By now, we all know that slavery didn't just give us all horror stories of separated families, people that look just like us but we're not related to them (or are we?) and family members with super light skin. Slavery gave us a different class of Black people who didn't look Black, and weren't accepted into the Black community so, they were either forced to, or chose to, assimilate into the White community.
We've heard the stories of people who looked White, married White and lived White lives but, other Black people knew, deep down, what their secret really was. One of the most famous women suspected of being Black was Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian. Vivian whose father was of Sicilian heritage and whose mother was said to be of German and Irish descent, appeared to be Black and that caused quite a public uproar.
Vivian Liberto met Johnny Cash in 1951 when she was only 17. He shipped off to serve the country but the two kept in touch through letters and married in 1954. They had four daughters before their marriage ended in 1966. The whole entire time Liberto-Cash lived her life as a White woman. Things were cool until Johnny got into some legal trouble in 1965 that required him to go to court. The couple were caught coming out of the courthouse together and the photo that was snapped sealed the fate on their already crumbling marriage.
News reports started swirling that Liberto-Cash was actually Black and that caused Johnny to lose fans, engagements and money! The marriage ended and the two went their separate ways. That was amicable considering most women who were "found out" suffered abuse, and some, even death.
Netflix's new film, "Passing", shows a different side of the "white passing" culture. Actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga take the leading roles to portray friends in an elite society where one is living as a fair skinned Black woman and one, Negga, is passing for White. The film also stars André Holland, Bill Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and Alexander Skarsgard.
Actress Rebecca Hall, whose mother was mixed-race and white-passing, helmed the film in her feature directorial debut and also wrote the script. Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Margot Hand are the producers.
Take a look at the description:
Adapted from the celebrated 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen, PASSING tells the story of two Black women, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga), who can “pass” as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance in late 1920s New York. After a chance encounter reunites the former childhood friends one summer afternoon, Irene reluctantly allows Clare into her home, where she ingratiates herself to Irene’s husband (André Holland) and family, and soon her larger social circle as well. As their lives become more deeply intertwined, Irene finds her once-steady existence upended by Clare, and PASSING becomes a riveting examination of obsession, repression and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.
This film definitely looks like it's going to be a good one! It will be released in select theaters in October but available for streaming on Netflix on November 10th. I'll be watching, will you?