For 13 years white geologist Clarence King maintained a second identity as a black man in New York


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With all the well known advantages of being Black in the USA I can see why he did it.

[note sadly the sarcasm]


It’s hard to imagine how a guy who looked like that could pass for a black man until you remember the “one drop” rule.


It was exactly that. This guy was from (and is buried in) my town, from a family of great wealth and influence.


Thus pushing an actual black man out of a good middle-class job of the day.


I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I would assume that he pretended to be a porter to explain frequent and long absences.


Oh well, that’s different. There’s no shortage of imaginary jobs.


American Lives: The ‘Strange’ Tale Of Clarence King

Sandweiss’ book, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, examines why King chose to live a double life — and how his experience reflects and represents how Americans, both past and present, have thought about race. In the aftermath of the Civil War, particularly, the U.S. had to recast some of the ways it thought about questions of race and identity.


I dunno know: you can only have so many pretend porters before people get suspicious.

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