Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. by Gayle Wald

By Gayle Wald

As W. E. B. DuBois famously prophesied in The Souls of Black Folk, the fiction of the colour line has been of pressing hindrance in defining a undeniable twentieth-century U.S. racial “order.” but the very arbitrariness of this line additionally offers upward push to possibilities for racial “passing,” a tradition in which matters acceptable the phrases of racial discourse. To erode race’s authority, Gayle Wald argues, we needs to know how race defines and but fails to symbolize identification. She hence makes use of cultural narratives of passing to light up either the contradictions of race and the deployment of such contradictions for various wishes, pursuits, and desires.
Wald starts off her examining of twentieth-century passing narratives by means of interpreting works via African American writers James Weldon Johnson, Jessie Fauset, and Nella Larsen, exhibiting how they use the “passing plot” to discover the negotiation of id, supplier, and freedom in the context in their protagonists' constrained offerings. She then examines the 1946 autobiography Really the Blues, which information the transformation of Milton Mesirow, middle-class son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, into Mezz Mezzrow, jazz musician and self-described “voluntary Negro.” Turning to the 1949 movies Pinky and
Lost Boundaries, which think African American citizenship inside of class-specific protocols of race and gender, she interrogates the complex illustration of racial passing in a visible medium. Her research of “post-passing” testimonials in postwar African American magazines, which strove to foster black consumerism whereas developing “positive” photos of black fulfillment and affluence within the postwar years, specializes in ignored texts in the data of black pop culture. ultimately, after a glance at liberal contradictions of John Howard Griffin’s 1961 auto-ethnography Black Like Me, Wald concludes with an epilogue that considers the assumption of passing within the context of the hot discourse of “color blindness.”
Wald’s research of the ethical, political, and theoretical dimensions of racial passing makes Crossing the Line vital analyzing as we technique the twenty-first century. Her enticing and dynamic ebook could be of specific curiosity to students of yankee reports, African American experiences, cultural stories, and literary criticism.

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