The Complexity of Racial Identity in The Jefferson’s

by kathleenljackson

The episode focuses on the mixed-race children of the Jefferson’s neighbours. Their son has just returned from Europe and their daughter is hostile to him.

The son, Allan, had passed for white throughout college and went to Europe to escape the restraints of the colour line.

This is probably one of the few times I have seen this aspect of ‘passing’ discussed in popular culture. Typically, the passer in popular culture ‘passes’ for some kind of social or economic gain. Instead, this scene highlights the friction ‘passing’ causes within a family, and the the inner conflict experienced by the passer – am I white or black?

I like it because it adds an emotional dimension to a topic typically presented in a logical and analytical light.

The Jefferson’s, Season 1, Episode 13 Jenny’s Low (1975)