Being Irish, mixed race and living abroad: it’s complicated

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-03 22:06Z by Steven

Being Irish, mixed race and living abroad: it’s complicated

The Irish Times
2017-12-01

Conrad Bryan, Treasurer
Irish in Britain


A scene from Hashtag Lightie, playing at the Arcola Theatre in north London.

London play ‘Hashtag Lightie’ puts the spotlight on mixed-race identity

I live in London, a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. It is a place where anything goes and where people of different ethnicities have always mixed, loved and married.

However, today the binary black and white notion of race is being challenged by the younger generation. They are choosing for themselves where they sit on the colour spectrum and how they self-identify. No longer will they accept other people labelling them.

Many are choosing to self-identify as mixed-race rather than black, which is causing a real debate in the black community here. This has many consequences for individuals struggling to determine where they fit in society, or what side to take…

Read the entire article here.

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Do Not Pass

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-12-03 02:50Z by Steven

Do Not Pass

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2010-02-16

Touré

This may come as a shock to you, especially if you look at whiteness as a boon and blackness as a burden, but I have never once wished to be white. If a fairy godfather came to me and said I could switch races, I’d open the window and make him use it. I think 99 percent of black people would do the same. That’s not a knock on whiteness — it seems to be working out well for many people — it’s that I love blackness, even if passing would allow me to unhook myself from the heavy anchor called racism. It’s cool: I’ve learned how to be as quick as a Br’er Rabbit, even with the anchor attached. Still, you might argue, wouldn’t switching from a disadvantaged race to the dominant one be as liberating as a winning lottery ticket? Well, for those who’ve been able to complete the sociopolitical fantasy trip and become racial transvestites, it usually ends badly.

The character who jumps the color line is a fascinating American rogue, a self-­constructed person, a trickster who’s discovered that race is not an unscalable wall but a chain-link fence with holes big enough for some people to slip through. But once they cross the line, they’re fugitives hiding in plain sight, on the lam from themselves and their histories, cut off from their families, unchained from racism but chained to a secret whose revelation would bring an end to a life built on lies and a stolen place in the dominant culture. All that makes racial shape-shifters a fantastic opportunity for a writer: they’ve got Huck Finn’s independence, an identity in turmoil, a secret that could destroy their world, a refusal to be defined by others and a vantage on race that very few ever get to have. And in the story of a racial fugitive, there’s always a ticking bomb. It’s a corollary of the literary law that if you put a loaded rifle onstage, it has to go off: if a character shifts races, eventually he’ll be unmasked, and usually it’s painful physically or psychically or both…

Read the entire article here.

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Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-29 03:59Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
August 2018
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503605046
Paper ISBN: 9781503606012

Ana Paulina Lee, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies
Columbia University, New York, New York

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor—an era when black slavery shifted to “yellow labor” and racial anxieties surged. Lee asks how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil’s nation-building project, which prioritized “whitening,” a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, Lee interrogates how Chinese and Japanese imperial ambitions and Asian ethnic supremacy reinforced Brazil’s whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

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The Skyscraper’s Unseeing Eyes: Louis Sullivan, Nella Larsen, and Racial Formalism

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-25 02:26Z by Steven

The Skyscraper’s Unseeing Eyes: Louis Sullivan, Nella Larsen, and Racial Formalism

American Literature
Volume 89, Issue 3
2017-09-01
DOI: 10.1215/00029831-4160846

Sue Shon

Since its inception, the skyscraper has served as an icon of American innovation, modernity, and freedom. Upholding this image has erased the racial thinking and racist practices foundational to this born-and-bred American architectural form. This essay restores the import of race to the skyscraper by reading formalist theories by the father of modern architecture, Louis Sullivan, alongside a work of African American modernist fiction, Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929). Reading Sullivan alongside Larsen explains how skyscrapers and blackness together have defined what gets seen as modern. The unexpected pairing reveals the visual racial logics built into skyscraper aesthetics and adds an architectural thread to the well-established scholarship on Larsen’s novel.

