Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, United States on 2016-02-13 02:33Z by Steven

Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins

Broadview Press
2016-03-15 (Originally Published in 1894)
275 pages
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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Episode 16: The Value of Diversity

Posted in Audio, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2016-02-07 16:08Z by Steven

Episode 16: The Value of Diversity

Inflection Point: Conversations with women changing the status quo

Lauren Schiller, Host

Companies are now paying consultants to increase the diversity of their workforce, with an eye on innovation and the bottom line. But is that the only motivation businesses should be considering?

We’ll talk with Joelle Emerson, a diversity consultant, and Allyson Hobbs, an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Stanford University and the author of “A Chosen Exile. A History of Racial Passing in American Life.” Hobbs argues that what is missing from our society is a deep understanding of the lives of others. The value of diversity. That’s our Inflection Point.

Listen to the episode here.

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Father Healy’s Imprint: Past, Present and Future

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-01-31 02:45Z by Steven

Father Healy’s Imprint: Past, Present and Future

The Hoya
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Moises Mendoza

Every day thousands of students pass by Healy Hall and marvel at its towering steeples and complex intricacies. Few of them realize that the man responsible for this Georgetown trademark was every bit as complex and dynamic as the building bearing his name today.

As the first black president of a predominantly white university, Fr. Patrick Healy, S.J., revolutionized Georgetown and helped build firm foundations for a young university.

Yet Healy’s trek to greatness began not in the hallowed halls of academia, but on the Georgia cotton plantation where he was born on Feb. 27, 1834. The son of an Irish Catholic and a biracial domestic slave, Healy had great obstacles to overcome. Healy’s father Michael immigrated to the United States from Ireland through Canada around 1815. Experiencing great success in a series of land lotteries, he moved to Macon, Ga., where he built his own cotton plantation with the help of 49 slaves. Michael Healy became relatively prosperous and became a prominent businessman in the Macon community…

Read the entire article here.

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QUALLEN: Healy’s Inner Turmoil, Our Current Conflict

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-01-31 02:31Z by Steven

QUALLEN: Healy’s Inner Turmoil, Our Current Conflict

The Hoya
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Matthew Quallen, “Hoya Historian”
School of Foreign Service

Last week, President DeGioia accepted a recommendation to scrub the names Mulledy and McSherry from university buildings. The names Freedom and Remembrance took their places. Mulledy and McSherry symbolized what was most odious about Georgetown and the Maryland Jesuits’ history — the conclusion of a century of contest and deliberation about slavery, manumission and race with a mad dash towards a propitious sale.

By contrast, Healy Hall and its namesake, Fr. Patrick Healy, stand as foils in our memory. Healy, after all, was the first black president of a predominantly white institution, as the accolade goes. But for Healy, who desperately toed the opposite side of the color line the situation, was more complicated.

Fr. Patrick Healy was born in 1834 to Mary Eliza — a biracial former slave who had been purchased out of captivity by her soon-to-be husband, Michael. Michael Healy owned 49 slaves on a plantation in Macon, Ga. It was from his mother Mary Eliza that Patrick Healy inherited his vital if contrived one drop rule, which legally classified an individual as black if they possessed even “one drop” of black blood for the purposes of racially discriminating statutes. In his home state, the law considered Patrick Healy to be a slave (such status was usually maternal). So his selection as president of Georgetown in 1873 was nothing short of remarkable. It encapsulates a story of a rise to prominence unexpected for a black American in the mid-19th century. It also mistakenly post-dates Georgetown’s racial progress to 1873, although that transformation came much later…

Read the entire article here.

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A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (Race & Difference Colloquium Series)

Posted in Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Passing, United States on 2016-01-31 01:43Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (Race & Difference Colloquium Series)

Emory University
Robert W. Woodruff Library, Jones Room
540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Monday, 2016-02-15, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Presented by: James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

In this Race and Difference Colloquium, Allyson Hobbs, an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Stanford University, discusses her first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, published by Harvard University Press in October 2014. The book examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. A Chosen Exile won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award for best first book in American History and the Lawrence Levine Award for best book in American cultural history.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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Saving race

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-01-27 16:35Z by Steven

Saving race

The Boston Phoenix
May 14-20, 2004

Tamara Wieder

With Symptomatic, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut novel Caucasia, Danzy Senna again delves into race in America — and defies second-book syndrome

IT’S EVERY YOUNG writer’s dream: to have a first novel achieve critical acclaim and monetary success. But a dream is usually all it is, and for Danzy Senna, it was no different. She certainly didn’t expect the attention and praise her debut novel, Caucasia (Riverhead Books, 1998), received; after all, the book was originally written as her graduate-school thesis.

