Julia: Hey friends, this is pop culture makes me jealous. And I’m your host, Julia. And on today’s show, my friend Megan is here and we are discussing Passing by Nella Larsen and the recent screen adaptation released on Netflix.
Julia: This episode of pop culture makes me jealous. This brought to you by Modesto reads. Modesto Reads as a community on Instagram highlighting what people in the city of Modesto, California are reading. If you want book recommendations, or if you live in the city of Modesto, follow Modesto reads and use the hashtag Modesto reads.
Julia: This episode is brought to you by MYA, my yoga audio, an intimate podcast experience of yoga just for you, your mind on your mat. Listen, closely, expand exponentially, hosted by Megan Morgan, a yoga teacher, writer and artist. You can listen to her podcast, wherever you find your podcasts.
Julia: Netflix released passing on November 10th, 2021. And when the first images and trailer released to the internet went on a serious flurry of opinions. As I have mentioned numerous times on this show, I am a biracial woman whose racial ambiguity leaves me out of the conversation in a lot of ways. My father’s black and my mother is Italian.
Julia: And because it is so often unclear what I am, it has made my life one big racial identity crisis after another, even still to this day. But before we dive in, I must introduce you to my guest. Megan Morgan is a yoga teacher, author, artist, and marketing Maven, who was born in Bermuda, raised in Canada, and who made California her home eight years ago. Adopted as a baby, her black and multiracial identity continues to inform all avenues of her life from her artwork, to her writing and even her yoga teaching, as well as her full-time job, doing marketing for the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce. Married for 25 years to her college, sweetheart, Richard, and with two adult daughters and two dogs Megan’s life as a reluctant and messy emerging empty-nester is full fabulous and a constant work in progress.
Julia: I also have to add that Megan and I met through a mutual friend. Through Instagram. And then we attended the 20, 21 summer Future Thought Leader cohort offered by Femily on the Go. And it was like an instant connection. Megan. I am so excited. You’re here. It’s not often. I get to do deep, meaningful literary-ish discussions with fellow multi-racial people, especially those who I respect and admire.
Julia: So I’m very excited. Welcome to the show.
Megan: Thank you so, so much, like we were saying offline before we started, I was like, I’m signing in early. Cause I’m just so excited to get to talk about this with you. And it’s, it’s amazing to have that connection with somebody. And then about this topic in particular, like so close to.
Megan: Heart and so close to who I am. So it’s just, it feels amazing to know another person, even who shares that excitement.
Julia: Yeah. And I feel like we don’t get to have we, as, you know, multi-racial people, we don’t have a ton of stuff in pop culture that we can sort of identify with and talk about, as it relates to us, it’s always like one half or the other, or none at all. Like there’s no like middle ground, and this is sort of a middle ground that we actually, like, I feel like have authority in
Megan: what we do experientially at least.
Julia: Yes. Okay. So let’s kick off today with a summary of the 1929 book Passing by Nella Larsen. Set, primarily in the Harlem neighborhood of New York city in the 1920s, the story centers on the reunion of two childhood friends, Claire, Kendra, and Irene Redfield, and their increasing fascination with each other’s lives.
Julia: Irene is a light-skinned black woman who passes when it’s convenient. One day, while back in Chicago for a visit, Irene has a chance meeting with a childhood friend. Claire, Claire is lighter skinned than Irene and living the life in disguise. Claire married a white man, John Bellew who is blatantly proudly racist while Irene has married a black doctor years after their encounter in Chicago, Claire and Irene reconnect again when Claire and her husband moved to New York. Claire becomes part of Irene’s social circle. With the threat of being found out as Black and the smell of an affair, Passing is a poignant novel that addresses race in a way that forces the reader to not only understand 1920s, America, but it’s still so relevant today.
Julia: The 2021 adaptation is directed by Rebecca Hall. She also wrote the script and stars, Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. I have mentioned this before the internet has been nonstop, buzzing about this film. But before we take a look at reviews, I want to start with the most obvious place. Megan and I are both biracial and though there is an age gap between us, our blossoming friendship has unearthed similarities, and I cannot imagine having this conversation with any one else. So Megan, I want to start with the novel. How old were you when you first read it? How did it influence your life and what are some of, what were some of the big takeaways?
Megan: Oh, the biggest, best question of all. So I was, it’s a trick answer to the question because I was in school when I discovered this novel, but I had gone back to school in my thirties and I just doing my, my Google, Dr. Googling, you know, online in the early two thousands. I can’t remember exactly how old it was, but somewhere in my early thirties and found the book online because it’s now part of, um, public domain because it was published so long ago.
Megan: And so I found, and I just started reading and couldn’t stop and brought it up to one of my professors at school that I was working on in my art and art history degree that like, I can’t believe you’ve never heard of this before. I’m like, you know, we’re in, in Canada, which is, is, has an even way smaller Black population and mixed population than the US.
Megan: Um, so it was never in any kind of official school setting, but I did discover it while I was in school. Now, of course I do have the physical copy of the book and much of do, has been made about it, but it shifted my whole world upside down here was this author who, even though the book was written nearly a hundred years ago, I found, and I’m sure you have too, just as topical today.
Megan: Like those conversations never go away. They never stopped happening and it might shift. And then I know we’re going to get into that, um, today, but for me it was like, I immediately started thinking about how I could use this, not just in my personal life, but in my artwork, which my, my degree is in photography and in art history.
Megan: So basically formed the thesis of my grad school work. So when I graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2012, part of my master’s thesis was creating work around, um, this topic. And I actually dressed up as the three characters to three main female characters in the book. Uh, but instead of calling them by their names, I called them Mrs.
Megan: Brown, Mrs. Black. And Mrs. White. We can get into that a little bit later. And then how it affected me personally, I guess I, I truly identified with Irene as a, as a character, just in terms of my appearance. Like passing is absolutely not anything that I have ever tried to do or tried not to do. Like, I’ve always, like, it’s just been me and people say that’s a, it is a luxury.
Megan: It is a privilege when you’re lighter skinned. It’s always been projected upon me. So people who didn’t understand or didn’t know that I had black in me would be like, I’ve had, we’ve talked about this too offline before. Like, what are you? And I think people guess everything from native American to Asian, to, you know, when I’m in the Southern United States, people think I’m from Cuba or south America.
Megan: Just like it’s, it’s kind of funny in a way, cause it’s always a guessing game. Um, for people. But I’ve had people, um, actually a really awkward experience when we first moved to Sacramento and I was invited out to a play by a net new neighbor and friend, and she was like, we’re going to meet at this other neighbor’s house.
Megan: And we’re all going to go together and it’s going to be great. And overall, it was a great night, but I showed up to this other neighbor’s house. We sit down, we’re having a glass of wine and he asked me where my kids are going to go to school. And I was like, oh, just down the street at this, this great school, um, here’s got really great ratings.
Megan: He’s like, yeah, it is. It’s a really good school. And he’s like, so many parents took their kids out years ago cause all these black kids started coming, but I say, it’s just fine. Like, and I’m sitting there. I’m kind of like, is he saying that not knowing who I am or is he saying that knowing who I am. What does that mean?
Megan: And I, I think he didn’t know because after he never spoke to me again, so I mentioned it to the neighbor later and I was like this, where he said something really weird. And I’m like, you know, what do you think? And she was like, oh, he must not have realized who you were and that, you know, you caught him in this moment or whatever.
Megan: And since that time, like has just never acknowledged my presence after going out to the theater together, having drinks with dinner and lovely conversation. And after telling me it’s okay that Black kids are going to the school. But thinking that I was white, oh, I don’t know if he was just embarrassed or whatever.
Megan: And then at the same time, even though I’ve never consciously said, I’m going to go into a situation where I have to pass or not pass. Um, I worked with somebody who, um, who did that and, and, and told me basically that, um, she considers herself a white person, even though her father is. Black and she had green or greenish bluish eyes.
Megan: But to me it’s always been very obvious, but she lived her, she married someone white and they know her background. Like she wasn’t hiding it from her spouse. Uh, but she went through life purposely, not telling people about that. And it would say she was white if asked and it happened at the same time. So I’m studying for school.
Megan: I discover this. I realize this person I’m working with is, is doing this. I know she would flat iron her hair like obsessively. And it was like, seriously, would freak out if it was raining or snowing, because.
Julia: Cause we all know what that’s going to get our hair.
Megan: Yeah. So that was kind of what was informing me at the time when I first discovered the book and the ironies of all of that are, are insane, but it’s a ripple effect and continues now with the movie coming out, I’m like all excited all over again because I’m like, it’s still relevant.
Megan: It’s always going to be relevant. And yeah.
Julia: It’s a really important, I think, novel too in the conversation about just how we all treat each other. So when you were telling them the story about your neighbor, I’m thinking of the scene, both in the book and the movie where John has no idea, right? Like he’s clearly ignorant to the fact that his wife is Black and he is clearly ignorant period.
Julia: And so Irene is just so. Shocked by his blatant racism and is so deeply affected by that. And just has a moment after the fact. And I, I like, I feel like that’s always my life. I’m always finding out the truth about people because they say things because they don’t understand what they’re looking at as a person who’s potentially, or they do.
Julia: It just depends. Like you mentioned earlier, it just depends on where you are and what people’s other people’s life experiences are. So seeing that scene, I was wondering like, why reading the book? I was like, how are they going to see this? How’s the scene going to play out? Like, how are they going to act it?
Julia: And Tessa Thompson did such an amazing job with her face body language. Girl. Did you watch every single one of us? Like, were you spying on all of us when we get into those situations?
Megan: Yeah, I stopped it and rewound it a couple of times, because I was like that one thing I will say about that adaptation. I loved it. I, you know, I always worry cause I’m like, I love the book. Am I going to like scream? And I absolutely loved it because the movie had so much more warmth and nuance than the book. Like to me, the book is very formal and clipped and it’s almost like it’s like these little bites. He keeps reading the pages and you’re kind of like, oh, and it’s supposed to stay like everything sort of stings, but the movie still does it, but has this like, there’s so much beauty and emotion and nuance in there.
Megan: And that scene in particular, like in my humble opinion, she shouldn’t be nominated for something.
