Romance and Race: Coloring the Past

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing on 2022-04-14 22:12Z by Steven

Romance and Race: Coloring the Past

ACMRS Press
April 2022
160 pages
6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 9780866986946
Paperback ISBN: 9780866986595

Margo Hendricks, Professor Emerita
University of California, Santa Cruz

This study brings race and the literary tradition of romance into dialogue.

Romance and Race: Coloring the Past explores the literary and cultural genealogy of colorism, white passing, and white presenting in the romance genre. The scope of the study ranges from Heliodorus’ Aithiopika to the short novels of Aphra Behn, to the modern romance novel Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins. This analysis engages with the troublesome racecraft of “passing” and the instability of racial identity and its formation from the premodern to the present. The study also looks at the significance of white settler colonialism to early modern romance narratives. A bridge between studies of early modern romance and scholarship on twenty-first-century romance novels, this book is well-suited for those interested in the romance genre.

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Stranger and Alone: The Story of a Man Who Betrayed His Own People

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2022-04-06 01:35Z by Steven

Stranger and Alone: The Story of a Man Who Betrayed His Own People

Harcourt, Brace and Company
1951
308 pages

J. Saunders Redding (1906–1988)

Stranger and Alone dramatizes the psychological and moral costs of denying one’s racial identity and allowing one’s “white face” to predominate. Striving for individual success through rejection of one’s people, the novel implies, amounts to a betrayal of oneself, as well as a futile striving against history, “the time on the clock of the world.

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Gregory Howard Williams

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Virginia on 2022-04-05 00:50Z by Steven

Writer Gregory Howard Williams’ “Life on the Color Line”

Fresh Air with Terry Gross
WHYY FM, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1995-02-21

Terry Gross, Host

Williams spent the first ten years of his life believing he was white in segregated Virginia, and that his dark-skinned father was Italian. When his parents’ marriage ended, his father took him and his brother to Muncie, Indiana, where the boys learned that they were half black. Williams’ new memoir “Life on the Color Line” is about the struggle and repression he faced growing up between the races. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “(an) affecting and absorbing story.”

Listen to the interview (00:23:10) here. Download the interview here.

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Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Posted in Articles, Audio, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-31 22:52Z by Steven

Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-25

“Still’s Underground Rail Road Records,” 1886  /Boston African American National Historic Site

To escape slavery in Georgia, light-skinned Ellen Craft and her dark-skinned husband William posed, respectively, as a white gentleman traveling with his enslaved manservant in 1848.

Elsie Roxborough was born in 1914 in Detroit to one of Michigan’s most prominent Black families. When she died in New York City in 1949, her death certificate listed her race as white. She had lived there as a white woman for over a decade, working for a time as a model while aspiring to acclaim as a playwright.

“She almost immediately goes to New York City after graduation from the University of Michigan,” said Ken Coleman, a journalist who has researched the Roxborough family. Elsie Roxborough “at least professionally changed her name to Pat Rico at one point, and then ultimately, Mona Manet, and her brown, brownish-black hair becomes Lucille Ball auburn.”

Roxborough represents one of the few documented historical instances from Michigan of a Black person choosing to live nearly full-time as a member of white society. This phenomenon, known as racial passing, has received renewed popular attention through recent artistic works like Rebecca Hall’s film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing and Britt Bennett’s novel The Vanishing Half

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here.

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Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Posted in Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-30 13:51Z by Steven

Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-24

University Of Michigan Alumni Association/Bentley Historical Library

Writer and reporter Ken Coleman tells the story of Detroiter Elsie Roxborough, who was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white.

In 1914, Elsie Roxborough was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white. Her life was rich, curious and at times, troubled, all while attempting a sort of high-wire-act of living multiple lives, between cities and names and races. Today, we talk about her life, death, and everything in between.

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here. Download the story here.

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I’m Biracial, But Rejected My Blackness For Years. Here’s Why I Stopped Passing For White.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Passing on 2022-03-29 18:32Z by Steven

I’m Biracial, But Rejected My Blackness For Years. Here’s Why I Stopped Passing For White.

The Huffington Post
2022-03-24

Eleanor Beaton, Guest Writer

The author (left) with her mother. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELEANOR BEATON

“Unknowingly, I started to reject all of the parts of myself that were Black.”

The school bus screeched to a halt. My mother, a Black Fijian woman who proudly embraced her natural ’fro, was waiting for me at the bus stop.

“Bye, n***a,” another kid said loudly, as I got up from my seat.

As an adult, due to my mixed heritage, many people describe me as “white-appearing” or racially ambiguous. But in Nova Scotia in the 1980s — with my tanned skin and thick curly hair in a sea of whiteness — I was reminded on a daily basis that I was different. I was an other. No matter how hard I tried, I would never blend in.

