‘Yes, I’m Irish’

Posted in Autobiography, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Videos on 2017-08-09 14:59Z by Steven

‘Yes, I’m Irish’

The Journal.ie

‘Yes, I’m Irish’ is a video series focusing on the experiences of mixed-race Irish people. They told us how the Ireland of today compares with the one they grew up in.

Watch the entire series here.

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Call for Essays: Shades of Prejudice: Asian American Women on Colorism in America from NYU Press, Edited by Nikki Khanna (Forthcoming 2018)

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Forthcoming Media, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers, Women on 2017-08-07 16:05Z by Steven

Call for Essays: Shades of Prejudice: Asian American Women on Colorism in America from NYU Press, Edited by Nikki Khanna (Forthcoming 2018)

Nikki Khanna, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Vermont
Department of Sociology
31 South Prospect Street
Burlington, Vermont 05405
Telephone: (802) 656-2162


DEADLINE: Manuscripts will be accepted on a rolling basis, though the final deadline is OCTOBER 31, 2017.

I am pleased to announce an open submission call for my forthcoming anthology from New York University Press, SHADES OF PREJUDICE, a collection of essays written by Asian American women about their personal experiences with colorism.

Colorism is the practice of discrimination whereby light skin is privileged over dark, and is a global issue affecting racial groups worldwide. Colorism exists is just about every part of Asia and affects Asian diasporas, including most Asian American communities—including those descended from Southeast Asia (e.g., India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia), but also those from Japan, China, and other parts of Eastern Asia.

I am looking for Asian American women (including multiracial American women with Asian ancestry) to share their personal experiences with colorismhow has your skin shade (and other “racialized” physical features like eye color, eye shape, and other facial features) influenced your life?


  • Submissions should be sent to: nkhanna@uvm.edu (in the subject heading, please type in all-caps: SHADES OF PREJUDICE SUBMISSION)
  • Please send your personal narrative as a Microsoft® Word document and label your document: “LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME.doc.”
  • Essays should be approximately 1,000-2,500 words, double-spaced, and Times New Roman font.


Nikki Khanna is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont and has written extensively on issues regarding race. You can read more about the author here: www.nikkikhanna.com and http://www.uvm.edu/sociology/faculty/faculty_bios/Khanna/.


  • What do you consider (physically) beautiful and why? Where does your image of beauty come from? (family, friends, media, or somewhere else?)
  • What is the importance of skin shade in your Asian ethnic community and how has this affected your life? For example, has it had an effect on dating or finding a mate? Has it influenced your interactions or relationships with family members or others? Has it affected any of your life opportunities? (job, education, etc.?).
  • How did you learn that light skin was preferred over dark skin in your Asian ethnic community? Can you provide specific examples?
  • Have you personally benefitted from having light skin? If so, how so? Is there a particular experience that you can share?
  • How have your family, community, peers, friends, media or others reinforced the stereotype that light skin is somehow more desirable than dark skin?
  • Have you felt pressure to use products designed to lighten or whiten your skin? If yes, why and what types of products? What has your experiences been with these products? How do you feel about whitening products?
  • Have you tried any other means to lighten or change the shade of your skin?
  • Have you felt pressure from your ethnic community or larger American society to conform to particular beauty standards? How so? Explain.
  • Have you struggled with, resisted, or actively challenged the “light is beautiful” message? How so?
  • Have other physical/facial characteristics (those that are often related to race) had an influence on your life (e.g., your eye color, eye shape, nose shape)?
  • Have you felt pressure to surgically alter any of your physical features to conform to a particular beauty standard in your Asian ethnic community or in larger American society (e.g., eyelid surgery)? Explain.
  • Do you think light skin is seen as desirable because some people desire to look/be white, because light skin is related to social class or caste, or to something else? Why? What in your personal life has informed the way you explain why light skin is considered more desirable than dark?
  • Do you think the impact of your skin color on your life is influenced by other factors – such as your gender, social class/caste, ethnic group, generation, or other factors? For example, do you think skin color more so affects women than men? Why or why not? Do you think that your experiences are similar or different to male family members or men in your Asian ethnic community? Do you think your generation (whether you are 1st, 2nd, 3rd or later generation Asian American) has influenced the importance of skin color in your life?
  • Did growing up in America challenge or reinforce the idea that light skin is better than dark? How so? Could you share a particular example? Relatedly, how have American beauty standards affected your vision of what is considered beautiful and how does this related to beauty standards in your ethnic community? Are those standards complementary or contradictory?

