Rachel Dolezal’s pick-your-race policy works brilliantly – as long as you’re white

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-03-27 18:53Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal’s pick-your-race policy works brilliantly – as long as you’re white

The Guardian
2017-03-27

Claire Hynes, ‎Tutor in Literature and Creative Writing
University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom


‘Great for Dolezal that she got to realise her ambition to be black. But reverse the situation, and European-style hair extensions and a white parent would not facilitate the switch.’ Photograph: Colin Mulvany/AP

Dolezal’s idea that we all ‘write our own stories’ is easy for her to say. In reality, the racial fluidity she preaches is a one-way street

Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who for more than 10 years pretended she was black, promotes herself as transracial in her new memoir, published this week. How seriously are we expected to take this latest incarnation?

Dolezal, who recently changed her name to Nkechi Diallo, a mixture of Nigerian Igbo and Fula, claims that her book, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World, was written partly “to just encourage people to be exactly who they are”. This comes two years after she was found to have deceived the people of Spokane, Washington, where she was a race activist and branch president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Read the entire article here.

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México’s Nobodies: The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Religion, Women on 2017-03-26 21:35Z by Steven

México’s Nobodies: The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women

State University of New York Press
February 2017
350 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-6357-5

B. Christine Arce, Assistant Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture
University of Miami, Miami, Florida

2016 Victoria Urbano Critical Monograph Book Prize, presented by the International Association of Hispanic Feminine Literature and Culture

Analyzes cultural materials that grapple with gender and blackness to revise traditional interpretations of Mexicanness.

México’s Nobodies examines two key figures in Mexican history that have remained anonymous despite their proliferation in the arts: the soldadera and the figure of the mulata. B. Christine Arce unravels the stunning paradox evident in the simultaneous erasure (in official circles) and ongoing fascination (in the popular imagination) with the nameless people who both define and fall outside of traditional norms of national identity. The book traces the legacy of these extraordinary figures in popular histories and legends, the Inquisition, ballads such as “La Adelita” and “La Cucaracha,” iconic performers like Toña la Negra, and musical genres such as the son jarocho and danzón. This study is the first of its kind to draw attention to art’s crucial role in bearing witness to the rich heritage of blacks and women in contemporary México.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Paradox of Invisibility
  • Part I: Entre Adelitas y Cucarachas: The Soldadera as Trope in the Mexican Revolution
    • 1. Soldaderas and the Making of Revolutionary Spaces
    • 2. The Many Faces of the Soldadera and the Adelita Complex
    • 3. Beyond the “Custom of Her Sex and Country”
  • Part II: The Blacks in the Closet
    • 4. Black Magic and the Inquisition: The Legend of La Mulata de Córdoba and the Case of Antonia de Soto
    • 5. “Dios pinta como quiere”: Blackness and Redress in Mexican Golden Age Film
    • 6. The Music of the Afro-Mexican Universe and the Dialectics of Son
  • Conclusion: To Be Expressed Otherwise
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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AIA Evening Lecture: An Overlooked Chapter in the History of Egyptology: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey & Pauline Hopkins

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, United States on 2017-03-25 15:57Z by Steven

AIA Evening Lecture: An Overlooked Chapter in the History of Egyptology: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey & Pauline Hopkins

Penn Museum
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
Thursday, 2017-03-30, 18:00-19:00 EDT (Local Time)

Vanessa Davies, Visiting Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, speaks at this Archaeological Institute of America Philadelphia Society lecture. Three prominent black writers of the early 20th century—W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Pauline Hopkins—incorporated ancient Egyptian culture into their writings. Attacking a common theory of their day, DuBois and Garvey used ancient Egyptian culture to argue for the humanity of black people, marshaling evidence of Egypt’s glorious past to inspire black people in the Americas with feelings of hope and self-worth. They also engaged with the contemporary work of prominent archaeologists, a fact lost in most histories of Egyptology. Hopkins’ novel Of One Blood places the reality of the racial discrimination and the racial “passing” of her day against the backdrop of ancient Egypt. Like Du Bois, she advocates for the education of black Americans, and like Garvey, she constructs an African safe haven for her novel’s protagonist. Understanding these three writers’ treatments of ancient Egypt, Davies argues, provides a richer perspective on the history of the discipline of Egyptology. Reception with opportunity to meet the speaker follows.

