My life means much more than just my ethnicity. I now understand that I have the agency and self-determination to decide who I want to be.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-07-02 02:55Z by Steven

My return to GW [George Washington University] helped me find myself ways I never thought possible. I’m on my way to forming a sense of self on my own terms and my life is fuller as a result. I think of myself as a traveler, a foodie, a passionate student, a news and media junkie, a social justice enthusiast and more. My life means much more than just my ethnicity. I now understand that I have the agency and self-determination to decide who I want to be.

Mailinh McNicholas, “What It’s Like Being an “Other”,” College Magazine, June 19, 2018. https://www.collegemagazine.com/what-its-like-being-an-other.

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In Brazil, however, the often admirable blurring of racial boundaries is a modern reality that — rather than stemming from colorblindness — is tainted with the sinister origins of state-sanctioned attempts to dilute, even dissolve, blackness.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-07-01 05:14Z by Steven

[Paulo César] Lima’s words point to a painful and somewhat paradoxical consequence of Brazil’s racial fluidity. America’s politics of racial purity, which culminated in the notion that even one-drop of African blood made a person legally black, fostered solidarity among those targeted by discriminatory laws. In Brazil, however, the often admirable blurring of racial boundaries is a modern reality that — rather than stemming from colorblindness — is tainted with the sinister origins of state-sanctioned attempts to dilute, even dissolve, blackness.

Cleuci de Oliveira, “Is Neymar Black? Brazil and the Painful Relativity of Race,” The New York Times, June 30, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/30/opinion/is-neymar-black-brazil-and-the-painful-relativity-of-race.html.

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For anyone who is doubtful of the sheer absurdity of racial categorization and the porousness of our supposed boundaries, the Piper family history can be instructive.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-06-30 03:08Z by Steven

For anyone who is doubtful of the sheer absurdity of racial categorization and the porousness of our supposed boundaries, the Piper family history can be instructive. Adrian Margaret Smith Piper was born in 1948 in Washington Heights, and raised there and on Riverside Drive. On her paternal side, she is the product of a long line of whites and extremely light-skinned, straight-haired black property owners and, on her mother Olive’s side, mixed-race, planter-class Jamaican immigrants. Her father, Daniel, received two separate and contradictory birth certificates. The first one labeled him as “white,” while the second, which his mother demanded as a corrective, put him down as “octoroon.” (At MoMA, they are hung on the wall, as part of the installation of “Cornered.”) Piper’s paternal grandfather, also Daniel, went the opposite route after the birth of his second, slightly darker son, Billy, abandoning his wife and children and moving out West to start a new “white” family in Washington State. Daniel Sr.’s brother, Piper’s great-uncle, William, lived his life as a Caucasian man of distinction, founding the Piper Aircraft Corporation and making his name as “the Henry Ford of Aviation.” He ended up with his face on a postage stamp and a fortune big enough to endow a building at his alma mater, Harvard.

Thomas Chatterton Williams, “Adrian Piper’s Show at MoMA is the Largest Ever for a Living Artist. Why Hasn’t She Seen It?The New York Times Magazine, June 27, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/magazine/adrian-pipers-self-imposed-exile-from-america-and-from-race-itself.html.

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It’s complicated to reconcile with an appearance that conflicts with your identity, but art has been Gaignard’s outlet through which to come to terms with, explore and push the limitations of identity and its perception.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-06-08 03:14Z by Steven

Born in Massachusetts to a black father and a white mother, [Genevieve] Gaignard is white passing, despite identifying as black, and her visually ambiguous identity is something that’s troubled her since childhood. “When I say I’m passing, I mean we navigate through the world how others see us, and I’m usually seen as white,” Gaignard explains. It’s complicated to reconcile with an appearance that conflicts with your identity, but art has been Gaignard’s outlet through which to come to terms with, explore and push the limitations of identity and its perception. “Over time I’ve been able to process and tap into all the things I thought as a young girl growing up in this body, and this mind,” she says. “It’s about owning the skin I’m in, and thinking about how I can speak about blackness through seemingly white characters.”

Harriet Shepherd, “The Bi-Racial Artist Using White-Passing Characters to Talk About Blackness,” Sleek, June 7, 2018. http://www.sleek-mag.com/2018/06/07/genevieve-gaignard/.

