Would the Rev. Patrick Healy, Who Passed for White, Want to Be Celebrated as a Black Hero?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-04-18 23:14Z by Steven

Would the Rev. Patrick Healy, Who Passed for White, Want to Be Celebrated as a Black Hero?

Faithfully Magazine
2020-10-13

Alexandria Griffin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion
New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida


Father Patrick Francis Healy, S.J., was the first African American to receive a doctorate degree and the first to be president of a predominantly White university when he became president of Georgetown University in 1872. (Photo: Blake Photography/Public domain)

Patrick Healy never directly addressed questions of what his racial identity might have been in the written record he left behind. However, he wrote on a few occasions about “blacks” or “negroes” in a tone that seems to indicate that he saw them as a group he did not belong to.

In 2015 and 2016, Georgetown University became enmeshed in conversations about race taking place at college campuses across the United States. At Georgetown, conversation centered on the institution’s history with slavery, which had been an integral part of its early years, with much of the labor on campus falling to enslaved people.

The focus was the sale of 272 enslaved African Americans in 1838, a sale undertaken by Jesuits Thomas F. Mulledy and William McSherry with the intent to accrue enough money to pay off some of the school’s debts and keep it open. This sale resulted in the breakup of numerous families, and the majority were sold into the Deep South, where they were subjected to harsher conditions of forced agricultural labor. The sale was controversial at the time but eventually largely faded from the memory of White Catholics. (As Shannen Dee Williams, historian at Villanova University and originator of the Twitter hashtag #BlackHistoryIsCatholicHistory, has pointed out, what many people now think of as new information about religious orders owning enslaved people never faded from the memories of Black Catholics.)

Moreover, discussion also included broader issues around Georgetown’s relationship to slavery, including buildings named after slaveholding faculty, and on what actions might be taken to acknowledge and make amends for this history. A number of initiatives grew out of this; a working group made archival resources on slavery at Georgetown available online and researched the fates of those sold in 1838, the school held an apology ceremony attended by community members and descendants of those sold, and buildings named after Mulledy and McSherry were renamed. Additionally, the school opted to grant descendants of those sold in 1838 preferential admission. More recently, students voted to add a student fee to go toward reparations for descendants of those enslaved at Georgetown. The future of the fee and how or whether it will be implemented remains uncertain. The university has recently committed to raising $400,000 annually toward reparations, which some students feel is too little.

Patrick Francis Healy: Legally Enslaved, Passing for White

One figure has been strangely absent from this conversation: Patrick Francis Healy, the university’s 29th president. In November of 1853, Healy, then a young Jesuit in training, sent a letter to an older Jesuit and mentor, George Fenwick. He wrote from his teaching post at College of the Holy Cross: “Father, I will be candid with you. Placed in a college as I am, are boys who were well acquainted with by sight or hearsay, with me + my brothers, remarks are sometimes made (then if not in my hearing) which wound my very heart. You know to what I refer. The anxiety of mind caused by these is very intense.”…

Read the entire article here.

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How one woman discovered her true cultural heritage

Posted in Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-04-08 02:16Z by Steven

How one woman discovered her true cultural heritage

BBC News
2021-04-06

What would you do if you discovered one of your parents wasn’t who they said they were?

That’s what happened to Gail Lukasik who found out her mother had ‘passed’ as white to escape racial segregation in the US, in the early 20th Century.

She was, in fact, mixed race but had kept it secret all her life and made Gail promise to keep the secret until after she died.

Gail has turned her story into a book called White Like Her.

Video produced by Trystan Young.

Watch the video here.

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Mixed/Other: Explorations of Multiraciality in Modern Britain

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Passing, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2021-04-03 15:38Z by Steven

Mixed/Other: Explorations of Multiraciality in Modern Britain

Trapeze
2021-04-15
240 pages
eBook ISBN-13: 978140919716
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781409197140
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781409197225

Natalie Morris

An exploration of what it means to be mixed race in the UK today.

  • How does it feel when your heritage isn’t listed as an option on an identification form?
  • What is it like to grow up as the only person in your family who looks like you?
  • Where do you belong if you are simultaneously seen as being ‘too much’ of one race and ‘not enough’ of another to fit neatly into society’s expectations?

The mixed population is the fastest-growing group in the U.K. today, but the mainstream conversation around mixedness is stilted, repetitive and often problematic. At a time when ethnically ambiguous models fill our Instagram feeds and our high street shop windows, and when children of interracial relationships are lauded as heralding in the dawn of a post-racial utopia, journalist Natalie Morris takes a deep dive into what it really means to be mixed in Britain today.

From blackfishing to the fetishisation of mixed babies; from the complexities of passing and code-switching to navigating the world of work and dating, Natalie explores the ways in which all of these issues uniquely impact those of mixed heritage. Drawing from a wealth of research, interviews and her own personal experiences, in Mixed/Other, Natalie’s aims to dismantle the stereotypes that have plagued mixed people for generations and to amplify the voices of mixed Britons today, shining a light on the struggles and the joys that come with being mixed.

