Review: Identity in Passing: RACE-ING and E-RACE-ING in American and African American History

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 01:19Z by Steven

Review: Identity in Passing: RACE-ING and E-RACE-ING in American and African American History

The Journal of African American History
Volume 101, No. 3, Summer 2016
pages 344-355
DOI: 10.5323/jafriamerhist.101.3.0344

Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History
Arizona State University, Tempe

Passing is a long-standing theme in American and African American history.1 Indeed, because identity has been an ever-present element in history, passing has been an ever-present element in history generally. Distinguishing between and among groups and categorizing individual members has again and again prompted questions about who is who, about what exactly distinguishes one from another, and about who belongs where. But passing is about more than contested and oft-disputed categories. When it reaches to lived-experience, passing is about self and society, about individual image and imagining, about self-image and self-imagining, about social image and social change. Passing is about the scope, source, substance, and control of individual identity.

Despite its centrality, identity appears in historical narratives typically as a given, or at least as taken for granted. Except for persons cast as “others,” group labels conveniently cover flawed lines of distinction. Our focus concentrates on identity only when it becomes contested, when uncertainty or ambiguity raise doubts; when identity becomes an issue of power, when such questions as “who…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 00:56Z by Steven

We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Oxford University Press
2014-12-01
224 Pages
32 illustrations
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199978335

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

This colored Creole story offers a unique historical lens through which to understand the issues of migration, immigration, passing, identity, and color-forces that still shape American society today. We Are Who We Say We Are provides a detailed, nuanced account of shifting forms of racial identification within an extended familial network and constrained by law and social reality.

Author Mary Frances Berry, a well-known expert in the field, focuses on the complexity and malleability of racial meanings within the US over generations. Colored Creoles, similar to other immigrants and refugees, passed back and forth in the Atlantic world. Color was the cause and consequence for migration and identity, splitting the community between dark and light. Color could also split families. Louis Antoine Snaer, a free man of color and an officer in the Union Army who passed back and forth across the color line, had several brothers and sisters. Some chose to “pass” and some decided to remain “colored,” even though they too, could have passed. This rich global history, beginning in Europe–with episodes in Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, and California–emphasizes the diversity of the Atlantic World experience.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter I: Becoming Colored Creole
  • Chapter II: Becoming Americans
  • Chapter III: Family Troubles
  • Chapter IV: Fighting for Democracy
  • Chapter V: Becoming “Negroes”
  • Chapter VI: Opportunity and Tragedy in Iberia Parish
  • Chapter VII: Mulattoes and Colored Creoles
  • Chapter VIII: Just Americans
  • Chapter IX: At Home or Away: We Are Who We Say We Are
  • Epilogue: Becoming “Black”
  • Notes
Tags: , , , , ,

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2017-11-17 03:20Z by Steven

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

University of North Carolina Press
January 2018
432 pages
12 halftones, 4 figs., 3 charts, 4 tables, notes, index
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3443-2

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

The presence of these elite children of color in Britain pushed popular opinion in the British Atlantic world toward narrower conceptions of race and kinship. Members of Parliament, colonial assemblymen, merchant kings, and cultural arbiters–the very people who decided Britain’s colonial policies, debated abolition, passed marital laws, and arbitrated inheritance disputes–rubbed shoulders with these mixed-race Caribbean migrants in parlors and sitting rooms. Upper-class Britons also resented colonial transplants and coveted their inheritances; family intimacy gave way to racial exclusion. By the early nineteenth century, relatives had become strangers.

