Discovering the Illusion: An Interview with T Kira Madden

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-21 16:56Z by Steven

Discovering the Illusion: An Interview with T Kira Madden

Asian American Writers’ Workshop
2019-03-18

Pik-Shuen Fung


T Kira Madden, Photo by Jac Martinez

“Magic and writing, it’s all misdirection, defamiliarization, and at its best, the ahhhhh moment of surprise.”

Nothing is steadfast in the childhood of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, only a slow unraveling. An only child born out of an affair between her wealthy white shoe-brand father and her Chinese-Hawaiian model mother, [T Kira] Madden went back and forth between the chaos of her home, where her parents struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, to the misery of her Boca Raton private school, where she faced ostracism as a queer biracial girl.

Madden writes, “I wanted love the size of a fist. Something I could hold, something hot and knuckled and alive.” To contain, to hold, to be vulnerable—these intense desires both shape and propel her exploration of grief, trauma, pain, and forgiveness. Composed as a kaleidoscope of darkly shimmering fragments, this courageous debut memoir is the documentation of one woman’s attempt to write down and rewrite her own history, so as to make space for more love.

I had the chance to speak with T Kira on a freezing afternoon in January. She welcomed me into her cozy home, where there were glowing candles, a pot of roasted buckwheat tea, and two energetic poodles who insisted on sitting around for the conversation…

Read the entire interview here.

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Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Interviews, United States on 2019-04-21 14:51Z by Steven

Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family

The Atlantic
2019-04-12

Amal Ahmed


Mira Jacob / Courtesy of Penguin Random House

In her new graphic memoir, the author Mira Jacob documents conversations about love and race with multiple generations of her family.

When the novelist Mira Jacob’s son was 6, he started asking her a lot of questions about race and identity. It started with Michael Jackson: Was he brown or black or white, and what did he like best? Then his questions took a more serious turn: Was it bad to be brown in America? Though he was only 6, Jacob’s son, who is biracial, was old enough to understand the news at the time, which was fixated on the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white cop shot a black teenager. He wanted to know whether white people were afraid of brown people. And what about his own father, who was white? Was he ever scared of brown people?

Jacob didn’t always know how to answer him in the moment. She remembered the confusing conversations about race and identity that she’d had as a child herself, growing up in one of the few South Asian families in New Mexico. But having those conversations with her son in the years leading up to Donald Trump’s presidency made her realize that there weren’t any easy answers to the question of what it means to grow up as a person of color in the United States.

Even though she’s a writer by trade, Jacob couldn’t find the words to describe what she was feeling. She often felt paralyzed thinking about the hurtful comments she might receive online if she did write openly about those tricky conversations. But she still felt the urge to record them somehow, and that led her to producing a memoir in the form of a graphic novel. The book, Good Talk, spans from her childhood in New Mexico to her more recent arguments with in-laws who wanted to vote for Trump and who she felt weren’t listening to her concerns about his racist rhetoric on the campaign trail…

Read the entire interview here.

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Collapsing the Ethno-State: A Conversation with Keri Leigh Merritt It’s Going Down

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2019-04-05 18:17Z by Steven

Collapsing the Ethno-State: A Conversation with Keri Leigh Merritt

It’s Going Down
2019-03-27

Keri Leigh Merritt
Atlanta, Georgia

On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we caught up with historian and author Keri Leigh Merritt out of Atlanta, Georgia. Merritt is the author of both the 2017 book, Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South as well as the new essay, “War Happens in Dark Places, Too.” Merritt’s work focuses on labor history, slavery, and class tensions in the South, both before and after the civil war and the research work that she is producing, a long with a new wave of historians, is reshaping how we view the Confederacy, its collapse, and also whites supremacy within the United States.

Listen to the podcast (01:06:58) here. Download the podcast here.

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‘Fresh Prince’ Star and First-Time Author Karyn Parsons Is Not Here for Your Labels

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-03-14 18:09Z by Steven

‘Fresh Prince’ Star and First-Time Author Karyn Parsons Is Not Here for Your Labels

Shondaland
2019-03-12

Rebecca Carroll, Editor of Special Projects
WNYC New York Public Radio, New York, New York


Little, Brown, and Company

A conversation about her debut novel, “How High the Moon” dives into issues of identity and her focus on telling little-known stories of African Americans.

