In Black and White: A Hermeneutic Argument against “Transracialism”

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2018-04-19 00:47Z by Steven

In Black and White: A Hermeneutic Argument against “Transracialism”

Res Philosophica
Volume 95, Issue 2, April 2018
Pages 303-329

Tina Fernandes Botts, Professor of Philosophy
California State University, Fresno

Transracialism, defined as both experiencing oneself as, and being, a race other than the race assigned to one by society, does not exist. Translated into hermeneutics, transracialism is an unintelligible phenomenon in the specific sociocultural context of the United States in the early twenty-first century. Within this context, race is a function of ancestry, and is therefore defined in terms of something that is external to the self and unchangeable. Since transracialism does not exist, the question of whether transracialism would be ethically advisable if it did exist is inapposite. Nonetheless, at a minimum we can say that racial transition (defined as attempting to change one’s race through artificial and/or associative changes, and living life as a race other than the race assigned to one by society, etc.) is possible, but is very likely unethical, since it is the same as racial passing.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Building new selves: identity, “Passing,” and intertextuality in Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light

Posted in Africa, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, South Africa on 2018-04-13 23:53Z by Steven

Building new selves: identity, “Passing,” and intertextuality in Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light

Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies
Published online: 2018-04-03
DOI: 10.1080/17533171.2018.1453977

David Hoegberg, Associate Professor of English; Africana Studies
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

This article examines Zoë Wicomb’s wide-ranging use of intertextuality in the novel Playing in the Light to explore the links between identity construction and postcolonial authorship. Focusing on the characters as intertextual agents, I argue that the three coloured women on whom the novel focuses – Helen, Marion, and Brenda – use texts in distinctive ways that illuminate their struggles to position themselves in South Africa’s complex and changing racial landscape. Racial “passing” is one form of a larger pattern in the novel of the use of citation and imitation to achieve specific ends. By embedding the citations of Helen and Marion within the citation-rich narrative of Brenda, Wicomb lays bare the mechanisms of identity construction within a work that stages and highlights its own intertextual practices.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Passing as Post-Racial: Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, Political Correctness, and the Post-Racial Passing Narrative

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-04-12 00:38Z by Steven

Passing as Post-Racial: Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, Political Correctness, and the Post-Racial Passing Narrative

Contemporary Literature
Volume 58, Number 2, Summer 2017
pages 233-261

Mollie Godfrey, Assistant Professor of English
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia

In March 2016, Robert Folsom published an article in The Socionomist declaring that the rise of Donald Trump as a viable presidential candidate marked “the violent death of political correctness” (1). Folsom argued that while “[t]he conventional narrative on Trump is that he has succeeded despite his rejection of political correctness,” the “truth is that he has in large part succeeded because of it” (4). Indeed, the past few years have seen the rise of vigorous, mainstream opposition to many multiculturalist policies associated with political correctness at all levels and from all directions: from the Supreme Court’s back and forth on voting rights and affirmative action, to the 2015 spate of articles that derided trigger warnings as an attack on free speech, to the crowds of voters like Steve Crouse cheering Trump for speaking his mind and “saying a lot of the things that I think we’re all thinking” (Proskow). These recent events have renewed a debate that began in the 1960s and 1970s, when Civil Rights and Black Power activists and second-wave feminists sparred with traditionalists over the diversity and inclusivity of university curricula, faculty, student bodies, and standards of academic excellence. By the culture wars of the mid–1980s, traditionalists had begun to use the phrase “political correctness” in order to deride these demands for inclusivity.1 Teresa Brennan argues that the phrase “political correctness” was especially useful to its critics because it enabled the rebranding of demands for inclusive language as a violation of the American principle of the freedom of speech: “[t]he campaign against political correctness has been so successful because it has portrayed the attempt to uphold the rights of disadvantaged groups as the infringement of individual rights” (x). Now, criticism of political correctness has gone mainstream: a poll conducted in October 2015 by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that 68% of Americans and 81% of Republicans agreed with the statement “[a] big problem this country has is being politically correct” (Lalami 12).

