SAMLA 2021- Racial Crossing in the 21st Century
During the Jim Crow era, racial crossing in the United States was officially regulated through legal, economic, religious, and socio-cultural means. When African Americans and other people of color strategically chose to pass, they undermined, often at great risk to themselves, white hegemony and the fantasy of a definitively either-or color line. Following Brown vs. Board of Education and the Civil Rights accomplishments of the 1960s, racial crossing‚ including disguise and transformation, cross-racial interaction, relationships, and friendships‚ continued to be prevalent as it also manifested in new, productive, and sometimes strange forms. For example, Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage and gave rightful acknowledgment to Mixed Race unions and families. Yet, in other instances, whites were now the ones‚”caught‚” or “outed” as passing, both in terms of artistic production and also in real life. With this SAMLA panel, we ask: how can we interrogate racial crossing in the 21st Century? Questions to consider include, but are not limited to: How does racial crossing revise and/or complicate conventional definitions of racial passing? How can we understand the history of passing as Black‚ i.e. the recent examples of Rachel Dolezal, Jessica Krug, or CV Vitolo-Haddad who were forced to admit their whiteness after passing as Black? How is racial crossing expressed in creative works, such as literature, film, music, etc.? What about our current century has impacted racial crossing and given it unique contours? How does racial crossing intersect with other aspects of identity, such as class, sexuality, gender, religion, etc.? How can we contextualize racial crossing? What are literary and/or historical examples of racial crossing that tell us something about racial crossing today? How does racial crossing help us understand various institutions, such as education, the law, incarceration, etc.? We solicit papers on any aspect of racial crossing as defined above, which would entail not only passing as white, but more generally, any act of crossing the boundaries of race in the twenty-first century.