Caucasia, by Danzy Senna

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Caucasia is a coming of age novel that is told through the lens of Birdie Lee, a biracial girl who sees herself when she looks at her sister Cole Lee, even though physical difference of both Birdie and Cole were continuingly addressed through out the novel but their affection for one another exist beyond the bounds of physical differences. Birdie and Cole Lee are daughters of a White woman with blonde hair hand blue blooded (Sandy) and an African American political activist father (Deck). The closeness of these two sisters takes many hits and turn because one has the ability to disappear into the black society while the other one can disappear into the black society. Birdie inherits her physical looks mostly from her mother and is welcomed on the first day of school by a boy throwing spitball at her “What are you doin’ in this school? You White?” Of the bat Birdie is seen as white and categorized as white by anybody due to her physical appearance, which her identity is formed and categorized into whiteness.

Through the novel Birdie Lee challenges herself to confront her own awareness of self, to understand her families blackness through the gaze of whiteness. Birdies physical appearance is known as a straight hair and pale child, which gave her an identity that is more closely to the whiteness within her family. Whenever she is in the presence of both her father and Cole, she often felt that she disappeared and becomes invisible. Cole existence “was the proof that his blackness hadn’t been completely blanched” (Senna 1998, p.56).

In Representing Whiteness In The Black Imagination Hooks speaks of “white supremacist, white people can safely imagine that they are invisible to black people since the power they have historically asserted, and even now collectively assert over black people accorded them the right to control the black gaze” (Hooks, pg. 61). Meaning the invisibility and power that white people have gives them ability to control the black gaze. Birdie already has the power to disappear when she was either Birdie Lee or Jesse Goldman. She does not see this ability to disappear as a blessing or curse rather, as her access to whiteness making her question her blackness.

Sandy, Birdies mother were able to changes their identity to a widowed woman who was married to a now deceased Jewish husband while they were running from the Feds.

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