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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Living, writing and staging racial hybridity 2006

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LIVING, WRITING A N D STAGING R A C I A L HYBRIDITY by LISA M I C H E L L E L A F L A M M E B.A. Hons., Simon Fraser University, 1988 M.A. , Simon Fraser University, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (English) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A , January, 2006 © Lisa Michelle La Flamme, 2006 11 A B S T R A C T Contemporary Canadian literature and drama that features racial hybridity represents the racially hybrid soma text as a unique form of embodiment and pays particular attention to the power of the racialized gaze. The soma text is the central concept I have developed in order to identify, address, and interrogate the signifying qualities of the racially hybrid body. Throughout my dissertation, I use the concept of the body as a text in order to draw attention to the different visual "readings" that are stimulated by this form of embodiment. In each chapter, I identify the centrality of racially hybrid embodiment and investigate the power of the racialized gaze involved in the interpellation of these racially hybrid bodies. I have chosen to divide my study into discrete chapters and to use specific texts to illuminate my central concepts and to identify the strategies that can be used to express agency over the process of interpellation. In Chapter One I explain my methodology, define the terminology and outline the theories that are central to my analysis. In Chapter Two, I consider the experiences of mixed race people expressing agency by self-defining in the genre of autobiography. In Chapter Three, I explore the notion of racial drag as represented in fiction. In Chapter Four, I consider the ways in which the performative aspects of racial hybridity are represented by theatrical means and through performance. M y analysis of the soma text and racialized gaze in these three genres offers critical terms that can be used to analyze representations of racial hybridity. By framing my analysis by way of the construction of the autobiographical voice I suggest that insight into the narrative uses of racial hybridity can be deepened and informed by a thorough analysis of the representation of the lived experience of racial hybridity in a given context. My crossgeneric and crossracial methodology implicitly asserts the importance of the inclusion of different types of racial hybridity in order to understand the power of the racially hybrid body as a signifier in contemporary Canadian literature and drama. iv CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iv List of Illustrations v Acknowledgements vii CHAPTER I "I A m What I A m and I Am Here!" 1 CHAPTER H Autobiography: "What Are You?" & "Where Are You From?". 42 CHAPTER III Fiction: "Faking It In Fiction": The Use of Racial Drag 133 CHAPTER IV Drama: Staging Racial Hybridity 194 Conclusion 302 Afterword: "Je suis ici ." 311 Endnotes 326 Bibliography 361 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Illustration Page 1. Cover of Funny, You Don't Look Like One (Taylor, 1996) 29 2. Cover of Further Adventures of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway (Taylor, 1999) 29 3. Cover of Futile Observations of a Blue Eyed Ojibway (Taylor, 2004) 30 4. Cover of Black, White, Other (Funderburg, 1994) 31 5. Cover of Black Berry Sweet Juice (Hill, 2001) 48 6. Maria Root's B i l l of Rights (Root, 1996) 123 7. Cover of Diamond Grill (Wah, 1996) 140 8. Cover of Half-breed (Campbell, 1973) 142 9. Wah's dedication in Diamond Grill (Wah, 1996) 151 10. Image of Pauline E. Johnson (Gerson and Strong-Boag, 2000) 201 11. Image of Pauline E. Johnson (Gerson and Strong-Boag, 2000) 201 12. Advertising for Pauline E. Johnson (Gerson and Strong-Boag, 2000) 204 13. Production still from Tasha Faye Evan's play "She Stands Still"(2004) 212 14. Production still from Tasha Faye Evan's play "She Stands Still"(2004) 216 15. Kane deconstructing images of indigeneity in Moonlodge 225 16. Kane deconstructing images of indigeneity in Moonlodge 225 17. Kane deconstructing images of indigeneity in Moonlodge 225 18. Kane inverting the gaze in Moonlodge 226 19. Kane inverting the gaze in Moonlodge 226 vi 20. Kane as Agnes catching a ride on the back of a motorcycle in a 229 search for her indigeneity in Moonlodge 21. Kane as Agnes catching a ride on the back of a motorcycle in a 229 search for her indigeneity in Moonlodge 22. Michelle La Flamme and Mercedes Baines rehearsing for 235 "White, Dark and Bittersweet," (Compton, 2001) 23. Lesley Ewen 236 24. Margo Kane in a workshop of Confessions (DraMetis, 2001) 247 25. Production stills from Confessions of an Indian/Cowboy (2001) 248 26. Production still from Confessions of an Indian/Cowboy (2001) 249 27. Production still from Confessions of an Indian/Cowboy (2001) 249 28. Production still from Confessions of an Indian/Cowboy (2001) 254 29. Production still from Confessions of an Indian/Cowboy (2001) 255 30. Production still from Confessions of an Indian/Cowboy (2001) 256 31. Cover of Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 276 32. Images from Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 278 33. Images from Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 278 34. Images from Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 278 35. Images from Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 278 36. Images from Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 279 37. Clarke's dedication in Beatrice Chancy (Clarke, 1999) 280 vn A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S First I need to express my gratitude to George Elliot Clarke, Yvonne Brown and Roy Mik i for encouraging and supporting me as an undergraduate. These mentors have reminded me to believe in myself, to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to move forward in order to obtain a terminal degree. M y supervisor, Sherrill Grace deserves a heartfelt acknowledgement for her scrupulous attention to detail and for providing me with guidance, friendship, and mentorship at times when I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. Thanks to my committee members, Jerry Wasserman and Glenn Deer, for allowing me to write long rough drafts that enabled me to explore everything I have ever wanted to say about racial hybridity as I processed my own relationship to the material. I must also acknowledge my creative writing partners-in-crime, Mercedes Baines and Minelle Mahtani, who have co-written plays with me and performed on stage with me. Their role as mirrors, participants, and comrades in the development of this research cannot be overstated. Many thanks go out to my dear friends who helped with childcare duties and provided me with much support during many months of isolation. My blue- eyed, brown-skinned, Afro-German, Canadian partner endured months on end as a writer's widow. He assisted me in material ways throughout this process and our late night conversations on racial hybridity provided me with new perspectives. My deepest gratitude goes out to my mother who has struggled to read through chapters as I churned V l l l them out, helped to finance all of my academic work and both chided and encouraged me to keep writing. Lastly, this dissertation is dedicated to my sweet nieces and nephews and to all other racially hybrid people who have had to struggle to find themselves reflected in Canadian society and literature. M y intention in writing this dissertation is to provide insight that will enable other racially hybrid Canadians to understand and appreciate the unique somatextual varieties of racial hybridity in ways that will allow them to embrace the totality of their racial hybridity. In addition, I have applied the skills I have developed as a literary analyst to the text of the racially hybrid body in order to provide a map and a methodology for analyzing new narratives that feature racial hybridity to other scholars who are interested in exploring this emerging body of work. CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION " I A m What I A m and I Am Here!" 2 It is contradictory racialised perceptions of physical differences that frequently determine and undermine the lived experience of those who, as active agents, identify as, and/or are socially designated as 'mixed race'. (Ifekwunigwe, Rethinking, 46) The hackneyed notion of 'pure blood' always rests on the possibility and the reality of 'mixed blood'— although violent cleansing may be deemed necessary to constitute 'purity'. (Sollors, Neither, 4) Maria Root has even declared a 'bill of rights' for multiracial people, in which she exhorts 'mixed race' people to assert the identities which they have chosen for themselves, however uncomfortable or confused they make others. (Parker & Song, Rethinking, 4) Mrs. Taylor alternated in her self and family identification between claiming African blood and Indian culture as central family attributes. She never put forth a synthetic identity in which these two elements were expressed as 'mixed' or 'ethnogenetic' biological or cultural expression. (Brooks, Confounding, 4) Besides you're only as much Swede as I am Chinese, one-quarter, twenty-five percent, a waning moon, a shinplaster, a blind alley, a semi-final, less than half a cup of honey. (Wah, Diamond, 133) 3 In the last decade biracial autobiographies, plays, novels and films dealing with racial hybridity in Canada have become more common. This growing interest in narrative uses of racial hybridity coincides with the trend in progressive North American universities such as Stanford, Yale, New York University, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of San Francisco in the United States, all of which have recently offered courses in mixed race literature and hybridity theories such as Gloria Anzaldua's articulation of mestiza consciousness (1987). The reading lists from courses at these institutions cover a range of racially mixed literary figures from the "tragic mulatta" in Nella Larsen's Passing (1929) to the representation of the voice of the Metis nation in Maria Campbell's Half-breed (1973) to Monique Mojica's representation of transcultural and panethnic hybridity (1991). In this dissertation I ask the following two-part question: What does it mean to be biracial or multiracial in Canada today and what do our literature and culture tell us about these identities? Contemporary Canadian narratives that feature racial hybridity are informed by these North American racially hybrid literary figures. However, Canadian representations of racially hybrid figures signify different aspects of racial hybridity that are specific to the Canadian nation. Canadian representations of racial hybridity offer Metis configurations of a racially hybrid identity, represent the racially hybrid individual in monoracial white Canadian communities and use the hyphen to represent cultural and/or racial hybridity. In this dissertation I generate new insights into the lived experience of racial hybridity as represented in autobiographies, into the narrative uses of racial hybridity in Canadian fiction and into the performative aspects of racial hybridity 4 in drama. Certain features of biracial autobiography are also present in contemporary Canadian fiction and drama; therefore, I employ a crossgeneric methodology in order to map the narrative use of racial hybridity in Canadian texts and also to explore the role of genre in representing racial hybridity. The term "mixed race" literature has been used in literary contexts with increasing frequency. Although the concept of "race" as a biological category has been proven scientifically invalid, the category of "mixed race" literature continues to employ the notion of "race" to refer to this growing body of work.1 One may question the utility of this term because it is not evident in the way the term "mixed race" writing is deployed, whether or not the work itself has to feature racial hybridity or if the writer must identify as racially hybrid. For the purposes of this dissertation, I use the term "mixed race" literature to refer to writing by self-identified racially mixed writers that presents biracial or multiracial characters, themes and/or subtexts.2 The primary texts in the body of work that I analyze are selected from contemporary Canadian Native and non-Native autobiographies, novels and plays that feature racial hybridity. M y interest is in analyzing this body of work by engaging in close readings of sample representations of racial hybridity across these genres and across racial divisions. I wish to place this Canadian work in relation to theoretical approaches to racial hybridity. For each genre I have chosen just a few examples on the basis of their representative characteristics; this is especially the case for my chapter on autobiography where Lawrence Hill 's autobiography Black Berry, Sweet Juice (2001) provides my major case study. Generally speaking, my research (1) describes and interprets the ways 5 in which racial hybridity represents an embodiment of the "real" and (2) maps the ways in which racial hybridity functions as a trope in Canadian literature. M y central argument is that contemporary Canadian "mixed race" narratives form a unique canon due to the centrality of embodiment, the ways in which embodiment and blood signify a number of third-space paradigms and the ideological ramifications involved in the use of the biracial autobiographical voice and the biracial body in performance. While there is a growing body of work that features racial hybridity, critical analysis of the narrative use of racial hybridity is only recently emerging in Canada. The University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan have recently started to teach mixed race literature and explore this work critically.3 Critical approaches to mixed race literature are, in some ways, a subset of earlier questions about race and representation in literature that stem from postcolonial approaches to minority literature. This dissertation contributes to the emerging rubric of critical mixed race studies and recent scholarship that addresses the discursive and ideological aspects of race and representation within contemporary Canadian literature.4 I engage with this body of work initially by mapping the experience of racial hybridity in Canada in biracial autobiography with a focus on Black Berry, Sweet Juice. Then I chart the rhetorical and dramatic uses of racial hybridity across selected genres and racial divisions. Because I am advocating and employing a crossgeneric methodology, I preface each chapter of this dissertation with a brief exploration of the generic conventions in order to identify some of the constraints and possibilities that specific genres impose on the representation of racial hybridity. 6 In addition to this crossgeneric methodology, another unique aspect to this research is the crossracial methodology that I employ in order to address racial hybridity within Canadian Native and non-Native "mixed race" texts. In an earlier phase of my research, I began to note similarities in the construction of racial hybridity within Chinese-Canadian, African-Canadian, African-American, Metis, "mixed blood" Native and "tragic mulatto" narratives. However, when racial hybridity is given critical attention it is often examined by scholars and critics within specific racial categories rather than across racial groups. Current examples of this racial paradigm are Louis Owens' MixedBloodMessages (2001) which, like Gerald Vizenor's Fugitive Poses (1998), addresses the narrative uses of "mixedblood" and/or "crossblood" identity within the larger spectrum of Native identity.5 These insights into the experiences of racialization are still framed within distinct monoracial identities. Because these theorists and writers have not engaged in crossracial analyses of racial hybridity, the similarities among these narratives have not been examined. Given this lack of critical attention into the ways in which racial hybridity functions as a narrative device across different racial groups, my dissertation proposes a more encompassing study of racial hybridity through a crossracial methodology. By analyzing contemporary Canadian literature with this crossracial and crossgeneric methodology, it is possible for me to demonstrate two crucial points. The first is that embodiment is central to the articulation of narratives that are based on the construction of the biracial autobiographical voice in contemporary Canadian literature. In general, the distinctiveness of the biracial voice and the experience of biraciality are 7 grounded in the experience of the multiply-coded biracial body. I use the concept of the s o m a text to identify the central trope by which biracial Canadian writers express themselves. In fact, one might argue that corporeality is an over-determined trope in these narratives. The second point that I argue throughout these chapters is that the soma text is read in different sites by way of the racialized gaze. My work considers how the soma text and racialized gaze are represented in ways that suggest a particular hybrid experience of the nation, signified by the racially hybrid body. In order to address what I am calling the process of racialization, I have developed a working definition of the word race based on the definition offered in Black Canadians by Canadian theorist Joseph Mensah. Mensah defines race as "a human population distinguished on the basis of socially perceived physical traits such as skin pigmentation, hair texture, facial features and the like" (13). Even though Mensah acknowledges that race is a construct, he suggests that "individual" and "systemic racism" operate in such an intricate way that these two aspects must be considered in tandem (16). I expand Mensah's definition by adding a third element to my analysis of the process of racialization, namely the m o n o r a c i a l h e g e m o n y that configures racial identity in terms of purity and blood-quantum.6 In addition to this general working definition of race, this project is informed by hybridity theorists who attempt to situate the experience of multiraciality within the discourse around race and representation. According to mixed race theorists David Parker and Miri Song, the distinct experiences and unique patterns of identity formation for racially hybrid people suggest that they are "subject to exceptional forms of 8 discrimination that cannot be addressed within existing conceptions of race" (7). Monoracial identity is hegemonic and such a term stems from singular notions of identity encoded in such phrases as "I am African" or "I am Chinese." Monoracial identification does not necessitate a mathematical breakdown of the constituent parts of one's identity based on blood-quantum because the assumption is that monoracially people are complete. This description is based on the logic that if individuals who are monoracially identified consider themselves in singular, unified terms that suggest one is pure, e.g., one is European, African or Japanese. This is quite distinct from the articulation of a racialized identity from a position of biracial identity, which can be understood by the identity that is suggested within the phrase "I am Caucasian and African" or "I am a mixed race woman." In these two expressions of biraciality, a doubleness is signified in the former and a complex third space paradigm for identity is reflected in the latter. The contemporary Canadian literature and drama that I analyse throughout this dissertation often represents racial hybridity as a unique form of embodiment that signifies complex, multiple, and, at times, fluid constructions of racial identity. My notion of a third-space paradigm is informed by Homi Bhabha's articulation in The Location of Culture (1994) that suggests "[i]t is that Third Space, though unrepresentable in itself, which constitutes the discursive conditions of enunciation that ensure the meaning and symbols of culture have no primordial unity or fixity[.. .]" (37). Biracial identity or multiracial identity differs from monoracial identity in its complexity, its ambiguity and the excess that stems from a multiply-sited identity. One of the ways in 9 which this identity is represented in contemporary Canadian literature is by way of third space paradigms or metaphors. I make the distinction between monoracially-identified people and biracially- identified people in order to draw attention to the process of racialization and to indicate that even when people are racially mixed, they may not identify as such. In the United States one of the most prolific mixed race theorists is Maria Root. In The Multiracial Experience she suggests that the term monoracial "refers to people who claim a single racial heritage. It is also a system of racial classification that only recognizes one racial designation per person" (x). According to Root, the term "[m]ultiracial refers to people who are of two or more racial heritages. It is the most inclusive term to refer to people across all racial mixes. Thus it also includes biracial people" (xi). The word biracial has been recently used to refer to racially hybrid people. Root claims that the term [b]iracial refers to a person whose parents are of two different socially designated racial groups, for example, black mother, and white father. In a less commonly used, but perfectly accurate meaning, biracial can also refer to someone who has parents of the same socially designated race, when one or both parents are biracial or there is racial mixing in the family history that is important to the individual. This use of biracial moves us away from requiring equal 'fractions of blood' to recognize the prevalence of racial blending throughout American history. However, the social and psychological experience of the person who uses the 10 term this way may be different from someone who is a 'first-generation' biracial. (ix-x) I am employing Root's definition of biraciality in this dissertation. I am also informed by her notion of monoracial identity and I make the distinction between monoracial and multiracial people in order to draw attention to different forms of racial identity that distinguish the subjective experience of racially hybrid Canadians from those of monoracial individuals. I use the term r a c i a l h y b r i d i t y to refer to people who are racially mixed or have been understood as belonging to more than one racial group. One of my research interests is in documenting the way in which an individual understands, articulates, represents and performs racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian literature and drama. Although at times I use the term biracial or half-breed, the term racially hybrid allows me to include biracial and multiracial individuals, Native and non-Native, within the larger spectrum of racial hybridity. The construction of a biracial or monoracial identity is based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, any one of the following: b l o o d - q u a n t u m determined by one's genealogy; s o m a t i c s i g n i f i e r s that are commonly referred to as indicators of one's race; one's lived experience of racial identity, which may or may not reinforce one's sense of racial identity; social and cultural folk readings of racial identity; and familial and cultural readings of racial identity. I will be examining the ways in which race is constructed within language and, therefore, how race is r e p r e s e n t e d within autobiography, fiction and drama. 11 I have developed the term soma text to refer to the racially hybrid body in order to draw attention to the physical markers of race such as skin tone, eye contour and corporeality. These features are racialized or given specific ideological value. I consider the racially hybrid body to be a complex signifier and am particularly interested in the dynamic, complex, and conflicted ways in which these soma texts are read. Mixed Race theorists David Parker and M i r i Song draw attention to the somatextual signifiers in "mixed race" writing. In the introduction to Rethinking 'Mixed Race', they state that, [m]uch of the writing on 'mixed race' has highlighted a distinctive form of 'mixed race' embodiment characterized by an intimate relationship between racialisation and facialisation. Facialisation refers to the designation of a limited set of facial types, how these are taken as metonyms for the racialised body, and are associated with character traits. In the case of 'mixed race' people, their experiences tell of how the face gets figured as the repository of racial truths and suggestive of where you 'really' come from. (14) Although these theorists identify the relationship between "facialisation" and "racialization" in instructive ways, I prefer to use the term soma text to draw attention to the range of visual clues that are based on the whole body of the mixed race person. I use the Greek word soma to draw attention to the somatic signifiers that are associated with different racial phenotypes and to identify the centrality of the embodiment of racial hybridity. Together these two words signify the ways in which the ambiguous signifiers of a racially hybrid body are "read," like a text, given specific ideological value and acquire different meaning in diverse sites.8 12 As a subtext to this research I ask myself: How has the Canadian nation informed the way(s) in which racially hybrid bodies are read? To address this question I turn to theorist Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe who uses the term "mixed race" to describe individuals who "according to popular folk concepts of 'race' and by known birth parentage, embody two or more world views or, in genealogical terms, descent groups. These individuals may have physical characteristics that reflect some sort of 'intermediate' status vis-a-vis their birth parents" (46).9 In addition to these complex forms of embodiment, Ifekwunigwe clearly identifies the socio-cultural process of racialization for biracial people when she states: "More than likely, at some stage, they will have to reconcile multiple cultural influences. The degree of agency afforded a 'mixed race' individual is contingent in part upon local folk 'readings of their phenotype' in relation to systems of categorization and classification that may reinforce eighteenth- and nineteenth-century 'race' science fiction" (46). These "folk readings" of the raced body are often the foundational elements in biracial identity formation and consistently appear as thematic issues at the narrative centre of the primary texts that I analyze in the following chapters. This research is case specific as it includes writing by contemporary Canadians who reflect on the soma text and racialized gaze in specific readings of particular racially hybrid soma texts. The racially hybrid body is represented in these works as a cluster of identities and racialized roles that are predicated upon how one's body is read. As a result of the specificity of how this body is read, these insights are not necessarily transferable to other locations, racial identities, or decades because folk readings of race are culturally specific and historically conditioned. As an example, according to Ifekwunigwe, "In 13 Britain, the social and political category Black has been used to incorporate South Asian, Chinese and in certain instances Irish communities" (47), whereas "in the USA, Black refers primarily to individuals of African descent" (48). For another example of the social and political specificities associated with folk readings of race I turn to the autobiographical novel Sugar and Slate (2002). In this work, the biracial Welsh writer, Charlotte Williams, identifies how her soma text does not fit within the construction of a Welsh identity which is most often coded as white. Consequently, despite being born in Wales, she is continually read as an immigrant because of her hypervisible soma text or phenotype.10 Ifekwunigwe explains biracial corporeality as a phenotype: "By phenotype, I mean the visible physical markers of genetically inherited traits such as skin colour, hair texture and colour, eye shape and colour, general facial features and body structure" (46). Throughout my research, I refer to these phenotypes as soma texts and consider the impact that folk readings have on how this body, as text, is read. Ifekwunigwe refers to four elements that are central to my study of racial hybridity in the same essay cited above: the process of racialization, the third space of hybridity as a synthesis of dualisms, genealogical and epistemological ramifications of racial hybridity, and the centrality of the racially hybrid soma text. Beliefs about race, attitudes towards interracial relationships and the notion of blood as a signifier of race condition the ways in which the racially hybrid soma text in interpreted or read. Autobiography theorist Leigh Gilmore describes the complex ways in which embodiment can signify a number of different ideologies about race, blood, and genes. She argues that "[fjhe body, in its construction, can't keep a secret: 'Blood will 14 tell.' Although the fallacy of this reading of the body can be readily demonstrated, its persistence allows 'sex' to cling to tangible bodies through the 'fact' of sexual difference and 'race' to cling to nonwhite bodies through the 'fact' of racial difference" (Autobiographies 132-33). Cultural beliefs about blood and blood quantum often inform legal prohibitions to interracial marriage. When read in this way, the racially mixed body in North American contexts always-already signifies racial transgressions and, specifically, sex between two people of different races. For example, the anti- miscegenation laws in the United States were based on the premise that "one drop" of Black blood makes one Black and the epistemology that "blood will tell" what one's racial genealogy is. 1 1 These beliefs about blood and belonging are always a part of the signifying power of racially hybrid bodies in North America. The soma text of the racially hybrid individual is thus saturated and overdetermined by beliefs about blood, as invisible markers of race and legal and historical views of interraciality framed as transgressive sexuality. The historical association of biraciality with sexual transgression and degeneracy has had an enduring impact on the contemporary signifying nature of racially hybrid soma texts in the United States and Canada. In addition, cultural representations of interraciality affect the way in which the racially hybrid body is read. Parker and Song argue that, "'[m]ixed race' populations have often emerged through the deeply felt historical violations of imperial sexual conquest and enslavement. 'Mixed race' bodies can bear the burden of these legacies, deep-seated traumas inscribed on people's skin, and this should not be evaded" (13). Maria Root suggests that the multiracial person's 15 experience of corporeality is affected by images such as "slave masters raping black women, U.S. military men carrying on sexually illicit relationships with Asian women during wars along the Pacific rim and rebels and curiosity seekers having casual sex" (The Multiracial Experience 7). Specific histories of interraciality as well as persistent and scientifically unfounded ideologies around blood and purity inform many racially hybrid people's experience of their own bodies. I hope to demonstrate how Canadian beliefs about racial amalgamation inform the ways in which racially mixed bodies are read.12 When addressing the signifying power of the soma text an important question to ask is: How do colonial discourses get mapped on the body of the racially hybrid subject? It is useful to think of the ways in which the soma texts of racially hybrid people signify postcoloniality such that contact is given a sexual connotation. As an example of this reading of the racially hybrid body I cite an anecdote written by biracial Canadian writer Michele Paulse who claims that "[t]he shame I sometimes experience is shame learned from people who hate the idea of a black person fucking a white person; a Malay fucking a German, an African a Scot, an Indian a German" (Camper 49). Her racially hybrid soma text is read as a signifier of interracial and postcolonial sexual transgression. Paulse puts it bluntly: "The colour of my skin shows that the line was crossed. Someone fucked someone who[m] they should not have fucked. When people ask what is my mixture, they are trying to find out who the persons were. My origins do not haunt me. Attitudes about my origins do" (Camper 49). Here the soma text of the racially hybrid body clearly represents postcolonial illicit sex. The complex and conflicted or ambiguous nature of the 16 racially hybrid soma text creates crises of interpretation and indicates the complex signifying power of the body itself. In this dissertation I am attentive to the different ways in which racially mixed soma texts are read and how racially mixed people represent and understand their own soma texts within the larger framework of postcolonial Canada. Canadian biracial people often represent their identity by way of direct references to blood-quantum in a process that I refer to as racial mathematics, e.g. "I am half Japanese and half African." In the American context, racial hybridity is implied by the use of terms such as "mulatto," which is used to refer to people who have one black and one white parent, or terms such as quadroon and octoroon, which were used to refer to people who had successively less "black blood." A similar set of racial mathematics exists within different racial groups such as Native communities, whereby someone who has one Native and one non-Native parent may be said to be a "halfblood," "half- breed," or "crossblood." 1 3 In each case, the term is used to denote the percentage of blood that is "of colour," and such terminology reinforces the ideology that whiteness is the privileged norm. Although these terms have had a specific ideological history in the pseudo-science of the nineteenth century, they remain as qualifiers of racial identity according to blood-quantum ideologies. I analyze the primary works in each chapter in order to elucidate the ways in which writers invoke such metaphors to represent racially hybrid somatextuality in order to substantiate two of my central claims. The first claim is that corporeal fragmentation is often the site of trauma for racially hybrid individuals. The second claim is that when an individual understands his or her corporeality as fragmented he or she does not tend to 17 utilize a paradigm of wholeness to represent the soma text. I note the sites where racially hybrid individuals adopt terms that denote fragmentation, and the sites where individuals refer to themselves as "people of colour" or use other metaphors, such as "brown," to signify their mixedness. As I develop my analysis of racial hybridity in select contemporary Canadian literary and dramatic works, I will use a set of terms that I believe highlight key aspects of racial hybridity. Although one's genealogy or use of specific terminology to identify blood quantum may provide insight into the percentage of what is understood as "white" and "non-white blood," the soma text of a mixed race individual is often the sign that is read to determine if a person is biracial, multiracial, or monoracial. In this case, the exterior becomes more of a determinant for racial assignment than any specific genetic encoding in the blood of the individual. For these reasons, I introduce the useful idea of the racially hybrid body as a soma text and begin to elaborate on the discursive conditions within which this body is read through a complex set of looking relations that I refer to as the racialized gaze. The racialized gaze is a term I use to refer to the ways in which a person views the biracial or multiracial body in order to calculate or guess the racial mix of a given individual. The racialized gaze is the mechanism by which a body is viewed and given signification according to the gaze of the onlooker. The visual interpretation of the soma text involves the racialized gaze and if often recorded as a moment of interpellation.14 The representation of racial hybridity by way of interpellation is a common thematic concern in each of the works that I analyze. Such representations emphasize the 18 performative nature of racial identity. As biracial Canadian writer and theorist Fred Wah suggests, "Until Mary McKnutter calls me a chink, I am not one [. . .] Later, I don't have to be because I don't look like one" (Diamond Grill 98). This is an example of the very phenomenon of racial interpellation that Fanon identified in The Wretched of the Earth (1965), except that the situation Wah refers to involves decoding a racialized body that is also ambiguous because it is a racially hybrid body. As a result of this early traumatic experience of being interpellated, Wah, like many other racially hybrid Canadians, decides to "become as white as I can, which, considering I'm mostly Scandinavian, is pretty easy for me. Not for my dad and some of my cousins though. They're stuck, I think, with how they look. I only have the name to contend with" (Diamond Grill 98). In this passage, Fred Jr., Wah's semi-autobiographical character, recognizes that he is able to perform racial drag by passing as white because of his light-skinned privilege. This passage also indicates Fred Jr.'s recognition that this privilege does not extend to his relatives because their soma texts conform to more phenotypically Chinese racial identities. Such self-conscious attention to the power of the racialized gaze is consistently referred to in each of the works that I examine. This anecdote suggests a hypersensitivity to the signifying nature of the racially hybrid body, the visual encounters that result in one's self-awareness of this multiply-coded body and different strategies that one may develop in response to being interpellated. 19 The racialized gaze attempts to decode the ambiguous signifiers of the soma text in order to assign a racial designation due to complex and culturally specific racial mathematics. This process of assigning a racial designation I refer to as interpellation. The lifelong process of responding to moments of interpellation I refer to as a foundational aspect in the process of racialization. The process of racialization is central to the experience of biraciality, particularly in cases where the somatic markers of race are ambiguous, complex, or contradictory. For many biracial Canadians the experience of people perpetually decoding their soma texts is represented in their writing as an exhausting and, at times, traumatic experience. In the genres of autobiography, fiction and drama many biracial writers explore these traumatic moment(s) of interpellation and the racialization of racially hybrid bodies. These repeated representations of the impact of the racialized gaze draw attention to the hypervisibility of race, the signifying nature of the racially hybrid soma text and the consequences of this process for the individual whose body is given meaning according to the way he or she is race(d). Autobiographical reflections on racial hybridity contain a number of different, complex looking relations such as: 1) looking relations within interracial family systems; 2) looking relations from outside of the family system; 3) looking relations between racially mixed individuals that enable one to identify other racially mixed people (mirroring), and 4) the ways in which the racially mixed person sees him/herself. These complex looking relations are often presented, deconstructed or reinvented in different genres that feature racial hybridity. The looking relations identified in the first 20 three categories affect the latter category. Canadian demographics are such that most biracial individuals live primarily within monoracial communities. Canadian narratives on racial hybridity suggest that within these monoracial communities, biracial or multiracial individuals experience a continual evaluation of their racial identity based on how they look. When the policing of race through the gaze becomes a fetish, it can easily give rise to a racially driven scopophobia. Scopophobia is a term I use to identify a racially mixed person's fear of the gaze and the fear of being interpellated and assessed for signs of purity. This fear is documented in biracial narratives that detail numerous negative experiences of being mis-recognized because of the complex, multiple, or ambiguous signifiers of their racially hybrid soma texts. I would like to take a moment here to address what I mean by competing signs within this racially hybrid soma text and the crisis of interpellation that gives rise to scopophilic interest in decoding these signs. A somatic signifier that is coded with ambiguity is one in which the social and cultural notions of racial phenotypes are continually disrupted by the presence of two or more competing systems of racial signification. An ambiguous soma text may prompt others to ask for verification in order to support the assumptions that have been made about a given person's racial genealogy based on the racialized gaze. When a racially hybrid body is marked by ambiguous signifiers or when a racially hybrid character performs racial drag, in a given text there is a narrative crisis because of the instability of the somatext as a marker of identity. 