Big Read - A Chosen Exile: The History of Racial Passing in America (Virtual)

Dr. Allyson Hobbs, Stanford University, author of A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life

Brit Bennett, the author of this year's Big Read book, often credits Hobbs for helping her create the characters in The Vanishing Half.  She “cites A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs as an inspiration and one that gave her the unique framework to tackle the issue in The Vanishing Half.” from The San Diego Tribune, June 6, 2020

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. Dr. Allyson Hobbs explains that this was  "a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another."   Though black Americans gained new freedoms and opportunities when they adopted white identities, they also lost important family connections. Hobbs helps us understand the loneliness and isolation that often accompanied this choice.  In our growing multiracial society the topic of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotional personal decisions. 

All Big Read events are virtual this year. Registration begins September 12.  To receive the program links, please register via   If you'd prefer the call-in link, please call 608-437-5021. 

Everyone is welcome to join our Big Read events, even if you have not read the book. For more information about the Big Read, click here. 


Monday, October 19, 2020 - 6:30pm