Paperback Row

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-05-04 02:10Z by Steven

Paperback Row

Book Review
The New York Times
2016-04-29

Joumana Khatib

Seven new paperbacks to check out this week.

A CHOSEN EXILE: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, by Allyson Hobbs. (Harvard University, $16.95.) People who chose to “pass” were intentionally clandestine and left few clues of their histories, but here, Hobbs, a historian at Stanford, delves into the fraught history of African-Americans who passed as white in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a focus on the black families and identities that were left behind…

Read the entire article here.

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The Gilded Years, A Novel

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, Women on 2016-04-28 02:23Z by Steven

The Gilded Years, A Novel

Washington Square Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
June 2016
384 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781501110450
eBook ISBN: 9781501110467

Karin Tanabe
Washington, D.C.

Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.

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Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, United States on 2016-04-28 02:21Z by Steven

Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins

Broadview Press
2016-05-15 (Originally Published in 1894)
304 pages
5½” x 8½”
Paperback ISBN: 9781554812660

Mark Twain

Edited by:

Hsuan L. Hsu, Associate Professor of English
University of California, Davis

The two narratives published together in The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins are overflowing with spectacular events. Twain shows us conjoined twins, babies exchanged in the cradle, acts of cross-dressing and racial masquerade, duels, a lynching, and a murder mystery. Pudd’head Wilson tells the story of babies, one of mixed race and the other white, exchanged in their cradles, while Those Extraordinary Twins is a farcical tale of conjoined twins. Although the stories were long viewed as flawed narratives, their very incongruities offer a fascinating portrait of key issues—race, disability, and immigration—facing the United States in the final decades of the nineteenth century.

Hsuan Hsu’s introduction traces the history of literary critics’ response to these works, from the confusion of Twain’s contemporaries to the keen interest of current scholars. Extensive historical appendices provide contemporary materials on race discourse, legal contexts, and the composition and initial reception of the texts.

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22nd Annual David Noble Lecture featuring Robin D.G. Kelley

Posted in Biography, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Passing, United States, Women on 2016-04-26 20:31Z by Steven

22nd Annual David Noble Lecture featuring Robin D.G. Kelley

Best Buy Theater
Northrop Auditorium
84 Church Street, SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455
Tuesday, 2016-04-26, 19:00 CDT (Local Time)

Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History
University of California, Los Angeles

The 22nd Annual David Noble Lecture will feature Robin D.G. Kelley. His talk is titled “‘A Female Candide’: U.S. Empire, Racial Cartographies, and the Education of Grace Halsell, 1952 – 1986.” Kelley’s talk focuses on Texas-born journalist Grace Halsell, who spent part of the Cold War as a foreign correspondent, including a stint in Vietnam, working as a staff writer under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and engaged in investigations into U.S. “internal colonies.” She chemically darkened her skin and lived as a black woman in Harlem and Mississippi, resulting in her book, Soul Sister; she published Bessie Yellowhair about living as a Navajo and working as a housekeeper; and The Illegals, a book about passing as an undocumented worker from Mexico. In the course of her travels and experiments in racial passing, the worlds she encountered undermined the conceits she grew up with. Halsell’s world view, schooled in Cold War liberalism, Southern paternalism & white supremacy, and domesticity, begins to unravel especially after her stint in Vietnam, and even more so when she turns her attention to the U.S., its ghettos, reservations, borders and finally to Palestine. So in some ways, this is a classic loss of innocence story.

For more information, click here.

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Passing

Posted in Arts, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Oceania, Passing on 2016-04-24 01:14Z by Steven

Passing

Next Wave Festival 2016
Northcote Town Hall
189 High Street
Northcote, Victoria 3070
2016-05-12 Through 2016-05-18, Tuesday-Friday 18:30 AEST, Saturday 15:15 and 18:30 AEST (Local Time)

Presented in association with Darebin Arts’ Speakeasy

Choreographers/Performers: Amrita Hepi (Bundjalung NSW/Ngāpuhi NZ) and Jahra Wasasala (NZ)

Using the notion of racial passing as a catalyst for a series of movement monologues, spoken word passages and physical conversations, PASSING maps two bodies under pressure from the responsibility that comes from being of mixed cultural background.

A trans-pacific partnership of physical force, PASSING combines Amrita Hepi’s hip-hop prowess and background in contemporary dance with Jahra Wasasala’s grounded and ritualistic choreographic style to create a provocative, complex and deeply magnetic work—a physical dialogue that exists between two daughters of diaspora.

