In the movie “Passing” which is Rebecca Hall’s film, there’s a scene where one of the character named Irene Redfield vents to her husband about a childhood friend and that childhood friend is Clare Kendry. She is a light-skinned Black woman who have been living as White for years.
Irene and Clare coincidentally reconnects each other in Chicago and since than Clare writes Irene in hopes of seeing her again and completing her wish to be among Black people again like earlier.
Irere was showed as a fair-skinned girl but she lived a firm Black middle class life in Harlem. Because Clare wants in both the things of having acquired privileges of White people and on the other hand also wants to live the black life, irritates her.
“You’d think they’d be satisfied being White,” Irene says to her husband, while referring to Clare and other Black people living as White.
He replies, “Who’s satisfied being anything?”
The movie is also on Netflix and is based on Nella Larsen’s Novel which was published in 1929, which also had the same name, and alludes to many of the questions that shows that it is about racial passing and questions about the fluidity, incoherence and performance of identity, and also what they can tell us about ourselves and the society.
Historically, the term “passing” referred to mixed-race Americans with no visible African ancestry who pretended to be White in order to avoid oppression or gain access to social and economic benefits. Since the nineteenth century, Black and White writers have explored the phenomenon through their work; Hall’s film adaptation of “Passing” is the most recent in a long line of stories on the subject.
For Hall, the topic of passing is personal because her maternal grandfather was an African American man who pretended to be White for most of his life. Larsen’s novel and the process of adapting it for the screen, she said, helped her make sense of her family’s complicated past.