21. Fredi’s Migration: Washington’s Forgotten War on Hollywood

Posted in Articles, Biography, Books, Chapter, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-02-22 21:07Z by Steven

21. Fredi’s Migration: Washington’s Forgotten War on Hollywood

Chapter in the anthology: Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History
Deborah Willis, Ellyn Toscano and Kalia Brooks Nelson (ed.)
(2019-09-12, Open Book Publishers)
Printed ISBN: 9781783745654
eBook ISBN: 9791036538070

Pamela Newkirk, Professor of Journalism
New York University

Fig. 21.1. Portrait of Fredi Washington. Courtesy of Schomburg Center, New York Public Library.

Nearly eight decades before #OscarsSoWhite focused attention on the dearth of roles for Blacks and other people of color in Hollywood, actress Fredi Washington became one of the most vocal critics of the industry’s racial bias. But despite her trailblazing work on stage and screen beginning in the 1920s, Washington has largely been forgotten as one of the pioneering African-American leading ladies, and for her noteworthy civil rights activism.

The eldest of five children, Washington was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1903 and relocated to Philadelphia aged eleven following the death of her mother, a former dancer. In 1919 Washington launched her own career as a chorus girl in Harlem’s Alabam Club, and, in 1926, landed a coveted role in the landmark Broadway play Shuffle Along. When the show closed she sailed to Europe to tour with her dance partner Al Moiret. Two years later she returned to the United States and starred in a string of successful films and plays including the short film Black and Tan Fantasy with Duke Ellington (1929); Black Boy starring Paul Robeson (1930); Emperor Jones with Robeson again (1933); and Drum in the Night (1933); with an equal number of plays, including Singing the Blues (1930), Sweet Chariot (1930) and Run Lil’ Chillun (1933).

Washington’s stardom was secured with her performance as Peola, the tortured bi-racial daughter who passes for white in Imitation of Life, the 1934 feature film starring Claudette Corbert and Louise Beavers. However, after achieving critical acclaim for her performance Washington was routinely passed over for lead roles. This was in part due to Hollywood’s Hays Codes, which, beginning that year, explicitly prohibited the depiction of miscegenation in film. The Hays Codes made life especially challenging for Washington, whose green eyes and pale complexion rendered her too light to be cast in films with all-Black casts. In 1937 her skin was darkened for her co-starring role in One Mile from Heaven with Bill Robinson

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(Un-)mixing in the Mandate: purity and persistence of ‘German-time’

Posted in Books, Chapter, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2020-09-17 17:49Z by Steven

(Un-)mixing in the Mandate: purity and persistence of ‘German-time’
in New Guinea

Chapter in: Norig Neveu, Philippe Bourmaud and Chantal Verdeil (Eds), Experts et expertise dans les mandats de la Société des Nations: figures, champs et outils, [The Expert in the Mandate], Inalco Presses, 2020

Christine Winter, Associate Professor and Matthew Flinders Fellow in History
Flinders University of South Australia
College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
South Australia, Australia

“Unmixing” is a central term in the debates to bring stability and peace after WWI by ethnically homogenising regions and new nations: “… to unmix tlie (sic) populations of the Near East will tend to secure the true pacification of the Near East…” (Fritzhof Nansen, Lausanne Conference, Quoted by Sadia Abbas, Unmixing, Politicalconcepts, 2012.) So how did the nations with aspirations to ‘rule’ New Guinea deal with what could not be ‘un-mixed’: people of mixed descent, and what did this mean for German-New Guineans?

This chapter is an exploration of Weimar and Nazi German colonialism focusing on the Pacific Mandates. It focuses on leagies of German colonialism after the end of the formal German colonial empire. The crisis of the League of Nations destabilized the legitimacy of Mandate rule in the Pacific during the mid-1930s. Purity and persistence of Germanness became a theme for both the Mandate Administration and the Third Reich. In this chapter I explore the role and function of Germans of ambiguous racial belonging, namely mixed-race German Pacific Islanders, in a wider contest of expert advice and policy development. Racial scientists, German missionaries and ex-colonial officials all had a stake in the future of the Mandated Territories, and its mixed-race German population. Depending on the argument and on their place of residency – Germany or the Pacific – mixed-race German-Pacific Islanders were used as fellow Germans or as ‘natives’ to legitimize German claims.