21 Most biracial and multiracial individuals who are asked throughout their lives, "Where are you from?" or, "What are you?" become acutely aware of the hypervisibility of their ambiguously coded soma texts. Root notes the power of the racialized gaze and suggests that, "[a]t a personal level, race is very much in the eye of the beholder; at a political level, race is in the service of economic and social privilege" (Racially Mixed People in America 4). This hypervisibility is consistently referred to in biracial narratives. Many biracial Canadians refer to the s c o p o p h o b i a that they develop over time, or they refer more neutrally to the socio-cultural forces that condition people to assign a racial identity based on racialized and visual s o m a t e x t u a l c u e s . The competing systems of identity that are inherent in the soma text of the biracial or multiracial individual in North American contexts become the point of an intense amount of scopophilic interest. Root suggests that "[fjhe 'racial ecology' is complex in a phenotypically heterogeneous society that has imbued physical differences with significant meaning in a convention that benefits selective members of society" (Racially Mixed People in America 4). In a society such as North America where bodies are continually racialized, we can refer to this practice as scopophilic. The historical conditions in North America whereby racialized bodies have been policed for blood quantum due to legislation such as the Fugitive Slave Act (1850) and the Indian Act (1876), create conditions that suggest it is accurate to speak of a historical fetish to decode blood-quantum. It is plausible that biracial bodies are read differently in the American context where there is a longer history of biracial bodies being policed for signs of racial admixture. This fetish to decode racial admixture was due, in part, to the 22 conditions of slavery and the impact of the Fugitive Slave Act. In societies where multiraciality is more prevalent and accepted, the existence of this fetish is less pronounced and results in less scopophilic attachment to decoding the ambiguous signifiers of the racially hybrid body. A somatic signifier that is coded with ambiguity is the norm for many racially mixed people. As a consequence of this ambiguous signifying soma text, many biracial individuals negotiate their racial identity daily and must respond to numerous questions about who they are, what they are, and where they are from. This repetitive questioning and negotiation suggests that racial identity becomes something performative, shifting, contradictory and dynamic. The effect of these complex relations of looking has certain epistemological and ontological ramifications, and I refer to these effects as part of the embodied epistemology of the racially hybrid person. While it is true that over time scopophilic societies may condition racially hybrid individuals to become scopophobic, it is equally true that racially hybrid individuals have also been charting their own experiences of agency over the process of racialization. As well as charting how the process of interpellation is represented in these texts, I am equally interested in the numerous ways in which biracial Canadians understand their soma texts as providing them with a special vantage point or frame of reference. For example, biracial Canadian writer Sheila Batacharya writes that her soma text has been read as "Spanish, Italian, South American, Mayan" and "white with a tan" (Camper 39). This anecdote suggests that Batacharya's body is read as a signifier of different racial identities. People who are racially mixed can also utilize the ambiguity of their soma texts 23 in ingenious ways by deciding which of these racial identities they will claim. I refer to the ability of biracial people to declare and perform different racial identities, as racial drag. 1 5 Engaging in racial drag is one way of strategically engaging with the complex politics around racial identity and the process of racialization that racially mixed people face. Root suggests that "attempts by racially mixed people to move back and forth between color lines have been viewed pejoratively rather than as creative strategies in a multiracial reality" (Racially Mixed People in America 6). Root and other mixed race theorists document the sites where racially mixed people create strategies to respond to this unique position by "faking it" (Wah), "passing," or performing a variety of racial identities.16 Hybridity theorist Minelle Mahtani refers to biracial and multiracial identity as an advantageous "mobile paradoxical space."17 As an example of this flexible use of the markers of race, Canadian mixed race writer Leslie Lee Kam states that she adopts multiple racial identities and claims to be "from Burma," or to be "Filipina," "Latin American," "Chinese," "[s]ome kind of Indian," and "Micmac" (Camper 38). Kam's anecdote supports the idea that a biracial individual's soma text is read differently according to the racial ideologies that are in circulation, but it also suggests that she has some agency over the process of racialization due to the very ambiguity that her soma text signifies. Racial drag seems to be a strategy that is employed primarily by racially mixed people who are not within communities of colour. For example, Kam suggests that her experience of growing up in Trinidad, "where I was surrounded by people who looked 24 like me, also gave me a sense of 'self,' and so it does not bother me when people ask me where I am from" (Camper 39). Kam goes on to suggest that women who are biracial but born in Canada in a "predominantly white society" are more disturbed by the "Where are you from" question "because it is sort of getting to the core of who you are" (Camper 39). Biracial Canadians who find themselves in mostly white spaces may perform racial identities in order to "fake it" and fit in as monoracial. Wah's notion of "faking it" will be introduced in Chapter Three, where I argue that racial drag is one method by which racially hybrid characters express agency and mobility by faking it in order to pass for different racial identities that more closely approximate a hegemonic and monoracial identity. Racially hybrid individuals who experience isolation and the primary trauma of dis-identification within their families, and then experience dis-identification in their communities, may find themselves at ease within a loose coalition of other biracial people. Canadian biracial writer Gitanjali Saxena suggests that "mixed race is not a community. It is not a cultural community and it's not a racial community" but rather a "situational [mixed race] community" (Camper 40). Given the ever-shifting nature of biracial identity, one could easily conclude that even the strategic essentialism that is invoked to conceive of a "situational community" of mixed race people is inherently problematic because any notion of a racially mixed community is subject to roving racial identity within its membership. For many racially hybrid people in Canada who do not see others who mirror their identity, a racially hybrid community may be said to exist only in the imagination. 25 Now that I have identified my own points of entry for this research, presented my methodology and rationale, and outlined some of the keys terms that are germane to my analysis, I want to draw my readers' attention to the larger critical discourse that has informed this research. Primary texts that document the experience of racial hybridity in Canada can be understood within a number of different theoretical frames. I employ hybridity theories, theories on mixed race literature and theoretical approaches to autobiography in order to analyze racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian literature and drama. Hybridity Theory, a subset of postcolonial theory, will be most applicable to my own research initiatives.18 Within the context of a Western Anglophone notion of hybridity, I chart Canadian paradigms for racial hybridity that suggest unique aspects of the Canadian socio-cultural context and specific literary uses of racial hybridity.1 9 Homi Bhabha's work has been instrumental to me in outlining a theoretical 20 approach to the "third space" of racial hybridity. In The Location of Culture, Bhabha suggests that "it is the 'inter'—the cutting edge of translation and negotiation, the in- between space—that carries the burden of meaning in culture" (38). Throughout my dissertation, I extend Bhabha's notions of a "third space" from the context of culture and enunciation to the racially hybrid body as a soma text that at once signifies and articulates this "in-betweenness." In each chapter, I consider the utility and ideological ramifications of "third-space" paradigms in terms of the ways in which they are used to represent racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian literature and drama. 26 Contemporary postcolonial theory, hybridity theories and critical mixed race studies employ a number of terms that are commonly referred to as "third-space" paradigms. Terms such as hybridity, liminality, interstitial zones and syncretism have shaped academic discourse on the subject of hybridity. Research methodologies and literary aesthetics have also been affected by these new paradigms. In Canada, third space theories and hybrid aesthetics have been established by a number of different scholars. Some notable Canadian intellectuals who have offered spatializations on racial hybridity include Sneja Gunew who uses the concept of transculturalisms to draw attention to 21 metissage and hybrid identities as represented in art and performance. Fred Wah develops an "aesthetics of the hyphen" that is both a postmodern literary strategy and a means of articulating the multiplicity of a hyphenated identity (Faking It). A recent articulation of a Canadian hybridity theory was offered by Nova Scotian Africadian scholar, poet and playwright George Elliot Clarke. Clarke announced the concept of "zebra poetics" in his essay "Canadian Biraciality and Its Zebra Poetics," and he uses the metaphor of the zebra to "challenge puerile categorizations of [racially hybrid writers'] complex selves" (232).22 Each of these Canadian theorists and writers draw attention to the ways in which racially hybrid identity is in a state of flux and involves the negotiation of both spaces and hyphens. Their theories also draw attention to the unique experience of racial hybridity. In general, the idea of a third space is used to signify a space that is beyond the neither-nor paradigms that are the subtext for monoracial designations. In this way, the concept of a third space opens the possibility of challenging racial binaries by suggesting 27 a new way of understanding racially hybrid identity as a place of resistance to monoracial hegemony. In the ensuing pages I will both elaborate upon and problematize such constructions through a detailed analysis of how these third-space metaphors are used to represent a unified racial identity. I must take a moment here to identify some of the theoretical obstacles that arise when a scholar wishes to utilize the core texts in critical mixed race studies for literary analysis. Within the field, groundbreaking studies on racial hybridity include Root (1992, 1996), Zack (1993, 1995) and Song and Parker (2001). These accounts and analyses of racial hybridity are placed within sociological or psychological frameworks rather than literary contexts; therefore, while these theoretical formulations suggest new ways of understanding racial hybridity, they do not deal with the narrative uses of racial hybridity. M y dissertation utilizes these socio-cultural studies only to the extent that they serve to support my literary analysis and provide a context for the primary texts. A second theoretical obstacle exists when one wishes to apply critical mixed race studies to literary analyses. None of the critical mixed race theorists mentioned above examines "mixedblood" identity within Native or Metis frameworks. I am conscious of the fact that the dominant discourse on racial hybridity has taken place in American contexts and has also not included the constructions of racial hybridity that are found in Metis communities. I use these theories to the extent that they provide insight into the representations of racial hybridity found in Native and non-Native Canadian narratives that feature racial hybridity. My own theoretical approach is based on the assumption that any survey of racial hybridity in Canada must include Metis, Native "crossblood" and 28 "half-breed" paradigms. In order to address this critical omission, I will include representations of Metis and "mixedblood" Native identity from autobiography, fiction, and drama within the chapters of my dissertation that are devoted to each of these specific genres. There are an increasing number of personal narratives, journals, and anecdotes about racially mixed people being published in Canada. Autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity appear in works such as Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women (1994), Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada (2001), Half and Half: Writers Growing up Biracial and Bicultural (1998), and Funny You Don't Look like One: Observations From A Blue-Eyed Ojibway (1998).23 These new works often feature the racially hybrid soma text as a central element on the cover (Illustrations 1-4). This emerging body of work indicates both a contemporary Canadian interest in biracial autobiography and an increasing demographic of people who identify as "mixed race."24 The use of the racially hybrid body on the cover also indicates a contemporary Canadian fascination with the visual signifiers of ambiguously coded racially hybrid bodies. 29 FUNNY. Y O U DON'T LOOK LIKE ON E rtiorts from a Blu<e-£yed Ojibway Illustration 1. The cover from Drew Hayden-Taylor's Funny, You Don't Look Like One: Observations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway (1996). This cover draws attention to the racially hybrid body and the notion of the "real" Indian. His partially obscured face parallels his partial identification with the word "Indian" on his sweater and the mirrors suggest the duality of his own racially hybrid body. This use of mirrors and his direct gaze also indicate the importance of the gaze. Illustration 2. Here is another cover from Drew Hayden-Taylor's Further Adventures of a Blue Eyed Ojibway: Funny, You Don't Look Like One, Two (1999)- Interestingly, Taylor resists the viewer's interest in seeing his controversial blue eyes by wearing dark glasses. The color imagery in his clothing to signifies his indigeneity (Native motif on his left shoulder) and also his European ancestry (white t-shirt). His comic pose with the classic Cigar Store Indian suggests that he is also interested in playing with stereotypes of indigeneity. 30 Illustration 3. Here is another cover from Drew Hayden-Taylor's Futile Observations of a Blue Eyed Ojibway: Funny, You Don't Look Like One #4 (2004). Again Taylor resists a reading of his controversial blue eyes by wearing dark glasses. By wearing a "Braves" baseball cap he is playing with this icon of indigeneity. The cover further draws attention to the role of the soma text and the racialized gaze by having the two phenotypically Native men visually assess his soma text while Taylor defies the gaze of the viewer. He appears to have been accepted by the man on the right who extends an arm in an inclusive gesture but he is cautiously read by the one on the left—a symptom of having a racially hybrid soma text. 31 "Once you start reading these personal stories, you just can't stop; you keep wanting to read another and another"—-DEBORAH TANNEN. PH.D. Illustration 4. This is the cover for Lise Funderburg's biography Black, White, Other (1994). The photos engage the viewer in the racialized gaze by displaying a variety of soma texts that biracial Americans can possess. The presence of more women than men also hints at the predominance of female reflections on racial hybridity and the relative lack of men's voices in the discourse on racial hyrbidity. In addition, the design, colors and font style heighten the notion of "black and white" embodiment. The use of white text with shadow parallels the white and black framing of the black and white photos of black and white people. 32 My dissertation explores the different ways in which various contemporary Canadian writers have represented, negotiated and asserted the uniqueness of the racially hybrid soma text. I will close this introductory chapter with a more detailed account of the ways in which Canadians represent racial hybridity, by identifying my primary concerns in each subsequent chapter and summarizing the way in which each chapter builds upon previous chapters. In Chapter Two, I focus on embodied epistemologies of racially hybrid subjectivity in order to develop a critical paradigm for the analysis of biracial autobiography in Canada. I engage in a close reading of Lawrence Hill's autobiography Black Berry, Sweet Juice (2001) as my primary case study and cite other Canadian autobiographies to support my argument. I note the importance of the performativity and racial essentialisms involved in the articulation of raced bodies from autobiographical accounts, and posit the need for a critical discourse on biracial autobiography. I also argue that the critical reluctance to address racial hybridity across racial lines inevitably compromises the development of a comprehensive analysis of the narrative uses of racial hybridity and the understanding of the emerging biracial and/or multiracial 25 autobiographical voice. ' The recent publication of autobiographies by Native and non-Native racially hybrid Canadians has provided ample insight into the material experience of living in a racially hybrid body in Canada. I analyze these autobiographical reflections on the experience of biraciality within the context of autobiographical theories, and ultimately 33 assert that there are complicated negotiations of identity within biracial autobiographies that necessitate the development of biracial autobiography theory.26 Current theories regarding autobiography and the autobiographical voice, such as those of Eakin (1999), Gilmore (2001, 1994) and Egan (1984), touch upon the construction of autobiographies by writers of colour but do not go into any depth; in fact, most are based on monoracially-identified theories of identity.27 Within the field of autobiography, there is an emerging group of autobiographical theory that addresses specific monoracial, ethnic, or "of colour" identities. Important work that deals with autoethnography includes Joanne Braxton's Black Women Writing Autobiography: A Tradition Within a Tradition (1989), Arnold Krupat's For Those Who Came After: A Study in American Indian Autobiography (1985), Louis Owens's MixedBlood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place (2001) and Gerald Vizenor's Manifest Manners (1999). However, none of these theoretical approaches addresses the biracial autobiography and the ways in which this particular negotiation of identity fractures and complicates the monoracial autobiographical "I" in unique ways. These theoretical perspectives provide a foundation for my own research and assist in my construction of a critical and theoretical account of the biracial autobiographical voice. M y research in the second chapter will involve mapping the vocabulary for racial hybridity in terms of metaphors that are used to refer to blood-quantum, establishing paradigms that are used to symbolize biracial or multiracial identity and charting the narrative trajectory evident in biracial autobiographies. I will also articulate some of the nuances involved with living in a racial hybrid body in Canada. This analysis, these 3 4 narrative trajectories, conclusions, terms and themes in biracial autobiographies, will inform my analysis of racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian fiction (Chapter Three) and drama (Chapter Four). In the third chapter I focus on fictional representations of racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian literature and consider the contemporary narrative uses of racial hybridity within a crossracial methodology by looking at sample representations of racial hybridity from fiction. Because many fictional representations of racial hybridity are conveyed by a biracial autobiographical voice, theoretical approaches to autobiography, and autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity provide insight into the narrative uses of a biracial autobiographical voice. In order to develop my thesis on the construction of a biracial autobiographical voice in fiction, I will extend my analysis of the biracial autobiographical voice (Chapter Two) to the construction of fictional biracial voices. In the primary texts that I address, themes such as racialized aesthetics, multiraciality and the representation of interracial relationships framed around notions of exogamy and endogamy are signified by the racially hybrid body, and indicate a subset of concerns regarding the biracial and multiracial "I." As a transition from autobiography to my chapter on fiction, I will address works that blend the generic conventions of fiction and autobiography such as Fred Wah's Diamond Grill (1996), and a work that blends autobiography and biography such as Maria Campbell's Half-breed (1973). Because Fred Wah has directly stated that Diamond Grill is written in a mixed mode that combines both autobiography and fiction, it will provide the transition from my own analysis of autobiographical accounts in 35 Chapter Two to fictional representations that use the autobiographical voice to frame racial hybridity in Chapter Three. Campbell's work articulates an autobiographical voice that is also the voice of the Metis community and, in this respect, the work can be understood as a blend of autobiography and biography. These texts suggest some of the ways in which the generic conventions associated with fiction and autobiography are blurred as a part of a "hybrid aesthetic." As a critical lens for the analysis of these transition texts, I will use Fred Wah's Faking It (2000) because it is an important example of a hybrid literary theory that focuses on the aesthetics of hybridity in Canada. Many biracial writers employ a Wahsian "aesthetics of the hyphen" in which future and past, individual voices and communal voices, are refracted within a single unifying narrative. This notion of a "hybrid aesthetic" is also represented frequently in biracial autobiographies where we find multiple voices constituting a single autobiographical narrative (see Hill, Funderburg, and Zack). This structural element of the biracial autobiographical narrative is in keeping with the lived experience of racially hybridized individuals for whom polarities and dualisms are constantly being translated, incorporated and responded to. In this Wahsian paradigm, when a narrative features a racially hybrid character, we can often find traces of a hybridized aesthetic whereby the structure, content and characters' soma texts all signify hybridity. Although some racially mixed characters engage in fluid racial identity assignment through faking it and passing, other mixed race characters fix their identity within a third-space paradigm. Campbell's Half-breed documents a racially mixed 36 woman who embraces her mixedness signified through her Metis identity. Campbell embraces racial hybridity through writing her own "story" and stating that it signifies the "story" of the racially hybrid Metis nation in Canada and, for this reason, I have included this work as a transition text. Following this analysis of these two transition texts—Wah's Diamond Grill as "biotext" and Maria Campbell's Half-breed as an (auto)biography—I will address novels that represent racial hybridity. The novel In Search of April Raintree (1999) represents many of the features of the "tragic mulatto" story found in American "passing narratives," and April also tries to "fake it" as a white woman. I argue that this novel is a classic Canadian "tragic half-breed" story that challenges the "tragic" element in unique ways at the end of the narrative. In this chapter on fiction I engage in a close reading of selected contemporary Canadian work that is written by Native writers and features racially hybrid characters and/or culturally hybrid Native characters. The primary texts in this chapter, in addition to In Search of April Raintree, include Keeper N' Me (1994) and Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998). These contemporary Canadian novels demonstrate the fictional application of Wah's notion of faking it as a narrative strategy that enables hybrid characters to perform specific monoracial identities in order to pass.29 In my crossracial examination of these fictional narratives, it becomes clear that racial drag offers different narrative possibilities in what I consider to be distinctly Canadian representations of racial (and cultural) hybridity in fiction. 37 In Chapter Four, I focus on the signifying nature of the Canadian biracial body on stage in order to address the following questions: What are the complex signifiers associated with the "soma text" of the racially hybrid body on stage in Canada? How do these plays utilize a biracial autobiographical voice? Do these plays represent racial hybridity in ways that reinforce or challenge a third-space paradigm? What is the relationship between the audience and the racialized body (performer) on stage? What is the audience witnessing and participating in when viewing the racially hybrid body on stage? And how does the staging of race in contemporary Canadian theatre differ from earlier performances of racially hybrid identities on stage? I pay close attention to the generic implications facing playwrights who perform their own racial hybridity on stage, and I also consider how playwrights use the trope of racial hybridity in drama that features racially mixed characters. In the first part of Chapter Four, I return to the thread of the autobiographical voice in my analysis of contemporary playwrights who, like Margo Kane, write from their own autobiographical experiences of being racially mixed Canadians. Lesley Ewen's play "an understanding of brown" (1994) and Tasha Faye Evans' play "She Stands Still" (2003) are both framed around their personal reflections on how their soma texts are read and how they have come to understand their soma texts over time. Ewen and Evans literally stage their racial hybridity in a way that draws attention to the conventions of the theatre and engages the audience in a unique form of a controlled experience of reading their racially hybrid bodies. In each case, the writer/actor draws 38 attention to her racially hybrid corporeality by direct audience address when they ask the audience to read their bodies on stage as part of the dramatic narrative. In this way, these women implicate the audience in the dynamics that they refer to within the play proper and make the visual relations between the actor and audience more evident. This structural component of their plays allows both biracial Canadian actor/playwrights to assert their own biracial autobiographical voices and to contain and direct the process of interpellation. The structure of their plays implicates the audience in the process of interpellation, and thereby these playwright/actors engage in a unique form of actor/audience engagement through a very racialized autobiographical pact with the audience. In this final chapter I will map the distinct ways in which each of these playwrights stages racial hybridity, engages with "third-space" paradigms, draws attention to blood quantum, revises history and/or addresses the taboo of miscegenation. In the second half of this chapter I look at other contemporary plays and examine the ways in which the racially hybrid character serves a number of different ideological and narrative uses. Canadian "mixed blood" Ojibway playwright Drew Hayden Taylor uses the racially mixed character Summer in The Buz' Gem Blues (2002), and to a lesser extent The Baby Blues (1999), to suggest the complex negotiations involved in biracial identity.30 This character is also present for comic relief in both plays.31 In The Buz' Gem Blues (2002) Summer does not identify herself within the "third space" paradigm as a racially mixed or "crossblood" Native character but is forced to come to terms with the fact that she is a Native "wannabe." This presentation of racial hybridity reinforces notions of Native blood-quantum by presenting an essentialist position; because Summer 39 is 1/64* Native she is too "mixed'' to claim a Native identity. Conversely, Taylor represents a "half-breed" boy in Boy in the Treehouse (2000) as a character who has enough blood quantum to entitle him to both explore and adopt a Native identity. I am interested in what Taylor is suggesting about Native blood quantum and authenticity in these plays. I am equally interested in the metaphors that the characters themselves use to express their "mixedness." Monique Mojica represents racial hybridity quite differently in Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots (1991) by representing a pan-indigenous experience of racial hybridity. In this play racial hybridity is a feature that unites racially mixed women throughout the Americas, from "halfblood" Metis Canadians, to "half-breed" Americans through to Latin American "mestizo" women. Mojica's representation of a transcultural racial hybridity suggests a pan-ethnic third-space community founded on racial hybridity. Mojica explores interraciality as a metaphor for colonial contact and includes this examination within a play that is framed around a transcultural, strategically essentialist representation of a pan-hybrid history. Unlike to the sweeping gesture of inclusiveness and strategic essentialism implicit in the community of racially hybrid women that Mojica represents, George Elliot Clarke's libretto Beatrice Chancy (1999) deals with the specific effects of racially hybrid embodiment on a single character. A central feature in this work is the indelible corporeality of racial hybridity and the material effects of this form of embodiment. This play is a contemporary revision of Canadian history that centers on the dramatic trajectory of a Canadian "tragic mulatta." The dramatic tension in Clarke's play revolves 40 around the soma text of the racially mixed woman whose body becomes the site of the tensions for the two central racial groups in the play. I am interested in the manner in which Beatrice Chancy's body is read by both white and Black characters who are monoracially identified. I close this chapter with a brief examination of Clarke's play Quebecite. Clarke's representation of crossracial tensions challenges the strategic essentialism of a unified community consisting of "people of colour" in Canada. In the postlude to the play, Ajay Heble suggests that this work also addresses the "fraught role that ethnicity and race have played in struggles for Quebec nationalism" (97). By articulating the concerns of different characters who represent marginalized communities in Quebec, Heble argues that Clarke challenges "mainstream assumptions about Quebec as white" and that the 3 2 play presents a more inclusive representation of Canadian citizenship and identity (99). This play represents a contemporary vision of interraciality, hybridity and crossracial unions in ways that are consistent with the current theoretical interest in articulating hybridity within a paradigm that is not based on a "white and Other" binary. Generally speaking, my dissertation addresses the unique ways in which racial hybridity functions in contemporary Canadian narratives—be they in autobiography, fiction, or drama. By examining racial hybridity in the Canadian context and employing a crossracial methodology, I assert the importance of including Metis and "halfblood" Native literature and paradigms in the analysis of Canadian narratives that feature racial hybridity. I am developing this crossracial and crossgeneric methodology to posit some theoretical contributions to the growing body of critical mixed race studies. By 41 examining the numerous ways in which racial hybridity is coded in a number of different Canadian sources and locating similarities that exist across racial and generic divisions, this research will outline some of the narrative complexities involved in representing racial hybridity. In sum, my dissertation suggests that the representations of racial hybridity that are found in Canadian contemporary literature and drama enable one to establish critical terrain that can be used to develop new theories on the literary uses of racial hybridity. These new models, terms, insights, and methodologies will have great utility in the growing field of critical mixed race studies. These new critical terms can be usefully engaged with and applied to the analysis of other contemporary and emerging "mixed race" literature in Canada. In addition, these critical terms and methodologies contribute to the field of hybridity studies and reconfigure current theories on autobiography. CHAPTER TWO: AUTOBIOGRAPHY "What Are You?" and "Where Are You From?" 4 3 The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.. .a suggestion of the myth of the overcharged, overheated, high-performing black body. Presumably, the blacker berry tastes richer, more full, and is juicier. It is waiting to explode in the mouth. (Hill, Black Berry, Sweet Juice, 21) I search for the caramel that is my skin...soma text. (La Flamme, Soma Text, 2005 unpublished) I was troubled by my mother's whiteness. Embarrassed by it. Couldn't she have looked at least a little darker, a little less white? Perhaps like a Southern Italian. (Hill, Black Berry, Sweet Juice, 25) Ask me where I am from? I am from here and everywhere I am multinational/United nations/United in one body Bloodlines intermixed/traveling centuries To create me A Millenia of inter racial fucking I am from here-especially here. (Baines, Miscegenation Blues, 151-152) 44 I approach my analysis of different representations of racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian literature by focusing on the recent autobiography Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada (2001) written by biracial Canadian writer Lawrence Hi l l . Hill 's work represents many of the aspects of racial hybridity that appear in autobiographical narratives written by racially mixed people in Canada. I start my analysis by examining the polyphonic, intertextual and dialogic aspects of Hill 's autobiography, in terms of theories on autobiography. I argue that the structural elements of this work suggest a hybrid aesthetic that complements the racially hybrid multiplicity that is represented as the thematic center of the autobiography itself. Following this, I will analyze this work by employing the key terms and concepts that I set out in Chapter One and which are, as I hope to demonstrate, the foundational elements in narratives that feature racial hybridity in Canada: the soma text, the racialized gaze, trauma associated with interpellation and the notion of passing as a form of racial drag. The representation of racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian autobiographies provides readers with a heightened awareness of the signifying nature of the racially hybrid soma text, documents the impact of the racialized gaze and asserts the importance of self-definition. Hill 's autobiography and other autobiographical reflections on the experience of racial hybridity will be used to illuminate some of the nuances involved in representing racial hybridity. M y analysis of the signifying nature of the racially hybrid soma text and the impact of the racialized gaze in Hill 's work will provide insight into the use of racial drag in fiction (Chapter Three), and the representation of the performative aspects of racial hybridity in drama (Chapter Four). In short, the performativity of race, 45 the construction of racial essentialisms and the construction of a national identity are often signified by the racially hybrid soma text in autobiographical accounts, fictional representations of racial hybridity and performances that feature racially hybrid actors addressing their unique somatextual experiences. As I have outlined in Chapter One, at the most basic level, the experience of racial hybridity shows great variety and is deeply influenced by familial and social messages about racial identity. Racial hybridity is also informed by culture-specific ideologies about blood and belonging, and by legal and historical approaches to racial amalgamation. These familial and socio-cultural facets affect how an individual experiences his/her racially hybrid soma text, and they also affect the messages one may receive about racial hybridity. The experience of racial hybridity is also necessarily influenced by demographics and shows great variability; therefore, it is impossible to use one specific individual's experience of racial hybridity in Canada as an example of the whole range and diverse experiences of racial hybridity. This being said, I have chosen to focus on Hill 's autobiography because of the scope of this work and because Hil l addresses and decodes many of the elements that are evident in other memoirs and reflections of racial hybridity in Canada. There are many commonalities in the experience of racial hybridity. In Rethinking 'Mixed Race,' Laurie M . Mengel asserts that "[m]ixed race people of all backgrounds and histories have tended to have similar characteristics attributed to them" (100). As a result, much insight into the experience of racial hybridity can be applied crossracially. Key aspects of racial hybridity, in particular the somatextual complexities of racial hybridity, the role of the 4 6 racialized gaze, and the trauma of interpellation are present in Hill 's autobiography. This is one reason why I strongly believe that it is useful to place Hill 's work at the centre of a discussion of racial hybridity in Canada. This does not mean that Hill 's autobiography represents all experiences of racial hybridity but rather that my analysis of his work identifies many of the key critical aspects that appear in autobiographies by racially hybrid Canadians.1 In addition to autobiographical accounts, there are a number of biographies that have been recently published that deal with the topic of racial hybridity. Paul Spickard's essay "The Subject is Mixed Race: The Boom in Biracial Biography" draws attention to the proliferation of biracial biography as a consequence of "a multiracial movement" that has emerged in the USA (76). Spickard places this mixed-race biography boom with its divergent themes as a consequence of "a transition in the reading public's mind from the stable categorical thinking of the modern era to the multi-faceted and contingent thinking of the postmodern" (94). He also suggests that we must consider how these biographies are consumed because "perhaps such biographies may be popular because they are comfortable vehicles by which White readers can enter into the exotic and frightening world of Blacks in the company of the domesticated, half-white guide" (77). Spickard cautions against a simple celebration of this mixed- race biography boom and suggests that we take note of how such narratives are consumed. 47 With the increase in the publication of autobiographies by racially hybrid Canadians and this biography boom, it becomes interesting to consider how these works are marketed. As noted in Chapter One, publications on the topic of racial hybridity often utilize the soma text of multiracial and biracial individuals to market their books on said topic. Often photos of racially hybrid people appear on the cover of the publication and visually represent the centrality of the theme of embodiment. The racially hybrid body becomes a visual text that is used to market the work. In this way the content of the autobiography is identified by the soma text of the racially hybrid body on the cover and the book buyer is engaged in decoding the race of the individuals in these photos from the outset. In fact, one might argue that on these covers, the racially hybrid soma text stands in for the experience of racial hybridity, engages the viewer in decoding the racial configuration of the photo and highlights the central themes of racially hybrid embodiment by visually representing the body as a complex signifier. The cover of Lawrence Hill 's Black Berry, Sweet Juice is an excellent example of the racially hybrid body being used as a visual text in order to market the book. (Illustration 5). 48 L a w r e n c e H i l l N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R ".. .fall of p d w a j , poignant and powerful obscmuoa. . ." —Tm Gum *m> Mm. BLACK BERRY, SWEET JUICE ON BEING BLACK AND WHITE IN CANADA Illustration 5. The front cover of Lawrence Hill's autobiography Black Berry, Sweet Juice (2001) complicates our autobiographical pact with the author. As viewers we are immediately invited to determine which skin tone and which image is the real Lawrence Hill. As a consequence of seeing this range of tones, viewers have already started to use the racialized gaze to decode his racially hybrid soma text. 49 At the most basic level these photos legitimize Hill 's truth claim of growing up in a biracial body. This simple autobiographical pact is made more complex than it would be if there were only one image of Hil l because the cover shows 16 images of the same photo of Hill 's face. In addition, each image is tinted in different hues in order to suggest greater or lesser degrees of mixedness. The viewer is engaged in decoding which of these hues most represents what they imagine is Hill 's racially hybrid soma text. The title indicates that the writer is black and white and viewers are left to decipher which of these images is the real Hi l l based on their own ideas of what a black and white Canadian looks like. The use of different hues to color Hill 's face also draws attention to the process of racialization whereby one is assigned a race based on somatic markers such as skin color. This multiple representation of Hill 's own face and the multiple color coding of it, suggest the fluidity of racial identity for racially hybrid individuals and the different ways in which a racially hybrid body with ambiguous signifiers may be read. The cover signifies Hill 's own subjective experience of racialization in multiple racial locations and visually represents the different ways in which his racially hybrid body has been read. In sum, the visual representation of Hill 's racially hybrid face on this book cover suggests the centrality of embodiment, the role of the racialized gaze and the mutability of racial hybridity. These elements are central to my analysis of autobiography in this chapter and are also critical points of entry in my analysis of racial hybridity as represented in contemporary Canadian fiction and drama. 