Interview 01: Charise Sowells

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-11-10 03:31Z by Steven

Interview 01: Charise Sowells

Caffeinated Cinema

Screen Shot 2019-09-11 at 3.12.51 PM.png

Charise Sowells is a biracial singer-songwriter, scriptwriter, and filmmaker. As a New York University graduate, she has found acclaim in all her fields. Her work has led her to be praised by names such as NPR, San Francisco Weekly, and many more. Sowells’ scripts have been put up for the screen and the stage. Most currently, her newest play An Ocean In My Soul sold out the Santa Monica Playhouse, and she is raising funds to support an extended run. Additionally, her production company, #UNABASHT, enables her to find her place as an artist in her multitudes of creative pursuits. She kindly accepted to be interviewed on her experiences as an artist.

Q. You’re quite the jack of all trades–– from music to film. You’re an acclaimed songwriter, playwright, and you’ve worked in both film and television. Have you decided to continue in just one field or are you upholding them all and why?

A. There was definitely a period where you really needed to put yourself in a box or other people would do it for you. Since I’ve never been one to limit myself that way personally, I struggled with it career wise too. And that was the impetus behind me starting my company ten years ago, Unabashed Productions. Our motto is, “Don’t just think outside the box. Live there.”

#UNABASHT functions as a record label, an online store, a production company, and a publisher which allows me to release all my projects independently and switch gears as the muse moves me, without any hiccups. As the years have gone on, more people seem to be open to the idea that things aren’t so inflexible. In fact, the more you do, the better in some circumstances. So I’ve been embracing all my passions and letting things flow freely.,,

…Q. What was the inspiration for An Ocean In My Soul?

A. It’s two fold – I’m mixed myself and after struggling with my identity throughout my youth, I joined a group in high school that traveled around the U.S. and Canada raising awareness about race as a social construct and the concepts of systemic racism and white privilege. When I decided to study playwriting at NYU, I had hopes of expanding people’s horizons about experiences and characters not typically seen onstage or screen through my work. To better inform myself, I took classes about the African Diaspora. One of those classes introduced me to the idea of the Black Atlantic, a graveyard of African souls who died while crossing over to the Americas against their will and in horrendously inhumane conditions. That was the seed for this play…

Read the entire interview here.

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Is it time to unlearn race? Thomas Chatterton Williams says yes

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing on 2019-10-15 19:18Z by Steven

Is it time to unlearn race? Thomas Chatterton Williams says yes

The Guardian

Summer Sewell, Assistant Editor of Features

Thomas Chatterton Williams: ‘I think you have to be an optimist.’ Photograph: Alex John Beck

The author and critic discusses why we should move away from race categories defined ‘using plantation logic’ – and suggests ‘retiring from race’

The American writer Thomas Chatterton Williams is racially ambiguous enough to be mistaken as Algerian in Paris, where he and his French wife are raising two children, their heads capped with airy blond curls.

It was the birth of his older child, Marlow, six years ago, that set off an instant panic in him. She can pass for Swedish, he says. So what did it mean that he, then a self-identified black man who had always accepted the black/white binary, had a child who would be perceived as white?

It meant, at first, he would apply camera filters to darken her skin – to make her belong, to him and to a race. Eventually, it meant asking questions complex enough to alter how he identifies himself now: what does it mean to belong to a race, part of which for black people can include “an allegiance to pain”? And why would passing that down to his daughter make her black?

In his second book, out Tuesday, Self-Portrait in Black and White, he calls for us to consider why we uphold race categories defined “using plantation logic” and encourages us to do away with the arbitrary nomenclature altogether. Not to be confused with the term “post-race”, he suggests “retiring from race”, “transcending race”, “unlearning race”. It’s a big ask, he admits.

Because both of us are mixed-race people who grew up with one black parent and one white parent, Chatterton Williams thinks he and I have a head start on dismissing the barriers of race. We both remember the first time we were “raced” by a stranger and simultaneously separated from our white parent, and setting out from then on to continually contemplate race in our respective lives. For him, this has come to mean examining the artificiality of it.

