Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal and instability in gender and race

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science on 2016-12-08 03:10Z by Steven

Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal and instability in gender and race


Sujaya Dhanvantari

Sociologist Rogers Brubaker examines transgender and transracial differences


By Rogers Brubaker

In Western culture, gender and race were traditionally thought to be unchangeable and fixed for life. Black or white, male or female: These were forever separated by the binary logic of absolute difference. But even as the old colonial theories of racial determinism have long been discredited, the notion of changing race is still ethically troubling. Not so for changing gender, which is now socially accepted in unprecedented ways. That is why celebrity trans woman Caitlyn Jenner and transracial civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal, born white but now identifying as black, are not the same kind of “trans.” Inspired by those two news stories, UCLA sociologist Rogers Brubaker explores the unstable categories of gender and race in his new book

Read the entire review here.

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“Us versus Them” – A Thought on the Complexities of Multiracial Passing

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-08 02:30Z by Steven

“Us versus Them” – A Thought on the Complexities of Multiracial Passing

Multiracial Media: Voice of the Multiracial Community

Joanna L. Thompson, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice
University of Illinois, Chicago

Is this an example of “Multiracial Passing?” Photo credit: YouTube

Recently, a post on discussed the challenges Sofia Richie, daughter of iconic singer Lionel Richie, faces in the fashion industry. As a mixed-race, half Black/half White individual, Richie presents more White than Black. Because Richie presents more White than Black due to her light-skinned complexion, she mentioned in the interview that many White people who work around her feel comfortable saying racist things because ultimately, they forget or do not even know she is also Black. In a world that is growing more multiracial each day, the topic of passing is more prevalent than ever. The topic also raises questions which have yet to be answered. How do light-skinned multiracial individuals handle the racism that exists around them, whether it is directly or indirectly intended at them? And how can people who are not mixed-race do better at not only decreasing their racist remarks, but respecting spaces where the presence of light-skinned multiracial individuals are high?…

Read the entire article here.

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For Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, Whiteness Was a Fragile Identity Long Before Trump

Posted in Articles, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2016-12-07 01:36Z by Steven

For Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, Whiteness Was a Fragile Identity Long Before Trump


Sigal Samuel, Opinion Editor

Nikki Casey

I have lived for 26 years under the illusion that I am unconditionally white…. Recently I have started looking at my face and going, ‘Oh man, do I look too Jewish?’” Sydney Brownstone, the reporter who voiced this question in a recent Blabbermouth podcast, is not alone in wondering this. Many Ashkenazi Jews who have always assumed that they’re white are noticing that they’re not white enough for Donald Trump’s white supremacists. Suddenly, they’re asking themselves: Wait, how white am I, exactly?

To tackle this question, try a little visualization. Picture all American Jews arranged along a spectrum. On one end are the Ashkenazi Jews who identify as white and get coded as white by society. On the other end are the Jews of color who can never pass as white: black Jews, Chinese Jews and others who get read as non-white on the street. In the middle of the spectrum are Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, who sometimes pass as white and sometimes don’t.

As a Mizrahi Jew — my ancestors come from India, Iraq and Morocco — I inhabit that ambiguous middle space. For a long time, it’s been a lonely place to be, since Ashkenazi is Judaism’s default setting in America. It’s also been massively confusing, since I often reap the privileges of being white-passing, even as I get selected for “random additional screenings” by the TSA or for “Where are you really from?” queries from strangers on the street…

Read the entire article here.

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Would-Be Bridegroom Takes Oath He Is Negro

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-03 23:55Z by Steven

Would-Be Bridegroom Takes Oath He Is Negro

The San Francisco Call
Volume 104, Number 70 (1908-08-09)
Page 31, Column 4
(Source: California Digital Newspaper Collection)

Cannot Get License to Wed Mulatto Until He Proves His Race

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 8.— “You can’t get a marriage license here,” said Leon G. Smith of East St. Louis yesterday when William Hawkins and a mulatto woman named Fanny F. Austin of East St. Louis came into the marriage license clerk’s office and asked for a license.

Hawkins inquired what the reason was for refusing him a license, and was told that licenses would not be issued for mixed marriages, whites and negroes. Then he laughed and told Smith that while he generally passed for a white man and very few people ever imagined he had negro blood, that he really was a negro. To prove this Hawkins opened his shirt collar and showed that below his throat he was somewhat darker than his face appeared. He also showed his finger nails to prove his negro blood, and finally made an affidavit that he was a negro. Then the license was issued. Hawkins told Smith that he has three sisters married to white men who do not suspect their wives of having negro blood.

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In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2016-12-03 23:00Z by Steven

In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World

BenBella Books
256 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1944648169

Rachel Doležal (with Storms Reback)

A lot of people think they know what Rachel Doležal is.

Race faker. Liar. Opportunist. Crazy bitch.

