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
The History Behind The Vanishing Half: Racial Passing in American Life
Brit Bennett's best-selling book, The Vanishing Half, is a multi-generational family saga that tackles the delicate issues of racial identity, racial passing, secrets, and loss. Join us for a conversation about the long history of racial passing in America with Professor Allyson Hobbs, author ofA Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. Hobbs will discuss the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions from the eighteenth century to the present. She will present racial passing as a tale of loss: countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots, and community. It was, as Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and a leap into another. Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped the benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs will help us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of mixed-race identities, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.
All Big Read events are virtual this year. To receive the program links, please register via email@example.com 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.