QHQ Discussion: Hughes: "Whos Passingfor Who?"Juda Bennett‟s ReadingPresentation: Essay 2: The Argument:Brainstorming with FREECASHIn-Class Writing: Essay 2 BrainstormingAuthor Lecture: Toni MorrisonAGENDA
Take five minutes to discussHughes‟s "Whos Passing forWho?"GROUP MEETING
QHQ: “WHO‟S PASSING FOR WHO?”BY LANGSTON HUGHES• Why did the black artists choose to ignore the color line?Where they really blind when it came to race?• Why did Caleb have white folks as visitors in Harlemanyway?• What was the couple‟s and red-headed man‟s real purposeof visiting Harlem?• Why does Caleb often take the side of the white man insocial confrontations?• Is Caleb going to invite people into Harlem again?
Q: Why did the red-haired man stop defending the woman afterhe found out she wasn‟t white? Q: Is it okay for one to ignore a man mistreating a woman evenif she is of the opposite race? Q: Why was the woman infuriated even though the red-hairedman defended her? Q: Should the red-haired man from Iowa be considered a racistfor having a problem with a black man hitting a whitewoman, keeping in mind that he‟s completely okay with havingcolored friends? Q: The second couple does not get up to help the man beatinghis wife and they freely switch between colored and white (eventhough the truth is still a mystery), but are those facts enough tojustify that they are completely a non-racist? Why did the others questioned Mr. Stubblefield‟s motives, whenthey themselves took no action to help the woman?
• Q. Why did the Iowan couple wish to pass for black?• Q: How could the white couple pass as [racially]black?• Q: What‟s really different between races?• Q: How did things change for them when they toldthe people of color that they were colored as well?• Q: Did the white couple tell Caleb and his friendsthat they were “colored” as a way to deceive andmake fun of them or to make everyone feel morecomfortable?• Q. Would everyone have had as good of a time ifthe white couple had not mentioned that theywere passing?
• Why did knowing/thinking that the visitors fromIowa were blacks passing for whites change themood of the night from that point on?• If the couple didn‟t tell them that they were [black]passing as white, would they still have had a greattime?• Does being around your own race really change theway you behave in public?• Why did everyone start laughing once they realizedthat the husband and wife were passing as whitepeople?• How does race affect the social gathering between thewhites and blacks while drinking with each other atthe bar?
Were the man and woman [from Iowa] actually white, orwere they black?• If the couple was white why would they lie andpretend to be black?• If they were black, why would they end the night bysaying they were white?• Why does the white couple decide to tell the truth tothe narrator and his friends finally?• Was passing for colored a best way to approach thecolored writers?• Would the story change its meaning if the couple wereactually black or white?
Q: Did the black people take offense to the fact the whitepeople passed for being “colored” for the night?Q: How did the people of color react and what did theydiscuss when they found out the white couple was passing?Did they become more accepting?Q: If the white couple didn‟t say they were colored, wouldthey have been forced out of the get together by racialtensions?Q: At the end, were the friends really dumbfounded on whothe couple really were?What did “they had had too much fun at our expense–evenif they did pay for the drinks.” mean?Will the narrator and his friends regret what they havedone? Will they change their manner when meetingwhite friends after this experience?
Ifso, wheredo you seehints of it?DO YOU READ QUEERPASSING IN THE STORY?
Here is hisargumentBENNETT, JUDA. “MULTIPLE PASSINGSAND THE DOUBLE DEATH OFLANGSTON HUGHES.”HONOLULU: FALL 2000.VOL. 23, ISS. 4; PG. 670, 25 PGS
BENNETT‟S THESIS:“With a sense of the interplay betweenvoyeur and object, homophobe andhomosexual, inside andoutside, "whos passing for who?"Interweaves the explicit theme ofracial passing” with the buried themeof the closet.
Bennett writes,[Assertion] The voice of the narrator is the key todiscovering this buried, or closety, theme. Althoughcritics have been surprisingly silent about the narratorsvarious and potential passings, there are several reasonsfor reading his character as false or at least layered.[Evidence] He admits, for example, to at least oneperformance when he states that "we dropped ourprofessionally self-conscious Negro manners... andkidded freely like colored folks do when there are no whitefolks around" (173). [Explanation] Although LangstonHughes is working within an African American traditionthat has often explored the nature of performance as itrelates to racial difference and insider/outsidercommunities, [Analysis] this story further layers thatdynamic with other marks of difference.
[Evidence] Before the action begins, the prolix and wittynarrator introduces his friends and himself as "too broad-minded to be bothered with questions of color." [Explanation]This statement sets up the dramatic irony that positions thenarrator for his ultimate blunder: being fooled by the whiteIowans. [Analysis] Although the narrators bohemian world ismeant to stand in contrast to the boring white folks fromIowa, Hughes eventually reverses the roles. The Iowans proveto be the tricksters, and the narrator must confront his ownnaiveté. That the narrator could not see through theIowans dissimulation is funny, ironic, interesting-but inthe end, not entirely believable.
What happens, though, if we read the narrators bohemianworld as a homosocial world? [Assertion] When we divide theentire cast of characters into single men and heterosexualcouples, we discover that racial passing only occurs withinthe heterosexual realm. Not only does the Iowan couple pass,but so too does the only other woman, half of the only otherheterosexual couple in the story. [Analysis] We might then seethese racial passings as deflecting attention from the narratorand his friends, who become boring and unremarkable despitethe initial flair with which they are introduced. [LogicalConclusion] Racial passing becomes a decoy, distracting ourattention from the performances of the bohemian bachelors.
