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Giving Loving Day Its Due

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been invited to commemorate or at least think about Loving Day this year.

And with good reason. In 1958, newlyweds Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were indicted on charges of violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages and were banished from their home state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in 1967. Many multiracial individuals and interracial couples celebrate the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, June 12, as Loving Day. While celebrating this important civil rights milestone, we should remember that increased visibility of interracial couples and offspring does not promise increased racial harmony. Let’s face facts. It’s very sexy to congratulate ourselves based on reports that today’s interracial families can live harmoniously in the former Confederacy. We’re entertained as we watch Khloe and Lamar’s relationship work out. It makes us feel good to think that we have overcome, that we have reached a state of racial harmony and that we are all finally equal—and becoming equally beige and beautiful.

Is the Tanning of America Only Skin Deep?

It’s official: The United States is “tan.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s first population estimate by age, race, ethnicity, and sex since the 2010 Census, “50.4 percent of our nation's population younger than age 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011. This is up from 49.5 percent from the 2010 Census taken April 1, 2010. The population younger than age 5 was 49.7 percent minority in 2011, up from 49.0 percent in 2010.”

If She Were A Boy

While conducting research for Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, I came across the amazing story of Ellen and William Craft.

The Crafts were an enslaved couple who escaped when Ellen passed as Mr. Johnson--a wealthy, white, disabled master--who was attended by William, his slave in 1848. After a series of harrowing encounters aboard, trains, boats and carriage rides over the course of four days, the Crafts arrived in Philadelphia and ultimately escaped to London. The Crafts became what we might now call “reality stars” as they gained media attention from antislavery and mainstream press. They told their story in the book Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, and donated the proceeds to further the abolitionist cause.

Who Passes Into The Hunger Games' Future?

The Hunger Games, dubbed the "racial games" by some cultural commentators, takes place in the dystopian nation-state called Panem. And, as recent controversy suggests, it also takes place in our minds.

As I argue in my forthcoming book, Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, film intervenes more directly in the relationship between image and audience than literature, which means that filmgoers often react differently to narratives than readers. We saw it before with The Human Stain (2003) and we're seeing it now with the film version of The Hunger Games (2012).

Months before the film was released many readers objected to the casting of blonde Jennifer Lawrence to transform into darker-skinned protagonist (maybe Native American?) Katniss Everdeen.

Mitt Romney and the Politics of Passing

With Rick Santorum now out of the way it looks like the road is clear for Mitt Romney. That is, if anybody knows who he really is.

The Romney campaign has been plagued with accusations of Mitt’s “passing,” or representing himself as a member of a different social group than the ones to which he belongs—like the “one percent.”

None of this particularly surprised me, as I wrote several weeks ago about the power of passing, here on Huffington Post. My assessment of the role of passing in fashioning American identity was drawn from my new book, Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, which covers the same ground as many of Romney’s political and social critics. We come to the same conclusion: passing is definitely not passé. We need to pay close attention to passers--and fast.

TIME to Think in Full Color About Race, Ethnicity, and Passing

The cover claims to feature 20 portraits of Latin@s with captions.

Here's the problem: In reality, the cover features only 19 portraits of Latin@s and one man who passes as Latino but actually identifies himself as multiracial -- half Chinese and half White. According to Michelle Woo at the OC Weekly, "That man is Michael Schennum, is the short-haired gentleman in the top row, center, behind the letter 'M.' He is half Chinese and half White. Not Latino. Not even a little bit." After Woo's revelation Colorlines magazine did some more digging and found that "The best part is Schennum, who is a staff photographer for The Arizona Republic, says 'they never told me what it was for or [asked] if I was Latino.'" It astounded Schennum, and many others, that TIME could not find an Asian Latino. Representatives from TIME allegedly identified Schennum as Latino based on his appearance and snapped his photo without giving him the opportunity to identify himself.

Meet Marvel's Mixed Spider-Man

As a kid from Queens, NY it's not hard to understand why Spider-Man has always been my favorite superhero. Aside from a shared geographical location Spider-Man reflected many of the qualities of urban youth. He came from a working class background. He lived with extended family. He was open-minded. Sometimes unsure of himself, he struggled to make sense of the bustling world around him and his place in it.

And now there's a new chapter to the story. Today we meet Miles Morales, a younger multiracial and multiethnic Spidey. Morales, of mixed black and Latino descent, is described by TIME Magazine as a gangly teen "that fights crime and hurls spiderwebs, just like Peter Parker used to do." The similarities between Morales and Parker don't stop there. They share alliterative names and Miles was bitten by a powerful spider too. I guess that makes them both multiracial spider-men... and passers.

Jean Toomer Passing as White? I Think Not.

In this letter to the editor of "The Chronicle of Higher Education" I respond to Professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Rudolph P. Byrd on their discovery that Jean Toomer was passing.

In their article "Jean Toomer's Conflicted Racial Identity," The Chronicle Review, February 11, the authors Rudolph P. Byrd and Henry Louis Gates Jr. claim that Toomer suffered from a case of "conflicted racial identity." Toomer, one of the first proponents of thinking about race in multiracial "American" terms, is now said to have been passing as white. The authors justify this assertion by presenting new evidence that Toomer identified himself differently based on location and situation.

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