On the campus of Bard College, a private arts college upstate New York where he taught a four-week course, Can we retire from race?, this fall, we discussed the privilege of proximity to whiteness, whether it is asking too much of black people to let go of race while retaining the pride of an identity forged in the face of systematic oppression and, finally, why he’s optimistic norms can change…

Read the entire interview here.

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18:Multiracials & Civil Rights + Colorism + Hair Wars with Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-10-11 00:18Z by Steven

18:Multiracials & Civil Rights + Colorism + Hair Wars with Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández

Radiant Mix

Hope McGrath, Host

 Artwork for 18:Multiracials & Civil Rights + Colorism + Hair Wars with Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández

In this episode Hope McGrath has an insightful conversation with Tanya Katerí Hernández, an internationally recognized comparative race law expert and Fulbright Scholar who is the Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law. Not only do we learn about Tanya’s powerful personal story, but she shares her expertise in anti-discrimination law, race relations, and beyond as we discuss her new book “Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination.” This is one fascinating episode where we can learn new insights about the mixed-race experience and law, plus so much more. Learn something new everyday…Enjoy the show!


  • Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández shares her personal story as an Afro-Puerto Rican woman which highlights the issue of colorism front and center within her family
  • Hair Wars— the plight of multiracial hair and its importance in our lives is real!
  • The growth of interracial relationships and the mixed-race children population does not alter how racism manifests in anti-discrimination law cases.
  • An academic scholar of comparative race relations and anti-discrimination law discusses the new primetime sitcom Mixed•ish
  • Is it acceptable to use the controversial term “mixed” for mixed-race individuals? Get Professor Tanya’s professional opinion.
  • The importance of reinvigorating our communities to pursue equity. We must understand and push back from the systemic and structural racism that is the backbone of our society. Get some insights into how to take action.
  • Learn about some shocking anti-discrimination cases cited in Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández’s new book Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination.

Listen to the episode (00:048:58) here.

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Black Voices: This is Black: Macadie Amoroso

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-05 02:53Z by Steven

Black Voices: This is Black: Macadie Amoroso

Shades of Noir

Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark, Junior Editor

Portrait of Macadie Amoroso. Photo credit: Hâle Denholm)
Macadie Amoroso

SHADES OF NOIR Q&A – ‘Blue Beneath My Skin’

Macadie Amoroso: I am the writer and performer of ‘Blue Beneath My Skin’, which I was inspired to write because I’d been wanting, for a while, to voice my personal experiences of being mixed-race. I rarely see or hear of any plays about it, but whenever I speak to other mixed-race people, they always have so much to say about their experiences.

What motivated me to put pen to paper was receiving an email about the festival, This Is Black. It was emphasised in the email that the festival was about celebrating black work and giving black artists a voice, and I immediately felt disheartened. Not because I felt like this wasn’t important (it very much is) but because I don’t identify as black, and therefore, I felt an element of fraud/guilt, thinking, ‘this isn’t for me. Maybe I’ll be taking up space of someone who does identify as black’. This spurred me to write about what it’s like being of mixed heritage, but only having exposure to one side of that. I chose to write it in spoken word because I’ve always been more of a poet than a writer and I think it’s a very effective way of storytelling…

Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark: How did you go about building a varied depiction of Black stories and black characters?

MA: I could only build what I know, so I focused on the protagonist’s mixed-race experience, but making sure to highlight through other characters, like her best mate, Paul, that her experience is definitely not the only mixed-race experience out there. I hope what I’ve done through this play and the characters within it, is show that struggle is universal and feeling ‘blue’ is something that everyone experiences regardless of age, gender, sexuality, colour, ethnicity; it’s a part of the wider human experience…

Read the entire interview here.

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Emeli Sandé is done worrying what other people think

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-09-19 22:32Z by Steven

Emeli Sandé is done worrying what other people think


Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff

The first time I met Emeli Sandé was on a wild night out. Age 19 and at the only hip-hop club night in Edinburgh, my friends and I were dancing when a group of men led us off the dancefloor and into a VIP area, where Emeli was socialising. As it turned out, one of those men was Emeli’s husband. We spent the night shimmying and doing shots and I remember wondering how she was going to get on stage the next day. It was a late one. But when, on the band’s invitation, we attended her concert, her voice soared across one of Edinburgh’s most opulent venues. “If someone can sing like that on a hangover,” I thought, “I have no choice but to stan”.

