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AmericanPassing Narratives

Oneissue that has led to a heated debate in the united states, since thehistorical time, is the issues of racism. Since the era of slavetrade, and fight of of equality that has been experienced in thecountry, racial discrimination has been a hot subject among theAmericans. The blacks and the colored Americans have beenmarginalized in different aspects. This in turn led to the issue ofpassing by the blacks, whose complexion was white, into the whiteAmerican’s world, in order to avoid being discriminated on thebasis of color. Racial discrimination has been experienced indifferent places and at different levels. This can be summarizedthrough the term RacialProfiling,as well as the racial passing which was somewhat regarded as analternative to gain freedom if one non-white. This is the use of anyperson’s racial identity to determine whether to engage him or her.Racism has been an obstacle to social development in the society.Racism and ethnic discrimination has been a key issue in the US sincethe colonial era, and most notably during the slave trading era. Theissue of racial passing was initially coined with an intention todefine the experienced that was felt by individuals of mixed race,who were accepted into other racial group namely among the white.

ThesisStatement:Itis much easier for women to pass as whites, than for a man to pass aswhite because of the women`s gender and identity. Since the whiterepresents the male race that is in power, the black male has tonavigate in public and social realm (territory) making it harder fora black male to pass.

Withreference to the novel (PlumBun: A Novel without a Moral by Jessie Redmon Fauset)the story entails the life of a black family with one young blackgirl discovering she can navigate the social life once she is white,she moves to New York to run away from racism menace that was rampantin Philadelphia by then. She, however, discovers that, being a womanis a challenge on its own and doesn’t fade with one’s skin color,and in turn love and marriage aren’t a solution to racism. Withreference to the author’s ideas, the community and the largercommunity can help in fighting this menace. This can be done throughdialogue between the different races of people, as well as applyingthe negative experiences of racism towards the fight against theracism menace within the community (Fauset12).If a black person was successful, he was regarded as special, and ifhe had linkages with white blood, it was attributed to the white. Dueto the fact that, the whites were associated with success, hence camethe aspect of establishing one with the whites as a pass to successThe authors call is equally necessary today, as the aspect of racismhasn’t been completely been eliminated globally. “Passing is adeception that enables an individual to adopt certainroles/identities from which she/he would be barred by the prevailingsocial standards….(Johnson157).

Inthe United States some of the groups of people that have sufferedfrom the menace of racism include Native Americans, African, Asian,and Latin Americans. The white Americans have in numerous cases beenfavored in different aspects, a privilege, that has been denied toother people. In an example, it’s likely for a police officer tostop, and frisk a black America, and not a white. This racial andethnic discrimination has been believed to lead to a divided reactionamong the Americans with sometimes causing conflicts and war betweenthe white Americans and the colored Americans. Racism in UnitedStates has many times have been reduced to the position of whiteagainst black discrimination. Following the conclusion of the civil,which marked the end of slavery practices in America, the UnitedStates has struggled to fight the racism menace. Over time it hastaken different movements and individuals to ease the racialdivisions among the Americans. Reflecting on the recent occurrences,‘TheShooting of Trayvon Martin’and the story surrounding the case. “One thing entailed by thisfocus is the need for, while continental philosophers reflect ontheir reasons for engaging issues of…….. Gender and sexistoppression do not just affect the lives of women thus for feminismstruggle to be successful, it needs to be a project for all people”(Martinez50).

Atthe time when the issue of racial passing was rampant, neither racewas a strict biological fact nor a social construction. The boundarybetween the blacks or the people of color and the whites was not animaginary. However, closing from the disadvantaged races of the Whitewas accompanied by profound life changing significances. To thepeople who believed about race, then race become quite real, notbecause of their skin color, but because it was experimental andsocial. This due to the idea that, it involved an individual’sclosest relationships and communities. The issue of racial passingdemonstrated the aspect of race as being socially constructed, aswell as experienced, extremely meaningful to the individuals whopractices it. Despite being seen as an option to freedom, passingthrough to white caused the ‘passer’ to go through psychologicalsuffering, as well as his family. With reference to the novel (PlumBun: A Novel without a Moral by Jessie Redmon),at some point, Angela had to deny her sister, whom she had gone tomeet at the station, so as to hind her identity. This was in turn adisturbing scenario not only to her, but to her family. According toNerad(41), “passing is thus messy not only for the individuals and theinvolved families, but also for those of us who attempt to parse themechanism of passing as a trope with the goal of understandingsomething about race, identity and culture in the United States”.