The year 2000, which Folsom describes as the turning point in American public discourse over the value of liberal multiculturalism and its much caricatured cousin, political correctness, was also the year that Philip Roth’s highly acclaimed novel The Human Stain was published. The Human Stain made waves among critics and scholars as a racial passing novel for the new millennium, one that was especially surprising because the passing genre focuses on a social practice that Jet magazine had once optimistically declared would “pass out” with the end of Jim Crow (“Passing Out”).2 In The Human Stain, the light-skinned African American protagonist, Coleman Silk, decides to pass as Jewish during the 1940s, gaining as a Jewish American in the post–World War II era many of the privileges of whiteness.3 He marries a Jewish woman and rises to prominence as a professor of classics and the first Jewish dean of faculty at Athena College, a small liberal arts school in New England with a mostly white faculty and student body. Near the end of the novel, Coleman’s sister affirms that his black-to-Jewish-to-white passing is out of place in the post-Jim Crow era of liberal multiculturalism and affirmative action: “Today, if you’re a middle-class intelligent Negro and you want your kids to go to the best schools, and on full scholarship if you need it, you wouldn’t dream of saying that you’re not colored. That would be the last thing you’d do” (326). Her claim that passing is no longer profitable in contemporary America is also arguably affirmed by the twist in Coleman’s plot: near retirement, he uses the word “spooks” to refer to two students who have been absent from his class all semester; the students turn out to be black, Coleman is accused of racism by his politically correct colleagues, and he resigns amid the ensuing scandal. This plot twist seems to turn Coleman’s racial passing plot into an ironic tragedy about the shifting…

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Reverse Passing

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-04-09 01:39Z by Steven

Reverse Passing

UCLA Law Review
Volume 64, Issue 2 (2017)
pages 282-354

Khaled A. Beydoun, Associate Professor of Law
University of Detroit, Mercy School of Law

Erika K. Wilson, C. Ivey II Term Professor of Law, Associate Professor of Law
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Throughout American history untold numbers of people have concealed their true racial identities and assumed a white racial identity in order to reap the economic, political, and social benefits associated with whiteness. This phenomenon is known as passing. While legal scholars have thoroughly investigated passing in its conventional form, the corollary process of reverse passing—the process in which whites conceal their true racial identity and present themselves as nonwhite—has not been closely investigated within legal scholarship.

Rachel Dolezal provides a timely study of the process of reverse passing. Dolezal—an Africana Studies Instructor and head of the Spokane, Washington NAACP—was outed as being white after years of phenotypically and culturally presenting herself as a Black woman. Dolezal’s “outing” generated much popular debate and scholarly discourse, most of which tended to frame her actions as a one-off occurrence by a deviant actor. This Article takes a contrary position.

Though reverse passing is often framed as deviant or irrational, this Article demonstrates how the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmative action jurisprudence creates tangible and intangible incentives for white actors to identify as nonwhite. It suggests that the Court’s entrenchment of the diversity rationale as the primary compelling state interest that can be used to justify race-conscious affirmative action programs generated situational value in nonwhiteness. That situational value in nonwhiteness now creates incentives that previously did not exist for whites to reverse-pass in order to obtain access to opportunities in education, employment and beyond.

This Article is the first to coin, analyze, and propose a theory of reverse passing. It also deepens the rich and rising scholarship examining performance theory and the pliability of racial identity. Finally, given the reconsideration of the diversity rationale by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, this Article also provides an opportunity to critically examine the merits and shortcomings of the diversity rationale.

Read the entire article here.

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Creative Producer, Passing by Indigo Griffiths

Posted in Arts, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2018-03-24 20:26Z by Steven

Creative Producer, Passing by Indigo Griffiths

Arts Jobs
Arts Council England
March 2018

Closes: 2018-03-26
Location: London, England
Type: Part-Time
Salary: Paid (£10k-15k pro rata)
Artform: Theater
Contact: Gemma Aked-Priestley and Indigo Griffiths

Description

Chicago. 1941. Joey, John and Eliza are siblings but their lives are about to take different paths. Joey is embracing the New Negro Movement, John is breaking barriers at college and Eliza is preparing to pass as white. In a world where everything is determined by race, what can you gain by concealing who you are, and more importantly what can you lose?

Passing is a new play by Indigo Griffiths exposing the controversial practice of “racial passing” – the use of skin colour as social currency.