There is no shame in having loved Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Sure, she was vapid and flighty and occasionally obnoxious, but she was also admirably ambitious, charmingly naive, and genuinely loyal to her very black family. So it’s a kind of poetic justice that the actress who played her, Karyn Parsons, has evolved out of that hallmark role into something of a black public intellectual, activist, and author — even if she wouldn’t call herself any of those things. Her first novel, How High the Moon, was published last week, and we sat down to talk about it, her nonprofit organization, Sweet Blackberry, race, and labels, and how she feels about acting today.

Rebecca Carroll: You founded Sweet Blackberry as a way to preserve and lift and amplify the achievements of black Americans throughout history, and now you’ve written a young adult novel about a light-skinned black girl coming of age in the Jim Crow South. How do you feel these two projects speak to each other?

Karyn Parsons: I think what Sweet Blackberry has to offer is knowing about these stories from the past, and how they serve us moving forward, especially young people. It shows children what they’re capable of — it teaches them so much about themselves and who they are and can be…

RC: We’re both the product of one biological black parent and one biological white parent. I black identify, and actually think of it in part as a denouncement of white supremacy. And of whiteness in general. Do you identify as black or biracial?

KP: Biracial. I get what you mean, but I don’t want to feel in any way that I’m denouncing my father, who’s white. If it’s basically ‘What are you?’ I feel like I’m miscommunicating with people and these labels. I don’t do labels.

RC: But whiteness is not a label. It’s an identity.

KP: Well, it depends on who you’re talking to.

RC: Well, I’m talking to you.

KP: I think a lot of people are saying it as literally a physical category, not an experience, not cultural.

RC: You mean a phenotype?

KP: Yes.

RC: I would argue otherwise that only white people categorize blackness that way.

KP: Mmmmm, maybe.

RC: When you talk about not wanting to denounce your father, do you think he would be offended if you called yourself a black woman?

KP: Oh, no. It’s not about him. It’s just about me. What I’m saying when I say I’m mixed — I guess I’m not thinking that heavily into white culture…

Read the entire interview here.

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Mamp Podcast Episode #8: The Challenges of Traveling as a Multiracial Family

Posted in Audio, Family/Parenting, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-03-07 18:20Z by Steven

Mamp Podcast Episode #8: The Challenges of Traveling as a Multiracial Family

My American Melting Pot
2019-03-01

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

The Joys and Challenges of Traveling as a Multiracial Family

On episode #8 of the podcast, we’re discussing the challenges of traveling as a multiracial family. Thanks to Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, this issue recently made headlines when Mrs. McCain believed she was witnessing a case of child trafficking at an Arizona airport. What McCain really saw was a mother traveling with her mixed-race child, but because the two didn’t “match” she thought they looked suspicious so she alerted the police. I’m joined by travel blogger and interracial justice worker, Carmen Sognonvi to talk about what it’s really like to travel with a family that “doesn’t match,” and to discuss the benefits and joys of family travel.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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Chi-Chi tells Tubridy about her Mum’s heartbreaking story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-02-20 19:06Z by Steven

Chi-Chi tells Tubridy about her Mum’s heartbreaking story

The Ryan Tubridy Show
RTÉ Radio 1
2018-03-12

Chi Chi
Chi-Chi Nwanoku

Acclaimed double bass player and professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE spoke to Ryan Tubridy about the extraordinary and poignant story of how her Irish mother met her Nigerian father in the 1950’s.

“Theirs was an unconventional coupling… My mother was white, my father was black. Society was not in favour of this kind of union.

“As soon as my mother let her parents know that she’d met the man of her dreams, they said never darken our doorstep again.”

Chi-Chi’s mum did as she was told but received a surprise visit when her own mother showed up on their doorstep in London three months after Chi-Chi’s birth. She secretly stayed for a week and that was the last the family ever saw of her…

Listen to the interview (00:21:11) here.

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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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