Historically, people were granted certain rights and privileges based merely on their skin color. Persons of darker skin are often less opportune; persons of lighter skin are almost automatically glorified. However, with the mass interracial breeding, many African American descendants started to look “white” even though they were of “black” descent. Many “mulattos” used this to their advantage to acquire higher social status and respect. The act of identifying as a different race and hiding one’s true race is known as “passing.” In the short novel, “Passing” by Nella Larsen, it follows two childhood friends of mixed-race, Irene Westover/Redfield and Clare Kendry, who later reconnected later in their different adult lives; both appear to have light complexion but one embraces her ancestry while the other tries to “pass” as something else. The latter’s decision usually ends unpleasantly. So while it may seem beneficial to “pass,” the end result is that the truth will come out. Literary articles which critique “Passing” such as “Sororophobia” by Helena Michie and “Black Female Sexuality in Passing” by Deborah E. McDowell discusses the issues of passing. Juanita Ellsworth’s “White Negros” provide scenarios where skin color played a factor in education and professional experiences. Louis Fremont Baldwin’s “Negro to Caucasion, Or How the Ethiopian Is Changing His Skin” explains the different ways people pass and how it can be undetected. Blatantly “passing” as a different race can lead to catastrophe and should be avoided.
People are treated so differently based on the color of their skin. Skin color was a huge deciding factor on marriage and creating offspring. Clare is described to have ivory colored skin despite of her mi...
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...tative text, backgrounds and contexts,
criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007. Print.
Michie, Helena. “Sororophobia.” Passing: authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts,
criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007. Print 409-417.
Deborah E. McDowell. “Black Female Sexuality in Passing.” Passing: authoritative text,
backgrounds and contexts, criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007. Print
Louis Fremont Baldwin. “From Negro to Caucasion, Or How the Ethiopian is Changing His
Skin.” Passing: authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts, criticism. New York: W.W.
Norton & Co., 2007. Print 112-117.
Juanita Ellsworth. “White Negros.” Passing: authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts,
criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007. Print 109-111.
Sirk, Douglas, dir. Imitation of Life. Universal International Pictures, 1959. Film
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