A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life – Allyson Hobbs

Posted in Audio, Forthcoming Media, History, Interviews, Live Events, Passing, United States on 2014-09-16 01:17Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life – Allyson Hobbs

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
BlogTalk Radio
Thursday, 2014-11-06, 21:00 EST (Friday, 2014-11-07, 02:00Z)

Bernice Bennett, Host

Allyson Hobbs is an assistant professor in the history department at Stanford. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and she received a Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford. Allyson teaches courses on American identity, African American history, African American women’s history, and twentieth century American history. She has won numerous teaching awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize. She has appeared on C-SPAN and National Public Radio and her work has been featured on CNN.com and Slate.com. Allyson’s first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, published by Harvard University Press, examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present.

For more information, click 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 2014-09-16 01:01Z 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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A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2014-09-16 01:00Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Harvard University Press
October 2014
350 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
26 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674368101

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.

As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.

Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

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The Penumbral Spaces of Nella Larsen’s Passing: Undecidable bodies, mobile identities, and the deconstruction of racial boundaries

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2014-09-08 20:07Z by Steven

The Penumbral Spaces of Nella Larsen’s Passing: Undecidable bodies, mobile identities, and the deconstruction of racial boundaries

Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography
Volume 13, Issue 3, 2006
pages 227-246
DOI: 10.1080/09663690600700972

Perry L. Carter, Assistant Professor of Human Geography
Texas Tech University

Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing, is a psychological drama centering around two fair-skinned women. One, Clare Kendry, passes as the White wife of a financially successful racist; the other, Irene Redfield, is a ‘race woman’ living in upper Manhattan during the era of the Renaissance Harlem. Clare and Irene are undecidables, neither White nor Black, fluid subjects traversing the boundaries of race—passing. Passing is an act of insinuating oneself into forbidden spaces by jettisoning former identities. It is as much a transgression of spatial boundaries as it is of racial boundaries. In the novel Clare passes by merely crossing from Black space into White space, and along the way shedding a Black identity for a White one. This paper examines the mobility of identities across racial geographies and how this movement destabilizes notions of race and of raced spaces.

We encounter the world in our bodies, and through our bodies’ most exquisitely sensitive sense, our skins, we take the world into ourselves. We have made and remade a world where nearly every experience is shaded and shaped by the color of those bodies, the tones of those skins. (Jane Lazarre, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: memoir of a White mother of Black sons, 1997, p. 94)…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Choose Your Own Race

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-09-03 17:52Z by Steven

Choose Your Own Race

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2014-08-29

Emily Raboteau

‘Your Face in Mine,’ by Jess Row

Do you ever dream of starting again in a new skin? This is the central question of Jess Row’s provocative and intriguing first novel, “Your Face in Mine.” It’s also a tag line of the shady enterprise in Bangkok where the book’s central character, Martin Wilkinson (né Lipkin), has paid a hefty sum to undergo something called racial reassignment surgery, to transform from a white Jewish man to an African-American one.

We’ve seen variations on this premise before, in the 1986 comedy flop “Soul Man,” in which C. Thomas Howell takes self-tanning pills so he can attend ­Harvard Law School on a scholarship for African-Americans, and in the 1961 best seller “Black Like Me,” wherein the white journalist John Howard Griffin disguised himself as black to tour the segregated South by bus. Those stories advanced blackface tradition from minstrelsy to illustrate (as only a white man can — with a wink) that it’s harder in this country to be black than white. Thankfully, Row’s narrative delves into more nuanced territory.

Martin becomes black not to teach anyone a lesson but to better reflect his “true self.” As in Adam Mansbach’s novel “Angry Black White Boy,” Martin’s condition speaks to a generation of suburban white kids who came up in the 1990s possessed by a vibrant hip-hop culture that let them access sincere rage at the world’s injustice in a way music hadn’t done since punk. (One of the book’s sharpest moments is its loving remembrance of the Spike Lee film “Do the Right Thing,” and Row is gifted throughout at writing about music.) Martin’s self-diagnosis is “Racial Identity Dysphoria Syndrome.” He compares his plight to that of a transsexual, but oddly enough, instead of being born into the wrong gender, he believes that he was born into the wrong race. Odder still, that race can be purchased, packaged and sold. More convincingly, he demonstrates it can be performed…

Read the entire review here.

