Skip to comments.How Turbans Helped Some Blacks Go Incognito In The Jim Crow Era
Posted on 07/19/2014 12:33:12 PM PDT by Theoria
There's a weekly trial on the Internet about who may be stealing culture from whom. Earlier this week, the defendants were Iggy Azalea and white gay men. A while back, it was Macklemore and the Harlem Shakers.
Now, we have come across a story from the Jim Crow era about cultural mimicry between people of color.
In mid-20th century America, the turban was a tool that people of color used for "confounding the color lines," writes Manan Desai, board member of the South Asian American Digital Archive.
At the time, ideas of race in America were quite literally black and white. In some places, if you could pass yourself off as something other than black, you could circumvent some amount of discrimination. People of color both foreigners and African-Americans employed this to their advantage. Some did it just to get by in a racist society, some to make a political statement, and others performers and businessmen to gain access to fame and money they wouldn't have otherwise had.
'A Turban Makes Anyone An Indian'
Chandra Dharma Sena Gooneratne was getting a doctorate at the University of Chicago in the '20s. Originally from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), he traveled around America lecturing on the need to abolish the caste system and on India's push for independence from the British, among other topics.
In a recent article about Gooneratne, Desai notes that visiting scholars from Asia and Africa, like Gooneratne, were startled to encounter anti-black discrimination. But some of these people, who were lugging around colonial baggage from their own countries, found a way around racism.
(Excerpt) Read more at npr.org ...
Yes, there is Obama turban photos. I chose not to post those.
I actually knew a guy (he’d be in his fifties now, like me (sigh)) whose stepfather had a brother who had “passed” for white. (My friend was white, btw.)
The step-uncle, so to speak, was completely estranged from his family, daren’t acknowledge them, etc.
I did meet the stepfather at one point and he was pretty light skinned, iirc.
I think there was some story about the uncle sneaking back for his mother’s funeral, but maybe I’m just making that up.
We lived in NYC, and it all seemed so archaic and just weird. But of course that man was from somewhere else, I don’t know where, and he was from a totally different era than us young ones.
I wonder if he ever revealed his secret.
Today? Do any black people try to pass as white? Halle Berry? Obama? Nope. There are advantages to being black in American society today. No doubt about it.