Episode 4

Posted in Arts, Audio, Communications/Media Studies, History, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-02-16 03:00Z by Steven

Episode 4

Shade Podcast: UK culture and news podcast focused on the mixed race experience
2019-02-15

Laura Hesketh, Co-Host
Liverpool, England

Lou Mensah, Co-Host
London, England

With special guest, Steven F. Riley, founder of MixedRaceStudies.org!

Neneh Cherry on being mixed race in the music industry, controversial new Netflix Show ‘Always a Witch’, Viola Davis and the Liam Neeson controversy, Queen Ifrica on colourism, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by IbI Zoboi, Grace Wales Bonner, plus more.

Listen to the episode (00:36:55) here. Download the episode here.

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Black Thought and Sexual Politics: An Interview with Guy Emerson Mount

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-14 00:40Z by Steven

Black Thought and Sexual Politics: An Interview with Guy Emerson Mount

Black Perspectives
2019-01-17

Chris Shell, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
Michigan State University


Guy Emerson Mount

In today’s post, Christopher Shell, a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University, interviews historian Guy Emerson Mount about his chapter in New Perspectives on Black Intellectual Tradition, edited by Keisha N. Blain, Christopher Cameron, and Ashley D. Farmer. Guy Emerson Mount is an Assistant Professor of African American History at Auburn University and currently an Associate Editor of Black Perspectives. His work focuses on Black transnationalism, American empire, and the legacies of slavery. Previously he has conducted research on Black sexual politics, masculinity, interracial marriage, mixed race identities, Black religion, and Black radical politics. His current book project seeks to tell a global history of empire and emancipation through the everyday lives of transnational Black workers who jettisoned the Atlantic World for a new life in the Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @GuyEmersonMount.

Christopher M. Shell: Please briefly summarize the main argument in your essay.

Guy Emerson Mount: The main argument is that postemancipation Black thought regarding interracial marriage and sexuality has experienced a case of what I call “historical ventriloquy” over the past century and a half. By historical ventriloquy, I mean that knowledge producers in a given era tend to look back on prior Black thinking and, instead of wrestling with the true complexity of Black thought in a particular moment, put words in the mouths of prior Black people to make those subjects say what they want them to say. This is different from presentism—where events in the past are simply interpreted through the lens of present-day political concerns. Historical ventriloquy changes the facts altogether. It crafts a fiction that does real violence to the ideas of prior Black thinkers.

In this case, Black thought about Frederick Douglas’s interracial marriage to Helen Pitts has been absolutely butchered over time. When it happened in 1884, Black communities were overwhelmingly in support of it. Even Black people who questioned Douglass’ decision to marry a white woman demanded his absolute right to make that decision as part of a commitment to freedom and equality. Yet beginning with Booker T. Washington (and accelerating through a narrowly drawn pop-cultural Black nationalism that has slowly crept into the academy), I trace how historical ventriloquy took hold and began to imagine that seemingly all Black people in 1884 (including somehow Douglass’s children) must have been universally against interracial marriage in general, and Douglass’s marriage specifically. This enormous gap between the primary historical record, and how historians and everyday people imagine that historical record, is what this chapter is all about…

Read the entire interview here.

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Theaster Gates on how his new show was inspired by the eviction of 45 people from an island in Maine

Posted in Arts, Europe, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-11 01:14Z by Steven

Theaster Gates on how his new show was inspired by the eviction of 45 people from an island in Maine

The Art Newspaper
2019-02-01

Anna Swansom

Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates ©Theaster Gates; Photo: Julian Salinas

The Chicago-based artist’s exhibition in Paris examines the forced removal in 1911 of the inhabitants of Malaga Island

The US artist Theaster Gates has taken the eviction of a mixed-race community from a small island in Maine as the starting point for his first solo exhibition in France, opening this month at the Palais de Tokyo. In 1912, 45 people from Malaga Island were evicted by the state authorities and eight of them were committed to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded following the state’s purchase of the island in 1911. The island, a poor fishing village of black, white and mixed-race people, was ridiculed in a Maine newspaper as a “strange community” of “peculiar people”; its eviction has recently been described by a US documentary as having been motivated by economics, racism, eugenics and political retribution.

Through new works including sculptures, a film and a video, the Chicago-based artist has developed the wide-ranging project and exhibition, Amalgam, which explores the complexity of interraciality and migratory histories. The show has been organised by Katell Jaffrès and has received support from Regen Projects, Richard Gray Gallery and White Cube.

