Immigration, Passing, and the Racial Other in Neo-Victorian Imperialist Fiction: The Case of Carnival Row (2019–)

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2021-10-21 14:20Z by Steven

Immigration, Passing, and the Racial Other in Neo-Victorian Imperialist Fiction: The Case of Carnival Row (2019–)

Adaptation
Published 2021-10-07
DOI: 10.1093/adaptation/apab018

Dina Pedro, Ph.D. candidate
Department of English and German, School of Philology, Translation and Communication
Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain

In this article, I provide a close reading of Season 1 of the neo-Victorian TV series Carnival Row as both an ambivalent postcolonial and neo-passing narrative. I first draw on previous criticism on postcolonial neo-Victorianism and turn-of-the-century American passing novels in order to analyze Carnival Row’s contradictory revision of imperial London through its re-imagining in a fictional city named The Burgue. I then explore the conflicting ways in which the series tackles (neo-)imperialism and colonialization, as it simultaneously criticizes and reproduces imperial ideologies and stereotypes of the racial Other. Finally, I argue that Carnival Row seems to offer a new take on American passing novels by allowing Philo, the mixed-race male protagonist, to embrace his biracial nature without meeting a tragic fate at the end of Season 1. Nonetheless, by choosing a White actor (Orlando Bloom) to play the role of the passer, the series culturally appropriates a form of Black oppression for the entertainment of a White audience. Thus, despite the series’ well-intentioned attempts to criticize (neo-)imperial, racist, and xenophobic practices, it ultimately perpetuates—rather than subverts—those very same ideologies.

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The Fiction of the Color Line

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-10-21 01:01Z by Steven

The Fiction of the Color Line

Vulture
2021-10-18

Brittany Luse

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo: Getty, Yale University Library

Black women writers have long used passing stories to crack our façades of race, class, and gender.

Somewhere on Long Island around 1980, a blondish preteen is onstage at summer camp channeling Hodel from Fiddler on the Roof, her confident voice and star power self-evident. Her tawny-skinned father beams from the audience, and as she takes her bow, soaking in the applause, he approaches the stage bearing a hefty bouquet of daisies. He hands her the flowers, their eyes and hearts locking for a beat in shared pride. Then the girl realizes that every other parent, instructor, and child in the auditorium is staring at them. “Not in a way that felt good, not because I had given the outstanding performance of the night,” she would recall decades later. “They were staring because my father was the only Black man in sight, and I belonged to him.” The others had assumed until that moment that Mariah Carey — the girl with the frizzy honey-blonde hair — was white like them.

The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the singer’s delectable memoir co-written with Michaela Angela Davis, a former editor at Essence and Vibe, recalls many such stories. In doing so, it’s in direct conversation with the American literary tradition of novels about passing and passing-capable Black women — stories about the concealment, or the possibility of concealment, of one’s Black parentage and all of the attendant personal and social complexity. Since the late-19th century, writers have used passing as a narrative tool to do everything from encouraging white readers to sympathize with the struggles of Black characters to scrutinizing the hypocrisy of America’s racial hierarchy…

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The Secret Toll of Racial Ambiguity

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-20 13:28Z by Steven

The Secret Toll of Racial Ambiguity

The New York Times Magazine
2021-10-20

Alexandra Kleeman, Assistant Professor of Writing
The New School, New York, New York

Rebecca Hall Carly Zavala for The New York Times

Rebecca Hall’s new film adaptation of the 1929 novel “Passing” has cracked open a public conversation about colorism and privilege.

When Rebecca Hall read Nella Larsen’s groundbreaking 1929 novel, “Passing,” over a decade ago, she felt an intense, immediate attachment to it. The story seemed to clarify so much that was mysterious about her own identity — the unnameable gaps in her family history that shaped her life in their very absence, the way a sinkhole in the road distorts the path of traffic blocks away.

The novel follows Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, two light-skinned Black women who grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood and shared a friendship complicated by differences in class and social status. When Clare’s father died, she was sent off to live with white relatives, while Irene went on to become firmly ensconced in the vibrant Black artistic and cultural community of 1920s Harlem, wife to a Black doctor and mother to two dark-skinned young boys. One day, while passing for convenience on the rooftop restaurant of a whites-only hotel, Irene is recognized by a beautiful blond woman, who turns out to be Clare — who now not only lives her life as a white woman but is also mother to a white-passing daughter and married to a bigoted man who has no clue about her mixed-race heritage. The friends’ reunion crackles with tension, charged with curiosity, envy and longing.