In August 2017 the project undertook Arts Council funded R&D at the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, culminating in an industry sharing at The Bunker. A rehearsed reading will take place on Wednesday 14th March in collaboration with Women@RADA: https://www.rada.ac.uk/whats-on/playreadings

The Creative Producer will lead a fundraising campaign, support budgeting, marketing, the formation of the creative team and be involved with all aspects of the production. Fee is funding dependant but will be in line with ITC recommended rates. Creative meetings will begin in May 2018 for a Spring 2019 production.

Gemma’s directing credits include Gracie (Finborough Theatre) Grimm: An Untold Tale (Underbelly, Edinburgh Festival) and Tender Napalm (Karamel Club). She is the Assistant Director for The Mono Box. Assistant Direction includes Sam Hodges on the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s The Shadow Factory (Nuffield Southampton Theatres) and Daniel Goldman on Thebes Land (Arcola). She is the recipient of bursaries from the Mayflower Theatre, Barker-Mill Foundation and JMK Trust.

Indigo’s Writing credits include The Mulatto Girl (Nuffield Theatre Lab) and Passing (The Bunker/The Pleasance). She is a member of the Papatango Writers Course 2017-18 and in 2018 completed An Introduction to Screenwriting course (University of East Anglia). Indigo’s focus is on exploring unheard female voices and the mixed-race narrative. She is currently working on a trilogy of plays that explore mixed race heritage (Passing, The Mulatto Girl and The Island.)

Please send a CV and short letter of interest to Gemma.aked-priestley@hotmail.co.uk/ indigo.griffiths@hotmail.co.uk.

For more information, click here.

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Delilah

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2018-03-16 02:28Z by Steven

Delilah

Carrie Hawks
2012
Running Time: 00:04:15

Delilah tells the story of a woman who started out with a seemingly simple task, just filling out a family tree. She uncovered generations of secrecy and shame. Outside of Tacoma, Washington, Delilah shares a very personal story her search and the ramifications that unfold.

Delilah premiered at the Animation Block Party at Brooklyn Academy of Music in July 2012.

The film was awarded “Best Experimental Film” at the 15th Annual Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival in October 2012.

In April 2013, The Kansas City Jubilee Film Festival included the film in their programming.

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Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-03-14 16:57Z by Steven

Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow

University of Illinois Press
March 2018
296 pages
6 x 9 in.
11 black & white photographs
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-04158-7
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-08323-5
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-252-05024-4

Edited by:

Mollie Godfrey, Assistant Professor of English
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Vershawn Ashanti Young, Associate Professor of Drama and Speech Communication
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Crossing old boundaries to create new identities

African Americans once passed as whites to escape the pains of racism. Today’s neo-passing has pushed the old idea of passing in extraordinary new directions. A white author uses an Asian pen name; heterosexuals live “out” as gay; and, irony of ironies, whites try to pass as black.

Mollie Godfrey and Vershawn Ashanti Young present essays that explore practices, performances, and texts of neo-passing in our supposedly postracial moment. The authors move from the postracial imagery of Angry Black White Boy and the issues of sexual orientation and race in ZZ Packer’s short fiction to the politics of Dave Chappelle’s skits as a black President George W. Bush. Together, the works reveal that the questions raised by neo-passing—questions about performing and contesting identity in relation to social norms—remain as relevant today as in the past.

Gale Wald offers a foreword and Michele Elam an afterword.

Contributors: Derek Adams, Christopher M. Brown, Martha J. Cutter, Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Alisha Gaines, Jennifer Glaser, Allyson Hobbs, Brandon J. Manning, Loran Marsan, Lara Narcisi, Eden Osucha, and Deborah Elizabeth Whaley

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History Matters: The story behind ‘Lost Boundaries’

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-03-06 21:11Z by Steven

History Matters: The story behind ‘Lost Boundaries’

The Portsmouth Herald (Seacoast Online)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
2018-03-05

J. Dennis Robinson

Albert Johnston Jr. was 16 when he found out he was black. His fair-skinned African-American parents had been “passing” as white, they told him, since moving from Chicago to rural Gorham, New Hampshire, and later to Keene. Albert’s father had been the town’s country doctor with 2,500 white patients and an active member of the school board, the Masons and the Rotary. His mother, Thyra, was a two-time president of the Gorham Women’s Club and active in the Congregational Church.

