Interracial Marriages among Asian Americans in the U.S. West, 1880-1954

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-06-25 01:40Z by Steven

Interracial Marriages among Asian Americans in the U.S. West, 1880-1954

University of Florida
2011
257 pages

Eunhye Kwon

A dissertation presented to the graduate school of the University of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

My work is about the first two generations of Chinese and Japanese Americans who married whites in the U.S. West between 1880 and 1954. It was a time when interracial marriage was illegal in most of the states. From two major archival sources—the Survey of Race Relations, 1924–1927, and records about Japanese American internees during World War II—, my work finds that more than two hundred Chinese and Japanese Americans and their white spouses could circumvent miscegenation laws and lived as legally married couples in the U.S. West before the 1950s.

Existing scholarship on the history of miscegenation laws has revealed the role of the laws in making racial categories and stigmatizing interracial intimacy between non-white men and white women. My work shows that marriages between white women and Chinese and/or Japanese men were major targets of racist and misogynist assumptions about interracial intimacy in the U.S. West. Such marriages were further marginalized by federal government’s policies on Asian exclusion and on the mixed marriage families during the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. Government policies upheld a white male citizen’s ability to assimilate his Asian wife and his patriarchal prerogative to his interracial family. The same government policies persistently denied the claims of white women married to Chinese and/or Japanese men that they, as wives and mothers, were assimilating agents in their interracial families.

My work uncovers the history of a small but significant number of interracial couples consisting of Chinese and/or Japanese husbands and white wives, who argued against the negative construction of their interracial marriages. My work also notes the emergence of a cultural pluralist defense of interracial marriage between non-white men and white women by progressive intellectuals such as Franz Boas, W.E.B. Du Bois, Sidney Gulick, and Robert Park in the early twentieth century. White women married to Chinese and/or Japanese men claimed that their interracial families were legitimate American families decades before postwar American liberals began to openly support interracial marriage.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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The Legible Citizen: Race Making and Classification in Jim Crow Louisiana, 1955-1965

Posted in Census/Demographics, Dissertations, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-24 19:07Z by Steven

The Legible Citizen: Race Making and Classification in Jim Crow Louisiana, 1955-1965

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
May 2013
34 pages

Michell Chresfield

Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Vanderbilt University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in History

This study examines three legal contests during the high tide of black freedom agitation, 1955-1965, in which citizens of Louisiana challenged the state Bureau of Health’s authority to make racial classifications. Through these cases, I argue that state bureaucrats rather than the judiciary and legislature emerged as a new arbiter of race by the mid-twentieth century; by making racial categorization part of vital information recording, Bureau administrators could gain a better understand of citizens while also helping to shape the very meaning of citizenship in a racialized sense; and that this latter development was obscured by the ubiquitous and seemingly race neutral methods of vital statistic collection. Together these cases enrich general narratives of the Jim Crow era which have tended to focus on the role of the judiciary and the legislature exclusively. Through the inclusion of state bureaucrats, this study illustrates how racial categorization has persisted in a climate that is both more fluid and more obscure than generally acknowledged.

Read the entire thesis 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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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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The Social Construction of Racial and Ethnic Identity Among Women of Color from Mixed Ancestry: Psychological Freedoms and Sociological Constraints

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Women on 2019-05-22 23:09Z by Steven

The Social Construction of Racial and Ethnic Identity Among Women of Color from Mixed Ancestry: Psychological Freedoms and Sociological Constraints

City University of New York (CUNY)
2009
211 pages

Laura Quiros

A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty in Social Welfare in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

In the context of the 21st century, when an increasing number of people cannot be classified by an archaic system based on race, an awareness of the complexities of ethnic and racial identity is more important than ever. This study assists in the development of a critical understanding of the complexity of racial and ethnic identity by exploring the construction of racial and ethnic identity among women of color from mixed ancestry. These women are the offspring of parents from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds. As a result, their identities—both internally and externally constructed—belie traditional racial and ethnic categories. This population faces unique struggles, as identified in the empirical literature and supported by the data analysis. Women of color from mixed heritages: have been assigned monolithic labels based primarily on their physical appearance; may feel pressured to adopt a single and predetermined ethnic or racial label; and are often researched as one ethnic or racial group. Furthermore, scholars agree that institutional racism has been a constricting force in the construction of identity and identification for ethnic groups of color in the United States. This study is important because women of color are not always comfortable with the ascribed identity, particularly when it is based on faulty characterizations and when their ethnicity is overlooked. Additionally, this study brings insight to the psychological and social impact of socially constructed identifications.

This study regards race and ethnicity as social constructions, defined by human beings and given meaning in the context of family, community, and society. As such, women of color from mixed ancestry find themselves in the middle of the psychological freedoms and sociological constraints of identity construction within the dominant society. As a result, they develop management techniques for integrating components of self and for managing the freedoms and constraints in social constructions of race and ethnicity.