50 To see Hill 's work in perspective it is helpful to consider it in relation to Carol Camper's anthology Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women (1994). This was the first national anthology dedicated to collecting the autobiographies of mixed race women in North America. Although Americans had been publishing anthologies of writing by mixed race people for decades, this was the first Canadian attempt to collect diverse autobiographical works by Canadians and Americans who identified themselves as "mixed race" women. Miscegenation Blues appeared as part of a national literary movement that was grounded in the strategic essentializing of women of colour who collectively addressed their place within the Canadian canon and nation from the 1990s on.3 The use of the term "miscegenation" in Camper's title has specific historico-legal ramifications in the American context. This term also signifies the connection between anti-miscegenation laws and the presence of racially hybrid people. Although Canada does not have the same history of anti-miscegenation laws, the title suggests that Canadian mixed race women have also been informed by the American prohibitions against interracial marriages. Unlike the American use of the word, the term "miscegenation" is used here in the title to identify mixed race people crossracially and not simply to refer to the overdetermined American tendency to think of "mixed race" people as simply "black and white" admixtures.4 The title, Miscegenation Blues, suggests that Camper has cross-appropriated the American history of criminalizing interracial unions. The title is also signifying on an African-American blues aesthetic.5 In choosing this title, Camper is drawing attention to 51 the African-American context of racialization and also suggesting a connection between the issues of interraciality and the experience of racial hybridity in Canada and the United States. Like Camper's title, Hill 's title signifies on the American socio-cultural context to suggest that racial ideologies have been imported to Canada and have led to both scopophilic interests in policing racial identity and scopophobic complexities for racially hybrid Canadians. In addition to being interpellated in a number of different ways, racially hybrid individuals share stories of agency and self-identifying mechanisms in Hi l l and Camper's works. Camper, like Hi l l , draws attention to a growing need for self-representation for mixed race people in Canada. Camper opens Miscegenation Blues by declaring that "mixed race people must speak" (xv). It is urgent for racially mixed Canadians, she claims, to "identify who we are and identify our needs" (xv). Through the publication of the anthology Camper hopes to "end isolation" and allow mixed race people to "understand racial multiplicity, within our own bodies, families and cultures" (xv). Camper signals the importance of self-representation as a tool to end isolation— a theme that is echoed throughout Hill 's autobiography. Almost all racially mixed people who have ambiguous or compound phenotypes experience their identity as a minority within a minority. For example, Hil l refers to the fact that he is a minority as a light-skinned Black person but also that he is a minority in that he is not quite white. This doubling of his minority status means that it is more difficult for him to find others who reflect or mirror his soma text. Hi l l and Camper 52 describe the experience of growing up biracial in monoracial communities as alienating and even traumatic. I want to make one further point about a crucial difference between Black Berry, Sweet Juice and Miscegenation Blues. Miscegenation Blues is unique among representations of racial hybridity in Canada because Camper includes self-identified Native and non-Native mixed race women in this anthology. This work documents several crossracial parallels in the biracial autobiographies of a number of different North American mixed race women. The anthology itself is based on the assumption that there are many experiences of racial hybridity that transcend the racial divisions of each particular "mix." This crossracial element sets this anthology apart from other anthologies that have documented the experiences of different monoracial groups in Canada (i.e. Asian-Canadian, African-Canadian, Japanese-Canadian). Miscegenation Blues engages in a crossgeneric and crossracial methodology and has informed my own approach to the topic of racial hybridity in Canada within this dissertation as a whole. Throughout my analysis of Hill 's autobiography, I will consider how other writers, such as those found in Miscegenation Blues, have addressed the same issues from their own racially hybrid perspectives.6 One of the key issues in Canadian autobiographies is related to the demographics in Canada. Often a writer will suggest that emotional and psychological development can be interrupted when a biracial individual does not see others with the same soma text. Camper states that while growing up in Canada she realizes she "didn't resemble anyone in [her] world," and this experience of isolation is echoed throughout a number of 53 Canadian autobiographies where racially mixed individuals reflect on their soma texts and chart their evolving racial identities. Camper states: "Some of us don't even have a sibling that looks like us let alone anyone else. No one wants to feel this alone. To be perceived as a racial oddity is isolating and confusing" (xv). This theme is also echoed by other racially mixed women in this anthology. I have chosen key examples from this anthology that illustrate these points. Hill, like Camper, introduces his work by explaining his need to "connect with other black people" (1) and states that "[cjonnecting with black people in a land with few clustered black communities has been a lifelong journey for me" (3). As an African- Canadian, Hill was mostly isolated from black communities but he learned early on from his father that it was important to establish links with other Black people in Canada "especially when there were so few of us around" (1). While Hill does not draw attention to the distinctions between black communities on the west and east coasts, it is important to note that his experience is particular to being raised in the white suburban environment of Don Mills and does not reflect the experience of Black people in other areas where there has been a longer historical presence of Black communities, such as Halifax or Toronto.7 In addition to his stated need to "connect" with other black people, Hill identifies another more specific need to find a community of mixed race people who, like Hill, had one black and one white parent and were living in Canada. Hill states that the impulse to write his autobiography stemmed from an early desire to connect with "people who, like me, were of mixed race. People with one black and one white parent" (2-3) because 54 outside of his own home in Don Mills he "never saw people of mixed race" (3). Clearly, Canadian demographics informed Hill's quest to seek others who mirrored his own experience and racially hybrid soma text. This sense of alienation is specific to his generation because his children and other racially mixed Canadians will have work, like Hill's, to refer to when they seek representations of their identity. Hill suggests that the Canadian context has certain consequences for racially hybrid people. He writes that "Canadians are quick to point out what we of mixed race are not—we are not white, and we are not black—but they don't tell us what we are. This is the quintessential Canada: the True North, Proud, and Vague" (228). Hill goes through a number of questions about his identity and wonders, "Can I be black and white, all in the same breath?" (11). Mixed messages about one's racial identity can create a vacuum because these messages about racial identity are often predicated on what a racially mixed individual is not, rather than a positive assertion of an identity based on o wholeness. It is not just within the Canadian context that racial hybridity signifies an absence. Hill states that in the North American context, the terms "black" and "white" ultimately acquire meaning only in opposition to each other.9 Hill claims that "[a] white [person] is somebody who is not black, Asian, or Aboriginal. A black [person] is someone who is not white" (208).10 According to Hill these racial lines have become "more blurred" recently whereas in the past, "you were black if you were known to have any black ancestors. And you were white if nobody could prove that you were black" (208)." Both Camper's anthology and Hill's autobiography identify and celebrate the recent trend for 55 racially hybrid Canadians to self-identify because, as Hil l points out, "in recent years, it has become possible to define oneself on one's own terms" (228). Hi l l , in the end, does not assert a racially hybrid identity as a "mixed race" man and he also does not accept being called "mulatto." He declares that he is throwing out "the language that has guided and misinformed and indeed blinded our thinking for four centuries. Mulatto? Quadroon? Octoroon? One-quarter black? Half black? A l l black? Black in this knee but white in the other? These terms I toss out the window, to be buried deep in the snow drifting high outside the farmhouse where I've come to finish this book" (239). Throughout his autobiography he suggests the importance of self- representation for racially hybrid individuals, until the final paragraph where he defiantly declares: "I am black because I say so, because I feel it, know it and own it" (239). This need to self-identify is particularly common in autobiographies written by racially hybrid individuals. The genre of autobiography is used by many biracial individuals to map the experiences of racial hybridity in Canada and to document the mixed messages that people, like Hi l l , receive about their racially hybrid soma text. Reactions to racially hybrid soma texts involve everything from a celebration of the mixedness of racially hybrid people's soma texts as signifiers of beauty or the exotic, to expressions of resentment or discomfort with the soma text of the racially hybrid body because of the racial messages it encodes. If there is one consistent thread linking these autobiographies it is the fact that mixed messages form a crucial aspect of racial identity formation for biracial individuals in Canada. The signifying nature of racial hybridity as 56 well as the arbitrariness and constructedness of racial categories highlight the importance of self-definition. Writers of colour have been consistently self-identifying in contemporary post- colonial and Canadian literature. Autobiographies that have been written by racially hybrid Canadians are part of the larger genre of post-colonial literature that is continuing to emerge in Canada. A number of different writers have understood the need to write from their position as minority subjects and reflect upon their lived experiences of racialization. In Postcolonialism and Autobiography, writers Cliff and Dabydeen point out that, "[pjostmodern fictionists, political activists, ethnic and women writers alike have taken resort to a form of life-writing which allows them to address their specific needs and to pursue their respective purposes" (1). The relationship between postmodernity and postcolonialism is linked to the rise in autobiographies written by minority subjects because "[p]ostmodern practices applied and political goals pursued by mostly minority and women writers seem to be prominent in the combination of postcolonialism and autobiography" (1). The genre of autobiography allows for a reconfiguration of national discourse and has been used by marginalized people to enact emancipatory political agendas. Another way of describing the impetus for autobiographical writing by minority groups is to think of this writing as part of the process of "writing back." " The biracial autobiography may also be understood not simply as a reaction to postcoloniality and/or a symptom of postmodernity but as stemming from a need to express agency and to articulate a complex, multiply-coded multiraciality. In the 57 introduction to Half and Half (1998), O'Hearn, like Hill and Camper, writes about the need to fashion her autobiography because people didn't know where to place her for much of her life. O'Hearn claims she would "try on identities with strangers I knew I would never meet again" (92). This performative aspect of biracial identity based on floating or ambiguous signifiers appears in many autobiographies, fictional representations of racial hybridity and in drama. I will address this element of performing different identities in each chapter. Ambiguous soma texts prompt people to ask two central questions in order to place the form of racially hybrid embodiment that they see into a certain racial taxonomy that is based on a set of assumptions about phenotypes. Perhaps the central experience for biracial people, of being asked the questions "What are you?" and "Where are you from?" has spawned the contemporary outpouring of autobiographies in order to create a narrative of self-identity in the absence of cultural affirmations for particular racial mixes of people. Rather then simply reacting to these questions, racially hybrid writers have turned to the genre of autobiography as a means of articulating their own responses to these questions about the signifying nature of their racially hybrid somatexts. Hybridity theorist Paul Spickard suggests that this genre is suited to such reflections because "[a]utobiography [. . .] gives multiracial people a means of fashioning a coherent ethnic narrative for themselves" (93). These primary works indicate that two of the methods for fashioning such coherence may be to claim the multiplicity of a racially hybrid identity by way of a third-space paradigm or, deny or obscure the biracial elements in one's 58 genealogy. This denial usually involves revoking a third-space identity by passing as "pure" and claiming a monoracial identity. Autobiographies by racially hybrid Canadians are inherently political acts by a minority (racially hybrid writers) within a minority (writers of colour). Autobiography theorist Leigh Gilmore suggests that "writing an autobiography can be a political act because it asserts a right to speak rather than be spoken for" (Autobiographies 40). The position of the "I" is crucial to mapping the ways in which the autobiographical voice challenges hegemony, because autobiography can also be understood as a "site of resistance" (80) and self-representation in autobiography as "a discourse of identity" (81). In this respect racially hybrid Canadian writers are the liminal figures currently claiming a right to self-identify through the genre of autobiography within the postcolonial subset known in Canada as "writers of colour," and this work may be read as resistance writing based on discourses of non-hegemonic identities. I present this larger context as a frame within which Lawrence Hill 's autobiography may be placed. His work is one of many examples of minority discourse that is part of the postcolonial writing back. Lawrence Hill 's autobiography Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada was published in 2001 but has had little critical analysis to date. The title of Hill 's work is based on the African-American expression, "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice." Hil l uses this saying in the title and again in the preface to his work to identify the signifying nature of blackness and the implicit judgments about his skin colour that have informed his own sense of an identity.13 He cites his father's version of the saying in the preface, "The blacker the 59 berry / The sweeter the juice / But if you got too black / It ain't no use," in order to provide an example of the multiple messages about being black that circulate in African- American and African-Canadian communities. There is an implicit judgment about the superiority of "blackness" in this message that Hi l l received as a child, and it is this message that Hil l seeks to deconstruct in the course of the autobiography. Before engaging in a close reading of Hill 's autobiography I want to outline some of the structural features that make this work a unique blend of voices. Hil l set out to examine the following questions in his autobiography: "Who exactly was I? How do you navigate the waters of identity with one black and one white parent? How have other Canadians who share the same mixed-race background managed it? What does it mean to be black and white in Canada?" (7). In choosing this particular set of questions, Hil l positions his autobiography as a narrative that both documents his own growing awareness of his racial identity and simultaneously charts how other biracial Canadians experience and understand their racial hybridity in the Canadian context. This dual purpose sets up his most obvious departure from the genre of autobiography because Hi l l frames his own autobiography in relation other autobiographies of racially hybrid Canadians. According to Lejeune's seminal work On Autobiography, autobiography is defined as "[rjetrospective prose narrative written by a real person concerning his own existence, where the focus is his individual life, in particular the story of his personality" (4). If we follow this definition, conventional autobiography offers the story of an individual who the reader assumes is narrating the events of his life. Lejeune suggests that readers enter an "autobiographical pact" when 60 entering into the experience of reading a work that is labeled autobiography or when the name of the writer and the protagonist are the same, or when "the author has declared explicitly in an initial pact that he is identical to the narrator" (17). Hil l clearly claims his own voice in his autobiography but the autobiographical pact shifts slightly because Hil l also moves from his own story and voice to a more objective and impersonal voice when he attempts to elucidate the ramifications of racial hybridity in Canada by way of other racially hybrid Canadians' stories. His use of these two voices creates a different kind of pact between the reader and writer and, in this sense, his work can be understood as an (auto)biography.14 This dual purpose has several interesting consequences because it suggests the centrality of the relational aspect of this narrative. The reader is involved in the narrative in a dialogic and polyphonic intertextual exchange from the outset. Hill 's relational autobiography includes the experiences of other biracial Canadians and simultaneously charts the effects that meeting these people, interviewing them, and transcribing their anecdotes have had on his own personal development of a positive racial identity. Hi l l articulates the relational interconnectedness between his narrative and the narratives of other racially hybrid Canadians that form the center of his autobiography in the following quote: I wanted Black Berry, Sweet Juice to reach beyond my own world, and to include the voices and observations of other people who had one black and one white parent. The process of finding those voices has changed my life, and has had a profound effect on the way I have come to understand identity. (7) 61 This narrative structure challenges the idea that this is simply Hil l 's autobiography and it also suggests that this autobiography can be read as a summary of some of the relevant aspects of racial hybridity in Canada. I must state at the outset that Hill 's selection of interviewees and his role as the transcriber and editor of these reflections moves the work away from being a straightforward sociological document because he has not followed any scientific methods in collecting his data and he does not have a control group. Hil l concedes he is not an academic and this was not "a scholarly process" but more of a "personal and literary adventure" (9). Another caveat is in order here because while Hil l charts his experiences and those of people with one black and one white parent, he has not addressed the different nuances that determine different experiences of racial hybridity for people who do not have one white and one black parent. Nor does he address the ways in which gay and lesbian people in interracial unions understand their interraciality or racial hybridity. Consequently, Hill 's insights are necessarily constrained by the limitations he imposed from the outset and they must be read within this context and qualified as representative samples of a particular type of racial hybridity. Hi l l was conscious of the limitations that he imposed on his study. For instance, he interviewed only one child. I firmly believe that Canadian children who are racially mixed may have different experiences of this form of subjectivity because the racial ideologies regarding interraciality and the growing presence of discourse about racial hybridity will have a significant impact on the development of their views about themselves and their experiences of identity in Canada. However, in terms of national 62 representation of a specific generation of mixed race Canadians, Hill 's work is broad in its scope because he did interview people from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Georgetown, Mississauga, Toronto, Halifax and Sydney. His interview subjects ranged from ages eighteen to sixty-one and the total number of interviewees was thirty-four. A l l of the interviewees had, like Hi l l , one black and one white parent and this must be kept in mind when one considers the transferability of these insights to other forms of racial hybridity. Hi l l also gained insight into his own interracial family and racially hybrid siblings by conducting nine additional interviews. Interestingly, Hil l is conscious of the slippage between his story and the stories of the other racially hybrid Canadians he interviewed. However, he still asserts that this is his "story" and declares that, [p]art of it is memoir, an examination of my own life through the prism of mixed race. Part of it includes comments and observations from the many people I interviewed of black and white ancestry. Part of it looks at broader social issues dealing in one way or another with mixed race (13). Hi l l offers his autobiography and his relationships with these interviewees as part of the emerging discourse on racially hybrid Canadians. He states: "I hope that how I have come to see not only myself but the world in which I live will enrich the ways that people understand identity, and the ways in which we speak to each other" (13). I agree with Hil l that the larger project he has in mind in telling his story is to address issues of identity that may have value for all Canadians, and this is another reason why I have chosen to 6 3 examine this text in detail as the primary part of my analysis of contemporary Canadian narratives that deal with racial hybridity. In order to analyze the impact of this structure on the autobiographical pact between the reader and the writer, I would like to address this work within the context of the genre of autobiography which is usually structured around a single narrative voice. Besides the inclusion of transcripts and summaries of the interviews that Hil l conducted with other racially hybrid Canadians, Hi l l also presents different voices, sources and uses different registers within his autobiography. Hi l l includes legal references to two key cases that challenged racial essentialisms and interraciality. He cites the case of Loving vs. The Court of Appeal (USA) and Edwards vs. Van de Perre (Canada) in order to underscore the racial ideologies inherent in these cases and to identify the different ways in which these trials were informed by Canadian and American ideologies around race and belonging. This is one example of Hill 's use of legal references to situate and comment upon his own autobiography. He also uses these two important cases to demonstrate the differences between views on interraciality in Canada and the United States. I do not want to delve into these historico-legal differences, but prefer to focus on what this digression does to the autobiographical pact that is established between the reader and the writer. Hill 's autobiographical voice is lost at several times in this autobiography and this digression is one of many examples. The thread of his autobiographical voice is also lost when he adopts a less subjective journalistic voice in sections of the autobiography. At these moments in the text, Hil l cites newspaper articles, summarizes books on black- 64 white sexual relations, and even cites his own opinion piece written for the Globe and Mail on biracial custody battles in Canada. He also assumes an academic tone of detachment when he cites a doctoral dissertation on Black people in Toronto, as well as when he summarizes his father's thesis from the University of Toronto, written in I960. 1 5 In addition to this intertextuality and Hill 's use of a different register, Hill 's distance from his story and his autobiographical voice is evident when he presents a historical sampling of interracial issues by referring to Canadian history, laws pertaining to slavery, Malcolm X ' s description of white women as the devil, and the presence of the K K K in Oakville, California (which is a central part of the plot in his novel Any Known Blood). Hill 's own autobiographical voice becomes lost in these sections of his narrative and, as readers, our autobiographical pact with Hi l l is compromised when we are taken away from his story each time he explores these related topics and uses a more impersonal register. Hi l l also uses an informal register to summarize conversations that he has had on topics that are related to his own hybridity. At these moments in the narrative we move away from Hill 's interviews with racially hybrid people and into Hill 's reflections on key experiences that have influenced his sense of identity. The more informal register that Hil l utilizes in his autobiography includes his anecdotal recollection of family stories, summaries of his experiences of watching films that deal with interracial relationships, use of snippets of conversations he has had with his children and the incorporation of lyrics from pop songs written by his brother Dan Hil l . He also has quoted dialogue from conversations on interracial relationships that he engaged in with an African man named Mengel whom he met in Niger. Hil l even refers to conversations he has had with his co- 65 workers. These narrative voices and the hybrid aesthetic that Hil l uses in his autobiography are worthy of much more analysis than this chapter permits. However, it is evident that Black Berry, Sweet Juice stands out as a polyphonic and dialogic narrative that simultaneously asserts a racially hybrid writer's reflections and analysis of the multiple sources of data that inform his own autobiography. Contemporary theories of autobiography provide important models for analyzing Hill 's construction of an autobiographical voice. Current theories regarding autobiography and the autobiographical voice such as those of Eakin (1999), Gilmore (1994, 2001) and Egan (1999) are foundational to my research. From Eakin I have borrowed the idea of the "autobiological" in that I place primary importance on the corporeality of the racially hybrid soma text and the epistemological ramifications of the embodiment of racial hybridity. Because of the centrality of the genealogy of the racially hybrid person, one might argue that these autobiographies stem from the biological and thus, my primary texts may be referred to as autobiological or even autogenealogical. Biracial autobiographies are often framed as judgments about genealogies and this aspect makes the autobiographical pact unique. These narratives function variously and, at times, simultaneously as explanations for, and judgments of, estranged monoracialists in the family, warnings to people seeking interracial relationships, calls to other biracial individuals to self-define and sometimes simply as a cathartic means to evacuate traumatic memories. There are at least two conversations that take place between writers and readers: those who identify with the writer as other racially hybrid individuals, and those who are estranged from the narrative due to their monoracial identities. This 66 distinction affects the reader's mimetic engagement with the writer. When Hil l refers to his experiences as distinct from those of monoracial individuals or declares that monoracial people cannot understand what it is like to grow up biracial, monoracial readers are positioned as inherently estranged from Hill 's experience. This distancing has certain effects on the autobiographical pact and the act of identification that is established between the reader and writer. In examining the act of identification that may occur when a reader invests in the truth claims of the autobiography, Gilmore suggests that one might ask, "With what ideology is the reader identifying?" (The Limits 23). Often the biracial voice is invoked to suggest the incommensurability of an autobiographical pact made with the reader due to the unique genealogical and somatic position of the racially hybrid individual. 1 6 For many biracial autobiographers, staging moments of interpellation is a central feature in the narrative and often functions as the impetus for the writing. Moments of interpellation also appear as crucial markers in the autobiographer's process of identity formation. Others write about their racial hybridity in order to explain their unique experiences to monoracial individuals. Still other autobiographies serve as memoirs that penalize parents and society for their lack of understanding of the complexity of the biracial experience. These complex writer-reader engagements suggest that the biracial autobiographical voice speaks to a number of different audiences depending on the trajectory of the biracial individual. 67 When charting the frequency of trauma as interpellation in these biracial autobiographies it becomes clear that the vividness of traumatic memory can overshadow other experiences. The autobiographical pact established in these narratives serves as a cathartic experience for the autobiographers. Gilmore states that "autobiographers frequently wish to reposition themselves in narratives [. ..] for cathartic, confessional, or therapeutic ends" (The Limits 69). In addition to undertaking a close reading of the primary texts, it is important to analyze the confessional aspects in biracial 17 autobiographies and the impact that such confessions have on the autobiographical pact. In contrast to the implied separation between the racially hybrid autobiographer and the monoracial readers, the use of other racially hybrid stories within the narrative has the opposite effect in that these relational elements suggest that the experience is shared by many other racially hybrid people. In fact, many biracial autobiographers and theorists engage in interviews with Canadian subjects and use the transcripts to form the narrative (e.g. Miscegenation Blues (1994), Black Berry, Sweet Juice (1999), Mahtani in Rethinking 'Mixed Race1 (2001). Lise Funderburg's Black, White, Other (1994) is another example of an autobiography that is framed around interviews with other biracial individuals. Hybridity theorist Naomi Zack offers theories on racial hybridity in Race and Mixed Race (1993) that also incorporate interviews with other biracial people. These transcripts are woven into a narrative that includes Zack's autobiographical reflections on her Black-Jewish identity. 68 Hil l , like many other racially hybrid autobiographers and theorists, inserts a number of different peoples' experiences of racial hybridity within his own narrative. By embedding other racially hybrid peoples' stories within one's own, the writer makes a link between the personal narrative and the phenomenon of racial hybridity by charting the experience of various members within this imagined community. Hil l writes of having an "immediate and visceral connection with almost all of the men and women [he] interviewed" (8). This immediacy and mirroring of the racially hybrid identity counters the socio-cultural isolation that many mixed race people feel when growing up in Canada.1 8 This structural feature of racially hybrid autobiographies illustrates John Eakin's concept of the "relational se l f as an identity that is constructed in relation to others. Hill 's autobiographical structure suggests that the individual story is one that is shared by, informed by, and linked to the narratives of other individuals. This technique of embedding autobiographical stories or interviews about racial hybridity within one's own narrative serves to highlight the range of possible identities and affiliations that are available to biracial individuals. This structural feature also helps to chart a community of biracial people in order to map the unique and overlapping elements of this experience of racialization. Another useful way of thinking about Hill 's relational autobiography is to consider how the other stories of racially hybrid Canadians provide a mirror for Hill 's own racial identity. Each time an autobiography includes the experience of other racially hybrid people within its own narrative, the writer is engaged in a form of "mirror talk." 69 This narrative technique is akin to Susanna Egan's theory that "mirror talk" occurs in autobiographies that incorporate dialogue within the narrative. While the frame narrative of the autobiographer's story may not explicitly comment upon the inserted interviews or other inserted autobiographical reflections of racial hybridity, there is an implied dialogue and implicit mirroring of the experience of racial hybridity. The autobiographer, by embedding these narratives, engages in an internal "mirror talk" within the structure of the autobiography itself. Hi l l , by placing other biracial Canadians' experiences of racial hybridity within his own autobiography, suggests that the racially hybrid self at the centre of the autobiography is constituted in relation to other racially hybrid narratives and individuals who mirror or echo the experiences that are documented by the primary autobiographer. The contemporary phenomenon of racially hybrid people charting their own experiences by way of embedding other narratives within their own autobiographies differs from historical approaches to racial hybridity in which racially hybrid people were objects of scrutiny from monoracialist perspectives. The contemporary writers and researchers whose work I study are writing from within the community of racially hybrid individuals, and thus use other autobiographies by racially hybrid people to support their contentions about the unique experience of racial hybridity. By citing other biracial individuals' experiences of racial hybridity and embedding them within their research or autobiographical reflections, these researchers create a methodology for examining racial hybridity that places the researcher at the center of the narrative, and selects and 70 incorporates other biracial experiences into the autobiography as the normative narrative structure. I want to also consider the effect that this structure has on the autobiographical pact that is established between the reader and the writer. By framing his autobiography by describing the impulse to write his own story, but also embedding other autobiographies and interviews within the narrative, Black Berry, Sweet Juice repeatedly diverts the reader's attention from the autobiographical frame. The result of this autobiographical pact with the reader is that the reader is immersed within the secondary transcripts from other interviewees for much of the narrative. In fact, in Hill 's autobiography, some of the chapters consist mostly of transcripts from his interviews, and in these sections of the narrative, his own autobiographical voice shifts from the center to the margin. At these moments in the text the autobiographical pact shifts from Hill and the reader to the reader and the other interviewees. This "mirror talk" within Hill 's autobiography allows racially hybrid Canadians to see themselves reflected within the life experiences of many other biracial people. This structural feature is evident in other biracial autobiographies. For example, biracial American writer Lise Funderburg interviews forty-six racially hybrid individuals in her book Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity (1994). Funderburg, like Hi l l , frames each contribution with her own anecdote about how the biracial contributor contacted her for the anthology or she supplies some other details relating to the racial identity of the contributor, or suggests how the interviewee's story affected her own biracial identity. These personal reflections by the editor of the 71 anthology document the relationship between the contributor's story of racial hybridity and Funderburg's own story of growing up as a biracial American. The frame narrative of Funderburg's own autobiography becomes constructed in relation to the secondary material that she incorporates, and her story becomes understood in relation to the transcripts themselves. Funderburg states in the afterword: "I found myself, a little sliver of me, in each person" (378). For Funderburg, the process of reading and editing the forty-six autobiographical stories about growing up as biracial Americans was an important "mirroring" process. Her biracial identity, like Hill 's , has been formed in relation to other biracial individuals. Although Hil l is not strictly an editor of these transcripts, he too, has chosen aspects of the interviews that have significance for his own autobiography. It is my contention that this narrative element of framing one's story by way of other racially hybrid stories exists with great frequency within this subset of autobiographers because of the absence of such mirroring of the experience of biraciality in the world at large. Thus, the need to see the self in others' experiences directly affects the form of these autobiographies. This framing device also suggests that there are multiple ways in which biracial identity can be experienced. In sum, these framing devices suggest the importance of crossracial methodologies and both document and celebrate the community of mixed race individuals by engaging in mirror talk—an autobiographic that accounts for the relational self and complicates the autobiographical 7 2 In addition to the imagined community of biracial individuals that results from such narrative structures, the individual racially hybrid story is often also narrated by a single autobiographical voice. I would like to move from my analysis of the structure of Hill 's autobiography and these theoretical concerns to my assessment of the content of his autobiography and the ways in which he represents the racially hybrid soma text and documents the power of the racialized gaze. Autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity consistently represent the narrative trajectory for the biracial person as a process that starts with the memory of a childhood trauma signified by a moment, or series of events, where the biracial child is interpellated. This remembering of the event(s) is usually followed by a journey, or return to cultural "roots," often resulting in the racially hybrid person either gaining a renewed connection to both parts of his/her cultural and racial identity or becoming engulfed in despair and confusion with his/her identity. In each case the body is central to the experience of identity. One might argue that the compulsion to tell the tale of biracial trauma, as one of the material consequences of this form of embodiment, is the major impetus behind the current explosion in biracial autobiographies. Based on the evidence I have uncovered, it is perhaps fair to say that a crucial part of the development of a racial identity for mixed race people comes from the messages that their parents give them. These messages are represented in Hill 's and other autobiographies as a source of trauma. Hi l l refers to the childhood expression that eventually became the title of his autobiography, and which signifies the racial ideology that dark skin is both sexual and desirable. Hi l l states that his childhood was "punctuated 73 by sayings about black people" such as "the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice" (21). In deconstructing this expression Hil l notes the following "sexual undertone to the saying," "a suggestion of the myth of the overcharged, overheated, high-performing black body. Presumably, the blacker berry tastes richer, more full, and is juicier. It is waiting to explode in the mouth" (21). As a result of hearing different expressions about the merits of being "Black," Hill 's biracial identity was conflicted. Hill 's father "gave out mixed signals about black people—signals that complicated [his] sense of racial identity and 90 racial pride" (23). Hill 's relatives also made judgments about each racially mixed child in Hill 's family based on notions of "good" and "bad" skin tone and hair texture. This expression from his father and these mixed messages from his relatives informed Hill 's racial identity and marked crucial moments in the development of his racial identity from a place of trauma