Beacon Press: We Wear the Mask
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We Wear the Mask

15 Stories about Passing in America

Coeditors: Brando Skyhorse, Lisa Page

Why do people pass? Fifteen writers reveal their experiences with passing—including racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender, and economic forms of passing.

For some, “passing” means opportunity, access, or safety. Others don’t willfully pass but are “passed” in specific situations by someone else. We Wear the Mask, edited by authors Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page, is an illuminating and timely anthology of original essays that examines the complex reality of passing in America.

Skyhorse, a Mexican American, writes about how his mother passed him as an American Indian before he gradually learned and accepted who—and what—he really is. Page shares how her white mother didn’t tell friends about her black ex-husband or that her children were, in fact, biracial. The anthology also includes essays by Marc Fitten, whose grandfather, a Chinese Jamaican, wanted to hide his name and ethnicity and for his children to pass as “colored” in the Caribbean; Achy Obejas, a queer Jewish Cuban woman who discovers that in Hawaii she is considered white. There’s M. G. Lord, who, after the murder of her female lover, embraced heterosexuality; Patrick Rosal, who, without meaning to, “passes” as a waiter at the National Book Awards ceremony; and Sergio Troncoso, a Mexican-American man who passes for white at an internship on Capitol Hill. These and other compelling essays reveal the complex reality of passing in America.

Other contributors include:
  • Teresa Wiltz, who portrays how she navigated racial ambiguity while growing up in Staten Island, NY
  • Trey Ellis, the author of “The New Black Aesthetic,” who recollects his diverse experiences with passing on college campuses
  • Margo Jefferson, whose parents invite her great-uncle, a light-complexioned black man, to dinner after he stops passing as white
  • Dolen Perkins-Valdez, who explores how the glorification of the Confederacy in the United States is an act of “historical passing”
  • Gabrielle Bellot, who shares the disquieting truths of passing as a woman after coming out as trans
  • Clarence Page, who interrogates the phenomenon of “economic passing” in the context of race
  • Susan Golomb, a Jewish woman, reflects on the anti-Semitism she’s privy to when mistaken for Irish Catholic
  • Rafia Zakaria, a woman who agonizes over her Muslim American identity while traveling through domestic and international airports
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“In presenting these insightful, provocative life experiences, the editors give inquisitive readers (some of whom may be passing themselves) nutritious food for thought...Sharply drawn reflections on identity fluidity, stereotypes, marginalization, and cultural assumption.”
Kirkus Reviews

Editors’ Note

College Application Essay #2
Brando Skyhorse

Secret Lives
Achy Obejas

The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten
Marc Fitten

Letter to the Lady Who Mistook Me
for the Help at the National Book Awards—
or Some Meditations on Style
Patrick Rosal

Passing
Teresa Wiltz

Which Lie Did I Tell?
Trey Ellis

Negroland
Margo Jefferson

Slipping into Darkness
Lisa Page

Among the Heterosexuals
M. G. Lord

On Historical Passing and Erasure
Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Stepping on a Star
Gabrielle Bellot

Class Acts: Ways to Be Something You’re Not
Clarence Page

Jewess in Wool Clothing
Susan Golomb

Passing Ambition
Sergio Troncoso

Terror and Passing
Rafia Zakaria

Notes on Contributors

Acknowledgments
  • Vice, adapted excerpt, 6/22/2017

We Wear the Mask

ISBN: 978-080707898-3
Publication Date: 10/10/2017
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $18.00
Format: Paperback
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Will Ship On: October 2017
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