I asked my white father to fetch me from the bus stop going forward…

Read the entire article here.

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MIXED MESSAGES episode five – Steve

Posted in Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2022-03-21 16:18Z by Steven

MIXED MESSAGES episode five – Steve

Mixed Messages
2022-03-20

Sarah Doneghy, Host

Steve [Majors] discusses his book, “High Yella.” He tells what it was like growing up in a Black family and being told he was Black, to being white assumed as an adult while raising two Black daughters. In his search for identity, Steve discovers being Black is not only skin deep.

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Who is Afro-Latin@? Examining the Social Construction of Race and Négritude in Latin America and the Caribbean

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy on 2022-03-20 21:08Z by Steven

Who is Afro-Latin@? Examining the Social Construction of Race and Négritude in Latin America and the Caribbean

Social Education
Volume 81, January/February (2017)
pages 37-42

Christopher L. Busey, Associate Professor
School of Teaching and Learning
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Bárbara C. Cruz, Professor of Social Education
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

By the 1930s the négritude ideological movement, which fostered a pride and consciousness of African heritage, gained prominence and acceptance among black intellectuals in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. While embraced by many, some of African descent rejected the philosophy, despite evident historical and cultural markers. Such was the case of Rafael Trujillo, who had assumed power in the Dominican Republic in 1930. Trujillo, a dark-skinned Dominican whose grandmother was Haitian, used light-colored pancake make-up to appear whiter. He literally had his family history rewritten and “whitewashed,” once he took power of the island nation. Beyond efforts to alter his personal appearance and recast his own history, Trujillo also took extreme measures to erase blackness in Dominican society during his 31 years of dictatorial rule. On a national level, Trujillo promoted blanqueamiento (whitening), encouraging the immigration of single Europeans to the island and offering refuge to Jews during World War II because they were considered white—thus attempting to mejorar la raza or “improve [whiten] the race” of the Dominican Republic.

Read the entire article here.

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“Suspect-Proof”? Paranoia, Suspicious Reading, and the Racial Passing Narrative

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2022-03-20 02:02Z by Steven

“Suspect-Proof”? Paranoia, Suspicious Reading, and the Racial Passing Narrative

American Literary History
Volume 34, Issue 1, Spring 2022
pages 272–282
DOI: 10.1093/alh/ajab089

Sinéad Moynihan, Associate Professor of English
University of Exeter

This short essay considers racial passing narratives in relation to the “postcritical turn,” highlighting the proliferating reappraisals of the practices of “suspicious” or “symptomatic” reading in literary studies and the extent to which passing narratives offer an opportunity to test some of the claims of this body of scholarship. The utility of the passing narrative for this critical project lies in its persistent, self-conscious foregrounding of reading practices. Revisiting passing narratives in light of postcritique reveals that symptomatic reading is not a monolithic practice; rather, there are multiple ways of reading suspiciously. Moreover, and more importantly, passing narratives disclose that what has now become an orthodoxy in postcritique—that attitudes such as “paranoia,” “suspicion,” and “vigilance” profoundly limit “the thickness and richness of our aesthetic attachments”—ignores contexts, like that of a passer in a white supremacist society, in which such strategies are not a choice but are essential for survival (Felski 17). The key question posed herein is: What forms of privilege enable a reader to relinquish her attachment to paranoia, suspicion, and vigilance; to opt for openness rather than guardedness, submission rather than aggression (21)? Narratives of racial passing provide one answer to that question.

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

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Notes On ‘Passing’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-15 18:26Z by Steven

Notes On ‘Passing’

Essence
2021-10-27

Rebecca Carroll

Ruth Negga (left) and Tessa Thompson in “Passing” | Photo Credit: Netflix

The upcoming drama, based on the 1929 novel, looks at the cultural self-alienation a black woman experiences when she attempts to gain the privileges that come with assuming a white identity.

When my light-skinned Black and mixed-race teenage son was little, I worried aloud to my best girlfriend about whether people would recognize him as Black—or whether, God forbid, he himself would decide to identify as even partially white. My girlfriend, who is also Black, would counter with, “Why would he want to be on that team? Seriously, have you seen that team?” Yes, I would say, all too much, for far too long. And we’d laugh, because it was funny-ish.

I was adopted by a white family and raised in a primarily white rural New England town. I then spent my life, well into adulthood, seeking out Blackness and trying to arrive at a place where I could feel unambiguous in my identity as a Black woman. My son opting to identify as white would have been the opposite of my journey. But as he grew older, I actually stopped worrying that he’d be taken as white—and became more worried that he’d be profiled by the police as Black. The irony…

Read the entire review here.

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