The Singular Power of Writing: A Conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive on 2019-06-04 19:50Z by Steven

The Singular Power of Writing: A Conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams

Los Angeles Review of Books
2019-04-12

Otis Houston
Portland, Oregon

Otis Houston interviews Thomas Chatterton Williams

THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS is the author of Losing My Cool, a memoir chronicling his experiences growing up in New Jersey as the son of a black father and a white mother and constructing an identity in the space between his love for hip-hop and for literature. His new book, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, forthcoming from Norton in October, explores a further complication in the author’s already fraught self-conception, and the often-contradictory ways in which society views and reifies racial categorization.

The author spoke to me by Skype from his home in Paris, France, where he lives with his wife and two children.

OTIS HOUSTON: You’ve been critical of the ways in which writers conceptualize their identity on the page, and about different ways of thinking about identity in relation to society. I thought we could start by talking about some of these themes in your upcoming book, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, which questions some of the metrics by which we understand race in the 21st century.

THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS: The book started for me in 2013 when my daughter, Marlow, was born. Prior to that, in 2012, I had written an op-ed in The New York Times kind of glibly and really confidently making the case that my kids would be black no matter what they looked like because it’s a kind of political stance more than a genetic identity.

My wife is French and she’s white, and it occurred to me that perhaps our kids would be kind of white-looking. But the reality of our daughter’s birth really struck me, and I realized that I couldn’t just send her out into the world with this antiquated logic of hypo-descent, which is really the slave master’s logic and reinforces some really bad stuff if you think about it for a minute, even though it has allowed the black community to have a lot of solidarity when they needed it.

We had this very Scandinavian-looking child, and for the first time in my life what I now call the fiction of race was thrust into my consciousness. It’s an experience that most people, black or white, don’t have to have because most people don’t live on the racial margins and don’t see how ridiculous it is to say something like, “My father is black, and my daughter is white, but they have the same smile.” And my daughter is blond-haired and has blue eyes and white skin, but she’s of 20 percent West African descent. Most people don’t actually have these kinds of contradictions. So, her birth really set me down this path. I wrote an essay about it for the Virginia Quarterly Review called “Black and Blue and Blond” about questioning and reassessing things I’d taken for granted, and Jonathan Franzen was kind enough to include it in the Best American Essays, which he edited in 2016…

Read the entire interview here.

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Racially-Mixed Personal Identity Equality

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-03 20:23Z by Steven

Racially-Mixed Personal Identity Equality

Law, Culture and the Humanities
First published online: 2017-03-24
DOI: 10.1177/1743872117699894

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York

A growing number of commentators view discrimination against multiracial (racially-mixed) people as a distinctive challenge to racial equality. This perspective is based on the belief that multiracial-identified persons experience racial discrimination in a manner that makes it necessary to reconsider civil rights law. This article disputes that premise and deconstructs its Personal Identity Equality approach to anti-discrimination law and demonstrates its ill effects reflected in Supreme Court affirmative action litigation.

Read or purchase the article here.

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When There Is Not Enough to Go Around: How Black People’s Perceptions of Competition for Black Mates Affects Forced Black Identity Ascriptions of Black/White Multiracial People

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-06-03 20:10Z by Steven

When There Is Not Enough to Go Around: How Black People’s Perceptions of Competition for Black Mates Affects Forced Black Identity Ascriptions of Black/White Multiracial People

Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research
Published online: 2019-05-28
DOI: 10.1080/15283488.2019.1621757

Marisa G. Franco, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Georgia State University

Olivia L. Holmes, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Tennessee State University

Darren Agboh, Social Psychology Ph.D. Candidate
City University of New York

Publication Cover

Using a resource scarcity framework, the current study investigated whether Black people’s perceptions of competition for Black mates related to ascribing a Black identity onto Black/White Multiracial people. Participants took online questionnaires that assessed competition for Black mates, likelihood of forcing a Black identity onto a self-identified Black/White Multiracial person, essentialism, and contact with Multiracial people. Results indicated that increased perceptions of competition for Black mates was related to increased forced Black identity onto self-identified Black/White Multiracial people, above and beyond levels of essentialism and contact. This relationship was stronger for sexual minorities. The current research supports the proposition that scarcity of resources (i.e., mates) affects ideologies regarding Black/White Multiracial people’s identities.

Read or purchase the article here.