Tags: , , , ,

Colouring the Caribbean: Race and the art of Agostino Brunias

Posted in Arts, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-17 03:08Z by Steven

Colouring the Caribbean: Race and the art of Agostino Brunias

Manchester University Press
December 2017
272 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-2045-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-2047-2

Mia L. Bagneris, Jesse Poesch Junior Professor of Art History
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Colouring the Caribbean offers the first comprehensive study of Agostino Brunias’s intriguing pictures of colonial West Indians of colour – so called ‘Red’ and ‘Black’ Caribs, dark-skinned Africans and Afro-Creoles, and people of mixed race – made for colonial officials and plantocratic elites during the late-eighteenth century. Although Brunias’s paintings have often been understood as straightforward documents of visual ethnography that functioned as field guides for reading race, this book investigates how the images both reflected and refracted ideas about race commonly held by eighteenth-century Britons, helping to construct racial categories while simultaneously exposing their constructedness and underscoring their contradictions. The book offers provocative new insights about Brunias’s work gleaned from a broad survey of his paintings, many of which are reproduced here for the first time.

Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Brunias’s tarred brush, or painting Indians black: race-ing the Carib divide
  • 2. Merry and contented slaves and other island myths: representing Africans and Afro-Creoles in the Anglxexo-American world
  • 3. Brown-skinned booty, or colonising Diana: mixed-race Venuses and Vixens as the fruits of imperial enterprise
  • 4. Can you find the white woman in this picture? Agostino Brunias’s ‘ladies’ of ambiguous race
  • Coda – Pushing Brunias’s buttons, or re-branding the plantocracy’s painter: the afterlife of Brunias’s imagery
  • Index
Tags: , , ,

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-17 02:36Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
August 2018
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503605046
Paper ISBN: 9781503606012

Ana Paulina Lee, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies
Columbia University, New York, New York

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor—an era when black slavery shifted to “yellow labor” and racial anxieties surged. Lee asks how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil’s nation-building project, which prioritized “whitening,” a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, Lee interrogates how Chinese and Japanese imperial ambitions and Asian ethnic supremacy reinforced Brazil’s whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

Tags: , ,

Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-11-12 23:03Z by Steven

Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro

University of North Carolina Press
December 2016
248 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520293793
Paperback ISBN: 9780520293809
Adobe PDF E-Book ISBN: 9780520967151
ePUB Format ISBN: 9780520967151

Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Arizona

Based on spontaneous conversations of shantytown youth hanging out on the streets of their neighborhoods and interviews from the comfortable living rooms of the middle class, Jennifer Roth-Gordon shows how racial ideas permeate the daily lives of Rio de Janeiro’s residents across race and class lines. Race and the Brazilian Body weaves together the experiences of these two groups to explore what the author calls Brazil’s “comfortable racial contradiction,” where embedded structural racism that privileges whiteness exists alongside a deeply held pride in the country’s history of racial mixture and lack of overt racial conflict. This linguistic and ethnographic account describes how cariocas (people who live in Rio de Janeiro) “read” the body for racial signs. The amount of whiteness or blackness a body displays is determined not only through observations of phenotypical features—including skin color, hair texture, and facial features—but also through careful attention paid to cultural and linguistic practices, including the use of nonstandard speech commonly described as gíria (slang).

Vivid scenes from daily interactions illustrate how implicit social and racial imperatives encourage individuals to invest in and display whiteness (by demonstrating a “good appearance”), avoid blackness (a preference challenged by rappers and hip-hop fans), and “be cordial” (by not noticing racial differences). Roth-Gordon suggests that it is through this unspoken racial etiquette that Rio residents determine who belongs on the world famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon; who deserves to shop in privatized, carefully guarded, air conditioned shopping malls; and who merits the rights of citizenship.

