chapter  14
FIGURING RACE
WithEDVIGE GIUNTA
Pages 10

1997. It's a winter evening in New York and I am waiting for Kym Ragusa at Barnes & Noble. I had met Ragusa for the first time a few months earlier: our common interest in Italian American women has brought us together. On this particular night we are going to hear an Italian American writer give a reading at the bookstore. When Kym first walks in, I hardly recognize her. This is only the second time I have seen her, though we have spoken many times; her hair, which during our first meeting expanded gloriously around her face, is now tied back, rather coyly, behind her ears. I wonder about this radical transformative gesture, one she has enacted before, I learn later. In Sicily, too, she felt compelled to turn to this more subdued style, one that will not flaunt her multiple heritage, one that will help her pass. Hiding among your own—passing—when learned as early as Ragusa has, can become a lifelong practice, insidious because of the tragic necessity that prompted it in the first place.