Read the chapter draft here.

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Biracial Identity Development in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

Posted in Books, Chapter, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-07-25 00:40Z by Steven

Biracial Identity Development in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

A chapter in Body Horror and Shapeshifting: A Multidisciplinary Exploration
pages: 145–152
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-84888-306-2
DOI: 10.1163/9781848883062_016

Jin-Yu Lin

Biracial individuals frequently go through a search for identity, a struggle to choose an identity and finally to accept their inherent multiplicity. They identify with more than one racial group, and their sense of self remains constant across racial contexts. In childhood, they often find their appearance different from other children. As they age, biracial individuals grow more aware of their racial heritage, and run the risk of falling into the borderlines of identities. Drawing upon models from Kerwin and Ponterotto and Poston, as well as Root’s theory of the development of identity in biracial individuals, this chapter attempts to demonstrate how the protagonist in Caucasia develops her identity when facing racial differences. This chapter explicates the protagonist’s self-consciousness about her invisibility when experiencing an identity crisis while passing for Jewish. Her search for identity, her realisation, and eventually the embracing of her both- and identity is included. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of how the significance, diversity, and complexity of the experiences of biracial individuals may challenge the social construct of race. Based on a more flexible post-ethnic perspective, race is viewed as being more performative than biological.

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The Empire Comes Home: Thomas Law’s Mixed-Race Family in the Early American Republic

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Chapter, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-15 17:00Z by Steven

The Empire Comes Home: Thomas Law’s Mixed-Race Family in the Early American Republic

Chapter in: India in the American Imaginary, 1780s–1880s
Palgrave Macmillan
pages 75-108
Published online 2017-11-11
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-62334-4
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-62333-7
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-62334-4_3

Rosemarie Zagarri, Professor of History
George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Thomas Law was a high-ranking administrator with the British East India Company. In 1791, he left India, bringing with him his three illegitimate sons, born of his native concubine, or bibi. After a brief stay in London, he sought a more congenial environment in which to raise his mixed-raise children, In 1794, he, along with his sons, moved to the young United States where he became a key figure in early Washington, DC society. This essay examines the fate of Law’s mixed race sons. Although their high social class tended to mitigate racial prejudice, racial animosity surfaced at key moments in their lives. Like British India, the early American republic was experiencing a hardening of racial boundaries during the early decades of the nineteenth century.

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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.

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Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Posted in Books, Chapter, History, Law, United Kingdom, United States on 2017-03-24 19:00Z by Steven

Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Chapter in The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies
Online ISBN: 9781118663219
Published Online: 2016-04-21
5 pages
DOI: 10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss617

Sally L. Kitch, Regents’ Professor, Women and Gender Studies
Arizona State University

Anti-miscegenation (racial mixing) laws have been enacted around the world throughout history. In mainland British colonies and the United States such laws regulated marriages between persons of different races, primarily between blacks and whites, from 1634 to 1967, when the Supreme Court declared them an unconstitutional mechanism for maintaining white supremacy in Loving v. Virginia. That decision exposed the faulty legal reasoning that exempted interracial marriages from the usual protections provided to marriage and citizenship on the grounds that miscegenation was illicit. British New World island colonies did not enact anti-miscegenation laws, but they did regulate the rights of mixed-race progeny. Often overlooked in discussions of these and other anti-miscegenation laws and policies are their inherent gender biases and their protection of white male prerogatives as a keystone of the doctrine of white supremacy.