On this, our second meeting then, I feel obligated to bring up our first. “That was fun! I remember that night,” Emeli says. We’re sitting in a small, Ethiopian restaurant in Camden called The Queen of Sheba, settling down to eat a vast platter of injera with accompanying stews and sauces and talk about Emeli’s new album, Real Life. After a complimentary glass of Ethiopian honey wine, we settle straight in.

This album comes three years after her last outing, Long Live the Angels and seven years after her debut album catapulted the 32-year-old singer to fame. “This time it was really different. Like I built a studio in my house,” she says. “I finally had the freedom of ‘a room of one’s own’.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Public Thinker: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein on Dark Matter and White Empiricism

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-09-18 18:59Z by Steven

Public Thinker: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein on Dark Matter and White Empiricism

Public Books

Lawrence Ware, Co-director of the Africana Studies Program; Teaching Assistant Professor and Diversity Coordinator in the Department of Philosophy
Oklahoma State University

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein. Photograph by Lisa Longstaff

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is one of fewer than a hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Being part of an all too rare group has given her a glimpse into the way the world of physics works—through not just equations and experiments but also human social interactions. The child of grassroots political organizers, Prescod-Weinstein is a theoretical physicist and a self-taught Black feminist philosopher and scholar of science, technology, and society studies. She is also vocal about social problems within science and the way science contributes to problems in the larger world. I caught up with Dr. Chanda, as she is known to many on Twitter (@IBJIYONGI), via Skype, and what follows is a discussion that goes from dark matter to how whiteness operates in physics.

Lawrence Ware (LW): Can I ask you to explain to me, almost like I’m an eight-year-old, what you do?

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (CP): I think about the origin of spacetime and the origin of everything inside of spacetime. It’s the question of how we get from the beginning of the universe to us sitting in the rooms that we are sitting in now. How do we get from point A to point B? And does the universe even have a beginning? What happened at the very beginning?

LW: But I am still very confused about what you do. Help me understand.

CP: I just do math all day.

LW: How do you bring your interest in race and gender into conversation with what you do with physics, then?

CP: When I was 10 years old, I began getting really excited about theoretical physics. And I was really excited about doing theoretical physics specifically because I thought it would get me away from human problems. My parents were both activists; I spent my entire childhood hearing about the ways the world is messed up. I think I saw theoretical physics as an exit from having to worry about the human condition.

Then, when I was in high school, I became aware that I might stand out in my classes, because my background was a little bit different from that of the typical physicist. I was aware that there weren’t a lot of Black women in physics. I had never heard of one. This generation might have a very different experience now, because of Hidden Figures, but there was nothing like that when I was in high school.

So I thought I would just stand out, but I didn’t really think much of it. I had no intention to go into college thinking about race or gender or anything like that. And then I started experiencing racism and sexism in physics environments and started trying to make sense of it. That was how it started to come together…

Read the entire interview here.

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APA Leaders 2016: Meet Avalon Igawa!

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Interviews, United States on 2019-09-18 01:44Z by Steven

APA Leaders 2016: Meet Avalon Igawa!

USC APASA (University of Southern California Asian Pacific American Student Assembly)


Hi again! Hope everyone’s doing well with only one day left to get through before spring break! Anyways, as our headline says, our third APA Leader is Avalon Igawa! Avalon’s heavily involved in the APA community being the President of SCAPE and a CIRCLE coordinator. It’s hard to find someone with her passion and energetic personality! Read more about Avalon in our interview below:

Name: Avalon Igawa Major: Political Economy (Minor: Digital Studies) Year: Junior

What does being APA mean to you? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this question, and I realize that while it used to be really hard for me, it isn’t so much anymore. And I think that’s because I finally accepted that I don’t need a concrete answer and nobody else does either. It’s a beautiful identity because we can define it for ourselves and let it represent what we want. Wow, that sounded really cheesy, but I feel like it’s true! It took me a long time to accept that I could identify as Asian Pacific American and that I wasn’t erasing my mixed identity. I can be APA and I can be Irish American and I can be mixed. Because for me, being APA means that I can relate to the stories of other APAs and recognize the diversity of all the deep complex histories and narratives that have shaped so many of our experiences. Being APA represents hxstory and struggle, but most of all it represents community. And that’s what I love about it so much…

Read the entire interview here.

