A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs (review) [King]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-02-24 01:04Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs (review)

Journal of Southern History
Volume 82, Number 2, May 2016
pages 465-466
DOI: 10.1353/soh.2016.0107

Wilma King, Professor Emerita of History
University of Missouri

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. By Allyson Hobbs. (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 2014. Pp. [xii], 382. $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-36810-1.)

An insightful introduction prepares readers for five deeply researched chapters and an epilogue constituting what Allyson Hobbs describes as a history of racial passing in American life. Two well-developed themes in the text add to its significance. First, Hobbs argues that the perceived need for racial passing changed over time. Before the Civil War, slaves passed to escape bondage, not blackness. Later, the promises of Reconstruction encouraged blacks to believe treatment equal to that enjoyed by whites was imminent. Instead, political disenfranchisement, social intimidation, and economic deprivation followed. Racial passing was a viable option to escape those circumstances. However, during the 1920s the Harlem Renaissance expanded conceptions of racial identity and offered alternatives to passing. The elimination of some racial barriers after World War II rendered racial passing passé. Second, the author calls attention to both the intended and unintended consequences of blacks passing as whites. On one hand, passing offered opportunities for economic gains, but on the other hand, there were social losses associated with leaving families and friends behind. “Once one circumvented the law, fooled coworkers, deceived neighbors, tricked friends, and sometimes even duped children and spouses,” writes Hobbs, “there were enormous costs to pay” (p. 5).

The author contends “the core issue of passing is not becoming what you pass for, but losing what you pass away from” (p. 18). Passing, a performative, subversive, and tactical exercise, required constant vigilance to protect a newly crafted identity from exposure. Eventually, those who passed, temporarily or permanently, faced questions about gains and losses. A variety of historical and literary sources, supplemented by materials from popular and mixed media, make A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life come to life as readers are introduced to racially ambiguous women and men, including Ellen Craft, Henry Bibb, John H. Rapier, and descendants of Sally Hemings and Sarah Martha Sanders, all of whom were interested in acquiring equal opportunities, suffrage, and citizenship, more so than in actually becoming white…

Read the entire review here.

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The fourth Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2017-02-24 00:49Z by Steven

The fourth Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia

Critical Mixed Race Studies Association

Laura Kina
Telephone: 773-325-4048; E-Mail: cmrsmixedrace@gmail.com

LOS ANGELES, CA – The fourth Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, “Explorations in Trans (gender, gressions, migrations, racial) Fifty Years After Loving v. Virginia,” will bring together academics, activists, and artists from across the US and abroad to explore the latest developments in critical mixed race studies. The Conference will be held at The University of Southern California from February 24-26, 2017 at the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center, 3607 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089 and is hosted by the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

The conference will include over 50 panels, roundtables, and caucus sessions organized by the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association as well as feature film screenings and live performances organized by the non-profit Mixed Roots Stories. The conference is pleased to run concurrently with the Hapa Japan Festival February 22- 26, 2017.

The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which declared interracial marriage legal. With a focus on the root word “Trans” this conference explores interracial encounters such as transpacific Asian migration, transnational migration from Latin America, transracial adoption, transracial/ethnic identity, the intersections of trans (gendered) and mixed race identity, and mixed race transgressions of race, citizenship, and nation…

Read the entire press release here. View the program guide here.

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James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-02-24 00:42Z by Steven

James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness

Common Dreams: Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Chris Hedges

The work of James Baldwin, pictured here in 1969, is as relevant today as in his time. The essayist, novelist, poet and social critic died in 1987. (Photo: Allan Warren / Wikimedia Commons)

Raoul Peck’sI Am Not Your Negro” is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen—I would have stayed in the theater in New York to see the film again if the next showing had not been sold out. The newly released film powerfully illustrates, through James Baldwin’s prophetic work, that the insanity now gripping the United States is an inevitable consequence of white Americans’ steadfast failure to confront where they came from, who they are and the lies and myths they use to mask past and present crimes. Baldwin’s only equal as a 20th century essayist is George Orwell. If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now.

History “is not the past,” the film quotes Baldwin as saying. “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

The script is taken from Baldwin’s notes, essays, interviews and letters, with some of the words delivered in Baldwin’s voice from audio recordings and televised footage, some of them in readings by actor Samuel L. Jackson. But it is not, finally, the poetry and lyricism of Baldwin that make the film so moving. It is Peck’s understanding of the core of Baldwin’s message to the white race, a message that is vital to grasp as we struggle with an overt racist as president, mass incarceration, poverty gripping half the country and militarized police murdering unarmed black men and women in the streets of our cities.