This is a subject of pivotal importance to multiple fields of inquiry as well as one having significant educational, clinical, and programmatic implications. Among the implications for social work practice and pedagogy are the need for critical reflection, increased awareness, and cultural diversity.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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The Sigh of Triple Consciousness: Blacks Who Blurred the Color Line in Films from the 1930s through the 1950s

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Dissertations, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-05-22 22:55Z by Steven

The Sigh of Triple Consciousness: Blacks Who Blurred the Color Line in Films from the 1930s through the 1950s

City University of New York (CUNY)
May 2019
50 pages

Audrey Phillips

A master’s thesis submitted to the Graduate Faculty in Liberal Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

This thesis will identify an over looked subset of racial identity as seen through film narratives from the 1930’s through the 1950’s pre-Civil Rights era. The subcategory of racial identity is the necessity of passing for Black people then identified as Negro. The primary film narratives include Veiled Aristocrats (1932), Lost Boundaries (1949), Pinky (1949) and Imitation of Life (1934). These images will deploy the troupe of passing as a racialized historical image. These films depict the pain and anguish Passers endured while escaping their racial identity. Through these stories we identify, sympathize and understand the needs of Black people known as Passers, who elected a chosen exile in order to live in a world which offered opportunity to the White race. These films will also portray the social betrayal forced upon Black people for the need of survival. These films show the desperation for equality as seen through a new genre of film trail blazers, all of whom understood the need to expose this hidden truth. These films also demonstrate the imperativeness to adjust in all aspects of their lives including physical, mental, emotional and psychological. This constant demand for interchange puts tremendous pressure on the psyche of Passers.

Through the cover of passing one life was denied while another was born, allowing Blacks to inconspicuously wear a mask of survival. This strategy was based on the prejudice of America, which judged people by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. The study of passing, which is an identified classification of being Black, is useful in courses about race and identity. Educators dealing with themes of race and identity in their classes would greatly benefit by incorporating these films on racial passing as part of their lessons. They will help students to better understand the connection between race and identity in American society, especially for those living under the yoke of government supported racism.

Read the entire thesis here.

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The (Dis)Ability of Color; or, That Middle World: Toward A New Understanding of 19th and 20th Century Passing Narratives

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-03-25 13:16Z by Steven

The (Dis)Ability of Color; or, That Middle World: Toward A New Understanding of 19th and 20th Century Passing Narratives

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
2015

Julia S. Charles, Assistant Professor of English
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

This dissertation mines the intersection of racial performance and the history of the so-called “tragic mulatto” figure in American fiction. I propose that while many white writers depicted the “mulatto” character as inherently flawed because of some tainted “black blood,” many black writers’ depictions of mixed-race characters imagine solutions to the race problem. Many black writers critiqued some of America’s most egregious sins by demonstrating linkages between major shifts in American history and the mixed-race figure. Landmark legislation such as, Fugitive Slave Act 1850 and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) are often plotlines in African American passing literature, thus demonstrating the failure of America to acknowledge its wrongdoings against people of color. While this project surveys passing narratives collectively, it pays careful consideration to those novelists whose presentations of the mixed-race figure challenge previously conceived notions of the “tragic mulatto” figure. I investigate how the writers each illuminate elements of the history of slavery and its aftermath in order to remark on black disenfranchisement at the turn of the century. Ultimately, however, I argue for the importance of the mixed-race figure as a potent symbol for imagined resolution between the larger narrative of American freedom and enslavement of blacks in the United States.

I examine several works of African American racial passing literature: William Wells Brown’s The Escape; Or, A Leap for Freedom (1858), the first published play by an African American writer. It explores the complexities of American culture at a time when tensions between North and South were about to explode into the Civil War. Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860), tells the true story of the mixed-race Ellen Craft and her husband who escaped to freedom through various racial performances. Nella Larsen sets her novella Passing (1929) in Harlem in the 1920s. The story centers on two childhood friends reunited, but each dealing with their mixed-race ancestry in different ways. Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral (1928) and The Chinaberry Tree: A Novel of American Life (1931) and Charles W. Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth” and “A Matter of Principle” (1900). endeavors to depict a better class of blacks through her examination of the fair-skinned bourgeois-striver Angela Murray. Each of these stories address American legacies of racism and representation beginning with the Civil War.

I investigate how these authors use the mixed-race figure (mostly) following the Civil War to mark the continuing impact that its legacy has had on black Americans through the New Negro Harlem Renaissance, but also to gesture to the mythic moment of freedom symbolized by successfully crossing the so-called color line. In addition to cataloguing an era of migration, the African American passing narrative represents the moment in which we shift from only seeing characters in terms of monoracial identities. These writers suggest that new performative modes of racial affiliation are necessary to achieve freedom. Reminding us that characters of mixed status practiced race in ways that enabled them to build shared identity despite an often disparate cultural heritage, these works suggest that identities like blackness are always constituted through performance. I argue that racial passing facilitated the “performance” of whiteness together with, an acknowledgment of what is accepted as blackness.