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A Mother’s Love: Stories of Struggle, Sacrifice, Love and Wisdom

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Mississippi, Passing, Religion, United States, Women on 2014-08-31 17:55Z by Steven

A Mother’s Love: Stories of Struggle, Sacrifice, Love and Wisdom

The Root
2014-05-11

Breanna Edwards

Journalist Alysia Steele’s explores the “jewels in the Mississippi Delta” who held it down for their families through decades of strife and racial struggle.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and many of us may feel the keen absence of the women who meant the most to us.

How many times have you wished you could turn back the hands of time and have one more conversation with one of the most influential women of your life? Maybe have notes of memorable anecdotes they shared?

This was one of Alysia Steele’s biggest regrets concerning her paternal grandmother, Althenia A. Burton, who died 20 years ago. Since then, the memory of her grandmother has stayed with Steele, never fading, and ultimately culminating in the conception of her current project, a book proposal, “Jewels in the Delta,” that has gained interest from publishers.

“I have a huge sense of regret that as a trained journalist I never had the foresight to get her story and I’ll never hear her voice again, and I can’t even tell you how much that hurts me,” Steele tells The Root.

Steele has interviewed about 47 women and is conducting the last of what will be a total of 50 interviews in the coming days. The project has taken her approximately 11 months to complete and countless hours of recording, transcribing, coaxing and traveling. It’s been hard work, to be sure, but to Steele the end goal has been more than worth it.

“How many of us stop and talk to our grandparents to get to their stories? To really ask them the questions that are hard?” she adds…

…In an excerpt from Steele’s book proposal, Virginia Hower, 93, shared how she “felt dirty” because of her ability to pass for white in a segregated society.

It was horror. You felt bad because you couldn’t be with your grandmother or your grandfather. You just accepted it. I couldn’t be with them because they were darker. Sometimes you felt bad because you could ride in a clean coach and just to think that your grandmother couldn’t kiss you as you stepped off the train. But they accepted it, so why not enjoy the clean train? And then when I got down on the streets, we all kiss and carry on. Those was happy moments. And then you got to thinkin’ how foolish this life is, how foolish. Then you got to thinkin’ about it and say take advantage of it and a lot of people down here in Clarksdale, they went to Chicago in ’41 and never revealed they were colored.

So many fascinating stories from unassuming women who had nothing but love for their respective husbands and children and who never really spoke about the troubles and trials they had endured…

Read the entire article here.

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White Papers

Posted in Autobiography, Books, History, Media Archive, Passing, Poetry, United States on 2014-08-26 19:16Z by Steven

White Papers

University of Pittsburgh Press
January 2012
80 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 9780822961840

Martha Collins

Winner of the 2013 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry

White Papers is a series of untitled poems that explore race from a variety of personal, historical, and cultural perspectives, questioning what it means to be “white” in a multi-racial society.

White Papers is a series of untitled poems that deal with issues of race from a number of personal, historical, and cultural perspectives. Expanding the territory of her 2006 book Blue Front, which focused on a lynching her father witnessed as a child, this book turns, among other things, to Martha Collins’ childhood. Throughout, it explores questions about what it means to be white, not only in the poet’s life, but also in our culture and history, even our pre-history. The styles and forms are varied, as are the approaches; some of the poems address race only implicitly, and the book, like Blue Front, includes some documentary and “found” material. But the focus is always on getting at what it has meant and what it means to be white—to have a race and racial history, much of which one would prefer to forget, if one is white, but all of which is essential to remember and to acknowledge in a multi-racial society that continues to live under the influence of its deeply racist past.

Read a section from the book here.

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Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2014-08-18 02:28Z by Steven

Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010

State University of New York Press
July 2014
352 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5227-2
Electronic ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5229-6

Edited by:

Julie Cary Nerad, Associate Professor of American Literature
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Explores how the trope of racial passing continues to serve as a touchstone for gauging public beliefs and anxieties about race in this multiracial era.