For more information, click here.

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50th Narrative: Michelle La Flamme, Associate Professor, English, University of the Fraser Valley

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2017-08-06 13:51Z by Steven

50th Narrative: Michelle La Flamme, Associate Professor, English, University of the Fraser Valley

TRaCE: Track Report Connect Exchange

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Editor’s note: This is TRaCE’s 50th narrative, and we’re excited to feature Michelle La Flamme’s story! Our past narratives are all available in our archive. See also our reflection posts on the process of writing narratives, the quantitative data collection and analysis, and the experiences of our student interviewers.

Being asked to reflect upon my experiences as a graduate student flashes me back to a time that had some serious practical and financial constraints. As a woman of color with Aboriginal ancestry, the idea of going to university necessitated an engagement with the negative stigma that universities represented to me. It was a struggle for me to feel a sense of belonging and to find the right to express my own voice in such a space. I experienced the typical loneliness that comes from doing focused graduate studies, but there was also an extra loneliness I felt by not seeing people who looked like me, or professors who looked like me, and never being exposed to texts which resonated with my own experience as a mixed blood woman of color. My love of literature, the guidance of some very supportive mentors, and the knowledge that I was the first in my family to complete a doctoral degree were the forces which drove me forward. Here is a little bit of my story that I have been asked to share in the hope that it will make the path a bit easier for others…

…I finished my doctoral degree in four years due to the support of my supervisor and my committee, as well as the cultural supports that I experienced through the Longhouse at UBC. When I graduated, my dissertation, Living, Writing and Staging Racial Hybridity, won the departmental prize for the best dissertation in 2006. It was a very proud moment for me, made especially noteworthy as I am the only one in my family ever to complete a terminal degree! Though my niece exclaimed that the doctoral defense was the most boring day of her life, I hope she will realize the significance and impact that this moment had on our whole family when she is mature enough to reflect on it…

Read the entire article here.

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We Wear The Mask: 15 Stories About Passing in America (edited by Brando Skyhorse & Lisa Page) [Review]

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-01 18:29Z by Steven

We Wear The Mask: 15 Stories About Passing in America (edited by Brando Skyhorse & Lisa Page) [Review]

Kirkus Reviews

Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page (eds.), We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories about Passing in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 2017)

Writers explore how and why the phenomenon of “passing” both shocks and fascinates.

Skyhorse (English/Indiana Univ.; Take This Man, 2014, etc.) and Page (Creative Writing and English/George Washington Univ.) assemble a collection of 15 authentic narratives about how people attempt to “win access to the specific life they want, the ultimate form of assimilation, the pure embodiment of the American Dream,” by assuming to be a class or race they are inherently not. Both of the editors know this particular form of “reinvention” well and contribute their perspectives in highly personal essays. Skyhorse, who received his name from his mother “after my Mexican biological father abandoned us,” opens with reflections on how he, as a Mexican-American with the surname Ulloa, passed himself as an American Indian on his college applications. Page chronicles how her black great-grandmother passed for white in Mississippi in order to get a college education. The editors agree that “each of us sometimes employs misdirection to let someone jump to a different conclusion about who we are.” Racial passing also plays a key role in Achy Obejas’ tender recollection of how her Cuban-born father reinvented his “Third World soul” to create a better future for his family in America and in Marc Fitten’s excavation of his familial roots as an urgent preventative tool against diseases predisposed to Asian culture, which his great-grandfather went to great lengths to blur…

Read the entire review here.

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We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories about Passing in America

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, History, Judaism, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion on 2017-07-30 22:48Z by Steven

We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories about Passing in America

Beacon Press
224 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-080707898-3
Ebook ISBN 978-080707899-0
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 Inches

Edited by:

Brando Skyhorse, Associate Professor of English
Indiana University, Bloomington

Lisa Page, Acting Director of Creative Writing
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Fifteen writers reveal their diverse experiences with passing, including racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender, and economic.