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The Borderlands of Black Mixed-race Women’s Identity: Navigating Hegemonic Monoraciality in a White Supremacist Heteropatriarchal Society

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-03-15 18:29Z by Steven

The Borderlands of Black Mixed-race Women’s Identity: Navigating Hegemonic Monoraciality in a White Supremacist Heteropatriarchal Society

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
2018
144 pages

Corey Rae Evans

In partial fulfillment of the requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts

This research study examines and deconstructs the identity formation and development of black mixed-race women and highlights the ways in which black mixed-race women have engaged in developing a “borderlands consciousness” that fosters a sense of positive identity as they navigate hegemonic monoraciality and white supremacist heteropatriarchy in the U.S. This qualitative research study analyzes data from three sources: one-on-one interviews; a focus group; and blog posts on the social media platforms Twitter and Facebook that discuss the identity development of black mixed-race women. In this study, grounded theory methodology is used to explore and theorize around the identity development of black mixed-race women and their potential to utilize a “borderlands consciousness” to embody a disidentified position in response to the dualistic stance and counterstance positions that reify monoraciality within the social and political context of the Midwestern state of Colorado. The following themes with incorporated sub-themes emerged from the three aforementioned data sources with an overarching theme of the borderlands: external oppression representative of a stance position; internal responses to oppression representative of a counterstance position; proximity to whiteness representative of both external oppression and internal responses to oppression; and creating a third space towards a position of disidentification.

Read the entire thesis here.

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“You Should’ve Seen My Grandmother; She Passed for White”: African American Women Writers, Genealogy, and the Passing Genre

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Women on 2018-08-22 04:27Z by Steven

“You Should’ve Seen My Grandmother; She Passed for White”: African American Women Writers, Genealogy, and the Passing Genre

University of Sheffield
October 2015

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

Ph.D. Dissertation

This thesis critiques the prevailing assumption that passing is passé in contemporary African American women’s literature.

By re-examining the work of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Dorothy West, Alice Walker, and Barbara Neely, I argue that these writers signify on canonical passing narratives – Brown’s Clotel (1853) and Clotelle (1867), Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900), Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912), Larsen’s Passing (1929), and Hurst’s Imitation of Life (1933) – in order to confront and redress both the historical roots and contemporary contexts of colourism.

As well bridging this historiographic gap, I make a case for reading passing as a multivalent trope that facilitates this very process of cultural interrogation. Rather than focussing on literal episodes of passing, I consider moments of symbolic, textual, and narrative passing, as well as the genealogical and intertextual processes at play in each text which account for the spectral hauntings of the passing-for-white figure in post-civil rights literature.

In Chapter 1, I examine the relationship between passing and embodiments of beauty in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), Bambara’s “Christmas Eve at Johnson’s Drugs N Goods” (1974) and Neely’s Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994).

In Chapter 2, I discuss passing, class, and capital in Naylor’s Linden Hills (1985) and Dorothy West’s The Wedding (1995).

In Chapter 3, I suggest that Walker and Morrison revisit Larsen’s Passing in their short stories “Source” (1982) and “Recitatif” (1983).

Finally, I conclude this project with a discussion of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child (2015) in order to demonstrate the continued centrality of the passing trope for authors interested in colourism, genealogy, and black women’s experiences.

Embargoed here until October 2020.

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The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives

Posted in Dissertations, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-04-30 00:40Z by Steven

The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2011
217 pages

Amanda M. Page

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

In “The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives,” I examine a subset of racial passing narratives written between 1890 and 1930 by African American activist-authors, some directly affiliated with the NAACP, who use the form to challenge racial hierarchies through the figure of the mulatta/o and his or her interactions with other racial and ethnic groups. I position texts by Frances E.W. Harper, James Weldon Johnson, and Walter White in dialogue with racial classification laws of the period—including Supreme Court decisions, such as Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and immigration law, such as the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924—to show how these rulings and laws were designed to consolidate white identity while preventing coalition-building among African Americans and other subordinate groups.

In contrast to white-authored passing narratives of the time, I argue that these early African American passing narratives frequently gesture toward interracial solidarity with Native American, European immigrant, Latina/o, or Asian American characters as a means of
challenging white supremacy. Yet, these authors often sacrifice the potential for antiracist coalitions because of the limitations inherent in working within the dominant racial and nativist discourses. For example, in Iola Leroy (1892), Harper, despite her racially progressive intentions, strategically deploys white nativist discourse against Native Americans to demonstrate the “Americanness” of her mulatta heroine and demand recognition of African American assimilation. Though later African American passing narratives, such as Johnson‘s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and White‘s Flight (1926), began to reflect a collaborative global approach to civil rights as the century progressed, these strategies of domestic antagonism and/or international solidarity with groups outside of the black-white binary ultimately worked in service to a specifically African American civil rights agenda.

This study concludes with an examination of a contemporary passing narrative by an Asian American author. Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son (2001) revises the form to challenge the continued marginalization of Latina/os and Asian Americans and thus suggests the need for a reconsideration of how we approach civil rights activism to accommodate new racial dynamics in the post-civil rights era.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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