Here’s some excellent archival research by NPR’s Code Switch team (with help from NPR librarian Katie Daugert) on blacks passing as East Indian or using “exotica” to navigate the Jim Crow South. This perspective complicates the conversations trending on the Internet about cultural appropriation.
"I was Jim Crowed here, Jim Crowed there, Jim Crowed all over the place. And I didn’t like being Jim Crowed." —- Jesse Routté, who pulled off what historian Paul Kramer calls the “turban trick.”
At the time, ideas of race in America were quite literally black and white. But a few meters of cloth changed the way some people of color were treated.