[Assertion] Before Hughes initiates the drama of racial passing, hecomes dangerously close to revealing the "perverse" nature ofthe narrator and his bachelor friends:[Evidence] “You see, Caleb and his white friends, too, were allbores. Or so we, who lived in Harlems literary bohemia during the"Negro Renaissance," thought. We literary ones consideredourselves too broad-minded to be bothered with questions of color.We liked people of any race who smoked incessantly, drankliberally, wore complexion and morality as loose garments, andmade fun of anyone who didnt do likewise. We snubbed and high-hatted any Negro or white luckless enough not to understandGertrude Stein ....” (Hughes 170)
[Concession]Although the narrator assumes this affectedtone, his dandified attitude and the passing reference toGertrude Stein hardly mark him fully and definitively as ahomosexual. [Assertion] Nevertheless, the title, with its badgrammar calling attention to itself, encourages speculation.Who is passing for whom? [Explanation/Analysis] Surely the authorwould have planted more and trickier trickster figures than theIowans to fully justify his title. Furthermore, the narrative hasalready schooled us in the surprising fluidity of identity, and soreaders are encouraged to suspect more revelations and exposures.
[Concession] To those who would argue that the subject of passing lendsitself to this kind of wild and speculative reading-after all, everything isperformance, and everybody passes-I heartily agree. [Final Assertion] Iam finally arguing that in his autobiographies, poetry, fiction, anddrama, Hughes returned to the subject of passing throughout hiscareer because he was fascinated with identity as something unstableand "queer." With their emphasis on compensation rather thanloss, questions rather than answers, the unknown rather than theknown, and curiosity rather than punishment, Hughess writings onsexual identity invite comparison to his exploration of racial passing.
BRAINSTORMING WITH FREECASHF= Freedom, Fairness, Legality, Human Rights, Social JusticeR = Religion, Morality, EthicsE = Economics, Monetary Issues, Finances, ExpensesE = Environment (types of environments = natural, rural, urban, workplace, home, school)C = Convenience, ComfortA = Appearance, AestheticsS = Safety, SecurityH = Health, Well Being (types of health = individual, societal, mental, physical, emotional,spiritual)
CATEGORIES PRO/FOR CON/AGAINSTFREEDOM Students should be freefrom stigma attached toclass.Students should be free to wearwhat they wantRELIGION/MORALITYECONOMICSENVIRONMENTCONVENIENCEAPPEARANCE Makes the students look likeclonesSAFETY Keeps students safe fromgang violence due to colorsHEALTHPRACTICE ORGANIZING AN ESSAY ON THEISSUE OF SCHOOL UNIFORMS. USE THEFREECASH IN THE CHART BELOW.
If passing for white will get a fellow better accommodationson the train, better seats in the theatre, immunity frominsults in public places, and may even save his life from amob,” only idiots would fail to seize the advantages ofpassing, at least occasionally if not permanently.” Write an essay of four to six pages arguing for or againstWilliam Pickens’s statement. Use support from the texts youhave read so far, our discussions, and your own insights.THE PROMPT
CATEGORIES PRO/FOR CON/AGAINSTFREEDOMRELIGION/MORALITYECONOMICSENVIRONMENTCONVENIENCEAPPEARANCESAFETYHEALTHLIST ALL THE REASONS TO AGREE WITH PICKENS ON ONE SIDE AND ALLTHE REASONS TO DISAGREE ON THE OTHER. THE SIDE WITH THE MOSTOR BEST REASONS WILL PROBABLY MAKE A BETTER ARGUMENT.
Consider which texts will support your ideas.Hughes “Passing,” “Passing,” and “Who‟s Passing forWho?”Chesnutt “The Passing of Grandison”Kennedy “Racial Passing”Pickens “Racial Segregation”Roth The Human StainMorrison “Recitatif”SUPPORT
YOUR THESISIn this case, your working thesis will be your position onWilliam Pickens’s statement and your reasons for your belief: Doyou agree with him or not? Why or why not? You may refer toPickens or not in your thesis.Racial passing is a personal decision, and people should seizethe opportunity if they can in order to defeat racism anddiscrimination.Passing is a selfish act that reinforces hierarchy in society, and itshould be avoided despite the opportunities it offers theindividual.
You may qualify your thesis, for example, by adding a phrase thatacknowledges there are exceptions to your assertion.For example, if you disagree with Pickens in general but want toacknowledge that there are specific circumstances in which passing isacceptable, you might say something like, “While racial passing for personalsafety is a necessary and acceptable behavior, passing in general violatescommunity norms and reinforces the social construct of racism.”If you agree with Pickens but want to acknowledge there are specificcircumstances in which passing is unacceptable, you might say somethinglike, “While full time passing violates familial and community connectionsand should be avoided, the wise person will pass part time to takeadvantage of the benefits it can reap, including the opportunities to escaperacism and oppression.”Notice that these theses still assert clear stances. Don’t be vague orambiguous with your position.
Toni Morrison was born in LorainOhio. She is the author of sevennovels, a play, and a work ofliterary criticism. „„Recititaf‟‟ is heronly published work of shortfiction. Since 1987 she has focusedmainly on writing but has alsotaught classes at Yale andPrinceton Universities. Morrison is one of the most lovedand respected writers of the latetwentieth century. Several of herbooks have been bestsellers, andshe is the recipient of a number ofprestigious literary awards. In 1993Morrison was awarded the NobelPrize for Literature, becoming thefirst African American to win thishonor.TONI MORRISON1931-
Reading Morrison: “Recitatif.” Post #10: Write a paragraph defending passing.Try to come up with at least three reasons. Writeanother paragraph condemning passing usinganother three reasons. Use evidence from ourreadings to support your reasons. Post #11: QHQ: "Recitatif"HOMEWORK