Passing for Racial Democracy

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-01-19 03:00Z by Steven

Passing for Racial Democracy

The Baffler
2021-12-06

Stephanie Reist

Detail from A Redenção de Cam (Redemption of Ham), Modesto Brocos, 1895. | Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

The complexities of the color line in the U.S. and Brazil

A CENTRAL POINT OF TENSION between Irene Redfield (played by Tessa Thompson) and her husband Dr. Brian Redfield (André Holland) in Rebecca Hall’s Passing, based on the Nella Larsen novel of the same name, is whether their family should remain in the United States. While Irene can pass for white out of convenience, the same is not true of her darker sons and her husband, who routinely informs his children about lynchings and white violence. Irene disapproves of this talk, despite her work for the Negro Welfare League. In one pivotal scene, she drives her tired husband home after a long day of visiting patients, and the couple discuss going to South America, specifically mentioning Brazil. The issue returns when the couple fights over the consuming role that Clare (Ruth Negga)—who has chosen to pass as white to the point of marrying a bigoted white husband and having a daughter with him—exerts in their lives and marriage.

In Larsen’s novel, Brian’s longing for Brazil, which becomes conflated with what Irene perceives as his desire for the effervescent, delightfully dangerous Clare, is even more pronounced: Brazil is the one that got away, Brian’s lost hope for a society where he and other black members of the talented tenth could be judged by their merits, not lynched because they failed to stay in their place. Irene even implicitly sanctions an affair between her husband and Clare to assuage her guilt for denying her family the chance to be truly “happy, or free, or safe”—a state she laments as impossible when speaking to Clare about her choice not to pass…

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Hannah Lowe

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2022-01-12 01:34Z by Steven

Hannah Lowe

Writers Mosaic
August 2020

Hannah Lowe was born in Essex in 1976 to a white English mother and Afro-Chinese Jamaican father. She studied American Literature at the University of Sussex, followed by an MA in Refugee Studies. She undertook her PhD in Creative Writing at Newcastle University in 2012.

Broadly, Lowe’s work is concerned with migration histories, multicultural London and the complex legacies of the British Empire. Her first poetry collection, Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013), blended these political concerns with a deeply personal and elegiac commemoration of her father, a member of the Windrush generation, who earnt a living in London through playing cards and dice. Her second collection, Chan (Bloodaxe, 2016), expanded these explorations of family in writing about the life and untimely death of her father’s cousin, the jazz saxophonist, Joe Harriott. In this book, Lowe developed a new poetic form – the ‘borderliner’ – which uses typography and double narration to explore ideas about multi-heritage experiences. Lowe’s work is often concerned with historical omissions, and in Ormonde, (Hercules Editions, 2014), she excavates the story of the SS Ormonde, on which her father migrated, and which arrived in Britain before the better known Empire Windrush. Most recently she has published the chapbook, The Neighbourhood, (Outspoken Press, 2019), which explores how communities respond to the pressures of austerity, gentrification and deportation. Her third full-length collection, The Kids, inspired by her work as an inner-city sixth form teacher, won the 2021 Costa Poetry Award…

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Overlooked No More: Si-lan Chen, Whose Dances Encompassed Worlds

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-01-11 15:56Z by Steven

Overlooked No More: Si-lan Chen, Whose Dances Encompassed Worlds

The New York Times
2021-05-27

Jennifer Wilson, Contributing Writer
The Nation

Si-lan Chen in 1944. A socialist, she approached dance as a way to build international solidarity.
Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY, ADAGP, Paris 2021; Telimage

This article is part of Overlooked, a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

As a dancer and choreographer, she sought to represent a broad range of ethnic groups, but audiences often sexualized and exoticized her by focusing on her mixed race.

In 1945, the dancer Si-lan Chen sent a draft of her memoir to the writer Pearl S. Buck, with a letter asking for her thoughts on why she was struggling to get the attention of a publisher.

The problem, Buck explained, was that while Chen had dined with the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in revolutionary China, had been romanced by the poet Langston Hughes in Soviet Moscow, and had worked in Hollywood for the producer Joseph Mankiewicz, no one actually knew who she was.

