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4002Re: The Long-Passed Days of "Passing" and 'Posing'

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  • rosanna_armendariz
    Oct 4, 2009
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      I agree. I have met many, MANY, "White" people over the years who claim to have Native American heritage, but when questioned further, it becomes apparent that they have no idea what tribe/nation or who these supposed "Indian" ancestors were. I think it's just a trendy thing to say. On the other hand, one rarely encounters a supposedly "White" person who mentions having Black ancestors, although many probably do.



      --- In Generation-Mixed@yahoogroups.com,
      quallagirl <latonyabeatty76@...> wrote:



      In a way it is good to be able to choose. I guess people had to do what they had to do to get by. I couldn't speak from a white looking person's standpoint, considering my so-called exotic features.

      It is also amazing at how many white people are clueless about their African ancestry. I also think alot choose to deny that part to avoid being looked down on. I notice that it is more accepting to claim Indian heritage. I don't ever remember meeting a white person that admits to having black heritage.

      Tonya



      --- In Generation-Mixed@yahoogroups.com,
      AP Gifts <soaptalk@...> wrote:



      Passing: how "posing"
      became a choice for
      many Americans


      (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 `White'*
      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 'Colored'**.

      In order to get their jobs, they
      had to say they were `White'*"

      [[[

      Note:

      **The term 'Colored'** – as used here – is a reference to
      a 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 "black"^^.

      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 "black"^^.

      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')
      ancestry and / or who would simply choose to `remain
      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 `White'*

      "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 `White'*."

      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
      was `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.

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

      They just can't pass.

      Most "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"
      as [being] pure, instituted a rule that
      anyone with "one drop" of `Black
      / Negro' blood was `Black' [race].

      That spurred even more fair-skinned "blacks"^^
      to cross over and escape Jim Crow laws that kept
      "blacks"^^ in the shackles of second-class citizenship.

      Interestingly, many ``White'*, if they traced
      their blood line or had their DNA tested,
      would find they have "black"^^ ancestors.

      In a 1999 piece for Slate, writer Brent Staples cites
      a 1940s study by Robert Stuckert, a sociologist
      and anthropologist from Ohio State University.

      The study, titled "African Ancestry of the White American
      Population", indicates that during the 1940s, approximately
      15,550 fair-skinned "black"^^ per year "crossed the color line".

      The study estimated that by 1950, about 21 percent or 28
      million of the 135 million categorized as `White'* had
      "black"^^ ancestry within the past four generations.

      Stuckert predicted that the numbers
      would grow in subsequent decades.

      Marshall never thought to "pass" permanently,
      although she had family members who did.

      Some fair-skinned "black"^^ with "good hair"
      and "keen features" did not "pass" but …
      [simply married] others with fair skin ...

      "For generations, my mother's side and my
      father's side married fair -- so they could get jobs,"
      Marshall said.

      "My great-grandfather had a barbershop,
      and he "passed" for `White'*, and he had
      only ``White'* customers in his shop." ...

      State decides for you

      Sometimes "blacks"^^ used their fair
      complexion -- not for personal gain but
      -- to circumvent discriminatory practices.

      For example, in the 1940s, "blacks"^^ who looked `White'*
      helped integrate Lewis Place, a neighborhood in St. Louis, Mo.

      Like many cities during this time, Lewis Place
      had covenants that prevented "blacks"^^ from
      buying homes in certain neighborhoods.

      But in the '40s, fair-skinned "blacks"^^ would purchase
      homes on Lewis Street and then transfer deeds to [the]
      darker-skinned "black"^^ people who had actually bought them.

      Famed NAACP chief executive Walter White's light skin
      allowed him to investigate lynchings and race riots in the 1920s.

      White, who was raised in Atlanta, under Jim Crow,
      remained an NAACP officer until he died in 1955.

      For nearly a century, just who was [defined or
      categorized as being either] `White'* or "black"^^
      depended upon what state that person was in.

      Between the 1890s and 1950s, the peak
      period for "black"^^ "passing" as `White'*,
      every state had its own racial designation,
      said Wendy Ann Gaudin, a history
      instructor at Xavier University in Louisiana.

      Gaudin has interviewed Mixed-Race people
      in Louisiana who "passed" for `White'* as
      part of study she conducted on that subject.