Bringing together some of Australia’s most talented creatives including an original score by Lavern Lee (Guerre, Cassius Select, Black Vanilla) and styling by installation artist Honey Long, PASSING is an evocative portrait of the ‘exotic’, and the exhausting effects the title can bear.

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Moral Judgments of Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-24 00:51Z by Steven

Moral Judgments of Racial Passing

Sponsored Research
Lewis & Clark College
Portland, Oregon
December 2015

The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) has awarded Assistant Professor of Psychology Diana Leonard a grant from the Grants-in-Aid program. These funds will support Dr. Leonard’s new collaborative research project, “Moral Judgments of Racial Passing: Role of perceiver ideology and consequences for social distancing behavior.” Dr. Leonard will collaborate with Lewis & Clark undergraduates and Dr. Paul Conway at Florida State University to accomplish this research. This project will address a current gap in the scientific literature on racial perceptions, and is timely: conversations about racial passing–presenting oneself as a race other than one’s own–have been highlighted in the national media lately. Dr. Leonard’s project will explore moral judgments of racial passers, and how these judgments are shaped by two ideological factors: “social dominance orientation” and “endorsement of colorblind ideology.” This research will ultimately be extended to investigate how racial passers’ perceived motivations and degree of immersion in another racial identity shape judgments of their behavior. More about Dr. Leonard’s research is available here.

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Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-04-24 00:38Z by Steven

Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians

University of North Carolina Press
September 2015
270 pages
8 halftones, 1 map, notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2443-3

Angela Pulley Hudson, Associate Professor of History
Texas A&M University

In the mid-1840s, Warner McCary, an ex-slave from Mississippi, claimed a new identity for himself, traveling around the nation as Choctaw performer “Okah Tubbee.” He soon married Lucy Stanton, a divorced white Mormon woman from New York, who likewise claimed to be an Indian and used the name “Laah Ceil.” Together, they embarked on an astounding, sometimes scandalous journey across the United States and Canada, performing as American Indians for sectarian worshippers, theater audiences, and patent medicine seekers. Along the way, they used widespread notions of “Indianness” to disguise their backgrounds, justify their marriage, and make a living. In doing so, they reflected and shaped popular ideas about what it meant to be an American Indian in the mid-nineteenth century.

Weaving together histories of slavery, Mormonism, popular culture, and American medicine, Angela Pulley Hudson offers a fascinating tale of ingenuity, imposture, and identity. While illuminating the complex relationship between race, religion, and gender in nineteenth-century North America, Hudson reveals how the idea of the “Indian” influenced many of the era’s social movements. Through the remarkable lives of Tubbee and Ceil, Hudson uncovers both the complex and fluid nature of antebellum identities and the place of “Indianness” at the very heart of American culture.

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Lost Boundaries (1949)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-21 20:25Z by Steven

Lost Boundaries (1949)

Turner Classic Movies
February 2016

David Kalat

This is not a joke, but it starts like one: two men walk into an office. They have come to pitch an idea to a Hollywood mogul, an idea for a blockbuster movie. Sort of. Their idea is a docu-drama on George Washington Carver.

Perhaps the idea doesn’t strike you as a winning one. But this was no ordinary mogul. His name was Louis De Rochemont, and he was the Academy Award-winning documentarian responsible for the March of Time newsreel series. He’d segued that success into an unprecedented contract with MGM giving him creative freedom to make whatever projects he wished, on his own turf. As a New Hampshire native, his own turf meant that state — and the projects he wished were ones rooted in reality. “The aim of any drama is to give the illusion of real things,” he explained, “So why not use real things in the first place?” These were not idle words, either–he was prepared to put his money where his mouth was, and always had. At the age of twelve, he’d sent away to Popular Mechanics for the blueprints of a motion picture camera, and then built his own according to the plans. With that, he then shot some film around his hometown and sold it to theaters. This hobby found him one day shooting footage of a submarine launch in Portsmouth, which was purchased by a newsreel company. The delighted kid took his earnings and used it–get this–to go to a New York theater and see his film on the big screen. Mr. De Rochemont was an earnest fellow, and that made him an ideal producer for a Carver bio-pic.

