Growing up Irish and Black: ‘It was the attention my hair provoked – it wasn’t good attention’

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-11-30 23:17Z by Steven

Growing up Irish and Black: ‘It was the attention my hair provoked – it wasn’t good attention’

TheJournal.ie
2019-06-09

Aoife Barry

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Emma Dabiri speaks to us about her first book, Don’t Touch My Hair.

“One of the first rhymes I heard was: “Eeny meeeny miny moe. Catch a nigger by da toe.” Who, or what in the hell was “nigger”, I wondered? I soon learned… Irishness is synonymous with whiteness, it seemed. Whiteness is “pure” and doesn’t extend to brown girls, even those who can trace their Irish ancestry back to the 10th century.” —Emma Dabiri

GROWING UP IN Ireland, Emma Dabiri’s skin and hair were a topic of discussion for strangers. In the mostly white Ireland of the 1980s, a girl like Dabiri (whose father is Nigerian and mother is Irish) with brown skin was a subject of interest – and people didn’t care whether it might bother her to have her appearance so openly scrutinised.

Dabiri now lives in London, where she is a lecturer in African Studies at SOAS University of London, as well as a PHd student. Inspired by her own changing relationship with her appearance, she has written a book, Don’t Touch My Hair, which interrogates the topic of hair and its relationship with not just the individual, but with society, culture and African history.

While the book begins with the story of Dabiri’s childhood, it moves into a space where she discusses everything from how people treat the offspring of Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé to the cultural significance of the cornrow. It’s a fascinating must-read that reflects not just the changes that have taken place in Irish society, but the changes that still must take place.

The book shows that while today’s Ireland may be more multicultural than the Ireland Dabiri grew up in, that does not mean society treats people of different skin colours – or hair textures – the same…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Please don’t get a tan’: passing as white in Hong Kong is a reward for hard work you didn’t do

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing on 2019-11-21 15:36Z by Steven

‘Please don’t get a tan’: passing as white in Hong Kong is a reward for hard work you didn’t do

Hong Kong Free Press
2018-11-04

Sarah Denise Moran

Sarah Denise Moran
Photo: Sarah Denise Moran.

Twenty-six years ago, my Filipino mother left behind everything familiar to work abroad as a domestic helper. Around the same time, my British father also left his home country in search of better opportunities.

Then in 1995, I won the lottery of birth by being born in Hong Kong to a British father and a Filipino Mum. That day, I gained a British passport, white skin, and a lifetime of privilege.

I grew up in local schools in Hong Kong. I can speak, read, and write Chinese fluently and half of my friends are Chinese. Which is why despite not being Chinese in Hong Kong, I never felt like I was different or didn’t fit in.

Until this one time, when I was seven years old, my teacher started explaining to the class how the Chinese term gwai mui (literally ghost girl in Cantonese, used to describe western females) came about. Apparently, when Westerners arrived in China for the first time, Chinese people thought they were so white, they could almost be ghosts.

Being the only foreigner in a local Chinese school, I was naturally the “ghost girl” in class. What followed was a week of my classmates shying away from me, and occasional gwai mui remarks. That was the first time I realised skin colour meant something, and my only close-to-negative experience from being white-passing in Hong Kong…

Read the entire article here.

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Me, Myself, and My Mixed Identity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Canada on 2019-11-19 01:05Z by Steven

Me, Myself, and My Mixed Identity

The Bull & Bear: McGill’s Student-Run News Magazine
Montreal, Quebec
2019-10-17

Alia Shaukat


Photo courtesy of Regina Gonzalez

Content Warning: This article deals with sensitive topics such as racism, colorism, and sexual abuse.

I first encountered the world of racial fetishization during my brief stint on Tinder last June. That low-stakes, medium-reward dating app that we all know and love seemed like the perfect place for me to explore the dating scene. It was also, as I soon discovered, the perfect place for many men to explore their potential for racism.

Each morning, I would wake up to an aggressive amount of inquiring “What’s your race?” texts paired with a wealth of heart-eye emojis. This duality of violation and flattery was extremely confusing. Upon revealing my mixed ethnicity to my Tinder suitors, I would be praised for being “different” or “interesting,” and yet the only thing they knew about me was my mixed race identity. When I was younger, I would’ve found the comments gratifying, simply because they indicated that someone had taken an interest in me. However, now that I am older, I’ve seen that these compliments are the subtle forms in which racial fetishization manifests. It is a form of racism in which hurtful stereotypes camouflage as compliments and praise…

Read the entire article here.

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Color Blind

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy on 2019-11-12 19:02Z by Steven

Color Blind

The Nation
2019-11-11

Ismail Muhammad, Reviews Editor
The Believer


Charts for testing color blindness. (Wellcome Collection)

Thomas Chatterton Williams’s argument against race.

