Communing with the Dead: The “New Métis,” Métis Identity Appropriation, and the Displacement of Living Métis Culture

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Canada, Media Archive on 2018-05-22 02:25Z by Steven

Communing with the Dead: The “New Métis,” Métis Identity Appropriation, and the Displacement of Living Métis Culture

The American Indian Quarterly
Volume 42, Number 2, Spring 2018
pages 62-190

Adam Gaudry, Assistant Professor
Faculty of Native Studies & Department of Political Science
University of Alberta

Métis are witnessing an increase in the number of self-identified “Métis” individuals and groups lacking affiliation with long-standing Métis communities. For these groups, genealogical discovery of previously unknown Indian ancestors acts as a catalyst for personal self-discovery, spiritual growth, and ultimately the assertion of a Métis identity, regardless of whether or not this identity is accepted by contemporary Métis communities. These “new Métis” do not situate their Métis identity in the lived practice of Métis communities that have persisted for generations throughout Western Canada but in written genealogical reports that link them to long-dead Indigenous relatives who may not have even understood themselves to be Métis. In light of this problematic “new Métis” orientation to “the dead,” this article explores the narratives generated by the unprecedented growth of Métis self-identification, particularly in Eastern Canada, and how shifting conceptions of Métis identity have inaugurated a problematic “new Métis” subjectivity.

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Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, Women on 2018-05-22 02:17Z by Steven

Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2018
pages 197-204
DOI: 10.1353/jnc.2018.0015

Christine “Xine” Yao, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
University of British Columbia

In “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian,” Edith Maude Eaton, writing as Sui Sin Far, reflects on her time in Jamaica as a white-passing mixed-race woman.1 Rumor of her Chinese ancestry provokes a white English naval officer to seek her out for sexual favors, a scenario still all too familiar to women, particularly women of color, today: a predatory conversation sheathed in friendly euphemisms. At first Far believes his visit has to do with her work as a journalist, but his repeated “silly and offensive laugh” suggests otherwise.2 When she attempts to dismiss him, he laughs again, “There’s always plenty of time for good times. That’s what I am here for.”3 After commenting on her “nice little body,” he invites her to sail with him where “I will tell you all about the sweet little Chinese girls I met when we were at Hong Kong. They’re not so shy!”4 The officer’s framing of her presumed affective and sexual availability, and the foregrounding of his own sexual and social prerogative, are an everyday life manifestation of what Lisa Lowe names a “‘political economy’ of intimacy … a particular calculus governing the production, distribution, and possession of intimacy” predicated on empire and settler colonialism.5 The man’s proposition to Far is a demand for her friendliness because those other Chinese girls in Hong Kong are “not so shy.” In her rejection of his desire for intimacy, she risks the dangerous backlash that attends injured white masculinity along with broader social consequences that could impact the relative privilege of her personal and professional life in the Caribbean. Still, instead of a “friendly” relationship to whiteness, Sui Sin Far seeks alternative intimacies. In the same section of her memoir she juxtaposes this incident with musings about her position as a white-passing mixed-race Chinese woman in relation to her observations about antiblackness in the West Indies. Despite the warnings of the English who tell her to fear the “‘brown boys’ of the island,” the writer considered the mother of Asian North American literature affirms a sense of transnational solidarity between peoples of color in her affective racial identifications. “I too am of the ‘brown people’ of the earth,” she confides to her readers, prefiguring, in this assertion, the anti-colonial alliance between African and Asian nations that would be formalized in 1955 at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia.6

Intimacy operates, here, as a heuristic for understanding how the racialized and gendered pressures of domesticity, sentimentality, and sexuality are imbricated with the projects of empire. These exploitative relations undergird the transnational violences of settler colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude—systems which, as Lowe argues, enable the liberal fictions of white Western individuals, who are able to claim intimacy as one of the privileges associated with the private sphere, as a property of their citizenship in modern civil society. In the shift from the late nineteenth-century threatening “Yellow Peril” to modern-day deserving “model minority,” Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian descent, are lured by false promises of inclusion into this liberal fiction on the basis of intimate affiliation with whiteness. Among the processes of comparative racialization that emerge from transnational intimacies, Ellen Wu traces how Asian Americans were complicit in the anti-black creation of the “model minority” category in the American cultural imaginary.7 Nonetheless, the solidarity work of activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama, along with studies of earlier black-Asian cultural and political engagements by scholars like Edlie Wong and Julia H. Lee, indicates an alternative genealogy of counterintimacies that disrupts those aligned with the afterlife of imperial exploitation.8 In defiance of the coercive pressures made manifest through sexual violence and emotional labor, the mixed-race Asian and black women of Sui Sin Far’s fiction and nonfiction writings reorient these indices of transnational power relations away from their focus on whiteness and toward the possibility of resistance through affective connections that center peoples of color.