Contents

  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • 1. BRAZIL’S “COMFORTABLE RACIAL CONTRADICTION”
  • 2. “GOOD” APPEARANCES: RACE, LANGUAGE, AND CITIZENSHIP
  • 3. INVESTING IN WHITENESS: MIDDLE-CLASS PRACTICES OF LINGUISTIC DISCIPLINE
  • 4. FEARS OF RACIAL CONTACT: CRIME, VIOLENCE, AND THE STRUGGLE OVER URBAN SPACE
  • 5. AVOIDING BLACKNESS: THE FLIP SIDE OF BOA APARENCIA
  • 6. MAKING THE MANO: THE UNCOMFORTABLE VISIBILITY OF BLACKNESS IN POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS BRAZILIAN HIP-HOP
  • CONCLUSION: “SEEING” RACE
  • NOTES
  • REFERENCES
  • INDEX
Tags: , ,

On the Color of Desire, Disrespect, and Sexual Exploitation in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2017-11-12 17:35Z by Steven

On the Color of Desire, Disrespect, and Sexual Exploitation in Brazil

For Harriet
2015-07-23

Veronica Maria Brown-Comegys

The day I arrived in Rio de Janeiro a muscle-bound German stranger followed me from the reception desk into the hotel elevator. After the door closed, he began shouting in halting English, “You are American. I want to be with you tonight, why not?” “Why not?” I side-stepped to the elevator panel and wildly pounded the buttons. The door opened and I raced to my room.

White Brazilian and European male visitors gravitate to the eroticism of the woman of African descent. Yet they do not express their admiration in romantic sonnets and songs. Instead, white Brazilian men say in Portuguese, “As negras tem fogo no rabo.” The translation is, “Black women have fire in their ass,” according to my white friend, Carlos Marques, a fifty-six-year-old activist and historian. The activist, of Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul, said, “Rabo is a VERY bad expression, extremely graphic. It is machismo and racism.” Cesar Renato, 19, a black aspiring rapper, in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, added, “They say worse things than that.”

Carlos Santos, 30, of Goias, a black decorator and house painter said, “It is true that the white man says the black woman has an appetite for sex, and is hotter than the white woman. I agree that black women are hotter. This is obvious. But, oh no, to say they have fire under their skirt, this is too much. This is hyper-sexualization of the black woman.”

The crude expression is directed at all black women. Yet it is the black woman who has tan, gold, caramel and light-to-nearly medium colored skin, who is preferred. Marques said, “Light-colored girls are a species of sexual fantasy for many men, Brazilian and foreign. They are something like a sexual fetish.”.

Dr. Norma Cavalcanti, a white psychologist, said “In Brazil a woman has only two rights; the right to be a mother, and the right to be a ‘boneca gloriosa’ (glorious doll).” Willing or not, I had all the necessary attributes to play this role: light brown skin, heavy-lidded, big brown eyes, full lips, and most importantly a five foot seven-inch body, which was far from thin and shapeless. Far from being a brown Playboy centerfold, but not to be ignored…

…During the 2014 World Cup Season male and female journalists were distained “international gringos who come to Brazil with the wrong idea.” Carol Apaloo, an African-American school teacher, whose family relocated from Los Angeles in the late 1970s said, “The Germans are the worst.” She discussed the lewd way they were dancing with the black Brazilian girls at Carnival. One journalist said that the foreigners are only part of the problem. Their behavior matched customary treatment black women receive from white Brazilian men.

Marly Ferreira, 57, a black Brazilian writer and Professor of Biology said, “The image still exists of the black woman as sexy, good in bed, to be used as an object. This image is a benefit to tourism. There are many schemes to make the color black agreeable, to be used by everybody.” More than two decades ago, white historian, sociologist and anthropologist Gilberto Freyre said, “The mulata is treated like a product. Our mulata is not different from other women, but she is being exploited as a sex symbol, and the majority are being turned into prostitutes.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

‘The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-08 03:12Z by Steven

‘The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten’

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
2017-11-03

Marc Fitten

An excerpt from ‘We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America.’ By Marc Fitten

My full legal name is Marc Jeffrie Fitten, but I have always disliked it. It’s like the skin tag hanging from my neck that I keep promising myself I will do something about.

Since I was 6, I have never been comfortable with hearing it spoken or saying it out loud. I have never identified with it. Ever since I was a child, everything in my DNA rejected this name. Probably because I instinctively knew it was a fake.

