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Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity
Everybody passes. Not just racial minorities. As Marcia Dawkins explains, passing has been occurring for millennia, since intercultural and interracial contact began. And with this profound new study, she explores its old limits and new possibilities: from women passing as men and able-bodied persons passing as disabled to black classics professors passing as Jewish and white supremacists passing as white.
Clearly Invisible journeys to sometimes uncomfortable but unfailingly enlightening places as Dawkins retells the contemporary expressions and historical experiences of individuals called passers. Along the way these passers become people—people whose stories sound familiar but take subtle turns to reveal racial and other tensions lurking beneath the surface, people who ultimately expose as much about our culture and society as they conceal about themselves.
Both an updated take on the history of passing and a practical account of passing’s effects on the rhetoric of multiracial identities, Clearly Invisible traces passing’s legal, political, and literary manifestations, questioning whether passing can be a form of empowerment (even while implying secrecy) and suggesting that passing could be one of the first expressions of multiracial identity in the U.S. as it seeks its own social standing.
Certain to be hailed as a pioneering work in the study of race and culture, Clearly Invisible offers powerful testimony to the fact that individual identities are never fully self-determined—and that race is far more a matter of sociology than of biology.
For more, including photos, author interviews, news, and author appearances, visit ClearlyInvisibleBook.com.
Introduction: Passing as Passé?
1. Passing as Persuasion
2. Passing as Power
3. Passing as Property
4. Passing as Principle
5. Passing as Pastime
6. Passing as Paradox
Conclusion: Passing as Progress?
"Clearly Invisible is destined to become a classic in the field and is crucial material for all people interested in race, multiracial identity, colorism, and passing. Dawkins' social analysis is astute, and she engages scholarly debates (the meaning of the Plessy decision) and current events (the newest iPad app) with depth and sophistication. After Clearly Invisible, readers will never see passing the same way again."
—Margaret Hunter, author of Race, Gender, and the Politics of Skin Tone
"A lively work that connects the politics of passing with the most pressing contemporary issues of identity."
—Michele Elam, author of Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium
"... passing is a kind of power, a challenge to forces of oppression."
—Rachel Stone, The Christian Century (February 6, 2013)
"[Dawkins'] practical account of [passing's] effects is explored in this deeply tangled, insightful offering."
"We are lucky to have rising public intellectual, Marcia Dawkins, bring critical conversations about the Mixed experience into broader scholarship. Her work confirms that an understanding of the Mixed experience is essential to understanding who we are as Americans."
—Heidi W. Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
Marcia Alesan Dawkins is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles, California. An award-winning writer and educator, Dawkins writes frequently on race, diversity, media, religion, and politics for several outlets, including The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Root, and Cultural Weekly.
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