We Are All “Passing” (for Better or for Worse?) Outing Ourselves, Ending the Masquerade
Scott Neumeister

Harlem Renaissance literature by black, predominantly female authors has evoked deep resonances with this essay’s author in the area of passing, the hiding of one’s identity in order to gain acceptance by another. Of course, the Harlem authors wrote primarily about racial passing, so how did their stories strike such a chord with the author, a white male? Answering that question, this essay employs autocritography—an academic yet intimate social critique of literature that uses the personal (autobiographical) to approach the scholarly (critical) —to perform an intersectional interrogation of the social, political, and personal implications of passing that go beyond race, simply using the concept of racial masquerade as a starting point. The author deconstructs how his graduate Harlem Renaissance readings revolutionized his understanding not only of the politics of skin tone but of the consequences, both negative and positive, of all types of passing.

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