My real name is lost to my family and me. Lost for many reasons, but especially because along the way an ancestor realized his name gave away an ethnicity that was more trouble than it was worth. So he changed it. Twice. A shoemaker and a migrant who traveled around the Caribbean taking odd jobs, my half-Chinese great grandfather managed to hide his identity from the people around him and from his descendants for 100 years…


Marc Fitten looks at a recently discovered photo of his great grandfather, who Marc learned was part Chinese after his 2-year-old nephew was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, an illness prone to Asians. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

…The twist is intriguing as well. While mixed-race African-Americans were passing as white in the United States, in the Caribbean, a Chinese Jamaican wanted to hide his name and ethnicity and for his children to pass as colored.

My great-grandfather — forever after known as Mr. Fitten — even had the good sense to die early, and so he took his secrets with him…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Black, white or multicultural: constructing race in two countries

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-09-20 21:25Z by Steven

Black, white or multicultural: constructing race in two countries

The University of Utah News
2017-09-18

New study compares how people in U.S. and Brazil determine someone’s race

A new study demonstrates the strong influence ancestry plays in Americans’ interpretation of whether someone is black, white or multiracial, highlighting differences in the way race is socially constructed in the U.S. compared to other parts of the world.

The three-phase study, led by Jacqueline M. Chen of the University of Utah and published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, compared how Brazilians and Americans assessed the race of another person. Brazilians were more likely to decide what race a person was based on his or her appearance, while Americans relied most heavily on parentage to make that determination.

“Our results speak to completely different definitions of what race is and whether ancestry or family background is even relevant to race,” said Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. “It is ingrained in Americans to think about race in terms of heritage. In the U.S., people ask about where your family is from as a way to ascertain your race. But in Brazil, people don’t focus on family history when determining someone’s race.”

Co-authors of the study are Maria Clara P. de Paula Cuoto of the Ayrton Senna Institute in São Paulo, Brazil (her involvement in the study is not related to her work at the institute); Airi M. Sacco of the Federal University of Pelotas, Pelatos, Brazil; and Yarrow Dunham of Yale University.

The researchers conducted three different experiments in the U.S. and Brazil to assess cultural differences in how participants determined race. Both countries have a history of European settlement, Native American displacement and African slavery, but have adopted different strategies and practices to address racial diversity, the researchers said.

The U.S. historically attempted to maintain racial hierarchy through formal rules that denied rights and resources to African Americans. Brazil encouraged interracial marriage as a way for individuals to move up the social hierarchy and to reduce the number of people who strongly self-identified as black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

To Be or Not to Be (Black or Multiracial or White): Cultural Variation in Racial Boundaries

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-09-20 15:33Z by Steven

To Be or Not to Be (Black or Multiracial or White): Cultural Variation in Racial Boundaries

Social Psychological and Personality Science
First Published 2017-08-28
DOI: 10.1177/1948550617725149

Jacqueline M. Chen, Assistant Professor, Social Psychology
University of Utah

Maria Clara P. de Paula Couto
Ayrton Senna Institute, São Paulo, Brazil

Airi M. Sacco
Department of Psychology
Federal University of Pelotas, Pelatos, Brazil

Yarrow Dunham, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Yale University

Culture shapes the meaning of race and, consequently, who is placed into which racial categories. Three experiments conducted in the United States and Brazil illustrated the cultural nature of racial categorization. In Experiment 1, a target’s racial ancestry influenced Americans’ categorizations but had no impact on Brazilians’ categorizations. Experiment 2 showed cultural differences in the reliance on two phenotypic cues to race; Brazilians’ categorizations were more strongly determined by skin tone than were Americans’ categorizations, and Americans’ categorizations were more strongly determined by other facial features compared to Brazilians’ categorizations. Experiment 3 demonstrated cultural differences in the motivated use of racial categories. When the racial hierarchy was threatened, only Americans more strictly enforced the Black–White racial boundary. Cultural forces shape the conceptual, perceptual, and ideological construal of racial categories.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,