In my family, racial passing and the deception it involved was the ultimate taboo and betrayal.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-11-05 02:06Z by Steven

In my family, racial passing and the deception it involved was the ultimate taboo and betrayal. It was what the writer Nella Larsen called a hazardous business, “this breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly to take one’s chance in another environment, not entirely strange, perhaps, but certainly not entirely friendly.” The first time someone perceived me as white, it made me wonder if they thought I was passing or trying to pass. But unlike the character Clare in Larsen’s novel Passing, I did not become untethered or unhinged from my identity; I did not feel a desire to cross into whiteness. Instead I grabbed hold of my identity even tighter, as if somehow my blackness could slip away.

W. Ralph Eubanks, “Passing Strange,” The Common, November 4, 2016.

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Passing Strange

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Mississippi, Passing, United States on 2016-11-04 15:44Z by Steven

Passing Strange

The Common

W. Ralph Eubanks

All thinking Southerners, at some point, find their minds at war with their hearts, a battle that often ends with the heart claiming victory. It is this triumph of the heart that landed me, a black expatriate Mississippian, back in my home state again. Yet returning to Mississippi after nearly forty years, albeit temporarily, as a visiting professor, has left me torn somewhere between acceptance and separateness. In some ways, the longer I am in the South, the less I try to maintain my distance from the place.

One way my divide from the South has been bridged is in the way I speak when I am here. When I left Mississippi I scrubbed away any outward sign that would mark me as a native son, even succeeding at losing my accent as well as the elongated vowels of my youth. But these days a decided twang has begun to creep into my voice. And rather than correcting my linguistic lapses, I’m reclaiming this part of my Southern background.

But there is one thing I have had difficulty accepting: people thinking I am a white man…

Read the entire article here.

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