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ERIC Number: EJ791656
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Passings that Pass in America: Crossing over and Coming Back to Tell about It
Reid, Donald
History Teacher, v40 n4 p453-470 Aug 2007
American culture glorifies the self-made man and this self-making extends to individual identity. The United States celebrates geographical and social mobility and the very anomie this produces is also the site of secular rebirths. In this essay, the author examines a literary genre that draws upon the American faith in self-transformation in an effort to confront the social boundaries that define its limits: narratives of white middle-class individuals who seek to live as an other for a while with the aim of revealing to their social group of origin its role in creating and sustaining the marginalization and oppression of the other whose identity they temporarily assume. John Howard Griffin's "Black Like Me" and Grace Halsell's "Soul Sister" and "Bessie Yellowhair" were products of an era when the challenges that racial integration presented to white middle-class society gave new impetus to the tradition of participant-observer social scientists and journalists living as workers and reporting on the experience. The author concludes with a reading of recent accounts of inter- and intra-class passing: Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed" and "Bait and Switch," and Norah Vincent's memoir of gender passing, "Self-Made Man." (Contains 7 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A