When Clare asks Irene if she has ever thought about passing in a more permanent way herself, Irene responds disdainfully: “No. Why should I?” She adds, “You see, Clare, I’ve everything I want.” And maybe it’s true that the respectable, high-status life Irene has built in Harlem encompasses everything a serious woman, committed to lifting up her race, should want. But Clare’s sudden presence begins to raise a sense of dangerous possibility within Irene — one of unacknowledged desires and dissatisfactions. When she sees the ease with which Clare re-enters and ingratiates herself within Black society, it threatens Irene’s feeling of real, authentic belonging.

Raised in England within the elite circles of classical theater, Hall, who is 39, had her first introduction to the concept of racial “passing” in the pages of Larsen’s novel. “I was spending time in America, and I knew that there had been vague, but I mean really vague, talk about my mother’s ethnicity,” Hall explained over the phone this spring. Her voice is calm and poised, with a warm polish to it, and she tends to speak in composed paragraphs. Over the year that we had corresponded, Hall hadn’t been acting much and had instead spent time writing screenplays from the Hudson Valley home that she shares with her daughter and her husband, the actor Morgan Spector. “Sometimes she would intimate that maybe there was African American ancestry, or sometimes she would intimate that there was Indigenous ancestry. But she didn’t really know; it wasn’t available to her.”…

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The Problem of the Prism: Racial Passing, Colorism, and the Politics of Racial Visibility

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-20 13:10Z by Steven

The Problem of the Prism: Racial Passing, Colorism, and the Politics of Racial Visibility

University of Maryland
2020
DOI: 10.13016/kkbp-vio4

DeLisa Hawkes

In The Problem of the Prism, I argue that activist writers challenged the normalizing of white supremacy and imagined black futurity within the intersections of racial visibility, nation, and culture by transforming and repurposing racist and colorist ideologies. Through a wide range of cultural materials, I recuperate overlooked discourses on race and color by broadening the parameters through which we understand the black-white color line.

Focusing on neglected texts by understudied authors allows for a deeper consideration of how assumed ancestry and legal segregation impact America’s construction of citizenship and social hierarchies. For this reason, I consider how critical attention to skin complexion and visible ancestry illuminates institutionalized feelings of inferiority. I call these the politics of racial visibility. In the first chapter, I consider Albion Tourgée’s 1890 novel Pactolus Prime and the ways in which it offers readers an examination of how the black-white color line fosters notions of inferiority within both races.

In chapter two, I argue that Sutton Griggs inspires the “New Mulatta,” a revision of the “tragic mulatta” trope, that inspires race pride throughout the Black Diaspora by rejecting colorist ideologies. In chapter three, I recover the works of Olivia Ward Bush-Banks and Sylvester “Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance as critical lenses through which to deconstruct black separatism by considering African-Native American identities within New Negro philosophy. I argue that their works reconceptualize the “tragic mulatta/o” outside of the confines of the black-white binary while acknowledging the fraught relationship between African Americans and Native Americans. Thus, their works reveal a black-red color line that disables anti-racist and anti-colonialist collaboration. In the final chapter, I argue that 1940s and 1950s Ebony magazine articles shift readers’ attention to racial anxieties within the “white” appearing spectrum of the black-white color line to critique internalized racism. By addressing social implications anticipated within racial ambiguity in the space of the home, this commercial magazine allows readers from all socioeconomic backgrounds to engage with pressing concerns over racial visibility. Ultimately, Ebony magazine’s persistent focus on colorism and racial passing brings the efforts of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century authors full circle.

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Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

Posted in Articles, History, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-17 03:10Z by Steven

Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The Washington Post
2021-10-14

Mark Pratt, Reporter/Editor
The Associated Press

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP) (Uncredited/U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office)

BOSTON — The wreck of a storied military ship that served in two World Wars, performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades, and at one point was captained by the first Black man to command a U.S. government vessel has been found, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

A wreck thought to be the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, which sank in 1963 about 260 miles east of Boston as it was being towed to Philadelphia, where it was going to be converted into a floating restaurant, was located in 2019.

But it was only in August that a team of experts looking at the evidence came to the conclusion that they are “reasonably certain” that the wreck is indeed the Bear, officials of the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said at a waterfront news conference in Boston.

“At the time of the loss of Bear, it was already recognized as a historic ship,” said Joe Hoyt, of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

…Thursday’s announcement coincided with the arrival in Boston of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, named after the Bear’s captain from 1886 until 1895, Michael “Hell Roaring Mike” Healy.

The Healy, an icebreaker commissioned in 1999, recently completed a transit of the Arctic Northwest Passage.

