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
Brill
2014-01-04
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
2012
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.

Glossary

  • 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

Purpose

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

Methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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
2015-07-06

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)

Routledge
2003-08-14
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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How to Rehabilitate a Mulatto: The Iconography of Tiger Woods

Posted in Books, Chapter, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2013-11-26 20:34Z by Steven

How to Rehabilitate a Mulatto: The Iconography of Tiger Woods

Chapter in East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture (pages 222-245)

New York University Press
May 2005
382 pages
29 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 9780814719626
Paperback ISBN: 9780814719633

Edited By:

Shilpa Davé, Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Assistant Professor of Media Studies and American Studies
University of Virginia

LeiLani Nishime, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
University of Washington

Tasha Oren, Associate Professor of English
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Foreword by:

Robert G. Lee, Associate Professor of American Studies
Brown University

Chapter Author:

Hiram Perez, Assistant Professor of English
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

“A Real American Story”

Tiger Woods’s tongue-in-cheek identification as “Cablinasian” on the Oprah Winfrey Show in April 1997 resulted in such contentiousness within the black community that Winfrey followed up later that same month with a program devoted to the “Tiger Woods Race Controversy” Woods’s identification as Cablinasian during that interview has more often than not been taken out of context. He relates arriving at that category (“Ca, Caucasian; bl, black; in, Indian; Asian—Cablinasian”) during his childhood as a survival strategy against racist taunting and violence, including an incident after the first day of kindergarten when he was tied to a tree and called a monkey and a nigger. However, that moment on Oprah when he pronounced the word “Cablinasian” constituted for the multiracial category movement an Amalgamation Proclamation of sorts. Following the program, he was soundly blasted by black media and intellectuals, among them Manning Marable, but such criticism has only deepened the resolve of the multiracial category movement that its ranks are misunderstood and victimized not only by a dominant culture but by other racial minorities, particularly what they regard as a militant, uniracial old guard.

The white parents of biracial (in this case, usually black and white) children constitute the majority of the proponents for the addition of a multiracial category to the census. These parents are attempting to protect their children from what they perceive as the hardships that ensue from identification as black. As Tanya Katerí Hernández explains, “White parents will seize opportunities to extend their privilege of whiteness to non-White persons they care about.” Their naiveté lies in the belief that evading the legal classification “black” or “African American” will entirely spare a child from the socioeconomic and psychic hardships common to black people. An examination of the history of passing confirms that the legacy of hypodescent is never eradicated by the act of passing. Part of the insidiousness of racial classification in the Americas, which relies on notions of racial contamination and purity, is the manner in which that one drop of tainted blood assumes a ghostly life, not just in terms of its symbolic quality (by which the threat of invisibility is managed) but by its perpetual return either across generations or, for the subject who passes, at that inevitable moment of confession or betrayal.

I argue that the celebrity of a figure such as Tiger Woods functions to rehabilitate the mulatto in order to announce the arrival of a new color-blind era in U.S. history. Woods’s multiracial identity is recuperated as a kind of testimonial to racial progress that simultaneously celebrates diversity in the form of Cablinasianness and the multiplicity that category suggests while erasing the histories of black disenfranchisement, racial-sexual violence, and U.S. imperialism that generate, result from, and entrench the legal, scientific, and popular definitions of race, including each racial component of Cablinasianness and their various amalgamations. The word Tiger Woods chooses to describe his racial makeup effects, ironically, his racial unmaking. As I demonstrate in this essay, Nike advertising, with the exception of the company’s very first television advertisement featuring Woods, obliquely references race only to register its insignificance (within the discourse of constitutional color-blindness) or to capitalize (just as obliquely) on racial fantasies about the black body and the Asian body. The Tiger Woods iconography shuttles seamlessly between race consciousness and racial elision. That seamlessness is facilitated by the unlikely union in recent years between the ostensibly incompatible ideologies of multiculturalism and color-blindness. Although multiculturalism and the rhetoric of color-blindness appear to espouse contradictory positions, these philosophies ultimately advance very similar ideologies, as various critical race theorists and cultural critics have already argued. Diversity, as a central goal of multiculturalism, does not transform the economic, legal, and cultural institutions that secure white privilege. Both multiculturalism and color-blindness conceive of racial difference as independent of institutionalized racism. The inconsistencies implicit in the iconography of Tiger Woods (i.e., a celebration of multiraciality that simultaneously heralds color-blindness) become transparent in the U.S.,” provides one of the earliest articulations of the model minority stereotype: “At a time when it is being proposed that hundreds of billions be spent on uplifting Negroes and other minorities, the nation’s 300,000 Chinese Americans are moving ahead on their own with no help from anyone else.” Just as model minority rhetoric functions to discipline the unruly black bodies threatening national stability during the post-civil rights era, the infusion of Asian blood together with his imagined Confucian upbringing corrals and tames Tigers otherwise brute physicality. Some variation of his father trained the body and his mother trained the mind is a recurring motif for sports commentators diagnosing Woods’s success at golf. Earl Woods has encouraged this fantasy:

Her teaching methods weren’t always orthodox, but they were effective. When Tiger was just a toddler, she wrote the addition and multiplication tables out for him on 3-by-5-inch cards, and he would practice them over and over every day. He started with addition and later advanced to multiplication as he got older. His reward was an afternoon on the range with me. Tida established irrevocably that education had a priority over golf. (Woods 9)

The qualities of Woods’s model minority mother compensate for the black man’s cognitive deficiencies. In fact, since the stereotype of the model minority secures the normalcy of whiteness by attributing Asian American successes (the evidence for which is often exaggerated and overly generalized) to a biological predisposition toward overachievement, the contributions of the Asian mother actually exceed the capacity for white blood and a Protestant work ethic to compensate for black degeneracy. Woods’s success at golf, traditionally a sport reserved for the white elite, is in part explained by the logic of eugenics.

The celebration of Tiger Woods as the embodiment of American multiculturalism and racial democracy institutes an instance of “organized forgetting.” Oprah Winfrey’s celebratory vision of Tiger Woods as “America’s son” displaces, for example, historical memories of the bastardized children of white slave owners or U.S. soldiers overseas. Miscegenation as a legacy of slavery is forgotten, as is the miscegenation that has resulted from the various U.S. military occupations in Asia dating back to the late nineteenth century…

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Race, Biraciality, and Mixed Race—in Theory

Posted in Books, Chapter, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2013-09-29 22:19Z by Steven

Race, Biraciality, and Mixed Race—in Theory

Chapter in: Her Majesty’s Other Children: Sketches of Racism from a Neocolonial Age

Rowman & Littlefield
288 pages
August 1997
Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-8476-8447-2
eBook ISBN: 978-0-585-20172-6
pages 51-71

Lewis R. Gordon, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought and Director of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies
Temple University

“You, who are a doctor,” said I to my [American] interlocutor, “you do not believe, however, that the blood of blacks has some specific qualities?”

He shrugged his shoulders: “There are three blood types,” he responded to me, “which one finds nearly equally in blacks and whites.”

“Well?”

“It is not safe for black blood to circulate in our veins.”

Jean-Paul Sartre, “Return from the United States”

An African American couple found themselves taking their child, a few months of age, to a physician for an ear infection. Since their regular physician was out, an attending physician took their care. Opening the baby girl’s files, he was caught by some vital information. The charts revealed a diagnosis of “H level” alpha thalassemia, a genetic disease that is known to afflict 2 percent of northeast Asian populations. He looked at the couple. The father of the child, noticing the reticence and awkwardness of the physician, instantly spotted a behavior that he had experienced on many occasions.

“It’s from me,” he said. “She’s got the disease from me.”

“Now, how could she get the disease from you?” the physician asked with some irritation.

“My grandmother is Chinese,” the father explained.

The physician’s face suddenly shifted to an air of both surprise and relief. Then he made another remark. “Whew!” he said. “I was about to say, ‘But—you’re black.'”

The couple was not amused.

Realizing his error, the physician continued. “I mean, I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, I know Hispanics who are also Asians, so why not African Americans?”

Yes. Why not?

The expression “mixed race” has achieved some popularity in contemporary discussions of racial significations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It is significant that these three countries are marked by the dominance of an Anglo-cultural standpoint. In other countries, particularly with Spanish, Portuguese, and French influences, the question of racial mixture has enjoyed some specificity and simultaneous plurality. For the Anglos, however, the general matrix has been in terms of “whites” and” all others,” the consequence of which has been the rigid binary of whites and nonwhites. It can easily be shown, however, that the specific designations in Latin and Latin American countries are, for the most part, a dodge and that, ultimately, the primary distinctions focus on being either white or at least not being black.

We find in the contemporary Anglophone context, however, a movement that is not entirely based on the question of racial mixture per se. The current articulation of racial mixture focuses primarily upon the concerns of biracial people. Biracial mixture pertains to a specific group within the general matrix of racial mixing, for a biracial identity can only work once, as it were. If the biracial person has children with, say, a person of a supposedly pure race, the “mixture,” if you will, will be between a biracial “race” and a pure one. But it is unclear what race the child will then designate (a mixture of biraciality and X, perhaps, which means being a new biracial formation?).

To understand both mixed race and its biracial specification and some of the critical race theoretical problems raised by both, we need first to understand both race and racism in contemporary race discourse…

…But blackness also points to a history of mixed racialization that, although always acknowledged among blacks, is rarely understood or seen among other groups. I have argued elsewhere, for instance, that to add the claim of “mixture” to blacks in both American continents would be redundant, because blacks are their primary “mixed” populations to begin with. Mixture among blacks, in particular, functions as an organizing aesthetic, as well as a tragic history. On the aesthetic level, it signifies the divide between beauty and ugliness. On the social level, the divide is between being just and unjust, virtuous and vicious; “fair skin” is no accidental, alternative term for “light skin.” And on the historical level, the divide signifies concerns that often are denied…

Read the entire chapter here.

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