for not being "black enough" to a place of accepting his mixedness. Autobiographies by racially hybrid writers often outline a series of encounters and mixed messages they receive based on the signifying nature of the racially hybrid body. The lifelong experience of being interpellated is first encountered in interracial family systems. A primary marker of separation and trauma for many racially hybrid individuals in interracial family systems stems from the fact that they do not look like their parents, nor identify themselves in the way(s) that their parents have. Hil l addresses this dis- identification by stating that: "One of the first things I discovered is that my own experience of race, including my concept of my own racial identity, is shaded quite differently from that of my parents" (4). In addition to their different racial identities, Hill 's parents had grown up in the United States and their relationship was considered 7 4 transgressive given the social prohibitions against interracial relationships. These social constraints stem from early legal prohibitions and distinctly American ideologies around the importance of maintaining "pure" races—an ideology most evident in the legal prohibitions against interracial marriages. By citing these experiences in his autobiography, Hil l is suggesting an ideological and temporal difference between his experience of race in Canada and that of his parents. In addition to these socio-cultural differences between Hi l l and his parents, Hil l was also marked as different because of his racially hybrid soma text. Many of the writers who reflect on the experience of constant interpellation and their dis-identification within their family and socio-cultural contexts have not had their experiences understood in the context of trauma. Even though Hill 's own siblings have been able to claim a black identity despite being racially mixed, Hil l writes, "I know that some people of mixed race have been put through the mill, dissed by their own racist parents and families, and taught to hate themselves. I see that establishing a sense of personal and racial identity when you have a black and white parent can involve much ambiguity" (232). The repetition of the theme of interracial trauma for racially hybrid Canadians, and the importance that these childhood memories have as critical milestones in the development of a racial identity, suggest that trauma is an accurate way to understand the profound impact of this experience on biracial individuals. When biracial children grow up within monoracially-identified families, the experience of seeing other family members who mirror one's racially hybrid soma text is often complicated or missing. The experience of growing up without seeing somatic 75 equivalents for one's own form of embodiment has a number of different epistemological ramifications, one of which is alienation from one parent or another. The missing somatic equivalents or mirrors in one's own family can also lead to a sense of alterity and alienation. Repeatedly racially hybrid writers refer to this absence of familial mirrors as a source of trauma and I therefore conclude that many biracial people experience trauma due to the absence of a complete and positive somatextual mirror in their interracial family systems. I refer to this experience of dis-identification between racially hybrid children and their monoracial parents, or the tension between the differently-inflected soma texts of the racially hybrid children, as a site of primary trauma. The experience of this form of trauma for mixed race people who do not grow up with people who mirror their identity is profound. Theorists who examine trauma have not looked to these experiences as early childhood trauma, and yet the autobiographical reflections that racially mixed people, like Hill, share indicate that such early childhood trauma has a disastrously long effect on the self-esteem of racially mixed people. Hill's autobiography documents his childhood trauma and states that his own racial identity is quite distinct from his monoracially identified parents: "I discovered that my own experience of race, including my concept of a racial identity, is shaded quite differently from that of my parents" (4). To support this idea that trauma can be the result of growing up in a monoracially identified family system, Hill documents other racially hybrid Canadians who also endured this trauma. In an interview with a mixed race child who grew up with white adoptive parents, Amanda, the interviewee, refers to the fact that her parents did not provide her with access to a black community and did not have the 76 skills to assist her in navigating her way through the racism she encountered as a child (31). As a result, the formation of her racial identity, like Hill 's, was disrupted or retarded because of a lack of mirroring within her own family and a lack of access to other people who looked like her. These autobiographical reflections on the experience of growing up racially hybrid in a monoracial family suggest that the presence of mirrors in one's early childhood development is an important process in the formation of a positive identity. However, narratives documenting biracial experiences are riddled with the absence of this experience. These autobiographies suggest that many racially hybrid Canadians may have been stuck at an early phase of development due to the lack of mirrors in their family and social life who reflect who they are. Naomi Zack clearly understands how early experiences of racial identity in interracial family systems may be traumatic for the biracial individual. Zack states: "the facts of a mixed-race lineage may be associated with personal trauma and tragedy [. . .] individuals who are the first 'issues' of mixed race in their families do not have any forbears of mixed race with whom they can identify" (Race and Mixed Race 69). Similarly, in Miscegenation Blues, Camille Hernandez-Ramdwar recalls her experience of being at a family reunion of three hundred people and still "[she] didn't resemble anyone in the crowd" (2). Ramdwar recalls leaving the event because "[she] couldn't relate to anyone, and was tired of being asked whose (half-breed, bastard, darkie, nigger) offspring [she] was" (3). This experience of alienation within the interracial family is a consistent theme in many accounts of biracial experiences in 77 Canada. Many racially hybrid Canadians, like Hi l l , recall their childhood experience of never seeing anyone who resembles them, and this trauma is first documented in their childhood memories of what it was like to live in an interracial family system. The presence of trauma in early childhood for racially hybrid people who grow up in monoracial family systems is also identified in a number of theories on racial hybridity. I will take a moment here to outline some of these in order to validate my own analysis of these experiences as trauma. In the introduction to Rethinking 'Mixed Race' (2001), David Parker and Mir i Song reflect on the impact of monoracial and interracial family systems for biracial individuals. They document the trouble that ensues when one's parents do not look like, or identify in ways that are similar to, the biracial child's experience of racial identity. Parker and Song argue that racially hybrid individuals often have distinctive experiences from their parents and these distinct experiences create unique patterns of identity formation. In fact, these experiences are so unique that Parker and Song state that racially hybrid individuals are "subject to exceptional forms of discrimination that cannot be addressed within existing conceptions of 'race'" (7). These unique patterns of identity formation are also addressed in Laurie Mengel's essay in Rethinking 'MixedRace' (2001) where Mengel suggests that there are a number of different responses that are available to the biracial individual who lives with monoracial parents. Parker and Song summarize these positions as "particular experiences [which] include: falling outside dominant racialized categories; facing distrust and suspicion from both 'sides' of their family; being profoundly and hurtfully misrecognized by others, enduring the 'What are you?' question; enjoying the potential 78 for multiple allegiances and identities" (7). However, what may start out as trauma, dis- identification, misrecognition or even alienation for racially hybrid children with monoracial parents can be transformed into a dynamic potential for fluidity and the ability to name the self in contrast to one's experience in one's family system. Most often the racially hybrid individual documents the difficult process of identifying with his or her monoracial (usually white) mother. Reflections on growing up as a brown child with a white mother come up time and again in biracial autobiographies, including Hill 's. Even when biracial individuals grow up in monoracial white societies, they often seek affiliation with other communities "of colour." Hil l recalls going to a family gathering in Washington, D.C. and he writes of feeling ashamed of his mother's whiteness: "I was troubled by my mother's whiteness. Embarrassed by it. Couldn't she have looked at least a little darker, a little less white? Perhaps like a Southern Italian" (35). Hi l l recalls thinking that his mother's whiteness would make it harder for him to "fit in" with his cousins in the United States because he was already wondering "Was I too white" (35). His mother's whiteness heightened his sense of alienation from his Black relatives and thus, the site of primary trauma (within his interracial family system) both impacted and heightened the secondary site of Hill 's trauma (social situations outside of the interracial family system). As a racially hybrid individual, Hi l l searches for a mirror for his identity due to the lack of soma texts to mirror his racially hybrid Black-Canadian identity within his family system. Hil l suggests that at times in his life he "wished [he] was darker" (36). This wish to be accepted unconditionally as monoracial is a theme that is echoed in many 79 other autobiographies written by mixed race people. Although the assumption has historically been that mixed race people would prefer to be white, here the contemporary view of racial hybridity is expressed in the desire of a mixed race Canadian to be monoracially and undisputedly a Black-Canadian. Many biracial individuals, like Hi l l , look and experience life in ways that are dissimilar to their parents; hence, the relationship between biracial individuals and their family systems has an enormous impact on the development of racial identity. Often biracial individuals write about feeling alienated from their monoracial parents. I consider this dis-identification as a primary site of trauma. In order to address some of this interracial family dynamic, and before turning to the secondary sources of trauma in Hill 's autobiography, I return to Eakin's notions of the relational self as outlined in How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (1999) in order to examine the impact that such primary trauma may have on an individual. Eakin's paradigm for understanding the "self is to think of it as "a kind of awareness in process" (x) that is informed by our relations to others. For the biracial individual this relation to others is often the site of alienation and dis-identification within family systems. If we are to deploy Eakin's notions of the "the relational se l f and "the relational life" (43) when analyzing biracial autobiographies, we must understand these approaches within the context of the process of interpellation, racialization, and trauma in interracial family systems. 80 As I have argued in the previous section of this analysis, many biracial autobiographies document broken bonds with parents. According to Eakin, the primary break with a parental bond can provide the impetus for writing one's autobiography in that "[w]hen the bond is conflicted [. . .] the motive for memoir is likely to be more intense, and a great number of relational lives could be classed under the heading of 'unfinished business.' These lives are set in motion by the existence of tensions and secrets; there is a disruption, distortion, or omission in the family narrative that must be repaired" (87). Many of the primary texts that I analyze do indeed preface their reflections on racial hybridity within this larger spectrum of family systems. Eakin suggests that the autobiographical "narrative's role in self-representation extends well beyond the literary; it is not merely one form among many in which to express identity, but rather an integral part of a primary mode of identity experience, that of the extended self, the self in time" (137). In this model, the parent-child conflict provides the impetus for the autobiographical narrative, and thus, it is important to frame Hill 's autobiography by way of familial trauma regarding racial identity. Interestingly, the children within interracial family systems can have different racial identities despite having the same parents and receiving similar social messages about racial identity. Hi l l refers to different racial identifications that existed within his own biracial siblings by stating: "although Karen and I had generally thought of ourselves as black, Dan had always described himself as mixed" (82). Hill 's anecdote suggests that biracial siblings in interracial family systems have a range of responses to the messages about racial identity that they receive because they also have different skin 81 tones, a range of hair types, and diverse phenotypes. Hill 's autobiography indicates the variability of soma texts within interracial family systems— between parents and their racially hybrid child(ren), and amongst the siblings—in terms of somatextual encoding. Hill 's reflection on the range of experiences of racial identity that his siblings had suggests that sibling experiences of and responses to racial acculturation in interracial family systems need to be seen in a continuum. One more salient point needs to be addressed here regarding the impact that reading about such trauma has on the autobiographical pact between reader and writer. In moments where writers document the incommensurable gap between themselves and monoracial people, the reader can either identify with the racially hybrid narrator or may withdraw from an identification with him/her. I turn to Gilmore's ideas of the "autobiographies" in the text to shed light on what might be happening to the autobiographical pact in these moments where trauma is central to the narrative. In The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony (2001), Gilmore suggests that i f the reader is barred from identification with the subject of the autobiography because of his or her "nonrepresentativeness" then the reader may withdraw their sympathy "because of the conflict between identification and representativeness" (22). In her analysis "[a]utobiography about trauma forces the reader to assume a position of masochism or voyeurism"(22). However, there is yet a third possibility, and that is that the reader may identify his/her own complicity in reading the racially hybrid soma text for signs of authenticity and may, through the act of reading the autobiography from the perspective of the object of scrutiny, develop an acute awareness of the power involved in the 82 racialized gaze and a deep understanding of the impact that this particular dynamic has on people who are racially hybrid. For racially hybrid readers, the experience of reading about another racially hybrid person's trauma may be cathartic and reinforce their own sense of being constantly interpellated due to their identification with the racially hybrid writer.21 Given this lack of mirrors within interracial family systems for a racially hybrid individual, he/she may search outside of the interracial family system in order to find people who approximate his/her own racially hybrid soma text. In a search for a similar racially hybrid soma text and a feeling of belonging, the biracial individual will often claim a range of racial identities. In such instances the biracial person goes through a process of intensely scrutinizing the soma texts of other racially hybrid people for racial features that might mirror their own. As an example of this search, I turn to Camper's own reflections on searching for a mirror for her own racially hybrid soma text. While living in Canada, Camper recalls that in her "attempts to understand race and mixing, [she] began to search for faces like [hers] in [her] immediate world" (xvii). The need for a somatextual mirror propels this desire to find a somatic reference for one's racial hybridity particularly in countries like Canada where racially hybrid communities are a minority within a minority. In addition to this alienation and primary trauma of being different that Hil l acquired from each of his parents, Hil l began to discover that he was coded as different in school. I understand this as the secondary source of trauma that I have alluded to in the last section of this analysis. I return to Hill 's autobiography to find an example of this 83 secondary source of trauma. Once he began school Hil l became increasingly aware of the signifying nature of his soma text and remarks: "my environment started talking to me and making me aware that I was different, that I could never be truly white. There's nothing like being called 'nigger' to let you know that you're not white [. . .] it happened enough to awaken me" (5). Hill 's identity was developed in a vacuum in that he learned that he was not white and was not black but did not learn what he was. Unlike his American cousins whose identity "was wrapped around them, like a snug towel, at the very moment of birth" (6), Hil l struggled to name a racial identity that would fit his biracial corporeality and experience. Many biracial autobiographies refer to traumatic childhood experiences of interpellation at primary school in ways that indicate that these experiences have had a profound effect on the formation of a positive racial identity. In Black Berry, Sweet Juice, Hil l refers to the informal ways in which being called a "nigger" affected his sense of a racial identity. For Hi l l , traumatic experiences resulting from interpellation ranged from being called "nigger" in school (26-27), to being refused entry to a grocery store on the basis of being perceived as a "nigger" (29), to being introduced by a teacher as "the nigger of the school" (30). Direct insults and childhood rhymes also negatively affected Hill 's racial identity. Hil l cites the example of the rhyme "Eeny meenie miney mo / Catch a nigger by the toe / If he hollers let him go / Eenie, meenie miney mo" (184).22 Given that he had been called a "nigger" he was insulted when he heard this rhyme in the playground. I understand these experiences as secondary sites of trauma for racially hybrid people. 84 While the experience of being racialized as "Other" amidst predominantly white communities in Canada is documented, for some racially mixed people, being immersed within a black community can cause tension for the biracial person who wishes to become part of the monoracial black community. The same ideologies around race, authenticity and purity can, and often do, inform both "white" and "of colour" monoracialist hegemonies. Hill 's sister recalls her own scopophobia by stating that when walking "into a new situation with a majority of black people, [she was] much more on edge than walking into a totally white world. I feel like I'm not totally at ease in my skin. I guess I don't always feel as comfortable. I feel nervous. I wonder if people are going to accept me, or are they looking at me and saying, 'Oh, here comes a light-skinned person again, and what does she have to with all this?' (109). Hil l refers to the fact that he was "astounded to find [out] how often those with one black and one white parent expressed a desire to appear more black, and a wariness of being rejected by black people for not being black enough" (110). Another interviewee in Hill 's autobiography recalls being asked "So what are you?" before she was told that she was not black (108). Hil l suggests that the "idea that mixed-race people are somehow not 'real' blacks has put a lot of people on edge" (109). These quotes suggest that real trauma or the fear of trauma can result from biracial individuals' experience of being rejected by both "white" and "brown" monoracialist communities. 85 Racially hybrid writers often refer to the differences between monoracial identity and multiracial identity as a distinct marker of separation between themselves and the dominant monoracial community where they grow up. Racially hybrid writers consistently chart another aspect of this secondary trauma that stems from constant interpellation and being asked two specific questions about one's racial identity. Racially hybrid people are repeatedly asked these questions (Where are you from? and What are you?) in order for their racial identity to be clarified. These questions can become the source of secondary trauma for racially hybrid individuals. Hybridity theorist and racially hybrid American writer Maria Root opens the book The Multiracial Experience (1996) with her own autobiographical reflections on being coded as "different" because a number of people throughout her life "let [her] know [she] was different by asking, 'Where are you from?' and the other seemingly benign question 'What are you?"'(xiii). These two central questions inform both American and Canadian biracial autobiographies and are represented as the questions that haunt biracial people throughout their lives. The centrality of these questions suggests something of a thematic concern that propels many narratives about biraciality and multiraciality. Multiple responses to these questions are documented in Hill 's autobiography, where he outlines the way in which his experience of growing up "black and white in Canada" involved being asked these questions. Hi l l states that "Canadians have a favourite pastime, and they don't even realize it. They like to ask—they absolutely have to ask—where you are from if you don't look convincingly white. They want to know it, need to know it, simply must have the information. They just can't relax until they have 86 pinpointed, to their satisfaction, your geographic and racial coordinates" (173). In a section of his autobiography devoted entirely to "The Question," Hil l uses humour to address the frequency of this particular line of questioning: I am forty-six years old. Since about age ten, I have been asked, "So what are you, anyway?" and all its variants. ("Where are you from?" "Yes, but where are you really from?" "Yes, but where were your parents born?") That's thirty-four years I've been fielding The Question [. . .] 15,330. That ladies and gentlemen, is the absolute minimum number of times Canadians have asked me either "Where are you from?" or "D'ou viens /«?" or any of the multitudinous variations" (173- 74). 2 3 Although Hil l uses a comic tone to represent the number of times he has had to respond to these questions, I understand the increased frequency of being asked these questions as an indicator of the performative nature of racial identity. For racially hybrid people, the frequency of this line of questioning suggests the heightened interest that people have in fixing the racial identity of people whose soma texts encode ambiguous, multiple, or conflicting signifiers of race. Although all individuals are subject to the forces of interpellation, racially hybrid individuals document the experience of being incessantly questioned about what they are and where they are from in such a way that it suggests a particular form of trauma. Later in this chapter on "The Question," Hil l refers again to the experience of being asked "the question" throughout his life. Hil l shifts from his initial humorous tone to a more serious tone when he tries to map the power dynamics involved in this 87 interrogation. He also tries to understand the racial ideologies that are the subtext in these exchanges. He says these exchanges are "like the opening of a chess game" (175). Hil l deconstructs this exchange and uses this metaphor to highlight the combative or confrontational aspects underlying such questions. Part of the negative reaction that mixed race people, like Hi l l , have to being asked these two questions has to do with the way in which the questions imply a normative standard and a position of authority that is claimed by the questioner. Often the questioner will ask the questions so that he/she may then elaborate on his/her ability to have guessed the "right" race of the individual based on his/her perceptive abilities to decode the ambiguous soma text of the racially hybrid person. One of the biracial interviewees for Hill 's book said that after being asked the question ("Where are you from?") and answering it accurately, people "get into a discussion of what they thought I was. I've had Armenian, Egyptian, Pakistani, East Indian [. . .]" (177). A recent article in The Vancouver Sun written by biracial Canadian Sasha Bogin entitled "Please Don't Ask The Question" offers a witty response to these questions which she also describes as "annoying." Bogin addresses her readers directly by stating: "If you know someone who isn't Caucasian or someone who is mixed, you don't have the right to invade another person's personal space" by asking such questions. Bogin lists a number of things that one should not ask a mixed race person and writes that when she is annoyed by these incessant questions she claims she is "Vanyan." 2 4 88 I would like to place Hill 's work in light of other reflections on being asked the questions that appear in other Canadian autobiographies. Ln Miscegenation Blues writers consistently refer to the centrality of these questions and the effect that being asked these questions has on their sense of identity. For example, Biracial Canadian writer Kim McNeilly states that being asked the question "Where are you from?" is a very alienating but common experience in Canada (201). Many of the biracial writers in Camper's anthology discuss, invert, and/or deconstruct this question and the deconstruction of the power dynamic involved in these questions becomes a central motif that appears throughout the writing. Besides these power dynamics, this exchange is not simply one of being interpellated as racially hybrid people often develop a number of different responses to this line of questions. Hil l suggests a number of different reactions that he has developed in response to the questions: "I can give a teaser, such as 'My parents came up from the States,' which frustrates the questioner, who really wants to know my parents' racial background" or "I can give it all up and explain that I have a black father and a white mother" (175). Here Hi l l clearly outlines his own agency in this exchange and one of the ways in which he tries to invert the power dynamics between the questioner and the biracial individual. Because of his ambiguously signifying racially hybrid soma text, Hil l states: "I can invent an answer, such as 'My father is a White Russian and my mother is an Ethiopian Jew'[. . .] Or I can turn the question around, as in, 'Why are you asking me this?'" (175) (emphasis my own). Still, another biracial interviewee in Hill 's autobiography responds to the same question by claiming the situation as "an opportunity 89 to educate people about issues of mixed race and blackness" (178). These anecdotes suggest that mixed race people have multiple responses to being asked the questions and that they develop different responses to the questions that give them more or less agency within the process of interpellation. Despite the flexible responses that biracial and multiracial people may develop over time to the questions, one common theme remains—biracial people are annoyed or traumatized by the insistent questions about their soma texts. One biracial interviewee describes being asked the questions as a painful and annoying experience. Hil l concludes that "most of the people [he] interviewed— and virtually all of the women—expressed impatience with constant questions about their racial background" (178). It is safe to say that in these biracial autobiographical reflections, the racially hybrid person who is repeatedly asked these questions often expresses trauma or at least annoyance at being asked these questions over a number of years, despite being able to develop witty, false, or vague responses. Hill 's autobiography and others like it, suggest that the questions often come from a monoracialist person who assumes that others will have a singular identity and many writers suggest that most often these questions come from a person who is white. The issue of white privilege is central to understanding the process of racialization. The subtext for the interrogation into what a biracial person is or where they axe from places a white norm at the center. Another biracial interviewee in Hill's autobiography suggests that the question itself involves placing the racialized person into a position of alterity, and he responds by turning the question around: "Where the hell are they from? No one's 90 from here unless they're First Nations peoples. But they're trying to make you feel strange. It's displacement. They're just trying to let you know that you do not belong [.. .] They are not coming from a position of intelligence, asking those questions. White privilege doesn't operate from a level of consciousness. It operates from a position of privilege" (180). The social and cultural phenomenon of white supremacy supports the right of the questioner to ask "What are you?" when they see someone who is not the racial norm, i.e., white. Thus, the frustration, annoyance and trauma that biracial people experience as a result of these insistent questions highlights the discomfort they feel about being marginalized in the process of the interrogation and a resistance to being placed in a position of alterity. Being repeatedly asked "where are you from" or the more disturbing question "what are you" is identified in these works as a very troubling experience that places the individual as an object of scrutiny and may lead to feelings of alterity and alienation. Racially hybrid people also identify a hypersensitivity that they develop because of the ways in which they are expected to identify their racial origins or declare a word to identify describe their mixedness. In these exchanges, the racially hybrid body is the sign or text that prompts others to dissect, fragment, and quarter it according to their own notions of racial ideologies and concepts of racialized mathematics. It is my contention that people who employ the racialized gaze seek answers to decode the racial ambiguity of the racially hybrid soma text. This process can result in a calculation of percentages of authenticity, or what I refer to as racial mathematics, that results in terms that signify 91 absence and terms that represent the racially hybrid soma text as fragmented as I have noted in my first chapter (half-breed, mulatto, half-caste). Many biracial writers also reflect on the ways in which such language reinforces a sense of a fragmented corporeality. According to Mengel, "[fjhe most common designation imposed on mixed race people of all ancestries is the inference that they are fragmented human beings" (Rethinking 100). Terms such as "octoroon," "mulatto," "mestizo" and "Hapa" are cited in Mengel's essay as words that "perpetuate notions of blood division that can be quantified in fractional terms" which "in a race-conscious society serve to reinforce the ideology that the mixed race individual is somehow less than a whole person" (101-02). In addition to noting the ways in which such language reinforces a sense of a fragmented corporeality, Mengel notes that the language used to refer to such individuals privileges the half or part that is not white: i.e., "half-breed" refers to the half that is Native, whereas the term "octoroon" refers to the l /8 I h that is Black. As a result, "the notions of Whiteness as normative" and "being a person of colour as deviant or pathological are perpetuated" (101). In addition, "because Whiteness is a racial construction based on notions of an unalloyed purity, by definition, mixed race people cannot be White" (101).26 The image of the fragmented body and the implicit reification of whiteness as "whole" and "pure" is central to many biracial autobiographies and often stems from an individual's being interpellated in ways that confine their identity to such terminology. A number of different terms have been used to describe people who are racially hybrid. Hil l also refers to the term "mulatto" which has been used to describe people who 92 have one black and one white parent.27 This term has had its most notorious legal application in the slaveocratic United States and through the legislated apartheid in South Africa. The legal implications of this term within the black diaspora affect both the use of, and stigma associated with, this term when it is used in Canada. Hil l also notes the terms "Quadroon" and "Octoroon" (199) which are used to describe one-quarter and one- eighth of authentic or "pure" black blood. Hil l identifies other terms that have been used to denote varying degrees of proximity to an authentic monoracial black identity are: • "casco" is a term used to refer to a person with "two mulatto parents" • a mulatto parent and a black parent makes a person "a sambo" • "Sambo plus black" creates "a mango" child • "octoroon and white parents" create a "mustifee" • a "mustifee and white parents" creates "a mustifino" • "meamelouc" is a term used to refer to "a person said to be one-sixteenth African" • "sang-mele" is the term used to describe "a person considered to be one- sixty-fourth black" (199-200). In addition to the terminology that maps racial hybridity by way of percentages, biracial hybridity theorist Zack suggests that the word "peola" is used for "fair-skinned designated blacks" (Race and Mixed Race 37). Both Hil l and Zack address the ways in which their soma text has been fragmented and stigmatized in different monoracial communities and outline a number of other terms that are used to identify different degrees of mixedness in other racially hybrid individuals. 93 Fragmentation, according to Hi l l , is central to his experience of racial hybridity. He cites many other people he interviewed who support this contention. A recurring issue in biracial autobiographies is the childhood trauma about being regarded as "half-breed," 90 "half caste," "mixedblood" or hyphenated. Root opens The Multiracial Experience by referring to the "[c]ountless number of times I have fragmented and fractionalized myself in order to make the other more comfortable in deciphering my behavior, my words, my loyalties, my choice of friends, my appearance, my parents, and so on" (3). She states that "[r]eciting the fractions to the other was the ultimate act of buying into the mechanisms of racism in this country" (3). When someone asks if you are one-quarter something they have dissected the soma text into parts and made a calculation of racial authenticity based on their notion of racial phenotypes. The questioner assumes a right of access to some very personal information. In addition, racially hybrid writers often wonder why this information is of critical importance to the questioner. Whether these terms are chosen by the people whom they identify or externally imposed, they indicate a rhetorical desire to map the percentage of "brown blood." As one example of the discourse around racialization, Hil l states that "[o]ver the past thirty or so years, the term used to describe black people has evolved from 'negro,' to 'black,' to 'Afro-Canadian,' to 'African-Canadian,' or even, for some, 'people of colour.' As a racially hybrid man Hil l uses the terminology that is available even though it does not describe his mixedness because the "utter inadequacy of racial terminology plagues us to this day" (197). According to Hi l l , this inadequate terminology becomes most obvious "when describing people of mixed race" (197). In reaction to the common reference to 94 biracial African-Canadians (and African-Americans) as "half black, half white," Hil l states that he has "performed tests on [himself], scratched [his] skin, measured [his] legs, taken blood samples, evaluated colour schemes, but [he] just can't locate a black half and a white ha l f (197- 8). Despite Hill 's ironic tone, the centrality of this theme suggests that he has been deeply affected by such racialized mathematics throughout his life. In choosing his own self-definition in defiance of the process of fragmented corporeality, Hil l asserts: "I'm not one-eighth or one-quarter or one-half black—I'm simply black. And that's because I see blackness as a form of identity, cultural belonging. I'm attached to my heritage. I love the sense of family that comes from living as members of black communities—no matter how disparate they are geographically" (239). Hil l closes his autobiography by stating, "I am black because I say so, because I feel it, I know it, and I own it. It is not the only thing that I am [. . .] when the census form comes around, I ' l l mark myself down as black" (239). In choosing his own self-definition as "black," Hi l l defies an either/or paradigm for biracial identity and resists accepting the terms that would signify that he is only half of anything. Hil l also suggests that despite his light-skinned soma text he still understands his racial identity as monoracial rather than a multiple third space identity such as "mixed" or "mulatto." He adopts the racial ideology imported from the United States that suggests that any known presence of black blood makes a person black. Hil l writes: "These days, I just use 'black,' but only because nothing better seems to be kicking around" (197). In claiming the word "black" to describe his racially hybrid soma text, Hi l l echoes the American legal definitions of Blackness by declaring that "[i]f you've got any known 95 black blood, you're black" (198).30 This indeed is the ideology and terminology that he implicitly accepts at the end of his search for a racial identity. In addition to the racially hybrid soma text being a site of fragmented embodiment, Hill 's autobiography points out that the body parts themselves can also signify racial belonging and thus limit one's membership in a given monoracial community based on phenotypic markers. One of the most common racial qualifiers among biracial children with African ancestry is the signifier of hair. Hi l l suggests that "many of us of mixed ancestry do have hair issues [. . .] they reflect how we see ourselves, and how others perceive us" (89). Hi l l relates the fact that at seventeen he became aware of the ways in which his hair signified his blackness and at this point in his life he decided it was time to do something about the wild mop that was sprouting in all directions from my head. It had become completely uncontrollable. Even when I drenched my hair with conditioner, I still couldn't comb out the knots. They shot out like a condensed, fused mass from the sides of my head. The curls had wound and twisted themselves around each other to such a degree that the hair looked like one massive dreadlock. The only time that my hair looked presentable was when I emerged from the shower, soaking wet. (89) Many biracial Canadian writers, like Hi l l , refer to the fact that hair texture, length, or colour is read as a signifier of racial identity. Hill 's anecdote draws attention to the ways in which a racially hybrid individual with African ancestry will have the somatextual cue 96 of their hair read and they will be accorded progressively "less Black" authenticity depending upon the absence of curly or kinky hair. The site of the soma text is the central place from which cues about one's identity circulate, and racially mixed people often do not fit into the phenotypes associated with monoracially identified individuals. Hi l l refers to the ways in which his soma text affected his sense of identity and eroded his self-esteem: Although I had a good share of friends, I felt no sense of community. There were no blacks in my school, on my street, or in the neighborhood [. ..] Because I looked so different from everyone else, I feared that I was terribly ugly. I worried about having frizzy hair, big ears, a big nose, and plump lips. When I looked in the mirror I felt horror and disgust. None of the people I admired, respected, or found attractive looked the least bit like me (53). Even as an adult this early lack of mirroring for a positive racial identity affected Hil l , who "shrank in horror" when he saw a photo of himself in the paper—"I hated the way my hair stuck out, moplike. I felt repulsed by the sight of my own thick lips" (53). This negative sense of identity is related to the fact that during his childhood, growing up in Don Mills, he "didn't see [himself] reflected anywhere" (53). This anecdote implies that the racially mixed person is a double or compounded minority in contrast to the monoracially identified individual. In addition to such somatextual markers as hair, racially hybrid people respond to social cues and codes that qualify their racial authenticity. The handshake is also a racial qualifier in Afrocentric communities. Hi l l explains the importance of the handshake as a 97 gesture that signifies authentic Afrocentricity. Hil l recalls going into the black barbershop and introducing himself with "the standard white handshake. I wasn't getting into any kind of soul shake because I would have felt like an utter fake, and would have betrayed myself as one, too" (91). Hil l sought to be recognized as black in that predominantly black space: "I wanted to be seen and recognized as black, and treated as one of the race" (91). He identifies the ways in which racially hybrid people can have their bodies read for signs of blackness in Black spaces. He refers to being seen as a white interloper in black salons and consequently getting "the cold shoulder" (94) because he was read as being not black enough. This idea of hair as a racial qualifier is echoed by another mixed race person whom Hil l interviewed for his autobiography. This interviewee related a story of the relationship between his hair and his growing sense of an Afrocentric identity. The interviewee tells Hil l that once he got a "fade" he felt he looked, and consequently acted, more black.3 1 Because this biracial man was able to approximate an Afrocentric soma text by getting a fade, he started to behave in a more consciously Afrocentric way. Hi l l states that this man "started renting black movies, changed [his] music completely. [He] got rid of his heavy metal tapes, all [his] rock and roll tapes, replaced them with N W A , Public Enemy. It was rap, it was hip-hop, that's who [he] wanted to be at that time" (95). Like Hi l l , the interviewee was able to manipulate his somatextual codes to more closely approximate a monoracial (Black) identity. 