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The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch by Richard Wright
Richard Wright (1908–1960), novelist and short-story writer, was born near Natchez, Mississippi, to an impoverished family. Largely self-educated, he was one of the first writers to describe white treatment of blacks. His best known works, Native Son and Black Boy, are classic studies of racism in America.
image credit: Library of Congress
A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by
Call Number: eBook
Publication Date: 2014
Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one's birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one's own.Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.
Passing Interest: Racial Passing US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990-2010 by
Publication Date: 2014
The first volume to focus on the trope of racial passing in novels, memoirs, television, and films published or produced between 1990 and 2010, Passing Interest takes the scholarly conversation on passing into the twenty-first century. With contributors working in the fields of African American studies, American studies, cultural studies, film studies, literature, and media studies, this book offers a rich, interdisciplinary survey of critical approaches to a broad range of contemporary passing texts. Contributors frame recent passing texts with a wide array of cultural discourses, including immigration law, the Post-Soul Aesthetic, contemporary political satire, affirmative action, the paradoxes of'colorblindness,'and the rhetoric of'post-racialism.'Many explore whether'one drop'of blood still governs our sense of racial identity, or to what extent contemporary American culture allows for the racially indeterminate individual. Some essays open the scholarly conversation to focus on'ethnic'passers—individuals who complicate the traditional black-white binary—while others explore the slippage between traditional racial passing and related forms of racial performance, including blackface minstrelsy and racial masquerade.