"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Perfect Passing

Perfect Passing

The Unfortunate Part

You are going to have to act like a radical and kill White people, which is strangely not what you are after.  You want to fit in.  To be Whitewashed.  You want to join the Whites, because they are so lovable, and Whiteness comes with privileges. (See Below).  Yet, for a full Anglo jumpsuit, paleface facemask, and gringo gogo-boots you will need at least two White persons.  Ironically, this is the number normally needed to produce a White person.  

Singling Anglos From the Herd

One may think it misogynistic to go after small White women, and it is!  But they are easy prey, hence the typical serial killer preference for them, fivefoottwoeyesofblue.  Yet, you need not seek White people you can easily strangle.  A large drunken White buck may actually pose less danger as the White community is unlikely to band together and investigate his disappearance.  And if you are male and have slain too many White princesses for your Second Skin, the softness and sultriness of the White ladies you wear may give you up as a Brown imposter.  While one may not want the toughened hide of a redneck, other Whites may suspect something is amiss if you greet them with baby soft hands.  

White Isn’t Just Skin!

You can’t just jump in there and cover up.  You can be White as the driven snow, White as heaven, or White as justice and still have that darn Aztec nose, and big cheekbones and straight black hair.  Now, don’t waste your time fretting that your female ancestors weren’t raped enough by Conquistadors or pioneers or slave traffickers or plantation owners or overseers or missionaries, and that just one more White father would have put you over the top to citizenship in Angloville.    

Instead of being bitter, sew up your new job-getting white skin and stuff newspapers and fashion magazines into a long European nose, and do what you can to hide the appearance of a chin.  Don’t forget blue, green, or hazel contacts.  If your hair pokes out, dye it as blond as you dare.


To appear White, one needs to talk like a White person, and again, not as if you are an ethnic White from Boston or Dallas.  To achieve the vanilla goal, you must choose the middle road, middle class, middling educated and Middle America.  Project your voice as though an Anglo newscaster and proletarians of all creeds and colors will take their hats off to you.  No need to be a regular person, i.e. an ill-bred buffoon.  WASPy White is the goal.  Eschew the Gaelic as you would the impoverished.


It’s not enough just to look and talk as a White person; you have to act as one, too.  That means you need to act like they think they act.  That means you need to be on time. (Not really, you just need to apologize for it when you are late.)  Don’t laugh too loud, and suppress normal emotional expression, other than complaining to the manager.  You need to want to do everything like your father, including employment, politics, and choice of mates.  Remember White fathers are Republicans! There are exceptions, but if you are going to all the trouble to pass for a White person, why pass for some dirty hippy? 

Benefits of Passing

No Lynching  
You no longer need to feel out-numbered in bars, restaurants, clubs, or even the classroom.  You don’t have to eye the mob of Whites as an escaped lounging lion.

Own Man 
You don’t have to suffer lower class people of your ethnicity asking to help a brother out, or por la raza.  Your own personal failings now only reflect you as an individual and not your entire race. A White failure is just a failure.  A brown failure is predestination: a failure of the community, schools, the government, of every brown person.  

Paternalistic Ally
You now can devote yourself to issues that affect The People (which only means poor brown people) to show how sensitively liberal and cultured you are.  You now may also call The People’s food cuisine. 

Passing Minuses

No Exoticness
Once White, no White person will compliment you on your skin.  Yes, it is odd, who works on their skin more than the Passer?  But White skin is normal.  Tan, dark, black, yellowish, reddish, and so on is interesting and alluring.  Different. Remember to tell Brown friends that come summer you’ll get as dark as they are, even though the skin you are wearing is stuck at preternaturally winter white.

All ready for passing!  In the mirror, you won’t scare yourself anymore, wondering who let some stray beaner in.  Look back at yourself with ease and confidence, even if you know the truth, itching underneath pure, privileged, preferred, passing skin.

Scott Russell Duncan, a.k.a. Scott Duncan-Fernandez, recently completed The Ramona Diary of SRD, a memoir of growing up Chicano-Anglo and a fantastical tour reclaiming the myths of Spanish California. Scott’s fiction involves the mythic, the surreal, the abstract, in other words, the weird. Scott received his MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California where he now lives and writes. He is an assistant editor at Somos en escrito. His work has appeared in Border Senses, Label Me Latina/o, Gemini Magazine, Somos en escrito, Diagram, Communion Literary Magazine, Ofi Press, Williwaw Anthology of the Marvelous, Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose, Tiny Donkey and translated into Spanish in Canibaal. See more about his work on Scott’s website. Website: scottrussellduncan.com

Laundry Weekend

Laundry Weekend

Mirrored Mind

Mirrored Mind