Discrimination In 'Passing' By Nella Larson

1954 Words 8 Pages
To pass is to disguise oneself as a difference race, or more specifically in this context for a black man or woman to pass as white. Some pass for a more advantageous position in society. Others pass out of pure fear for security. Some pass permanently, abandoning their heritage and living a life of hiding and others pass temporarily and sporadically. In the novel, “Passing” by Nella Larson, we are given an in-depth look into the racial struggles that existed in the early twentieth century and the relationship between two women who both pass, but in different ways and for different reasons. This raises more questions about how passing has developed over time and could even be prevalent in today’s society in a different context. To fully understand …show more content…
Some felt strongly against these laws and spoke out against what they saw. Charles W. Chesnutt was a black man who could have easily passed as white. His essay entitled, “What is a White Man” criticized these discriminatory attitudes and ideals that supported them. He condemned the views of southern writers who tried to euphemize saying the white race must continue to “exercise exclusive control and direction of the government” and that blacks should have no voice in directing the government. Chesnutt highlights different state laws that constitute what it means to be black, and which privileges black people are restricted from. These laws seem to end up contradicting themselves, leaving a hypocritical rule for citizens to abide by. For example, in South Carolina, reputation, prior privileges, and blood mixture are taken into account in deciding whether someone is colored or white. This statement in its very essence implies that at their core, white people are better than black people not just because of their color but because of their behavior. This blinded ideology inhibits racial inequality and discrimination towards people of non-white races. Chesnutt, a man who was actually black and chose not to pass, was very brave to publicly condemn these ideals and laws in writing. More people with a similar …show more content…
This was a time when racism affected different parts of the country in different ways. The Ku Klux Klan was re-emerging causing harm and discriminating against African Americans in many areas of the country. In the South, Jim Crow laws were being enforced against blacks segregating them as much as possible from everyday life in white communities. African Americans were prohibited from using the same water fountains, bathrooms, and restaurants as whites. It also didn’t help that President Woodrow Wilson tried to subdue tensions by segregating the government into forcing African American employees to work separately from white employees. There was also a large movement of African Americans from the south to northern cities. In this Great Migration, over a million African Americans had migrated to northeastern cities like Detroit, Chicago, and New York

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