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T Book Club: A Discussion on “Passing”

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Passing, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-03-08 03:02Z by Steven

T Book Club: A Discussion on “Passing”

T Magazine
The New York Times
2021-03-10, 00:00Z (2021-03-09, 19:00 EST; 2021-03-09, 16:00 PST)
This event begins at 2021-03-09, 19:00 Eastern Standard Time for viewers in North America.

Join T’s book club, which focuses on classic works of American literature, for a conversation on Nella Larsen’sPassing” led by the novelist Brit Bennett.

The third title selected for T Magazine’s book club, Nella Larsen’sPassing” (1929) tells the story of two old friends, both Black women, who reunite in 1920s Harlem, despite the fact that one of them is living as a white person. Critically acclaimed at the time of its publication, the novel captures the social anxieties that plagued America during the Great Migration and remains a resonant portrait of a fractured nation.

On March 9, watch a virtual discussion of the book, featuring the novelist Brit Bennett in conversation with T features director Thessaly La Force, that will address questions from readers. And, in the weeks leading up to the event, look for articles on “Passing” at tmagazine.com. We hope you’ll read along — and R.S.V.P. above.

For more information, click here.

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The Performance of Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-03-08 01:47Z by Steven

The Performance of Racial Passing

The New York Times Style Magazine
2021-03-02

Brit Bennett


The author Nella Larsen, photographed in 1934 by Carl Van Vechten. Carl Van Vechten, ©Van Vechten Trust, Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

Though Nella Larsen’s classic 1929 novel is understood to be a tragedy, it also exposes race to be something of a farce.

This article is part of T’s Book Club, a series of articles and events dedicated to classic works of American literature. Click here to R.S.V.P. to a virtual conversation, led by Brit Bennett, about “Passing,” to be held on March 9.

There’s a scene in the 1959 melodramatic film “Imitation of Life” that I have seen dozens of times, but it’s not the one you’re probably imagining: the climatic funeral scene where Sarah Jane Johnson, a young Black woman passing for white, flings herself onto the casket of the dark-skinned mother she has spent the entire film disowning. Instead, the scene that sticks with me is halfway into the movie, when Sarah Jane meets up with her white boyfriend, who has secretly discovered that she is Black. “Is your mother a nigger?” he sneers, before beating her in an alley.

I’m not proud to admit that in elementary school, my best friend and I used to watch this scene over and over again, not because we thought it was tragic, but because we found it funny. The frenetic music in the background, the melodramatic slaps, Sarah Jane’s slow crumple to the asphalt. We knew we were wrong to laugh, but we were too young to take much seriously, let alone a character like Sarah Jane, whom we found more pitiful than pitiable. We’d watched her mope through the whole movie about not wanting to be Black. Well, fine. Go see how she likes it over there.

In a strange way, the beating scene itself is almost structured like a joke. Part of the pleasure of a passing narrative is watching the passer fool her audience; in this scene, however, the audience is aware while the passer is not. Sarah Jane asks her boyfriend to run away together, the boyfriend pretends to consider it. He only has one question: Is it true? Sarah Jane laughs, unsuspecting. Is what true? But of course, we already know the punchline…

Read the entire article here.

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The complex history of Alexander Twilight, nation’s first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-02-11 00:04Z by Steven

The complex history of Alexander Twilight, nation’s first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree

USA Today
2021-02-08

Marina Affo, Reporter
Delaware News Journal, New Castle, Delaware

Though Twilight is lauded today as an African American scholar, preacher and educator, for much of his life he was marked as white on census records.

Tucked away on Franklin Street at Vermont’s Middlebury College sits a modest, red-bricked building bearing the name of Twilight Hall.

It pays homage to the first student of African descent who graduated from Middlebury in 1823. Alexander Twilight was also the first Black person to obtain a bachelor’s degree across America – a piece of history Middlebury is proud to represent.

At Northern Vermont University, there is Alexander Twilight Theater and in Boston, there is Alexander Twilight Academy, which offers year-round academic programming for middle school students from under-resourced backgrounds to prepare them for high school and college.

Though not widely know, Twilight is celebrated as an accomplished African American man whose achievements paved the way for others like him.