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“Check the Box”: Asian-White Biracial Identity among University Age Students

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-06-03 19:58Z by Steven

“Check the Box”: Asian-White Biracial Identity among University Age Students

University of Colorado, Boulder
May 2019
79 pages

Hannah Brooke Hallenbeck

A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado Boulder In partial fulfillment of the requirements to receive Honors designation in Sociology

This honors thesis examines how Asian-white biracial university age students identify in different institutional and social contexts. While biracial Asian-white individuals have been federally recognized in the United States since the 2000 Census, university annual diversity reports lag behind. At the university where I conducted research for this study, the institution places students who select multiple races into a homogenous “more than one race” group (for the purposes of data analysis), which I argue fails to incorporate different racial, national, or cultural backgrounds, and self-presented identity. Through semi-structured interviews of 16 Asian-white biracial students and one campus employee of the university’s data analytics office, the diverse backgrounds of what it means to be both Asian and white and how their lived experiences of biraciality are represented is investigated. I found five influences on identity: ancestral immigrant status, phenotypic identity, demographic selection when presented with only one option, demographic selection when presented with two or more options, and self-identity in relation to cultural identity. This paper argues cultural identity is the most accurate representation of Asian-white biracial individuals, challenging literature that claims biracial individuals will embrace a singular dominant racial identity.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Do Women Have Superpowers? Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says Yes

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-03 19:18Z by Steven

Do Women Have Superpowers? Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says Yes

The New York Times
2019-05-10

Kathryn Shattuck


Emily Berl for The New York Times

When Gugu Mbatha-Raw signed up to be a superhero, little did she know she’d be squaring off against Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the rest of the Marvel universe.

But two years later, “Fast Color” has found itself in theaters at the same time as “Avengers: Endgame” — and heralded as the antidote to men destroying the world to save it.

“It’s quite an interesting journey that it’s being compared and contrasted to a huge Marvel juggernaut, which was never our intention,” she said. “But I have to say I’m interested in the conversation. I haven’t always seen myself represented in those kinds of movies, as a lot of people haven’t.”

Mbatha-Raw is herself a fighter: In 2014, she broke through with Amma Asante’sBelle,” about the mixed-race daughter of an 18th-century British naval captain raised among the white aristocracy — a role she pursued for eight years. Months later, she transformed herself into a flailing pop superstar who divines peace through the music of Nina Simone in Gina Prince-Bythewood’sBeyond the Lights.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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Rethinking Transracialism: Ariana Grande and Racial Ambiguity

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-06-03 17:34Z by Steven

Rethinking Transracialism: Ariana Grande and Racial Ambiguity

Cult Plastic: Dance And Culture In The Plastic Age
2019-02-19

Anh Vo


Ariana Grande from the 2018 Billboard Woman of the Year Cover Shoot

This article revisits, revises, and expands on the arguments I make in Blackface and Pop Princesses: A Brief Genealogy. Previously, I wrote three brief paragraphs on Ariana Grande, trying to position her donning of black and brown visuality (i.e. blackface/brownface) alongside similar practices of other pop princesses such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Miley Cyrus. However, I no longer think blackface as a phenomenon can quite account for how Grande is manipulating the racial ambiguity of her image. Even though she certainly inherits the history of pop princesses borrowing the cultural signification of blackness/brownness to shed their young and innocent facades and sell their more sexually dangerous personas, Grande also departs from this “tradition” radically. She does not borrow; she becomes black, becomes brown, becomes something not quite black or brown, yet not quite white either. She becomes transracial.

At stake here is not the matter of people simply being confused about Grande’s racial identity. Confusion is almost always inevitable when it comes to race, because the colonial fantasy of racial purity, and even of race itself, always falls apart as it tries to categorize the unruliness of the body to create a hierarchy of humanity (with whiteness at its apex). What so disturbing, then, is the fact that Grande successfully mobilizes, amplifies, and capitalizes on this (trans)racial confusion, and gets away with crossing into non-whiteness the way Rachel Dolezal cannot. My goals in writing this essay are two-fold: (1) to articulate Ariana Grande’s image transformation not as an act of racial passing, but as a gradual racial transitioning from whiteness into ambiguity (2) to redirect the discourse on transracialism away from the monopoly of Dolezal, who, together with her transracial “identity” of blackness, has been too easily brushed off as a joke, a lie, or at best an individual anomaly…

Read the entire article here.

