“Passing” is a word that has historically denoted a clandestine and hidden process, designed to leave no trace. Conventional wisdom is that few sources exist because those who passed carefully covered their tracks and left no record of their transgression. The term “passing” suggests a type of instability, a “moving through,” or the lack of a stable home or place. Passing was equated both with opportunity (access to white-­collar employment, better neighborhoods, a host of social courtesies) and with death (a forever severing from one’s family, friends, and communities).

This essay may be found on page 133 of the printed volume.

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