The autobiography, Buck said, of a mixed-race girl growing up in Trinidad, studying ballet at the Bolshoi and choreographing films like “Anna and the King of Siam” (1946), was too focused on, well, her…

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The woman defending Black lives on the border, including her own

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2021-12-28 02:20Z by Steven

The woman defending Black lives on the border, including her own

The Los Angeles Times
2021-12-27

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Houston Bureau Chief
Photography by Gina Ferazzi

Black border activist Felicia Rangel-Samponaro walks along a line of migrants at a border camp clinic Dec. 6 in Reynosa, Mexico. The nonprofit Sidewalk School she founded three years ago provides education and other services. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

REYNOSA, Mexico — So much of her is hyphenated, not just her name: Felicia Rangel-Samponaro. With caramel skin and curly brown hair that’s often tied back, she can pass as Latina.

But she identifies as Black.

On the Texas-Mexico border, she’s emerged as a vigorous defender of immigrants, and that work often forces her to reckon with how race and ethnicity — real and perceived — shape lives on the border, including her own.

“There’s a lot of oppression, discrimination and racism that goes on, on both sides of the border,” she said…

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The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, Social Science on 2021-12-23 20:51Z by Steven

The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization

University of California Press
January 2022 (Originally published 1986)
676 pages
Trim Size: 6.14 x 9.21
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520367005
Paperback ISBN: 9780520337060

Gilberto Freyre (1900-1987)

Introduction by: David H. P. Maybury-Lewis (1929-2007)

This title is part of UC Press’s Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1986.

Table of Contents

  • Frontmatter
  • Preface to the first English-Language Edition
  • Preface to the Second English-language Edition
  • Translator’s Acknowledgments
  • Author’s Preface to the Paperback Edition
  • Introduction to the Paperback Edition
  • I General Characteristics of the Portuguese Colonization of Brazil: Formation of an Agrarian, Slave-Holding and Hybrid Society
  • II The Native in the Formation of the Brazilian Family
  • III The Portuguese Colonizer: Antecedents and Predispositions
  • IV The Negro Slave in the Sexual and Family Life of the Brazilian
  • V The Negro Slave in the Sexual and Family Life of the Brazilian (continued)
  • Plans showing Big House of the Noruega Plantation
  • Glossary of the Brazilian Terms Used
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Subjects
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Oral history interview with Lawrence Dennis, 1967

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-12-23 20:08Z by Steven

Oral history interview with Lawrence Dennis, 1967

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections
Columbia Center for Oral History
Columbia University, New York, New York
Digitized 2010 (Originally recorded in 1967)
DOI: 10.7916/d8-cpb1-1692

Lawrence Dennis (1893-1977) interviewed by William R. Keylor (1944-).

Listen to the interview here.

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How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2021-12-21 03:40Z by Steven

How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America

Nature
Number 600 (2021-12-13)
pages 374-378
DOI: 10.1038/d41586-021-03622-z

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, Science Journalist
Mexico City, Mexico

Genetic studies have found a striking amount of diversity among people in Mexico. Credit: Stephania Corpi Arnaud for Nature

Researchers are trying to dismantle the flawed concept of homogeneous racial mixing that has fostered discrimination in Mexico, Brazil and other countries.

Nicéa Quintino Amauro always knew who she was.

She was born in Campinas, the last city in Brazil to prohibit slavery in 1888. She grew up in a Black neighbourhood, with a Black family. And a lot of her childhood was spent in endless meetings organized by the Unified Black Movement, the most notable Black civil-rights organization in Brazil, which her parents helped to found to fight against centuries-old racism in the country. She knew she was Black.

But in the late 1980s, when Amauro was around 13 years old, she was told at school that Brazilians were not Black. They were not white, either. Nor any other race. They were considered to be mestiços, or pardos, terms rooted in colonial caste distinctions that signify a tapestry of European, African and Indigenous backgrounds. And as one single mixed people, they were all equal to each other.

The idea felt odd. Wrong, even. “To me, it seemed quite strange,” says Amauro, now a chemist at the Federal University of Ubêrlandia in Minas Gerais and a member of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers. “How can everyone be equal if racism exists? It doesn’t make sense.”

Amauro’s concerns echo across Latin America, where generations of people have been taught that they are the result of a long history of mixture between different ancestors who all came, or were forced, to live in the region…

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Mixed-race Brazilians increasingly embrace blackness

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2021-12-14 03:04Z by Steven

Mixed-race Brazilians increasingly embrace blackness

France 24
2021-11-19

Brazilian philosopher and writer Djamila Ribeiro holds her book “Small Anti-Racist Manual” during an interview with AFP in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 8, 2021 NELSON ALMEIDA AFP

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – When Bianca Santana was little, her grandmother used to put her forearm alongside her mother’s and her own, proudly showing how the family’s skin had lightened across the generations.

