From Color Line to Color Chart: Racism and Colorism in the New Century

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-16 04:28Z by Steven

From Color Line to Color Chart: Racism and Colorism in the New Century

Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy
Volume 10, Issue 1 (January 2008)
pages 52-69
DOI: 10.15779/Z380C9X

Angela P. Harris, Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Davis

When my sister graduated from college in the mid-1980s with a degree in musical theater she moved to Chicago with her new husband in search of work in television commercials and the performing arts. To her frustration and dismay, however, despite her good looks, acting ability, and musical talent, she was rejected in audition after audition. Getting rejected for arbitrary reasons or for no reason, of course, is just life in the entertainment industry. After a while, though, my sister began to hear some repetition in the rejections she received. “You don’t look black enough,” is the apology she would get.

My sister is very fair-skinned, with hair that streaks blonde in the summer. Yet, at least to discerning eyes, she can’t “pass” for white: her features, her creamy skin, and her “African booty” distinguish her from the Scandinavian descent blondes that populate beer commercials and musical revues. For casting directors, then, she fell into a limbo: too white to play black, but too black to play white.

Today, my sister has a recurring role on a children’s television show (she’s Prudence the Musical Genie on “Jack’s Big Show,” produced by Nickelodeon, if you want to see her), and fortunes are changing not just for her but for many women and men in the performing arts who “read” as racially ambiguous, or racially “mixed.” To put it bluntly, the ambiguous/mixed look is now “hot.” Celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, and The Rock discuss their mixed background with pride;’ television, catalog, magazine, and newspaper advertising is full of adorable light-brown children with flowing locks that are not quite nappy, not quite straight; and mixed-race.

Politician Barack Obama finds himself able to appeal to both white and African-American audiences. A recent essay predicts that in the future the most desirable aesthetic both in the United States and in Latin America will not be to look “white,” but to look café con crema.

Not only the aesthetics but the ideologies of race are undergoing a shift. Tanya Hernandez, who writes in the field of comparative race and racism, argues that the United States is poised to adopt the “multiracial matrix” that characterizes state and civil society in Cuba, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. Hernandez describes this matrix as composed of four beliefs:

(1) [R]acial mixture and diverse racial demography will resolve racial problems by transcending race; (2) fluid racial identity is an indicator of a form of racial progress that deconstructs the stability of racial categories and thereby brings society closer to a colorblind utopia; (3) racism is solely a phenomenon of aberrant racist individuals who inappropriately express their prejudice; and (4) discussing race or focusing on race is itself racist because it disrupts the harmony of race neutrality.

Judging from these indicators, perhaps the dream of finally achieving racial harmony through racial intermixing is about to become real. Hernandez and some other scholars, however, are worried rather than pleased about the emergence of the multiracial matrix. Some worry that despite the emergence of an anti-race public discourse, racism has not disappeared, but instead has retreated into individual cognitive processing systems, where it is inaccessible to legal intent tests (and, often, the individual’s own conscious mind), yet continues to shape the life chances of persons according to race. In this view, what is disappearing is not racism but rather our ability to talk about it. Others argue that in the new millennium traditional racism is indeed disappearing, but only to be slowly supplanted by colorism, in which the color of a person’s skin will take on more importance in determining how she is treated by others than her ancestry. In this Article, I speculate about the implications of this second possibility.

In Part I, I survey the critical race theory literature addressing colorism. This literature has examined how colorism fits (or doesn’t fit) into the existing apparatus of anti-discrimination law in the United States, and – as in Hernandez’s work – the relationship between colorism in the United States and in other countries. In Part II, I draw on a different strand of critical race theory literature to argue that the work of the performativity school offers a way to conceptually link colorism to more familiar forms of racism. In Part III, I speculate about the possible effects on society and anti-discrimination law of a drift away from ancestry as an important component of assigned race and towards a greater focus on color…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and the Obama Administration: Substance, symbols, and hope

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-11-16 03:43Z by Steven

Race and the Obama Administration: Substance, symbols, and hope

Manchester University Press
January 2019
256 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-0501-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-0503-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5261-0502-8

Andra Gillespie, Associate Professor of Political Science
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

  • Timely publication in the aftermath of the Obama leaving The White House. Obama’s handling of race and equality is expected to determine his legacy as President.
  • Compares the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations to determine if Obama’s performance on racial issues differed significantly from his immediate predecessors
  • Analyses Barack Obama’s performance on substantive and symbolic issues of importance to African Americans
  • Uses opinion polls of black voters to probe attitudes toward President Obama and explanations for his performance on racial issues
  • Encourages readers to consider the ways that institutional constraints on the presidency and candidates’ campaign choices limit the role of the president to address racial issues

The election of Barack Obama marked a critical point in American political and social history. Did the historic election of a black president actually change the status of blacks in the United States? Did these changes (or lack thereof) inform blacks’ perceptions of the President?