Senna, the biracial daughter of poet Fanny Howe and activist and writer Carl Senna, was raised in Boston in the 1970s — not exactly a hotbed of tolerance for mixed-race families. Her experiences in Boston and beyond have helped mold her as a writer; Caucasia told the story of biracial sisters dealing with some of the same ugliness doled out to her own family. Senna has also written extensively on the frequent experience of being mistaken for white, and how it’s led to an uncomfortable exposure of prejudices and intolerance in those around her.

In her latest novel, Symptomatic (Riverhead Books), Senna again surveys a familiar racial landscape. Her narrator is a biracial young woman often mistaken for white; she develops a friendship with an older, similarly mixed-race woman that begins as an antidote to loneliness and alienation, but gradually grows into something both complicated and frightening.

Q: Tell me where the idea for Symptomatic came from, and how you ended up writing it.

A: I love thrillers, and I love the old Roman Polanski, Hitchcock thrillers, and I wanted to think about race and identity and use the kind of thriller plot. And I was interested in the sort of claustrophobia of race, and the claustrophobia of identity, and how you can sort of become trapped by it. But in this case it’s more literal. I was also interested in doubles, and that comfort that you initially feel when you have an identification with someone, and how that can kind of turn smothering. So racial identity, and then identity in general, sort of as something that can be comforting and terrifying and smothering, all at once…

Q: You wrote in an essay that “in Boston circa 1975, mixed wasn’t really an option.” How did you deal with that?

A: I always identified as black. That was, I think, the only choice for me. The other choice wasn’t psychologically healthy for me, because my whole family didn’t have that option. So I think black was my identity, and in many ways still is, though I think of black and mixed as related in a complicated way. I think of myself as mixed, and I think of myself as part of a long history of African-American writers, so I don’t see them as so distinct as people do these days.

Q: Did you ever feel resentful that mixed wasn’t an option?

A: I didn’t desire that as an option. The black community was where I placed myself, and I felt actually sort of disparaging of people who identified as mixed; that seemed kind of tragic to me, because it seemed like they were avoiding the politics and the power relations that were really at the heart of race, to me. So a lot of my politics grew around this identity growing up, of identifying myself as black and seeing race as much more than a biological category. I think now I don’t worry so much about what I identify as; that just seems sort of simplistic, to suggest that there’s one answer to that. But I don’t feel badly that I didn’t…

Read the entire interview here.

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A Tale of Two Dinners

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-01-24 01:44Z by Steven

A Tale of Two Dinners

The Moth: True Stories Told Live
Added: 2015-05-12
Recorded: 1999-04-19

Bliss Broyard

A daughter discovers her father’s painstakingly kept secret.

Listen to the episode here.

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Black like her: Is racial identity a state of mind?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-01-19 20:13Z by Steven

Black like her: Is racial identity a state of mind?

The Washington Post

Amy Ellis Nutt, Reporter

While people continue to question the motivations behind former NAACP official Rachel Dolezal’s claiming she is black, scientists say identity, even racial identity, doesn’t arise from any single place in the brain.

Individuals contain different selves, often contradictory selves, according to neuroscientists. There is no clump of gray matter or nexus of electrical activity in the brain that we can point to and say, “this is me, this is where my self is located.” Instead, we are spread out over our brain, with different areas of cortex controlling different aspects of who we are, from what we see and hear to how we think and feel.

For instance, the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain located just behind the forehead, is activated whenever we think about ourselves. But when we think about how someone else thinks about us — does my spouse think I’m pretty? — the medial prefrontal cortex disengages and the posterior part lights up. Culture and community, neuroscience tells us is, are important constituents of identity, which may explain why children understand social interactions before they even learn to talk. Identity, in other words, is complicated.

Carolyn Yoon, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, says she doesn’t “see what the big controversy is” regarding Dolezal’s claim to identify as a black person.

“That’s a reasonable view in my book,” Yoon said. “Identity is highly malleable and is a function of what she comes in contact with, what she spends her time doing, is interested in and motivated by. Over time that will change your brain.”…

…There is certainly historical precedence for passing as black. Effa Manley was born to Bertha Brooks, a white woman, in Philadelphia in 1900. Brooks was married to an African-American man and so Effa grew up with six biracial siblings. She, however, was the product of an affair her mother had with a white man. Although blonde-haired, hazel-eyed Effa believed she also was biracial until her teens when her mother told her the truth.

