Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, Tanya Katerí Hernández

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2019-09-18 19:24Z by Steven

Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, Tanya Katerí Hernández

Political Science Quarterly
Volume 134, Number 2 (Summer 2019)
pages 351-352

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Multiracials and Civil Rights is a jewel. Relatively brief and always engaging, it presents a well-defined and well-motivated inquiry that simultaneously manages to speak to a much broader issue of deep importance. While legal scholar Tanya Katerí Hernández persuasively answers the immediate question of how multiracial people’s claims of racial discrimination are positioned and adjudicated in U.S. courts, she also provides real food for thought about the role of multiraciality in today’s racial order.

Multiracials and Civil Rights draws readers in with a puzzle: why do certain multiracial activists or scholars perceive existing antidiscrimination law as insufficient for their community’s needs? Is it indeed the case that mixed-race people’s claims of discrimination are not being adequately handled in the courts? Drawing on records for all such legal cases in the United States, in which an explicitly multiracial person alleged racial discrimination, Hernández argues persuasively that American courts do just fine by such complainants. If anything, they seem to be particularly solicitous of multiracials, treating their allegations with greater care and deference than those of other racial minorities. So where is the problem? For some multiracial advocates, it appears to lie in the courts’ pretty..

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Black Like Me: A Pittsburgh native’s memoir of racial identities lost and found

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-11 01:09Z by Steven

Black Like Me: A Pittsburgh native’s memoir of racial identities lost and found

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2019-08-30

Bill O’Driscoll

Sarah Valentine, author of
Sarah Valentine

Of all the racist things people do, living out white privilege might be the most insidious. White privilege is not just the assumptions that get white people treated better by employers and loan officers. It’s also the mental architecture that permits white people to avoid thinking of themselves as “white” — even as whiteness is assumed as the norm, and everyone who lacks it as “other.” White privilege is most potent when it goes unconsidered.

It will be nearly impossible to avoid considering white privilege after reading “When I Was White: A Memoir.” Author Sarah Valentine is that rare person who has lived both with white privilege and without it, and her account is moving and analytically rigorous.

Literature has given us light-skinned blacks who “passed” as white, from famed critic Anatole Broyard to figures in the poetry of Pittsburgh-based poet Toi Derricotte. Ms. Valentine’s story is something else again. She was born in 1977, and grew up mostly in the North Hills, one of three children in a tightly knit Catholic family. Her parents were white, and so, therefore, was she — until she learned, at age 27, that her biological father, whom she never knew, was African American…

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Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 382 pp.

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-31 18:13Z by Steven

Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 382 pp.

49th Parallel: an interdisciplinary journal of North American Studies
Issue 37 (2015)
pages 66-68

Christopher Allen Varlack, Lecturer
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Popularized in part during the Harlem Renaissance of the early to midtwentieth century, the passing novel, including James Weldon Johnson’s 1912 The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Walter White’s 1926 Flight, and Jessie Redmon Fauset’s 1928 Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral, has received a wide range of scholarship. Elaine K. Ginsberg’s 1996 study, Passing and the Fictions of Identity explores the politics of passing from the early experiences of African slaves through the present day while Gayle Wald’s 2000 Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture explores cinematic and literary representations of passing produced in the United States. Together, these works reveal the struggle of an African-American community marginalized and disenfranchised within an American society defined by its Jim Crow culture and racial hierarchy. Under these circumstances, racial passing is most often an attempt to obtain what Cheryl L. Harris terms “whiteness as property” as a result of the very limited opportunities and restricted social mobility afforded to blacks. Such scholarship provides insight into the historical function of passing and the ways in which the passing novel brings to the forefront of the American consciousness an increased awareness of its changing socio-racial landscape.

