My father, John Almond, holding my hands as I stood as a baby. Picture is in a darkened living room. My father is wearing a white t-shirt and I am in a onesie.

Poem: “How to Pass”

As Told to Me by Many Voices
by Audra Almond-Harvey

You must practice these disciplines daily.

First, you must always remember your place. Know your betters, your lessors. Know that all that your mind can concieve must be tightly bound in a polite and yeilding skin, or you will give away the game.

Second, you must cut away the extra. All that does not fit the mold given to you by the victors. Trim your hips, your lips, your thighs. Dress modestly, and hide your shape; never allow your body to seduce, unless there is something to be gained in your efforts.

Third, you must practice forgetting. No matter your fears, no matter the shame that this chosen ignorance may cost you. Abandon your ancestors, and make a new line.

You will learn to lie with a mild tone and a humble eye. If you find you cannot falsify the truth well, hold your tongue. Many things may be forgiven if you clothe yourself in meekness.

You must always behave.

Above all, you must never allow your anger to surface. Once it breaks through the bindings, it will color your countenance and make your gaze too bold for one such as you.

After all, you’re white enough, aren’t you? To choose a new name?