Born in 1925, growing up skiing the White Mountains of the Granite State, Albert had only a single black acquaintance in high school. In an era of widespread racial segregation and discrimination, Albert felt a seismic shift as he adapted from a dark-skinned Caucasian to a light-skinned “Negro.”

Then Albert took a road trip. Two decades before Ken Kesey and Easy Rider, with only a few dollars in their pockets, Albert and an old school chum named Walt hitchhiked and hopped freight trains from New Hampshire to California. For Albert, it was a spiritual journey into the homes of his long-lost African-American relatives and into the roots of black culture. For Walt, who was white, it was a great adventure with a good friend. Albert eventually found his way home. Renewed and focused, he enrolled in the well-regarded music program at the University of New Hampshire.

And here, in a UNH college lounge in front of 20 fellow students, Albert Johnston Jr. finally laid his burden down. During a seminar on the “race problem” in America, the topic turned to “cross-bred” people. He could offer some insight on that topic, Albert told his classmates, because he, himself, was a Negro.

The room got very still, he later recalled, like the sudden silence after the climax of a concerto. The Johnston family secret was about to explode, first into the pages of Reader’s Digest magazine, and then as a controversial book and feature film called “Lost Boundaries.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Long Way from Home, A novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Oceania, Passing on 2018-03-05 01:46Z by Steven

A Long Way from Home, A novel

Knopf
2018-02-27
336 pages
6-1/4 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9780525520177
eBook ISBN: 9780525520184

Peter Carey

The two-time Booker Prize-winning author now gives us a wildly exuberant, wily new novel that circumnavigates 1954 Australia, revealing as much about the country/continent as it does about three audacious individuals who take part in the infamous 10,000-mile race, the Redex Trial.

Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in southeastern Australia. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent, over roads no car will ever quite survive. With them is their lanky, fair-haired navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed schoolteacher who calls the turns and creeks crossings on a map that will remove them, without warning, from the white Australia they all know so well. This is a thrilling high-speed story that starts in one way, and then takes you someplace else. It is often funny, more so as the world gets stranger, and always a page-turner even as you learn a history these characters never knew themselves.

Set in the 1950s, this is a world every American will recognize: black, white, who we are, how we got here, and what we did to each other along the way.

A Long Way from Home is Peter Carey’s late-style masterpiece.

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Are you racially fluid?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2018-03-03 02:33Z by Steven

Are you racially fluid?

Cable News Network (CNN)
2018-03-02

Story by John Blake, CNN
Video by Tawanda Scott Sambou, CNN

The blurring of racial lines won’t save America. Why ‘racial fluidity’ is a con

(CNN) He was a snappy dresser with slicked back hair and a pencil mustache. A crack bandleader, musician and legendary talent scout, he was dubbed the “Godfather of R&B.”

But Johnny Otis’ greatest performance was an audacious act of defiance he orchestrated offstage.

Most people who saw Otis perform during his heyday in the 1950s thought he was a light-skinned black man. He used “we” when talking about black people, married his black high school sweetheart and stayed in substandard “for colored only” hotels with his black bandmates when they toured the South.

Johnny Otis, though, wasn’t his real name. He was born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes to Greek immigrants in Northern California. He grew up in a black neighborhood where he developed such a kinship with black culture that he walked away from his whiteness and became black by choice.

“As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black,” he wrote in his 1968 book, “Listen to the Lambs.”

“No number of objections such as ‘You were born white … you can never be black’ on the part of the whites, or ‘You sure are a fool to be colored when you could be white’ from Negroes, can alter the fact that I cannot think of myself as white.

“I do not expect everybody to understand it, but it is a fact. I am black environmentally, psychologically, culturally, emotionally, and intellectually.”…

…What if racial fluidity leads not to less racism, but to more?

That’s the warning being issued by many who study racial fluidity — including some who are racially fluid themselves. They say people are naïve if they believe expanding the menu of racial choices will lead to more tolerance; that racism is deeper and more adaptable than people realize.

A brown-skinned man with a white mother can gush all he wants about his DNA mix, but that won’t stop him from being racially profiled, says Rainier Spencer, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has written extensively about mixed-race identity, including his own.

“If I stand on a corner holding a sign saying, ‘I’m racially fluid,'” says Spencer, “that still doesn’t mean I’m going to get a cab.”…

Read the entire article here.

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