In her critical work, appropriately titled, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, Allyson Hobbs seeks to add a new dimension to this existing conversation, her book is “an effort to recover those lives” lost in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as “countless African Americans [knowingly] passed as white, leaving behind families, friends, and communities without any available avenue for return” (4). Hobbs‟ work, a welcomed addition to the field, thus uses the lives of the everyday participants of passing to show not only what they gained from assuming their white identities—economic opportunity, social mobility, increased acceptance, etc.—but also what they lost along the way—the all-important connection to family and community that had long sustained the African-American people in the midst of cultural oppression. Because racialization exists all around us and “[r]ace is reproduced . . . at every level of society, including in our everyday lives”, the concerns that Hobbs advances in what proves a vital study of racial passing in American life will certainly remain, even despite the growing number of claims (which Hobbes disputes) that America has transitioned into a post-racial society (277).

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Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2019-08-20 13:59Z by Steven

Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story

Dirty Movies — Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
2019-04-03

Redmond Bacon

Tender portrait of iconic ballet dancer doubles up as an exploration of fatherhood and also of the artist’s home nation Cuba – now available on VoD

Director – Icíar Bollaín – 2019

When I was very young, my parents took me to ballet class. I immediately baulked at the idea and sat on the floor until my mother gave up and took me home. At the time I believed that being a ballet dancer was the worst possible thing on earth; now I see it as a massive lost opportunity. Carlos Acosta’s own father, Pedro (Santiago Alfonso), wasn’t as magnanimous as my mother, completely ignoring his son’s wishes in the pursuit of a higher aim.

His bet paid off, turning Carlos Acosta (nicknamed Yuli) into one of the greatest ballet dancers that ever lived; the first black man to perform at the Royal Ballet in London. Played at three different ages by Edlison Manuel Olbera Núnez, Keyvin Martínez and finally by the man himself, Yuli…

It starts in the poverty stricken streets of Havana; a place where the best options for young men to make something of themselves is through sport or dance. Carlos’ talent, expressed early on through street dance, gives his father an idea, and soon he is dragged to an audition at the National Ballet School of Cuba. But Carlos doesn’t want to perform ballet and mocks both his future teachers and his parents by putting on a tongue-in-cheek Michael Jackson-homage. He derisively describes ballet as something “for faggots”. Yet it is this very same ebullient spirit that lands him a place. His talent cannot be denied.

This is played out against a political and ethnic backdrop that acutely portrays the complexity of the Afro-Cuban experience. In one haunting scene, Carlos’ father takes him to his great-grandmother’s plantation, showing him how he is a direct descendent from the slave trade. Meanwhile his white mother escapes with her white relatives to Miami, benefiting from the same privilege that is denied to the young man. Pedro spins this hardship into a positive, telling Carlos that if his descendants could survive slavery, then he can become anything he wants…

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‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-17 01:27Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

The Chicago Tribune
2019-08-14

Julia M. Klein

'When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity
Sarah Valentine’s intriguing memoir, “When I Was White,” considers the meaning of racial identity. (St. Martin’s)

“For a long time,” Sarah Valentine writes, “I felt like a bundle of fragments, and I wanted to be whole. I wanted to be able to write a family history that answered all my questions and filled in all the blanks, but all I got were different versions of the past and an incomplete, unfulfilling present.”

This revelatory admission comes near the close of Valentine’s intriguing, if never entirely satisfying, memoir, “When I Was White.” But it could well have served as its opening — a warning to readers that neither a slick solution to the puzzle of racial identity nor a definitive unraveling of the specific mystery of Valentine’s origins would be forthcoming.

A former visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Northwestern University, Valentine grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs, the bright, athletic, dark-hued child of two white parents. To many observers, she was self-evidently of mixed racial heritage. But her family regarded her as simply their (white) daughter — so much so that when black classmates asked her out, her mother cautioned her against “interracial” dating…

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‘When I Was White’ Centers On The Formation Of Race, Identity And Self

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-08 23:33Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’ Centers On The Formation Of Race, Identity And Self

National Public Radio
2019-08-08

Hope Wabuke


When I Was White: A Memoir by Sarah Valentine, Hardcover, 292 pages

When one thinks of American blackness, there is the unsaid ugly truth that nearly all American blacks who have descended from the historical African diaspora in America have one (or several) rapacious white slave owners in their family tree at some point.

