great summer reading and have fun trying to decide which authors you want to meet in the fall. The schedule and venues will be published early in September. Continue to check the website for updates and news throughout the summer…

…Coming in September, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life is the intriguing topic examined by Morristown High School graduate Allyson Hobbs, an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Stanford University. In the margins of historical accounts and the dusty corners of family archives, she uncovers stories long hidden.  A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, and awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Hobbs has appeared on C-Span and National Public Radio

Read the entire announcement here.

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Racial Imperatives: Discipline, Performativity, and Struggles against Subjection by Nadine Ehlers [review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-06-19 20:57Z by Steven

Racial Imperatives: Discipline, Performativity, and Struggles against Subjection by Nadine Ehlers [review]

International Social Science Review
Volume 88, Issue 3 (2014)

Matt Campbell
Doctoral Student of History
University of Houston, Houston, Texas

Ehlers, Nadine. Racial Imperatives: Discipline, Performativity, and Struggles against Subjection. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2012. x + 184 pages. Paper, $25.00.

Race theory is a discipline that has become increasingly useful in the social sciences in the past few decades. In Racial Imperatives, Nadine Ehlers, a scholar of women’s and gender studies, provides a welcome view of the often forgotten question of how whiteness and blackness are formed and how individuals “pass” as one or the other. Her work is brimming with interdisciplinary content, including philosophy, critical theory, race and gender studies, and history. In contrast to earlier works that have taken only a historical approach or only a philosophical approach to race, Ehlers builds on a broad range of scholarship, including such well known titles as the historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Figure in Black (1987), the philosopher George Yancy’s Black Bodies, White Gazes (2008), performance studies specialist E. Patrick Johnson’s Appropriating Blackness (2003), as well as a host of other works from scholars of slavery, post-Civil War racism, and African American studies. Ehlers also blends the work of French theorist Michel Foucault and the gender studies of Judith Butler to exhibit the “discipline” that exists in race and how through performativity, race is ultimately a game of passing…

Read the entire review  here.

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The Chosen Exile of Racial “Passing:” Allyson Hobbs at TEDxStanford

Posted in Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2014-06-05 02:07Z by Steven

The Chosen Exile of Racial “Passing:” Allyson Hobbs at TEDxStanford

TEDx Talks
2014-05-30

Allyson Hobbs, PhD 2009, speaks about the history of racial passing for TEDx Talks. Using the Emersonian idea of “coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience,” Hobbs tells the story of a cousin who passed for white, and how this story set her research in motion.

From the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries in America, some light-skinned black people passed for white in the hopes of gaining economic and social privilege—the writer and critic Anatole Broyard being a recent example. In her research, Hobbs found that the losses of passing far outweighed the gains. Like Broyard, those who passed became exiled from family, past, and home. This tragic loss of identity became the key for Hobbs to explore the construction of racial identity in the United States.

Allyson Hobbs is an assistant professor of American history at Stanford University. A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (Harvard, 2014) is an expansion of her University of Chicago dissertation, directed by Thomas Holt, George Chauncey, and Jacqueline Stewart.

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The “Passing” of Elsie Roxborough

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2014-06-05 01:50Z by Steven

The “Passing” of Elsie Roxborough

Michigan Quarterly Review
Volume 23, Issue 2 (Spring 1984)
pages 155-170
ISSN 0026-2420 (Print)
ISSN 1558-7266 (Online)

Kathleen A. Hauke (1935-2004)

Driving her fashionable Ford roadster from Detroit to Ann Arbor, Elsie Roxborough arrived at the University of Michigan as a freshman fifty years ago last fall. She was the first Negro student to live in a University dormitory. Her classmate Arthur Miller, an aspiring playwright and fellow reporter on the campus newspaper, called her “a beauty, the most striking girl in Ann Arbor. She was light-skinned and very classy. To a kid like me, she seemed svelte, knowing, witty, sexy.” With her own group in Detroit, the Roxane Players, she produced Langston Hughes’s play Drums of Haiti, and charmed Hughes as she had charmed boxer Joe Louis some years earlier. Elsie Roxborough was “the girl I was in love with” in 1937, Hughes wrote in his autobiography. Upon graduation, Roxborough “passed” into the white world. The next time most of her friends heard of her was in 1949 when an eight-column headline in the black newspaper Michigan Chronicle announced her death from an overdose of sleeping pills. Hughes kept her photograph over his writing table for the rest of his life.