RacialPassingis experienced when an individual who is recognized in one racialgroup is accepted in another racial group which is different from theoriginal group. In other words, racial passing entails individualschanging from one racial group to another. This term came into usewhen a person of color or mixed-race range integrates into the whitemajority which has remained the favored race in the United Stateswhen the issues of racial abuse come into question. In the 18thand 19th, free people from slavery went by appearance, which meant, if one iswhite, he/she was allowed to move around freely unless when he wouldof color (Powell31).This led to the absorption of the people of color into the white,European American society. When they looked white the communityaround would adopt and accept them, and in turn they were able tofulfill community obligations. In the late 19thcentury there laws that were introduced in the United States such asJim Crow state law, and one drop rule which were for racialclassification as whites attempted to impose regulations, whichsegregated people by appearance (Chaney and Robertson 492).

Oneimpact of racism is that it affects social differences between menand women in the society. The white man has been regarded as theepitome of power, whereas the black man has been left to struggle andnavigate the numerous handles to achieve the same as the white man.Family as well as learners who experience any racism ordeal in theirlife may negatively suffer mentally, academically as well as socialoutcomes. In other words, it makes one feel lesser human than others(Telles and Paschel 881). One of the aspects that have beenattributed to the whites is power. White supremacism can be referredas racism based on the belief that white people are superior in termsof characteristics, attributes and traits compared to other peoplefrom other racial background, and in turn its believed the whitesshould economically, politically and social rule over the non-whites.

RacialPassing on Women and Men

Angelamanaged to pass from her native racial group. According to Fausetnovel, it’s clear that Angela managed to deny her historical racialidentity and adopt the white identity, and in turn managed to movearound as a white woman. Equally, her mother managed to racially passand be accepted in the white world, this was attributed to theirgender identity and the position of women in the society. However,this wasn’t as simple as it appeared, as they were supposed tocover their tracks to avoid being identified as affiliated with theblack race. At some point, Angela had to openly deny her sister whoshe had gone to pick from the station. This was in an attempt toconceal her real identity to her white boyfriend. Angela and hermother were able to pass for white, while this was different from herfather and sister (Fauset 26). Women in the society were subjected togender stereotypes which referred to them as sexual objects and wereseen as pleasures of men. This in turn made it possible for womenpassers have it easy and accepted among the whites, as they would berecognized as women. However, the case was different for men, as theywere required to work for their success and recognition. Their risein the social Realm was not as easy as that of women (Dawkins 200).

Womenhave equally suffered from racism in different cases in the UnitedStates. This has led to the linkage between sexism and racism, which,when brought together gives more economic inequalities among women inthe societies. Different cases have been recorded where the blackwomen have been seen as sex objects. However, when a black womanchanges to white, it’s easier for her to be accepted among whitesthan man nevertheless, the fight against racism demands more(McArdle nd). Racism and sexism bring along more negative impact ofracialized women that what is experienced by the whites. The adoptionof the white racial recognition came with its own challenges andAngela found that, virginity was no longer valued. The stereotypingthat was associated with the blacks was the driving force she wantedto venture into the whites and have her life.

Accessto justice has also been a contentious issue when it comes toequality among people. For example, in case of racialized women,gender-based violence isn’t the only violence that can beidentified, they suffer from but there are other forms of violenceexperienced. Gender and race have overtime combined to increase thelikelihood of a woman being assaulted. For example, HellenBetty(FirstNations woman)was a victim of gang rape and was murdered by a group of white menhowever, this was hidden in conspiracy about the murderers and therapists. In addition, racialized women are often sexualized in aracist way, black women has suffered from sexual harassment that hasbeen racialized in some cases. For example, black women arestereotyped as highly sexual, while Asian women are stereotyped to beobedient. Women have been having it easier than men, and when womenchanges to white they can pass and be accepted among the white,unlike the case of men, who have to fight for their position andrecognition. Women of color have many a times liked to be associatedwith the whites in order to enjoy the privileges that come with therace that signifies power (McArdle nd).

Despitethe racial passing being a rampant practice among the Americans, as awoman, being white doesn’t win the ultimate freedom. This was evenwith the development and recognition of women in the society ithasn’t been an easy case to gain equality among men and women.Despite gaining access to the world of white, for women it takes timeto gain the maximum freedom they would dream of, this in turn meansthat love and marriage in the world of white by the racial passingwife doesn’t offer the ultimate solution towards the ultimatefreedom (Roman 1216).

Takingan example of the music industry, it’s easier for women artist tobe recognized among the elite than the black artists. Michael Jacksonwas and is still regarded as king hip pop, however, he had developedthe tendency to change his color from black American to whiteAmerican, however, his native remained. Comparing this to femaleartists who have made their name through the music industry, it hasbeen easy for them to gain recognition than their male counterparts.However, it takes more than changing the color, and also being awoman has its own challenges, especially a woman of color whichdoesn’t fade to the color. Different sectors have continuallyexposed the difference between women of color and the white women.One of these is health black women have been known to suffer morefrom preventable cases than the whites, such as stress, depression,physical violence, and the low esteem among others. “Racialambiguity could be leveraged to secure one’s physical liberty butalso to articulate broader notions of freedom, runaway slaves reliedon racial ambiguity…….”(Hobbs31).