Nonetheless, Effa lived our her life as a black woman: she married an African American, lived in Harlem and became the well-known co-owner of a Negro League baseball team. She also belonged to the NAACP and the Urban League and was once profiled in Ebony magazine.

Whether it was her early life experiences, self-deception or mirror neurons — or all three — Effa Manley saw herself as a black woman, which is why she could muse to a reporter when she was in her 70s, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to associate with white people.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Olbermann Ties Dolezal Race Manipulation to ‘Senseless’ Charleston Shooting

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2016-01-19 18:57Z by Steven

Olbermann Ties Dolezal Race Manipulation to ‘Senseless’ Charleston Shooting

Breitbart News

Trent Baker, Sports Reporter

On Thursday’s “Olbermann” on ESPN2, host Keith Olbermann opened his show with a monologue speaking about former Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal, deceased American sports executive and the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Effa Manley, who was white and identified as black after being raised by her black step-father, and the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which he tied all of them together at the end.

“The Effa Manley story is not about passing, but both lives rise from curiosity and story telling when one remembers that biologists long ago concluded genetically there are no “races” just one species we call human beings. In the stories of both Rachel Dolezal and Effa Manley the importance and meaning we have given to skin pigmentation prove to be amazingly easy to manipulate, proved to be flexible, prove to be impermanent; prove to be remarkably inaccurate, all of which means the madness and nightmare and terrorism that unfolded last night at the church in South Carolina all of that was even more senseless.”…

Read the entire story and watch the video here.

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Color Lines: Racial Passing in America

Posted in Arts, Audio, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-01-17 03:03Z by Steven

Color Lines: Racial Passing in America

BackStory with the American History Guys (A program of the Virginia Foundation of the Humanities)
Charlottesville, Virginia

M. H. Kimball portrait of Isaac White and Rosina Downs, two New Orleans slave children, c. 1863. (Library of Congress).

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will consider how and why Americans throughout the centuries have crossed the lines of racial identity, and find out what the history of passing has to say about race, identity, and privilege in America. We’ll look at stories of African-Americans who passed as white to escape slavery or Jim Crow and find out how the “one-drop rule” enabled one blonde-haired, blue-eyed American to live a double life without ever arousing suspicion. We’ll also explore the story of an African-American musician who pioneered a genre of exotic music with a bejeweled turban and an invented biography, and examine the hidden costs of crossing over.

Guests Include:


  • The Spark of Recognition
    • Historian Carol Wilson tells the story of a New Orleans slave named Sally Miller, who sued for her freedom after a German woman became convinced that Sally was really a long-lost German girl named Salomé Müller.
  • Double Image
    • Historian Martha Sandweiss explains how the one-drop rule enabled a blue-eyed, blonde-haired geologist named Clarence King to lead a second life as a Black Pullman porter, without ever drawing suspicion.
  • “Code-Switching”
    • Listener Johanna Lanner-Cusin, who identifies as black, talks about people’s assumptions about her race, not having experiences similar to darker African Americans, and “qualifying her blackness.”
  • Blood Brothers
    • Historian Annette Gordon-Reed illustrates the fluidity of race with the stories of two sons of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, one of whom passed into white society while the other lived his life as an African-American.
  • High Stakes
    • Sociologist Eva Garroutte tells the story of Sylvester Long, a multiracial man who rose to silent film stardom in the 1920s after adopting the persona of an “authentic” Native American—until it all came crashing down.
  • Passing In, Passing Out
    • Brian Balogh talks with historian Allyson Hobbs about an enormous but overlooked cost of racial passing: leaving one’s family, community, and heritage behind.
  • “Guess Your Ethnicity”
    • Listener Vasanth Subramanian wishes society allowed him to choose his identity. He talks in detail about the prejudices children of immigrants face.
  • Drawing the Line
    • The Guys explain how American slavery practices created racial boundaries, and, at the same time, complicated them.
  • Playing Indian
    • Producer Nina Earnest explores the boundary between passing and performance with the story of John Roland Redd, an African-American organist who donned a bejeweled turban and rewrote his life story to become “Godfather of Exotica” Korla Pandit.

CORRECTION: This show includes a story about Sylvester Long, a man of mixed descent who styled himself as a pure-blooded Native American named Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance. We refer to him as a movie star who published a famous autobiography. In fact, Long Lance published his autobiography first—the popularity of the book catapulted him into movie stardom.

Listen to the podcast (01:05:14) here. Download the podcast here.

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