But they don’t get to decide who Rachel Doležal is.

What determines your race? Is it your DNA? The community in which you were raised? The way others see you, or the way you see yourself?

On June 11, 2015, the media “outed” Rachel Doležal as a white woman who had knowingly been “passing” as black. When asked if she were African American during an interview about the hate crimes directed at her and her family, she hesitated before ending the interview and walking away. Some interpreted her reluctance to respond and hasty departure as dishonesty, while others assumed she lacked a reasonable explanation for the almost unprecedented way she identified herself.

With In Full Color, Rachael Doležal describes the path that led her from being a child of white evangelical parents to an NAACP chapter president and respected educator and activist who identified as black. Along the way, she’ll discuss the deep emotional bond she formed with her four adopted black siblings, the sense of belonging she felt while living in black communities in Jackson, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., and the discrimination she’s suffered while living as a black woman.

Her story is nuanced and complex, and in the process of telling it, she forces us to consider race in an entirely new light—not as a biological imperative, but as a function of the experiences we have, the culture we embrace, and, ultimately, the identity we choose.

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Secrets and Lies

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-03 00:14Z by Steven

Secrets and Lies

Ms. Magazine blog
Ms. Magazine

Gail Lukasik

The following is an excerpt from White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Identity.

In 1995 when I discovered my mother’s black heritage, she made me promise never to tell her secret until she died. I kept her secret for 17 years. Nine months after her death in 2015, I appeared on PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and revealed to 1.5 million people that my mother had passed for white. Three days later the family she never knew found me. “Secrets and Lies” recounts the stories my mother told me about her life in New Orleans before she came north to marry my father. After I uncovered her racial secret, I realized her stories held clues to her racial identity and the hardships she endured as a mixed race woman in Jim Crow south.

Parma, Ohio

When I was a young girl my mother would tell me about her life in New Orleans before she came north to Ohio to marry my father. Each story so carefully fashioned, so artfully told I never questioned their validity. It was one of the rare times I’d be allowed to sit on my parents’ double bed in the cramped downstairs bedroom that faced the street, its north window inches from the neighbor’s driveway where a dog barked sometimes into the night.

The room was pristine with its satiny floral bedspread, crisscrossed white lacy curtains and fringed shades. Area rugs surrounded the bed like islands of color over the amber shag carpet. A large dresser held my mother’s perfumes neatly arranged on a mirrored tray. An assortment of tiny prayer books rested on a side table beside a rosary. Over the bed was a painting of a street scene that could be Paris or New Orleans, colorful and dreamy. A similar painting hung in the living room.

It wasn’t until I married and left home that my father was banished to the other first floor smaller bedroom, even then he was an interloper in this feminine domain. His clothes were exiled to the front hall closet where he kept his rifle. On story days the room was a mother-daughter cove of confidences where my mother came as close as she ever would to telling me who she was, dropping clues like breadcrumbs that would take me decades to decipher. As I grew older, she confided intimacies of her marital life best shared with a mother or a sister. I was the substitute for the family left behind in New Orleans…

Read the entire excerpt here.

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Review: “Krazy” by Michael Tisserand

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-02 23:44Z by Steven

Review: “Krazy” by Michael Tisserand

Know Louisiana: The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana and Home of Louisiana Cultural Vistas
2016-12-02 (Winter 2016)

Lydia Nichols

There is nothing more American than passing, the act of projecting a racial identity other than that assigned. At no other time and place in American history have necessity and opportunity so dramatically conspired to create the possibility for passing as in late 19th century New Orleans. Reconstruction had failed to establish equitable institutions for those whom the Constitution had denied 2/5 of their personhood; and by 1877, the Southern Democrats (former Confederates) had reclaimed political and social dominion over the state. As W.E.B Du Bois writes in Black Reconstruction, Louisiana’s government was to be “a government of white people, made and to be perpetuated for the exclusive political benefit of the white race.” Though identifying as neither white nor black, New Orleans’ Afro-Creoles, who had enjoyed relative mobility prior to the Civil War, were kicked out of schools and churches, cut off from quality education, and pushed to “colored cars.” It became clear that hybridity was no longer acknowledged or welcome. Well-educated, multilingual and able to pass for white, unknown numbers of Creoles left to seek whatever security their ambiguity would allow. Among them was George Joseph Herriman, a ten-year old boy who in time would become a white man and a pioneering cartoonist.

Michael Tisserand provides a painstakingly well-researched analysis of Herriman’s life and work in Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White (HarperCollins, 2016). Herriman, a man of diverse interests and experiences, created comics laden with allusions to classical literature and philosophy; written in immigrant, black and southern vernaculars; and often incorporating foreign languages. The most famous and longest-running of his comics was Krazy Kat, a gender non-conforming, color-changing cat in the southwestern desert who regularly drops philosophical gems in his own dialect of English…

Read the entire review here.