This book explores these questions by comparing Obama’s promotion of substantive and symbolic initiatives for blacks to efforts by the two previous presidential administrations. By employing a comparative analysis, the reader can judge whether Obama did more or less to promote black interests than his predecessors. Taking a more empirical approach to judging Barack Obama, this book hopes to contribute to current debates about the significance of the first African American presidency. It takes care to make distinctions between Obama’s substantive and symbolic accomplishments and to explore the significance of both.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: how’s he doing? And what does that say about black politics?
  • 1 The triple bind
  • Part I: Substance
    • 2 How he did: the racial successes, failures and impact of the Obama presidency
    • 3 Executive orders
    • 4 Winks, nods and day-to-day bureaucratic work: a case study of three cabinet departments
  • Part II: Symbols
    • 5 Race, appointments and descriptive diversity
    • 6 Rhetoric and racial eruptions
    • 7 Artistic representation and the presidency: an examination of PBS performances
    • 8 Michelle Obama
  • Part III: Hope
    • 9 Public opinion
    • 10 Race, Obama and the fourth quarter
    • Conclusion: was it worth it?
  • Index
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Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2018-11-13 21:40Z by Steven

Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

New York University Press
May 2019
320 pages
16 black and white illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 9781479878611
Paper ISBN: 9781479831456

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

How interracial couples in Brazil and the US navigate racial boundaries

How do people understand and navigate being married to a person of a different race? Based on individual interviews with forty-seven black-white couples in two large, multicultural cities—Los Angeles and Rio de JaneiroBoundaries of Love explores how partners in these relationships ultimately reproduce, negotiate, and challenge the “us” versus “them” mentality of ethno-racial boundaries.

By centering marriage, Chinyere Osuji reveals the family as a primary site for understanding the social construction of race. She challenges the naive but widespread belief that interracial couples and their children provide an antidote to racism in the twenty-first century, instead highlighting the complexities and contradictions of these relationships. Featuring black husbands with white wives as well as black wives with white husbands, Boundaries of Love sheds light on the role of gender in navigating life married to a person of a different color.

Osuji compares black-white couples in Brazil and the United States, the two most populous post–slavery societies in the Western hemisphere. These settings, she argues, reveal the impact of contemporary race mixture on racial hierarchies and racial ideologies, both old and new.

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Shades of Gray: Writing the New American Multiracialism

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2018-11-13 05:41Z by Steven

Shades of Gray: Writing the New American Multiracialism

University of Nebraska Press
December 2018
348 pages, index
Hardcover: 978-0-8032-9681-7

Molly Littlewood McKibbin, Assistant Professor of Instruction
English and Creative Writing Department
Columbia College Chicago

Shades of Gray

In Shades of Gray Molly Littlewood McKibbin offers a social and literary history of multiracialism in the twentieth-century United States. She examines the African American and white racial binary in contemporary multiracial literature to reveal the tensions and struggles of multiracialism in American life through individual consciousness, social perceptions, societal expectations, and subjective struggles with multiracial identity.

McKibbin weaves a rich sociohistorical tapestry around the critically acclaimed works of Danzy Senna, Caucasia (1998); Rebecca Walker, Black White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self (2001); Emily Raboteau, The Professor’s Daughter (2005); Rachel M. Harper, Brass Ankle Blues (2006); and Heidi Durrow, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (2010). Taking into account the social history of racial classification and the literary history of depicting mixed race, she argues that these writers are producing new representations of multiracial identity.

Shades of Gray examines the current opportunity to define racial identity after the civil rights, black power, and multiracial movements of the late twentieth century changed the sociopolitical climate of the United States and helped revolutionize the racial consciousness of the nation. McKibbin makes the case that twenty-first-century literature is able to represent multiracial identities for the first time in ways that do not adhere to the dichotomous conceptions of race that have, until now, determined how racial identities could be expressed in the United States.

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Brass Ankle Blues, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2018-11-13 05:38Z by Steven

Brass Ankle Blues, A Novel

Simon & Schuster
2006
304 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780743296588
eBook ISBN: 9780743299008

Rachel M. Harper

Brass ankle blues 9780743296588 hr

“When I was seven I told my father that I wanted to grow up to be invisible.”

As a young woman of mixed race, Nellie Kincaid is about to encounter the strange, unsettling summer of her fifteenth year. Reeling from the recent separation of her parents, Nellie finds herself traveling to the family’s lake house with only her father and her estranged cousin, leaving behind the life and the mother she is trying to forget.