Julia: You mentioned that you loved the book. I also loved the book. It breaks my heart. That it’s not taught in school. And I think I told you this offline before, when we were, when you sent me the original article that sort of sparked our offline conversation, that sort of led to this discussion today.
Julia: It, the junior college in my town brought back African-American literature as an elective after years of not having it, because either they didn’t have somebody qualified to teach it or they thought it wouldn’t fill up. I don’t know. It was part of the supplemental reading. It wasn’t part of the required reading.
Julia: It was a supplemental reading option. So did anybody read it? No, I did because I’ve known about it. Right. And I was like, oh, I’ll read it again. I’m thinking, we’ll read it in it on an academic level. How great would that be? No, didn’t happen. And then when I transferred from junior college to university again, I took a Black literary tradition classes, I think is what the.
Julia: It’s not in there. It’s not an option. It’s not listed. It’s not required reading in the curriculum again also that was an elective class, not a required class .Grad school. I’m in grad school. Nope. It’s not even listed as supplemental reading and I’m like, okay, all right. This is a really important novel because we can’t not talk about race in our country.
Julia: And guess what’s a great door opener Passing by Nella Larsen. But go ahead. Y’all go ahead.
Megan: Yeah. I guarantee. I would, I would hedge a bet that it’s not taught anywhere in Canada, either. I mean, when I started speaking to my professors about it, they all knew about it and that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it, but by that point, most of my professors were American.
Megan: So of course, you know, when I was in grad going to grad school in California, they all were like shocked. Um, but I I’ll do some digging, but I highly doubt it’s on any reading list anywhere.
Julia: Yeah. I was listening. There’s this podcast by a famous books to grammar are called Novel Pairings and they talked about the book on a recent, well last year on an episode, and then they re aired it for, you know, obviously with anticipation of the movie being released.
Julia: And she’s an English teacher. And she was talking about how you could absolutely easily replace passing for the Great Gatsby, because I personally am not a Fitzgerald fan. I hated reading his book in high school. I, I don’t like him as a human. Um, and I hate the Great Gatsby because I hate the, I just, the, the conversation about class in that book, I feel like is a smack to the face for people who want to try or what, you know what I mean?
Julia: It’s, it’s like perpetuating this American dream, but like the American dream only exists if, either like in a, in a very specific type of way. And the themes in the book about class and relationships exist in Passing. And that’s the point that she made, um, on Instagram, she’s called Fiction Matters. And that’s the point she made in her podcast episode is like, you still have the conversation of class and relationships and the twenties era.
Julia: But then also you have the layer of race. So you’re actually hitting more boxes for conversation to help people learn deeper and think critically. And wouldn’t it be great if we swapped it? So I’m having a conversation with my kid. I was like, you were a great Gatsby in school and he’s like, yeah, I hated that book.
Julia: I’m just so glad. I’m so proud of you for hating that book. And he, he w like went into the already all the reasons why he hated it. And I was like, oh, this is how, this is how, you know, you weren’t raised by white people
Julia: anyway. So I feel like we need to start like a movement, like I’ll DM this woman and be like, how can we make this a movement to swap out The Great Gatsby for Passing? Because she made some really good arguments as an English teacher about why this would be a really good swap out. You’re not losing anything in terms of themes and what you’re trying to get the students to understand, and then you’re gaining even more because now you can have an actual conversation about race that isn’t shrouded in. Whatever it’s shrouded in 90% of the time.
Megan: Or at least to have both, like now that they’re pulling out books, like I was at my appointment this morning and I’m looking at a school in Kansas, they pulled 28 books for review. They haven’t officially banned them, but it’s on its audit sprout. And it’s like the Handmaid’s Tale, the Bluest Eye, um, notes on, uh, oh my gosh, I can’t remember the other one, but there’s 28 of them. And I was just like, this is how it starts. Right? Like we get some voices out there and talk about a different kind of American experience and then everybody’s all up in arms about it.
Megan: And I’m like, they’d find some reason to say that about Passing too. But yeah, I agree with you. It should be on some lists and then some curriculums out there too. I think the movie’s going to help with that. Like I hope that more people will bring it in. I mean, it’s not that long, you know.
Julia: It’s like a hundred pages or something like that. It’s really short.
Megan: And it packs a lot of punch in such a, it’s such a short period of time. And I wondered if I might, I still have like my materials close by here. Um, uh, you know, the work that came out of this cause I was trying to bring it to more people too. So like the big, one of the biggest highlights of my life so far, um, was the teacher and author and photographer, Debra Willis in New York city.
Megan: And she ended up writing an essay for, um, the image of the black in Western art, the 20th century and the rise of Black artists. And it was a series of journals. He’s big thick books that are co-authored and edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. And so, um, she interviewed me about this work, uh, that was part of my thesis, Mrs.
Megan: Um, black, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. White. And if it’s okay for you, I’d read some of the paragraphs. Okay. It helps it might help, um, you know, bring some more into this conversation. So from the beginning of her career, then Toronto based photographer, Megan Morgan has focused her work on identity, race, class, and gender.
Megan: She constructs Tableau’s about race and role plays for the camp. Inspired by the writings of the Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larsen, and specifically since 1929, novel passing Morgan reimagined tea time with three old friends, all mixed race women in her photograph, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. White.
Megan: So this is the scene with Gertrude and Claire and Irene. The theme resonates with her because of her own mixed racial heritage and appearance. And she writes the drinking of tea and the colonialist historic undertones that were potentially embracing in the novel. Also struck in me as something that’s important to the scenes I was creating.
Megan: I also intentionally colored the women as literally black, white, and brown because of the inherent that utterly insufficient associations that are made with color and all areas of this discussion. There isn’t anyone who is actually those colors, but people are reduced to these terms in order to satisfy social and cultural categorizations that make people feel more comforted.
Megan: I am indeed also making a little bit of fun of those terms. A ritual is central to Morgan’s presentation on this identification and the three figures are evenly spaced. Backlit enhances the color saturation of each. The three are dress differently. One has a yellow dress with beads and a headscarf. The second wears pants and a hat.
Megan: And the third has a beige. They’re all portraits of the photographer who plays each character and all appear to be happy. But with secrets to share, the only way to reconstitute yourself, when you have been consistently misidentified is to confront your subjectivity and perhaps even become the very thing that objectifies and categorizes you.
Megan: Morgan says I perform and document challenging activities and moments that have been recounted to me from my family history, chronicling the struggles that accompany these metaphors for our contemporary existence. She explains. Uh, reception and perception as they relate to our skin color, as well as who is embraced and who is rejected based on these modalities.
Megan: And she draws our attention to the ironies associated with identity politics and color Morgan places, all three characters on an even footing. There is no perceived hierarchy and she situates the viewer’s gaze at eye level, creating tension while encouraging the viewer to join in, in her performance. So that was, I was just like, I can’t believe this person, you know, I, it, it was, it was like somebody hears me, someone seeing, you know, and from, um, um, the culture and that’s something with passing too, that that’s a theme that I feel like the black community all almost always accepts me, but when it’s the other way around and they, you know, she talks about that too.
Megan: It’s sort of. It’s easy when Irene says to, uh, as a hue, I think when they’re out at the club and she said, um, it’s easy enough for a black person to pass as white, but I don’t think it would be so easy the other way around. And like, same thing with Claire. Like every time she comes back, they’re like, they accept her.
Megan: They’re forced to accept her, but it doesn’t work that way. The other way around, if they’re found out in a white situation, they can, you know, that doesn’t work that way. So it works one way, but not another way. And I’m, so I’m kind of like, yeah.
Julia: Yeah. Ah, it’s, it’s interesting that you say that, cause that’s actually not always been my experience.
Julia: Um, and I don’t know if that’s because my mom’s white and people know that, but. At least in town where I live, it’s always been, you know, mixed on being accepted in the black community. And that’s really hard because I find a lot of comfort in the memories of my childhood, with my grandparents and my aunt and my cousin, and just living in their world.
Julia: Um, But I can’t, that’s not always easy to not replicate, but that there are some, there are some sections of the black community where that comfort still exists. And then there’s some where it’s like, you know, oh, you’re, uh, you’re, you’re not really, truly one of us, because look at how light you are and look at you talk white and you act white. So cute. Because when I go to white people, they don’t think that, but, okay.
Megan: Yes. I’ve had one of the, um, probably most traumatic experiences of my life. I mean, I can laugh about it now. And I actually did write an article about it for my university newspaper in 1990. It was like the mid nineties somewhere.
Megan: Um, so it wasn’t my now husband. It was the college boyfriend that I had before him. It was also black and darker skinned than I am. And we were walking through the mall and just like, you know, we’re holding hands and like swinging or whatever. And to a bunch of teens that were sitting at the bus stop, they thought that I was white.
Megan: It was winter time. And I had like a hat on and my hair’s typically always been long. And so I don’t know. And they were like, I heard them whispering something about him being with a white girl and started screaming the words to jungle fever, Stevie wonder, like in chorus. And they were really good singers.
Megan: Like could have been Lauren Hill. You know what I mean? It was, it was well done, but I was dying. I was like actually dying and this crying and not, they didn’t see that part, but I like turned away as we waited for them. Cause they just kept going and he thought it was funny and I’m like, he’s like, I think you’re fine.
Megan: And I’m like, that’s not funny to me. And same thing. My husband, um, has a Jamaican background. And so we’ve gone to visit Jamaica and he’s had people see us in town and say like, oh, you have a white wife. And he’s like, no, she’s, she’s not. They’re like, well, she looks, and so even if they know they discover my, my lineage or my heritage, they’re like, yeah, but she’s still, she’s too fixed.
Megan: She’s not really black. So you were just saying, so it’s that his family has always embraced me, but like universally community has not always. And like you said, you kind of just never quite know where you stand sometimes.
Julia: Yeah. It’s hard .In an article in the New York times titled the secret toll of racial ambiguity, which Megan sent me by the way, which sparked this, you all.
Julia: So thank you. New York times for creating conversation between me and make an, even though we don’t need any help writer, Alexandra Kleeman offered this and it resonated with me big time. It’s not a film about the past or even the social conditions of Larson’s America, but about the wage choices made during Larson’s time reverberate through succeeding generations, it highlights the psychic afterlife of racial trauma, the quiet holes pressed into the psyche by self-denial.
