“We have to keep on going though, for, as I heard a very talented Negro say in his speech a few nights ago, ‘The race question in America has resolved itself into a question of the black man’s body and the white man’s soul.’”—Walter White, in a 1925 letter
Published amid controversy in 1926, Flight focuses on the dilemma of Mimi Daquin, a New Orleans creole who, for a time, passes as white. The Daquin family’s light complexion and their relative wealth allow them to move among the black elite. An unexpected pregnancy, however, leads the unmarried Mimi to abandon the black bourgeoisie and join the working class in Philadelphia and, ultimately, Harlem.
But she cannot escape her past, and soon everyone in Harlem is gossiping about Mimi’s affair and the son she was forced to leave at an orphanage. “I never thought I’d want to leave my own people. I wouldn’t leave them now but they’ve driven me away.” So begins Mimi’s life as a white woman.
With his provocative portrayals of blacks attempting to prove themselves in the white world, Walter White depicts many hard truths about the nation’s newly emerging black middle class. He also offers important insight, for the first time in literature, into the adversity faced by those light enough to pass for white.
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