For more information, click here.

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Hybridity and Miscegenation

Posted in Books, Chapter, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-24 19:12Z by Steven

Hybridity and Miscegenation

Chapter in The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies
Online ISBN: 9781118663219
Published Online: 2016-04-21
2 pages
DOI: 10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss321

Leigh H. Edwards, Associate Professor of English
Florida State University

Hybridity and miscegenation refer to race mixing. Both terms came into popular usage during the nineteenth century in the United States in the context of race slavery and scientific racism. Since the 1980s, hybridity has been used more broadly in postcolonial theory to refer to cultural mixture that can critique colonization.

Read or purchase the chapter here.

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Identity Crisis

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Judaism, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2017-03-24 01:07Z by Steven

Identity Crisis

Washington Independent Review of Books
2017-03-10

Helene Meyers, Professor of English
Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas

The “white Jewish” question posed in The Human Stain.

Emma Green of the Atlantic started a firestorm recently with the article “Are Jews White?” Taking for granted that Ashkenazi Jews have assimilated to whiteness, Green used the white Jewish question to wonder whether the rise of the so-called “alt-right” (read racist, misogynist white supremacists) is upending Jewish security in the U.S.

Green’s provocative title question caused quite a bit of tumult on Twitter. Predictably and understandably, Jews of color replied, with much amusement and some angst, “No.” Some white Jews responded, “No,” as well, citing anti-Semitism and/or Jewish distinctiveness. For once, this group agreed with the likes of David Duke, who tweeted in all caps “NO — JEWS ARE NOT WHITE.” Some white Jews and blacks unequivocally replied, “Yes,” citing white privilege as decisive.

While the answers to Green’s question from Jewish-American literature are all over the map, Philip Roth’s The Human Stain brilliantly depicts the continuing effects of “so arbitrary a designation as race” on those who choose or are assigned the off-whiteness of Jewishness…

Read the entire essay here.

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Theorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2017-03-23 18:55Z by Steven

Theorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos

Oxford University Press
2017-05-01
280 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0190633691

Juliet Hooker, Associate Professor of Government and African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

  • The first book to simultaneously analyze U.S. African-American and Latin American political thinkers and their ideas about race.
  • Transforms understandings of prominent U.S. African-American and Latin American intellectuals through a hemispheric analysis.
  • Challenges political theory’s preoccupation with East/West comparisons by foregrounding the Americas.
  • Brings African-American and Latin American political thought into conversation and shows how each discipline was developed through transnational intellectual exchanges.
  • Maps a genealogy of racial thought in the Americas.

In 1845 two thinkers from the American hemisphere – the Argentinean statesman Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, and the fugitive ex-slave, abolitionist leader, and orator from the United States, Frederick Douglass – both published their first works. Each would become the most famous and enduring texts in what were both prolific careers, and they ensured Sarmiento and Douglass’ position as leading figures in the canon of Latin American and U.S. African-American political thought, respectively. But despite the fact that both deal directly with key political and philosophical questions in the Americas, Douglass and Sarmiento, like African-American and Latin American thought more generally, are never read alongside each other. This may be because their ideas about race differed dramatically. Sarmiento advocated the Europeanization of Latin America and espoused a virulent form of anti-indigenous racism, while Douglass opposed slavery and defended the full humanity of black persons. Still, as Juliet Hooker contends, looking at the two together allows one to chart a hemispheric intellectual geography of race that challenges political theory’s preoccupation with and assumptions about East/West comparisons, and questions the use of comparison as a tool in the production of theory and philosophy.