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Episode 13: Passing as White

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-16 00:31Z by Steven

Episode 13: Passing as White

The Nasiona Podcast
Being Mixed-Race Series

Julián Esteban Torres López, Host, Founder, Executive Director, and Editor-in-Chief
Nicole Zelniker, Interviewer
Sam Manas, Guest

Since European settlers brought enslaved Africans to the United States, there has been passing. In terms of race, passing means presenting as a race you don’t identify as, such as when an escaped enslaved person pretended to be white to avoid being sold back into slavery. More recently, former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal made headlines when it came out that she was a white woman passing as black for many years.

Not all passing is intentional, however. Sam Manas, for example, is white and Panamanian, although because he is much lighter-skinned than most people from Panama, people tend to think he’s only white.

Sam Manas is a reporter from Baltimore, Maryland, currently studying investigative journalism at the University of Missouri. He writes about local politics and his interests include technology and society. At the time of this interview, he was an intern at The Conversation.

Listen to the episode (00:35:41) here.

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Emma Dabiri on the Politics of Black Hair

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-09-09 00:13Z by Steven

Emma Dabiri on the Politics of Black Hair

African Modern & Contemporary Art

Mariko Finch, Deputy Editor, Deputy Director
London, United Kingdom

Emma Dabiri wearing Nigerian Yoruba suku braids

Emma Dabiri is a broadcaster, author and academic who recently published Don’t Touch My Hair — a book that charts the shifting cultural status of black hair from pre-colonial Africa through to Western pop culture and beyond. Ahead of the Modern & Contemporary African Art sale in London on 15 October, in which a number of works depicting traditional African hair are offered, we sat down with her to discuss the history of hairstyles.

Mariko Finch: When did you decide that you wanted to turn your research into a book?

Emma Dabiri: In around 2016. The conversation about black hair had been happening for a while at that stage but I was finding it often quite repetitive. There is so much more to engage with through hair, so I wanted to do that research. There is so much more to engage with through hair; social history, philosophy, metaphysics, mathematical expression, coding, maps…

This topic has recently made it to the mainstream media; through Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, Kim Kardashian and the issue of cultural appropriation. It is very timely to have that debate anchored in something historical.

I felt somewhat exasperated by the way people’s frustrations around cultural appropriation by celebrities were being disregarded and dismissed as just something very superficial; as if those weren’t valid or legitimate concerns. I wanted to provide the historical context for why this anger exists. Let me show that it’s not just vacuous, or petty policing of culture. There are like very strong historical antecedents as to why these emotions run so high…

Read the entire interview here.

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What Does It Mean to Be “Black Enough”?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-28 21:21Z by Steven

What Does It Mean to Be “Black Enough”?

Electric Lit

Brian Gresko

Chris L. Terry’sBlack Card” grapples with biracial identity

Chris L. Terry’s Black Card is a fascinating meditation on race, with a head-nodding soundtrack that moves from funk LPs to punk CDs, Guns N’ Roses to Outkast. The novel follows an unnamed protagonist, a college drop-out who works as a barista in Richmond, Virginia, and plays bass in a punk band. His bandmates are white, along with the majority of the punks he encounters at house parties and shows, but he’s mixed-race, with a white mother and Black father.

All his life he’s been unsure of his Black identity due to his light skin tone and red hair, attributes that read to white people as “racially ambiguous.” His father tells him not to doubt his Blackness, yet this confirmation comes off more as a warning not to get too comfortable around white people, and, like most kids when receiving advice from a parent, he doesn’t really take it to heart…

Read the entire interview here.

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