It has become commonplace to acknowledge the following point, but it bears repeating anyway: The idea of racial classification, as we understand it now, stretches back only to Enlightenment Europe.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-19 23:15Z by Steven

It has become commonplace to acknowledge the following point, but it bears repeating anyway: The idea of racial classification, as we understand it now, stretches back only to Enlightenment Europe. I have stayed in inns in Germany that have been continuously operating longer than this calamitous thought. But even though we can trace race’s origins without much difficulty, it seems impossible — and worse than that, woefully naïve — even to speak of an end to such persistent and flattening thinking, thinking that has led to so much human suffering, precluded and squandered so much human potential. And yet I am convinced that we will never overcome the evils of racism as long as we fail first to imagine and then to conjure a world free of racial categorization and the hierarchies it necessarily implies.

Thomas Chatterton Williams, “My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories,” The New York Times Magazine, September 17, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/17/magazine/black-white-family-race.html.

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For someone so utterly unsentimental and sternly rational about race and blackness, he indulged his wife’s strange neoessentialist belief in “hybrid vigor”—that is, her belief that their daughter’s racial fusion of black and white represented the birth of a new, superior race.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-19 23:04Z by Steven

He [George Schuyler] was a man of contradictions. For someone so utterly unsentimental and sternly rational about race and blackness, he indulged his wife’s [Josephine Cogdell] strange neoessentialist belief in “hybrid vigor”—that is, her belief that their daughter’s racial fusion of black and white represented the birth of a new, superior race. With Schuyler’s help, his wife turned their only daughter into a social experiment, raising Philippa on a scientifically prepared diet of raw meat, unpasteurized milk, and castor oil, and keeping her in near isolation from other children. The child’s strange upbringing was both a raging success and a terrible failure. Philippa learned to read at two, became an accomplished pianist at four, and a composer by five. She was a child celebrity, a kind of black Shirley Temple with a high IQ who became the subject of scores of articles in publications such as Time, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and was roundly hailed as a genius. There is a poignant moment in Kathryn Talalay’s biography of Philippa Schuyler, Composition in Black and White, when Philippa is thirteen and her parents finally show her the detailed scrapbook they’ve been keeping about her upbringing and career—notes and articles they’ve been keeping diligently over the years. Philippa, rather than being touched, was horrified to realize, with sudden clarity, all the ways she’d been her parents’ social experiment and “puppet.” In the years that followed, she grew increasingly disillusioned with America, her own blackness, and the musical career of her youth. Like a character out of Black No More, she eventually changed her name and began to pass as white—as an Iberian-American named Filipa Montera. She spent most of her adult life overseas, still playing music, but less seriously, and trying to find herself in various romantic affairs. She eventually tried to reinvent herself as an international journalist and children’s advocate, and in 1967 she died in a helicopter crash while attempting to evacuate war orphans out of Vietnam.

Danzy Senna, “George Schuyler: An Afrofuturist Before His Time,” The New York Review of Books, January 19, 2018. https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/01/19/george-schuyler-an-afrofuturist-before-his-time/.

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When people challenge her blackness, I always say, ‘If she went to Howard, it means she’s one of us.’

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-19 22:41Z by Steven

“When people challenge her [Kamala Harris’] blackness, I always say, ‘If she went to Howard [University], it means she’s one of us,’ ” says Howard grad and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong. “She comes from there. No one should challenge her blackness.”

Robin Givhan, “Kamala Harris grew up in a mostly white world. Then she went to a black university in a black city.The Washington Post, September 16, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/16/kamala-harris-grew-up-mostly-white-world-then-she-went-black-university-black-city/.

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I’m not even going to go into the whole “passing as white” thing, because I’m not passing as white, I am white, Latinx is an ethnicity, not a race, – and yes, there are some white Latinos, and some black Latinos and hell, even Asian Latinos, that’s the whole point of ethnicity not race…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-17 18:03Z by Steven

I’m not even going to go into the whole “passing as white” thing, because I’m not passing as white, I am white, Latinx is an ethnicity, not a race, – and yes, there are some white Latinos, and some black Latinos and hell, even Asian Latinos, that’s the whole point of ethnicity not race – because this is a Carnival Row piece, and I have a point, I promise.

My point is this: Philo can “pass” as human. In fact, that is basically what he does for most of the time we see him, pass as something he is not: full human. While other creatures are discriminated because of who they are, Philo – both by choice, and as a result of a cruelty done on him as a child – can pass, and by doing so, benefits from the privilege afforded to the people who make the rules.

The humans.

Lissete Lanuza Sáenz, ‘Carnival Row’: Philo and the Politics of Passing, Fangirlish, September 11, 2019. http://fangirlish.com/carnival-row-philo-and-the-politics-of-passing/.

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My blackness and my hair texture was a very defining feature of that experience, and my hair was treated very much like it was an affliction. Certainly something to be ashamed of.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-09 00:48Z by Steven

Your book covers academic arguments surrounding these things and the culture surrounding these topics, but it was born from a very personal place. What was it like for you growing up in a larger white society as a person of colour?