98 Another interviewee in Hill 's autobiography draws attention to the role of gender in the process of racialization for racially hybrid women. She states that one's hair "is a source of pain for a lot of young black girl or girls of mixed race" (100). The woman also states that "[i]n the black community, a lot of mixed race girls are considered to have 'good hair.' Which is longer hair, [with] the texture not quite so 'nappy.' Black men perpetuate the idea and go after girls with the long, straight hair" (100). Despite the discomfort many of the biracial interviewees express about being in a black hair shop, one interviewee states that she is relieved to be seen as black in hair shops because "[t]he second they touch my hair, hairdressers know that I am mixed with black" (101). For this biracial Canadian, the hair shop is a site where her Afrocentric mixedness is read and understood as a feature of her belonging to this community. Like Hi l l , this interviewee suggests that certain racially mixed people with African ancestry are "celebrated for having good hair. You're not directly told that you're ugly, but it's very clear that if you don't have the good hair, you're not considered to be beautiful or attractive. It starts at a very early age" (103). I have drawn attention to these anecdotes to suggest that according to these autobiographical reflections, hair can be a qualifier of racial identity from within "black" or "white" monoracialist spaces. The soma text and racialized gaze condition the racially hybrid person's experience of racial identity in different monoracial spaces where the soma texts and gestures that signify 32 racial identity are policed for signs of authenticity. 99 Because the racially hybrid soma text is constantly being read for signs of authenticity, autobiographical reflections on racial hybridity contain a number of different, complex looking relations. These fall into a few different categories: 1) looking relations within interracial family systems; 2) looking relations from outside of the interracial family system; 3) looking relations between racially mixed individuals that enable one to identify other racially mixed people (mirroring); and 4 ) the racially mixed person's self-identification. The looking relations identified in the first three categories affect the latter category. Canadian biracial autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity often address the impact(s) of the racialized gaze and feelings of isolation from monoracially identified individuals, through the representation of a "mixed race" identity crisis and the pull of different racial loyalties or a state of limbo.33 Hill states that "for the longest time [he] didn't learn what [he] was—only what [he] wasn't" (5). For many racially mixed individuals this sense of a racial identity is formed in a vacuum because of the lack of individuals who mirror one's particular form of racially hybrid corporeality. For Hill this created a "racial limbo" which is something like the "hyphen" that Fred Wah refers to: a middle place that is not fully in the Occident nor the Orient.34 This biracial experience of "racial limbo" is in contrast to the experience of racial constancy that many monoracially-identified individual's experience. The process of this negotiation is represented by Hill as being as unstable as walking through a revolving door. Hill identifies his process of negotiating between two monoracial communities by stating: "When you're black and white, negotiating racial 100 identity is like going through a revolving door. You think you're sure-footed and slipping through just fine until someone shoves that door and a big glass wall smacks you from behind and you stumble sheepishly into daylight, mumbling 'What was that all about?'" (41). This idea of representing racial identity as a process or movement through racial identities signifies the uncertain, and at times precarious, attempts to obtain a stable racial identity, because of the ambiguous nature of a racially hybrid soma text and the violence of mis-recognition. As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, this uncertainty is contrasted by the experience of monoracial individuals, whose "identity [is] wrapped around them, like a snug towel, at the very moment of birth" (6). This image of a monoracial racial identity as a snug blanket suggests a primal certainty and comfort that is denied to racially hybrid individuals. This experience of constancy in seeing others who look like you and being seen as whole, marks a crucial separation between the experience of growing up biracial in a monoracial world and the experience of growing up monoracial in a monoracial world. Like many other racially mixed people, Hill 's racial identity was formed in relation to the racialized gaze. Racially hybrid individuals, like Hi l l , are constantly being informed by how the racially hybrid body is read. As I have argued earlier in this chapter, often these experiences of being interpellated as Other are represented as childhood or adolescent trauma. In fact, Hil l states that these thoughts about being biracial do not preoccupy him "unless tourists invade my paradise and start looking at me, and I start looking at them, and we begin the endless dance of adjusting how we see others, how we 101 want to be seen, and how we see ourselves" (5). Often biracial autobiographies will stage a scene to illuminate the difference between the "white" interpellator's interest in fixing the racial identity of the biracial persona and the biracial persona's defiance. These scenes are used in these autobiographies to demonstrate the difference between how one's racially hybrid body is read and how an individual understands his or her racial hybridity. A perfect example of this interpellation scene occurs in Mercedes Baines' autobiographical poem entitled "Where Are You From? A Broken Record" (Camper 151). This title is used to suggest the countless times in which the same conversation occurs between white people (usually men) and mixed race women. Baines uses the image of a broken record to suggest the constant repetition of this question. In this dramatic scene, the "white young lusty man" is foiled by his own assumptions and Baines takes charge of the situation and inverts the power dynamic. In this scene, Baines' persona records the white lusty man's thoughts and counters them with her own self- identification, foils his expectations, and talks back. 102 Mercedes Baines "Where Are You From? A Broken Record" So.. .uh.. .where are you from? A white young lusty man asks hoping for a delicious exotic entree. I look around knowing he is asking me but I'm still surprised the record plays on He has not asked my white women friends / only me. Assumption: Plain white wrappers come from nowhere but here but plain brown wrappers must be from someplace else/ Not from here definite-ly Not from here. Where are you from? Why-I ask / do you want a taste of the exotic? To fuck another other? Does it makes you feel... Well you look like you could be from Trinidad, Spain, France not from here, South America, not from here def-in-ate-Iy not from here. He smiles hopeful thinking he's impressed me...the record plays on and on I am from here-actually. OA-he says truly disappointed. It was not the right answer he was looking for. He did not ask the right question. The right question would be: Why is your skin the shade it is? Why is your hair the texture it is? Why are your lips and hips full/your eyes brown? There is not a simple answer-I do not fit into a simple box. It depends on the day The colour I feel. Today I am Black and beautiful with my heart full of song and my hips full of music. She is in my walk, my loud laugh and my anger when it speaks. Yesterday I was white 103 Tribes of Irish French Danish Methodical, inward spirit meditate, white light staring at my brown self laughing loud Tomorrow I will be red-heartbeat to a drum-walking on a long Journey I remember what it was like when the earth did not have an owner. I remember our people when we would have also laughed loud I remember when Black skin did not need explanation. Do you see my face trans form with each invocation? Ask me where I am from? I am from here and everywhere I am multinational/United nations/United in one body Bloodlines intermixed/traveling centuries To create me A Millehia of inter racial fucking I am from here-especially here. (Camper 151-52) In this poem, Baines identifies the ways in which her brown exterior invites the racialized gaze into interrogating her genealogy and nationality. The irony here is that Baines is from Canada and consequently this line of questioning about her identity and birthplace underscores the ways in which people perceive Canada as white and people of colour therefore must be from elsewhere. This simplistic assumption is undermined here. Baines also suggests that behind the benign question "Where are you from?" lies the insidious racial ideology that people who come from Canada are white. The question also obscures the questioner's interest in what is perceived to be "Other," non-Canadian and simultaneously, exotic. Baines also suggests that the real subtext for this question is the deeper unstated question which: Why is your body and hair the way it is? 104 Baines deconstructs the tangled genealogies that make up her soma text. In the second half of the poem, Baines explains the multiple racial allegiances that make up her totality. By using the pronoun "she" to refer to parts of her racial identity, Baines suggest the ways in which these racial identifications are like personalities that live within her. Baines employs a number of racial essentialisms in this section "Blackness" with "music, "song" and "anger," "Irish, French, Danish" with being "methodical" and Native identity as being linked with the "drum." Baines is identifying the ways in which her racial identity is a floating signifier based on how she feels each day. This idea of racial hybridity as a complex process is repeated in many biracial autobiographies and suggests that a multiracial soma text may signify both a fragmented body and an excess of identities. In the final stanza Baines asserts the transcultural history of racial hybridity, "I am multinational / United nations / United in one body / Bloodlines intermixed / traveling centuries / To create me / A Millenia of inter racial fucking." The idea that colonial contact, read here as sexual contact between different races, is the norm rather than the exception is presented by Baines. This final stanza is therefore a subtle challenge to the assumption that there is a "pure" race anywhere in the world. Baines reinforces her right to assert that she Canadian by closing the piece by asserting that she is indeed, "from here-especially here." Scenes such as these are evident in autobiographical reflections on the experience of racial hybridity and these scenes form the dramatic basis of many plays that address racial hybridity as I will argue in Chapter Four. 105 I hope to have demonstrated that different communities have varying degrees of discernment when viewing a biracial person and when trying to assess his/her racial background. The different ways in which the soma text is read suggest that the process of racialization is very predictable and often is not in accordance with how a given biracial person chooses to identify him or herself. Visual cues, the racialized gaze, and the individual's sense of racial identity inform the visual narrative of each racially hybrid person's soma text. I want to take a moment here to consider what I refer to as the embodied epistemology of racially hybrid corporeality. Many racially hybrid people refer to the development of a heightened sense of awareness of looking relations as a result of being the recipient of multiple and often conflicting ideologies stemming from the racialized gaze. Hill draws attention to the hypersensitivity he has developed over time and states that he has "a refined radar system for identifying folks of mixed race" (10). The familial, social and cultural scopophilia may enhance a mixed race person's awareness of the important role of the racialized gaze in the process of identity formation and may lead to a heightened ability to detect other racially hybrid individuals. In their autobiographical reflections and autobiographies, biracial people often refer to the hypervigilance they require in response to being continually interrogated as to the racial constituents of their soma texts. I refer to this as scopophobia or the fear of the gaze. In monoracialist societies where scopophilic interest in approximating a biracial person's percentages of blood is the norm, individuals can become scopophobic and hypervigilant about having their bodies seen and interpreted. Although Hill suggests that for much of his childhood, issues of racial identity were not at the forefront, "once in a 106 while, just as my guard was down, questions of my own identity would leap like a cougar from the woods and take a bite out of my backside" (4). Hill 's work suggests that the epistemological ramifications of biracial embodiment involve a heightened awareness of the racialized gaze, a complex process of racial identity formation, and an early socialization about the dynamics of racialization. Thus, the corporeal experience of biracial hybridity may result in a number of different epistemological developments based on the embodiment of ambiguous signifiers. He states that "[i]f you're black and you grow up in North America, part of your very socialization process prepares you for encounters with racism [. . .] You know you will encounter racism and you even come to expect it" (104). He suggests that these experiences have epistemological ramifications in that they are "a way of confirming your blackness, of making your racial identity real and palpable" (104). Other epistemological effects of this form of racially hybrid corporeality include specific career choices in defiance of racial essentialisms. Hi l l recalls being told "Negro people didn't have the correct facial structure to play the saxophone" (105). Hil l defiantly chose to play the saxophone despite this racist remark by a callous and ignorant teacher. He writes: "As I look back on this incident, I note that part of me welcomed the remark from the music teacher. It confirmed my own racial identity in a school where I had imagined I would be lost, or blotted out, or ignored" (106). Hil l looks at this incident within the larger context of racial hybridity: "For many people with one black and one white parent, it appears to hurt more when we are rejected by the black community than when we are discriminated against in the wider community for being black" (106). Hill's 107 autobiography suggests that one of the epistemological ramifications of this biracial embodiment resides in the fact that experiences of racial qualification, rejection, and acceptance by monoracial groups is always qualified and can seriously affect the individual's self-esteem. It is important to understand racial alienation as trauma even though the writers themselves may not use this term to refer to this experience, the autobiographies certainly do represent the experience as traumatic. Although everyone is subject to the process of interpellation, these anecdotes suggest that for biracial individuals, the effects can be profound because of the frequency of being interpellated and mis-recognized, and the lack of sites where the biracial soma text is not interpellated. Zack refers to this unique experience of alienation in Race and Mixed Race, where she argues that "[n]ormally, one is alienated if one is different from one's present surroundings because one has been separated from another place and culture in which one had been not-alienated or 'natural'[. . .] But the American of mixed black and white race has no previous context from which he can be said to have been separated, so he is even alienated from normal forms of alienation" (142). While Zack interprets these experiences as a form of "alien alienation" (142), she also notes the agency that biracial individuals gain in having "more racial freedom than either blacks or whites" (145). When there is no existing population of similarly racially mixed people, one may, like Camper, seek identification with foreign communities of colour. Carol Camper writes that she became "uplifted" by recognizing a somatic similarity between herself and Polynesian people, and she decided "to claim that [she] was Polynesian" (xvi). The 108 psychological impact that occurs as a result of the missing mirror phase in childhood development suggests that this delayed transition often leads to an increased awareness of race, mixing and identity as the individual searches for a similar somatic resemblance in other diverse populations. Fortunately for racially mixed Native people in Canada, the Metis population presents a historical racially mixed community through which many mixed race Native people identify.35 However, racially hybrid Canadians, like Hil l and Camper, were not surrounded by somatextual mirrors within a racially hybrid community and this absence prompted their desire to find other racially hybrid individuals through their own writing and research. The desire to be accepted into a monoracial community is represented throughout narratives that feature racial hybridity. This need starts within the interracial family system, extends to social contexts, and can also affect a racially hybrid person's choice of a sexual partner. Due to the dualism in his/her racial identity, choosing to be with either a "brown" or a "white" partner can be seen as a transgression. In fact, the mixed race person is bound to transgress no matter which choice of partner he/she makes unless another racially mixed person is chosen. Many mixed race autobiographies chart the complexities that may arise from mixed race people's attempts to socialize, date and engage in interracial interactions with monoracially-identified people, and Hill 's is no exception. Dating is represented as a complicated process and is often the source of trauma for many racially hybrid Canadians, because the choice of a sexual partner can further qualify one's belonging to monoracial groups. In addition, the choice of a monoracial partner can be impacted and 109 constrained by one's biracial identity. One interviewee in Hill 's autobiography states that the ultimate insult at the time was for a black person to call him "white boy," and therefore he decided to date black girls in order to "seem more black" (107). In this racial formation, white blood is seen as the tainted element, as the biracial individual strives to become more black by choosing a monoracially identified partner to increase his/her affiliation to a monoracial community. Hill 's autobiography suggests that for some racially hybrid people, the positive experience of having their soma text acknowledged can inform their choice of a sexual partner. An interviewee in Hill 's autobiography states: "I feel a great deal of pleasure when a black person automatically knows that I'm black" (107). This acknowledgment fortifies the racial identity of the biracial individual and may also affect one's choice of a sexual partner. For individuals who experience dis-identification and alienation as a result of being isolated, autobiographies may be the only way for them to understand that there are other people who have similar experiences. Thus, biracial autobiographies have socio- cultural value in archiving these unique experiences of racial hybridity and creating a literary sense of community through these narratives. Whether it is in taking a black lover, wearing an afro, having the right handshake or the correct nod of recognition, all of these racial qualifiers punctuate the lives of biracial individuals with black ancestry, and may affect their choice of a sexual partner and views about interracial relationships in general. An interviewee in Miscegenation Blues, identified as Stephanie, states that "it always bothers me when I hear the stereotype, that the person of colour in an inter-racial 110 relationship is always the one that will somehow be oppressed" (207). Another conceptual difficulty involved with imagining interraciality is identified by biracial Canadian Claire Huang Kinsley, who is bothered by the fact that "often people assume that mixed race means one white parent" (Camper 42). Mahtani addresses this issue and suggests that this is one of the pitfalls of the rhetorical focus on mixed race in relation to whiteness—a tendency which obscures the multiplicity of crossracial, multiracial and biracial identities that do not involve any white ancestry. One of the many reactions against interracial dating or marriage is based on an alleged expressed concern for the welfare of the children. Hil l distinguishes between chosen interracial relationships and "involuntary mixing" (119). These traces of involuntary mixing can be found in a number of mixed race Canadians' genealogies and are often lodged within the near mythologization of family secrets. Hil l takes time to address the controversial American ruling on Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter (122-24) that effectively challenged the last of the anti-miscegenation laws in the USA. He also writes about contemporary Canadian legal issues regarding interracial marriages by addressing the recent controversial ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada on the child custody issues faced by Kimberly Van de Perre and Theodore Edwards.36 Hi l l places the media frenzy for this news issue within the larger North American context: "In North America, we've had a thirst for news about nocturnal carousing between black men and white women ever since African men were brought here in chains and made to stand and toil half naked in the sun" (156). Hi l l analyzes the ways in which this trial signified a I l l number of issues relating to interracial dating, interracial marriage and the relationship between race and identity in Canada. Hi l l also outlines his own awareness of, and insight into, interracial relationships that resulted from interviewing his family and writing his autobiography. He acknowledges that "[listening to family stories and stories shared by other interview subjects led me to start reviewing how race may have played into my own romantic choices in life" (126). Hi l l has always been involved with white women and he had grown up "expecting and assuming that [his] romantic partners would be white. Living in an almost entirely white world certainly contributed to that expectation, as did the fact that I had a father who had chosen to spend his lifetime with a white woman" (126). However, during the interviews for this autobiography, Hil l found that "interracial dating was a hot topic. And soon [he] had almost as many opinions as [he] had interview subjects" (128). Hill 's ideas about interracial dating were informed by the numerous strong reactions that his interview subjects had on the topic because "[bjefore writing this book, [he] hadn't given much thought to race in the context of [his]romantic relationships" (142). One of the consistent themes expressed in these interviews had to do with the idea "common among some black women, that 'their' men should stick to black women" (135). Hi l l documents numerous people's reactions to the topic of interracial relationships and concludes this chapter by stating: M y thinking on interracial dating changed considerably as a result of the interviews I conducted, the books I read, and the self-examination I put myself through. I know what my own preferences are. If I meet someone I love and who 112 loves me, I ' l l throw myself onto that runaway train, and I won't be stopping to worry about that person's ancestry (147). In this point of the autobiography it becomes evident that through the process of conducting the interviews and writing his autobiography, Hi l l gained more insight into his own racial identity and discovered that his choice of a partner was informed by ideologies around race and interraciality. However, in this paragraph he defiantly asserts that he will still choose to love whomever he wants despite the prohibitions around interracial relationships that were expressed to him through the interviews he conducted. In addition to the themes of primary, secondary, and tertiary trauma, there are a number of other themes in these biracial autobiographies. I will conclude my close reading of Hill 's autobiography by addressing two of these: passing and the "one drop rule." These themes are used to illustrate the complex negotiations of biracial identity formation. The "one drop" rule privileges an interiority that is signified by racial hybridity in that it is based on an ideology that the blood reveals something essential about the racial identity of the racially hybrid individuals. In contrast, passing themes are based on the external cues that allow one to pass through racial barriers that are erected to exclude "mixed" people. Since I have addressed the soma text in terms of blood ideologies, linguistic markers of fragmented corporeality, and the impact these ideologies may have on racial identity formation, I will now address the second central theme: "passing." 113 A recurring issue in many autobiographies by racially hybrid Canadians is the theme of passing or trying to pass as monoracial, which is most often framed as a light- skinned racially hybrid person passing or trying to "pass" as white. The critical preoccupation in those who wish to "pass" as white assumes that whiteness is always the privileged signifier. In fact, as Hill's interviews with biracial Canadians suggest, many biracial people may strive to "pass" as "black" (110). Hill also documents a number of individuals who are "terrified of attending social functions in the black community" due to the stigma attached to their light-skinned soma texts. Hill argues that "some of us feel that we have to involve ourselves actively in the community to prove that we belong" (111). He suggests some light-skinned biracial people "expect, at every turn, someone to challenge [their] identity or [their] right to be there" (111). This fear can manifest itself in a complex set of looking relations when the soma text of the biracial individual is not experienced as a stable signifier. The epistemological ramifications of this embodiment may lead to scopophilic wariness or scopophobic tendencies where the biracial person can become hypersensitive to the effects of the racialized gaze. Hill draws attention to the differences between his ability to pass and his children's ability to pass. He suggests that he has never been tempted to "pass" for white but that his children will have a hard time passing for Black (39). Hill explains how passing may be permitted: You can have a white parent and still be considered black, but you can never have a black parent and still be considered white. Unless you are so light-skinned and devoid of black facial features that you can pass for white, you don't get to be 114 white in this society if you have black parents. It ain't allowed. You'l l be reminded of your 'otherness' more times than you can shake a stick at. This is one of the reasons why I self-identify as black (41). Another biracial interviewee in Hill 's autobiography states: "I can think of countless times where I've assumed that everyone around me knows that I'm black, and then something will slip out or someone will ask a question, and I realize that they don't know. It's a very disarming feeling, having that sense of belonging taken away from you all of a sudden and having to remind yourself that they don't know" (107-08). Both of these anecdotes suggest the difficulty involved in passing as monoracial. Hi l l explores this topic of passing throughout Black Berry, Sweet Juice and concludes that "[w]e blacks of light skin are used to the fact that we may, from time to time, be subjected to racism. Still those of us who seek to identify with black people can feel insecure about the depth of our belonging. Wi l l we be dissed? Challenged? Told outright that we don't belong?" (113). Hi l l tries to explain the asymmetrical need for acceptance that many biracial individuals feel. Hi l l asks the rhetorical question, Why does the rejection hurt more when it comes from black people? I think it is because people with one black and one white parent move through a subconscious process that works like this: / can't possibly be white. I am not white, although I have one white parent, will never really be viewed as white, and can't see myself as white either. I can, however, be black, and that's the identity I'm choosing to claim. Having relinquished (or been denied) one aspect of our racial identity, we 115 feel insecure when our adoptive choice is rejected by the very people with whom we choose to identify (114). Whether one chooses to "pass" or not, or is able to "pass" is often represented as part of the larger process of searching for a racial identity. Hil l and other biracial writers suggest that coping with constant interrogation about one's genealogy can be tiring for biracial individuals. Although much work has been written on the phenomenon of "passing," most often this refers to the racially mixed person's attempts to trespass the color line in order to have their soma texts read as white. However, the study of racial hybridity needs to be expanded to include the phenomenon of racially mixed individuals' attempts to "pass" as something other than a white person. This issue of passing will be examined in great detail in Chapter Three where I locate instances of passing in contemporary Canadian fiction and argue that passing is a form of racial drag that is an option that is only available to racially mixed individuals who have ambiguous soma texts that can be read as signifiers of different racial identities. Passing is represented as one stage in many for racially hybrid people who are light-skinned enough to try to pass as monoracial. This process can also involve searching for people who represent one's racial identity in literature or popular culture. Hil l refers to his own and other biracial Canadians' experience of gaining a solid racial identity as "a process." Many racially mixed people and black people such as James Baldwin have written about gaining new insight into their racial identity once they have had a chance to live in a different context. This distance allows individuals to see the ways in which they are conditioned by the racial stereotypes and prejudices within their 116 home country. Hil l refers to his own travel and that of his parents as being fundamental to their understanding of the socio-cultural context within which notions of racial identity are formed (51-52). Hil l charts his experiences in the West African country of Niger where he eventually realizes that he is more Canadian than African. Like many African- Americans, Hil l goes on a "back to Africa" journey inspired by Alex Haley's novel Roots in order to address his "brewing interest in [his] own racial identity" (64). Another African-Canadian, Dionne Brand, also charts her journey back to Africa and addresses the need to fill this psychic gap in her own identity in The Map to the Door of No Return (2001). Unlike Brand's autobiography about her journey to Africa, Hill 's journey is complicated by the fact that he is racially mixed and by the fact that he arrives in Africa with a group of white French-Canadians. Hi l l recalls that "shooting out of every pore of [his] body was a completely unexpected resentment [he] felt for spending time in Africa with this group of whites [. . .] [he] couldn't stand being among white friends in such an entirely black country, where, [he] suddenly felt, a person was either black or white" (66). Hi l l also states "[he] felt that they were preventing [him] from being black. And at that moment in [his] life, [he] wanted nothing more than to be seen, understood, and accepted as a long-lost brother come back to Africa to meet his figurative ancestors" (66). Hil l is aware that his light-skinned somatext is such that the Africans might not recognize his African ancestry and he relates the fact that "[he] was dying for them to see it. [He] was dying to be known and treated and welcomed as the prodigal son" (67). 117 Hill 's desire to be included in this African monoracial community is contrasted by his inevitable sense of identification with the white monoracial Canadians he went to Africa with. Hil l describes being very i l l in Africa and documents the care and loving attention of his white French-Canadian friends. This experience led him to realize that he was in fact quite connected to these Canadians. At this point, Hi l l experiences an epiphany in terms of his racial identity: "I knew who I was, and I no longer felt consumed by the desire to have my identity recognized by others" (71). Hill 's weight loss is symbolically related to his shedding of the quest for a racial identity: "Leaving Niger twenty pounds lighter in the summer of 1979,1 felt profoundly calmer about who I was, and how I would be perceived racially" (75). Part Two of Hill 's autobiography is called "Border Crossings" and this image is fundamental to mixed race studies, whether it be 37 the crossing of geographical, cultural or racial borders. Border crossing suggests the dynamic and transgressive elements of racial hybridity and it also suggests the nomadic aspect of a process involving a number of different sites, and movement metaphorically or physically, across borders. In Chapter Four I return to this thread of my investigation by looking at the different ways in which contemporary Canadian playwrights represent a racially hybrid character's search for a stable racial identity as a process that requires movement into and through different communities. Many biracial autobiographers chart their growing awareness of race as a process by reflecting upon the different ways that they have been interpellated over time, and the different ways in which they have understood their own soma texts over time. Naomi Zack writes in "My Racial Self Over Time" that she also identifies biracial corporeality 118 with floating signifiers. She begins to realize that "someone in my (demographic) position can experience sufficient change in identity over time so that a main concern of autobiographical writing might not be the events in a life but successive stages of how one sees herself (Camper 21). In this view, the narrative trajectory in autobiographies for biracial people charts distinct and successive stages of self-representation and racial identity rather than a singular linear process. In this essay, Zack identifies her racial identity as a fluid concept because her somatext has been read as a signifier of different racial identities in various sites. As a racially hybrid subject, Zack was thought of as "Spanish" (22) and "Puerto Rican" (25) when in fact she was Jewish and Black. Zack outlines her developing sense of biraciality by stating that "over time, I have moved from being Jewish; to being Jewish but not looking Jewish; to being Jewish and black, which is to say black; to being mixed race" (27). She uses a bridge metaphor to frame her understanding of her biraciality: "To have a foot planted on either side of this abyss is an exceptional and conceptual impossibility [...] the chasm keeps getting wider. It's too late for me to hop to either side because I can't lie about the presence of my black ancestry and pretend to be white, and I can't remake my past and become black. Either I sink or I rise. I have decided to rise" (26). In this anecdote, Zack is still using binaries to understand her biracial positionality and the reference to a chasm and the use of the phrase "sink or rise," suggests that this binary has life-and-death consequences. A number of biracial autobiographers, including Hil l , represent racial identity as a process of crossing bridges and borders. In Chapter 119 Three I return to this concept and consider the narrative crisis that occurs in novels when a character crosses racial and class borders that are meant to be binding demarcations. The narrative trajectory of racially mixed people, as recorded in their autobiographies, involves border crossing or moving into and through different communities as part of the process of understanding one's biraciality. In addition to the experience of being racialized in different sites, the process of finding a positive racial identity is also conditioned by representations of race found in popular culture. Hil l recalls the impact that images of Black characters had on his growing sense of a racial identity. He refers to the Fat Albert show and says that he "locked onto Cosby's diction and playfulness like a missile on target" (60). Hi l l states that it "was something that spoke to [him], that [he] wanted more of, and with which [he] identified entirely" (60)." When Hil l watched television shows with black actors or black themes he says, "[he] felt alive. [He] felt there were people in the world who were speaking to [him]" (60). Hil l also found a positive sense of black identity through his experience of reading the work of African-American writers. He cites Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Eldridge Cleaver, among others, as writers who had a positive impact on his growing racial identity. In reading this literature, Hil l states that "[he] was forming [his] own sense of blackness and [his] own connection to the black diaspora by reaching into literature. Soon, this exploration blossomed into creative writing of [his] own" (61). Like many oppressed individuals, Hill 's world opened up through his exposure to literature and writing, and "every time [he] wrote, [his] mind wandered into the lives of black characters" (61). 120 Despite this cathartic experience, Hil l concludes that "it was strange to grow up black, or to grow up with a slowly increasing confidence in my own blackness, when there were no black people around" (61). Hil l refers to this state as a "nostalgia for a past not lived" (61). In this way, Hill 's experiences echo those of Fred Wah who also had a sense of longing for a China that he only knew through the food and the distant relationship to Chinese identity that he experienced. Hi l l writes: I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to have black people all around me when I was young, and to have them to relate to as friends. I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to go out with black girls, or compete in debating clubs, chess clubs, and track clubs with black kids. I can't help but wonder how pleasing it might have felt to be able to drift into a friend's home and find myself surrounded by black people. What a different life that would have been.(61-62) For Hi l l , African-American television characters and African-American writers evoked a sense of racial identity that grounded him despite the social isolation he experienced in Canada. The presence of an African-Canadian community he could live with took a foothold in his imagination, provided a bittersweet reflection on a life not lived, and simultaneously gave him inspiration for his writing. Different third-space tropes have been offered by biracial individuals in order to map the experience of racial hybridity. Hil l refers to the "paint mixture theory" that is used as a metaphor for racial hybridity based on "an assumption that the child somehow represents an equal mixture of the two parents, and therefore is neither black nor white 121 but somewhere in between. Grey, like the mixed paints" (201). Other paradigms used to symbolically represent racial hybridity include "bridges," "racial harmony" and "illicit unions." In order to demonstrate the constructedness of identity, Hi l l refers to his own Canadian conversion: "I went from being black to being anglais" (203).40 An interviewee in Hill 's book is referred to as someone who "sees herself sometimes as a person of colour and at other moments as a white woman with black ancestors" (203). Thus individual changes in one's skin tone as well as the ambiguity of a racially mixed soma text can compound social and cultural readings of one's soma text, making the whole experience of embodiment conditioned by several fluctuating variables. Many autobiographies by racially hybrid Canadians address the different ways in which racially hybrid soma texts have been interpellated and offer the writers' own understanding of the impact of these experiences on their sense of racial identity. In these ways the writer's own process of working through the trauma that results from a lifetime of interpellation is detailed in their autobiographies. This notion of racial hybridity as a process that involves different sites and involves different trauma due to mis-recognition or alienation is also found in representations of racial hybridity in fiction and in drama. In fact, I argue in the preceding chapters that these elements are integral to the tension in both novels (Chapter Three) and plays (Chapter Four) that feature racial hybridity. In sum, these autobiographies suggest that the primary site of dis-identification, misrecognition and alienation within family systems is often compounded by an individual's experience of being interpellated as "Other" in school and in the larger society. These primary texts suggest that it is also difficult for biracial people to claim 122 affinity to biracial communities because of the isolation that many biracial people live with in Canada. The history of biracial people has also been obscured and, until very recently, narratives that feature biracial experiences have been underrepresented. For these reasons, the publication of biracial autobiographies, premised on the importance of self-representation for marginalized groups, can provide an imagined community of like- minded individuals to counteract the primary and secondary sites of trauma. One of the ways of countering the sense of alienation that racially hybrid people can experience is to imagine a community of racially hybrid individuals. One of the most blatant contemporary acts of self-representation for racially hybrid people is Maria Root's "Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People" published in The Multiracial Experience (7) ( I l l u s t r a t i o n 6). 