Theracial passing aspect affected both men and women, and despite womenfinding it easier to navigate into their new attained racial group,the case for men was difficult. Colored people had it harder thantheir wife’s, as they struggled for freedom. This in turn led tonumerous conflicts as men fought for their equal rights andrecognition in the society. With reference to the novel PlumBun: A Novel without a Moral by Jessie Redmon Fauset,Angela’s father couldn’t be able to pass as white. This depictedhow racial passing was difficult for men as it entailed morechallenges than the case of women. The black man was seen as a threatto the whites and in turn, men suffered in aspects such as access toeducation, and financial freedom as well as establishing politicalrepresentation (Fauset24).

FactorsThat Contributed To Racial Passing

Thereare different and varying factors that were behind the practice ofracial profiling. One such factor is the notion or the idea that‘white is the color of freedom’. The predicaments associated withthe passing of the colored Americans led to a different view into themeaning of race in the country’s history. Since the late 18thcentury to the modern American period have led to complex questionswith reference to racial issues, and the issue of passing wasassociate with escape not only from the blackness, but also fromslavery “whiteskin functioned as a cloak in antebellum America, and accompanied byappropriate dress, measured cadences of speech and propercompertment, racial ambiguity could mask ones slave status”(Hobbs29).One of the factors behind this is seeking for Freedom.The whites were associated with freedom compared to the coloredcommunity in the United States. This, in turn, propelled the othercommunity to attempt and emulates the whites, in order to enjoy theirfreedom.

Anotherfactor that contributed to the practice of passing is the issue to dowith slavery. Most of the individuals passing into white recognizedracial groups wanted to win the freedom by running away from slavery. For example, in the year 1848, Ellen Craft, who was a daughter ofmistress slave and her master pretended to be white and escaped frombondage by running from Macon, Georgia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.She pretended to be white, and the key motive was to run away fromslavery bondage. Moreover, equality among the different racial groupswas also a driving force for the colored Americans to look foraffiliation with the whites, as they enjoyed more equality among theAmericans(Fauset 44).

Racialpassing was regarded as a cultural transition, as well as formationof identity. With reference to a novel by Jessie Redmon, the aspectof being was regarded as the most significant element of an ideal anddesired identity to the rest of the Americans especially thenon-whites. The white color was associated with power. It was in turnmuch easier for the women of color who physically appeared likewhites to pass as whites than men. This is due to the fact that,women in the society were taken as the weaker gender compared to men.This in turn resulted in more passing among women than men as theirimpact couldn’t be that much as that of men, that could signify achange of power when they have passed to a white. The fear of thewhite Americans that the African American would rise to success ledto the actualization among the whites that, the ‘Americandream’which was for prosperity would be actually come true for the blackAmericans. This in turn led to increased difference among the whitesand the blacks’ which explains why the black men were not allowedto pass to the whites (Khanna and Cathryn 384). One reason was that,their success would be a catalyst to realization of their Americandream. Women, on the other hand were seen less threatening towardsrealization of the dream, and in turn freely allowed to the whitesthan men.

Theblacks, as well as other races apart from the white in America wereall aware of their need to reinforce and restore the racialboundaries. The fact that that was a presence of successful as wellas hardworking Americans from other races was a cause for an upsetwith the idea of white unity which was a dream for the whites inAmerica. The southern limited the freedom of the blacks throughslavery, which was somewhat being faced-out, and in turn freedom tothe blacks came a threat to the white unity (Pfeiffer82).


Racialpassing marked a new dawn towards the issues on racism despite beingadopted as an option towards the avoidance of the menaces related toracism. Despite women being favored by the issues of racial passing,the aspect posed more new challenges as a woman in the fight againstracial discrimination. Compared to men, women were more able to passas white due to their gender and identity in the society unlike theirblack men counterparts who experienced more challenging social andpublic and in turn making it hard for them to pass. It’s clearlyevident that, the degree of racial discrimination at the time ofAngela posed a threat not only to the black American but also to thecolored Americans such as the Latin, Asian, and natives among otherimmigrants apart from the whites. The fact that the ‘AfricanAmericans’ were negotiating towards re-establishing their freedomamong the whites in the US, led to them to act, more like equals aswell as prospering in the markets. This positive development was notacceptable to the whites and in turn they acted to invert or restoreracial boundaries. The idea of race led to the exploitation of theblack people and men was the largest group suffered most.


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