Yesterday, National Geographic released its April edition, a special issue "that explores how race defines, separates, and unites us." On the cover of this "Race Issue" are Marcia and Millie Biggs, biracial 11-year-old English twins who, according to the headline, will make "us rethink race." Because, as that same headline puts it, "one [is] black and one [is] white"--presumably referring to the fact that Marcia is fair-skinned with light hair and Millie has black hair and brown skin. Given that Nella Larsen wrote Passing, a study of how black identity cannot be negated by "passing" as white in 1929, this is unfortunate, and even more so considering that this issue is, according to the editor's note, supposed to be about grappling with the magazine's racist past. The release of the "Race Issue" comes on the heels of "Overlooked," a similarly compensatory project from the New York Times that presents a "new collection of obituaries for women and others who never got them" that began with belated obits for women like Larsen, Ida B. Wells, and Ada Lovelace.
A few minutes before the service officially begins at First Baptist Dallas, the orchestra slowly rises into sight, lifted by a stage elevator that delivers them smoothly into position. The lights dim, and the congregation--in this setting, an audience--hushes and waits for the show to begin. One Sunday in December, visitors to the church received a booklet containing a photo of the same choir and orchestra, performing behind President Donald Trump. The unofficial dress code is "Sunday best," worshippers sit on wooden pews, and no one brings coffee into the sanctuary. But over the years, the congregation has acquired many of the hallmarks of a contemporary megachurch.