The Art Newspaper: How did you become interested in the history of Malaga Island and how did this lead to Amalgam?

Theaster Gates: I had started a residency in 2017 at Colby College in Maine and was visiting a friend who said there was this important, not well-known history about this island that used to have black and mixed-race people that were evicted. We were in a boat and he suggested having lobsters on the adjacent island before checking it out. So I learned of it quite leisurely and then started to do research.

The idea of interracial mixing led to the creation of a sculptural form, “amalgam”: a by-product of what happens when one artistic form from history meets another one to create a new kind of work. I wanted to create a bridge that would make people more curious about this island and for people who are of mixed race and from backgrounds where their parents are of different religions, I wanted Malaga to be a place where all mixes felt that they had a home. The beauty of mixing is one of the cornerstones of the exhibition…

Read the interview article here.

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Nina Li Coomes

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2019-02-06 01:35Z by Steven

Nina Li Coomes

Speaking of Marvels: interviews about chapbooks, novellas, and books of assorted lengths
2018-03-26

William Woolfitt, Editor

nina

“how does one carry oneself in the between?”

haircut poems (dancing girl press, 2017)

Could you tell us a bit about your growing up and your path to becoming a writer?

I was born in Nagoya, Japan and moved with my family to the United States on January 1, 2000. Most of my writing is informed by the “between” of existing as both Japanese and American, existing in both of these places, even the literal travel it takes to get from one place to the next. I’m not sure what led me to start writing exactly. Perhaps it’s genetic. My mother has told me before that she wanted to be a writer as a child, and my father told my sister and I what he would call “verbal stories” for much of our time growing up. There’s something about growing up shuttling from one country to another though that impresses upon you just how temporary or fleeting something might be. In many ways, I think my writing comes from a place of urgency, of wanting to note everything in case it fades…

Which poem in your chapbook has the most meaningful back story to you? What’s the back story?

Perhaps not a backstory, but the poem “yesterday” draws from a couple snapshots. The preoccupation with red and red lips in particular comes from something I once heard at a Mixed Race Studies Conference about how after the war, in US occupied Japan, comfort women wore red lipsticks to signal their availability to American GIs. As you may know, comfort women were employed by the Japanese government in Korea, the Philippines, and even in Japan where certain women were designated a sexual buffer for soldiers, whether they were Japanese soldiers or American ones. I think this is a very shameful, condemnable part of history that needs to be better acknowledged. I also think a lot about how mixed-race children after the war were primarily borne of this violence, and what it means to come from violent histories, and how one might reconcile ore reclaim them…

Read the entire interview here.

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Q&A with Natasha Díaz, Author of Color Me In

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-01-27 23:55Z by Steven

Q&A with Natasha Díaz, Author of Color Me In

Underlined
2018-12-21

We love hearing from new voices in YA!

In Color Me In, debut Author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to create a powerful, relatable, coming-of-age novel. We can’t wait for this beauty to hit shelves on 8/20/19. Get to know Natasha Díaz in the Q&A below!

Color Me In is based on your personal experiences. What inspired you to tell this story? Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’m the only person on my mom’s side of the family who looks the way that I do, and as a result, I have witnessed blatant racism since I was a child; it just was never directed at me. So often I find that narratives about biracial/multiracial, white-passing characters delve deeply into their internal struggle but rarely touch on the privileges and colorism that are inherently tied to those of us who are mixed and also pass as white. What has been directed at me is an unending amount of microaggression, which led to debilitating self-doubt that I don’t have the right to claim myself entirely. Color Me In was my chance to write the book I never had growing up: a story that acknowledges the privileges of being white-passing without in any way detracting from the right that we as mixed-race people have to own our identities…

Read the entire interview here.

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MAMP Podcast Ep #4: Revisiting the One-Drop Rule

Posted in Audio, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-01-25 15:42Z by Steven

MAMP Podcast Ep #4: Revisiting the One-Drop Rule

My American Melting Pot
2019-01-04

Lori L. Tharps, Host, Head Chef and Chief Content Creator; Associate Professor of journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On episode #4 of the MAMP podcast, we’re revisiting the one-drop rule with two women who both believed they were white, until they discovered by accident, that they weren’t.

My guests are Gail Lukasik and Shannon Wink. Gail is the author of the new book, White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing and Shannon is a Philadelphia-based journalist and writer. In her late 40s, Gail discovered that her mother had been passing as white for her entire adult life. Shannon learned her maternal grandfather wasn’t Native American as he’d claimed, he was actually Black.

