Portrait of the Inauthentic Negro (July 1950)

by kathleenljackson

Worst of all, the inauthentic Negro is not only estranged from whites—he is also estranged from his own group and from himself. Since his companions are a mirror in which he sees himself as ugly, he must reject them; and since his own self is mainly a tension between an accusation and a denial, he can hardly find it, much less live in it.

– Anatole Broyard

Anatole Broyard was a well-known book reviewer for the New York Times. It was revealed on his death bed in 1990 that, for the majority of his life, he had been passing for white. Broyard was ‘colored Creole’ desperate to be recognised as a writer, rather than “a ‘Negro writer’ consigned to the back of the literary bus.”

His life in itself is fascinating but what I find interesting is a pattern I am discovering within racial passing. The passer seems to allude to their other life, their heritage, or their knowledge of African American culture through the use of linguistic patterns, culturally-specific words or race-focused publications. Now that is fascinating.

(Sources: Portrait of the Inauthentic Negro and Editorial Observer; Back When Skin Color Was Destiny — Unless You Passed for White)