The term person of colour is quite generic; I feel like if I’d been a person of colour who had straight hair I would have had a very different experience than somebody who was racialised as black and had extremely Afro-textured hair. My blackness and my hair texture was a very defining feature of that experience, and my hair was treated very much like it was an affliction. Certainly something to be ashamed of. I didn’t see anybody with this type of hair, so there was very much a sense of “why have I been sabotaged in this way?”

Growing up in Dublin, the expertise and the products that were required to maintain my hair were sorely absent. My Mum would bring me to the UK occasionally and I remember when I was 12 she brought me to Tottenham, and I got a Jheri curl. When I was 17 I got my hair properly relaxed in a salon and had all this weave attached for like the first time — honey blond tracks, I was overjoyed. It felt like salvation.

Mariko Finch, “Emma Dabiri on the Politics of Black Hair,” Sotheby‘s: African Modern & Contemporary Art, September 3, 2019. https://www.sothebys.com/en/articles/emma-dabiri-on-the-politics-of-black-hair.

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Cramblett in effect sued for ‘wrongful RACISM’; she did not receive the whiteness bargained for and so sued under terms suggesting she is due compensation for the fact—not that there IS racism—but that she now has to deal with it personally.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-05 00:20Z by Steven

[Jennifer] Cramblett in effect sued [in Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank] for ‘wrongful racism’; she did not receive the whiteness bargained for and so sued under terms suggesting she is due compensation for the fact—not that there is racism—but that she now has to deal with it personally. One might question, for example, why the couple supposedly didn’t feel any qualms about raising a white child in a town that is “too racially intolerant.” ‘Wrongful birth’s’ transition into the realm of race significantly marks a recognition of the social, political, and environmental issues sustaining racism and its associated harms, but the problem here is the site of redress—the white mothers—rather than the environment lending credence to their case in the first place. Cramblett describes a personal loss that relies on structural analyses to articulate, all the while refusing to vilify those structures as problems in themselves.

Desiree Valentine, “Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics,” Blog of the APA, August 14, 2019. https://blog.apaonline.org/2019/08/14/women-in-philosophy-cramblett-race-disability-and-liberatory-politics/.

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The Forum Council did not oversell its claim. The Du Bois-Stoddard debate turned out to be a singular event, as important in its way as Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-04 21:34Z by Steven

The Forum Council did not oversell its claim. The Du Bois-Stoddard debate turned out to be a singular event, as important in its way as Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon. The reason more people don’t know about it may be its asymmetry. The other historic matchups featured rivals who disagreed politically but wouldn’t have disputed their opponent’s right to exist. [Lothrop] Stoddard had written that “mulattoes” like [W. E. B.] Du Bois, who could not accept their inferior status, were the chief cause of racial unrest in the United States, and he looked forward to their dying out.

Ian Frazier, “When W. E. B. Du Bois Made a Laughingstock of a White Supremacist,” The New Yorker, August 19, 2019. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/26/when-w-e-b-du-bois-made-a-laughingstock-of-a-white-supremacist.

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Plecker claimed that when the English, Dutch and Scottish landed on the shores of North America, they came “to found a civilization of the highest type, not to mix their blood with the savages of the land, not to originate a mongrel population.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-01 03:01Z by Steven

[Walter] Plecker was obsessed with white racial purity, a cause he clearly connected to his belief that the United States was a white man’s country. In a 1924 speech before the American Public Health Association, Plecker claimed that when the English, Dutch and Scottish landed on the shores of North America, they came “to found a civilization of the highest type, not to mix their blood with the savages of the land, not to originate a mongrel population.” The fatal error, he believed, was made in 1619 when the Dutch introduced African slaves to North America. “The problem was not slavery,” he told his audience, “but the presence of the negro in what should be a white man’s land.”

Susan Pearson, Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists, The Washington Post, September 11, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/11/birth-certificates-have-always-been-weapon-white-supremacists/.

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Overall, I understand the feeling of need to tell our own personalised story about our ‘mixed-race’ identity, but…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-08-27 00:34Z by Steven

Overall, I understand the feeling of need to tell our own personalised story about our ‘mixed-race’ identity, but we need to be thinking a lot harder about how we communicate these issues and how they should be attentive to intersectional specificities as well entangled proximities to whiteness.

Chantelle Lewis, “Please can we stop talking about ‘mixed-race’ identity (on its own)?Discover Society, August 23, 2019. https://discoversociety.org/2019/08/23/please-can-we-stop-talking-about-mixed-race-identity-on-its-own/.

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The UC system needs to allow mixed students to be fully seen through their statistics.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-08-27 00:31Z by Steven

The UC [University of California] system needs to allow mixed students to be fully seen through their statistics. It might be hard for the UC system to find a way to record the specific ethnicities that mixed-race students identify with. But it’s a complicated issue worth tackling because as an institution that prides itself on diversity, the UC system must ensure each of its students is validated for all of their identities. UC Berkeley can, and should, take initiative to pioneer this change.

Genevieve Xia Ye Slosberg, “UC Berkeley must redesign data practices to give visibility to mixed-race students,” The Daily Californian, August 22, 2019. https://www.dailycal.org/2019/08/22/uc-berkeley-must-redesign-data-practices-to-give-visibility-to-mixed-race-students/.

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