      A person could be born white in one state
      and be designated "black"^^ in another
      depending upon the `racial laws' in that state,
      said Gaudin, who also is a Ph.D.
      candidate at New York University.

      ----- During the antebellum period, enslaved `Black'
      [race] people were referred to as [being] Negroes.

      ----- Then there were `Free People of Color' [and others],
      … who generally had [a] Mixed "racial" heritage ...

      ----- [The free] people-of-color could be 'brown
      with European features', 'light with African
      features' and everything in between.

      "They were not looked upon as so-called Negroes and
      of course they weren't equated with `White'*, either,"
      Gaudin explained.
      "Society had `a place' for them."

      Some were slave owners,
      others staunch abolitionists...

      However, after the "one drop"
      rule was instituted and Jim Crow
      [`Segregation] became the law of
      the land in the South, things changed.

      Often, they would move and cut ties
      with family members, especially
      the ones who could not "pass".

      The law aimed at these "White-Negroes",
      as they were sometimes called, actually forced
      more of the very racial mingling it sought to counter.

      "Once these laws were [enacted], "passing" made
      more sense, and it became more necessary,"
      Gaudin said.

      Some who passed

      In her 2002 memoir, "Just Lucky, I Guess," Broadway legend
      Carol Channing revealed that her father, George Channing, was
      a light-skinned "black"^^ man who "passed" [as being `White'*] ...

      When she was 16 and about to go off to
      college, her mother told her about her father.

      "My mother announced to me I was part-Negro," Channing writes.
      "I'm only telling you this because `the Darwinian law'
      shows that you could easily have a "black"^^ baby."

      A noted case of passing in recent history is that of Anatole
      Broyard, longtime literary critic for The New York Times.

      Born "black"^^ and raised in "black"^^ neighborhoods in
      New Orleans and Brooklyn, he "passed" for `White'*
      for decades because he did not want to be labeled
      as a 'Negro' writer, he had said, but simply a Writer.

      Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of the Afro-American
      history department at Harvard, chronicled Broyard's
      brilliant career and secret in a New Yorker
      essay that was included in his 1997 book,
      "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a "Black Man."

      For years, Broyard side-stepped 'rumors' of his
      ancestry and would credit his skin-tone to a
      very distant relative who "may" have been "black"^^.

      Even in the waning days of his life, his body
      withered by cancer, he denied his wife's
      request to tell his children of their 'true' heritage.

      They met Broyard's darker-skinned sister, Shirley,
      for the first time at his memorial service in 1990.

      No identity crisis

      Unlike Broyard, Shadyside's Dr. Edward J. Hale
      never sought the advantages of `White'*
      his complexion could have provided him.

      He's a retired staff member of Western
      Pennsylvania Hospital, served as
      chief of medical services and acting
      director of professional services at
      the Veterans Affairs Department Medical
      Center on Highland Drive, and he has
      taught at the University of Illinois, Howard
      University, the University of Pittsburgh
      and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

      Hale, 80, said he followed the example of his
      father, William J. Hale, founding president of
      Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State
      College, now known as Tennessee State University.

      Hale had come from a family
      that had accomplished much
      by living as "black"^^ people.

      His goal was to do the same.

      "I've always been fond of my dad, loved and
      adored and respected my father," Hale said.
      "He chose to remain "black"^^.

      He got to be a college president."
      His mother, a graduate of Fisk
      University, headed up the business
      department at Tennessee State.
      She, too, was fair enough to
      "pass", as were Hale's siblings.

      Dr. Edward J. Hale chose to follow
      the example of his parents,
      accomplished educators
      Harriet and William J. Hale….

      The proud son says, "He chose
      to remain "black"^^ [identified].

      His sister, who earned a master's in
      French from Columbia University, married
      a man who could not "pass", Hale said.

      "But they had a very positive marriage as
      "black"^^ and they lived happily," he added.

      His brother "used to float back and forth
      between being 'White'** and being "black"^^,
      he said.
      "He did that for work."

      Why didn't Hale?

      "I chose "black"^^ because
      I have a "black"^^ identity...

      "We had a heritage, and it
      was something important."