In Far’s rediscovered Jamaican stories and journalism…

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Meghan Markle and the Bicultural Blackness of the Royal Wedding

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-21 14:33Z by Steven

Meghan Markle and the Bicultural Blackness of the Royal Wedding

The New York Times
2018-05-20

Salamishah Tillet, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their wedding ceremony in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.
Pool photo by WPA

“Who are your people?” is the question that repeatedly came to me as I watched Doria Ragland, Meghan Markle’s mother, sitting a few feet away from her daughter at Saturday’s royal wedding. A common expression among southern African-Americans when greeting a stranger, it is never simply a matter of bloodline or individual biography. Rather, responses like “I’m the daughter of so and so” or “My family comes from here by way of there” serves the greater purpose of attesting to one’s place in history and potential bonds of kinship.

Despite Ms. Ragland’s being the sole member of Ms. Markle’s family at the wedding, we still know so little about her. In contrast to the media obsession with Ms. Markle’s father and his children from his first marriage, Ms. Ragland is a bit of a mystery who rarely gives interviews. As a result of her silence, we are left to deduce meaning from her physical image. As she sat across from the British monarchy in her pale green Oscar de la Renta dress and coat, it was the symbolism of her long dreadlocks, quietly tucked underneath her hat, that spoke volumes as it reminded us that black women’s natural hair is regal too.

Among the group of black women with whom I watched the ceremony early Saturday morning in New Jersey, she was a source of pride. Yet out of a sense of sisterly protection, we were also worried about her as she sat there alone, without siblings or friends. The wedding itself helped alleviate our fears, for even if none were not physically present at St. George’s Chapel, the ceremony was filled with gestures, big and small, that explicitly celebrated her “people” and the various black worlds in which she raised Ms. Markle.

But it was “what are you?” — a substantially more alienating question than “who are your people?” — that Meghan Markle recalls hearing almost every day of her life. In a 2015 essay for Elle magazine, she wrote, “I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook and a firm believer in handwritten notes. A mouthful, yes, but one that I feel paints a pretty solid picture of who I am.” But such an answer is insufficient. Ms. Markle went on, “But here’s what happens: they smile and nod politely, maybe even chuckle, before getting to their point, ‘Right, but what are you? Where are your parents from?’ I knew it was coming, I always do.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Chat With Chelene Knight

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Interviews, Media Archive on 2018-05-20 00:59Z by Steven

The Chat With Chelene Knight

49th Shelf
2018-05-09

Trevor Corkum

dearcurrentoccupant

Chelene Knight’s debut memoir Dear Current Occupant (Bookt*ug) takes a closer look at childhood trauma and the uncertain idea of home. It’s a haunting, experimental, and deeply moving book which follows the author as she returns to many of the apartments she lived in as a young girl.

The Toronto Star calls Knight “one of the storytellers we need most right now” and calls the writing in Dear Current Occupant “lush, lyrical…mesmerizing.”

Chelene Knight was born in Vancouver, and is currently the Managing Editor of Room Magazine. A graduate of The Writers’ Studio at SFU, Chelene has been published in various Canadian and American literary magazines. Her debut book, Braided Skin, was published in 2015. Dear Current Occupant is her second book. Chelene is also working on a historical novel set in the 1930s and 40s in Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley.

Trevor Corkum: Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind Dear Current Occupant?

Chelene Knight: While I was writing my first book, Braided Skin (Mother Tongue Publishing 2015), I felt that there was an unfinished thread. Something wasn’t complete. I actually started working on Dear Current Occupant in 2013, but quickly tucked it away because the realization that I was not ready to re-experience everything was quite apparent. I was not ready to write these stories.

When it comes to childhood and trauma, there’s a certain amount of healing that needs to occur, you have to distance yourself a bit, step back from the table. Every day on my way to work I’d pass ride the Sky Train and just before the train pulled into Broadway Station, I’d get this twinge as I passed one of the buildings I used to live in as a young girl. Then I’d pass another, and another, and another and the same twinges poked and prodded under my skin. Then I knew I was ready to start the work, to put the pieces together.