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Race, Ethnicity, and Human Appearance

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Chapter, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-11-27 00:51Z by Steven

Race, Ethnicity, and Human Appearance

Chapter in Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance
Pages 707–710
DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-384925-0.00111-5

S. McClure
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

M. Poole
Emery University, Atlanta, Georgia

E.P. Anderson-Fye
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

This article examines the intersection of race, ethnicity, and the body. Standards of beauty, as they are expressed globally in commodity culture, involve a ‘rhetoric of feminine ugliness’. This rhetoric presents that women’s bodies are always in need of manipulation, alteration, and discipline to attain a beauty ideal. Increasingly, so are men’s. However, racial and, to some extent, ethnic categorizations complicate narratives about the nature of beauty. How do racialized appearance and the rhetoric of ugliness interact in social, economic, and political contexts? Is beauty less a matter of engagement in ‘beauty work’ and more innate and inextricable from race and ethnicity? If beauty is a matter heavily influenced by cultural consensus, are the cultural structures of history and ideology any more mutable with respect to matters of race and ethnicity? This article addresses these questions.


  • Aesthetics The theory of beauty.
  • A priori Derived by reasoning from self-evident propositions; knowing independent of any experience.
  • Culture A complex historical and symbol system, constructed by invention and borrowing, that acts to instill long-lasting orientations, conceptions, motivations, and associated practices.
  • Morphology The form or structure of an organism or any of its parts.
  • Race A social category derived from a folk perception of heredity that corresponds to some degree with genetics, but is not genetically determined.

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Genetic Approaches to Health Disparities

Posted in Books, Chapter, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-29 20:41Z by Steven

Genetic Approaches to Health Disparities

Chapter in Genetics, Health and Society (Advances in Medical Sociology, Volume 16) (2014)
pages 71-93
DOI: 10.1108/S1057-629020150000016003

Catherine Bliss, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of California, San Francisco


This chapter explores the rise in genetic approaches to health disparities at the turn of the twenty-first century.


Analysis of public health policies, genome project records, ethnography of project leaders and leading genetic epidemiologists, and news coverage of international projects demonstrates how the study of health disparities and genetic causes of health simultaneously took hold just as the new field of genomics and matters of racial inequality became a global priority for biomedical science and public health.


As the U.S. federal government created policies to implement racial inclusion standards, international genome projects seized the study race, and diseases that exhibit disparities by race. Genomic leaders made health disparities research a central feature of their science. However, recent attempts to move toward analysis of gene-environment interactions in health and disease have proven insufficient in addressing sociological contributors to health disparities. In place of in-depth analyses of environmental causes, pharmacogenomics drugs, diagnostics, and inclusion in sequencing projects have become the frontline solutions to health disparities.


The chapter argues that genetic forms of medicalization and racialization have taken hold over science and public health around the world, thereby engendering a divestment from sociological approaches that do not align with the expansion of genomic science. The chapter thus contributes to critical discussions in the social and health sciences about the fundamental processes of medicalization, racialization, and geneticization in contemporary society.

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Pets, Playmates, Pedagogues (From Chapter Four of Oreo)

Posted in Articles, Books, Chapter, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-07-10 17:30Z by Steven

Pets, Playmates, Pedagogues (From Chapter Four of Oreo)

The Offing: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel

Fran Ross

Oreo, Fran Ross’s ground-breaking satire, was originally published in 1974. It is being re-issued this week by New Directions, with an introduction by Danzy Senna and a foreword by Harryette Mullen. Mat Johnson of NPR called it “one of the funniest books I have ever read” and writer Paul Beatty deemed it “hilarious.” We are honored to present an excerpt of this extraordinary novel.

— The Fiction Editors

Christine and Jimmie C.

From the Jewish side of the family Christine inherited kinky hair and dark, thin skin (she was about a 7 on the color scale and touchy). From the black side of her family she inherited sharp features, rhythm, and thin skin (she was touchy). Two years after this book ends, she would be the ideal beauty of legend and folklore — name the nationality, specify the ethnic group. Whatever your legends and folklore bring to mind for beauty of face and form, she would be it, honey. Christine was no ordinary child. She was born with a caul, which her first lusty cries rent in eight. Aside from her precocity at mirror writing, she had her mother’s love of words, their nuance and cadence, their juice and pith, their variety and precision, their rock and wry. When told at an early age that she would one day have to seek out her father to learn the secret of her birth, she said, “I am going to find that motherfucker.” In her view, the last word was merely le mot juste

