Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity

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Overview


PASSING (def): usually understood as an abbrevia¬tion for "racial passing." Describes the fact of being accepted, or representing oneself successfully as, a member of a different group.

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 ...

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Overview


PASSING (def): usually understood as an abbrevia¬tion for "racial passing." Describes the fact of being accepted, or representing oneself successfully as, a member of a different group.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

"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

"A significant step forward in the nascent field of critical mixed race studies. Dawkins' meticulously researched study provides an exciting education in historical and contemporary passing and in other ways in which multiracial individuals have illuminated schisms in American notions of race."
--Mary Beltrán, Assistant Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film and Affiliate Faculty in Women's & Gender Studies and Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas at Austin

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602583122
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2012
  • Pages: 285
  • Sales rank: 1,273,529
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcia Alesan Dawkins is a Visiting Scholar at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. 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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Read an Excerpt

"Passing is a strange thing. It has a large circumference. It is a way for us to see and not see, a way for us to be seen and not be seen. It looks at us and turns away from us at the same time. Passing shifts our social positions amidst social limitations. Constant movement is what makes passing so easy for us to wonder about and so difficult to understand. Translation: passing demands that we think hard about issues of identity and rhetoric, of the public and the private, in ways that most of us are privileged enough to ignore if we so choose. But if we pay attention, passing can reveal our collective blind spots as well as our individual similarities and differences. Passing forces us to think and rethink what exactly makes a person black, white, or "other," and why we care. It helps us create worlds we can actually live in. And it makes us think about the ties and binds of pleasure, language, and action. It makes us consider the hazards of silence and the hope of communication. Passing is profound."
--from the Preface

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Table of Contents

Preface
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?

Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    The topic is interesting. The delivery not so much. On topic alo

    The topic is interesting. The delivery not so much. On topic alone, I would have given the book 5 stars. The book read like 50 miles of bad road. I could intellectually understand everything, but it was very dry. It felt long for 160pg book.  

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Clearly Invisible will shock you with observations that are dee


    Clearly Invisible will shock you with observations that are deep and agonizing because they present simple truths demonstrating that racial distinctions are “much ado about nothing.” The examples of passers were illuminating - the Crafts, Iola and Harry Leroy and Leo Felton. Their stories were especially revealing concerning the possible ways of handling presumed racial identity and the consequences. The book is an excellent, exciting academic examination of the history of passing. The ideas that it explores have such important current implications that the book is a “must read” since the multiracial phenomenon is one that America will have to deal with
    increasingly. Ambassador Ruth A. Davis (retired)

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