Passing As An Integral Part Of African American Literature

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Kevan Josephs
Dr. Rose-Brown

Caucasia “Passing as white is, of course, how modernists would have understood the term. But even in this, its first cultural sense, passing is far more complicated than the notion of
Wearing a mask or of assuming a fraudulent identity would suggest…Passing—actual and
Imaginary, conscious and unconscious—at once produced profound shifts in thinking
About the boundaries of identity and aroused ambivalence about those shifting, unstable
Borders” (Caughie 387). This Quote is from Pamela Caughie‟s article “Passing as Modernism” which defines the reason behind passing, According to Caughie passing isn 't simply pretending to be white, but is way for an individual to shift the
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While there are parallels in traditional novels of passing; including fear, sacrifice, isolation, and conflict, Danzy Senna‟s Caucasia, novel falls within a different category of having a mixed-race character who willing embraces both their black and white identities. This presents the controversy of passing and racial identity, separately from Nella Larsen‟s Quicksand and Jessie Fauset‟s Plum Bun in which their mixed race characters primarily wish to embrace their white identity. Caucasia being set after the civil right act, describes the personal story of Birdie Lee, a young biracial girl growing up in Boston in the late 70’s to early 80’s. Birdies’ father is a black intellectual who has risen up from the tenacious circumstances of his youth, he spends most of his time preoccupied with his theories of origins and effects of racism; her mother on the other hand comes from and aristocrat family to which the book refers to as “blue-blood”, she is a turned revolutionary who is concerned more with direct action against racism than its theory. Birdie’s older sister Cole, has darker skin than Birdie and is noted that the two do not look very much alike, but they however have a very exclusive relationship and even share their own language called Elemento. Birdie is very fond of Cole as she was the first person she saw when she was born “Before I ever saw myself, I saw my sister. When I was
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