By juxtaposing four prominent nineteenth and twentieth-century thinkers – Frederick Douglass, Domingo F. Sarmiento, W. E. B. Du Bois, and José Vasconcelos – her book will be the first to bring African-American and Latin American political thought into conversation. Hooker stresses that Latin American and U.S. ideas about race were not developed in isolation, but grew out of transnational intellectual exchanges across the Americas. In so doing, she shows that nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. and Latin American thinkers each looked to political models in the ‘other’ America to advance racial projects in their own countries. Reading these four intellectuals as hemispheric thinkers, Hooker foregrounds elements of their work that have been dismissed by dominant readings, and provides a crucial platform to bridge the canons of Latin American and African-American political thought.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Race Theory and Hemispheric Juxtaposition
  • Part I : Ambas Américas
    • 1. “A Black Sister to Massachusetts”: Latin America and the Fugitive Democratic Ethos of Frederick Douglass
    • 2. “Mi Patria de Pensamiento”: Sarmiento, the United States, and the Pitfalls of Comparison
  • Part II: Mestizo Futurologies
    • 3. “To See, Foresee, and Prophesy”: Du Bois’ Mulatto Fictions and Afro-Futurism
    • 4. “A Doctrine that Nourished the Hopes of the Non-White Races”: Vasconcelos, Mestizaje’s Travels, and U.S. Latino Politics
    • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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New Perspectives on James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, United States on 2017-03-23 18:54Z by Steven

New Perspectives on James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

University of Georgia Press
2017-07-15
272 pages
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-5097-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-5096-7

Edited by

Noelle Morrissette, Associate Professor of English
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) exemplified the ideal of the American public intellectual as a writer, educator, songwriter, diplomat, key figure of the Harlem Renaissance, and first African American executive of the NAACP. Originally published anonymously in 1912, Johnson’s novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is considered one of the foundational works of twentieth-century African American literature, and its themes and forms have been taken up by other writers, from Ralph Ellison to Teju Cole.

Johnson’s novel provocatively engages with political and cultural strains still prevalent in American discourse today, and it remains in print over a century after its initial publication. New Perspectives contains fresh essays that analyze the book’s reverberations, the contexts within which it was created and received, the aesthetic and intellectual developments of its author, and its continuing influence on American literature and global culture.

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Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-03-23 03:56Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
October 2017
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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Stop Weaponzing Biracial Children

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-22 13:36Z by Steven

Stop Weaponzing Biracial Children

Wear Your Voice: Intersectional Feminist Media
2017-03-16

Lara Witt
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Raising biracial or multiracial children isn’t a band-aid you can slap onto the festering wound that is racism.

Hi! It’s your local multiracial feminist here to remind you to stop weaponizing biracial and multiracial kids for the sake of making white supremacists angry. We have our own experiences, traumas and perceptions. We don’t simply exist to make people angry, so stop dehumanizing us as if we were grenades.

It’s been a common theme for a while now, and I remember hearing it countless times growing up: you have the best of both worlds and it’s people like you who will end racism! Cool. So, um, nope. It doesn’t work that way, in fact, it never has — and, very often, children with multiple ethnicities have identity issues and face a specific type of discrimination and racism.

I have always struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere: not white enough, not Kenyan enough, not Indian enough. I’m stuck at a crossroads where my understanding of blackness and whiteness is unique, and so it is rather alienating. I have dedicated my life to dismantling white supremacy, misogyny, colonialism and capitalism, but I don’t weaponize my racial identity to do so…

….It’s hard to ignore the underlying current of antiblackness when discussing bi-racial kids: when you want cute brown babies with European features and 3B curls, you’re talking about a dilution of blackness as a response to white supremacy, and frankly that doesn’t make sense. Frankly, I don’t want to be used as an example for your fetish of “exotic women.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-03-19 22:52Z by Steven

Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy

University of North Carolina Press
May 2017
230 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3283-4
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3282-7

Alisha Gaines, Assistant Professor of English
Florida State University

In 1948, journalist Ray Sprigle traded his whiteness to live as a black man for four weeks. A little over a decade later, John Howard Griffin famously “became” black as well, traveling the American South in search of a certain kind of racial understanding. Contemporary history is littered with the surprisingly complex stories of white people passing as black, and here Alisha Gaines constructs a unique genealogy of “empathetic racial impersonation”–white liberals walking in the fantasy of black skin under the alibi of cross-racial empathy. At the end of their experiments in “blackness,” Gaines argues, these debatably well-meaning white impersonators arrived at little more than false consciousness.

Complicating the histories of black-to-white passing and blackface minstrelsy, Gaines uses an interdisciplinary approach rooted in literary studies, race theory, and cultural studies to reveal these sometimes maddening, and often absurd, experiments of racial impersonation. By examining this history of modern racial impersonation, Gaines shows that there was, and still is, a faulty cultural logic that places enormous faith in the idea that empathy is all that white Americans need to make a significant difference in how to racially navigate our society.

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