123 A m!ot Kigtitl 7 N U . of wans POK RACJAIXY MIXED rtonx M< lopMifjMBjr c u f c M m * w o r l d net isifmhft my tO*i*t k$*?>«4»« ltaKll*r%t< {inwtftfrfeM Illustration 6.0ne of the most prolific Hybridity theorists Maria Root has developed a manifesto entitled "Bil l of Rights for Racially Mixed People." She states that "Everyone who enters into an interracial relationship is born of racially different heritages is conscripted into a quiet revolution" (9). 4 1 Root offers these rights as a means of empowering racially hybrid people with the right to self-identify and also as a means of validating the experiences they may have as a condition of racially hybrid embodiment. This bi l l of rights also suggests there is a growing demographic of people who share similar experiences of embodiment. Root also outlines the importance of self-representation in New Faces in a Changing America: Multiracial Identity in the 21st Century where she responds to the growing demographic of racially mixed people by stating that "[w]ith this growth comes a new voice in the political, social and economic arenas and challenges the preconceived notions of racial identity" (xii). Root cautions that this positive use of racial hybridity in 124 popular culture and the representation of a racially hybrid movement still needs to be critically analyzed. According to Root, in the contemporary context: [sjeveral obstacles emerge in discussing mixed race. First, it has been depicted as a movement, when in fact multiple voices are represented (e.g. Fernandez, 1995; Graham,1995; Byrd, 2002). Secondly, dialogues on mixed race are no longer cast only in black and white; the proliferation of other racialized ethnic groups informs this discussion along with different histories. Third, the voice of mixed-race adults is often absent or dismissed in public debate. (6) Like Root, Hil l also suggests that paradigms for understanding racial hybridity in the contemporary context have shifted as a result of an increasing ability "to define oneself in one's own terms" (228). This is one of the elements that Hil l notes makes the Canadian context distinctly different for biracial individuals who have black ancestry: [g]rowing up, I was aware that Canada provided me with a little maneuvering space that my American cousins did not have. For example, I didn't have the weight of a legally sanctioned United States school system telling me that I had to attend this particular school because I was black. Unlike my cousins, I had at least some room to concoct my own identity, declare it, test it out, see how it flew out there in my world. This, I think, is what still defines Canada today for a mixed- race person. There is some wiggle room. (229) Hil l acts on this privilege of having extra "wiggle room" to self-identify. He asserts that he and his sister "are black simply because we are. We have black ancestors, and we identify with it, and that, dear friends, is that" (231). Each of these writers, Zack, Root, 125 Hil l , and Camper, in their own ways, suggests the importance of self-identification for racially hybrid individuals. Many of the recent analyses of mixed-race issues base their theoretical conclusions on transcripts from autobiographical accounts of their subjective experiences of racialization. In particular, these autobiographical accounts often highlight the ways in which phenotypes are read and the situational and negotiated forms of agency that can be employed despite these folk traditions of reading race through markers. Many current theories of mixed-race identity draw attention to the lived experiences of those engaged in mixed-race situations and the strategies that these people enact in their daily lives. Other contemporary theories on multiracial experiences explore the spatial dimensions implicit in multiracial subjectivity. Interestingly, Mahtani draws on work by feminist theorists Gillian Rose and Elspeth Probyn to examine how multiracial women inhabit "mobile paradoxical spaces" (Parker and Song 173). By looking at the places where such women feel they do belong rather than where they do not, Mahtani's approach inverts the tragic and pathological sites of identification to suggest the ways in which agency and the particularities of identity affect how one spatializes identifications. Lawrence Hill 's autobiography is representative of many autobiographies written by racially hybrid individuals in terms of content. Interpellation is central to autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity and the cover hints at these different ways of seeing the racially hybrid body, a feature that is described in detail in the autobiography itself. The narrative trajectory for the biracial person often starts with the memory of a childhood trauma signified by a moment or series of events where the 126 biracial child is interpellated. This remembering of the event(s) is usually followed by a journey or return to cultural roots, often resulting in the racially hybrid person either gaining a renewed connection to both parts of his/her cultural and racial identity or becoming engulfed in despair and confusion with his/her identity. Although the content in Hill 's autobiography is in keeping with other autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity, the structure of his work is unique for an autobiography. Multiple narratives of racially hybrid Canadians are invoked throughout Hill 's story to support or qualify his experience of racial hybridity. He repeatedly reflects on the affect that conducting these interviews with other racially hybrid Canadians has had on his growing sense of identity. In this way the narrative both describes Hill 's experience of "growing up black and white in Canada" and, simultaneously, presents a summary of key points that the interviewees shared with Hil l on the topic of racial hybridity. In this respect his work is both his own autobiography and the biography of a racially hybrid community of people in Canada. In addition, Hil l uses different registers in this work to draw upon other aspects of his research into the larger phenomenon of racial hybridity and at these moments in the text, the thread of his own autobiographical story and indeed his autobiographical voice is lost. This structure and his use of different registers present a fragmented and polyvocal narrative which allows the reader to view Hill 's autobiography as both his unique experience and also as one that is shared by many other biracial Canadians. In general the work that Hi l l cites, the interviews he selects for his autobiography and the theses he refers to suggest that the racially hybrid body represents the terrors, taboos and myths 127 around racial identity that are common to North American history. These socio-cultural views of blood and belonging are consistently addressed in Hill 's autobiography as the subtext that informs the scenes of interpellation that mark the experience of racial hybridity. Scenes of interpellation are central features in autobiographical accounts of racial hybridity. This work suggests that the reading of the soma text of many biracial individuals is somewhat like deciphering hieroglyphics in terms of its impenetrable excess and complicated symbolism. Writers often document the constant process of revealing and concealing their identity according to the racialized gaze and repeated references to the effects of being interpellated, highlight the unique aspects that mark this form of embodiment as distinct from monoracial experiences of identity. One consistent theme that runs throughout these narratives is the idea that the family system, the community and the larger nation often do not present mirrors that reflect the soma text of the mixed race individual, making for a number of challenging experiences in racial identity formation. One of the most common responses to this set of unique circumstances that appears to exist crossracially throughout these autobiographies is the idea of faking it or trying to "fit in" by performing a monoracial identity.42 Wah's notions of faking it parallel the process of passing that is consistently found in narratives that feature racially hybrid characters. In Chapter Three I return to this idea of faking it as articulated by Fred Wah in Faking it: Poetics and Hybridity, Critical Writing 1984-1999 (2000) in order to outline the narrative possibilities that performing racial and cultural 128 drag offer for racially and culturally hybrid characters who "fake it" by passing as monoracial. When the soma text of the individual is not in accordance with the monoracial act or an authentic monoracial identity is not verified by behaviour or the soma text (skin, blood, body), an individual may experience trauma due to misrecognition. Over time, these experiences can lead to the adoption of a situational identity. Numerous autobiographies and passing narratives describe ambulatory or dynamic methods represented most classically in a racially hybrid character's efforts to "pass" as monoracial.43 When there are family secrets, shame and/or taboos associated with the conception of the biracial individual, the process of racial identity may be more complex. The repression of racial identity is a common theme within interracial family systems where passing is the assimilationist response to shame or fear for having or creating "tainted blood." This theme also appears in fiction and drama and will be assessed in the Chapter Three and Four. Theories on autobiography are useful in assessing the structure of Hill 's work. The narrative structure of Hill 's autobiography presents "his story" as relational and this structural component also allows him to people his story with textual "mirrors" who were largely absent in his own community. In this way the work represents Eakin's notion of the "relational se l f as constructed in autobiography and interestingly reconfigures Egan's idea of "mirror talk" within autobiography. By suggesting that his experience is shared by other racially hybrid Canadians, Hill 's work implies there can be a crossracial 129 application of the basic issues that stem from living within a racially hybrid soma text. These autobiographies document the subjective experience of racialization for racially hybrid Canadians and, in this way, these autobiographical reflections may provide textual mirrors for racially hybrid Canadians who do not meet people who mirror their racially hybrid soma texts in their daily life due to Canadian demographics. Hill 's insights into the experience of racial hybridity may be interestingly extended in a comparative analysis of other autobiographies written by racially hybrid Canadians who are not black and white. In addition to my analysis of the genre of autobiography and my description of the narrative structure, themes, and content of Hill 's work, I have been trying to locate a vocabulary for racial hybridity in terms of metaphors that are used to refer to blood- quantum and paradigms that are used to symbolize racial hybridity. In representing the experience of biracial identity, many individuals use metaphors and paradigms to chart their experience of biracial identity in monoracial worlds. Autobiographers, like Hi l l , often use language that suggests fragmentation or paradigms of incompleteness e.g. I am part Black. "Both" or "neither" paradigms are often used to refer to the experience of being part of a family system but not completely like one's parents' racial identity e.g. I am neither black nor white or I am both Asian and African. At times an individual will adopt a third space paradigm to represent their racial identity in statements such as I am a mulatto or I am a woman of color. At times within the same autobiographical account an individual may, like Hi l l , adopt different paradigms to represent the different ways in 130 which he or she has understood his or her own racial hybridity over time and in different communities. These different ways of understating one's own racially hybrid body are particularly affected by the socio-cultural fixation on identifying people according to phenotypic associations of race. The principal work that I analyze in this chapter reveals that a scopophilic world that is predicated on phenotypic associations with racial identity can lead to scopophobia for the biracial individual and any number of other reactions. Speaking out against white identity within family, lovers, society and/or friends is often one reaction. Meeting other biracial individuals and finding comfort in a third space community of racially hybrid people can often resolve many crises due to interpellation. Traveling to countries where many other racially hybrid people exist can ease an individual's discomfort about being policed by the racialized gaze for monoracial authenticity. The performative aspects of racial identity are addressed in each chapter of this dissertation and become thematic concerns in a number of narratives that feature racial hybridity. I have argued that the racialized gaze is central to the assessment of the racially hybrid soma text and informs the performative process of racialization. This visual aspect of racial hybridity has very interesting ramifications that are informed by different genres. In the next chapter on fiction I argue that racial drag is a performative act that allows a hybrid character to exert some agency. In Chapter Four I explore the performative aspects involved in dramatic performances and, in particular, the impact that performing one's race has on audience-actor viewing relations. 131 There are a number of themes that occur with frequency in these Canadian biracial autobiographies and these themes also appear in different genres. Three of the oldest and most prevalent themes in mixed race literature are "passing," the ideology that "blood will tell," and the effects of the "one drop rule." 4 4 These themes are used to illustrate some of the complex negotiations involved in biracial identity formation. Responses to the central questions "Where are you from?" and "What are you?" become a thematic concern that is found repeatedly in autobiographies by racially hybrid Canadians. If the biracial individual experiences a deficit of mirroring throughout his/her life, he or she may develop a number of unique ways of understanding the self in relation to families, communities and the larger world. This experience seems to include both the hypervisibility of the biracial individual and the invisibility or absence of individuals with similar soma texts. This visual excess and deficit makes for very interesting and complex looking relations for racially hybrid individuals orienting themselves within monoracial family systems and within the larger Canadian society. The visualization of a racially hybrid community through photos, the media popularity of racially hybrid actors, the growing demographic of racially hybrid Canadians, and emerging contemporary theories of hybridity have stimulated much of the discourse on the contemporary experience of racial hybridity in Canada. I have now established an understanding of racial hybridity as a lived experience from the self- representation of racially hybrid Canadians in autobiographies by offering Hill 's autobiography as a sample case study. At the simplest level, looking for a singular racial identity poses a unique set of questions and problems for biracial children within families 132 that have two monoracial identities. The performativity of race, racial essentialisms, and the construction of a national identity are often the subtexts for both autobiographical accounts, fictional representations of racial hybridity, and representations of racial hybridity in drama. The useful insights into the embodiment of racial hybridity, as found in Canadian autobiographical accounts will now be applied to my analysis of racial hybridity as represented in contemporary Canadian fiction (Chapter Three) and drama (Chapter Four). In Chapter Three I focus on the signifying nature of the racially hybrid body, the performative aspects involved in racial drag, and the power of the racialized gaze. In Chapter Four I develop the idea of the performative aspects of racial hybridity by examining the racially hybrid soma text and the power of the racialized gaze in terms of performance. CHAPTER THREE: FICTION "Faking it in Fiction": The Use of Racial Drag 134 And because I read and write as a mixedblood, a Native American of both Indian and European ancestry, such heteroglossia would seem, for me, to be a precondition of every utterance. (Owens, Mixedblood, 5) Though the hyphen is in the middle, it is not in the center. It is a property marker, a boundary post, a borderland, a bastard, a railroad, a last spike, a stain, a cypher, a rope, a knot, a chain (link), a foreign word, a warning sign, a head tax, a bridge, a no-man's land, a nomadic, floating magic carpet, now you see it now, you don't. The hyphen is the hybrid's dish, the mestiza's whole wheat tortillas (Andaluza 194), the Metis' apple (red on the outside, white on the inside), the happa's egg (white out, yellow in), the mulatto's cafe au lait. (Wah, Faking It, 73) Blue eyes were unusual where I came from and we were teased by our brown- and black- eyed relatives... [a]s a child I believed that any Indian unfortunate enough to have blue eyes must have the devil Scot in him or her, and I would think, 'There goes another spawn of Satan'. (Campbell, Half-breed, 43) 135 Fiction Part One: Biotexts and (auto)biography Representations of racial hybridity in contemporary Canadian fiction are the central focus of this chapter. In this chapter I base my argument on the analysis of selected works of contemporary Canadian fiction, namely, Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree, Richard Wagamese's Keeper 'NMe, and Tomson Highway's Kiss of the Fur Queen. These fictional works, like the autobiographies I analyzed in Chapter Two, and the transition texts that I preface this chapter with, concentrate on the racially hybrid soma text and the role of the racialized gaze. However, the generic conventions of autobiography and fiction produce interesting differences in a reader's reception of these works. As a transition to the fictional representations of racial hybridity I wish to examine two works that I consider transitional texts because they blur the generic conventions of autobiography and fiction. M y analysis of two key texts will provide a transition from my analysis of autobiographical accounts (Chapter Two) to fictional representations of racial hybridity (Chapter Three). Fred Wah's Diamond Grill (1996) suggests some of the ways in which the generic conventions associated with fiction and autobiography are being blurred as a part of a "hybrid aesthetic."1 Diamond Grill is written in a mixed mode that combines both autobiography and fiction. Maria Campbell's Half-breed (1973) is also an interesting transition text because it has been interpreted as the autobiography of a Metis woman and because she frames her autobiography by way of a biography of her community. In both texts, racial hybridity is framed by a Canadian biracial autobiographical voice in ways that mark these texts as distinct from the more 136 classic autobiography which is defined by Lejeune in On Autobiography as "[rjetrospective prose narrative written by a real person concerning his own existence, where the focus is his individual life, in particular, the story of his personality" (120) (italics in original). Both of these transition texts address the life of a racially hybrid Canadian writer and simultaneously locate the autobiographical "I" within the frame of Canadian historical, legal, and cultural practices by blending fiction and non-fiction (Wah), or by presenting the autobiographical "I" as speaking for a marginalized cornmunity (Campbell). In the main section of this chapter I return to the central thread of my investigation by addressing the signifying nature of the racially hybrid soma text, the impact of the racialized gaze, and the notion of passing as racial drag in contemporary Canadian fiction by engaging in a close reading of specific literary texts. My central argument in the second section of this chapter is that both racial and culturally mixed characters in these novels respond to the process of assimilation by performing racial or cultural drag in order to assimilate or "pass." Transition Texts As I identified in the last chapter on autobiography, Lejeune's theories on autobiography as outlined in On Autobiography (1989) provide the concept of the "autobiographical pact" that the reader enters when a work is labeled as autobiographic or when there is a direct correspondence between the signature of the writer and a given character's name (19-21). Both Campbell and Wah create central characters whose names are the same as the writers and both writers have declared that their work is based on 137 autobiographical source material. However, it is useful to think of the construction of a biracial autobiographical voice in these texts because of the slippage between their story and that of the larger community within which they live. In both cases the autobiographical elements are combined with explicit or implicit references to, and judgments about, the Canadian government's policies towards their communities. The inclusion of these elements demands a different kind of contract between the writer and the reader than in the strictly autobiographical pact. For this reason I have singled these texts out as transitions between the previous chapter on autobiography and the main focus of this chapter on fiction. Lejeune describes the "autobiographical pact" as "the implicit or explicit contract proposed by the author to the reader, a contract which determines the mode of reading of the text and engenders the effects which, attributed to the text, seem to us to define it as autobiography" (29). Because the autobiographical elements in these transition texts are framed by way of the material effects of Canadian legislation, some knowledge of Canadian legal history is needed to support the truth claims of these authors. In this respect the autobiographical pact and, consequently, the contract between the reader and writer shifts slightly when one reads these transition texts. The reader is positioned differently than in Hill 's relational autobiography by way of the focus on factors external to the individual's life such as the Chinese Exclusion Act (Wah) and the impact of the Indian Act which resulted in the disenfranchisement of the Metis people (Campbell). 138 Maria Campbell's Half-breed and Fred Wah's Diamond Grill represent their own stories and, simultaneously, address issues of cultural difference and familial, communal, and national belonging. Wah's work employs a number of narrative strategies in order to address both his own sense of belonging and the larger sense of belonging or displacement faced by Chinese-Canadians. Campbell's clear acknowledgement of the work as her story and also that of the Metis community, suggests that extratextual information is needed to decode the truth claims that she makes about Metis people. For this reason, Half-breed may be understood as (auto)biographical. Fred Wah positions his narrative as autobiographical, biographical, and communal. The reader is expected to examine the intertextual elements that refer to Canadian legal history and draw from extratextual historical and legal information in order to assess the truth claims of Wah's "biotext." Another aspect of these transition texts marks them as distinct from autobiography proper. Fred Wah has referred to Diamond Grill as a "biotext" and, in the acknowledgements to Diamond Grill, he states that "[a] biotext, perhaps more than any other literary genre, seems an innately cumulative performance"(np) Wah has also referred to this work as "biofiction" and states that "[t]hese are not true stories but, rather, poses or postures, necessitated, as I hope is clear in the text, by faking it" (np). By subverting the truth claims of this work, Wah clearly identifies the constructedness of his work. He strategically resists the classification of Diamond Grill as simply autobiographical. This is a very interesting position for Wah to take because it calls into question the autobiographical nature of this work while simultaneously pointing out the 139 necessity to fictionalize whenever one is writing from memory. These statements set up a different kind of reading contract, or if we use Lejeune's term, a different "autobiographical pact" between the reader and writer than the one that is central to autobiography proper. According to Lejeune, there is a different contract between the reader and writer because the process of reading fiction is "independent from what the reader knows about the author" (32). Lejeune articulates the difference between the autobiographical pact and the fictional pact in that fiction is identified by two key aspects: "obvious practice of nonidentity (the author and the protagonist do not have the same name), affirmation of fictitiousness (in general it is the subtitle novel, in current terminology, that implies a fictional pact" (15). Wah's biotext engages the reader with the work through these two different pacts simultaneously and this makes his work distinct from the type of writer- reader engagements that occur in the genre of autobiography and fiction. Wah simultaneously resists the autobiographical pact by drawing attention to the work as a fictionalized "biotext" in ways that affirm its "fictitiousness." On the one hand, Wah names his central character Fred. Jr. and uses his own family photos and experiences to substantiate the truth claims of his autobiographical voice, and on the other hand, he has fictionalized the voices of key members of his family (Illustration 7). 140 Illustration 7. This is the cover of Fred Wah's Diamond Grill (1996). The multigenerational focus of Wah's "biotext" is visually evident here as the layering of his family photos suggest the multiple embodiment of his patrilineal ancestor's bodies and stories. Nowhere in the text is there an indication that these are indeed Wah's own family photos so the reader is left to interpret them as photos that could stand in for other Chinese Canadian families or the fictional characters that he has presented in the biotext. However, in conversations about the cover, Wah has admitted that these are indeed his family photos. 141 Wah's "biotext" and Campbell's (auto)biography pose a challenge to generic classifications at the level of structure and to racial classifications at the level of character. In both cases, the writers use the main character's autobiographical voice to signify and complicate notions of belonging. Wah's autobiographical voice speaks through and for his family and Campbell articulates her story by way of the biography of her community. These transition texts blend and blur the conventions of autobiography. In both texts, the racially hybrid soma text resists a single "reading" just as the texts themselves resist easy classification as autobiography or fiction. It is my contention that racial hybridity at the level of character is complemented by the generic multiplicity of the texts themselves and that the racially hybrid character and the hybrid genre are mutually reinforcing. Maria Campbell's autobiography charts her experience within the most distinct racially hybrid community in Canada: the Metis. The novel uses the autobiographical elements of a Metis woman's life to comment on the historical process by which Metis people have been colonized and dispossessed ( I l l u s t r a t i o n 8). Campbell's work is unique in its articulation of a racially hybrid Native woman's subaltern voice and in her declaration that this is both her own story and that of her community. In the introduction Campbell states: "I write this for all of you to tell you what it is like to be a Halfbreed woman in our country" (2). This statement identifies Campbell's motive, her sense of an audience, and it also demonstrates her conflation of her autobiographical voice with the voice of a narrator who is representing the biography of the Metis people. 142 yOU Witt NEVER FORGET! Illustration 8. This is the cover for Maria Campbell's (auto)biography Half-Breed (1973). Campbell's photo and clothing signify her racial hybridity and her self-assured gaze suggests that she has moved beyond the tragic "half-breed" story. It is also interesting to note that the by-line for this book does not refer to the indigeneity that the title and her photo both signify. The controversial disenfranchisement of the Metis people, which is central to this narrative, is obscured. 143 The double-voiced aspect of Campbell's (auto)biography is evident in the first chapter in that Campbell frames her own autobiography by way of the historical treatment of the Metis people, which she charts from the 1860s in Saskatchewan.3 Campbell's own voice surfaces only after she has created a context for her voice and her story by first providing a picture of the devastating effects that colonization has had on her people: The Halfbreeds [then] became squatters on their land and were eventually run off by the new owners. One by one they drifted back to the road lines and crown lands where they built cabins and barns and from then on were known as the 'Road Allowance people.' (8) The devastation of Campbell's own family is conflated here with the devastation of the Metis people. This devastation impacted Campbell's own life: "I hurt because in my childhood I saw glimpses of a proud and happy people" but, after they were dispossessed as a community she "never saw [her father] or any of our men walk with their heads held high before white people" (9). This sense of failure as a result of the disenfranchisement and colonization of the Metis people, according to Campbell, is the cause of her parents' drinking and her sense of hopelessness about the future. It is also the motivation for her desire to write her autobiography as a way of working through this sadness and trauma. In this sense, her assertion of her (auto)biography can be read as a form of her own and her community's resistance to oppression. The narrative compulsion to tell her own story by way of this larger story of the Metis people is based on her desire to explain the context within which she and her people have become disempowered. In this respect, her 144 work may be understood as a blend of both biography and autobiography or simply called (auto)biography. Wah also presents his biotext in the context of his community and in light of Canadian history. Wah frames his autobiographical voice by way of his grandparents' experiences of immigration, the process of assimilation, and identifies numerous experiences of racism. In a newspaper article that appeared in The Calgary Herald, Wah suggests that this work gave him a place to release his anger, and he describes the process of writing this book as cathartic.4 By locating the personal story within the legal and historical disenfranchisement of people of colour, both Wah and Campbell are engaged in a personal and political act of "writing back."5 In Half-breed and Diamond Grill the intergenerational effects of displacement resulting from the forces of colonization are represented alongside the characters' own shifting allegiances within marginalized and hegemonic sites. These writers negotiate this tension between assimilation and belonging and explicitly and implicitly question notions of belonging and identity in Canada. The intergenerational foci of these works also suggest the multiple layers that make up the story of the autobiographical "I". This communal emphasis resists the idea of the lone individual who can chart his/her life story without reference to familial, communal, and national discourse about who constitutes a Canadian subject. Such work may be read, then, as emphasizing the constructedness of the autobiographical subject, which is made even more relevant by the multiple positions of the racially hybrid character and by the narrative instability of the "biotext" that blends autobiography and fiction.6 Such transition texts require the reader to understand the 145 specific legal and historical contexts that these writers represent as formational to their identities. The reader of such work has a slightly different contract or pact with the author because of these inherently political intertextual references. In order to verify the truth claims made by the autobiographical narrator one must refer to non-fictional sources that exist outside of the autobiography itself. Wah and Campbell's autobiographical voices are constructed in relation to policies of assimilation that have negatively affected their respective communities. These representations of a hyphenated subject position are also inherently political and signify Canada's particular relation to hyphenated identities; Maria Campbell as a racially hybrid Metis woman and Fred Wah as a Chinese-Canadian man. Of course, discursive constructions of hybridity in the Canadian context are affected by Western and Anglophone notions of hybridity.7 In the Canadian context, the hyphen is often seen as a byproduct of the implementation of the policies of multiculturalism. The hyphen signifies a hybrid identity by making new categories of Canadians such as African-Canadian, Asian-Canadian and the like. For some Canadians, the hyphen marks a place of multiplicity and/or ambiguity and for others it carries negative stigma by suggesting that one is outside of the simple national referent of "Canadian." Although the term Metis does not explicitly use a hyphen, its historical usage signifies a hyphenated racial hybridity that combines Scottish, French and indigenous identities. Hyphenation has been the focus of a number of different debates on national identity and has also influenced discussions of aesthetics in Canadian literary theories. I will briefly outline one such theory in order to assert the utility of it for the analysis of 146 racial hybridity in a given text. In Faking it: Poetics and Hybridity, Critical Writing 1984-1999 (2000), Wah has articulated a theory of hybridity called "Half-bred Poetics," which focuses on the role of the "hyphen."8 In his own hybridity theory, Wah clearly links this punctuation to much larger notions of instability in the text.9 Because he is both a poet and a critic, Wah also provides a deeper poetic associative reference for his use of the hyphen in "Half-bred Poetics": Though the hyphen is in the middle, it is not in the center. It is a property marker, a boundary post, a borderland, a bastard, a railroad, a last spike, a stain, a cipher, a rope, a knot, a chain (link), a foreign word, a warning sign, a head tax, a bridge, a no-man's land, a nomadic, floating magic carpet, now you see it now, you don't. The hyphen is the hybrid's dish, the mestiza's whole wheat tortillas (Andaluza 194), the Metis' apple (red on the outside, white on the inside), the happa's egg (white out, yellow in), the mulatto's cafe au lait. (73) Wah's use of the hyphen suggests a number of spatializations of identity based on hyphenation and these spatializations are ultimately linked to a racially hybrid body.1 0 Wah's hybridity theory shifts from the hyphen to a conflation of the hyphen and the body of the mixed-race writer, when he presents " A Poetics of Ethnicity." He focuses on the notion of an applied poetic "as the tool designated or located by writers and artists to initiate movement and change" (51)." In his elaboration of a poetics of ethnicity, Wah charts different counter-hegemonic strategies used in the writing of a number of different minority writers in Canada (64-66). Although he grounds his use of the hyphen and the development of his "Half-bred Poetics" in his own racialized body, he also suggests the 147 utility of his "Half-bred Poetics" for other minorities or hyphenated writers: "My own interest in the site and sign of the hyphen is essentially from a blood quantum point of view, that is, as a 'mixed blood.' Others occupy the site as immigrants, or as visible minorities, or as political allies" but, according to Wah, can still invoke and utilize a "hybrid borderland poetics" (74). Although writers with different hybrid identities may not frame their hybrid identity by way of the "hyphen," he broadens the usefulness of the "Half-bred Poetics" from those who are, as he is, "racially mixed." So, although his theory is based on blood-quantum ideologies, here Wah suggests that the utility of his "Half-bred Poetics" can be extended beyond racially mixed writers. In addition to his poetic play with the hyphen, Wah, like Bhabha, refers to the ambivalence and dynamic counter-hegemonic aspects of hybrid or hyphenated spaces. Wah states that the "site of this poetics for me, and many other multiracial and multi- cultural writers, is the hyphen, that marked (or unmarked) space that both binds and divides" (72). Wah focuses "on the scene of the hyphen as a crucial location for working at hybridity's implicit ambivalence" (73). Whereas Bhabha refers to the "third space" as a locus of tension, Wah refers to the "hyphen" as an active agent in challenging hegemony. Wah suggests that the "constant pressure that the hyphen brings to bear against the master narratives of duality, multiculturalism, and apartheid creates a volatile space that is inhabited by a wide range of voices" (74).12 In a Bhabhian move, Wah draws attention to the role that the hyphen plays as an active instrument of disturbance and/or dissonance but Wah qualifies this by referring to the role of the "hybrid writer" as agitator. Wah argues that "the hybrid writer must (one 148 might suspect, necessarily) develop instruments of disturbance, dislocation, and displacement. The hyphen, even when it is noted, is often silent and transparent. I'd like to make the noise surrounding it more audible, the pigment of its skin more visible" (73). It seems that Wah is advocating a form of resistance to the silence that has surrounded racial hybridity in Canada by suggesting that the position of the hybrid subject can be utilized as a space of resistance to hegemony rather than simply being a place of alterity. His evocative use of the hyphen to refer to physical and sonic elements is further enriched by his personification of the hyphen through the metaphor of a racialized body. Here Wah represents his "Half-bred Poetics" as a dynamic tool that is available to the hybrid writer. Wah also outlines the relationship between the hyphenated identity and the imagination. He seeks to foreground "the dynamic of the hyphen as operating with some force through accumulated value as both an identity container and a factional and 13 generative device in shaping possible imaginations." In this respect, Wah is one of the few hybridity theorists in Canada to suggest the utility of the hyphen as a device for literary criticism. Wah's contribution to hybridity theories, like Bhabha's articulation of a "third space," suggests the dynamic potentiality involved in hybrid subjectivity. However, Wah elaborates on how one might negotiate this hyphenated discursive space by "faking it," and also suggests how hybridity, in particular racial hybridity, may influence one's creative and imaginative responses in ways that are linked to, but not confined to, one's blood-quantum. In both Campbell's and Wah's biotexts, the biracial character's attempts to "pass" for monoracial may be understood as a form of faking it in 149 order for their central characters to fit into different discursive communities that are based on essentialist ideas about blood-quantum and authenticity. I have outlined some of Wah's hybridity theories in order to suggest some of the ways in which they may be usefully applied to what Sneja Gunew refers to as the growing "self-consciously titled genre of 'mixed race' texts."14 The study of literature that features racial hybridity continues to gain prominence in academia. The recently published Mixed Race Literature (2002), Mulattos and Mestizos: Representing Mixed Identities in the Americas 1850-2000 (2003), Confounding the Color Line: The Indian- Black Experience in North America (2002), the recently published collection of essays Asian North American Identities: Beyond the Hyphen (2004), and the U B C course (English 490) taught by Glenn Deer on "Multi-Ethnic and Mixed-Race Identities in Literature and Film" are some of the many contemporary examples of the growing academic interest in expanding the discourse around racial hybridity. The most recent articulations of hybridity theories, like Wah's, are based on the notion of the soma text of the racially hybrid subject. Corporeal constructions of race in Canada are addressed in Minelle Mahtani's essay, "I'm a Blond-Haired, Blue-eyed, Black Gir l" in Rethinking 'Mixed Race' (2001). Mahtani's research is important because she points out the situational aspects of mixed-race interpellation and, rather than pathologizing mixed race subjectivity as inherently tragic, she focuses on the places where mixed race women in Toronto feel they do fit in. This dynamic concept of racial hybridity, suggested here by Mahtani, has important implications because it suggests that hybridity is not just a fixed category but rather an ontological marker that takes on very 150 specific contours according to racialized contexts.15 Wah, Campbell, and other mixed- race writers' autobiographical reflections often highlight incidents of being marked racially by language due to visible racial encodings and often note the powerful effect that language has on their identity formation. These theorists also importantly suggest that specific "readings" of racially hybrid bodies are not static. When examined crossracially it is evident that the racially hybrid soma text is often read for signs of an authentic racial identity. These narratives chart the process of racialization through their racially hybrid characters' responses to the racialized gaze and, as such, these works can be read as racialized bildungsromans. Fred Jr. in Diamond Grill goes through a number of qualifications as he discovers his links to his Chinese heritage. The central character in Campbell's Half-breed also goes through a quest for a stable racial identity. The tension between assimilation and acceptance in one's marginalized community as a central theme, is heightened in these transition texts because the central character is also struggling with the tension of living within a multiply-coded, racially hybrid soma text. The dedication to Wah's biotext, a poem Waiting for Saskatchewan suggests the difficulties faced by mixed race individuals, the practice of "faking it" when you are not "pure" or monoracial. This dedication captures the thematic issues that inform Campbell and Wah's search for a stable identity (Illustration 9). By looking closely at the ways in which their soma texts are read and qualified, we can gain insight into the representations of the process of racialization for biracial Canadians, the signifying nature of the racially hybrid somatext, and the powerful impact of the racialized gaze. 151 You were part Chinese I tell them. They look at me. I'm pulling their leg. So I'm Chinese too and that's why my name is Wah. They don't really believe me. That's o.k. When you're not "pure" you just make it up. — f r o m Waiting for Saskatchewan Illustration 9. Wah's dedication in Diamond Grill (1996) suggests the centrality of the racialized gaze, the embodiment of racial hybridity and the concept of "faking it" as a reaction to being "read" as "impure." 