Who was Elsie Roxborough? What became of her, and what did she represent? A piecing together of her life suggests that her fate was to dramatize the truth of Hughes’s poem “House in the World”:

I’m looking for a house
In the world
Where the white shadows
Will not fall.

There is no house,
Dark brother,
No such house
At all.

Elsie Roxborough started out to shake the stigma of color; when that proved impossible, she joined step with the oppressor. Her life as a disguised alien in the middle reaches of the white social register did not satisfy her ambition or her pride. Perhaps no happy ending awaited her. The welcome thawings of racial prejudice after the war, and the first signs of a civil rights movement, would only have mocked and embittered her in the years of her deception. A happy child become desperate, she is a case study of the “dark sister” excluded by the American Dream…

Read the entire article here.

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“You Just Said ‘We’”: The complexity of not being White and not being a person of color.

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-06-02 19:51Z by Steven

“You Just Said ‘We’”: The complexity of not being White and not being a person of color.

Nick Franco
May 2014

Nick Franco, Coordinator for the Student Affairs/SOLES Collaborative
University of San Diego

This past Tuesday night, I did a mock presentation of my dissertation proposal for my dissertation seminar course. It went fairly well, and feedback from the professor and my colleagues was really, really helpful.

During the Q&A/debrief portion of my presentation, I talked about White people and said “we,” suggesting that I was a White person speaking on behalf of my fellow White people. A colleague pointed it out, and I really wasn’t surprised or upset about it. I simply responded with, “Well, my own racial identity is a separate dissertation.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing for White, Passing for Jewish: Mixed Race Identity in Danzy Senna and Rebecca Walker

Posted in Articles, Passing, Religion on 2014-05-23 17:15Z by Steven

Passing for White, Passing for Jewish: Mixed Race Identity in Danzy Senna and Rebecca Walker

MELUS
Volume 30, Number 1, Indeterminate Identities (Spring, 2005)
pages 19-48
DOI: 10.1093/melus/30.1.19

Lori Harrison-Kahan, Associate Professor of the Practice of English
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Imitation of Life, one of the classic narratives of racial passing, originated as a 1933 novel by Jewish writer Fannie Hurst, but it is perhaps best known as the 1959 melodrama directed by Douglas Sirk inducing finale of the Sirk film, the prodigal black daughter, who has crossed the color line and passed for white, returns home for her mother’s funeral, collapsing in tears on the coffin as she blames herself for her mother’s death. Despite the progress of racial politics between the publication of Hurst’s novel and the release of Sirk’s film, whiteness continues to be positioned as the privileged identity, a positioning that the 1959 adaptation successfully critiques. In the film, the light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane Johnson, reviles her blackness as an object of self-hatred from a young age. Given a black doll by her white playmate, Susie, Sarah Jane throws the gift to the floor, crying, “I don’t want the black one.” The camera seizes upon the image of the rejected doll, foreshadowing the inevitable events to come: Sarah Jane’s forsaking of her dark-skinned mother in order to reinvent herself as a white woman. With her story’s heartbreaking ending, Sarah Jane becomes yet another tragic mulatta, joining the ranks of mixed race women in American literature and culture who typically meet bitter fates for their transgressions of the color line.

Almost forty years later, however, the narrative of passing does, finally, experience a significant shift. In contrast to most literary and cultural representations of passing, Danzy Senna’s 1998 novel,…

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Allyson Hobbs: Racial Passing and African American Family Life in Jim Crow America

Posted in History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2014-05-21 22:35Z by Steven

Allyson Hobbs: Racial Passing and African American Family Life in Jim Crow America

The Ethics@noon Series
The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society
Stanford University
2011-02-04

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

On February 4th, 2011 Allyson Hobbs discussed the Jim Crow era as a watershed in the history of racial passing. The talk examines passing’s disruptions and dislocations to black families in Jim Crow America. Allyson Hobbs is an assistant professor of American history. Her research interests include racial mixture, migration and urbanization, and the intersections of race, class and gender.

The Ethics@noon series consists of informal noon-time talks and discussions, focused on different ethical issues. Each week, Stanford faculty tackle important questions of ethics that arise in private and public life.

The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and engagement.

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