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In one of the most touching of many personal passages in the book, Akala retraces the steps by which he was racialised – as a mixed-race child – into blackness, and by which he realised that his mother, who fiercely protected her children’s pride in their heritage, enrolling them among other things in a Pan-African Saturday school, was racialised as white.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-30 02:56Z by Steven

Natives delivers the answers, and some of them are hard to hear. In one of the most touching of many personal passages in the book, Akala retraces the steps by which he was racialised – as a mixed-race child – into blackness, and by which he realised that his mother, who fiercely protected her children’s pride in their heritage, enrolling them among other things in a Pan-African Saturday school, was racialised as white.

Afua Hirsch, “Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala – review,” The Guardian, May 20, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/20/natives-akala-review-destroying-myths-of-race-afia-hirsch.

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To be mixed and a woman meant my appearance was of the foremost importance to everyone around me…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-30 02:47Z by Steven

To be mixed and a woman meant my appearance was of the foremost importance to everyone around me ― my mother’s friends would revel in things like how big my eyes were, how petite my lips were or how fit my body looked, but rarely mention my academic accomplishments or opinions except for within the context of my American identity. “Her Chinese scores were higher than Chinese kids! Isn’t it a marvel!” one friend exclaimed, as if I didn’t receive the same education or similar upbringing as her monoracial Chinese child. Other aunties would tell my mom that my academic talent came not from hard work, but from my Jewish ancestry. “Youtairen (Jewish people in Mandarin) are just smart,” they would say. I had no idea what Judaism even was.

Gen Slosberg, “How I Finally Learned To Accept Both My Chinese And Jewish Identities,” The Huffington Post, May 23, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/im-chinese-and-jewish-and-always-wanted-to-claim-one-identity_us_5b044e95e4b0740c25e5e2af.

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I identify in a category not formalized or accepted in colonial census charts or western ways of understanding the other, as a black South Asian. I am an Indian who lays claim to the global community of black consciousness, and I reside between so many worlds of belonging and unbelonging.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-20 01:33Z by Steven

I identify in a category not formalized or accepted in colonial census charts or western ways of understanding the other, as a black South Asian. I am an Indian who lays claim to the global community of black consciousness, and I reside between so many worlds of belonging and unbelonging. In racializing colorism and politicizing my own experience of antipathy witnessed toward the color of my skin, I crafted my own passport into marooned and shapeshifting black communities that gave credence to ontologies and a posteriori narratives over normative constructions of race, ethnicities, and nationalities.

Shreerekha, “In the Wake of His Damage,” The Rumpus, May 12, 2018. http://therumpus.net/2018/05/in-the-wake-of-his-damage/.

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“You say they’ll be cool with it, but seriously, Harry, you don’t know how white people can get about this stuff.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-20 00:44Z by Steven

“You say they’ll be cool with it, but seriously, Harry, you don’t know how white people can get about this stuff. I really don’t want to show up to the royal goddamned wedding and suddenly the Queen, Prince Charles, and Camilla Little-Miss-Perfect Duchess of Cornwall are being all weird! I wonder what could make them act like that, huh? Oh, God—please say your brother Prince William at least knows.” —“Meghan Markle

Furious Meghan Markle Can’t Believe Harry Hasn’t Told Family She’s Black Yet,” The Onion, May 17, 2018. https://www.theonion.com/furious-meghan-markle-can-t-believe-harry-hasn-t-told-f-1826104835.

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I know what it is to assimilate to a group you identify with, because I did it myself, against my white mother’s wishes. She hated me calling myself black.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-18 18:26Z by Steven

For some of us, racial identity is elastic. We can pass. For white, for black, for Middle Eastern. For Latinx. I am one of those people. I know what it is to assimilate to a group you identify with, because I did it myself, against my white mother’s wishes. She hated me calling myself black.

Lisa Page, “Passing or Transracial?: Authority, Race, and Sex in the Rachel Dolezal Documentary,” Beacon Broadside: A Project of Beacon Press, May 10, 2018. http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2018/05/passing-or-transracial-authority-race-and-sex-in-the-rachel-dolezal-documentary.html.

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I am the “Rashida Jones” version of biracial. I have white skin and dark brown, wavy hair — people always assume I’m white.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-18 18:20Z by Steven

I am the “Rashida Jones” version of biracial. I have white skin and dark brown, wavy hair — people always assume I’m white. Mariah Carey, who has a white mother and a black, Venezuelan father, was the only white-looking biracial person I knew of growing up. She was the biracial role model I needed, and I often thought of her when I struggled with the constant denial and questioning I faced whenever I told someone I was part black.

Sarah E. Gaither, “I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.Vox, May 18, 2018. https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/5/14/17345162/meghan-markle-royal-wedding-2018-race.

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