Whiteness is a dangerous concept. It is not about skin color. It is not even about race. It is about the willful blindness used to justify white supremacy. It is about using moral rhetoric to defend exploitation, racism, mass murder, reigns of terror and the crimes of empire…

…Nearly all African-Americans carry within them white blood, usually the result of white rape. White slaveholders routinely sold mixed-race children—their own children—into slavery. Baldwin knew the failure to acknowledge the melding of the black and white races that can be seen in nearly every African-American face, a melding that makes African-Americans literally the brothers and sisters of whites. African-Americans, Baldwin wrote, are the “bastard” children of white America. They constitute a peculiarly and uniquely American race.

“The truth is this country does not know what to do with its black population,” he said. “Americans can’t face the fact that I am flesh of their flesh.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Who counts as black?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-23 23:41Z by Steven

Who counts as black?

The Conversation

Ronald Hall, Professor of Social Work
Michigan State University

(THE CONVERSATION) For generations, intimacy between black men and white women was taboo. A mere accusation of impropriety could lead to a lynching, and interracial marriage was illegal in a number of states.

Everything changed with the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which ruled that blacks and whites have a legal right to intermarry. Spurred by the court’s decision, the number of interracial marriages – and, with it, the population of multiracial people – has exploded. According to the 2000 Census, 6.8 million Americans identified as multiracial. By 2010, that number grew to 9 million people. And this leaves out all of the people who might be a product of mixed ancestry but chose to still identify as either white or black.

With these demographic changes, traditional notions of black identity – once limited to the confines of dark skin or kinky hair – are no longer so.

Mixed-race African-Americans can have naturally green eyes (like the singer Rihanna) or naturally blue eyes (like actor Jessie Williams). Their hair can be styled long and wavy (Alicia Keys) or into a bob-cut (Halle Berry).

And unlike in the past – when many mixed-race people would try to do what they could to pass as white – many multiracial Americans today unabashedly embrace and celebrate their blackness.

However, these expressions of black pride have been met with grumbles by some in the black community. These mixed-race people, some argue, are not “black enough” – their skin isn’t dark enough, their hair not kinky enough. And thus they do not “count” as black. African-American presidential candidate Ben Carson even claimed President Obama couldn’t understand “the experience of black Americans” because he was “raised white.”

This debate over “who counts” has created somewhat of an identity crisis in the black community, exposing a divide between those who think being black should be based on physical looks, and those who think being black is more than looks…

Read the entire article here.

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LC lecturer looks back on landmark court case on mixed-race marriage

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-23 23:30Z by Steven

LC lecturer looks back on landmark court case on mixed-race marriage

The News & Advance
Lynchburg, Virginia

Josh Moody

Today Americans enjoy the Constitutional right to marry regardless of race — but it wasn’t always so, and landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia can be thanked for breaking down that barrier.

The famous court case was settled in June of 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck down prohibitions against mixed-race marriages. To celebrate that anniversary, Lynchburg College brought in Peter Wallenstein, a Virginia Tech history professor and researcher who has written three books about the court case, among others.

The case involved Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a pregnant, mixed-race woman, who married one another in June of 1958 despite Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws. The couple actually married in Washington, D.C., in the hope of avoiding a violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, but were charged for crossing state lines to marry when they returned to Clear [Central] Point, Virginia…

Read the entire article here.

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Before Loving, there was Kinney in Augusta County

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-23 16:20Z by Steven

Before Loving, there was Kinney in Augusta County

The News Leader
Staunton, Virginia

Dale M. Brumfield, Special to The News Leader

“By the laws of Virginia (C. V. 1873, ch. 105, § 1), all marriages between a white person and a negro are absolutely void…”

—Kinney v. Commonwealth, Oct. 3, 1878, Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.

In 1967 Caroline County couple Richard Perry Loving and Mildred Jeter successfully overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages, and the newly released movie “Loving” chronicles their sometimes harrowing experiences. Eighty-seven years earlier, however, a courageous Augusta County couple also went to court to force change to Virginia law prohibiting marriages between blacks and whites, but with far less success than the Lovings.

According to the 1878 Virginia Court of Appeals case Kinney v. Commonwealth, Andrew Kinney was a blacksmith who fell in love with Mahala Miller around 1866. The fact that Kinney was black and Miller white made their relationship illegal in Virginia but irrelevant to them. They thumbed their noses at the law and boldly moved in together as husband and wife near Churchville. The following year Mahala gave birth to their first son, William, and two years later gave birth to another son, James.

Just as Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1958 to marry, so did Andrew and Mahala on Nov. 4, 1874, when mixed-race marriages became legal there. After a 10-day honeymoon, they returned to Churchville and had four more boys — John in 1874, Alonzo (who died shortly after birth) in 1875, Tom in 1876 and Harrison in 1877…

Read the entire article here.

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Interview with Playwright Adrienne Dawes

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-02-22 21:30Z by Steven

Interview with Playwright Adrienne Dawes


Dawes Portrait by Beth Consetta Rubel Photo via Dawes

I heard of Adrienne Dawes when a show that talked about Mexican identity called Casta came on my radar.  I knew that I had to connect with her.  She is a boss writer and the head of a production company called Heckle Her.  She is the mastermind behind dope shows like Doper than Dope, Am I White and Denim Doves.  She has been featured in Essence magazine and other national outlets….