The first volume to focus on the trope of racial passing in novels, memoirs, television, and films published or produced between 1990 and 2010, Passing Interest takes the scholarly conversation on passing into the twenty-first century. With contributors working in the fields of African American studies, American studies, cultural studies, film studies, literature, and media studies, this book offers a rich, interdisciplinary survey of critical approaches to a broad range of contemporary passing texts. Contributors frame recent passing texts with a wide array of cultural discourses, including immigration law, the Post-Soul Aesthetic, contemporary political satire, affirmative action, the paradoxes of “colorblindness,” and the rhetoric of “post-racialism.” Many explore whether “one drop” of blood still governs our sense of racial identity, or to what extent contemporary American culture allows for the racially indeterminate individual. Some essays open the scholarly conversation to focus on “ethnic” passers—individuals who complicate the traditional black-white binary—while others explore the slippage between traditional racial passing and related forms of racial performance, including blackface minstrelsy and racial masquerade.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: The “Posts” of Passing / Gayle Wald
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: The (Not So) New Face of America / Julie Cary Nerad
  • 2. On the Margins of Movement: Passing in Three Contemporary Memoirs / Irina Negrea
  • 3. “A Cousin to Blackness”: Race and Identity in Bliss Broyard’s One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life / Lynn Washington and Julie Cary Nerad
  • 4. Can One Really Choose? Passing and Self-Identification at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century / Jené Schoenfeld
  • 5. Passing in Blackface: The Intimate Drama of Post-Racialism on Black. White / Eden Osucha
  • 6. Broke Right in Half: Passing of/in Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone / Julie Cary Nerad
  • 7. Passing for Chicano, Passing for White: Negotiating Filipino American Identity in Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son / Amanda Page
  • 8. Race in the Marketplace: Postmodern Passing and Ali G / Ana Cristina Mendes
  • 9. Passing for Black, White, and Jewish: Mixed-Race Identity in Rebecca Walker and Danzy Senna / Lori Harrison-Kahan
  • 10. Smiling Faces: Chameleon Street, Racial Passing/Performativity, and Film Blackness / Michael B. Gillespie
  • 11. Consuming Performances: Race, Media, and the Failure of the Cultural Mulatto in Bamboozled and Erasure / Meredith McCarroll
  • Bibliography
  • Contributor Biographies
  • Index
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Mixed Mondays Film Series at the Brooklyn Historical Society

Posted in Canada, Communications/Media Studies, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States, Videos, Women on 2014-08-18 02:25Z 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 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.

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 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.

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Your Face in Mine, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2014-08-15 06:22Z by Steven

Your Face in Mine, A Novel

Riverhead Books (an imprint of Penguin Press)
2014-08-14
384 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594488344
ePub ISBN: 9780698168817

Jess Row

An award-winning writer delivers a poignant and provocative novel of identity, race and the search for belonging in the age of globalization.

One afternoon, not long after Kelly Thorndike has moved back to his hometown of Baltimore, an African American man he doesn’t recognize calls out to him. To Kelly’s shock, the man identifies himself as Martin, who was one of Kelly’s closest friends in high school—and, before his disappearance nearly twenty years before, skinny, white, and Jewish. Martin then tells an astonishing story: After years of immersing himself in black culture, he’s had a plastic surgeon perform “racial reassignment surgery”—altering his hair, skin, and physiognomy to allow him to pass as African American. Unknown to his family or childhood friends, Martin has been living a new life ever since.

Now, however, Martin feels he can no longer keep his new identity a secret; he wants Kelly to help him ignite a controversy that will help sell racial reassignment surgery to the world. Kelly, still recovering from the death of his wife and child and looking for a way to begin anew, agrees, and things quickly begin to spiral out of control.

Inventive and thought-provoking, Your Face in Mine is a brilliant novel about cultural and racial alienation and the nature of belonging in a world where identity can be a stigma or a lucrative brand.

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