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3998The Long-Passed Days of "Passing" & 'Posing' (Pt 1/2)

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Oct 3, 2009

      Passing: how 'posing'
      a choice for 
      many Americans (Pt. 1/2)

      (An article written by Monica L. Haynes for 
      the 'Post-Gazette', Sunday, October 26, 2003



      Although Barbara Douglass never told anyone 
      she was `White'*, people see her porcelain 
      skin and her silky hair and assume she is. 

      But Douglass, who lives in Wilkinsburg, 
      is a 53-year-old 
      "black"^^ woman. 

      She could "pass" for 
      but she has never tried, she said 

      "Growing up, I knew of people who did, 
      and I was even instructed not to say, 
      at that time, that they were 

      In order to get their jobs, they 
      had to say they were 



                     **The term 'Colored'** – as used here – is a reference to 
      person who is of a `Multiracial' / `Mixed-Race `lineage that 
                     also includes some part or amount of `Black / Negro' ancestry.

                     ^^The term "black"^^ or ""blacks"^^ – as used here – is 
                     a reference to those `Multiracial' / `Mixed-Race' individuals 
                     who were both of part-`Black / Negro' ancestry --*and*-- who 
                     *also* came to be referred to / categorized by the term 

                               This categorization would have arisen either as a result of 
                               the racist `One-Drop Rule' and / or as a result of  taking 
                               on the socio-political `identification' that, since the late 
                               1960's, has come to be referred to by the term 

                               These terms  "black"^^ and / or "blacks"^^– when in reference 
                               to a socio-political "identification" -- were originally applied 
                               largely as a way of describing the new socio-political mindset 
                               that became popular in the late 1960s wherein many who 
                               were of at least some-part `Black / Negro' lineage chose to:

                               ------ openly support of the new 'pan-African,  
                               anti-colonialist movement' of the late 1960s; 

                               ------ refused to hold or see the their or another's 
                               `Black / Negro' ancestral lineage as being "shameful"; 

                               ------ and by providing support for the whole idea of making 
                               sure that equal rights would become granted to those 
                               people who suffered discrimination due to having 
                               `Black / Negro' ancestry in their familial, 
                               ethnic, racial or even cultural lineage.

                               As a result of the racist `One-Drop Rule' – the terms 
      "black"^^ and "blacks"^^ were broad-brushed applied to 
                               entire people groupings (as a `political catch-phrase') 
                               as instructed by the western media and politicians.

                     The term `Black' – as used here – is in reference those who 
                     are of `Black / Negro' lineage and who also have very little 
                     to no* known or acknowledged non-`Black / Negro' ancestry.

                               The  "Racial"-Term `Black' is *not* the same as 
                               the Socio-Political-`Identification' of  "black"^^.

                     *The term `White'* – as used here – is a reference to a person who 
                     has no known or acknowledged non-'White / Caucasian' ancestry.

                     The terms `Pass' and `Passing'
       – as used here – is 
                     reference to a person who hid, denied or pretended to 
                     have no known non-White (and particular `Black / Negro') 
       and / or who would simply choose to 
                     silent' on the whole matter and let strangers `draw their 
                     own conclusions' based solely on their physical appearance.


      Thelma Marshall knows that routine. 

      During the 1950s and early '60s, she did 
      what her mother before her had done. 
      What her grandmother and aunts had done. 

      She "passed" for 

      "One time I told a woman I was  
       "black"^^'Colored'** in those days," 
      Marshall recalled. 

      "She said, 'You won't get the job 
      unless you "pass" for 

      So that's what Marshall did. 
      "I "passed" for 
      `White'* on lots of jobs," 
      she said. 
      "I had to be 
      `White'* to get the jobs." 

      It's what many fair-skinned 
      "blacks"^^ did during those times.

      Marshall's remarks are without shame or remorse. 
      She felt she did what she had to do. 

      Still, it is a prickly subject, and the 76-year-old woman does not 
      want 'to offend' so she asked that her real name not be used. 

      [The act of] "passing" for 
      `White'* offered not only opportunities, 
      but also the opportunities [that only] 
      `White'* people received. 

      During [the] slavery [era], it could mean freedom. 
      There are many documented instances of fair-skinned 
      slaves who posed as [
      `White'* [in order] to escape. 

      In modern times, it meant being able to vote in the South. 
      It meant a job in the office rather than a job cleaning the office. 
      It meant schools with the latest equipment and books, 
      instead of dilapidated buildings and out-of-date texts. 
      It often meant better housing. 

      It meant being treated with respect, not disdain. 

      Barbara Douglass recalls the difference between 
      going out with her 
      `White'* college friends 
      vs. her 
       "black"^^ college friends. 

      "We went to a show, about 
      six of us [
      "black"^^ students]. 

      The manager came and sat behind us.
      I asked him 
      'Why are you sitting behind us?' 
      He said, 
      'I have to make sure you don't destroy anything.' " 

      Douglass said she told the manager that 
      he had never sat behind her before. 

      His response was, 
      "You never came with these people before." 

      Douglass, who the manager had assumed 
      `White'*, encouraged her friends to 
      leave the theater rather than be insulted …

      Because of her fair skin, Barbara Douglass 
      of Wilkinsburg often witnessed -- but never 
      tolerated -- racism directed at other people.

      When she was a young child, her parents 
      didn't emphasize racial differences. 
      "I just figured people came in 
      different shades," she said. 

      But when the subject came up in her 
      dance class, the 8-year-old Douglass 
      approached her mother, who explained 
      to her abou't"race" and 'racism.' 

      "We are `a child of God' first. 
      We are `human beings' first," 
      Douglass remembered her mother saying. 

      In fifth grade, she learned that the United States 
      is a melting pot, and she declared to her 
      mother that she would be a melting pot. 

      Her mother decided it was the perfect definition, 
      seeing as how her ancestors were Cherokee, 
      `Black', Dutch, German and Irish. 

      Maybe all 
       "blacks"^^ would have defined 
      themselves that way given the chance. 

      Since [the first, actual] `Black' people first came 
      to the New World in 1619, they've Mingled and 
      Mixed with every Race and Ethnic group here.

      It is not just the fair-skinned "blacks"^^ who 
      can lay claim to that melting pot definition. 

      "blacks"^^ who have the mark of 
      Africa in their features and skin tone 
      also have multicultural ancestry.

      They just can't pass.

      "blacks"^^ were never afforded 
      the luxury of defining themselves. 

                After the Civil War, Southern whites, not wanting this 
                swirling of races to get out of hand and seeking to 
                keep the [false notion of the] 
      `White'* "race" 
      (Message over 64 KB, truncated)

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