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Rejecting Blackness and Claiming Whiteness: Antiblack Whiteness in the Biracial Project

Posted in Books, Chapter, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-12-05 19:09Z by Steven

Rejecting Blackness and Claiming Whiteness: Antiblack Whiteness in the Biracial Project

Chapter in: White Out: The Continuing Significance of Racism (pages 81-94)

344 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-415-93583-8
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-415-93582-1

Edited by:

Ashley W. Doane, Associate Dean for Academic Administration; Professor of Sociology
University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Professor of Sociology
Duke University

Chapter Author:

Minkah Makalani, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

Over the past fifteen years in the United States, there has emerged a concerted push to reclassify people with one Black and one white parent as biracial. Advocates of this biracial project seek to have people of mixed parentage (PMP) recognized as a distinct, biracial race. They maintain that a biracial identity is more mentally healthy than a Black one and challenges popular notions of race in the United States, therefore making it the basis for “ultimately disabus[ing] Americans of their false beliefs in the biological reality of race” (Zack 2001:34). This will lead society away from racial classifications, hasten racism’s demise, and bring about a color-blind society (Gilanshah 1993; Spickard 2001; Zack 2001). Still, the progressive qualities of a biracial identity are more apparent than real.

The presence of a biracial race would certainly disrupt popular ideas about race, but to suggest it would precipitate the end of racial classifications is spec ulation (Parker and Song 2001). Changing popular ideas about race can occur without addressing racial oppression (Mosley 1997), and abolishing racial classifications to create a color-blind society is more likely to contribute to the persistence of racism than to its demise (Carr 1997; Neville et al. 2000; Bonilla-Silva 2001). Additionally, most arguments for a biracial race ignore the sociohistorical character of race and roots biracialty in biological notions of race “mixture” (powell 1997). This raises serious doubts about the biracial project’s claim to be a progressive social movement. Rather than seeking to overthrow the racialized social system, it is a reactionary political response to the racialization of people of African descent in the United States as Black. Specifically, it uses whiteness to distinguish PMP from African Americans as a new race that would be positioned between Blacks and whites in a reordered, racialized social system.

Several historians have addressed the historical role of whiteness in ordering racial oppression, giving special attention to how white racial identity develops in different racial formations (Roediger 1991; Allen 1994; on racial formations, see Baron 1985; Cha-Jua 2001). Putting these together with other works on race (C. Harris 1993; Malik 1997; Mills 1997), we can see whiteness as primarily a component part of racism. Cheryl Harris (1993:1735) alludes to this when she argues that whiteness is used by whites to maintain a superordinate position in the racial hierarchy: “the state’s official recognition of a racial identity that subordinated Blacks and of privileged rights in property based on race elevated whiteness from a passive attribute to an object of law and a resource deployable at the social, political, and institutional level to maintain control.” This identifies a link between white racial identity and Black subordination and more importantly conceptualizes whiteness as a material object used to maintain white supremacy rather than as merely an aspect of white identity.

This chapter analyzes the biracial project’s deployment of whiteness to argue that PMP constitute a new race. With the role whiteness plays in racism in mind, this accomplishes two things. First, it builds on Cheryl Harris (1993) to argue that whiteness is a dynamic social property that people of color might use to negotiate the racial hierarchy and it cautions against the tendency to essentialize whiteness as something only whites have. Second, it examines the biracial project as a particular instance of people of color using whiteness, by looking at the assertion that PMP are racially distinct from African Americans because whiteness is an immutable biosocial attribute. Using a materialist theory of race and racism, I argue that a biracial race has no social, historical, or cultural basis and that claims for its existence ignore the sociohistorical character of race and conflate racial identity with racial identification. Focusing in part on congressional testimonies on the census, but primarily on biracial-identity Internet Web sites, I examine the arguments of biracial-identity advocates to show how whiteness is deployed as a tool to distance PMP from African Americans politically, socially, and culturally…

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