We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories of Passing in America
For some, “passing” means opportunity, access, or safety. Others don’t willingly pass but are “passed” in specific situations by someone else. We Wear the Mask, edited by Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page, is an illuminating and timely anthology that examines the complex reality of passing in America.
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To watch an interview with Lisa Page, one of the co-editors and contributors, click here:
I found this book to be quite illuminating. I had never really thought about the idea represented in this collection of essays before reading this work. While I enjoyed some essays more than others, my favorite was “The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten.” The author states, “Throughout the majority of my youth, the inconsistency between my face and my name unsettled me so greatly that I endlessly questioned the reality of identity, race, and culture. I came to feel that these qualities were ...more
Perhaps you remember Rachel Dolezal, civil rights activist, graduate of a historically black university, instructor of Africana studies, ...more
“I am a mixture of many different peoples and I have always enjoyed this fact. I am the mongrel the white supremacists warned about. I am the Western world's bastard child.”
Sometime after the rallies in Charleston I was watching skinhead YouTube—an act somewhere between a responsible reality check and popcorn-popping with a horror movie—when I arrived at an EDM-backed listicle with a title along the lines of, “12 ways you know you’re a true Aryan prince.” One of these helpful self-checks was...more
This powerful and fascinating book is not just about passing as one race or another, but about the human tendency to shape ourselves to mesh with those around us. The examples and reasons for passing were fascinating - it’s not merely about race, but gender, sexuality and social class. This book made me think about the ways I pass just to get along and get through situations.
These are good essays, but as with any anthology, some were better than others. I particu ...more
As you might expect, this is a grab bag of personal tales re: varied experiences of different forms of "passing," in society. The book mentions racial passing as the most commonly known, but I personally first think of gender and hetero-normative forms of passing when the term is used. Interestingly, economic class passing was discussed and was until now something I've personally done, but had never previously considered to fal...more
I read until my eyes burned and the hour was late, captivated by the wry, painful, humorous, thoughtful voices in this collection. When at last I turned off the light, I dreamt of being in Bronzeville in Chicago, with a childhood friend whose work is contained in this book.
“What are you?” So many of the essayists were confronted by that intrusive question throughout their lives—especially in childhood and ...more
This book goes far beyond the idea of passing between racial identities. Passing happens across gender, ethnic, religious, educational, and class lines, too. Sometimes people don’t even know they are ...more
[W]hether you’ve been conscious of it or not, passing is a privilege all of us have indulged in at some point. People make assumptions about us based on stereotypes, context, environment. When we don’t correct these ideas, either because we genuinely like the assumptions someone’s made about us, or because explaining the truth could humiliate, or infuriate, whoever’s making these assumptions, we pass. We misrepresent ourselves in classrooms or at airports, on Facebook and at dinner part ...more
The writing is great in this collection; I liked some stories better than others, naturally, but this is nonfiction and from the heart. ...more
I received this book as part of a good reads giveaway but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
Thus, overall uneven but with a few excellent discussions.
I thought it would just resonate with me as a mixed-race American, but it covers what's it's like to pass as so many identities: sexual orientation, religion, class, etc etc.
Brando Skyhorse will be coming to our campus later this week, so this reading this latest book (he is co-editor) will add to the experience of meeting him!
What is passing? According to Marc Fitten, in "The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten," "... passing is: a person forging a new identity based on the fact that sometimes identities have more unearned advantages than others, and the effects of that change on subsequent generations." (p. 45)
"... actively passing creates a context of absence-recognized or not-that can only be hurtful to anyone who fol ...more
Brando Skyhorse is the author of the memoir "Take This Man" to be published by Simon and Schuster on June 3rd, 2014.
Brando Skyhorse’s debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 Pen/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He has been awarded fellowshi ...more