Julia: So I’ve talked a lot on the show about being biracial and all the things that come with that. I don’t say this next line lightly, because I know a lot of times we there’s a lot of, you know, dismissive passiveness about what we as black women can accomplish now. But this is like a true statement because my grandmother was not allowed to do the things that I’ve done in my.
Julia: We are so very lucky to be alive in a time where we can openly live as mixed race women who are college educated and in influential positions in our careers, in the era of the 1920s, the world was more volatile with less protection. And I’m specifically thinking of things like, you know, the protected class classification for sure.
Julia: There’s a scene in the book and it’s lightly touched on in the movie and I was wondering how they were going to do it. And it was a kind of, I’ll get into my opinions about that. A moment where Irene, Claire, and Gertrude, who we do not meet in the movie, but we do, or do we meet her in the movie?
Megan: I was curious, I think there’s that one character she was walking on the street with and they run, jump, meet John I’m like, yeah.
Julia: Okay. Okay. I’m glad. I ha I’m glad I wasn’t the only one with that moment, Irene, Claire, and Gertrude are discussing their children. And when Irene and Gertrude asked Claire, if she and her husband will try for a boy, Claire says this and I pulled it directly from the book friends. No, I have no boys. And I don’t think I’ll ever have any I’m afraid.
Julia: I nearly died of terror. The whole nine months before Marjorie was born for fear, she might be dark. Then Gertrude offers a similar statement and she adds that her husband thought it was just an idea in her head, but then she also includes, they don’t know. How it might go way back and turn out darker, no matter what color the father and the mother are.
Julia: So I kind of want to talk about the scene a little bit because in the movie it didn’t play out this way and a move in the movie. It was a quick conversation points. When Irene comes back to her truck, when Irene comes back to Claire’s hotels, And so I feel like when we are, you know, as mixed people, skin tone is a big thing, right?
Julia: Like it’s not just a big thing for all the, all the races, but when you’re mixed, it’s like, it’s like a little, it’s a little different. It’s either an elephant in the room, or it’s a big smack in your face and thrown at you as like a weapon that you have no control over. So when you read that scene and then now we can add the layer of the position against the, um, the movie.
Julia: How did it make you feel? Because I, it hit me when I read it. I stuck it for the second time in adulthood because when I was pregnant with my son is literally a conversation I had with his dad was like, we don’t know what color this child’s gonna be. So please know it’s yours. Like if he comes out a little darker, like my dad, it’s not, not yours.
Megan: Right? There’s oh. I was like, I’ve been waiting for this moment, my whole life and people who know me, people know me closely know this story. So there’s two things. What I’ve never thought about that in my life. Like, I was just like, I do, I wanted to have kids and couldn’t wait to have kids. And it just didn’t care being that Meghan Markle and the Prince Harry Prince and Prince Harry.
Julia: I mean, he is the prince. William has said some stuff recently where you’re just like, okay, William.
Megan: So given what happened with them when Megan was pregnant and everybody was so shocked and I was like, I’ve been there like a close member of my family. Not 24 hours after my first daughter was born called me up and not, how are you?
Megan: How’s the baby. It was whispered into the phone how dark is she? And I could not, like, I still remember that moment. Like, it makes me want to vomit even now just thinking about it, like, wow, like, that’s really the one thing you’re going to, you’re going to ask me in this moment. And I was just, now that was in 1997.
Megan: So, you know, but still I’m like, who asked that question in 1997?
Julia: Maybe? And you know, fast forward, 20 years in there having that conversation about Archie, right?
Megan: Again, it’s like another generation it’s still happening. And then. As follow-up from that. My, uh, so I have two daughters and the younger, my younger one when she was little, no joke.
Megan: She has like blonde hair and green eyes. She’s pretty pale. Now they’re both basically about the same, they’re fair skinned. You know, that they’ve got, you know, a lot of my features and my complexion, their dad is darker, whatever. They spend a lot of time outside, they get darker, but naturally they are closer to my skin tone, which is pretty ambiguous.
Megan: So sometimes, you know, they get mistaken a lot for, for other things as well. And I’m just like, is this ever gonna go away? You know, but when my youngest was a baby and she had this like, basically not totally straight, but like wavy blonde hair. And my husband was wandering around downtown on a Sunday. I had to work and had two little, little lady stop him and ask him where he got that.
Megan: What was he doing? Like he was afraid. Like call the police. And he was like, but I look at her and I look at other people and I get that people can’t like, you look at her features. If you really look, you can see that they’re related. But like just based on skin tone, their hair and like typical phenotypes.
Megan: Why is that man carrying a little white baby and P people more than once? Like that was only one of, probably 10 times he’s been stopped where people didn’t think she was his.
Julia: Did you see that article from recently about the Southwest employees who thought the mother of the biracial child was human trafficking her. I saw it this week and you know, she’s got a little girl and I was like, that looks like it could have been me when I was little. Right. And they like it. It’s Southwest. And I’ll have to send you the link because it, I only read a bit of it because it, I mean, I know we all love the word to use the word triggering for stuff nowadays it’s like overused, but it really was like hard to read because, you know, here’s this woman who’s like.
Julia: This is my child. I gave her life. And you are assuming, because she’s brown with brown curly hair and she’s got like the little highlights of blonde in it. Um, and they just assumed that they were, that she was being trafficked, but it was just really heartbreaking. I mean, this is, it literally happened. I want to say in the middle of October.
Julia: Um, and so they’ve been sort of going through the new cycle to try and make the story known because it’s like, Hey, you guys need to have better training for cultural training for your employees to know better because had I been on the plane as a flight attendant, I’d been like, no, that’s probably her mom because that’s me and my mom.
Julia: And with the whole, in, with the whole, um, everyone kind of coming out a little different, you know, that’s my life, my brother’s the darkest one and we progressively get lighter. And if my parents had had a fourth child, I’m convinced that that child would have been completely. W white in appearance, you know, people will be like, oh, I knew you weren’t fully, like when you kind of announced like, oh yeah, I’m like, I’m have a Black parent.
Julia: Oh, I knew it. I knew it. I wasn’t saying anything. You know, this, this, if there was a fourth one that I’m convinced that they would have been so white that no one would have ever doubted that it was my mother’s child.
Megan: There’s oh, I have a really good friend, um, back in Canada, their whole family, same thing. Her dad is Black from Jamaica and her mom is white. I actually think Italian as well.
Julia: No, for how racist Italians can be in the country of Italy, towards Black people. There’s a lot of us running around.
Megan: Now that I think it’s been, it’s been like almost 10 years since we’ve been together, but the same thing happened. So my, my one friend. I don’t want to name her. Uh, but, um, she’s the Mo you know, she looks similar to us. She’s got like, like thick curly hair. She has like more black features. She’s still pretty pale, but it’s, you know, you can kind of tell the rest of them. No, one’s got blonde, straight hair and blue eyes and the others have, have darker hair, but like, but white skin and they go through the it’s like the constant theme.
Megan: You’ve just reminded me. I need to reconnect with her because she’d be a great person to talk about. Um, talk about this with as well. Yeah.
Julia: You know, it was interesting in the movie, you know, Claire clearly is missing her people and she kind of makes that comment too, in the movie. And like you, in the past, I’ve always sort of identified with Irene and then lately this time around.
Julia: So I listened to it on audio book this time, just
Megan: Me too.
Julia: Just cause when I was like, oh, it’s coming out soon. I want to, I don’t have, it’s a hundred pages. And I thought to myself, I don’t have the time to reread it. That’s a lie I could have. Totally re-read it. Um, but I wanted to listen to it on audio, but cause Tessa Thompson did is that the version you listened to?
Julia: She did such a good job.
Megan: Great voice. Yeah. Yeah. Like if I look like it’s going to go with a woman,
Julia: you make me question? My uh, oh, just kidding.
Megan: I can’t believe I just said that, but
Julia: um, but you know, this time around listening to it, it was like, oh, I kind of, I feel Clare’s loneliness, you know, like she misses her people, her husband’s terrible, terrible. Like that’s actually putting it nicely. Her husband’s a pile of garbage.
Julia: Um, but for the time I feel like that’s completely accurate. Because I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding too, with the way that we treat, teach American history. You know, when it comes to like the south versus the north, when it comes to slavery, there’s this sort of glossy, like the North was abolitionists, then they were anti-slavery. That doesn’t mean that they were anti-racist like, that’s the part that they leave out.
Megan: Yeah. And not everybody was happy about everybody moving up north.
Megan: And they do the same thing with Canada. Like there was slavery there too, but it was like, it was different than here. And yes, the further north you went, the less severe it was compared to the south, but don’t kid yourself that there still wasn’t bad stuff happening. There, there were slaves that were in Canada, like the underground railroad really warped that perception. Slightly more free there, but still really seriously disenfranchised compared to, um, other people. Oh, and something else you just said touched up the amount of empathy that I had for Claire in this watching and in this listening was increased.
Megan: I feel like the first time around, I was kind of like, I just, I didn’t like the character. I was kind of like, I can’t believe she did that, but when it comes to. Wellbeing, like you said in the 1920s, if you be being light and bright at that time, if you could pass and get away with that, then your economic prospects were greatly improved, right?
Megan: That you could run a business, you could marry up, so to speak everything, quotation marks. So you do that for survival, right? Or to not be lynched or to not have racial epithets hurled at you to get a good education. So I can totally understand why somebody who could do that at that time would do it. Now, even though we know there are disadvantages to being quote unquote ethnic quote, unquote Black it’s different than it was then in terms of extreme.
Megan: So this time for Clara was like, yeah, it’s partly, it was brought by the actress. Right? And one thing like a parallel with today, it’s not to make my family sound like the worst. I think every family has, has racist and prejudice. Um, but when I decided to marry who is my now husband, One person told me, like, I can’t believe you’re going to do that.
Megan: What about your children? And I was like, what do you mean? What about my children? Like, don’t you want to give them a chance? And I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So their understanding was you’ve married someone darker than you. You’re going to have kids that are darker than you. And that’s going to be like a stain on them.
Megan: Like they’re not going to get ahead in the world because they’re going to be darker. The irony being that they’re still the same skin tone as I am anyway. Cause you never know how that’s going to happen. But it was like, they perceived me as doing that, that I was going to economically disadvantage myself and my children that instead I should look for somebody white and I was like, I came to believe, do you know what I mean?