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Visual Pleasure and Racial Ambiguity

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Dissertations, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-03 17:16Z by Steven

Visual Pleasure and Racial Ambiguity

University of New Orleans
August 2018
54 pages

Ruth M. Owens MD

Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the University of New Orleans In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Fine Arts

I struggle to present work that reflects a psychological expressivity which at the same time conveys intellectual concepts that are of concern to me. It seems that the fluidity of an image can communicate a certain pathos, and correspond to the fluid nature of one’s identity. Drippy paint, distorted bodies, and vertiginous video clips can give an indication about what a body feels like from within. Depictions of these bodily feelings help to communicate ideas about what it means to be alive in general, and a mixed race woman, in particular.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Interraciality in Early Twentieth Century Britain: Challenging Traditional Conceptualisations through Accounts of ‘Ordinariness’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-06-03 16:41Z by Steven

Interraciality in Early Twentieth Century Britain: Challenging Traditional Conceptualisations through Accounts of ‘Ordinariness’

geneology
Volume 3, Number 2
24 pages
DOI: 10.3390/genealogy3020021

Chamion Caballero, Visiting Senior Fellow
London School of Economics


Unknown Anglo-Chinese family, Liverpool, c.1930s. Image courtesy of Yvonne Foley. Foley has campaigned for greater recognition of the brutal repatriation of Chinese seaman by the British government in 1945–1946, many of whom were consequently forced to leave their white wives and children behind. See http://www.halfandhalf.org.uk/.

The popular conception of interraciality in Britain is one that frequently casts mixed racial relationships, people and families as being a modern phenomenon. Yet, as scholars are increasingly discussing, interraciality in Britain has much deeper and diverse roots, with racial mixing and mixedness now a substantively documented presence at least as far back as the Tudor era. While much of this history has been told through the perspectives of outsiders and frequently in the negative terms of the assumed ‘orthodoxy of the interracial experience’—marginality, conflict, rejection and confusion—first-hand accounts challenging these perceptions allow a contrasting picture to emerge. This article contributes to the foregrounding of this more complex history through focusing on accounts of interracial ‘ordinariness’—both presence and experiences—throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, a time when official concern about racial mixing featured prominently in public debate. In doing so, a more multidimensional picture of interracial family life than has frequently been assumed is depicted, one which challenges mainstream attitudes about conceptualisations of racial mixing both then and now.

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

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Tia Mowry Talks Adjusting To The Racism She Experiences With Her Black Husband Vs Growing Up With A White Father

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2019-06-03 14:35Z by Steven

Tia Mowry Talks Adjusting To The Racism She Experiences With Her Black Husband Vs Growing Up With A White Father

MadameNoire
2019-05-31

Veronica Wells, Culture Editor

I don’t think it’s any secret that Tia Mowry (and Tamera) are biracial. While it was a minute before we saw their parents, their mother, Darlene Mowry, is Black and their father, Timothy Mowry, is White. You might imagine that growing up in that household was a bit different than living in the household she does now. And it is. On her YouTube channel, Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix, she shared the racism her parents experienced when they were initially dating, the racism her mother experienced that her father didn’t, and how it’s different having a White father vs. a Black husband in terms of racial treatment.

See what Tia had to say about all of this below…

Read the entire article here.

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Delaware’s Forgotten Folk: The Story of the Moors and Nanticokes

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2019-06-03 13:29Z by Steven

Delaware’s Forgotten Folk: The Story of the Moors and Nanticokes

University of Pennsylvania Press
2006 (originally published in 1943)
232 pages
13 illustrations
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 9780812219838

C. A. Weslager (1909-1994)

Photographs by L. T. Alexander
Drawings by John Swientochowski

Delaware's Forgotten Folk

“It is offered not as a textbook nor as a scientific discussion, but merely as reading entertainment founded on the life history, social struggle, and customs of a little-known people.”—From the Preface

C. A. Weslager’s Delaware’s Forgotten Folk chronicles the history of the Nanticoke Indians and the Cheswold Moors, from John Smith’s first encounter with the Nanticokes along the Kuskakarawaok River in 1608, to the struggles faced by these uniquely multiracial communities amid the racial and social tensions of mid-twentieth-century America. It explores the legend surrounding the origin of the two distinct but intricately intertwined groups, focusing on how their uncommon racial heritage—white, black, and Native American—shaped their identity within society and how their traditional culture retained its significance into their present.

Weslager’s demonstrated command of available information and his familiarity with the people themselves bespeak his deep respect for the Moor and Nanticoke communities. What began as a curious inquiry into the overlooked peoples of the Delaware River Valley developed into an attentive and thoughtful study of a distinct group of people struggling to remain a cultural community in the face of modern opposition. Originally published in 1943, Delaware’s Forgotten Folk endures as one of the fundamental volumes on understanding the life and history of the Nanticoke and Moor peoples.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. Red, White, and Black
  • 2. The Mysterious Moor
  • 3. Plot in the Swamp
  • 4. The Persistent Red Thread
  • 5. An Unexpected Champion
  • 6. The Good Fight
  • 7. A World Unknown
  • 8. Links with the Past
  • Bibliography
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