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Edit desk: Passing is a choice

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-02 23:24Z by Steven

Edit desk: Passing is a choice

The Brown and White: All The Lehigh news first since 1894
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Gaby Morera, Managing Editor

Once I was complaining about the challenges of being Hispanic in America to a friend of mine.

I can’t even remember what I was saying, but I remember the person’s response clearly. She said, “Do you think you make it harder on yourself because you call attention to the fact that you’re Hispanic?”

I find that question problematic for many reasons. But in that moment, I ignored it. I didn’t say anything, and when I got home I thought to myself, “How do I call attention to the fact that I’m Hispanic? And why would that be a bad thing?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Krazy racial rules: New biography of cartoonist George Herriman

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-11-25 23:08Z by Steven

Krazy racial rules: New biography of cartoonist George Herriman

The Times-Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana

Doug MacCash, Arts and Entertainment Writer

New Orleans-born Krazy Kat cartoonist George Herriman (Photo by Will Connell, courtesy Michael Tisserand)

Krazy: A Life in Black and White,” the biography of Crescent City-born newspaper cartoonist extraordinaire George Herriman (1880-1944) is an absorbing study of a genius with a secret.

Herriman’s equally compelling and confounding “Krazy Kat” cartoon is considered a milestone in modern art. As New Orleans author Michael Tisserand deftly points out in his 549-page volume, the illogic of Herriman’s ink-on-paper drawings mirror the absurdity of the racial divide in early 20th-century America.

After 10 years of scouring microfilm archives, yellowed newspapers and public records, Tisserand has pieced together Herriman’s journey from his humble birth in the Treme neighborhood to heights of fame in Jazz-era New York and Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy.

“I had to teach myself to be an historian,” Tisserand said. “I didn’t anticipate the amount of difficulty it would be finding Herman’s work.”

Like a snake handler, Tisserand uncoils the confusing racial politics of New Orleans in the Jim Crow era, where the descendants of slaves and the descendants of so-called free people of color suffered segregation, discrimination and violence at the hands of the white population.

As Tisserand explains, when Herriman was 10 years old, his parents fled the South for a new beginning in California, where personal reinvention was possible. As Tisserand wrote, “Herriman was a black man born in New Orleans.” But upon reaching the Pacific, Herriman’s parents “had obscured their identity and ‘passed’ for white.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A “Konversation” with George Herriman’s Biographer, Michael Tisserand (Part One)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-11-25 15:30Z by Steven

A “Konversation” with George Herriman’s Biographer, Michael Tisserand (Part One)

The Comics Journal

Paul Tumey

Michael Tisserand in Krazy Kat territory (Photo credit: Cecilia Tisserand)

Herriman was talking about race and identity — as profoundly as anyone has, in my opinion — but I never see that as his big “Topic.” It was just part of his world, and the world he created, even if others were slow to recognize it.”Michael Tisserand

The first time I saw Michael Tisserand, he was walking up my doorstep, holding what appeared to be a red brick by his head, almost — but not quite– in a throwing pose. Turns out the red brick was the recently released Library of American Comics collection of Krazy Kat dailies for which he wrote the introduction, and it was a gift (aren’t all bricks gifts in [George] Herriman’s world?).

In early December 2016, HarperCollins will release Tisserand’s long-awaited book, Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White. The book, over 500 pages in length, offers the first detailed biography of the man many regard as the greatest cartoonist of the twentieth century. Chris Ware has spoken highly of the book, observing: “Michael Tisserand’s Krazy draws back the curtain on the one [Herriman] who’s been with us all along.” The book has drawn an early favorable review from Kirkus which states, in part: “Essential reading for comics fans and history buffs, Krazy is a roaring success, providing an indispensable new perspective on turn-of-the-century America.”…

Paul Tumey: Having that perspective from reading your biography on Herriman’s life massively expanded my understanding and appreciation of his work. I have to admit, I was a bit daunted at first when I realized there was a chunk of early family history to read before our man comes onto the scene. But you know what? After a page or two of pouty grumbling, I was totally captivated – the stories are great, and you did a nice job of telling them. And later, I realized how valuable that perspective is – it’s the foundation for understanding the deepest levels of Herriman’s work.

Michael Tisserand: When I learned more about his family, I understood a bit more not just the pressures he must have felt in passing for white, but also the strange, unsettling feeling it must have been to identify with a group of people historically known as Free People of Color, or Mulatto, or Creoles … a group that constantly was seeing its very identity being changed legally and linguistically and culturally. And then for Herriman to work in a genre so deeply influenced by the masks of minstrelsy! When I read a classic Krazy Kat line such as “lenguage is that we may mis-unda-stend each udda,” it seems pretty clear that Herriman had a deep understanding of what we now consider to be modern notions of the slipperiness of language and a sort of permeability of identity….

Read the entire interview here.

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