Megan: But I’m like in the 1920s for somebody who’s trying to get ahead, like I can kinda the.
Julia: And to feel safe to the point you mentioned on. So like, but there’s a cost. Like you can see it. So. You can see it in Ruth’s face the cost of turning away from your community and the difference between she and I didn’t turn away from my community.
Julia: I just am naturally introverted and have, and struggle with like making connections. So like I was telling a new friend, I was like, I just feel comfortable with you. So I apologize if it looks like I’ve latched on to you. I just don’t bond easily with people. So when I actually have a bond with somebody, like I wanna keep, I wanna help that relationship grow.
Julia: Um, and because I feel like I’ve outgrown my city and it doesn’t have a lot to offer anymore. It’s hard for me to kind of go out and make effort just generally now. But there’s this longing that I have. Like, I’m not a religious person. Sorry, mom and dad. I think I might actually be agnostic. Sorry, mom and dad.
Julia: Um, but I found myself thinking, God, I really, I wonder. What happened to my grandparents’ church and where did they move? Because I would love to show up and just feel that again and just feel that community again, and just kind of walk in and sing the songs and have the warmth around me from that. And because of those feelings that I’m having of just feeling like out a place to not really fitting somewhere, Claire really hit this time because she’s clearly lonely.
Julia: She’s living with somebody who has absolutely no idea. And if the truth comes out, she’s probably going to get murdered. And so it just creates this whole different level of despair this time. Whereas before. When I read the book like 20 years ago, it was like, who is this hoe trying to get Irene has been like, what are you doing, girl?
Julia: Like, this is not okay. I don’t care. What are you? But I had no life experience, you know, I didn’t know. And, and so some of the nuances I think were lost on me at 17 and even at 25, I think still a lot of it was the nuances were still a little, cause I’m not, I don’t have, I don’t, I’ve never been in a relationship longer than 10 months or a year or so, even that, but this time I was like, Ooh girl, you are sad.
Julia: You are lonely. And you are a threat. Whether or not you’re intentionally trying to be a threat. It almost that, almost that, that element almost doesn’t matter because you’re sad and lonely and Irene is threatened by you, but yet she can’t stop herself.
Megan: Yeah. I know in the, in the movie adaptation, I was like, To me, it felt like it was more in Irene’s head reality, but I don’t know whether that’s true or not, because the way it was portrayed, as you just said that she is lonely and she is sad and is a threat, therefore, because who can resist pale skin damsel in distress.
Megan: So that was very, very real. But then also, you know, I read never feeling good enough and how. You know, sometimes I don’t want to say always, but sometimes, um, there’s the perception that being lighter and brighter is better. And so, because by society, right. And so, because Clara is there constantly representing that that’s the threat to Irene.
Megan: So she’s going to see it, whether Claire intends it or not, not if Claire is overtly going after her husband, um, she’s still a threat, even if she’s, she’s not to her because it’s that like perpetual thing, even the way they did the light, right? When that like blinding white light would come in, like it was so beautifully done in black and white.
Megan: At first, when I heard that I was like, not excited. I was like, I don’t want to watch this in black away, but it was good. It was, I have to say I really enjoyed it. They were very specific and technical with lighting and it’s amazing. It takes me back. I have a degree is in photography and in art and art history. And I was like, damn, it’s been so long since I’ve seen somebody really use that lighting and those filters to, I mean, they look completely different in every single scene.
Julia: And I think I like yo, I was on the fence about black and white. Cause I was like, oh, it’s the twenties you can do so much with. You can do so much with that.
Julia: But after having watched it, I realized it needed to be black and white because we also needed to be confused. We also needed to be blinded by the racial ambiguity, um, of these women and the other characters too. Like we needed to see that her husband is obviously Black, right? That Irene’s husband has been in children or like very clearly Black humans.
Julia: We needed to see that how Claire and her husband really in shades, if the lighting is right, don’t look that different in terms of shade, um, to really hone in just how complicated the skin tone conversation can get and is. Also, I love Alexander Skarsgard and I’m just so upset that he keeps playing assholes.
Megan: Oh my God, he’s one of my favorite actors. And I was like, no, when I saw the previews, I was just like, don’t make him this jerk.
Julia: Um, especially cause the last thing I saw him in was a Big Little Lies. Did you see big little lies? He’s a wife beater and I’m not here for that shit.
Megan: Oh wait! With them. Nicole Kidman.
Megan: I did. Yes. Yeah. Oh my God. That was, it was so good, but like so bad, like. That storyline of that. That’s right. That’s right. That was the last thing I did see
Julia: Alexandra Skarsgard like I can’t, I just can’t with you. I need him in a romcom or something that makes it a little bit better. Cause if you do a third movie, I see where you’re a shit human. We might have to have a different relationship.
Megan: Or the vampire he was in the like cookie set your blood. Yeah.
Julia: Oh yeah.
Megan: He was like, it’s a bad, but it’s like an acceptable, like different sizes, different, different.
Julia: Different vibe. He’s not, he’s not giving his wife a pet name that is super inappropriate.
Megan: Uh, yeah, that scene again, that scene.
Julia: That scene hit when he was like, oh, she was white as a Lily when we first met and she’s getting darker and darker with every year. So I said, one day she’s going to be blah and I was like, when I forgot, that’s totally how that went down in the book too. Um, but what it, to see it in real, real life, right? Quotes real life in a movie, humans actually saying it out loud. I was like, Hmm, very reminiscent of all the assholes who tell me that they’re darker than me in the summer.
Julia: Okay. White people stop saying that.
Megan: No, and I mean that still comes up. I feel like I grew up in a family where, um, you know, tanning, like in the seventies and eighties was like a big thing and I’d just be a kid outside, but like, of course I would get darker. Like my adopted white sister was like blonde hair and green eyes would like get it.
Megan: And she was so proud of that. She may look darker than Megan and it was just like, it was endless source of entertainment for people my whole life, actually to this day, still it happens. And it’s one of those things too, where. Even in some pockets in the black community, the experience that I’ve had, where people would tell me to get out of the sun, because I need to like protect myself from getting too dark.
Julia: my grandma, I, she had stories of growing up. So my grandmother on my dad’s side was born in 1926. And so she would tell us, her mother did not allow them to play outside because they would get too dark. And we think that they were passing or at least cause the way that granny talked, it sounds like they were passing.
Julia: And she would say that she was Jewish. And up until about this year, I didn’t realize that there is a Jewish Black community. I didn’t know that because we just thought Granny was full of shit. She was wearing a star, a David. She said that her stepdad was Jewish. And we were just like, there’s no evidence that you were Jewish, but okay.
Julia: But because of some of the people that we were in a Future Thought Leader with, I’ve learned so much more and like, there is this whole community of Black Jewish people, and it just was like, maybe Grandma wasn’t full of shit. Like
Megan: Lenny Kravitz.
Julia: Yes. But you know, his parents were, you know, his parent was like, clearly, you know, it was clear in their lineage. Whereas like, my grandmother was just like, I were started David we’re Jewish and it’s like, Hmm, Grandma, all of your parents’ death certificates say Negro or colored. So I’m going to go with, I need more clarification.
Megan: Okay. See, and there’s. And she was born in 1926.
Julia: She was born in 1926. So you know, her parents probably died in somewhere in the fifties, sixties.
Megan: Yeah, it’s a protective, I mean, it’s the same thing. I did a 23 and me a DNA test and it’s partially because I’m adopted. And so I wanted to find out more, as much as possible about my, my background beyond just the obvious Black and white and have, you know, come into like however many, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth cousins.
Megan: And I had this one woman reached out to me who is 1% she’s like 99% white, you know, you see your photo and she’s clearly a white person, but she has this like 1% or 2% Black. And it’s traced back to Bermuda where I was born. And so she was like asking me all these questions and I’m like, I dunno. Cause like when I look at what her family tree is like, obviously there’s a connection there somewhere.
Megan: I’ll tell you what I know, but I’m not going to have all the answers for you. And I’m just like, you know, and again, there is some question about how accurate these tests are, but nobody is like 100% anything. Like we all have these lineages that are way more storied. And like you said, someone who’s born in 1926 was clearly Black or colored, but passing and then says they’re Jewish.
Megan: Well, after a certain amount of time goes by then where is that connection? And for so long people wanted to bury that, right? Cause they were just like, no, we’re just like, we’re just white now. But now it’s a little bit safer, right? To be able to look into that stuff. And people are more interested in their, their family trees.
Megan: And I know Henry Louis Gates has that show too,
Julia: Finding Your Roots. Oh, I love that show. I want to watch on that show.
Megan: I feel like we might be good candidates, right?
Julia: Like I need his team to help answer questions and I feel like I’m not alone. I feel like there’s a lot of people in the Black community who are like, we have questions. Because no one talks.
Megan: Yep. On my phone, that’s the side that’s missing. Like I grew up with my mom’s family. I have pictures going back to like late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds of them, like in Europe. And, uh, and it’s, that’s partially a class thing too. Right. Cause they could afford to go and get their photograph taken at the photographer’s studio beyond my grandparents.
Megan: Like I know who my father’s parents were, but beyond that, I don’t know anything. And I’ve, you know, social and people like to drag social media a lot. But through Facebook I have actually come into contact with additional relatives. Who found me on there. And they’ve been telling me about aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles.
Megan: And so-and-so, this is your cousins and it’s oh yeah. I texted you that picture of one who actually showed up on 23 and me who’s like that, you’d see her on the street. And she was like, she looks white. But according to that thing, she’s like 16% Black or whatever. I’m just like, there’s this whole world of there.
Megan: And to me, that’s, that’s like really important to me because I don’t know. And for people who grew up in a solid family who can trace both sides, like I know people who can trace their families back to the literal freaking Mayflower. And I just, it boggles my mind how some people have families like that are protecting that privilege by having that, like, that is a privilege to have your lineage as a record, as a document and come back to this momentous moment. And when you arrived, it gives you more claim. I feel like somehow to the soil, to this life, to this experience, and then those of us who don’t have that, it’s kind of like, not everybody, but I sort of feel like there’s a lot of people adrift because they don’t, they don’t have that claim to where they are.
