A little explanation…

by kathleenljackson

Racial Passing: Legal scholar Randall Kennedy defined ‘passing’ as “a deception that enables a person to adopt specific roles or identities from which he or she would otherwise be barred by prevailing social standards.”

Passing for white: a black person presents themselves as a white person, which typically required breaking ties with the black community and adopting a new, ‘white’ persona.

Nadir: The years following Reconstruction (between 1877 and the early twentieth-century) have been described as the ‘nadir’ of African-American life. The reassertion of ‘white supremacy’ led to an explosion of racial violence, segregation, economic exploitation and political disenfranchisement. The term was first used by historian Rayford Logan in The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877-1901 (1954).

“One-drop” rule: The ‘one-drop rule’ was used in Southern courts to determine ancestry. A single drop of ‘black blood’ made a person black.

Jim Crow: an intricate system of segregation. The public lives of blacks were mandated to minimise contact with whites.

“Fancy girls”: This refers to light-skinned young female slaves sold as sex slaves, for a considerably higher price than their darker peers. The Edmonson sisters are perhaps the most famous “fancy girls”.

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