…Adrienne is the recipient of the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Playwriting.  Her play Am I White was a finalist for the 2012 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and semifinalist for the 2012 Princess Grace Award. Am I White won the David Mark Cohen New Play Award (2015 Austin Critics Table Awards), an award for Outstanding Original Script (2015 B. Iden Payne Awards) and was honorably mentioned by The List (The Kilroys) of recommended new plays by female and trans authors.  Adrienne is a member of the Dramatists Guild and a company member of Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin, TX. In January 2017, Adrienne will join the inaugural class of writers in the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, supported by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.”

What is your identity?

I identify as mixed-race, multiracial, and/or AfroLatina. I am an artist and feminist; my pronouns are she and her.

Tell us about CASTA.

“Casta” is the working title of a new performance piece I am writing and creating with support from Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin. It’s my first time to collaborate with visual artist Beth Consetta Rubel and composer Graham Reynolds. It’s also my first “history” play set in a very specific time and place (presented mostly as a period piece). We are exploring mixed-race representation in casta paintings of 18th century Mexico. Casta paintings were a unique genre of portraiture that depicted different racial mixtures arranged in 16 panels according to a hierarchy of race and status…

Read the entire interview here.

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When Black is not the only colour

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-02-22 21:07Z by Steven

When Black is not the only colour

50.50: inclusive democracy
open democracy

Kamila Zahno
Haringey, London, United Kingdom

Kamila and her ‘slightly coloured’ siblings in the 1960s.

Too Black for the adoption agencies but not Black enough for the political campaigners.  On growing up an adoptee of mixed heritage in Britain.

Times have changed. When I was a child in sixties’ Britain there was no Jessica Ennis, Jackie Kay, Chuka Umunna or Lewis Hamilton. Mixed heritage role models were thin on the ground: we saw film stars like Merle Oberon, or singers such as Bob Marley, but I can’t remember seeing any British role models. Now people of mixed parentage are everywhere, although it was not until the 2001 Census that we became ‘official’.  In that year there were 677,177 of us.  By 2020 it is estimated that 1.24 million people in the UK will be of mixed parentage.

In the fifties when I was born, unmarried pregnant women were encouraged to give their babies up for adoption. I, along with my three siblings, was one of them.  However, the adoption agency files revealed what a headache we posed to them.  We were not adoption material.  ‘Baby is slightly coloured and adoption is impossible’ was the phrase written in my sister Ellen’s adoption papers.

We were all different ethnicities: our fathers from Asia or Africa, our mothers white. My mother was a young Swiss au pair working in London; my father an Indian engineering student. How they met I shall never know but I liked to think about them learning to jive at the Hammersmith Palais

Read the entire article here.

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‘Loving’ and Virginia: a timeline of mixed-race marriage

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-22 02:40Z by Steven

‘Loving’ and Virginia: a timeline of mixed-race marriage

The Richmond Times-Dispatch

The movie “Loving” tells the story of a mixed-race Caroline County couple – and an important story about Virginia itself. We asked the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities for some insight into Richard and Mildred Loving, as well as state history. Here is a timeline from the foundation’s Encyclopedia Virginia.


April 3, 1691: The General Assembly passes “An act for suppressing outlying slaves,” which grants county sheriffs, their deputies and any other “lawfull authority” the ability to kill any slaves resisting, running away or refusing to surrender when so ordered. The act seeks to prevent “abominable mixture and spurious issue” by prohibiting mixed-race marriages.

October 1705: The assembly passes “An Act Concerning Servants and Slaves,” which summarizes previous laws defining bound labor in Virginia. It makes distinctions between the treatment of white “christian” indentured servants and nonwhite, non-Christians, allowing for the killing of slaves in various situations without penalty.

1848: The assembly increases the penalty for the white partner in an interracial marriage from six months to a maximum of 12 months in prison…

Read the entire article here.

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Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

Posted in Autobiography, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-02-20 02:17Z by Steven

Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

WGBH Radio
Boston, Massachusetts

Sally Jacobs

My name is Sally Jacobs and I am a reporter doing a project for WGBH radio in Boston on interracial marriage in connection with the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the practice. I am looking for couples in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) who have a compelling story of challenge, triumph, passion, hardship or adventure.

I am also looking for some particular experiences:

  • Interracial couples who divorced in the mid 1980s.
  • Couples who married before interracial marriage became legal in 1967.
  • Young/millennial couples who met on an interracial dating website.
  • Those with a compelling story from any time period.

If you live in any of the six New England states, please e-mail me a description of your story, long or short, at sallyhjacobs@gmail.com.

Many thanks.

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