Thomas Chatterton Williams, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race (New York: W. W. Norton, 2019)

Early in Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella Passing, Clare Kendry speaks nervously of her daughter Margery’s birth. “I nearly died of terror the whole nine months before Margery was born,” she confesses. She is, for all intents and purposes, a white woman married to a wealthy white man. Yet she finds herself fearing that her child’s birth will reveal her for what she is: a black woman who passes for white. If a child of Clare’s came out dark, it would be evidence of her passing. Luckily, Margery was born fair skinned. “Thank goodness, she turned out all right.”

A similar scene unfolds at the beginning of Thomas Chatterton Williams’s new memoir, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. In 2013, Williams—the son of a white woman and a black man—and his white French wife are living in Paris when she gives birth to their daughter, Marlow. Like Margery, Marlow arrives with fair skin. But this is not a comfort to Williams; instead, it comes as a shock. “It took my sluggish mind a moment to register and sort the sounds; and then it hit me that [the doctor] was looking at my daughter’s head and reporting back that it was blond,” he recalls.

Unlike Clare’s child, Williams’s blond baby is not the cause of relief but of psychic agitation. For Williams, she’s a portal into a new conception of his own racial identity. “I was aware…however vaguely, that whatever personal identity I had previously inhabited, I had now crossed into something new and different,” he writes. While Williams had long considered himself black, Marlow’s arrival unsettled his assumptions about how real race is to begin with. “The sight of this blond-haired, blue-eyed, impossibly fair-skinned child shocked me—along with the knowledge that she was indubitably mine,” he writes. How can the world consider this child black, and what does it say about his racial identity that he has fathered her? Even more important, his daughter’s birth raises a set of deeper existential and political questions. What does it say about race that some of the key assumptions that buttress Western conceptions of racial identity—that one’s skin color can tell us one’s race, for instance—dissolve in the face of reality’s manifold intricacies?…

Read the entire review here.

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‘When I Was White’: At 27, Sarah Valentine found out her biological father was black. A chat about her new memoir.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-11-11 21:27Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’: At 27, Sarah Valentine found out her biological father was black. A chat about her new memoir.

The Chicago Tribune
2019-10-29

Alexis Burling, Writer. Book Critic. Editor.

Sarah Valentine, author of "When I Was White," was unaware until she was 27 that her biological father was African American. She discusses how this affected her life.
Sarah Valentine, author of “When I Was White,” was unaware until she was 27 that her biological father was African American. She discusses how this affected her life. (Marcello Rostagni / HANDOUT)

When Sarah Valentine was growing up in the mostly white, middle-class suburbs of Pittsburgh during the 1980s, she assumed her experience was just like that of her peers. She embraced the traditions of her Irish and Italian heritage, did well in sports and school, and hung out with her white friends at the mall. “I didn’t know much about race,” she writes of a childhood friendship with a girl who looked like her, “but I knew it existed; I thought some people were black, but most people were normal.”

But as Valentine came of age and became more conscious of her place in the world, something seemed a little off. For one, her skin was a darker shade than that of her family members. Her classmates called her “Slash,” the nickname of the mixed-race Guns N’ Roses guitarist. Her high school guidance counselor suggested she consider minority scholarships when applying for college.

Finally, when she was 27, after years of grappling with deep-rooted insecurities about feeling like an “other,” Valentine confronted her mother about her suspicions. What she found out was disturbing. According to her mother, Valentine was the product of a rape by an unknown black man. The revelation, she writes, meant that her entire upbringing had been “an insidious lie.”…

Q: In the United States, we’re still learning how to talk about identities that fall outside of our traditional understandings of race. In your memoir, “When I Was White,” you describe yourself as mixed-race African American. Why that, specifically?

A: For me, mixed-race experience is part of black experience in this country. Race is often seen as binary, but mixed-race people fall between categories and can encompass multiple identities. Growing up, my family denied my being black and mixed race, so it’s important for me to reclaim those identities…

Read the entire interview here.

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Halfbreed

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Women on 2019-11-10 03:41Z by Steven

Halfbreed

McClelland & Stewart (an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada)
2019-11-05
224 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780771024092
EBook ISBN: 9780771024108

Maria Campbell

Halfbreed

A new, fully restored edition of the essential Canadian classic.

An unflinchingly honest memoir of her experience as a Métis woman in Canada, Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed depicts the realities that she endured and, above all, overcame. Maria was born in Northern Saskatchewan, her father the grandson of a Scottish businessman and Métis woman—a niece of Gabriel Dumont whose family fought alongside Riel and Dumont in the 1885 Rebellion; her mother the daughter of a Cree woman and French-American man. This extraordinary account, originally published in 1973, bravely explores the poverty, oppression, alcoholism, addiction, and tragedy Maria endured throughout her childhood and into her early adult life, underscored by living in the margins of a country pervaded by hatred, discrimination, and mistrust. Laced with spare moments of love and joy, this is a memoir of family ties and finding an identity in a heritage that is neither wholly Indigenous or Anglo; of strength and resilience; of indominatable spirit.