In this riveting discussion, we hear about Gail and Shannon’s “family secrets,” but spend the majority of the time speaking about what it means to be Black or white. We revisit this flawed concept of the one-drop rule that stipulates a person is Black if they have just one drop of Black blood in them. If that were truly the case, then both Gail and Shannon would be certifiably Black. But they’re not.

What does it mean to be white or Black in this country? How does knowing you have Black ancestry change one’s sense of racial identity? What role do culture and community play in one’s identity formation? Listen in on the conversation to hear how we answer these questions and more.

“I’ve often wondered why more colored girls … never ‘passed’ over. It’s such a frightfully easy thing to do. If one’s the type, all that’s needed is a little nerve.”Nella Larsen, from the novel Passing

Listen to the episode (00:47:24) here download the episode here.

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BLACK FOR A DAY

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-01-09 22:38Z by Steven

BLACK FOR A DAY

Books, Beats, & Beyond
2019-01-06

Taj Salaam, Host

Black for a Day_ Cover Canva

Today I’m talking with Alisha Gaines, about her book titled, “Black for A Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy”.

Contemporary history is littered with the surprisingly complex stories of white people participating in blackface and minstrelsy. At the end of their experiments in so-called “blackness,” Alisha Gaines argues, these debatably well-meaning white impersonators arrived at little more than false consciousness.

By examining this history of modern racial impersonation, Alisha 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.

Alisha Gaines is assistant professor of English at Florida State University.

Listen to the interview (01:08:53) here.

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Danzy Senna’s darkly comic take on racial identity

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-12-31 04:21Z by Steven

Danzy Senna’s darkly comic take on racial identity

Writers & Company with Eleanor Wachtel
CBC Radio
2018-06-15

Eleanor Wachtel, Host


Danzy Senna’s novel New People follows graduate student Maria through bohemian Brooklyn in the 1990s as she wrestles with her identity and her future. (Mara Casey)

American novelist Danzy Senna draws on her experience growing up in an interracial family in her edgy, prize-winning fiction. In her latest novel, New People, she writes with insight and subversive humour about what it means to be half-black and half-white.

Senna was born in Boston in 1970 to parents from very different worlds, who wed a year after interracial marriage became legal. Her mother, the poet and novelist Fanny Howe, came from a privileged background, with English/Irish family roots going back to the Mayflower. Her father, the African-American editor and academic Carl Senna, grew up in poverty in the South, the son of an orphaned black mother and absent Mexican father. In her 2009 memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History, Senna traces her father’s family story and her own complicated upbringing following her parents’ breakup when she was five years old. Raised with an acute black consciousness, during a time when, as Senna describes it, “‘mixed’ wasn’t an option; you were either black or white,” she brings to all her writing an awareness — and astute analysis — of class, race and identity…

Read the entire story here. Listen to the full episode (00:54:47) here.

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White Lies: Ijeoma Oluo On Privilege, Power, And Race

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-12-18 01:56Z by Steven

White Lies: Ijeoma Oluo On Privilege, Power, And Race

The Sun Interview
The Sun
December 2018

Mark Leviton
Nevada City, California

516 - Ijeoma Oluo - Leviton

“Race has always been a prominent part of my life,” Ijeoma Oluo writes in her new book So You Want to Talk about Race. “I have never been able to escape the fact that I am a black woman in a white-supremacist country.”

Oluo was born in 1980 in Denton, Texas. Her father, a Nigerian college professor and politician, returned to his native country when she was three and never came back to the U.S. She and her brother, Ahamefule (often called Aham), had no contact with him growing up. Their mother, a white woman from the Midwest, raised them by herself in Seattle

..Oluo is an editor-at-large for the online magazine The Establishment. In her blog on Medium.com she often covers serious subject matter — white supremacy, representations of race in the media, the U.S. crisis of mass incarceration and police violence — but her approach is personal and down-to-earth; she’s rarely without a rueful joke or a post about what her two sons said at breakfast. In 2015 she self-published The Badass Feminist Coloring Book, a project that developed from her habit of sketching famous feminists to relieve stress. She hit the New York Times best-seller list earlier this year with So You Want to Talk about Race. Though she realizes that most of her readers will be white, she says she wrote the book to help people of color make themselves heard. Her website is ijeomaoluo.com.

I met with Oluo at her favorite independent Seattle coffeehouse, which also serves as an informal community center and work space. We sat at a small table and struggled to talk over the sound of the coffee grinder and the not-so-quiet background music before moving to a bench across the street. It was a beautiful spring day, and despite her sometimes dire message, Oluo’s energy and humor never flagged.