Julia: Where’s our grounding? Where’s our roots. That’s why I love that the show is called Finding Your Roots, but mom, my mom’s side of the family, we can go girl, we can go way back. That shit is so far back it’s RADONC. But then on my dad’s side, you know, it’s been, obviously it’s been a little bit harder and then there was this football player in the seventies.
Julia: Jimmy Streeter. He wrote a biography. The prologue is basically like he hired somebody to help sort of figure out his family lineage lineage. And it turns out, so in 2006, we went to North Carolina for my grandfather’s 90th birthday. My grandparents were 10 years apart. My grandpa was born in 1916, which always throws people my age off because they’re like, what my great-grandparents were born then I was like, yeah, we are a late start family. Okay. thanks. Um, he, so in the prologue, he has this sort of fictionalized version of his, you know, the start of his family unit. And it turns out my grandmother’s father. So my great-grandfather and Jimmy Streeter’s grandmother are half siblings because my grandmother, my great-grandfather came from his first set of kids from his first wife.
Julia: And she liked, I think she died in childbirth maybe. And then he married someone else and had another set of kids. So they’re half siblings. Um, but if it hadn’t been for that book, I wouldn’t even know that much. Like he was, as you know, the, my great-grandfather’s father was a slave who would had, was in favor with the slave owner.
Julia: So was given land or at least that’s how the story goes in the book. Right? Like, I don’t know how well, how much truth is there, but here’s the kicker. So. My aunt was my aunt Gladys. My aunt Gladys, I want to say is the one handing out copies to the family at grandpa’s 90th birthday. And my grandma’s like, those are my people.
Julia: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Those aren’t my people. And I’m like, Granny, it’s clearly your dad’s name right here in this book. What, so there’s that point of trauma too? Like what kind of trauma was she had she experienced that she doesn’t want to acknowledge being Black? Even though she went to a Black Baptist church, you know, she was so ingrained in the black community here in Modesto.
Julia: Like my grandfather was a deacon. Like it, the community hurt when they moved to North Carolina, the community felt it like they were grieving with us, not really with us, but we all had grief around them leaving California. But you still have like this weird fraction where you don’t want to talk about your childhood and what that was like, or any of that experience, because your childhood’s not black.
Julia: It’s so fascinating to me. And I feel like this book really like hits all of those chords and the older I get, the more complicated this book gets for me.
Megan: It’s so true. And now you just jingled that, that funnel life to the friend that I worked with, who was purposely passing as, as white in the early two thousands.
Megan: And I remember asking her why one day I was just like, I don’t understand. Cause I said, it’s very clear to me. And she’s like, most people can’t tell. And she said, frankly, like some of the things I’ve been through what my dad’s been through. So interestingly it’s her dad who is Black, but neither of her parents knew who their parents were.
Megan: Well, like even her mom appeared to be white. She said like her dad was more visibly Black, but each of them didn’t actually know. But because of the overt racism he experienced growing up and then she herself too, as a young girl, before she could start modifying her appearance a bit more to appear more white, she was like, I just don’t want to go through that again.
Megan: And I don’t want my kids to experience it. And I was just like, but in my mind, I was like, but sometimes people aren’t going to know and that’s going to hurt even worse because you think. You’re kind of, and then you’re pulling the wool over your own eyes to write everyday, like forcibly straightening your hair, and which is fine.
Megan: Like it’s a style thing. And I know there’s a lot of white women who have curly hair who straighten it. And it’s not saying people can’t, you know, alter their hair if they feel like it. But for her, it was definitely so solidly a tactic. Like I made a joke one time saying like, I dare you to wear your hair curly one time.
Megan: I would just love to see. And like the look she was so mad at me for saying that in front of other people. And I was just like having curly hair. It doesn’t just make you Black. Like other people have things, but she was just so mortified because it was tied up in her, you know, her claimed identity of who she, who she was.
Megan: And the pain of that, like to me, that was like painful to witness painful to, to see her go through that. And, and her kids, like she has three beautiful kids. It’s funny, even in her kids. You could just tell and they would, they would come in and we had such fun, like talk talking together. And I think they were even looking for some of that like identity, um, and recognition that they weren’t able to have within their own family.
Megan: But anyway, she’s a lovely, lovely person and, you know, everybody’s doing the best they can with, with what they have. But that was, that’s the only example of, you know, modern day passing that I experienced in my life. Yeah.
Julia: It’s actually a really good segue for this next point I would like to make. Since the films, debut at the Sundance film festival, The internet has been a serious buzz with opinions about the casting, but the conversation didn’t start there in 2021, the Hollywood Reporter ran an article with the headline Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga’s racial identity, movie Passing and why Rebecca Hall was the perfect person to direct. In which Yang Bongiovi I’m saying it like in Italian. I don’t know if she is Italian or this person’s Italian, shares she expressed concern about a white British woman heading this film. It was in a conversation with Hall that Hall shared her mother is an African-American woman and that her family history includes generations of passing. Bongiovi concluded Hall was the perfect person to tell this story. Later in the article Hall shares that she doesn’t have the Black American experience, but that she does have the experience of being raised by people who were raised by people who made choices that were shaped by living in a racist society.
Julia: It comes to that generational trauma, right? Like that’s kind of speaking to that. So her mother’s making decisions about her, their life based on the trauma she’s experienced living in racist America. And I think that’s not always given enough credit, but we also see that sort of sometimes come up in conversation.
Julia: Like, have you seen Colin in Black and White yet?
Julia: It’s a Netflix original, original Colin Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay.
Megan: I just saw a preview for it. Yes it’s. Okay.
Julia: When you watch it let’s have conversations. Cause Turlock is 15 miles away from where I live. So I know people who know him, like we’re two degrees separated.
Julia: So that show really like, he’s like three years younger than me. I want to say. So we’re like, sort of in the same nexus of experience in terms of like generation. Um, and I was like, I had to, I had to watch a palate cleanser before, bed because I had so many emotions running through my body with his stories.
Megan: Okay, well I’ll bet. I mean, just the name, say that name and it conjures up so much. So I can only imagine his.
Julia: He kind of really highlights, you know, how having white parents sort of didn’t really fully prepare him for the Black experience in America. And I think that’s a conversation that happens, but not as prominently as it should. Like there’s a movie called Losing Isaiah staring Halle Berry. Did you see that movie? Oh yeah. That’s another one that I’m just like, oh, I’ve seen it twice. And I just can’t like, I want to watch it again, but I also, like, it’s just so emotional that I don’t know if I have it in me to cry that hard.
Megan: Yeah, no, that’s a dooze it’s been a while. I saw it when it first came out. It’s funny. Now that you mentioned that. So I was raised by my mother’s parents who are white and in Canada for the most part. So I born in Bermuda, raised in Canada, moved to the USM eight years ago. And then there is it’s, it’s so different even though we’re, you know, we’re neighboring countries and there’s a lot of things we have in common in our economy and popular culture, all of that, but how that is handled and how race is discussed or not discussed, um, is very, very different.
Megan: And I for sure was not prepared to go into the world because they didn’t, they didn’t have the tools. We didn’t, we didn’t talk about race or for if we did, it was just sort of like, you just are who you are and you go out and be you. And if people can’t see them, then Boohoo to that, like, it was just not, it was very glossed over the realities of what that would be like.
Megan: And we moved here. My daughters are in middle school and high school respectively, and they were just, I tried. You know, to prepare them and like, it’s going to be very different here. And that’s part of why we moved here, because I want you to have the experience of being in classes with diverse kids and other kids who look like you because they were the one in onlys in Canada for the most part too.
Megan: And I was just like, can’t go out. And, and it was, it was really hard for them because they got a similar thing. Like a lot of the Black kids were. You look white and you talk, white and, you know, there was, they ended up becoming really good friends with other mixed kids, which thankfully there were a lot of it now, you know, they have friends from all over, but those first couple of years, rough, rough, rough, rough.
Megan: Like the culture was just so, so different from what they were accustomed to. And now they’re good, but both of their, I can’t remember if you and I talked about this when you came up on MYA um, both of their university entrance essays, like was like, how did you overcome a challenge? And I feel like both of them talked about. How devastating. It was live in the United states. And that was like, oh, and now they’re fine.
Julia: Yeah, it’s just acclimation period.
Megan: When I read it, we both cried. Like we all cried their first few weeks, like first days of school of like trying to, it’s always hard, but like adding the race thing to it. Cause they were just like going through all the same things that I did all over again in another country.
Julia: It’s like when Irene’s husband is very open about, I mean, it’s not the exact same thing, but it’s in the, it’s an, it’s an it’s on the same. It’s on the same highway where Irene’s husband is talking about the lynching that happened in the,andin Irene’s. Like, I don’t want you to talk about that with the boys.
Julia: Like don’t please. And he’s like, they need to know that this could be them and that’s so gut wrenching because he’s not wrong. But as a mother, you want to protect your children for ever. That releasing them into the world beyond, cause in the cuz when they’re in high school, you still can, there’s still a level of protection they’re coming home.
Julia: They can take their armor off and they can just be who they need to be to heal. And at least that’s my hope for my child. And I feel like you would be the same type of parent, but then to send them out into the world where they can’t just easily come home and heal. If something happens, it’s just, it’s such a hard concept to grapple with.
Julia: So that scene in the book this time around and again, and in the movie, I was like just having big emotions about it because these sweet boys who clearly still are children and just want to play and have fun and you know, be innocent. Like they have, they have to have their innocence stolen. They have to in order to survive.
Julia: And that’s so heartbreaking and so unfair, but it’s such. The truth for so many Black families and brown families in America.
Megan: Yeah, my youngest and her, I think we’d been here about six weeks. It was like spring of 2014. I want to say. So we’d been here almost a year. Um, and she had the previous year before cut her hair. She really wanted to have short hair. She was like, I cannot deal with all this hair. I don’t want you doing it anymore. She wanted short hair, so that’s fine. She would go to the barber with, um, my husband and loved her short doo. Moved here. She was walking home from school and with a group of. And they walked by you know where Murry’s donuts is over. Uh, oh no. Cause you’re you, you do know where that is. You know where that is.
Julia: I’ve spent some time there.