But consider this: Though Twilight is lauded today as an African American scholar, preacher and educator, for much of his life he was marked as white on census records…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and Authenticity: A Film Study on Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-10 17:27Z by Steven

Race and Authenticity: A Film Study on Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life

Drunk Monkeys
2020-05-18

Ilari Pass


Image © Universal Pictures

“It’s a sin to be ashamed of what you are.”
—Annie Johnson, Imitation of Life

Literature helps the reader travel inside the skin of the character—the mystery of another human being—and this understanding unsettles the reader’s received notion about the ‘other,’ a person who might be otherwise judged. The same can be applied to studying a film, allowing us to enhance our appreciation of subject matter that depicts a range of human experience by carefully looking at the artistic systems, such as cinematography, lighting, costume, and acting, that produce a rich and textured work of art. Douglas Sirk’s 1959 melodramatic film Imitation of Life, which depicts the lives of four different people living in a world that is beyond their control, is a film that operates at the level of art. The first half of the film deals with a question from a feminism perspective, about what it means to be a woman living in a male-dominated society, and the second half addresses the perspective of how women of color are affected by racism. It is a story about imitating, pretending to be something that isn’t true. However, what is true is what the characters literally see—gender and race—something no one can walk away from…

Read the entire article here.

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Understanding the Legacy of Nella Larsen’s Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-10 16:24Z by Steven

Understanding the Legacy of Nella Larsen’s Passing

The Mary Sue
2021-02-04

Princess Weekes, Assistant Editor

Right now on the Sundance circuit is the Rebecca Hall-directed film Passing, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. It is an adaptation of the Harlem Renaissance classic Passing by Nella Larsen. Embedded into the text is a rich powerful narrative about the Black American experience and the lengths people go to survive in America.

Nella Larsen was both in 1890s Chicago as the daughter of a mixed-race Afro-Caribbean man and a white Danish immigrant woman. Larsen didn’t grow up with her father and in 1891 the Great Migration hasn’t happened yet, so the Black population was less than 2%. After her mother remarried, they moved to a mostly white neighborhood filled with German and Scandinavian immigrants. As a result, Larsen did not grow up in the usual world of Black Americanness. Or Blackness period…

…While it would be easy to dismiss Passing as a typical “tragical mulatto” story, I have always felt that it was more Larsen reflecting on the ultimate tragedy of those who have passed.

In A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs, the author explains that this is a narrative of loss. “I started to realize that writing this history of passing is really writing a history of loss,” Hobbs told NPR….

Read the article here.

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The True Story of Jess Krug, the White Professor Who Posed as Black for Years—Until It All Blew Up Last Fall

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-05 01:24Z by Steven

The True Story of Jess Krug, the White Professor Who Posed as Black for Years—Until It All Blew Up Last Fall

The Washingtonian
2021-01-27

Marisa Kashino


Photograph courtesy of YouTube

She fabricated harrowing personal backstories, peddled gross caricatures, and spoke from perspectives she had no right to claim. And nobody stopped her.

“Iam a coward.”

Jessica Krug’s confession started ricocheting across screens one brutally muggy afternoon in late-summer Washington. “For the better part of my adult life,” it began, “every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies.” Krug, a faculty member at George Washington University, had taken to Medium, the online forum, to reveal a stunning fabrication. Throughout her entire career in academia, the professor of African history—a white woman—had been posing as Black and Latina.

“I have thought about ending these lies many times over many years, but my cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics. I know right from wrong. I know history. I know power. I am a coward,” she wrote. “You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.”

The statement, posted September 3, 2020, went viral immediately, unleashing a tidal wave of Oh, my Gods across the text chains of Krug’s GW colleagues and other academics. “We were all blindsided,” says GW history-department chair Daniel Schwartz. Distraught emails from Krug’s students—less than a week into a virtual semester already upended by the coronavirus pandemic—began piling up in faculty in-boxes. Meanwhile, an online mob went to work churning up old photos of Krug and tanking the Amazon ratings of her book. By the end of the day, a now-infamous video of Krug calling herself “Jess La Bombalera” and speaking in a D-list imitation Bronx accent was all over the internet….

Read the entire article here.

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‘Passing’ Stars Talk Rebecca Hall’s Directorial Debut and the Complexity of Racial identity

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-02 04:05Z by Steven

‘Passing’ Stars Talk Rebecca Hall’s Directorial Debut and the Complexity of Racial identity

Variety
2021-02-01

Angelique Jackson

Rebecca Hall’s feature directorial debut “Passing” dives into the nuance of racial identity and the complex realities of racial passing, with Variety’s Sundance review touting Hall’s work: “This radically intimate exploration of the desperately fraught concept of ‘passing’ — being Black but pretending to be white — ought to be too ambitious for a first-time filmmaker, but Hall’s touch is unerring, deceptively delicate, quiet and immaculate.”

Intimate is a particularly choice word to describe the project, as the film’s story holds personal significance for all its cast — including stars Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, both of whom are mixed race — but the project is particularly connected to Hall’s personal story. Hall is the daughter of famed theater director Peter Hall and legendary opera singer Maria Ewing. And though the British actor presents as white, Hall in fact comes from a mixed-race background, with a generational history of passing on her maternal grandfather’s side.

“I don’t think that I really had language for passing. It was such a difficult area of conversation in my family,” Hall recalls, explaining her personal connection to the material in conversation at the Variety Sundance Studio presented by AT&T TV, just hours ahead of the film’s Sundance premiere…

Read the article and watch the video here.

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