The Musings of a Wannabe Intellectual

Month: April, 2013

The enduring presence of ‘passing’

I recently watched the entire PBS documentary Jazz (Ken Burns, 2000; highly recommend). It’s no secret that I’m mad for the blues and love jazz. Charlie Parker is an undisputed genius and I think the world would have less problems if more people listened to Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday – or would, at least, think a bit more deeply about their actions… But that’s not the point.

The point is my thesis topic keeps appearing! It seems as though now that I am aware of it, every time I watch or read anything African-American related my thesis topic (racial passing) appears, especially if it is considering the 1920s.

Jazz has a dynamite (and perhaps unintentional) reference to passing for white – or rather, passing for colored. The first black-run black music label, Black Swan Records embraced the anti-passing rhetoric to promote their label within the black community.


I think this advertisement speaks more to the growing black nationalism and empowerment of black people than the nature of passing itself, but then, those are the reasons passing has been neglected for so long… Regardless, it had me scrambling for the pen & paper.


Epiphany of a wannabe intellect

Dear Readers,

I disappeared again. Sorry about that… In other news, I’ve withdrawn from the honours program. Yep. Getting the lease for my apartment in Boston kind of made the reality of my circumstances hit home. I am about to embark on a HUGE adventure – just 47 days to organise, pack up and move. And I was attempting to focus ALL my energy on something due in a month.

The cost of submitting my thesis, in my opinion, was being adequately prepared for the next step. And spending quality time with the people I care about before I move overseas. I was holed up working on a thesis that I don’t have to finish to have my dreams come true, a thesis I knew was missing a little somethin’ somethin’. I was essentially pushing on to try and meet a deadline with an incredibly rushed piece of work. I had too many things going on and nothing was getting my full attention or completed properly.

I’ve decide I don’t want to keep doing something just because other people believe I need to finish what I start, that I *might* regret withdrawing. I don’t want to play it safe or toe the line of convention just because it is the easier path to follow. Life is too short to do things because other people think it’s the right thing. Sure, I might end up regretting this decision. But I KNOW I will regret focussing on work instead of friends and family.

So this is me. Blazing my own path, again. If I end up crashing and burning, at least we’ll know who to blame (and it’ll be majestic as f%*k).