This edition of Halfbreed includes a new introduction written by Indigenous (Métis) scholar Dr. Kim Anderson detailing the extraordinary work that Maria has been doing since its original publication 46 years ago, and an afterword by the author looking at what has changed, and also what has not, for Indigenous people in Canada today. Restored are the recently discovered missing pages from the original text of this groundbreaking and significant work.

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Meaning, Without the White Gaze

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2019-11-10 02:31Z by Steven

Meaning, Without the White Gaze

The Atlantic
2019-08-07

Rebecca Carroll, Host
WNYC Radio, New York, New York


Kate Martin / The Atlantic

I’m writing my memoir for the late, great Toni Morrison.

I had been writing it for her. For her, and for Pecola Breedlove. Perhaps too ambitious or presumptuous or high-minded, I had, until the announcement of her death this week, been writing my memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, for Toni Morrison and Pecola Breedlove. Because I survived the white gaze for Pecola, and Morrison taught me how.

I knew Pecola first. I lived inside her skin, her ache; felt sickened, ashamed, and unseen by that baby doll’s dead blue eyes on one of the book’s early covers. Page after page of The Bluest Eye, I felt Pecola’s mind curl into anguish and succumb to a delusion better than reality. Pecola lost her mind because she wanted the blue eyes set inside the ceaseless standard of white beauty—a gaze so narcotic that it ravaged her body from flesh to bone—and I almost did, too.

I say that I knew Pecola first because Morrison’s writing of her was so thorough and fully realized that in my initial reading of The Bluest Eye, the character loomed larger than the author. This is what will happen to me, I remember thinking. If I keep internalizing the white gaze and contorting my own reflection in response to it, I will spiral into madness and still be seen as ugly

Read the entire article here.

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The Life and Times of a Very British Man

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2019-11-04 20:10Z by Steven

The Life and Times of a Very British Man

Bloomsbury
2019-05-02
352 pages
Integrated B&W photographs
198 x 129 mm
Paperback ISBN: 9781408889244

Kamal Ahmed, Editorial Director
BBC News, London

The Life and Times of a Very British Man

Kamal Ahmed’s childhood was very ‘British’ in every way – except for the fact that he was brown. Half English, half Sudanese, he was raised at a time when being mixed-race meant being told to go home, even when you were born just down the road.

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A powerful look into the invisible world of children and mothers who are rejected by their nations because of mixed lineage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-31 19:41Z by Steven

A powerful look into the invisible world of children and mothers who are rejected by their nations because of mixed lineage

International Examiner
Seattle, Washington
2019-10-29

Midori Friedbauer

Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd makes a powerful debut with Dream of the Water Children, a book which transcends genres and enlightens readers with ethereal beauty and judicious use of research in a memoir which recounts his relationship with his family.

Kakinami Cloyd is the child of a Japanese war bride and an African American soldier, and in his book, he offers readers a glimpse into the invisible world of the children and mothers rejected by their nations because of their mixed lineage.

One of the many legacies of World War II are the children of unions between occupiers and the occupied, and all too often these children have been forgotten. Kakinami Cloyd has gifted the world with the knowledge he gathered through survival. He has also uncovered the circumstances of mixed-race children who did not survive the U.S. occupation of Japan; including children who were killed by their own mothers…

Read the entire review here.

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My Asian Mom bought me a Blonde Wig.

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-26 23:07Z by Steven

My Asian Mom bought me a Blonde Wig.

Medium
2019-10-25

Kate Rigg


Yeah I wore it ONE TIME. To Wigstock at the end of high school. Doesn’t count.

And Other Adventures in Internalized Racism

“It will make you feel like success! You can be anyone you want in America. So why not have blonde hair and blue eyes?”

My mom’s big idea was that I should go to my first day of high school wearing a blonde wig and blue eye contacts.

“Why not? It will be a change! Fantastic! I will buy them for you! we can get matching it will be fun!”

So many exclamation points! So much fun! Gesturing at me with a People magazine with Pam Anderson on the cover! I was fourteen; and even then I knew that this situation was no fun. Not for me. And deep down, I bet, not for her.

I tried to verbally tap dance out of it. “I don’t have time for all that. I have to get school supplies and clean my room. Ok see you later byeeee.” Tried to lie my way out of it. “Oh yeah, sure I would totally do that, but I want to pay for it myself so it really feels like me.” Tried out reverse psychology out of it “People should like me for who I really am. Isn’t that what you taught me?”

The one thing I didn’t do was flat out say “No.”…

Read the entire article here.

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