American history is filled with innumerable examples of “passing.” Why do people pass? The reasons are manifold: opportunity, access, safety, adventure, agency, fear, trauma, shame. Some pass to advance themselves or their loved ones to what they perceive is a better quality of life.

Edited by authors Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page, We Wear the Mask is a groundbreaking anthology featuring fifteen essays—fourteen of them original—that examine passing in multifaceted ways. Skyhorse, a Mexican American, writes about how his mother passed him as an American Indian before he gradually learned and accepted who—and what—he really is. Page writes about her mother passing as a white woman without a black ex-husband or biracial children. The anthology also includes essays by Marc Fitten, whose grandfather, a Chinese Jamaican, wanted to hide his name and ethnicity and for his children to pass as “colored” in the Caribbean; Achy Obejas, a queer Jewish Cuban woman who discovers that in Hawaii she is considered white. There’s M. G. Lord, who passes for heterosexual after her lesbian lover is killed; Patrick Rosal, who, without meaning to, “passes” as a waiter at the National Book Awards ceremony; and Sergio Troncoso, a Latino man, who passes for white at an internship on Capitol Hill. These and other compelling essays reveal the complex reality of passing in America.

Other contributors include:

  • Teresa Wiltz, who portrays how she navigated racial ambiguity while growing up in Staten Island, NY
  • Trey Ellis, the author of “The New Black Aesthetic,” who recollects his diverse experiences with passing in school settings
  • Margo Jefferson, whose parents invite her uncle, a light-complexioned black man, to dinner after he stops passing as white
  • Dolen Perkins-Valdez, who explores how the glorification of the Confederacy in the United States is an act of “historical passing”
  • Gabrielle Bellot, who feels the disquieting truths of passing as a woman in the world after coming out as trans
  • Clarence Page, who interrogates the phenomenon of “economic passing” in the context of race
  • Susan Golomb, a Jewish woman who reflects on the dilemma of having an identity that is often invisible
  • Rafia Zakaria, a woman who hides her Muslim American identity as a strategy to avoid surveillance at the airport
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In Passing: Arab American Poetry and the Politics of Race

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-07-30 20:46Z by Steven

In Passing: Arab American Poetry and the Politics of Race

Ethnic Studies Review
Volume 28, Issue 2 (2005)
pages 17-36

Katherine Wardi-Zonna
Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania

Anissa Janine Wardi
Chatham College, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Racial passing has a long history in America. In fact, there are manifold reasons for passing, not the least of which is to reap benefits-social, economic and legal-routinely denied to people of color. Passing is conventionally understood to be a volitional act that either situationally or permanently allows members of marginalized groups to assimilate into a privileged culture. While it could be argued that those who choose to pass are, in a sense, race traitors, betraying familial, historical and cultural ties to personhood,1 Wald provides another way of reading passing, or “crossing the line,” as a “practice that emerges from subjects’ desires to control the terms of their racial definition, rather than be subject to the definitions of white supremacy” (6). She further contends that racial distinction, itself, “is a basis of racial oppression and exploitation” (6).

Read the entire article here.

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Review: Vic Mensa, ‘The Autobiography’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-28 15:41Z by Steven

Review: Vic Mensa, ‘The Autobiography’

First Listen: Hear Upcoming Albums in Their Entirety
NPR Music
National Public Radio

Rodney Carmichael, Hip-Hop Reporter

Vic Mensa’s new album, The Autobiography, is out July 28.
Courtesy of the artist

When history ranks 2017 among hip-hop’s wonder years — and from the sounds of the previous six months it certainly qualifies — Vic Mensa’s long-awaited full-length debut will be a big part of the reason why. The Chi-town native has created a work in The Autobiography that’s equal parts confessional and confrontational, gut-wrenching and uplifting. Steeped in a personal story arc that envelopes Mensa’s hometown, it echoes with the pain of a generation.

Courtesy of the artist

It only makes sense that the LP is executive produced by No I.D., who’s already responsible for another of the year’s more revelatory LPs in Jay-Z’s 4:44

Read the entire review here.

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I Got a Rapper to Take Me to McDonald’s in His Limo

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-27 01:21Z by Steven

I Got a Rapper to Take Me to McDonald’s in His Limo

Lenny Letter
Number 96

Danzy Senna

Melissa Ling

Novelist Danzy Senna on her chance meeting with rapper Doug E. Fresh after a 1985 concert.