Healy, born in 1839, was the son of a Georgia plantation owner and a slave. Healy’s father sent him to Massachusetts to escape enslavement, [William] Thiesen said.

He likened the Healy — commissioned by Abraham Lincoln a month before the president’s assassination — to an Old West sheriff, whose jurisdiction was an area the size of the lower 48 states.

“While he never, during his lifetime, self-identified as African American, perhaps to avoid the prejudice he would likely have encountered in his personal life and career, he was in reality the first person of African American descent to command a ship of the U.S. Government,” a NOAA news release said…

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‘People Assume I’m White. This is The Racism I See’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-15 00:14Z by Steven

‘People Assume I’m White. This is The Racism I See’

Newsweek
2021-10-14

Nikki Barthelmess

Nikki Barthelmess’ parents were Mexican American and Jewish, but people often assume she is white, not Mexican American. Nikki Barthelmess

A few months ago, I answered a knock at my door. My neighbor, James*, launched into a complaint. “That silver Honda is parked in front, and we have a friend coming over who wants to park there,” he said. He was referencing the car belonging to Ana*, a family friend who I hired days before to help with childcare for my toddler.

Ana appeared behind me to see what was going on. James looked at Ana and then at me, and despite Ana being only a few feet away, he nodded at Ana and spoke as if she wasn’t there. “Cleaning crew?” he asked me. My head snapped back in shock.

My eyes darted to Ana to see if she’d heard, and somehow it seemed she hadn’t. I stammered, unsure of what to say. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. She wasn’t holding a mop or dusting rag or anything that would indicate she was cleaning. After a moment of gaping, I closed the distance between Ana and me and put my arm around her. “James,” I said, looking at Ana, rather than at him, “this is Ana. She just started coming to the house to babysit Hadley while I write.” I squeezed Ana’s shoulder. “Ana is a long time family friend. She used to be my husband’s grandparents’ caregiver years ago before they died, and we’ve stayed in touch,” I said.

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Race and Racism: When Racial Passing Becomes Racial Fraud

Posted in Canada, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Social Justice, United States on 2021-10-14 15:20Z by Steven

Race and Racism: When Racial Passing Becomes Racial Fraud

Virtual event on Zoom
Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University
London, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, 2021-10-14, 19:00-20:30 EDT (2021-10-14, 23:00-00:30Z)

Meena Krishnamurthy, Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

In the past year and a half, race and racism have been at the forefront of many people’s minds because of widespread Black Lives Matter protests and the disproportionately negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on certain racialized communities. But the underlying phenomenon is not only recent. For centuries, racialized communities across North America have faced social and environmental injustices. This series of public lectures examines the topics of race, racism, and environmental justice. It will include philosophical discussions about what race is, of how to and how not to respond to racism (e.g., through practices of “racial fraud” or racial passing), of racism as a source of vaccine hesitancy, and of environmental injustices that afflict Indigenous communities in Canada.

The 2021 philosophy lecture series, Race and Racism, is prepared in partnership with the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, the Department of Philosophy at Western University, and the London Public Library. Additional support for the talk by Deborah McGregor has been generously provided by the Faculty of Law at Western University.

Each talk will begin with a presentation by the speaker, lasting approximately 60 minutes. Rotman Institute Associate Director, Eric Desjardins, will act as host and ask the speaker a number of follow-up discussion questions. Registered attendees will have the option to ask additional questions live via Zoom, or to submit questions in advance via email. We look forward to having an engaging discussion with everyone in attendance in this online setting!

  • I. Scenes of Racial Passing
    1. Brit Bennett’s Vanishing Half – Stella
    2. HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” – Ruby
    3. Rev. Jesse Routte
    4. Walter White
    5. Ellen Craft
    6. John Redd/Korla Pandit
  • II. Ethics of Racial Passing
    1. Fooling as a skill
    2. = politically virtuous
      • a. Why? Challenges racial oppression
  • III. Ethics of Racial Fraud
    1. Jessica Krug
      • a. Not skilled
      • b. Not for a just cause
      • c. Politically vicious
      • d. Why? Entrenches racial oppression
    2. Counter examples?
      • a. John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me
      • b. Grace Halsell, Soul Sista
  • IV. Murky Waters
    1. Stella revisited

For more information, click here.