152 The "look" of one's soma text determines how the racially hybrid body is read and many racially hybrid individuals develop a sensitivity to the gaze and utilize visual means to decode and respond to the racialized gaze. In Chapter One of her autobiography, Campbell describes her parents by way of their racially hybrid soma texts. Her father is described as "a very good-looking man with black curly hair and blue-grey eyes, strong, rowdy, and wild" (13). Campbell describes her mother as "very beautiful, tiny, blue-eyed and auburn-haired" (13). In addition to this description of their racially hybrid soma texts, Campbell suggests that their desire for each other was occasioned by the gaze. Campbell describes her father's interest in her mother as stemming from visual appreciation: "When [he] saw my mother, who was then fifteen, [he] wanted her and took her [. . ..] Dad first saw Mom cooking bannock over a fire outside her parents' tent. She flipped the bannock over just like his mother did. When she looked up he nearly fell off the wagon she was so pretty" (13). He is attracted to the familiar and culturally relevant indigenous food that she is cooking and his desire is linked to her racially hybrid somatextuality. Campbell's mother's desire for her father is also described through visual codes: "Mom said she saw him and knew she belonged to him" (13). These descriptions of her parents' soma texts and their visual delight in each other suggest that the visual appreciation of their mutual mixedness was part of the stimulus that led to their betrothal. In Diamond Grill, Fred Jr. also describes his father's mixedness and "the problems my father has from both the Chinese (he's a half-breed, he's really a white man, he's married to a white woman) and the Wasps (he looks Chinese, he can talk Chinese, and he runs the cafe, right?)" (39). Wah identifies a self-consciousness about his own 153 somatextual signifiers and the importance of his own light-skinned racial hybridity when he states: "I don't look Chinese. I'm pretty white" (39). Fred Jr.'s body becomes a site of contention for his white grandparents and the following passage suggests that his racially hybrid soma text was greeted with relief: "my blond hair and blue eyes enough to ease her parents' anxiety about the color of their grandson's skin" (43). Because of the racial hybridity of their father, and their white mother, the bodies of the Wah children are a range of tones and racially hybrid soma texts. Wah uses a humorous and ironic tone to discuss this range of tones in relation to blood-quantum in the following passage: I'm just a Baby, maybe six months (.5%) old. One of my aunts is holding me on her knee. Sitting on the ground in front of us are her two daughters, 50% Scottish. Another aunt, the one who grew up in China with my father, sits on the step with her first two children around her. They are 75% Chinese. There is another little 75% girl cousin, the daughter of another 50% aunt who married a 100% full- blooded Chinaman (full-blooded, from China even). At the back of the black-and- white photograph is my oldest cousin; he's 25% Chinese. His mother married a Scot from North Battleford and his sisters married Italians from Trail. So, there, spread out on the stoop of a house in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, we have our own little western Canadian multicultural stock exchange. (83) Despite this comic tone about the range of Chinese racially hybrid soma texts within his family, Fred Jr. is still traumatized by being read as Chinese in elementary school. 154 Wah clearly identifies the power of the racialized gaze and the impact of interpellation when he writes: "[u]ntil Mary McNutter calls me a chink I'm not one [. . .] I don't have to be because I don't look like one" (98). Here Wah identifies the power of the racialized gaze and the way in which bodies can be raced according to how they are read. As a result of this traumatic experience, Fred decides to "become as white as [he] can, which, considering I'm mostly Scandinavian, is pretty easy for me" (98). Clearly this is an example of the racially hybrid person's desire to pass being formed as a direct response to the traumatic experience of being interpellated as "Other"—a theme that also appears in the fiction I examine later in this chapter. Because Campbell and Wah are racially mixed, their soma texts are constantly assessed by the gaze for signs of authenticity. Campbell is born with dark curly hair and her brother tells her: "you're too black and your hair is like a nigger's" ( 14 ) . Throughout her early childhood Campbell's hair becomes a marker of her racial hybridity. Her Cheechum (grandmother) tries in vain to tame this hair in order for Maria to display the signifiers that will allow her to be read as Native: M y hair was one of Cheechum's pet grievances and she would attack it with the same patience and determination that she revealed whenever she decided to change something [. . .] She would spend an hour rubbing bear grease into it and then braid it. The grease was to keep the curls from popping out of the braids and to give me a shiny, tidy look. (53) Campbell was told that this process would make her hair straight and that this would be advantageous because long straight hair is one of the racial qualifiers of an authentic 155 Native identity. Campbell interrupts this childhood memory and suggests that the belief in the ideal of long straight hair as a marker of indigeneity still affects her by stating that: "today at thirty-three, my hair is straight as a poker" (53). In addition to her hair being read for signs of Native blood-quantum, Campbell's skin tone and eye color also represented her racially hybrid soma text and marked her as different: Instead of tanning a golden brown my already dark complexion would go almost black during the summer. Black hair was supposed to have, as the storybooks went, snapping black eyes or sparkling brown ones. Mine were green. M y aunts, uncles and cousins all had brown or black eyes and used to tease me for having dark hair and skin—'like a nigger' they said—and eyes like a white man. (95) Although Campbell grows up in a Metis community with visually mixed-race parents, she is still subject to exclusion because of the type of racial hybridity that her soma text signified in this community. Campbell recalls her Cheechum's warning about white people: "They try to make you hate your people" (51). However, the quote above suggests that the hatred for her racially mixed soma text also came from her own racially hybrid family and not just from the white community. In addition to this familial rejection for not looking "Indian enough," Campbell is insulted throughout her life for looking "too Indian." In her foster home she hears her foster mother refer to the children as being "only good for two things—working and fucking. She made jokes about hot bucks and hot squaws and talked like we were animals in the barnyard" (108). At the same time Campbell states that her foster mother would 156 "go to dances in nearby communities and sneak off into the bushes with the men" and she also made "countless passes at [Maria's] Dad" (108). These mixed messages about sexuality, interracial desire, and gender informed Campbell's developing sense of an identity and contributed to her trauma about being positioned as a "half-breed." Campbell also writes about the divisiveness between the Native and Half-breed community she grew up in. She refers to her Indian relatives on nearby reserves and states that "[fjhere was never much love lost between Indians and Halfbreeds. They were completely different from us—quiet when we were noisy, dignified even at dances and get-togethers. Indians were very passive—they would get angry at things done to them but would never fight back, whereas Halfbreeds were quick-tempered—quick to fight, but quick to forgive and forget" (25). Campbell suggests that these cultural differences stemmed from the fact that, "[fjhey had land and security, we had nothing" (25). Although Campbell recalls that she learned many traditional practices from her Cheechum such as beading and tanning hides and was included in traditional ceremonies, because of her racially hybrid soma text she was forever denied an unconditional acceptance by her Native relatives. As an example of this rejection, Campbell recalls that expressing her opinion was regarded as a consequence of "the white in her" because she is told that, "[fjreaty women don't express their opinions, Halfbreed women do" (26). Fred Jr. also learns about the codes of Chinese identity and a part of this acculturation is associated with food. Fred Jr. explains that, "Dad doesn't cook much with ginger but whenever I accidentally bite into a piece of ginger root in the beef and greens, I make a face and put it aside. This makes him mad, not because he doesn't think ginger 157 is bitter but because I have offended his pride in the food he prepares for us. Ginger becomes the site of an implicit racial qualification" (11). In addition to these implicit judgments about the degree of Fred Jr.'s "Chineseness," which is understood by his acceptance of certain foods, he is also judged by other codes of Chinese identity. In this liminal position, Fred Jr. states that language and Chinese culture are difficult for someone who is "half Swede, quarter Chinese, and quarter Ontario Wasp" (36). Passing, for Fred Jr., becomes a way of fitting into the monoracial community that reads him as white. Embracing his Chinese ancestry allows him to incorporate those aspects of his heritage that are Chinese. He is able to negotiate both sites and concludes, "the name is all I've had to work through"; when he is asked "What kind of name is that, Wah?" he responds, "Chinese I say. I'm part Chinese. And she says, boy you could sure fool me. You don't look Chinese at all" (169). Although he is still read as non-Chinese in a number of different sites, Fred Jr. chooses to claim his mixedness and declare that he is part Chinese rather than pass as non-Chinese. Passing is an issue that is central to many narratives that feature racial hybridity. When a work is represented as autobiographical, the reader accepts the truth claims that the writer presents because the reader assumes that the writer is referring to his or her lived experience because of the "autobiographical pact." In these transition texts, the conventions of autobiography and fiction (Wah) and autobiography and biography (Campbell) become blurred. Wah constructs a biofictional "I" and Campbell constructs a communal "I." Wah uses intertexts and multiple voices in ways that remove his autobiographical voice from the center of the narrative. These features distinguish his 158 work from autobiography. Campbell's authorial voice is one that is an omniscient narrator that documents the Metis people and this distance from her own autobiographical voice marks her work as distinct from autobiography. The constructedness of these transition texts allows the reader to gain some narrative distance from the truth claims of the work and both transition texts demand a more inclusive and multifaceted pact than operates between reader and writer in autobiography proper. When addressing the very same phenomenon of passing in fiction, the writer is even less invested in the truth claims of the work because the contract between the reader and writer is different. In fiction, racial hybridity becomes less of a statement of the material effects of this form of embodiment on the racially or culturally hybrid writer. The genre of fiction allows the writer to explore a number of different narrative possibilities that extend beyond the lived experience of the writer. Because of the distance between the writer and the representation of the racially or culturally hybrid character, it becomes useful to think of hybridity as a trope that is available to writers to comment on a range of issues that are signified by the representation of racial or cultural hybridity in fiction. Although generic conventions affect writer and reader engagements, the central theme of passing, the representation of the racially hybrid body as a unique form of embodiment, and the powerful impact of the racialized gaze link these works crossgenerically and crossracially. 159 Part Two: Racial Hybridity in Fiction In one of the most comprehensive analyses of the theme of interraciality in literature, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature (1997), Werner Sollors identifies a number of different types of passing including: "Jews passing for Gentiles, Polish immigrants preferring to be German, Italians pretending to be Jewish, the Japanese Eta concealing their group identity to avoid discrimination, [and] the Anglo-Indians passing as British" (257). Despite these various forms of passing, Sollors concludes that passing is used most frequently "as if it were short for 'passing for white,' in the sense of 'crossing over' the color line in the United States from the black to the white side" (247). Although we can gain insight into the form of these narratives and identify specific character types based on critical discourse on American passing narratives, one must be aware of the ways in which they are culturally and historically specific and affected by temporal considerations. Sollors argues that "racial passing is particularly a phenomenon of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century" (247). The twenty-first century may be witness to the widest variety of passing narratives because contemporary texts represent not just the overdetermined trope of black and white racially mixed characters attempting to pass but, a number of different types of racially and culturally hybrid characters who attempt to pass. Contemporary passing narratives represent different types of racially mixed characters, expose different ramifications of racial and cultural hybridity, and investigate other nuances involved with negotiating the world as a racially and/or culturally hybrid individual. Canadian passing narratives represent a different demographic of people, are 160 informed by different cultural beliefs, and signify a different legal history regarding race and interraciality. Although Canadian passing narratives are increasingly being published and gaining some critical attention, to date they have not been given the same kind of critical attention as American passing narratives. Because American passing narratives have been critically examined in depth, insights into the aesthetic use of the racially hybrid character as a trope, if applied with care and attention to difference, can provide a basis for the examination of contemporary Canadian passing narratives. Racially and culturally mixed characters that "pass" in contemporary Canadian novels have a literary predecessor in the "tragic mulatto" figure who performed racial drag and cultural drag in order to assimilate into hegemonic populations and survive. The dominant theme of racial passing in American literature features racially mixed characters, usually "mulattos" or "octoroons," using subterfuge and disguise to escape from slavery or the Southern states.16 In the canon of American literature, the "tragic mulatto" has become the primary trope for the racially mixed character. However, in contemporary Canadian First Nations' literature, racial hybridity appears most frequently in representations of "mixed blood" and "half-breed" characters.17 American passing narratives that feature the "tragic mulatto," in effect reinforced a racial ideology that suggests that one is inherently conscripted to embracing a particular part of one's ancestry. The contemporary Canadian passing narratives that I examine in this chapter also suggest that the presence of indigeneity in one's ancestry indelibly marks one as indigenous. In this way, these Canadian and American passing narratives both serve to reinforce binaries about race and invoke a racial essentialism that denies the 161 racially or culturally hybrid character the license to perform both aspects of their hybrid identities. Racially and culturally mixed characters in contemporary Canadian First Nations' literature are similar to their American counterpart, the "tragic mulatto," in particular the representation of performative aspects of "passing." According to Judith Butler, passing can be understood as "a performative enactment of 'race'" (Bodies 185). Where drag may be understood as a form of gender passing, racial drag may be understood as race passing, and cultural drag may also be understood as a form of passing. The main characters in Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree, Richard Wagamese's Keeper 'NMe, and Tomson Highway's Kiss of the Fur Queen provide good examples of characters who enact different forms of racial or cultural drag in order to "pass." Racial and cultural drag in these novels represent a range of responses to the process of assimilation. As "passing narratives," these novels offer different resolutions to the tension between assimilation and maintaining cultural integrity. In First Nations' literature, this tension is often presented as a choice between embracing either indigeneity or assimilation. Representations of racial and cultural drag in the primary fiction that I analyze in this chapter reveal a number of responses to forced assimilation and the postcolonial condition by foregrounding the methods by which individuals become indoctrinated into performing race and rejecting their indigeneity. My analysis in this part of this chapter will allow me to identify multiple responses to the process of assimilation by addressing the impact that foster homes, adoption, and residential school has the main characters in these novels. These fictional representations of racial and cultural drag foreground the 162 methods by which Native characters learn to perform indigeneity and the ways in which they "pass" by performing racial or cultural drag. These contemporary Canadian passing narratives suggest multiple responses to the process of assimilation for indigenous populations in Canada who have been victims of these assimilation policies. The representation of this demographic of people in these passing narratives references Canadian historical conditions. My examination of the ways in which Canadian Native characters learn how to perform or reject indigeneity illustrates this performance response process and highlight the ways in which characters "pass" by performing racial or cultural drag in fiction. In each novel, the drag performance is developed in response to being removed from indigenous communities, as reactions against negative stereotypes of indigeneity and, in each novel, the revelation of a character's indigeneity exposes the drag performance. Each of the main characters in these novels performs drag in order to survive in 18 settings where they are removed from their indigenous families and communities. April performs racial drag in In Search of April Raintree after she is removed from her family and placed in foster care. Jeremiah performs cultural drag when he is removed from his indigenous community and tries to cope with this dislocation by performing the urban Indian and hybrid artist in Kiss of the Fur Queen. Because Garnet Raven in Keeper n' Me is adopted into a white home, he is removed from his indigeneity and, consequently, learns to perform a lateral racial drag by performing a variety of brown-toned identities. Each of these drag performances is a consequence of a character being removed from his/her indigenous community. The drag performances can be read as responses to 163 forced assimilation. In addition, these performances of drag highlight the categories of race and essentialism(s) associated with racial identity. While these characters are not all racially hybrid, the plots in these novels centre on their attempts to "pass" and, in this way, they are linked with other passing narratives that feature racially mixed characters performing racial drag. In each of these novels, racial identity is constructed within the confines of compulsory norms that are connected with survival. The negotiation of identity involved when a racially or culturally mixed character chooses to perform racial drag may be understood within the context of Gerald Vizenor's definition of "survivance" whereby passing is a strategy for survival (Fugitive Poses 15). Forms of survivance for racially mixed characters may involve cultural, social or racial drag, which allow the character to advance closer to hegemonic ideals and attain social status.19 These forms of drag are distinct from those that are solely for entertainment as they are linked to each character's psychic survival. The survival of these characters is informed by compulsory systems of identity. Butler suggests that "as a strategy of survival within compulsory systems, gender is a performance with clearly punitive consequences" (Gender 178). I extend Butler's notions of performativity to the context of racial and cultural drag because these novels suggest that performing race also involves compulsory systems and may result in punitive consequences for people who cannot "pass" as monoracial. 164 The repetition of the compulsory practice of racialization portrayed in these novels parallels Butler's notions of the performativity of gender in which repetition of compulsory gender norms leads to the assignment of a gender "performativity" (Gender 173). Similarly, within these novels the compulsory practice that results from the process of racialization involves the negotiation of certain racial demarcations that are based on racial binaries. Thus, Butler's notion of the "theatricality of gender" within the context of drag is a useful framework to understand the theatricality of race that is represented in these novels (Bodies 232).21 One of the reactions to this process of racialization that allows the individual more agency, is the use of racial drag. The performance of drag involves a certain level of duplicity. Cheryl and April in In Search of April Raintree deceive each other and are coded in a way that perpetuates 99 the trope of the duplicitous racially mixed character. Their dishonesty causes their alienation from each other; April hides the truth about their parents, which causes Cheryl to mistrust her, and Cheryl conceals her own truth about her lifestyle and her baby, which causes a life-threatening situation for April. April understands the impact of this mutual deceit when she notes that "as it is, I lie to protect her and she lies to protect me, and we both lose out" (185). Both characters, in this respect, fulfill the thematic function of the duplicitous and deceitful mixed race character. This character type has existed in many fictional representations of the half-breed. Louise Owens suggests that "the tortured and torturing 'breed' has served as a matrix for the conflicted terrors of Euroamerica, the horror of liminality that is the particular trauma of the colonized mind" (25). While I agree with Owens' assertion, the half-breed 165 character is also informed by the specific somatextual encodings that signify indigeneity or light-skinned privilege so it is not accurate to suggest that all half-breed characters function in the same way in literary texts. The extent to which the soma text of the racially hybrid character is liminal depends upon the external markings of race. The multiple ways in which Cheryl and April's mixed race bodies are "raced" determine the limits of their ability to engage in a racial drag performance. Unlike Cheryl, April can pass as white and thus April's soma text, though equally mixed, becomes a more frightening liminal hybrid. April's body functions as a soma text that becomes the locus of crises occasioned by crossing racial demarcations. In this respect we may speak of April's body as a soma text that is the site for multiple levels of doubleness and narrative crises, and a body that is also a signifier of the tension between indigeneity and assimilation. Doubleness is signified in these novels by forms of racially hybrid embodiment, the presence of character doubles, and the act of passing. For racially or culturally mixed characters, the performative aspects of identity are constantly being negotiated and, as a result, code switching is fundamental in a passing narrative. Drag performance involves an element of code switching and ambiguity which suggests a doubleness of identity. Somatextual doubling occurs in the novel In Search of April Raintree because April and Cheryl are referred to as sisters who look exactly the same, "almost as identical twins, except for our skin colouring" (106). Within each child there is a further level of doubling signified by their dual heritage and racially hybrid embodiment. 166 The doubleness at the level of somatextual hybridity is also evident at the plot level. The relationship between April and Cheryl dramatizes April's internal "warring blood"24 as Cheryl becomes the externalized representation of April's indigeneity. This narrative doubling implies that the difference in their skin color is the primary physical characteristic that defines their different paths. These levels of doubling, the ambiguity of the character's racially hybrid soma texts, and the act of passing create narrative tension and involve code switching at the level of characterization, racially hybrid embodiment, and plot development. Narrative doubling and somatextual mirroring also occur within the novel Keeper N' Me. Stanley Raven is Garnet Raven's physical double and represents Garnet's lost indigeneity. The importance of somatextual mirrors has been traced in Chapter Two with reference to the mirroring that many biracial people seek within their family systems and larger social circles. It is also true that people who are visible minorities may seek others who mirror their soma texts. In this novel, Garnet Raven has grown up in white foster homes and consequently longs to meet other people who will look like him and can visually mirror, and consolidate his sense of indigeneity. When Garnet finally meets his brother Stanley Raven he says: "when I looked at this guy it was almost like looking into a mirror except for there being a ponytail where the Afro should have been and a definite absence of funky threads" (34). The doubling of characters in both novels dramatizes the main characters' struggles with indigeneity and also reinforces the theme of the doubleness of racial and cultural hybridity.25 167 In Kiss of the Fur Queen, Jeremiah and Gabriel are brothers but they are not paired in the same way that the siblings in the other novels are. The doubling in this narrative revolves around traditional notions of sibling responsibility at the level of the plot. Jeremiah is the older sibling and is given the responsibility of looking after his brother. Jeremiah's tie to his brother becomes the test of his ability to honour his traditional role as protector of his younger-brother double throughout the novel. This narrative doubling is reinforced by the theme of cultural drag. In addition, Jeremiah's connection to his narrative double signifies his connection to his indigeneity. April, like Jeremiah, is also responsible for her younger sibling. In both novels, the elder child's ability to honour this responsibility becomes linked to the extent to which he and she is able to maintain their indigeneity. As Jeremiah and April perform drag in order to assimilate, they become further removed from their siblings and less able to protect them. Both Jeremiah and April fail to protect their younger siblings, and their dissociation from their indigeneity results in the eventual death of their siblings. These deaths may be read as Culleton's and Highway's criticism of the price that a culturally or racially hybrid character must pay in order to "pass." April's racial identity resists stability because her soma text is coded with ambiguity and it occasions a semiotic and narrative destabilization. In addition, when a racially hybrid character, like April, performs racial drag, this doubleness is further complicated. Because her soma text is capable of being read as a signifier of different racial identities by other characters, her body becomes an unstable and complex signifying text. Culturally hybrid characters who perform drag also cause narrative 168 instability. Therefore the presence of the racially or culturally hybrid characters in these novels causes a perceptual crisis because the character can shift from one racial assignment into another by making use of the ambiguous signifiers of their body (Culleton) and/or by performing racial (Wagamese) or cultural (Highway) drag.2 6 Marjorie Garber declares, in Vested Interests, that stories which focus on racially mixed characters who "pass" create crises in the narrative because they "foreground the impossibility of taxonomy" (274). Each of the central characters in these novels represents the crossing of boundaries whether they be of race, social class or culture. In doing so, their performances of drag threaten to destabilize other types of boundaries and create further narrative crises.27 According to Garber, the crossing of borders is meant to evoke a "category crisis" (16). Thus, with April we have a light-skinned Native character who crosses a racial border. In doing so, April reconfigures, for the Canadian context, the image of a light-skinned African American characters who "passed" in order to literally travel across borders in American fiction. April, Garnet and Jeremiah travel across social and cultural borders meant to demarcate Native and non-Native people. A successful passing narrative depends upon a character's ability to convince various discursive communities of the authenticity of the drag performance. In other words, successful passing depends upon one's soma text being read as "real" despite the performative aspect. If we understand border crossings to be metaphoric, these drag performers' movement across borders is an interesting reconfiguration of a border crossing in Canadian terms that, nonetheless, will lead to the kind of crisis that Garber refers to. 169 Culleton's novel suggests the different ways in which racially hybrid soma texts can be read in different discursive communities and these different readings create instability in the narrative. Although April successfully performs racial drag in the Radcliffe's home and is read as white in this discursive community, in the urban Native community where Cheryl lives, April is read as Native. In this scene April's body changes from being read as white to being read as native. Vizenor refers to this kind of situation-specific indigenizing of identity as a form of becoming "Native by situation" (Fugitive Poses 90). April's racialized soma text is clearly read differently in this discursive community. April wonders how her rapists read her racially hybrid soma text: "I wondered how he knew I was part Native. Just because I had long hair?" (128). April's long black hair and the context provide the clue that mark her as Native in this discursive community despite her light-skinned soma text and her ability to perform whiteness in other discursive communities. In this scene, April metaphorically becomes her sister Cheryl, who is "Native by countenance" (Fugitive Poses 89). April learns too late that while she performs whiteness in her job and within a small circle of white friends, in a different discursive community her soma text is read as Native and her body is transformed from non-Native to Native, as April's body becomes Cheryl's in this rape scene. This transformation suggests that racial essentialisms determine the ways in which one's soma text is read in different discursive communities and also supports Garber's contention that the presence of racially mixed characters who "pass" can create a crisis of interpretation in texts by demonstrating the "impossibility of taxonomy" (274). This narrative crisis at the level of interpreting the 170 racially hybrid soma text also leads to a crisis at the level of plot when April is mistaken for Cheryl and raped. However, the crisis that April experiences by being mistakenly raped precipitates a movement towards a more clear understanding of her biracial identity. The rape scene is the start of April's awareness of the duality of her identity and the way in which her body can be read as Native despite its somatextual whiteness. From the rape scene on, Cheryl presence and her dark racially hybrid soma text increasingly provide April with insight into her own indigeneity. Cheryl, as April's dark double, embodies April's "dark secret" and represents the indigeneity that is concealed behind April's racial drag. Cheryl's soma text becomes a symbol of the "filth" that cannot be washed away, the parents who cannot be killed, and the Native blood that is also within April's body. In the revelation scenes that occur in both discursive communities, Cheryl becomes the catalyst for the "outing" of April's racial drag performances and it is Cheryl whose soma text marks the "tragic mulatto" spiral downward. In this respect, the novel suggests that there is an essentialism associated with Nativeness which, when denied, will reveal itself and wreak havoc on the life of the person in denial, despite one's ability to perform racial drag and temporarily pass as white. Racially and culturally mixed characters that perform a form of drag also evoke and challenge colonial constructs of race. I have addressed the narrative instability that occurs when a racially hybrid character performs racial drag, but I want to extend this analysis by suggesting that characters who perform lateral racial drag also evoke a narrative destabilization. In the novel Keeper N' Me, Garnet Raven's body may be 171 understood as a soma text because in his struggles to "pass" in the city, he performs a variety of identities with his "raced" body. Garnet's lateral racial drag gives him novelty appeal and allows him to be read as non-Native.31 At various times he dons clothing and uses specific gestures that enable him to be read as a "Hawaiian, Polynesian, Mexican or Chinese. Anything but Indian" (14). Though he performs racial drag, he is not able to perform whiteness because he can only perform other non-hegemonic races that are encoded as brown. 3 2 Despite his performance of racial drag, his raced body, the soma text of his lateral drag performances, is still coded as non-hegemonic "Other." Racial and cultural drag in these novels is also motivated by the internalization of negative stereotypes. Garnet's lateral racial drag is based on his reaction to negative stereotypes about Native people. Like April, he learns about "Indianness" from the white world. He believes that "Indians [are] lazy, no account, drunken bums, living on welfare, mooching change on street corners and really needing some direction" (13). These stereotypical associations with indigeneity reinforce his shame and self-hatred. As a result, his racial drag performances start to consume his time to such an extent that his attempts to be read as anything other than Native becomes "a full-time occupation" (16). Similarly, April learns about the "native girl syndrome" (Culleton 162) and struggles to perform racial drag in order to avoid falling into that script. Although Cheryl attempts to share her positive view on indigeneity, April rejects this information. Clearly, the negative lessons that both April and Garnet learn about being Native propel them to dissociate from their indigeneity and adopt new personas by performing racial drag. 172 Garnet's performance of racial drag is distinct from April's in two important ways. Unlike April, Garnet is indelibly marked with brown skin, which always-already links him to the very community he seeks to reject. Garnet explains that he "didn't want to be known as Indian," which to him meant being "[s]carey-looking, dirty, drunk, fightin' in the street or passed out in the alley" (15). In this novel, the stigma associated with being Native is so strong that Garnet decides he "didn't wanna be connected to [Native people] in any way" (15). Garnet prefers to "be anybody from anywhere" (15) as long as it does not mean having his soma text read as Native. Ironically, because he looks like the very people he is attempting to dissociate himself from, his performance of racial drag is much more difficult than April's dissociation from indigeneity because her racially mixed light skin provides her with the privilege to choose to "pass" as white. Secondly, Garnet's performance of racial drag is unlike April's because it involves performing another racial "Other" that is not a part of the hegemony. While Garnet performs a lateral racial drag, April performs "up" in that her drag performance moves her from a marginal to a hegemonic social position. Garnet plays the "homeless Hawaiian" by using props such as flowered shirts, mirrored sunglasses, a brushcut and a ukulele (15-16). He also becomes "a half Chinese guy" who is a kung fu artist seeking to avenge the death of his mother (16). The closest he gets to performing indigeneity is when he enacts the identity of "the Mexican/Apache boxer" (16). In Wagamese's novel, being encoded as non-white represents an elasticity of racial identity and the possibility of multiple lateral racial drag performances, while in Culleton's novel, being dark- 34 x skinned is represented as static and inherently tragic. 