Nineteen eighty-four. That was the year my mother discovered she’d given birth to a two-headed monster. Me and my sister. That was the year we turned fourteen and fifteen. We were only one year apart, Irish twins. Like real twins, we moved through the world as one entity. We spoke in code. We dressed in each other’s clothes. My mother referred to us as “the girls.” We didn’t look very much alike, but our voices were remarkably similar. When my father called the house, he couldn’t tell which of us was on the other line. He confused our names so regularly that it became a kind of new, conjoined name. D’anlucien. Or Lu’anzy.

We hadn’t always been that monster. For my mother, an experimental poet, an unreconstructed socialist who had raised us on the poetry of Bernadette Mayer and the music of Patti Smith, what we became in 1984 was a particularly pointed bad joke. As a white woman raising black children, she’d been righteous and conscious, trying to raise two strong black women. She’d surrounded her daughters with powerful black women, godmothers and aunts, womanist trailblazers. She gave me a copy of The Bluest Eye to read when I was ten.

We weren’t coming out the way she’d planned. At those readings she dragged us to at St. Mark’s Poetry Project in New York all the way from our home base in Boston, we spent our time not listening and instead twisting our Barbie dolls into increasingly pornographic positions, using our little brother’s GI Joe as their soul mate. We found the poetry readings weird as fuck — what kind of gibberish were they spewing up there? All her poet friends seemed drunk to us. We sat side by side in at a dark table at the Ear Inn, sipping our Shirley Temples, giving my mother’s bohemian friends the stank-eye.

My mother looked at us across a table and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever encountered two meaner girls.”…

Read the entire short story here.

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Twitter and Rashida Jones helped me embrace my Blackness as a biracial person — no, really

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-21 18:54Z by Steven

Twitter and Rashida Jones helped me embrace my Blackness as a biracial person — no, really


Jessica Tholmer

Jessica Tholmer

I don’t look like my mother. My mother is short, blonde, and very, very Irish. I am much taller and have a bigger frame, even from a young age. My hair is soft and curly and mousy brown. My hands are big, my feet are big, and my skin is not very Irish. Though I was raised single-handedly by my white mother, I have never considered myself white.

This is being biracial.

My father is a Black man — Black and Sicilian, if we’re getting specific. He is quite a bit older than my mom and was an afro-sporting, bell-bottom jean-wearing Black Panther in the ’70s. I knew him when I was young, but not for much of my life. Between 8 and 24, we didn’t speak to one another at all, not once. But even though he didn’t raise me, his lineage, his blood, our story was always there.

I have always identified as biracial, though it took me until recently to admit that I identify more with my “Black side.” In many different social situations growing up, I had to announce my Blackness. I have been in rooms with people who did not know I was Black, and I have heard how white people will talk to one another about things they do not know in the presence of someone with an ambiguous background. (No, not all white people.) I have always been uncomfortable in certain situations — around people who grew up conservatively or without knowing any people of color. At a very young age, I learned to ask, “Is it racist?” when someone asked me if I wanted to hear a joke. I do not look Black, but I have no problem prefacing a potentially upsetting situation with the fact of my Blackness…

Read the entire article here.

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For Some Adopted Kids, There’s a Danger in Erasing Racial Lines

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-18 20:16Z by Steven

For Some Adopted Kids, There’s a Danger in Erasing Racial Lines

The Takeaway
WNYC Radio
New York, New York

Todd Zwillich, Host

Rebecca Carroll (upper left) with her siblings, circa 1974. (Courtesy of Guest)

The Takeaway has been presenting conversations about race and identity through our original series, “Uncomfortable Truths: Confronting Racism in America.”

Last week, we featured a conversation with Takeaway listener Rechelle Schimke and her brother, Gerritt. Rechelle is white; Gerritt, who was adopted, is black.

Rebecca Carroll, editor of special projects at WNYC Radio, heard echoes of her own story in that conversation. Rebecca, like Gerritt, is black, and was also adopted by a white family.

But while Gerritt’s experience resulted in a seeming erasure of racial lines, Rebecca insists on the importance of recognizing the different identities that have shaped the history of race in America.

Listen to the interview (00:08:00) here.

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