Megan: Just like over on Freeport. And there was, um, a police car that was, you know, they were ironically, they’re getting donuts. It’s a stereotype, but whatever they happened to be there and they were having their coffee and their doughnut, they pass by and all the kids one by one said, hello.
Megan: And they, they were being genuine like hello office or whatever. And then when she did it, um, the one guy dropped his donut, like put his hand to the poster and she was, she knew in that instant she’s like, mom, he thought I was a black boy. Yeah. Like people had confused her for a while saying, you know what?
Megan: She had her hair short. And, and that day she started to grow her hair long. And I was like, you don’t have to grow your hair long if you don’t want to. I know you enjoy having short hair. And she said, no, in this country, I am in more danger um, if people think that I’m a Black boy than if I’m a Black girl, she’s like, I know it’s not much better, but it’s something. In seventh grade, in seventh grade, she came home and I was just like, it’s so sad.
Megan: And whether, you know, I’ve had people tell me since, well, he was probably just joking. It wasn’t serious. It doesn’t even matter. Just joking, like exactly that trains the trajectory of someone’s life and how they appear in the world, even if it was just a joke. And, oh man, I mean, that could have happened in Canada too.
Megan: You know, they don’t have a great track record there when it comes to arrests. And the ratio of, of, you know, who is, um, who is stopped and frisked and all of that. Yeah, that innocence was gone, gone in an instant.
Julia: We did, I did a show a couple years ago. I, I, I I’ve mentioned this before. You know, I did theater for off and on for a long, long time. I have a complicated relationship with the theater because I’m ethnically ambiguous. And I think I’ve shared this with you before. So we did the show called Freedom Riders and it sort of highlighted, you know, a lot of the different events during the Civil Rights Movement and our local theater house here does school shows.
Julia: So schools can buy tickets and send whatever grade is appropriate for the show. So our show first, I want to say I was cast as white characters every single time. And that was hard because the white people in the show were not good people. It wasn’t like I was, you know, Jackie Kennedy, which I can never be.
Julia: But, um, it was, you know, I was the person who was yelling at Rosa Parks to get off the bus. So that was hard. Every day. Every time we rehearsed that scene, I’d come home and cry because it was just like I had, and the director would be like, I need you to be meaner sir I am working there. I’m like, come on, I need time.
Julia: I’ll get there. And I was on the night of the show, but it was really hard in rehearsal to get there. Right. Um, and then, so we did the school shows and they decided that fifth grade would be the youngest. That would be the cutoff. So we’d do fifth grade to high school kids would come to the show. Good size theater. You can pack a couple hundred people in there. So I’m doing ticket sales for, or baseball registration for my kids’ school. Cause I was also coordinating the baseball program at the. And one of the moms was like, oh, you look really familiar. And I was like, oh, I just have one of those faces. And she’s like, no, you were in the show.
Julia: I was like, I need you to be more specific. So she had seen, she was one of the chaperones for the school tour. My son’s school had attended. And I was very proud of them for doing that because I did not send him to traditional school. And so I w I was like, oh, what did you think? Because we poured our hearts and souls into this show.
Julia: And I thought it did well. I had a teacher come to opening night when we did the nighttime performances before we did the school tours and she texted me and she’s like, that was amazing. And I thank you so much. And she, she kind of pauses, you know, you know, the pause, you know, and she goes, you know, I just feel like, and I thought, oh, here we go.
Julia: That’s classic. Girl, you don’t know how many times I’ve heard. I just feel like, I just feel like, you know, the kids were probably a little too young.
Julia: Okay. Well, by the time I was in fifth grade, I was 11 years old and people didn’t think that my parents were my parents. So fuck you. Um, is what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. And I was like, you know, everyone’s experiences are different and it’s just, I think it’s an important conversation to have, and maybe it opens the doors for you to have conversations.
Julia: Nope we’re not, I think we’re just gonna leave it be. Okay, PS, this woman was also brown and I am she married a white man and there’s nothing wrong with that, right? Like, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a fraction I think sometimes with groups that live in the margins, that we don’t have this kind of time for that conversation to proximity, to whiteness and breaking that down.
Julia: But it felt very much like that. You know, when people make that accusation of like, um, Black and brown people marrying up by marrying white, I sometimes do get offended by that statement because I’m a product right. Of a relationship. But in that moment, it was like,
Julia: oh, this is, I think I get that conversation based on this interaction with that woman.
Julia: And that was really hard because it was like, nobody cared. Nobody cared that we were kids and said stupid shit to us about our race and about our parents. Like we weren’t immune, just because, and so now you’re trying, you’re choosing to keep your child protected and that’s a privilege, but it also, I think is a disservice at the same time, because like what we saw in Colin in Black and White, some of his friends didn’t get it. So they just brush off the experiences he had and you really do need that person. And I think that’s why Claire latched on to Irene so hard because you need that person who understands what it’s like to go through those experiences.
Julia: And there’s almost an instant bond. You don’t have to like each other, but when you’re, when you’re one and two in a room, you do kind of gravitate towards each other. Cause you know that, that there’s at least one other person in the room who’s going to get it. Okay.
Megan: Yeah, it is. It’s like, it’s like a life, a life preserver, a life jacket, like something in there. And that shared bond and experience. Even if it is traumatic, it’s something that you’re, you’re not alone in that moment. You’re not alone.
Julia: Yeah. A lot of review has had on how Passing is a choice. And the tone I took was that it was a choice for a better life, which is normally the conversation around passing.
Julia: Right? Additionally, several publications chose to highlight how everyone in the film is passing in one way or another. While, yes, that’s true. I think that racial passing has a deep rooted complexity that is still obvious today. And, and I was thinking about this too, when I was watching the movie. I think that Irene’s deflection in the movie about how, like everyone has this sort of version of passing that they’re doing.
Julia: I think that was on purpose. So she could avoid having that conversation about actual passing instead of saying like, oh yeah, Claire’s passing, she’s diving deeper into that talk with, um, Hugh.
Julia: I think she dropped that in there to deflect. So that way she didn’t have to have that conversation. And I think, I wish I found a review that maybe didn’t bring that up about like how passing is a choice, because then I think it negates the forced option that passing can be for some people, like in my experience, passing’s never been a choice.
Julia: It was always, I was deemed this based on what somebody saw in me, regardless of what my experience was, regardless of who my parents were. And I had no control over somebody assuming that I was white until I opened my mouth and acknowledged that biracial lineage, and I have a Black granny and I have a Black auntie and I do have Black experiences.
Julia: And it’s like, oh, I, I knew there was something in you kind of shit would happen. But in 1929, you know, that statement could have had serious consequences. If I had opened my mouth milling, actually I’m black.
Megan: Yeah. Yeah. And the chances of that happening, actually, it just made me remember something when I was in grad school and was doing this work amongst other work.
Megan: Yeah. I’m someone who came up to me eventually and she was just like, so why do you think it’s okay. As a, as a white person to be talking about all these. And so I was like, then here we go again. She really couldn’t see it. And I was like, well, actually I am part black. And I said, if I had to define myself, by the way, the us defines people and the one drop rule I am, and she was just like, what?
Megan: She’s like, well, you look. And I was just like, I guess it depends how I wear my hair, I guess, because it is super curly. But, um, but I was like, I guess I got to stop wearing it back in a bun or a ponytail because like, they’re not, it just, yeah. If there was a time in my life where my hair was relaxed too.
Megan: Right. And so it’s a lot straighter and that would just apparently fool everybody. And so, I don’t know.
Megan: It’s a really good point that you bring up about passing, like yeah. In the 1920s, it could have been a choice, but also. Like an impossible choice, but it also happens in some cases, it doesn’t matter what a person says or does that someone else is going to pass past them for them. Right. Or did I say, did I say that right?
Megan: Is going to make that choice based on how they, how they see you or don’t
Julia: yeah. It’s like that opening scene when, uh, Irene it’s hot and I read needs respite. So she goes to the Drayton and she, you can see, you can see the concern on her face that someone’s going to find her out, but they just open the door and seat her and serve her and pick her up in a taxi.
Julia: And it’s easy breezy, but you can tell she’s very concerned about getting found out. Like that’s a real thing. And I think sometimes when we talk about when people, so I think family members recommending that other family members pass comes from trauma. Two, I think that they don’t necessarily like, there’s a level of what I appreciate.
Julia: Here I go. What I appreciate about the movie is that the actress Tessa Thompson fully shows you the fear she has behind passing when convenient, because I think that’s not talked about enough. So people say we ha and we mentioned it a little bit too earlier. Right. People passing so they can have a better life. That doesn’t mean they didn’t live in fear.
Megan: Yeah. Or weren’t still going through something traumatic just even by doing that.
Julia: Exactly. Exactly. And then, you know, Claire. Clare with that girl, it’s hard enough. I can’t imagine coming home and still having to wear your armor and be on guard all the time. That sucks.
Megan: Yeah. Like that thing about, I mean, especially at that time then being pregnant and having babies at that time, that would have truly in her situation been a horrifying experience. Yeah. Right. Right. Now we say it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t matter as much, but at that time, I mean that. It could have been life and death and ends up. I don’t know if you want to get into that.
Julia: Yeah, let’s do it. The book is a hundred years old almost. So if you guys don’t know about this book, it’s not my fault and go and read it.
Megan: Stop here. If you don’t want any spoilers come back. Because now I’m like, I have a theory. I still kind of feel like that it was not murder. I feel like there’s
Megan: Cuz there’sthat scene
Julia: right? Where they talk about it. Like, do you have an exit plan? And she’s like, yeah, I have. And she’s still ambiguous about the exit plan that you’re like. Yeah. I think actually I would probably be in a position where I’m like, I’m flinging myself off a building too, before getting, if I got found out, because it’s better than being lynched.
Julia: Sorry, I cut you off. I just went on. Go ahead.
Megan: None at all. There’s I mean, there’s the, there’s the lead up to, oh, I’ll just come and live with you. So when I watched that last night, I was just like, oh, and I really can’t have that because she will strangle her if she does come and live with her. So Irene did have motive to be like, no, I just want you out of my life once.
Megan: And for all, but the way her hand was the way they depicted it, it was like, no, she was reaching for her. Like as if to like, they don’t really show it. They did such a good job.
Julia: The way the book ends is that open-ended to where you’re just, there’s so much speculation of like, who did it and who was it?