So, he sat and listened to the pitch, unconvinced but polite enough to not kick these two equally earnest kids out of his office, like so many other movie people would have done. De Rochemont looked at the two boys in front of him, one black and one white, and asked, “I understand why you want this film made… but what about you?” The white boy, an aspiring composer named Albert Johnston, Jr., smiled at the older man’s misapprehension. He explained that although many people mistake him for white, in fact he had been passing for years. Actually, he’d been passing his whole life, and only just learned the truth.

For contemporary readers, that term “passing” may cause some puzzlement. In the late 1940s, when this took place, however, it’s another matter. It was a time of rigid racial segregation, when even “one drop of Negro blood” was enough to consign a person to a permanent second-class status. Of course, “one drop of Negro blood” is a biologically ridiculous notion. I said it wasn’t a joke, but this part certainly is. There is no scientific way to distinguish one race from another–it isn’t a biological difference, merely a cultural illusion. And as a cultural illusion, it is built entirely atop what people look like. There are people whose lineage would identify them as “black,” but who do not look it. In the absence of some external proof of “Negro blood,” then, it becomes a question of the honor system whether these straddlers would choose to opt into the second class life that their racist society demanded. Little wonder, then, that there were some who were willing to be accepted as white…

Read the entire article here.

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Movie of the Week: Lost Boundaries

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-21 02:50Z by Steven

Movie of the Week: Lost Boundaries

LIFE
1949-07-04
pages 64-66


THE DOCTOR’S SON, who has just learned he is part Negro looks at the half-moons on his nails for telltale shadows–a widely believed but completely inaccurate test of Negro blood.

Film tells real-life story of Negroes “passing” as whites

Dr. Albert Johnston (below) of Keene, N.H. is a prosperous New England physician who was a Negro for the first 28 years of his life, lived as a white man for 20 more and became a Negro again when the U.S. Navy, having investigated his past, refused him a commission for “inability to meet physical requirements.” The story of what Negroes call his “passing” is not too different from that of thousands of other technically “colored” Americans who have passed over the invisible boundary to the white race. Told by William L. White in a widely read Reader’s Digest article in 1947,  it has now been made into an honest and affecting movie by Louis de Rochemont. Using the documentary technique he popularized in Hollywood (The House on 92nd Street, Boomerang!), De Rochemont filmed Lost Boundaries against the real background of New England towns. As fictionalized for the screen, it tells of a light-skinned Negro couple (played by white actors) driven to cross the color line by poverty and the advice of friends, and of the vexations of discrimination. They build a happy but insecure life in a small town, gaining the respect and friendship of their neighbors and bringing up children in ignorance of their past. Their lives are disrupted when they have to admit the truth, but finally patched together again by tolerance and courage and good sense. Related without melodrama, acted with conviction and force, Lost Boundaries is a direct and honest account of one shadowy sector of American life where unknown thousands live today in secret conflict of loyalties and fears…

Read the entire article here.

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Blackass: a race rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing on 2016-04-18 00:04Z by Steven

Blackass: a race rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

The Guardian
2016-04-13

Ainehi Edoro

Ainehi Edoro reflects on Blackass, a novel that subjects Kafka’s classic to African literary conventions – and, in the process, gives an iconic European story ‘an extreme but necessary makeover’

Last year, I received a review copy of A Igoni Barrett’s Blackass from his Nigerian publisher. I knew it was a rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I just didn’t know what to expect. To be quite frank, I was a bit worried. Kafka has not always lived a happy life in Africa. When Guinean novelist Camara Laye wrote a Kafka-inspired novel, he was dragged through a gauntlet of scandals. Kind commentators called his work derivative and unoriginal. Others were less kind. They accused him of borderline plagiarism. Some even went as far as suggesting that he couldn’t have written the novel without the help of a ghostwriter of some kind. But Blackass, it turns out, is different. Barrett essentially subjects Kafka’s classic to the pressures African literary conventions, and, in the process, gives an iconic European story an extreme, but much needed makeover.

Both stories share the premise of a human body undergoing a change so abrupt and so drastic that the old body is unrecognizable in the new one. But there is a key difference. The Metamorphosis tells the story of a man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one non-descript morning and finds he is a human-size bug. But in Blackass, Furo Wariboko wakes up and finds he has been transformed into a white man while his buttocks remain black, hence the title Blackass. This shift from animal to racial metamorphosis initiates a series of aesthetic interventions that reveal just how much Kafka’s beloved story was begging to be upgraded for the contemporary reader…

Read the entire review here.

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