Faculty Hub Talk - Claiming Black Lives: Reverse Passing and Identity Work Among White Individuals

Nov 30
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
University of Richmond, Heilman Dining Center, Richmond Room, Lower Level

Hub Talks are designed to enrich the scholarly engagement of our faculty by focusing on a “slice of scholarship” while building community and promoting intellectual exchange with collaborative potential across disciplines and schools.

Currently, why would a white woman pretend to be a Black woman? Research on Rachel Dolezal and broader reactions to her Black identity claim exist (Brubaker 2016; Roth 2018). However, recently exposed imposters, Jessica Krug and Satchuel Cole, deserve our focus. This presentation examines the intersections of racial identification, gender, and whiteness. Matthew Oware will apply Khanna and Johnson's (2010) "racial identity work" approach to explore the process of reverse passing for these white women. Ultimately, he will illustrate how these individuals present Blackness's supposed markers (that is, physical characteristics, linguistic patterns, and cultural symbols) as a credible Black identity. Due to a social and political environment that promotes racial diversity through policies such as affirmative action in public and private institutions, equity and inclusion workshops and training sessions, and a greater focus on social justice, manipulation of racial identity may occur. As a result, individuals may receive emotional, psychological, or financial benefits from their actions. Overall, this presentation complicates the reverse passing narrative.