173 Keeper N' Me is a unique representation of racial drag because it features a lateral racial drag based on the fluidity of race by representing a Native character who, somewhat successfully, passes as Black.'' Garnet finds a comfortable association with performing Blackness through his connection with the blues.36 Eventually, he performs lateral racial drag by cross-appropriating the Black identity of Lonnie Flowers. Garnet explains that he "started dressing like Lonnie and his brothers, accepting their strut and mannerisms and really feeling like [he'd] found where [he] wanted to be in life" (23). After experimenting with other racial drag personas, Garnet finally settles on passing as Black. Garnet assumes that by getting "a brand-new sixty-buck permed Afro" (23), wearing the right clothing and "adopting their strut and mannerisms" (23), he can become Black. At this stage in Garnet's lateral racial drag performance he still assumes that the external markers of race such as hair, clothing and body language are the essential and defining racial codes. Later, in addition to looking and sounding Black, Garnet wants to immerse himself within Lonnie's family in order to become accepted as a Black person. This suggests that Garnet is aware that there is more to being Black than the external codes. However, he is not accepted as Black by other Black people. Although Garnet is able to perform Blackness and immerse himself within a new brown-skinned surrogate family, his racial drag is always understood by them to be a temporary condition that will help him until he finds his own identity. Lonnie tells him that the "only dude you gotta meet is yourself (18). This sentiment is echoed later by Delma Flowers who reminds Garnet, "You got a home. You got fam'ly. You gotta go there" (28). These statements suggest 174 that members of the Flowers family recognize the important role that family plays in developing one's sense of identity, and they encourage Garnet to find out who his people are and gain a sense of racial identity through that association. Wagamese's novel, like Culleton's, suggests that drag performances, whether based on gender or race, are granted value according to the discursive community in which a given performer's soma text is "read." This aspect of the representation of race in these novels highlights the importance of somatextual cues and the power of the racialized gaze. Garnet is able to convince others of his non-Native identities, despite his sometimes ludicrous racial drag performances. However, Lonnie Flowers' racial gaze instantly dissolves the masquerade. Lonnie reads Garnet's soma text as Native despite Garnet's attempt to perform drag. Lonnie says, " Man, look at you. You be havin' them great big Sasquatch cheekbones, squinty little kung fu eyes and you got like two square feeta unused denim where your butt should be" (18). According to Lonnie's notions of the physical markers of race, Garnet's soma text is read as Native, despite his lateral drag performance as a Hawaiian. Lonnie bluntly states: "Damn, one look tell people you a redskin man" (18). This scene suggests the way in which the racialized gaze "reads" race in essentialist ways despite the cross-appropriation of gestures and costume involved in the racial drag performance. In order to negotiate various discursive communities and "pass," both April and Garnet develop a hypersensitivity to the racialized gaze. April's performance of racial drag makes her extraordinarily aware of the white gaze because her successful 37 performance depends on her soma text being read as white by white people. She begins 175 to notice the white gaze when she is coded as "Native by situation" (Fugitive Poses 90) through her association with Nancy and Cheryl in restaurants. April states: "I began to notice what being native was like in middle-class surroundings" (98). April's hypersensitivity to the white gaze is based on her desire to conceal her indigeneity. Her drag performance demands a vigilant awareness of the ways in which her body becomes "raced" according to the ways in which different discursive communities read her soma text. When April decides to pass "for a pure white person" (46), her sensitivity to the power of the white gaze makes her wonder: "How was I ever going to pass for a white person when I had a Metis sister?" (47). It becomes clear to April that Cheryl's soma text signifies Native blood that could invalidate April's drag performance. These examples indicate April's growing awareness of the ways in which bodies are "raced" and read in -jo different discursive communities and by association with other siblings. Both April and Jeremiah are reminded of their past and indigeneity by their siblings' soma texts. However, Garnet Raven has no sibling to represent indigeneity so his struggle to come to terms with his identity is a solo journey. Garnet's race has been "erased" by the foster home experience; he enters his drag performance as if he were a tabula rasa. By the time Garnet makes it back to the reserve he is lost and dissociated from being Native: "[at] twenty-five years old I never figured on bein' no Indian [. . .] I didn't remember a thing about my earlier life and when I disappeared alone into the foster homes I disappeared completely from the Indian world" (12)." This enforced assimilation causes psychic tension because, as he explains, being raised "in white 176 homes, going to all white schools, playing with all white kids can get a guy to thinking and reacting all-white himself after a while" (12). These lessons about how to perform racial drag are problematic because Garnet, unlike April Raintree, is marked as non- white. As Garnet explains: "With noone pitching in any information I just figured I was a brown white guy" (12). It is this forced assimilation to perform whiteness that is at odds with his external appearance and marks a crisis of identity that occasions his lateral racial drag performances. As outlined earlier, Garnet's brown soma text enables him to pass for different racial identities. April's soma text is also read differently in different discursive communities. The white children and teenagers at April's school perform whiteness by rejecting and taunting April who is classified, in this context, as non-white. April learns early that "[s]kin coloring didn't matter in this school. Everyone treated [her] like a full- blooded Indian" (74-75). April Raintree is not able to perform racial drag and "pass" as white until she is out of school. These lessons about "raced" bodies are internalized by April, who later equates a rejection of Metis culture with performing whiteness. In addition, April's racial drag is prompted by her rejection of her indigeneity. April describes being caught in a bind because "[k]nowing the other side, the Metis side, didn't make [her] feel any better. It just reinforced [her] belief that if [she] could assimilate into white society, [she] wouldn't have to be like this for the rest of [her] life" (78). These statements indicate April's belief that the proper execution of the performance of whiteness requires a dissociation from her indigeneity. April learns that the rigid dictates of performing whiteness require a separation of white and Native. 4 0 177 Once April has learned that her successful racial drag performance necessitates the destruction of her indigeneity, she begins the process of purging it from her identity. When she arrives at the St. Bernadette's Academy she develops her racial drag more completely by symbolically killing her parents and she reconstructs her identity in two ways: 1) by denying that she is Native, and 2) by claiming that her parents were killed in a car accident.41 April hopes that Cheryl will also "forget" about their parents and "forget that she was Metis" (84). April assumes that through "killing" her parents by denying their existence, she will be able to perform a more complete racial drag so she can "make it" in the white world. When April has concealed her indigenous genealogy by symbolically killing her parents and denying the existence of her sister, she begins the process of restructuring her identity by performing racial drag in order to "pass" as white. April decides to literally study the performance of whiteness by "reading books on proper etiquette" to prepare her for what she imagines will be a "promising future in white society" (98). Restructuring her identity from Metis to white also includes changing her name. After meeting Bob Radcliffe and successfully passing as white, April realizes that her marriage to Bob will enable her to erase the Nativeness of her name. Fred Wah suggests that the "code- switching" involved in choosing European names "indicates the camouflage possibilities of the name" for the racially hybrid subject (Faking 79,82). For April, this name change symbolizes her baptism into her new non-Native identity—the final aspect of her racial drag performance.42 178 Although April and Garnet choose to change their names as part of their performance of racial drag, in Kiss of the Fur Queen Jeremiah and Gabriel are forced to change their names. For Gabriel and Jeremiah, baptism into their new identities is a traumatic aspect of their enforced assimilation into residential school. Jeremiah's baptism into a new identity is symbolized by a change of name when he is transformed from his earlier identity as Champion to Jeremiah. This change marks the beginning of his performance of cultural drag and his shift from the identity of the traditional Native rural character named Champion to the Christianized identity of Jeremiah.43 In this novel, the destruction of indigeneity also involves altering the external markings of indigeneity through shaving their heads. They are further punished for using their language, and indoctrinated into Roman Catholicism in order to bleach out their Native cultural identity. April needs more than a camouflaged name to convincingly perform racial drag. April's indoctrination into whiteness and performance of racial drag is further reinforced and polished by Mrs. Radcliffe, who teaches her on a weekly basis how to perform middle-class whiteness.44 Mrs. Radcliffe constantly gives April advice about a more seamless performance of middle class whiteness and, to achieve this end goal, she takes April shopping and twice a week to hair salons. Mrs. Radcliffe instructs April to repeat the social patterns that reinforce her sense of herself as white. April's rehearsal of racial drag includes participating in social norms that are based on social class in order to substantiate her racial drag performance of whiteness. Clearly this racial drag performance highlights the performativity of race. 179 Performing whiteness in this novel is related to the theme of performing the urban Indian, a form of cultural drag that appears in much First Nations literature. In Kiss of the Fur Queen performing the urban Indian might be considered a form of cultural passing that has parallels to the act of racial passing. The two siblings in this novel, by making the transition from their rural Cree culture into the predominantly white city and culture, represent a kind of cultural "passing." Highway explores the tensions between assimilation and indigeneity by following Jeremiah's transition from rural caribou hunter to Europeanized pianist and eventually to urban Native artist. For the central characters in each novel, passing involves dissociating from the cultural background and isolated rural beginnings that mark them as the non-hegemonic "Other." However, because passing in Kiss of the Fur Queen is not voluntary it must be read within the context of their enforced assimilation into urban and Christian identities. In Highway's novel, passing occasions a crisis of identity. In order to "pass" in the city Jeremiah is forced to continually dissociate himself from the Main Street Indians who are living in drunkenness and despair. Reminders of urban Indian despair and a desire to be accepted in the white upper-class society compel Jeremiah to reconfigure his own skin to be "as white as parchment" (124). These three novels, In Search of April Raintree, Keeper N' Me and Kiss of the Fur Queen, suggest that the main character's rejection of indigeneity is based on lessons about tragic urban indigeneity. This form of self-hatred and internalized lessons about the worthlessness of indigeneity become catalysts for each characters' desire to perform drag as a means of assimilation with non- Natives. 180 Jeremiah's form of passing is clearly an example of a Vizenorian "survivance" (15) which stems from shame, self-hatred and a desire to assimilate into the white urban society.45 Jeremiah's cultural drag involves crossing race and class barriers as a classical pianist. Jeremiah performs whiteness through the piano recitals, and recalls that he "worked so hard at transforming himself into a perfect little 'transplanted European'— anything to survive" (124). Thus, an examination of passing in First Nations literature must also consider passing in the context of the relocation of Native people from rural to urban settings and the kinds of struggles with issues of class and race that this represents for Native people trying to, or being forced to, assimilate 4 6 In both Kiss of the Fur Queen and In Search of April Raintree, the rejection of a sibling is linked with the rejection of indigeneity that results from a character's desire to pass. As mentioned previously, the narrative doubling of these siblings structures the tension between the themes of assimilation and indigeneity in which the rejection of the sibling double results in further fragmentation of the character's sense of indigeneity. The relationship between Jeremiah and Gabriel dramatizes Jeremiah's internal crises in that Jeremiah's pact to protect his brother is connected with traditional teachings, his past and his heritage. Rejecting this responsibility to protect Gabriel is also a rejection of their father's advice. For both April and Jeremiah the rejection of their sibling symbolizes their rejection of their own indigeneity represented by the soma texts of their respective siblings. The resolution of their identity crises does not occur until they have reunited with their families, accepted the indigeneity of their siblings, and honoured their traditional roles as caretakers of their siblings.47 The Garberian notion of a narrative crisis 181 that occurs at the level of taxonomy in relation to these racially and culturally hybrid characters, is represented at the level of plot by the crisis between the siblings, and the crisis that the characters' ability to pass through different social borders occasions. Jeremiah's class passing, like April's class and race passing, is a consequence of being removed from indigenous communities. While Jeremiah performs cultural drag as a classical pianist, he is isolated from other Native people and dissociated from his own indigeneity. In the final climactic performance, Jeremiah's relationship to his traditional past and his relationship with Gabriel are at stake. Jeremiah knew "that he had to play or his relationship with Gabriel was history and he'd be back in the alleyways of Winnipeg" (267). Jeremiah's synthesis of the piano with his indigeneity occurs when he "leapt from his bench, and with a beaded drumstick pounded at the bass strings of the instrument" making the piano into "a pow wow drum" (267). Through this hybrid performance, Jeremiah achieves a renewed connection to his indigeneity by reconnecting with his father's advice: "Through the brothers, as one, and through a chamber as vast as the north, an old man's voice passed. 'My son,' it sighed, 'with these magic weapons, make a new world'" (267). Jeremiah honors these teachings by literally performing his urban and Native identity in this climactic performance. Although Jeremiah has successfully performed cultural drag and passed as an urban pianist, his psychic tension is not relieved until he can acknowledge and express his indigeneity through his art. The theatricality of race is reinforced in Kiss of the Fur Queen by setting the climactic resolution between the brothers in the form of a theatrical production. Highway's novel suggests the possibility of resolving the tension between assimilation 182 and indigeneity through Jeremiah's stage performance with his brother. The performance is represented as a liberating and syncretic fusion of both indigenous and European art forms.48 Jeremiah develops a way to be both Native and urban through the conventions of the stage, conventions I explore in the next chapter. In this novel, however, Highway suggests a resolution to the tension that such hybrid identities occasion by using the rhetoric and intertext of stage and performance to bring about the conflation of these identities. The fusion of theatre and dance, of indigenous traditions and European musical traditions, and the uniting of the brothers on stage in this climactic performance all signify the hybridity that is at the centre of this novel. The performative aspects of racial identity are represented here in the context of a theatrical performance. I develop this concept more fully in the next chapter through my analysis of plays that feature racial hybridity and performances that highlight the performativity of race through a number of different theatrical conventions. Passing narratives often reach a climax at the point when the racial drag performer's "true" identity is revealed. Of course, for the greatest dramatic effect, the revelation of identity occurs after the person has managed to pass. This increases the dramatic spiral downward that is the result of the revelation of the true identity of the character who has attempted to pass. Such a tragic fall from greatness reinforces racial essentialisms and discourages attempts to "pass." In this respect, Kiss of the Fur Queen defies the usual trajectory for the character who passes in that the final performance in which the brothers are reunited with their traditions represents a syncretism that resolves 183 the tension between Jeremiah's indigeneity and his assimilation and is not the start of his spiral downwards. Culleton, like Highway, defies the usual narrative trajectory associated with passing narratives. Initially, Culleton's narrative follows the usual pattern for "passing narratives" in that the dramatic revelation that marks April as a tragic.figure occurs once she has successfully "passed" as white, married Bob Radcliffe and is read within her new discursive community as white.4 9 When Cheryl comes to visit, April is disturbed by the white gaze and "the questioning stares" that she and her sister receive. These "questioning stares" are in contrast to the adoring stares that the white Heather Langdon receives (107). Cheryl's presence, and specifically her brown skin, "outs" April's racial drag performance by revealing her indigeneity.50 Cheryl's raced body at the Radcliffe's dinner party functions at the narrative level as a soma text which is read in this discursive community as the revelation of April's indigeneity and her social class. While living at the Radcliffe's and passing as a white woman, April begins to realize that performing whiteness entails a complete rejection of her indigeneity. She also realizes that she would be living with the fear that her identity as a Metis woman would be revealed if her sister Cheryl were to appear. Her worst fear of having her indigeneity exposed occurs when April arrives at the Radcliffe house. Interestingly, Cheryl's presence unmasks Mrs. Radcliffe's prejudice and outrage at April's ability to pass. Mrs. Radcliffe's outrage may be due to April's successful performance of racial drag which calls into question the racial categories that Mrs..Radcliffe has relied upon 184 and is another example of the kind of crisis that results from boundary crossing that Garber identifies in Vested Interests (1992). In addition to worrying about Cheryl "outing" her drag performance, as a racially mixed woman who is passing, April fears that the "dark secret" of her indigeneity might also surface in the soma texts of her future children.5 1 This revelation scene exposes April's drag performance but it also reveals something about Mrs. Radcliffe's fear her bloodline being contaminated by April's indigeneity. However, in the revelation scene, April is also outraged by what is revealed about Mrs. Radcliffe's blood. April tells Mrs. Radcliffe: "I wouldn't want the seed of your blood passed on to my children" (116), (my emphasis). In this moment, April inverts the usual trajectory that follows from the revelation of the mixed race person's dark secret by asserting her relief that she did not become contaminated with the Radcliffe's white blood." In contrast to these dramatic revelations of hybrid identities, Garnet Raven in the novel Keeper N' Me experiences a gradual revelation of his "true" identity. He successfully passes into the culture of the city, performs a lateral racial drag, is mistakenly read as a criminal and consequently ends up in jail. Garnet's performance of drag is not as self-conscious as April's but rather stems from not knowing anything about his ethnicity because he is an adopted child. His biological family "outs," or reveals, his lateral racial drag performance by declaring his Indianness through the letters they send to him in jail. These letters confirm Garnet's indigeneity, but he is not fully integrated as a Native man until he returns to his community, learns how to be an Indian on the reserve, and sheds his Black city persona." He gradually conies to accept that indigeneity 185 is a learned process based primarily on one's Native blood-quantum but reinforced by one's culture and family. After the initial epistolary revelation of his true identity, Garnet Raven's lateral racial drag performances gradually disappear and he eventually learns how to perform Indianness from Keeper, an elder who empathizes with Garnet's plight. Garnet's identity is revealed to him gently through his conversations and meetings with Keeper, his socialization on the reserve, and simply through living in close proximity with his family. Keeper says that Garnet is one of the many Native children who "[disappeared. Got raised up all white but still carryin' brown skin" (37). Keeper espouses a Native essentialist belief regarding indigeneity; he explains the following traditional belief to Garnet by stating an indigenous essentialism: "See, us we know you can't make a beaver from a bear. Nature don't work that way. Always gotta be what the Creator made you to be" (37). In Keeper's view of indigeneity, victims of foster homes or other forms of assimilation "[g]ot the Indyun all scraped offa their inside" (39) and need a slow introduction into tradition to restore their latent indigenous interiority. This representation of the indigenous body suggests that there is an interiority to Native identity that depends upon both blood-quantum and acculturation into indigeneity. Garnet continually learns from his Native community that he must appear to be Native and perform an indigenous identity. When he steps out of the cab with his "lime green spangly platform-shoed leg" he notices "a loud gasp all around the cab" and eventually "fifty heads all leaning in gazing at [his] balloon-sleeved shirt" (34). This Native community reads through Garnet's racial drag and sees his use of clothing, 186 language and the external codes of a Black city persona as a clownish performance. They tease him and call him "a walkin' fishin' lure" (35) despite his attempt to claim his version of urban Blackness as his true identity. Finally, Garnet is unable to continue to perform Blackness because his racial drag is read by the Native gaze as inauthentic. Garnet's baptism into performing indigeneity involves switching the codes of his former Black persona in order to align his genealogy with accepted external indigenous codes: "My ma had cut my Afro off about three days after I was home and around that time I was a scruffy-looking Indian" (62). Throughout the narrative Garnet is represented as destined to become that which he was born to be: a Native man living with his family on the reserve. This narrative pull toward Garnet's homecoming and indigenization suggests that the theatricality of performing racial drag and passing as an "Other" is a symptom of a lost identity. Garnet's identity crisis is not resolved through his performances of lateral drag, and in the novel his racial drag is represented as only a temporary solution to his identity crisis. Keeper tells him that "[i]t's tradition that makes you Indyun" (38). Garnet's identity crisis is resolved in this novel by learning how to be an Indian, inside and out. Garnet's assimilation into indigeneity includes an introduction to external encodings, behaviours and the interiority of indigeneity. He also learns how to engage in a variety of indigenous activities through communal activities and family ties. One of the lessons that Garnet learns on the reserve is how to perform Indianness for whites by pretending not to speak English and how to make up "traditional" stories in order to outwit the white tourists who come onto the reserve, in a "bait the tourist" game (83). 187 As a result of this indigenization, Garnet quickly realizes that the external codes that he assumes define indigeneity, such as wearing braids and buckskin, are insufficient for his assimilation into this Native community.54 Through his indoctrination into indigeneity, one of the things that Garnet learns is that his community values a Native interiority, which is represented as having an Indian heart. Finally Garnet concludes that it "[d]on't much matter what you look like nowadays but's still important to carry an Indian heart inside you" (89). Garnet understands the process of assimilation as told to him by Keeper. In short, he learns that he needs to strive to get "[his] insides in tune with [his] outside" (90). The representation of an essential Native interiority in this novel reinforces the essentialist notion that one should perform race according to one's genealogy and external appearance. This essential internal indigeneity is also represented as the ability to have a sense of humour, which is something that Garnet learns from Keeper. Keeper teaches Garnet that "laughin's about as Indian as bannock and lard" and Garnet concludes that "it's that humour more than anything that's allowed them [Native people] to survive all the crap that history threw their way" (40). Garnet states: "The first thing most people notice about us is how we are laughing most of the time. It doesn't really matter whether we're dressed up in traditional finery or in bush jackets and gumboots, seems like a smile and big roaring guffaw is everywhere with us" (42). Again, Garnet learns that the external encodings which are read as Native by others are not as important or essential as a Native interiority. In the novel, he is both "Native by countenance" and "Native by genealogy" (Fugitive Poses 89) but does not have the essential Native interiority that Keeper 188 introduces him to in the latter half of the novel. Eventually, he is reincorporated into his community and his indigeneity is embraced in a way that is in accordance with his countenance and the context of the reserve.55 This essentialist view of Native identity is in keeping with the indigenous ideologies represented in In Search of April Raintree and Kiss of the Fur Queen. Ultimately, despite the characters' ability to perform racial or cultural drag, the protagonist is not at peace until he/she accepts and assimilates the indigeneity that has been denied. For Jeremiah, an acknowledgement of his indigeneity takes the form of celebrating his cultural heritage and infusing his creative art with these elements. The ending of Kiss of the Fur Queen suggests a way in which a character may utilize indigeneity within the context of the urban setting in order to pass. Such an ending challenges the essentialism of tragic urban Indianness. While Vizenor suggests that "Natives are ever and again the national allegories of discoveries, decimation, dispossession, dominance and tragic victimry" (Fugitive Poses 70), the fact that Kiss of the Fur Queen and Keeper N' Me feature successful passing suggests the possibility of heroic Native characterization in literature. While Jeremiah is able to achieve a hybrid identity in the city, Garnet Raven in Keeper N' Me finds the solution to his identity crisis through returning to the reservation, his family and his traditional culture. Garnet's homecoming resolves the tension between his genealogy, which is Native, and his drag performances, which are mostly non-Native. April's passing represents the possibility of performing whiteness that is available to light-skinned mixed race people. In Keeper N' Me, although Garnet is not coded as a 189 racial hybrid, he is read in these discursive communities as someone who is passing for something he is not. Jeremiah's passing represents a heroic fusion of cultural hybridity and a synthesis of the traditional and the urban, European and Native, even though he is not represented as a racially mixed character. In this respect, passing is represented in this novel as a temporary solution but not as the final resolution to identity crises occasioned by racism. In each of these novels, an essential blood tie to indigeneity resolves the characters' identity crises. A l l three novels suggest there is something within indigeneity that beckons an individual to return to his roots whether they be in the form of a blood relative (April), traditional music and teachings (Jeremiah) or a return to a Native community in which all aspects of indigeneity are learned (Garnet). These novels suggest that both Native and non-Native race essentialisms inform indigenous people's notions of identity. A l l of these novels document the importance of family, tradition, and culture for the formation of a positive indigenous identity. These novels also suggest that for Native people struggling with assimilation, dissociating from one's family leads to further alienation from one's indigeneity. This belief may be viewed as a Native essentialism regarding identity. In these novels drag is represented as a means of addressing the tension between assimilation and indigeneity and also as a strategy that can further alienate an individual from his or her indigeneity. In this respect, these writers challenge the notion that indigeneity is static and necessarily tragic but also stress an ideology that suggests that once one is born Native one must accept the social codes and mannerisms that are associated with being an indigenous person. By using racial and cultural drag to present a 190 range of responses to assimilation, these writers reveal that indigeneity is learned and maintained through the complex process of socialization and acculturation. The resolution of these different indigenous identity crises reveals much about the racial essentialism that the writers are representing. The central characters' attempts to pass foreground the tension between urban and rural indigeneity, assimilation vs. reconstructing indigeneity, and the differences between marginal and hegemonic populations. Passing, according to Sollors, can be looked upon as comic or tragic depending on the ending of a narrative. He suggests that "[v]ersions of the tragic mode tend to have endings in irresolvable conflicts and often in death—frequently violent death inflicted by others, suicide, or heartbreak" (337).56 In passing narratives the racially mixed character is often coded as a transgressor and associated with violence especially when the character "passes" or performs racial drag. Both Garnet and April's ability to pass is associated with the real or symbolic death of their siblings. Jeremiah's cultural passing in Kiss of the Fur Queen causes a dissociation from his brother that eventually leads to Gabriel's death; this death may function symbolically as the price that Jeremiah must pay for his homophobia and "cultural passing." April's decision to raise her sister's child, Henry Lee, is a move towards acknowledging her indigeneity but her passing has cost her the life of her sister. Patricia Riley argues that biracial offspring are often "portrayed in literature as doomed, defective, dangerous and double-crossed by virtue of the genetic contribution of the Indian parent" (175). In the novel, In Search of April Raintree, April is not successful in performing racial drag but she does survive and decide to raise her nephew. In this way 191 the narrative challenges what Riley describes as the usual trajectory of the doomed and despised half-blood. These novels present marginalized characters who are reacting to the impact of colonial forces of assimilation. North American histories of slavery and colonization have led to physical and cultural dislocations for many indigenous people and people of colour. Such dislocations inform a heterogeneity of performances of drag in response to the tensions between indigeneity and assimilation. Identity crises, resulting from postcolonial effects ranging from adoption to foster care to residential school, are resolved through a character's use of racial or cultural drag. There are a number of narrative crises that stem from ambiguous somatexts (April), lateral racial drag performances (Garnet), and cultural drag performances (Jeremiah). It is clear from examining these novels that the way in which this performance is read depends upon the ways in which discursive communities read one's soma text. The conclusions of these Native passing narratives are suggestive of the ways in which racial essentialisms and the forces of assimilation are dramatized through the drag performances of the Native character who is culturally or racially mixed. I would like to propose racial drag, cultural drag and lateral racial drag as new critical terms that address central features in Canadian passing narratives because they allow one to analyze the racially and/or culturally mixed character who chooses like April and Garnet, or is forced, like Jeremiah, to perform a specific identity in order to assimilate. These passing narratives are clearly framed within the Canadian context of the enforced assimilation of indigenous people. Although the character types and narrative trajectories have some 192 similarities with the ones found in American passing narratives, they are nuanced in ways that signify Canadian historical conditions and these characters represent a specifically Canadian demographic of marginalized indigenous communities. The theatricality of race and the compulsory norms associated with racial identity that I have identified in this chapter can have utility when applied to the analysis of other Canadian passing narratives. These types and the narrative uses of racial and cultural drag can be further examined through critical analysis of the existence of racial and cultural drag in other contemporary First Nations and/or Canadian passing narratives. It may be that Canadian passing narratives explore different trajectories and different resolutions to passing that are uniquely Canadian. In the next chapter I will extend my analysis of the performativity of race by looking at the different theatrical means by which racially hybrid performers and characters address racially hybrid embodiment and the power of the racialized gaze when racial hybridity is staged. A l l of the work that I analyze in this dissertation addresses the signifying nature of the racially hybrid body, draws attention to the power of the racialized gaze, and addresses the notion of passing. These elements unite these works crossgenerically and crossracially. In the autobiographies I address in Chapter Two, writers often refer to the centrality of the racially hybrid soma text and represent it as a unique form of embodiment by drawing attention to the racialized gaze and different "readings" of this soma text. In this chapter I suggest that many fictional accounts of racial hybridity also focus on these two elements. I identified these elements in these primary texts and extended my argument in this chapter by analyzing the ways in which writers create 193 dramatic tension and offer alternate possibilities for racial identity by involving the racially or culturally hybrid character in the performance of drag. However, it is in the performance of the dramatic text that the embodiment of the biracial soma text is most clearly physicalized, rendered more vivid, and draws attention to the multiple signifying nature of racial hybridity, because the performativity of race is addressed through performance. CHAPTER FOUR: D R A M A Staging Racial Hybridity 195 My mother is a white supremacist. I am Black. (Ewen, "an understanding of brown," 5) My father is a cowboy and my mother is an Indian. What does that make me? A Halfbreed!! Where do I belong? (Kane, Confessions, 294) Do I look Mohawk? Shows the audience both sides of her profde. (Evans, "She Stands Still," 3) Ovide: I adore cosmo mosaics-rainbows-of women: Their peach-copper hair, their plum-cocoa skin, Their almond-amber eyes that are an eyeful, Their beauty surpassing everything beautiful. (Clarke, Quebecite, 54) 196 In the contemporary Canadian context, playwrights have increasingly written and staged plays that focus on the racial hybridity of the central character. This chapter's opening quotes suggest that the racially hybrid soma text, the racialized gaze and the concept of racial drag are also central to representations of racial hybridity in drama. These elements are evident in autobiographical and fictional representations of racial hybridity with one very important difference that stems from the genre of drama and the dynamic of performance. In performance, the notion of the racially hybrid soma text as a signifier is rendered more visible and the racialized gaze is manifest in the audience-actor viewing relations during the performance itself. The plays that I examine in this chapter have not been analyzed together as work that represents racial hybridity, in part because a crossracial methodology is not a common approach in the analysis of drama.1 In addition, some of these plays have not been published, or have only recently been published, which accounts for their absence in the critical discourse on Canadian theatre. I start with my analysis by addressing plays that are based on autobiographical source material (Kane, Ewen and Evans) in which the playwright is also performing as the central character. Then I move on to address rewrites of the "tragic half-breed" (Taylor, Mojica), and the "tragic mulatto" story (Clarke), and finally end this chapter with an analysis of a new non-white paradigm for racial hybridity (Clarke). In each case I place the soma text of the biracial character at the center of the discussion and explore the physical and ideological ramifications of this form of embodiment. In this chapter I shift my focus from the biracial writer/actor in autobiographical plays to the use of racial hybridity as a character trope in fictional plays. 197 These plays are distinct from other Canadian plays because of the centrality of the racially hybrid soma text. In discussing each play I address four central facets that are present in autobiographical and fictional plays that feature racially hybrid characters: 1) the racialized gaze and its impact on viewing relations between actor and audience; 2 ) the effect(s) that the representation of primary, secondary, and tertiary trauma associated with the racially hybrid character has on the audience; 3 ) the signifying nature of the racially hybrid body on stage and; 4 ) the implications that this form of embodiment has for a director in terms of casting decisions. In autobiographical plays, the production of identity in performance is doubly suggestive because the actor plays a role as a racially hybrid character on stage and is simultaneously enacting the performativity of race as a racially hybrid Canadian. In the autobiographical performance, the truth claims of the racially hybrid writer are legitimized through the display of the racially hybrid body on stage.2 Other playwrights have used fiction to represent racial hybridity as a trope in order to comment on racial essentialisms and/or rewrite "tragic mulatto" or "tragic half-breed" narratives. When I address the fictional representation of racial hybridity in drama, I analyze the ways in which a playwright draws attention to the racial hybridity of the character and the impact of the racialized gaze in order to highlight the performativity of race. In this chapter I map the distinctive ways in which each of these playwrights stages racial hybridity, revises history and/or addresses the soma text, the racialized gaze, and racial drag in order to assess the effect that racial hybridity has on the performance of the play itself. These plays "write back" in ways that are similar to the primary work that 198 I analyze in earlier chapters in that all of this work ultimately constructs both racially hybrid identities and communities. The powerful role of the post-colonial body on stage marks a difference between the representation of racial hybridity in drama and in other genres. For a clarification of this difference I turn to Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins who argue in Post-Colonial Drama (1996) that "narrative writing tends to erase the gender and race of its authors and protagonists through its production as an artefact of predominantly western cultures, performance centralizes the physical and socio-cultural specificities of its participants" (204). These writers also suggest that performance differs from the written narrative because the "constraints and oppressions" that the body endures can be "visually displayed rather than simply described" (221). In their analysis of post-colonial drama Tompkins and Gilbert devote a chapter to the power of the post-colonial body as a signifier and claim that its "ability to move, cover up, reveal itself, and even 'fracture' on stage provides it with many possible sites for decolonisation" (204). These features of drama distinguish the mode of representing racial hybridity from the representations of racial hybridity that map racial hybridity through the written word. In this chapter I pay close attention to the "corporeal signifiers" that these playwrights and performers utilize and the different means that a performer may utilize to contest "its stereotyping and representation by others" in their insistence on the importance of self-representation by bringing the physical presence of the racially hybrid body to the stage (204). This work, understood in the frame of postcolonial drama, is part of the "oppositional process of embodiment whereby the colonized creates his/her own 199 subjectivity ascribes more flexible, culturally-laden and multivalent delineations to the body, rather than circumscribing it within an imposed, imperialist calculation of otherness" (205). In this respect the post-colonial stage "offers opportunities to recuperate the colonized subject's body...and to transform its signification and its subjectivity" (205) In addition to the transformational potential in staging post-colonial drama, this work creates a new sense of community for marginalized subjects who can see themselves onstage. As Alan Filewood has argued, "the theatre manifests the constructedness of the community which it redefines in the process of performance" (41). The central thematic links between these plays suggest that these playwrights are doing just that, constructing a community and creating discourse around racial identity by stag