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Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-20 04:50Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
June 2018
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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Colouring the Caribbean: Race and the art of Agostino Brunias

Posted in Arts, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-17 03:08Z by Steven

Colouring the Caribbean: Race and the art of Agostino Brunias

Manchester University Press
December 2017
272 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-2045-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-2047-2

Mia L. Bagneris, Jesse Poesch Junior Professor of Art History
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Colouring the Caribbean offers the first comprehensive study of Agostino Brunias’s intriguing pictures of colonial West Indians of colour – so called ‘Red’ and ‘Black’ Caribs, dark-skinned Africans and Afro-Creoles, and people of mixed race – made for colonial officials and plantocratic elites during the late-eighteenth century. Although Brunias’s paintings have often been understood as straightforward documents of visual ethnography that functioned as field guides for reading race, this book investigates how the images both reflected and refracted ideas about race commonly held by eighteenth-century Britons, helping to construct racial categories while simultaneously exposing their constructedness and underscoring their contradictions. The book offers provocative new insights about Brunias’s work gleaned from a broad survey of his paintings, many of which are reproduced here for the first time.

Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Brunias’s tarred brush, or painting Indians black: race-ing the Carib divide
  • 2. Merry and contented slaves and other island myths: representing Africans and Afro-Creoles in the Anglxexo-American world
  • 3. Brown-skinned booty, or colonising Diana: mixed-race Venuses and Vixens as the fruits of imperial enterprise
  • 4. Can you find the white woman in this picture? Agostino Brunias’s ‘ladies’ of ambiguous race
  • Coda – Pushing Brunias’s buttons, or re-branding the plantocracy’s painter: the afterlife of Brunias’s imagery
  • Index
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The Free State of Jones: A Roundtable

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2017-11-13 01:33Z by Steven

The Free State of Jones: A Roundtable

Civil War History
Volume 63, Number 4, December 2017
pages 400-420

Joseph Beilein (JB), Assistant Professor of History
Pennsylvania State University, Behrend

Margaret Storey (MS), Professor of History and Associate Dean
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Andrew Slap (AS), Professor of History
East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tenneessee

Jarret Ruminski (JR), Freelance Writer, researcher, and Consultant
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ryan Keating (RK), Civil War History book review editor; Assistant Professor of History
California State University, San Bernardino

The summer of 2016 saw the release of the first large-budget Civil War film since 2012’s critically acclaimed Lincoln. The Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross and starring Matthew McConaughey, is not simply, however, another film about the Civil War. Based on historian Victoria Bynum’s acclaimed book The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War, this film marks an important shift in the popular depiction of America’s greatest conflict as it takes viewers inside the complex inner civil wars many Americans fought during this period. Long defined as a conflict pitting the north against the south, the realities of the Civil War were, as this film attempts to show, much more complex. Questions of loyalty and issues of patriotism have become an important part of the historiography of the Civil War era, illustrating the ways average men and women, North and South, struggled with the collision of national and local issues. Although the nuances of patriotism and loyalty have long driven the scholarly community, these issues have played a less important role in public, and especially Hollywood, portrayals of the war and the Reconstruction era. Certainly, past films have touched on the subject. Ride with the Devil, Pharaoh’s Army, and Cold Mountain, for example, all touch on patriotism and loyalty, as the main characters struggle with the consequences of the war on the home front. Based on a true story, Free State of Jones, is, however, the first to truly analyze this struggle through the lens of southern dissent. Following the experiences of Mississippian Newton Knight, a disillusioned southern soldier who returns home to lead a revolt against Confederate authorities in Mississippi, the film strikes at the heart of the complex nature of identity, patriotism, and loyalty during the Civil War and Reconstruction and gives viewers a rare glimpse into aspects of the war often overlooked by Hollywood film.

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Celeste Ng: ‘It’s a novel about race, and class and privilege’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-05 05:11Z by Steven

Celeste Ng: ‘It’s a novel about race, and class and privilege’

The Guardian
2017-11-04

Paul Laity


Celeste Ng … ‘I have an interest in the outsider.’ Photograph: Robert Gumpert for the Guardian

The books interview: the bestselling US author on family, fitting in and giving a voice to those without power in her new book, Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng’s first novel Everything I Never Told You opens with 16-year-old Lydia Lee found drowned in a lake. She was her parents’ favourite, the opposite of a troublemaker, an innocent. How did it happen, who was responsible for her death? And can the family survive?

The mystery of Lydia’s fate propels the narrative, which is tightly focused on one couple and their mixed-race children in 1970s suburban America – the secrets that have been kept, the hopes dashed, the sense of not fitting in. A page-turning literary thriller that is also a thought-provoking exploration of parenthood and family life, the novel enjoyed huge success – critics’ accolades, big sales and selection by Amazon editors as their 2014 book of the year.

