Spring 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 2 Poetry |

Passing

A professor invited me to his college class. They were reading Larson's Passing. One of the black students said, "Sometimes light-skinned blacks think they can fool other blacks, but I can always tell," looking right through me. After I told them I am black, I asked the class, "Was I passing when I was just sitting here, before I told you?" A white woman shook her head desperately, as if I had deliberately deceived her. She kept examining my face, then turning away as if she hoped I'd disappear. Why presume "passing" is based on what I leave out and not on what she fills in? In one scene in the book, in a restaurant, she's "passing," though no one checked her at the door-- "Hey, you black?" My father, who looks white, told this story: every year when he'd go to get his driver's license, the man at the window filling out the form would ask, "White or black?" pencil poised, without looking up. When my father remained silent, the man would look up at my father's face. "What do you thin

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Tender

By Toi Derricote

A professor invited me to his college class. They were reading Larson's Passing. One of the black students said, "Sometimes light-skinned blacks think they can fool other blacks, but I […]

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