Passing – Nella Larsen (1929)

❤️❤️❤️❤️In honour of Black History Month, I am posting a review of Nella Larsen’s short novel Passing. I read this originally in my university class African American Literature, and have revisited it several times in the last 13 years. Passing is the story of Irene Redfield and her friend Clare Kendry,  both mixed race women from Harlem. Both women have pale skin and could bypass some racial prejudices by passing for white women. In Irene’s case, she does not choose to pass regularly, and loves in Harlem with her husband and children; in Clare’s case, she was raised by white aunts and married a white man, who is not aware of her mixed heritage. Irene fears that Clare is in a dangerous position, living with a racist man who does not know that his wife is black, and therefore cuts off contact. Eventually, Clare and Irene are reunited and Clare gradually secretly reinserted herself into the community of Harlem, regardless of the danger. Though the book is 88 years old, it is sadly just as valid in today’s racially fraught world. With racial tensions heightened, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The slim volume of 122 pages will leave the reader angry and sad and desiring to step up and refuse to give in to bigotry. 

Photo by @ucdeedee 

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