Megan: Yeah. And I think, I honestly think Claire gave up. I think, you know, she realized she, and I mean, it’s also what I want to believe because you don’t like to think in murderous terms. And I think John might very well have killed her if you didn’t push her through the, the window. So, and then also I think.
Megan: Irene wanted, just wanted her out of her life. I don’t think she wanted her dead, but just like out of her life. But I kind of feel like the question remains. I sort of, I wish I wish Nella Larsen was still alive. We can talk to her about what her thoughts are behind it. What do you think? Do you agree with that? Or do you think
Julia: I do agree with you because I have a hard time. I have a hard time thinking about, so I’m, and I’m also coming from that personal experience of being forced into the white box when I’m not white, um, where the burden of passing like, and we’ve had conversations offline. I have to mask a lot just generally.
Julia: Um, and coming I’ve noticed that I’m way more exhausted on the days that are harder than where I have to hide a lot of myself, but I have the luxury of coming home and being me and having friends like you, that I can, you know, take that mask off and be myself. Fully get back to who I am and then it starts all over, you know, and Claire doesn’t have that.
Julia: She can’t do that, but she can with Irene. And so how freeing that must’ve felt for her. And I think that Ruth does such a great job showing that freedom in her face from the beginning, when you first meet her, first of all, they were so good with acting like it was that time period with the way that, you know, how old movies have that sort of fluttery.
Julia: Like, you know what I mean? Like the tone to it, the way that the actresses sort of moved their bodies and spoke, like, I was like, okay lady, like, did you watch a bunch of stuff from like the twenties, like silent films and stuff to get like the body language to .
Megan: Even how she would sit on the windowsill
Julia: like, oh, so good. Um, but then as the movie progresses, you can see with every time Claire’s in Irene or. Uh, her husband’s presence. Irene’s husband’s presence. You can see, she feels, you can see she’s more relaxed, she’s more comfortable. She feels, you know, not as on guard and how sad that she didn’t get to have that in her own home.
Julia: So I feel like she, I, I feel like she took matters into her own hands, so, you know, the, how to weigh out and he and Irene didn’t get the chance to warn her, that she ran into John on the street while with another Black woman who is dark. And so how shocking for John to be like, what is going on? Who is my wife, right?
Megan: Yeah. Yeah, no, that was brutal. You know, something else we haven’t brought up yet, but I feel like it ties in here. Um, Zuilina or Zue who’s, um, Irene’s housekeeper.
Julia: Oh yes.
Megan: And how that re like there’s several scenes where Claire is like spending time with Zuilina they’re out in the backyard and they’re sitting in the sun and they’re looking at the trees and the birds and like she’s so at home and relaxed there, and then Irene gets so mad.
Megan: Right. Because he just like, like, you’re here my house, like you’re in my home. And like, I need these groceries put away. And so it’s partially her treatment of, um, Zulina as like the hired help, but also like Zuilina’s much darker. And it’s like, there’s, there’s a very big class discrepancy there. And then she even says at one point, and she’s like, it’s normal to have help.
Megan: Like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean anything. Like everybody has to have help, but I’m like, like in that time would have even been, have been possible to have someone of another race. Who was your live? I don’t even, I can’t tell them Sue Lena was living help or she came to visit. But I found, I was just like, that’s so awkward.
Megan: Right. But then that was a class thing too. Like, okay, here’s this lighter skinned person. Who’s like attain some economic, you know, stability. And she’s a mother of two boys and yeah, it was totally normal for white families to have a servant at that time. So was it also for Black families? And it’s like, it’s just so weird, like the whole layout of it, but the fact that you felt the need to say something it’s totally normal, everybody has helped these days.
Megan: And I was like, Nope, that was like a little bit of that. I feel like that was still an insecurity, like of trying to justify something that she still felt was kind of wrong, but yet Claire felt such a kinship with Zuilina
Julia: Right. And Claire’s adamant disposition with, um, her husband about not hiring a Black maid.
Julia: Because again, I feel like we can always, we always sniff out our own, except for nobody could peg Rachel Dolezal is all so that one’s a fail on us, but you know, the same thing happens in vanishing half where one of the, have you read that yet?
Megan: I have not. And I realized it’s in my audible up next. All I think I actually want to read the book could be.
Julia: Yeah, because it’s, it’s a beautiful book. Brit Bennett. Brilliant, but there’s a scene where one of the characters I’m being vague on purpose, because I don’t want to ruin anything for you. Um, and I’m jealous. You haven’t read it yet. Cause I would love to be able to read it for the first time again. Um, but she’s very adamant about people moving into the neighborhood because I think it comes from that fear of like, they’ll know that she’s Black, but she’s not living as a Black woman.
Julia: Um, I think it actually gave something away. I’m sorry.
Megan: It’s okay. It’s okay. Actually, there’s this moment. It’s funny. Now that you say that that’s a good title. The Vanishing Half. When I was in college, I went to a college town that was, um, an Ottawa Ontario, which is it’s the capital of Canada. And also the, um, capital one, Tara, no Toronto anyways.
Megan: Good. Doing geography. Ottawa is the capital of Canada. It’s cold. It’s on the border with Quebec. Um, but same latitude is like Winnipeg and I think Moscow. So the winters are kind of brutal. Anyway, going to a club one night with some friends. And there was this moment we were walking through. Um, the entrance is funny when you went into the upstairs and then went down.
Megan: It was almost like how they make houses in Britain, but it was in Canada. So we going through the entrance and we walked by and everybody in the bar happened to be white in that moment. And the only reason why I noticed it as, as we were walking by, and there was like four or five of us women, and these guys turned around and go, wow, if it isn’t the United fucking colors of Benetton, which you looked at that.
Megan: And I, I kinda like started up and it was. You know, there was a time in the nineties, right. Where that was the whole thing. And it was some of the first, very pro racially diverse, um, fashion advertising we’d seen in quite some time. And I realized that everybody I had walked in with was a woman of color in some way, shape or form.
Megan: And most of us were like, um, mixed with black and white. And I was just like, oh, like in that moment, like we broke up, what was the norm? And if I hadn’t heard that comment, I mean, obviously intended us to hear it too, but I was kind of like, I just turned and kind of smirked over my shoulder, whatever, you know, but that’s, it’s an interruption interruption for people.
Megan: And like, like you said, if you see like one person. And night with John on the street. Right. You just saw Irene and it’s like, okay there. But seeing her in the context of linked arms with another black woman, it was like, wait a minute. What’s going on here? If there’s more than one, what does that mean?
Megan: Like, it seems to change something in the perception of what, what that gathering is, what that identity is and what that means in your interaction right now. There’s something that’s, um, I feel like before that moment, like walking into that bar, like, yeah, we were totally invisible on our own, but walking in as a group of friends, suddenly, it was just like, what the heck is going on here now?
Megan: There’s like a whole volleyball team or whatever. Right. It changes something in the numbers right. In the neighborhood. And.
Julia: There’s so much. This is why Passing needs to be required readings, because there’s so much about it. And it’s so layered and it’s so. It’s a safe way to, I think, have these conversations too, because you’re talking about fiction.
Julia: So you can be vulnerable and sort of ask sort of scary questions, um, because it’s also, you know, it’s a dated, it’s dated in the sense that it’s 1929, but it’s not dated because these themes are still very relevant today. Back to the conversation about all the hubbub about, um, the casting, like, whew, that shit hits me hard again to use the word triggered because you know, like I mentioned earlier, I got cast as a white chick, multiple white roles for Freedom Riders and that was hard.
Julia: And um, there’s like the, I love acting Megan and I love acting. I love performing. I love all that stuff. Like I feel like I have the personality to be on stage. And so, but it’s hard because when it, like I can do. The last show I was in literally race didn’t matter because you were playing characters that were just stupid and goofy.
Julia: It was a kid show and it was a touring kid show. And so it D like none of that mattered because that wasn’t the point, but it’s hard to get work. I mean, well, I live in the valley, so that’s hard to get acting work period, but like when I, when they did, um, I mean, anything I would have loved to play Claire.
Julia: I think that would have been such a great role. And so when people started talking shit about them hiring Tessa Thompson and Ruth to play these roles, it was just like, it just, it hit in a way, cause it’s like, it’s so hard to get work period as a black actor, but then when you full on bring the varying shades of right. Like I say, things like I could never be a Michelle Obama in a biopic because I’m too light. Right. Like I could play Rashida Jones in a biopic
Megan: I was gonna say, I’m like, I feel like the only person, you know, phenotypically that might’ve been like more perfect is, um, yeah. Rashida Jones
Julia: or Mariah Carey. I looked like I was a little girl, uh, Yeah, it was hard. It’s just hard. Like watching the internet have that conversation really impacted me. Cause it was just like another reminder that again, I don’t fit. I don’t even fit enough to even try and like play Claire or Irene. Like I’m still not allowed to people like me are still not allowed to play those characters
Megan: or like, do you remember? Oh my God, this is Zoe Saldana.
Julia: I love her,
Megan: but she played them. I still haven’t seen it. Cause there was so much hooplah Nina Simone. She played Nina Simone and it’s because it was the opposite. Right. They, they darkened her and they were just. That is black face. Like you can’t it’s it’s, there’s always like, I feel like there’s always going to be that because people are, it’s so important that goes back to like that work that I did about this for it’s like, there’s these varying shades, like none of us is actually the same color.
Megan: None of us, there’s a few artists. Who’ve been doing these like Pantone color projects where they’re like documenting the shades of people around the world that it’s just like, nobody is the same color, but they get reduced to these flat, like 3d. This is what it is like to be black. This is what it’s like to be brown.
Megan: This is what it’s like to be white. And it’s, it’s just not that, but we find it easier somehow, categorically, especially in the United States to like put everybody in those boxes. Oh, wasn’t 12 years a Slave didn’t Mariah Carey play a small role in 12 years.
Julia: Did she? I read the book. So when the movie came out, I was like, I don’t think I can emotionally handle this.
Megan: So it’s really traumatic, but it is good. She did play. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Julia: And it’s hard. And I, but this could be a whole other topic that we could go down, but I’m going to, I’m going to add this. The Black community has embraced Mariah Carey, but Tina Turner had not. Whitney Houston had a really hard time being embraced by the Black community in the beginning.