Leviton: You believe that if you’re white in America, you’re racist, and if you’re a male in America, you’re sexist. Are you saying I can’t transcend my received culture no matter what kind of a person I am?

Oluo: I don’t think you can escape it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight racism or patriarchy. You can fight the racism in society even while you fight the racism inside you. It’s like fighting a cancer inside you: you’re not “pro-cancer” because you have it.

There’s no way to avoid absorbing our American culture, which was designed to benefit white males. We absorb American racism in ways we’re not fully aware of. You can’t undo a lifetime of experience in a few years of work. While you are struggling against racism, the culture keeps reinforcing it, telling you who is “normal” and who isn’t, who deserves to be seen and who is made invisible. Racism is alive.

I want to move people away from thinking of racism as a feeling of hatred, because it’s rare to find someone who blatantly hates people of color. But the impact of racial bias isn’t lessened because it’s not blatant. If someone denies me a job because I’m “not the right fit,” without realizing that their idea of the right fit is almost always a white person, it doesn’t hurt me any less than if I’m told, “I won’t hire you because you’re black.” Racism is not necessarily an intention or a feeling. It is a system that produces predictable results.

In this country there are large racial divides in everything from infant mortality, to how much you earn, to your chances of being arrested or incarcerated. This is not because a bunch of white people wake up every day and decide to oppress people of color; it’s not just the actions of individuals with hate in their hearts. We cannot understand American racism unless we recognize it as a system that was built to run — and that still runs — on principles of oppression and domination. Four hundred years of history doesn’t go back into the toothpaste tube…

Leviton: You were always a high achiever in school. You didn’t have disciplinary problems.

Oluo: Yes, I was well suited for Western education. I scored high on standardized tests — which are very prejudiced in many ways. While I was growing up, my mom was going to college, and because she couldn’t afford day care, she would sneak my brother and me into her big auditorium classes. My father was a college professor; he didn’t raise us, but I was aware of that heritage. So education was always something I loved.

But there were costs. One was that my blackness was erased. People could accept that I was talented and smart only if they saw me as less black. I had teachers who would insist I was “mixed,” not black. Many people told me I didn’t “act black” — I guess because doing well in school and loving to read were not “black” behaviors to them. And in many ways that robbed me of my sense of community and identity. I was often used as an example to other black students: “Why can’t you be more like Ijeoma?” I became a reason to withhold sympathy from other black students: “She gets it. Why can’t you?”

I grew up in Seattle, and I talk like someone who grew up in Seattle. I was raised by a white single mom. I have a lighter skin tone than many black people. And I was treated as if I were fundamentally better than my black peers, because I looked and sounded whiter. I grew up feeling very isolated as a result. I was the only black kid in the advanced programs up to seventh grade. In high school there was one other black kid. Today my son is in an advanced school program, and there’s only one other black kid in there with him. So my son has to carry that burden of representing black students…

Read the entire interview here.

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Writer and actor Indigo Griffiths: ‘Mixed-race identity is not reflected in theatre, so I wanted to explore that’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2018-11-26 02:45Z by Steven

Writer and actor Indigo Griffiths: ‘Mixed-race identity is not reflected in theatre, so I wanted to explore that’

The Stage
London, United Kingdom
2018-11-22

Giverny Masso

Writer and actor Indigo Griffiths. Photo: Michael Wharley
Writer and actor Indigo Griffiths. Photo: Michael Wharley

Actor Indigo Griffiths started writing to address the lack of roles for mixed-race performers. She tells Giverny Masso about her first full-length play, Passing, which is to receive a rehearsed reading on a West End stage as part of the Masterclass Trust’s Pitch Your Play competition.

How did you get into theatre?

Theatre has always been something I’ve done. As a kid I was always in youth groups and I knew early on I wanted to be an actor. I studied drama and English literature at the University of East Anglia, which gave me an amazing grounding. I then did a postgraduate course at Drama Studio London, which I graduated from in 2016. Since then I’ve been working as an actor, before I started writing…

Tell me about Passing?

Passing is the first full-length play I’ve written. It’s part of a trilogy of mixed-race themed plays I have been working on. It’s set in 1940s Chicago and is about the lives of three mixed-race siblings. The play explores how lives change when you make the decision to pass as a white person. Passing as a concept is something that fascinates me…

Read the entire interview here.

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