Shades of White
By RAYMOND ARSENAULT
Published: February 25, 201, New York Times
"Racial passing is one of America’s deeply hidden traditions, a largely unacknowledged and unstudied aspect of national life. Historically, African-Americans with identifiably dark skin have had only two choices when confronting racial discrimination and oppression: either they could try to ease their burden through accommodation, making the best of a bad situation, or they could engage in protest and active resistance. The situation was often quite different, however, for light-skinned African-Americans of mixed parentage. For them, there was a tempting third option of trying to pass as white.
In an illuminating and aptly titled book, “The Invisible Line,” Daniel J. Sharfstein demonstrates that African-Americans of mixed ancestry have been crossing the...