As the summer progresses, Nellie will have to define herself, navigating the twists and turns of first love. At the same time, her family is becoming more and more divided by the day. Does her newfound identity require her to distance herself from those she loves, or will it draw her closer?

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The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States on 2018-11-13 05:06Z by Steven

The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

University of Nebraska Press
October 2019
320 pages
7 photos, 3 drawings, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0507-0

Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly

The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

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In visit to Kenyon, author illuminates history of racial passing in America

Posted in Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-11-13 04:28Z by Steven

In visit to Kenyon, author illuminates history of racial passing in America

Kenyon College
Gambier, Ohio
2018-11-09

Mary Keister, Director of News Media Relations
Telephone: 740-427-5592

GAMBIER, Ohio — Award-winning author Gail Lukasik will speak about her book “White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing” at Kenyon College on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. The event, free and open to the public, will be held in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater, 101 ½ College Drive.

Lukasik’s memoir chronicles her journey to uncover her mother’s racial lineage and traces her family back to 18th-century colonial Louisiana. Her mother was born into a black family in New Orleans and eventually left the Jim Crow South, moving north and marrying a white man. She passed as white for the rest of her life.

In 1995, as Lukasik, who identifies as white, was exploring Louisiana census records, she learned that her mother’s father and his entire family were designated black. The shocking discovery changed her sense and understanding of white identity.

When Lukasik tried to ask her mother questions about her family’s black heritage, her mother refused to speak about the matter and told her daughter to not share the secret. In the 17 years Lukasik kept her mother’s secret, the author of mystery novels started to retrace her memories in order to better understand her mother, sorting out fiction from truth to solve her own real-life mystery. Was this why, growing up, Lukasik never really visited her mother’s side of the family or saw pictures of her grandfather?…

Read the entire press release here.

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Blood & Belonging

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Poetry, United States on 2018-11-13 04:15Z by Steven

Blood & Belonging

Amazon Digital Services
2018-11-09
156 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1730892684

Sirinda Pairin

Blood & Belonging by [Pairin, Sirinda]

Siri Pairin’s poems explore the challenges and triumphs of biracial identity. With an honest and minimalist style, she writes about themes such as duality, belonging, love, home, space, culture, identity, race, ethnicity, heritage, and representation.

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Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-13 03:54Z by Steven

Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone

BIMHUIS
2018-02-03


©Adrienne-Thomas

Influential bandleader from Chicago presents an evocative mix of music, spoken word and video. ‘With its historical depth and vigorous performance, the music satisfies on its own terms’ (Downbeat).

Mike Reed’s compositions for Flesh & Bone are both deeply personal and brimming with hope, and represent his expressions of feeling about social unrest, racism and resurgent nationalism. On the eponymous album, the Chicago-based musician recollects harrowing memories of a confrontation with far-right protesters on a train journey with his band through Eastern Europe. For this project, this same four-piece band has been expanded to include a cornet player and a bass clarinet player. Poet and performer Marvin Tate plays an important role on the album as well as on stage, where dramatic tales come together with music and moving images.

As a drummer, composer and founder of the Constellation club and the influential Pitchfork Music Festival, Mike Reed is a key figure in the Chicago music scene, where he engages in regular collaborations with a variety of young musicians as well as with veterans such as Roscoe Mitchell and Wadada Leo Smith. His relationship with Amsterdam is particularly special, owing to his Indonesian-Dutch ancestry. In 2013, his band People, Places and Things released the album Second Cities: Volume 1, with pieces by Dutch composers such as Guus Janssen, Sean Bergin and Eric Boeren.

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The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-13 03:06Z by Steven

The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

The Guardian
2018-10-02

Caleb Gayle


Rhonda Grayson, with an image of her great-great grandfather Willie Cohee. Photograph: Brett Deering for the Guardian

Their ancestors were black slaves owned by Native Americans. Now they’re suing the Creek nation to fully restore their citizenship

Johnnie Mae Austin and her grandson, Damario Solomon-Simmons, can tell you everything about their ancestry. They can go back as far as 1810, the year Solomon-Simmons’ great-great-great-great-grandfather, Cow Tom, was born. With undeniable pride, they recount the man’s feats of bravery during the civil war, and his leadership within Oklahoma’s Creek population.

In fact, they are so determined to let the world know exactly who Cow Tom was that they’re suing the Creek nation to make sure his descendants aren’t forgotten.

Solomon-Simmons and his grandmother are black, but they argue they’re also Creek, and they’re fighting to reclaim their identity…

Red the entire article here.

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