I stood out front of as many of the houses as I could remember and I just wrote. It was winter and I was cold. I didn’t have gloves on and the snow was coming down, but I couldn’t stop. Memories and fragments came back like lightening. There was something about being there in the space. Even though I was outside those walls I knew so well, I will still there, back in time. I had no idea the effect this book would have on people. I have received nothing but stories of change, emails, tweets, messages, and posts about how this book changed them.

And at the end of the day isn’t that what a book is supposed to do? Change the reader…

Read the entire interview here.

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In the Wake of His Damage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-05-19 23:46Z by Steven

In the Wake of His Damage

The Rumpus
2018-05-12

Shreerekha
New York, New York


Rumpus original art by Aubrey Nolan

All the sleeping women
Are now awake and moving.
Yosano Akiko (1911)

For all women who already know this narrative;
For all women touched by the Great Writers, named, unnamed, and some listed as letters;
For all who commune in the trauma and healing promised herein;
For all who believe in the power of radical transgressive border-crossing love;
For my Happiness, and my son and my daughter, so that you may walk differently;
For the ex with whom love remains the last transgression —

The Autobiographical

The year after I started teaching in Texas, his novel came out. Ten years after the event of our relationship, ten tortured years where we continued to communicate, a sort of communication that involved him reaching out, letting me know I made all the wrong decisions in my life, and then, asking for forgiveness and another chance, I thought I should teach his novel in my classes. The novel itself was important, won the Pulitzer, and by teaching it enough times, I thought it would do the trick. The classroom is sacral: all that goes through it turns magical and I would emerge whole. I would finally be rid of my ghost-love and I could sanitize our past through the distance offered by teaching and making a monument of his work for my students. Somehow, that plan failed.

What I do is teach, write, and think on, most often, feminist texts and theories. Such a pedagogy has not just carried me through the classrooms over the decades, but become a mooring post in life. It offers me a vision and a strategy, a way to love radically, think fearlessly, and keep renewing, as I can, the bridges between projects of feminism and social justice. Gloria Anzaldua’s vision, a vision that has carried many a woman through a dark day, has been valuable in thinking through the rubble of this event in my life. In Borderlands, Anzaldua offers a prophetic amalgam that helps women identify the productive potential of the mestiza way, the middle spaces she calls the nepantla. For women of the many elsewheres, women who continually travel and cross borders, Anzaldua’s psychic restlessness gives a fist bump of legitimacy, an anchor in the cultural collisions many of us remain mired in. Rather than a counter stance, she speaks of developing a position that is inclusive, inaugurating for us the amasamiento, a creature of both light and darkness.

I identify in a category not formalized or accepted in colonial census charts or western ways of understanding the other, as a black South Asian. I am an Indian who lays claim to the global community of black consciousness, and I reside between so many worlds of belonging and unbelonging. In racializing colorism and politicizing my own experience of antipathy witnessed toward the color of my skin, I crafted my own passport into marooned and shapeshifting black communities that gave credence to ontologies and a posteriori narratives over normative constructions of race, ethnicities, and nationalities…

Read the entire article here.

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Meghan Markle Can’t Save the World

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United Kingdom on 2018-05-19 23:26Z by Steven

Meghan Markle Can’t Save the World

Jacobin
December 2017

Branko Marcetic, Editorial Assistant
Auckland, New Zealand


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during an official photo call to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

A just world would be one without royalty — and celebrity humanitarians.

The British royal family has had a banner decade. Intentionally or not, the latest generation’s charisma, combined with a steady stream of high-profile media events from the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the 2012 Olympics to William and Kate’s wedding and their first, second, and third kid, has made the royal family more popular than ever, partially suppressing the British public’s rising tide of republican feeling. Prince Harry’s recent engagement to Suits actress and activist Meghan Markle has reinforced this process, foreshadowing a literal marriage of Hollywood glitz and British royalty.

The public has almost universally gushed over Markle since her relationship with and now engagement to Prince Harry was revealed, and it’s not hard to see why. The fact that she’s not only a “commoner” but American — and a person of color at that — signifies the changing face of the British monarchy. But most profiles have zeroed in on Markle’s outspoken feminism, her criticism of the Trump administration, and her humanitarian work for the UN and the charity World Vision. Pundits have also expressed their disappointment that she will have to curb her activist streak upon marrying into the family…

Read the entire article here.