      His parents emphasized being proud of
      who he was, excelling at something,
      making a contribution to society.

      After getting his bachelor's degree at Tennessee
      State, he entered Meharry Medical College in
      Nashville, graduating third in his class in 1945.

      Two years later, he earned a master's in
      physiology from the University of Illinois.

      "As a fair-skinned "black"^^, I could "pass" for `White'*,
      but … if you got to be too outstanding, people would
      look into your background," Hale said.

      When he came to Pittsburgh in 1955 to serve
      as chief of medicine for the VA Hospital, he
      knew people would assume he was `White'*.

      They soon learned differently through his stand
      on issues and his friendships with other "black"^^.

      Hale and several other "black"^^ doctors
      formed the Gateway Medical Group,
      now called Gateway Medical Society.

      He was active in the National Medical Association
      and helped bring their convention to Pittsburgh.

      "I had to make an "identity" for myself, to
      let people know who I was," Hale said.

      Gaudin said it was easy for well-educated
      light-skinned people to take what is considered
      the high road by maintaining their "black"^^ identity.

      Poor, uneducated folks with the same
      complexion faced a different reality.

      "These were people who used their
      physical appearances because, in
      many cases, that's all they had,"
      Gaudin said.

      "They weren't wealthy.

      In many cases, they felt this was
      their greatest, most valuable resource."

      Unbreakable family ties

      Attorney Wendell Freeland remembers a decade or so ago \
      when he and his wife were reading in the newspaper
      about the fast rise of a young man who was `White'*.

      In the ensuing conversation, Freeland's wife noted that her
      husband was smarter and much more on the ball than the
      young man and should have reached the same career peak.

      Freeland recalls his daughter saying to him,
      "You've got nothing to complain about;
      you could have [lived as] `White'*".

      Theoretically, yes.

      Freeland says he can fool even those "black"^^ people who
      swear they can detect another "black"^^, no matter how fair.

      Consciously, Freeland said he could no more
      "pass" than his brown-skinned brethren.

      "I never thought about it," said the 78-year-old attorney.
      "My family ties were so great."

      Freeland, who came to Pittsburgh in 1950, grew
      up in a segregated community in Baltimore…

      Wendell Freeland, a Squirrel Hill
      lawyer and civil rights activist,
      never considered "passing" as
      `White'^, although he witnessed
      others passing to get into
      barred theaters or stores.
      "That was just casual passing,"
      Freeland says.
      "I knew people who crossed over."

      As a college student, he encountered "black"^^ from the British
      West Indies and other places who "passed" to go to the movies
      or to shop in places where "black"^^ were not welcome.

      "That was just casual-"passing","
      Freeland said.
      "I knew people who crossed-over." …

      Freeland, who lives in Squirrel Hill, has spent a
      lifetime utilizing his considerable talents for
      numerous social and civil rights causes.

      He served as senior vice president of the National Urban
      League and was a member of the search committee that
      selected Vernon Jordan to lead that organization in the 1970s.

      He's been on any number of boards, including those of
      Westminster College, University of Pittsburgh and University
      of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and he had been chairman
      of the board of governors for the Joint Center for
      Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C.

      As obvious as the European portion of his ancestry is, Freeland
      said it was never a source of great pride or interest to him.

      "I'm more proud of my great-great-grandmother's
      manumission [emancipation] papers than
      any drop of `White'* blood," he said.

      "I have to tell you my complexion has certain advantages.
      I learn a lot about `White'* people … ,"
      Freeland said,

      … "It doesn't bother me if somebody "passed" and
      had a life that was more successful and happy.

      I'm successful and happy, too."

      SOURCE:

      hhttp://www.post-gazette.com/lifestyle/20031026stain1026fnp2.asp


      RELATED LINKS:

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/3331

      http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Al5eeK2CFwcv4rD5U5qzvEfty6IX?qid=20070527201834AAIhzhM&show=7#profile-info-CiC2JY9Maa

      http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AiebDu.tSshJzQ0wS5fMp7jty6IX?qid=20070623205206AANUzPN&show=7#profile-info-q1hdwifgaa

      http://boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=34070161&postcount;=13

      http://boards.mulatto.org/post/show_single_post?pid=34070414&postcount;=14.

      .
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