Here, in the early days of the United States, was the invention of racism for economic necessity. From 1619 until 1865, white male Americans chose to breed a black enslaved workforce through the state-sanctioned rape of black women to build the new nation and support their white supremacist class. Race became the single unifying identifier — determining everything about one’s life starting with this most basic division: enslaved or free.

The American law was that the “condition of the child followed that of the mother,” backed up by the “one drop rule,” the legal framework that dictated even one drop of blackness made an individual black, never white. The idea of blackness as a pollutant, a taint that would erode the purity of whiteness, was seized by politicians around the world then — and now.

Because of this legacy of sexual violence and anti-blackness, black and white mixed individuals have long been considered black in America.

To a much larger degree than many people would like to admit, race still determines a vast part of one’s life — social networks and mobility, birth and other medical care, employment opportunities and so on. Indeed, there is an entire genre of literature and film, popularized in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, composed of blacks “passing” for white to avoid this racism. Some of the most famous examples are Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing; James Weldon Johnson’s 1912 opus, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; and the 1959 film The Imitation of Life.

Sarah Valentine, the author of the memoir When I Was White, did not choose to pass for white; her mother made the choice for her. So Valentine was raised as white by white parents in white middle-class communities — only to discover as a young woman that her biological father was actually black. As Valentine endeavors to explore what her new identity means to her, she searches for ways to connect to her blackness. For Valentine, learning that she is black is to reject whiteness; she cannot comprehend how the privileges of whiteness can be held hand in hand with the racism the black body is subject to…

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BOOK REVIEW: “White Like Her” by Gail Lukasik, Reviewed By C. Ellen Connally

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-03 02:22Z by Steven

BOOK REVIEW: “White Like Her” by Gail Lukasik, Reviewed By C. Ellen Connally

Cool Cleveland
2019-07-16

Former Clevelander and author Gail Lukasik named her recently published memoir White Like Her. Subtitled My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing, Lukasik tells the story of her mother, Alvera Frederic Kalina, who changed her racial identity from black to white when she married in 1944 and moved to Cleveland. With that move, she abandoned her black family and racial heritage and in her mind, became white like the man she married.

Alvera hid her secret from the world until her daughter made the discovery when she was tracing her family tree. Her mother’s birth certificate and that of her grandfather and other relatives ,along with census records, showed that her mother and other relatives were black. When confronted with such concrete evidence, Alvera refused to admit her mixed-race heritage. In her mind, her life as a black person was over when she married and left New Orleans, the city of her birth. She begged her daughter not to reveal her secret. For 17 years, until her mother’s death, Lukasik continued her research but did not reveal her findings outside her immediate family.

Stories of passing — a term used to define the process of abandoning one’s cultural identity and adopting another — are traditionally associated with a light-skinned black person who assumes a white identity. People of color living as white have been the theme for many literary works in the late 19th and 20th century. Clevelander Charles W. Chesnutt, a black man who could have easily passed for white, wrote a significant number of stories about black people passing for white around the turn of the 20th century. Many of the stories take place in Cleveland which he fictionalized to be Groveland, Ohio…

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“How Does It Feel to Be Born a Problem?”

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2019-08-01 15:24Z by Steven

“How Does It Feel to Be Born a Problem?”

Contexts
First Published 2019-07-29
DOI: 10.1177/1536504219864959

Whitney N. Laster Pirtle, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, Spiegel & Grau, 2016, 304 pages

How does it feel to be a problem? W.E.B. Du Bois posed this question over a century ago to critique American institutions that constructed being American as White, and therefore, made being Black an inherent problem in White America. Du Bois’s question was also a demand: that we reflect on and critique a system of racial oppression that teaches those in subjugated positions that their very being is problematic.

Interestingly, this is also a question that Trevor Noah, South African comedian and host of Comedy Central’s award-winning newscast The Daily Show, engages in his highly acclaimed memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Though Noah is not a trained sociologist, he uses the complexity and absurdity of his life to tease out numerous sociological concepts. Throughout his odyssey, he places issues of race and identity at the forefront. The most salient question is what does it mean to be born a problem?

