When one is part of a minority group, there are two obvious choices. The first one is to be who you are, regardless of what is being said about you. The second is to pretend to be someone else and fit in, otherwise known as passing.
Passing is the title of the new Netflix film. Based on a book written by Nella Larsen, it is set in New York City in the 1920s. Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) were friends in high school. Both are biracial and have not seen each other for many years. Irene has embraced her identity as a woman of color while Clare is passing as Caucasian. Upon meeting Clare’s very white and very prejudiced husband John (Alexander Skarsgard), Irene is both curious and disgusted by her old pal’s life preference. For her part, Clare is drawn into Irene’s circle of mostly African-American friends (including Irene’s husband, Brian, played by Andre Holland). Unlike Clare, they have openly and proudly embraced their identities. She is forced to grapple with the self-applied mask of passing she has put on.
Written and directed by Rebecca Hall (who has been speaking to the press about her own biracial identity), this is a powerhouse of a film. Though both the book and the movie tell the story of two women who are both partially of African-American descent, I felt like understood them. I’ve often spoken on this blog about my own Jewish faith and identity. I could, if I wanted to, pass as someone of another faith or no faith at all. I’ve been asked quite a few times if I am of Irish ancestry due to my red hair.
At the end of the day, it is this decision we make that defines our lives. Do we not give a fuck and just be ourselves or do we submerge who we are to be accepted by others? It is a question that each of us must ask ourselves, knowing the outcome has to potential to have life-altering consequences.
Do I recommend it? absolutely.
Passing is available for streaming on Netflix.
P.S. I wouldnot be surprised if Passing did well come award season.
I’ve been a feminist for nearly two decades. One of the things that has become apparent is that feminism is about women gaining control of our lives and our choices. Though who oppose this idea would rather that we remain the silent and dutiful helpmeets who do not dare to even consider speaking up for ourselves.
I was reminded of two things while I read this book. The first is that if the anti-abortion activists get their way, the ones that will be most affected will be poor women and women of color. Historically, they have had the least amount of access to healthcare and specifically, women’s healthcare. Which leads to unsafe and deadly methods (i.e. coat hanger abortions) of ending pregnancies instead of doing so in a medically safe and healthy manner. The second is the call to action. We can talk all the talk we want, but until we walk the walk, a woman’s right to choose will always be on the verge of disappearing.
When fighting against injustice, superheroes don’t always wear capes or use fantastic weaponry. Some are just brave enough to stand up and speak their truths.
Earlier this months, recent Texashigh school graduate Paxton Smith stepped up the microphone to give her valedictorian speech. Instead of reading from the text that was approved by the administration, she used her platform to speak out against the heartbeat bill signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.
The problem with this bill is that it goes into effect before pregnancy is detected, taking away the person’s right to make a decision about their body and their future. The problem with this bill and others like it is that is shortsighted. It does not take into account if the pregnancy comes about via rape, incest, or if it is medically necessary to abort the pregnancy. It also ignores the millions of already existing children who for a variety of reasons, are growing up in less than economically ideal circumstances. Where is the need to help those kids?
We need more young women like Paxton Smith. With future leaders like her, I see a bright future for this country.
When one thinks of Ireland, forward thinking and progressive is not usually the description that comes to mind.
Last week, the Irish government placed a referendum in front of the citizens. Should the current abortion laws, which only allowed for the procedure when the mother’s life was at risk be overturned or kept as is?
66% of the voting public voted for the law to be overturned.
The fact that 2/3rds of the Irish voters voted for the measure gives me hope. It gives me hope that one day, US voters will do the same. They will trust American women, the spouses/partners and their doctors to make a decision that is at its core a personal one.
From my perspective, those who want to ban or limit abortions do so because they have yet to see women as full-fledged human beings who have the capacity to make their own decisions. While faith and religious observance play a part in on how one might feel about abortion, when it comes down to it, in 2018, are women viewed as intelligent, rational creatures who have the ability to make decisions about their future or are they still viewed as second class citizens who need a man’s guiding hand on all decisions?