Julia: So I would love it. I would love it if somebody would like, let me go to school and pay for it. So I could study these things on an academic because I’m fascinated by it. Right? Because my personal experience, like I mentioned, I’m never cast in roles that don’t emotionally damage me at the end of the day.
Megan: I know having to yell at the hypothetical Rosa Parks would be hard.
Julia: It was really hard. It was, I would come home and cry. I would come home and cry. So when Lakeif Stanfield was in, uh, Judas in the black Messiah, he talked about how hard it was to play that character because he plays the guy who sort of rats out, um, Why is everyone’s name escaping me?
Megan: I can see the state in front of me, but I can’t tell you.
Julia: Yeah. So the character that demand that he plays like that, man in real life did an interview in the nineties and they show that clip at the end of the film. And he, within an hour of that interview, airing he takes his own life because he feels so guilty.
Julia: And Lekeif Stanfield has done interviews where he said it was psychologically hard to play that role. And, and granted I’m not, I do not have any success as an actor because there’s a part of me that just kept giving up because I just kept getting tired of like the bullshit people put me through about like, well, do you even fit for this show?
Julia: Yeah, bitch I could totally play Jo March. I got that shit dialed. Who cares that I’m brown. Okay. But whatever. But when he said that, I was like, oh my God, thank you. Because I think people forget. What it’s like to become another person and then have to portray that and then have to be that. And just it’s, it is so hard, like off topic, but adjacent Jack Nicholson playing the joker said that that was a really hard role to play and it really messed with his mind.
Julia: So when Heath Ledger took on the role, he there’s a story. I don’t know if it’s true, but the story goes, he kind of gave him a phone call and warned them, like, be careful, don’t let it take you over and wait, you know, whether or not that role actually took him over. He was, he was no longer with us shortly after that film.
Megan: Right. Oh, I’ve Pringles all over. I didn’t know that previously about Jack Nicholson.
Julia: Yeah. And so, so I think sometimes too, like, yes, we need to have these conversations about like all of these things, but when the, with the advent of the internet and social media, that sort of narrowing in and having an opinion about it amplifies the difficulty for the actor to like decompress at the end of the day from their job, I think.
Megan: Because it keeps going and it becomes a narrative outside the story. It becomes a personal narrative on you, right. You’re you’re, you’re too light. You’re too dark. You’re too. Right. And other people saying this, and you’re just like, hold on, I’m the actor in this place and this space playing this role.
Megan: And then to have literally millions of people weighing in on whether you’re qualified to do that or not based on something you have no control over.
Julia: Right. And at first I was, I had a conversation with my friend where I was like, listen, I’m not here for that shit. But also as a person who wanted an acting career, do I feel like I could have tried out for that role had I actually gone down the path that I desired to go down at 17? Yeah. But also like it’s, it’s still, it’s still. That’s still hard because even if they had hired somebody who was toned like myself or Mariah or Rashida there still would have been controversy. People still would have been pissed about it.
Julia: Um, and it’s just, it’s just, I don’t know, we gotta stop doing that to each other.
Megan: And I think it kind of highlights. I was thinking about it more and more as I’ve been listening to the audio or watching the movie last night, it also kind of highlights like no matter who they had chosen, that this would have happened anyway, because we still want to fit people into a box of what we think or what we understand.
Megan: And when we don’t understand something or we’re like fooled, right? Like how Claire, like fooled John Bellew people, don’t like to be fooled. And they’re like, but we know we Ruth Negga is Black because she was in the Loving movie. We know Tessa, you know what I mean? They just could’ve gotten somebody who, nobody knew who they were at all, like a total ingenue to play it. And then it could be like, you know, Imitation of Life.
Julia: Oh my gosh, my mom and I were just talking about that movie because Fredi Washington was like, fuck Hollywood I’m out. Cause they were so awful to her.
Megan: Yeah. Ah, yeah. I have to rewatch that. It’s been you. Oh my God. At least 20 years since I’ve seen that. And that movie was like.
Julia: It’s like 1949.
Julia: Yeah. But still, you know, poor Fredi Washington. Like what amazing work could we have received from her if Hollywood had been better and I wonder too, how many other actors. And out there were like me who were just like, it’s not fucking worth the emotional trauma to try anymore.
Megan: Or people that we don’t know. Like, I feel like people talk about it now, but it hasn’t when it doesn’t fit with what the media or the public narrative is about a topic, then they just get uncomfortable. They just don’t do it. And so there’s, it’s like, there’s a certain number of people. Like it’s okay for Rashida and Mariah, like, they’re the stars, but like how many other people’s.
Megan: Like that are out there that are doing this great work that we don’t hear about, but there isn’t a narrative about them because it doesn’t fit black or white. And I think that’s why they eliminated Gertrude as kind of a more central character, because the U S perception has to be one, obviously black or white there it’s the sh the shades in between just even the Mar it’s beautiful.
Megan: But the cover art for the movie, I was just like, oh, dang, like, it’s really good. But again, it’s the shades of black and white. Like they’re not looking at, even though the film itself does explore tonality throughout. Um, but they have to market it in a certain way. Cause that’s what people understand what they, what they look for.
Julia: Absolutely. And I do kind of miss, I did miss Gertrude from the story. I feel like she sort of helped.
Julia: What’s the, how do I want to say that? She was that third piece. I think that really helped bring home, especially in that scene, talking about their
Julia: because it gives it more dimension. I think when you have more than, you know, not just two but three or four people sort of addressing,
Megan: I’m going to watch it again. Cause they eliminated that scene, which is like the three photos I did that thesis was one for each of them, but there’s a few other scenes where she’s in them. And I thought that that was Gertrude, but I’m going to rewatch it. I was going to rewatch it anyway, but I’m going to rewatch it to see if that actually is who they assigned to be in the movie or if she’s like no named, but I think that’s her, she’s taller a little bit. Yeah.
Julia: Beautiful. I was like, who is this actress and why aren’t we have her in more stuff? Thank you.
Megan: She might’ve been the woman who was in, it’s hard with the black and white, so different. She might’ve been the actress who played in, um, oh my God. The scifi. With a Journee Smollet
Julia: Lovecraft country?
Megan: Thank you. I think that she might’ve been the actress who played her sister, sister.
Julia: And it’s hard because they’re both period pieces, right? So like when you put people in, in different, um, costumes in hairstyles and what have you, it eras different eras that can make it really,
Megan: She reminded me of her. I’ll look it up interest is, but.
Julia: My gosh, we could literally is
Megan: anybody still with us?
Julia: Listen, if you are, you’re a rock star and we love you. Thank you for sitting through all of this time with us, because it’s an important conversation and I’m really grateful to you, Megan, for coming on. I mean, like, seriously, I, in my intent, and I don’t know if this is your experience, but in my entire life, it’s so hard to talk about stuff like this. That’s nuanced with. I mean, monoracial, isn’t really a thing, but I’m going to use the term just because that’s what people understand. Um, you know, who are monoracial because the nuances they miss out on. And so having to like, not have to be like, well, there’s this nuance we shouldn’t discuss that. I need to break down for you and just have that conversation freely. It’s just so nice.
Megan: Um, my dream let’s manifest that we can have a conversation next with Ruth Negga may or, oh Tessa Thompson
Julia: and I love Tessa Thompson.
Megan: Amazing. She’s losing even the director. I’ve read a few interviews with her too, and she just sounds like she’d be a really, really interesting person.
Julia: I almost sent you a link. So there’s this podcast I listen to called Multi-racial white boy. It’s really interesting. Kim Noonan is the host and he interviews people that are, you know, biracial or have multi-racial backgrounds and whatever he shared on his stories, The Treatment. Are you familiar with that podcast? Rebecca Hall was on an episode of the Treatment.
Julia: And so I was like, Ooh, I’d be curious to hear from her directly, rather than reading an article. Right. Um, and I almost sent it to you, but it wouldn’t let me, because I was at the airport. Oh yeah. I will send it to you though, because it was really interesting hearing. First of all, I love the host of the, of The Treatment. He’s got a great voice and like, can he replace what’s his face who passed away John Lipton from the inside the actor’s studio? Cause I feel like he has the voice to do that.
Julia: Anyway, but I that’s a re it was a really good interview with her. And to hear her speak specifically and not just read her words in an article, I don’t know. It just made me more excited about the movie.
Megan: Absolutely. I want to listen to that. Yeah, for sure.
Julia: I will send it to you. Okay. Friends, if you’re still with us, you are a rock star and we love you. And thank you for being here with us and. Can you please remind everybody where they can find you if they want to keep up with you online?
Megan: Oh, of course. Um, so my on Instagram I’m Luvinn this life, L U V I N, and then this life, and my name is Megan Morgan. I also have a podcast called My Yoga Audio and actually Julia was a guest. We talked about her podcast and the mixed girl experience on her episode there too. So there’s always a link in my bio.
Megan: There is an Instagram channel for that to my.yoga.audio. And then the website is my yoga audio.com. Just those three words spelled. Um, and in there. And so, yeah, I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, anything I can help with, um, we can talk more about this. You’re looking for guests to come on your show or to talk about, um, literary and art things.
Megan: I would absolutely love to hear that.
Julia: And Meagan has written a book and we’ll make sure to link that in the show notes. So that way you can, if you want to read more about her, um, and learn more about her, so you can support her in her art. I just really encourage you all to listen to her podcast and to, you know, follow her on the ground because it’s, it’s just a joy and the fact that she’s a photographer, you guys like some of her pictures are amazing, so it’s definitely worth it.
Julia: And again, I can’t thank you enough for being on the show today about this topic. We’ll have to have you back and say anything.
Julia: I’m sure there’s a whole host of topics besides Say Anything, but I know that you love that movie. So if you guys, when you sit down and either read the book or watch the movie of Passing, please reach out to us. We would love to have more conversation with you all about this film and the themes, and just the way it makes you feel and questions like we are safe humans to discuss these things with.
Julia: And when you’re done doing that, find us online and you can find the show on Instagram at pop culture makes me jealous. And again, I, you guys stuck it out. This is a long one. It was worth it, I think. And I really appreciate you for staying to the very end of listening to this, but until next time friends, thanks for tuning in y’all.