Ng’s follow-up, Little Fires Everywhere, also begins memorably, with a large, elegant house on an affluent street in flames. It belongs to Elena and Bill Richardson, a picture-perfect married couple with four teenage kids. “The firemen said there were little fires everywhere,” one of the children reports: “Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident.” Another mystery: who did it and why? On the same day, bohemian Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, who have become closely entangled with the Richardsons, pack up and leave town…

…Ng’s husband is white; they have a biracial son, and her first novel is interested too in the idea of feeling “other” even within one’s own family – how two parents can view the same events in contrasting ways. There are occasions when Ng and her husband are still brought up short by the realisation they have “lived in two different worlds”. At moments of tension – one incident at airport security, for instance, or another while getting their son a passport – he assumes he’ll be given the benefit of the doubt, she says, whereas “my understanding is that you have to toe the line or you’ll be in trouble”…

Read the entire article here.

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Coming to Terms with Mixed Race

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania on 2017-11-04 19:58Z by Steven

Coming to Terms with Mixed Race

The Quadrant
July 2017

Robert Murray

One of the difficulties of Stan Grant’s recent book is trying to pin down how pre-TV life differed from that of any working-class boy from the bush who makes it in the big smoke. But then there are quite a few things Grant neglects to explore in his genial but ultimately frustrating personal history

From either a primary school teacher or from my Mum, I heard at an early age that part-European indigenous people—then known inelegantly as “half-castes”—were caught between two worlds, and that could make life difficult for them. Their dilemma has been around for a long time but has never really been part of the public discussion, or even much awareness. “The Aboriginal problem” seems to remain firmly with the remote tribal people, where it has always been.

This is part of the value of Stan Grant’s memoir, reviewed by Jeremy Sammut in the June 2016 edition of Quadrant, his story of being one of the Westernised “light-skinned” part-Europeans who today make up the majority of those who identify as Aborigines. Sammut’s review concentrated on the part of the book dealing with recent indigenous public policy. This piece adds the more personal mixed-race aspect.

“The old definitions of Aboriginality strain to serve the constellation of groups and individuals that lay claim to that identity,” Stan Grant writes. In some ways, it doesn’t seem to have made things all that difficult for Grant, manual worker’s son from the Riverina who became a successful television journalist and is now an indigenous celebrity. But he says it was an extra load to carry, perhaps in small rather than big ways.

His autobiography, Talking to My Country, is important as a brightly written, lucid account of mixed-race life—if we can use that useful but unloved term. As the title suggests, it aspires to be talking to this country about Aboriginality, but is a word-play also on his home country in the Riverina district of New South Wales where his boyhood had little in common with the “full descent” communities of the remote outback that get all the publicity.

“Aboriginal” or “indigenous” still implies to most Australians the Northern Territory, Cape York or the Kimberley, the dark-skinned people only lately and lightly integrated to modern ways and often troubled by them. The figures put it otherwise. Most who identify as Aborigines these days live in the south, much as other Australians do, but their circumstances or predicaments, when there are predicaments, get little media, political, academic and thus public attention. It has ever been thus. Colonial governments believed they had an obligation to shield “full-bloods” from the conspicuously damaging effects of newly established white society, but they expected mixed-race people to just become like everybody else. To a large extent they did, but not without problems, often emotional as much as anything.

The total Australian population now identifying officially as of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent is close to 700,000. About 175,000 live in New South Wales, almost all of them thought to be of mixed descent and more or less Westernised, like the majority nationally. Corroboree-type ceremony in New South Wales is believed to have died out around 1900…

Read the entire article here.

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Still Processing: Being Biracial

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-10-07 21:32Z by Steven

Still Processing: Being Biracial

Still Processing
The New York Times
2017-10-05

Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham


Rashida Jones as Santamonica, the sister of Tracee Ellis Ross’s character on ABC’s “Black-ish.”
Credit Kelsey McNeal/Getty Images

For months, the two of us have been trying to figure out a way to have a conversation about the experience of being biracial. This week we just go for it. First, we talk about the cultural and historical suspicion America still has of black-white interracial romantic relationships. It gives us an excuse to revisit the reason “Get Out” has been one of the year’s major movies: It articulates the previously inarticulable about race. Then we consider the offspring of interracial coupling — whether the possibility of occupying two identities (or more) is a choice, a luxury or a delusion; and what fears, doubts or envy nonbiracial black Americans might feel about biracial black Americans. We drop in on Spike Lee’sSchool Daze” and the sitcom “Black-ish.” We consider our feelings about Rashida Jones, Drake and Vin Diesel. We unpack the writings of Zadie Smith and Barack Obama. And we kind of have to ask: Aren’t we all a little bit mixed?

Read the entire article here.

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