Passing for White

Passing for White

Whiteness as Audition; Blackness as Performance

Whiteness is a performance: A performance about passing. There are no White people per se, only those who pass as White. And passing as White always has to do with acting and looking. Whiteness is performed by those who know they do so because they know it confers the unearned economic and psychological benefits (something for nothing) that the most unconvincing performances do not.

Whiteness is the almost perfect performance because the best actors accept the actors' method, technique and style as completely natural. So much so that the White audience can suspend its disbelief and permanently forget it is in a theatre; thereby extending the play into every sphere of political life. In this, Whiteness is White supremacism - the two can never be divorced from one another.

Anger arises in Whites when those they deem non-White do not declare their belief in the realism of the performance. This is because the performance is not only for benefit of the actor, and for those others passing as White, but is most squarely aimed at those unable to pass as White – no matter how hard they try – to try to prove to them that they could never pass as human. In this way, White is deemed human; non-White, non-human. Unless the latter can be convinced of the brilliance of the performance, the performance can never truly succeed and the psychological and economic benefits remain ungained – they must be worked for through hard work and industry rather than playacting. The revelation that any performance of Whiteness is unconvincing inevitably leads back to the White recognition that the performance is designed to cover the shame and guilt of wanting to cheat others of their birthrights in the first place. In this, Whites feel absurdly betrayed by the very people they refuse to have as friends. This is why all Whiteness ultimately relies on violence - or its threat - since persuading someone else of their natural-born inferiority is impossible.

An excellent, first-hand account of this subject is: NAZI OFFICER'S WIFE: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust

Copyright © 2010 Frank TALKER. Permission granted to reproduce and distribute it in any format; provided that mention of the author’s Weblog ( is included: E-mail notification requested. All other rights reserved.

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Frank TALKER - Truth-Teller