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Jesmyn Ward: ‘Black girls are silenced, misunderstood and underestimated’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2018-05-19 22:54Z by Steven

Jesmyn Ward: ‘Black girls are silenced, misunderstood and underestimated’

The Guardian
2018-05-11

Lisa Allardice, Editor
Guardian Review

Jesmyn Ward: ‘I fought from the very beginning.’
Jesmyn Ward: ‘I fought from the very beginning.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The author of Sing, Unburied, Sing, had a tough childhood in Mississippi, survived Hurricane Katrina, and became the first woman to win two US national book awards for fiction

If Jesmyn Ward’s fiction tends towards the epic, that is maybe because her life has been marked by monumental events. “I fought from the very beginning”, she says. Born prematurely at just 26 weeks, she was badly attacked by her father’s pit bull as a small child, her younger brother was killed at 19, and, along with several generations of her family, she sheltered from Hurricane Katrina in a truck. Yet today she is the first woman to win the US national book award for fiction twice, hailed by a leading reviewer as “one of the most powerfully poetic writers in the country”. And on the morning we meet, it has just been announced that she has been shortlisted for the Women’s prize for fiction for her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing

Ward’s subject is what it means to be poor and black in America’s rural south, where “life is a hurricane”. Modern Mississippi, she says, “means addiction, ground-in generational poverty, living very closely with the legacy of slavery, of Jim Crow, of lynching and of intractable racism”. In her first novel, Where the Line Bleeds (2008), she felt she “protected” her characters from these brutal realities, because she knew and cared about them too much: “So I kept pulling my punches. And later I realised that was a mistake. Life doesn’t spare the kind of people who I write about, so I felt like it would be dishonest to spare my characters in that way.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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Talking about race with your own mom can be hard. Here’s why it’s worth it

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Videos on 2018-05-19 21:53Z by Steven

Talking about race with your own mom can be hard. Here’s why it’s worth it

PBS NewsHour
Public Broadcasting Service
2018-05-15

Judy Woodruff, Host


Ijeoma Oluo

When Ijeoma Oluo got a voicemail from her mom saying that she had had an epiphany about race, Oluo didn’t want to call her back. But, she says, as awful and awkward as the conversation was, she is glad it happened. Oluo shares her humble opinion on why that talk can be so fraught and why it’s so important.

Watch the video and read the transcript here.

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Furious Meghan Markle Can’t Believe Harry Hasn’t Told Family She’s Black Yet

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-05-19 21:44Z by Steven

Furious Meghan Markle Can’t Believe Harry Hasn’t Told Family She’s Black Yet

The Onion
2018-05-17

LONDON—Reacting with indignation and frustration as her fiancé admitted his continued omission, furious royal bride-to-be Meghan Markle found herself unable to believe Thursday that Prince Harry had not yet informed the royal family that she is, in fact, black. “Jesus, Harry, what the hell? Are you ashamed of me?…

Read (and laugh at) the entire article here.

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Meghan Markle Is ‘Changing Discussions About What It Means to Be Biracial in America’

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-19 21:28Z by Steven

Meghan Markle Is ‘Changing Discussions About What It Means to Be Biracial in America’

PEOPLE
2018-05-19

Breanne L. Heldman, Senior Editor


Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Meghan Markle didn’t just become the Duchess of Sussex on Saturday when she married Prince Harry in a gorgeous ceremony at St. George’s Church in Windsor Castle. She also became an important cultural icon of positive change in race relations around the world.

“The U.K. has one of the fastest-growing mixed-race populations in the world,” notes Dr. Sarah E. Gaither, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University who also runs the Duke Identity and Diversity Lab. “To the biracial community, she’s really serving as a symbol of this changing demographic that Britain is facing in addition to the United States.”

“Meghan and Harry’s marriage is really significant because the British monarchy has always been viewed as so, so white,” DaVette See, correspondent for Black Girl Nerds, tells PEOPLE. “Now, they will be seen as more a part of a multicultural world.”.

“Being a biracial American, I didn’t grow up with a lot of biracial exemplars in mainstream media or the books I read,” says Gaither, “so Meghan Markle is really an inspiration for a lot of women of color, a lot of girls of color across the United States in showing that you can help change the historical ties. You can start changing discussions about what it means to be biracial and what it means to be black in America and, now in Britain as well.”…

Read the entire article here.

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