Now 37, Santana, a Brazilian writer and activist, sees the long-loaded issue of race in her country through a different lens: she is proud to call herself black.

“When a child was born with lighter skin, that was cause for celebration,” says Santana, recalling the messages she received about race growing up.

She remembers how her black grandmother used to make her pull her hair into a tight bun, so she wouldn’t look like “‘those little blackies.'”

“She liked to talk about how my mother’s father had Italian blood, how his mother had blue eyes,” she says.

Today, Santana, author of the book “How I Discovered I Was Black,” proudly wears her hair in an afro, a style she only embraced at age 30.

Her shifting sense of identity is increasingly common in Brazil, the country with the largest black population outside Africa.

Brazil, which will celebrate Black Consciousness Day Saturday, struggles with structural racism and the legacy of slavery, which it only abolished in 1888 — the last country in the Americas to do so.

But for the large mixed-race population in this sprawling country of 213 million people, the stigma long attached to blackness is fading.

“Mixed-race people in Brazil increasingly identify as black,” Santana says.

“They’re straightening their hair less, they’re embracing black identity more and more.”…

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Passing for white or the true colors of Cuban miscegenation

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2021-12-14 01:30Z by Steven

Passing for white or the true colors of Cuban miscegenation

OnCuba News
2021-12-08

Odette Casamayor, Associate Professor of Romance Languages
University of Pennsylvania


Photo: Kaloian Santos.

The miscegenation, in addition to being fierce and magical, painful or romantic, torment, fun, depending on how you want to interpret it, is one of the most insidious phenomena that exists.

I am black, in all circumstances and scenarios. I could never pass for anything else. Perhaps that is why I have always been curious about the strategies deployed by many in what could be considered another national sport: “passing for white.”

There is abundant magic and tragedy in each link of a complicated gear that, since colonial times, has operated relentlessly in Latin American societies. In the territories colonized by the Iberian metropolises, miscegenation would go beyond its primary biological dimension to, regardless of its intensity, become an important instrument of social mobility, promoting progress as the skin whitens and the negroid features become blurred or, as is commonly said, “the race is improved.” Meanwhile, in the Anglo-Saxon north equal opportunities were not granted to the mestizo subject. That is why what many call “the race,” because they choose to consider it a reality and not a historical, political and socio-economically determined construction, cannot in appearance be “improved” in the United States.

However, miscegenation, in addition to being fierce and magical, painful or romantic, torment, fun, depending on how you want to interpret it, is one of the most insidious phenomena that exists. Miscegenation has always been a pandemic: it occurs everywhere when it is least expected and promoted. So, although much less structured than in Latin America, the mechanism of “passing for white” also has a following in the United States…

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Imperial Educación: Race and Republican Motherhood in the Nineteenth-Century Americas

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-11-28 02:42Z by Steven

Imperial Educación: Race and Republican Motherhood in the Nineteenth-Century Americas

University of Virginia Press
August 2021
342 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780813946238
Paper ISBN: 9780813946238
eBook ISBN: 9780813946238

Thomas Genova, Associate Professor of Spanish
University of Minnesota, Morris

In the long nineteenth century, Argentine and Cuban reformers invited white women from the United States to train teachers as replacements for their countries’ supposedly unfit mothers. Imperial Educación examines representations of mixed-race Afro-descended mothers in literary and educational texts from the Americas during an era in which governing elites were invested in reproducing European cultural values in their countries’ citizens.

Thomas Genova analyzes the racialized figure of the republican mother in nineteenth-century literary texts in North and South America and the Caribbean, highlighting the ways in which these works question the capacity of Afro-descended women to raise good republican citizens for the newly formed New World nation-states. Considering the work of canonical and noncanonical authors alike, Genova asks how the allegory of the national family—omnipresent in the nationalist discourses of the Americas—reconciles itself to the race hierarchies upon which New World slave and postslavery societies are built. This innovative study is the first book to consider the hemispheric relations between race, republican motherhood, and public education by triangulating the nation-building processes of Cuba and Argentina through U.S. empire.

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