The book begins with an excerpt from South Africa’s 1927 Immorality Act, which deemed any “European” person who had intercourse with a “native” person “guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment.” It is no accident that Noah begins his memoir by citing this linchpin legislation that set in motion the apartheid regime in South Africa. During this period, distinct racial lines were drawn in order to enforce a rigid racial hierarchy privileging a small White ruling class and disadvantaging all others. If a society is to be structured along distinct racial lines, those lines cannot be blurred. As Noah puts it, “[b]ecause a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the systems, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason” (p. 21). Thus, when Noah’s African mother decided to have a child with a White Swiss-German man in 1984, their son’s birth was, in fact, a crime…

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We The Animals

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive on 2019-07-28 23:56Z by Steven

We The Animals

Dirty Movies
2019-03-25

Victor Fraga

Homosexuality of nine-year-old begins to flourish as he contends with his dysfunctional household, in lyrical drama based on the eponymous novel – in cinemas and also on VoD

Three mixed-race boys – Manny (Isaiah Kristian), Joel (Josiah Gabriel) and Jonah (Evan Rosado) – live with their parents (Raúl Castillo and Sheila Vand) somewhere in upstate New York. They affectionately call them “Ma” and “Paps”. The affection that they receive in exchange, however, is extremely volatile. Paps is the stereotypical über macho type who uses violence as his main currency. He’s abrupt and short-tempered. Ma is vulnerable. She allows Paps to manipulate and abuse her. The three children often come across as far more emotionally held-together than their parents.

Nine-year-old Jonah, the youngest of the three boys, is also the most sensitive person in the family. While Manny and Joel attempted to emulate their father’s grotesque sense of masculinity, Jonah prefers to go into hiding. Drawing is his venting outlet. He does it from under the bed, as if finding shelter from the stormy family life outside…

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Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls [Review]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-07-10 17:17Z by Steven

Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls [Review]

Jewish Book Council
2019-07-04

Jessie Sza­lay

T Kira Madden, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019)

This stun­ning, com­pul­sive­ly read­able debut mem­oir tells the sto­ry of T Kira Madden’s com­ing-of-age in the swampy, sur­re­al world of wealthy Boca Raton, Flori­da. Despite her priv­i­lege wrought from her father’s shady deal­ings in gam­bling and stocks, young Mad­den faced crip­pling lone­li­ness and inse­cu­ri­ty. Her drug-addled par­ents were fre­quent­ly neglect­ful, strung out to what Mad­den calls ​“the oth­er place.” Though wealthy enough to attend prepara­to­ry school and own four hors­es, Mad­den fed her­self lit­tle but canned soup as a child. Her father rarely spoke to her and called her ​“son.” It’s no won­der that despite his phys­i­cal pres­ence for sub­stan­tial por­tions of her child­hood, Mad­den felt father­less. As a teenag­er, she fell into code­pen­dent friend­ships with oth­er ​“losers” who lacked sol­id parental sup­port. They found a sense of con­trol in drugs, eat­ing dis­or­ders, and sex, both enabling each oth­er in tox­ic behav­ior and being a lov­ing family.

It sounds like an aver­age ​“poor lit­tle rich girl” sto­ry. But Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls is much more than that, tak­ing tropes and ren­der­ing them with an undy­ing sense of com­pas­sion. The details of Madden’s ear­ly mem­o­ries are star­tling­ly vivid in a way that sug­gests she was in a per­sis­tent state of high alert, every pain etched in her brain for­ev­er. But for every men­tion of a ter­ri­fy­ing drug over­dose or her father leav­ing her at a base­ball game, there are sto­ries of her mother’s del­i­cate removal of lice from her daughter’s hair or her father’s ear­ly teach­ing of mag­ic tricks. Mad­den loves her fam­i­ly fierce­ly and in spite of it all, we nev­er doubt their deep-down love for her…

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