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‘Passing’: Rebecca Hall Reveals Personal Link To Directorial Debut – Contenders London

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing on 2021-10-10 21:21Z by Steven

‘Passing’: Rebecca Hall Reveals Personal Link To Directorial Debut – Contenders London

Hollywood Deadline
2021-10-09

Anna Smith

Diana Lodderhose, Rebecca Hall, Ruth Negga and André Holland
Deadline

Rebecca Hall revealed a personal link to her directorial debut Passing at Deadline’s Contenders Film: London this morning. Joined on stage by stars Ruth Negga and André Holland, she explained why she adapted Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel. “My mother’s from Detroit and her father was African American and passed for white his whole life. When I read the book, it clicked into place: obviously that’s what my grandfather did — for his family, his children’s life.”

Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, writer-director Hall’s Passing explores the lives of two mixed-race childhood friends, Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga), who reunite as adults. They become involved in each other’s lives and explore how they diverged due to Irene identifying as Black while Clare “passes” as white. Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp and Gbenga Akinnagbe also star in the film, which premiered at Sundance. Netflix acquired the pic in February for nearly $15 million…

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Race Off: The fantasy of race transformation

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2021-10-09 02:47Z by Steven

Race Off: The fantasy of race transformation

The Yale Review
2021-09-27

Namwali Serpell, Professor of English
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Genevieve Gaignard, People Make the World Go Round, 2019. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

This essay was first delivered in September 2021 as the Finzi-Contini Lecture at Yale University’s Whitney Humanities Center. The Finzi-Contini lectureship was endowed in 1990 by the Honorable Guido Calabresi, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and former Dean of the Yale Law School, and Dr. Paul Calabresi, in memory of their mother, Bianca Maria Finzi-Contini Calabresi.

WHAT IF YOU COULD change your race? Some disturbing scandals of late have put this hypothetical to the reality test. A cluster of white American academics and activists, all women it seems, have been revealed to have spent years cosplaying a different race—Latinx, North African, black—deceiving their colleagues and comrades. The valedictorian of this recent class of racial fakers remains Rachel Dolezal, the former college instructor, activist, and president of an NAACP chapter, who was outed by a reporter in 2015. She confessed that she was “born white to white parents,” but still declares herself to be “racially human” and culturally black.

Such deceptions are nothing new. Racial hoaxes have been around for a long time, as Laura Browder explains in Slippery Characters: Ethnic Impersonators and American Identities (2000). In the mid-nineteenth century, P. T. Barnum showcased people of concocted races, such as “the Circassian Beauty,” and promoted a “Negro” who claimed to have discovered “a weed that turns a black person white.” Newspapers at the time called out runaway slave imposters, who went around “soliciting money,” “purchasing relatives and friends.” White writers published fake slave narratives, with some unconscious tells, according to Browder: their narrators tend to discover that slavery is bad (as if this were not obvious) and to betray both “disgust with the African-American body” and “an obsession with physical pain.” As late as the 1920s, the British- born Archibald Stansfeld Belaney disguised himself as Grey Owl, a Native American man. In his 2017 history Bunk, Kevin Young notes that “the hoax regularly steps in when race rears its head—exactly because it too is a fake thing pretending to be real.”…

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Multiracial Americans could represent America’s future, some say

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2021-10-08 21:27Z by Steven

Multiracial Americans could represent America’s future, some say

The Washington Post
2021-10-08

Silvia Foster-Frau, Multiculturalism reporter
Ted Mellnik
Adrián Blanco, Graphics reporter


Steve Majors, in Takoma Park, Md., who is half-Black and half-White, grew up in an all-Black household but is often perceived as White. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

While still a relatively small part of the population, more Americans than ever identify as multiracial, according to the census

Tony Luna was once again being asked to choose one of his racial identities over the other.

He firmly believed in the anti-racism training his workplace was offering. But the instructor told him he had to pick a group for the program — either the one for White people, or the one for people of color.

Luna is biracial, Filipino and White, a combination that defined his upbringing and sense of self. He has always felt he was either both identities, equally — or in some settings, not fully one or the other.


Multiracial populations increased faster than any single race across the U.S. in the last census. Gains were highest in major metro areas, but the number of people identifying as multiracial also tripled in non-metro areas. Source: 2020 Census

“I felt like it was a false choice, because you’re saying which one are you more comfortable with, your mom or your dad?” Luna, 49, said. “Identity can be based on how people see you, but that can be wrong for mixed people. It’s really based on how you identify, what your experiences are — so many variables go into that.”

More than 33 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — identify as being of two or more races, a number that grew by nearly 25 million people in the past decade, according to the 2020 Census. Multiracial people span all different combinations of races and ethnicities and make up the fastest-growing demographic in the country.

In some cities, the growth is stark. Almost 1.4 million more people each in Los Angeles and New York identified as multiracial in the 2020 Census compared with a decade ago, according to a Washington Post analysis. In Miami, nearly 1.6 million more did so…

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