The Problem of the Prism: Racial Passing, Colorism, and the Politics of Racial Visibility

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-20 13:10Z by Steven

The Problem of the Prism: Racial Passing, Colorism, and the Politics of Racial Visibility

University of Maryland
2020
DOI: 10.13016/kkbp-vio4

DeLisa Hawkes

In The Problem of the Prism, I argue that activist writers challenged the normalizing of white supremacy and imagined black futurity within the intersections of racial visibility, nation, and culture by transforming and repurposing racist and colorist ideologies. Through a wide range of cultural materials, I recuperate overlooked discourses on race and color by broadening the parameters through which we understand the black-white color line.

Focusing on neglected texts by understudied authors allows for a deeper consideration of how assumed ancestry and legal segregation impact America’s construction of citizenship and social hierarchies. For this reason, I consider how critical attention to skin complexion and visible ancestry illuminates institutionalized feelings of inferiority. I call these the politics of racial visibility. In the first chapter, I consider Albion Tourgée’s 1890 novel Pactolus Prime and the ways in which it offers readers an examination of how the black-white color line fosters notions of inferiority within both races.

In chapter two, I argue that Sutton Griggs inspires the “New Mulatta,” a revision of the “tragic mulatta” trope, that inspires race pride throughout the Black Diaspora by rejecting colorist ideologies. In chapter three, I recover the works of Olivia Ward Bush-Banks and Sylvester “Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance as critical lenses through which to deconstruct black separatism by considering African-Native American identities within New Negro philosophy. I argue that their works reconceptualize the “tragic mulatta/o” outside of the confines of the black-white binary while acknowledging the fraught relationship between African Americans and Native Americans. Thus, their works reveal a black-red color line that disables anti-racist and anti-colonialist collaboration. In the final chapter, I argue that 1940s and 1950s Ebony magazine articles shift readers’ attention to racial anxieties within the “white” appearing spectrum of the black-white color line to critique internalized racism. By addressing social implications anticipated within racial ambiguity in the space of the home, this commercial magazine allows readers from all socioeconomic backgrounds to engage with pressing concerns over racial visibility. Ultimately, Ebony magazine’s persistent focus on colorism and racial passing brings the efforts of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century authors full circle.

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Miscategorization and Passing of Multiracial Individuals: A Qualitative Exploration of Lived Experiences

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2020-08-28 01:59Z by Steven

Miscategorization and Passing of Multiracial Individuals: A Qualitative Exploration of Lived Experiences

Chicago School of Professional Psychology
2020-05-29

Jasmine Telemaque

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of PsyD Clinical Psychology

Individuals often have preconceived ideas about others’ race based on the color of their skin. However, skin color does not necessarily reflect one’s racial group. There are currently approximately 7 million multiracial people in the United States, and the issue of miscategorization cannot be ignored. Though there is an increasing emphasis on racial equality and growing research on multiracial individuals, this research is still sparse and developing. This study discovered how some multiracial individuals identify across different settings, and if passing, or not disclosing true racial identity, has affected some areas of life, including personal, academic, and professional. This study expands the literature on multiracial individuals and provides insight into the decision to disclose or not disclose racial identity. Participants were interviewed, data were analyzed using consensual qualitative research for domains and core ideas, and cross-analysis was performed. Overall findings of the study found that participants had differing reactions to racial miscategorization and racism. Ultimately, all participants found ways of feeling represented or found pride in their multiracial background through media, friends, and family members. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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Internalization of Race Messages Among Mixed Race Individuals

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-11-19 02:37Z by Steven

Internalization of Race Messages Among Mixed Race Individuals

Loyola University, Chicago
December 2014
102 pages

Jennifer Moulton, Associate Psychologist
University of Wisconsin, Madison

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE SCHOOL IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

The present study used grounded theory qualitative methodology to explore mixed race individuals’ experiences within specific racial socialization contexts of family, friends, community, and society, to identify messages received within these contexts. How messages influence both their understandings of mixed race identity and how they racially identify themselves was also examined. Mixed race identity development was found to follow an ecological framework, in which racial socialization messages serve as a mechanism through which experiences within contexts may be interpreted, to then inform conceptions of racial identity and identification choices. Common themes of experiences emerged within contexts, including disownments/disapproval, sibling differences, race dialogues, seeking diversity and racial awareness, community racial dynamics, `What are you?’ questions, racial categorization, normativity, attractiveness, and the President Obama effect. Additionally, general message themes of belonging, racial physical features, racial teasing, and racism, emerged across these contexts. Messages influenced understandings of mixed race identity through the cultural consciousness, racial discourse, pride, and awareness of mixed race privilege. While personal racial identifications varied, messages influenced conscious decisions in identifying to others as mixed, rather than choose one race over the other.

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Blurring the Lines of Race and Freedom: Mulattoes in English Colonial North America and the Early United States Republic

Posted in Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2019-10-26 01:11Z by Steven

Blurring the Lines of Race and Freedom: Mulattoes in English Colonial North America and the Early United States Republic

University of California at Berkeley
Spring 2013
183 pages

Aaron B. Wilkinson

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History

This project investigates people of mixed African, European, and sometimes Native American ancestry, commonly referred to as mulattoes, in English colonial North America and the early United States republic. This research deconstructs nascent African American stratification by examining various types of privilege that allowed people of mixed heritage to experience upward social mobility, with a special focus on access to freedom from slavery and servitude in the colonies and states of the southeast Atlantic Coast. Additionally, this work provides a framework for understanding U.S. mixed-race ideologies by following the trajectory of how people of mixed descent and their families viewed themselves and how they were perceived by the broader societies in which they lived. This study contributes to historiographical and contemporary discussions associated with mixed-heritage peoples, ideas of racial mixture, “whiteness,” and African American identity.

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Racial Passing in Twenty-First Century Literature: Complicating Color in the African-American Fin-de-Siècle Novel

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-31 19:51Z by Steven

Racial Passing in Twenty-First Century Literature: Complicating Color in the African-American Fin-de-Siècle Novel

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
December 2014

Pamela S. Richardson, Chief of Staff & Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives
Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Florida

A Dissertation Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and Research in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy

This dissertation focuses on how racial passing can be a critical strategy for defining and validating a nuanced conceptualization of blackness in twenty-first century African-American Literature. Specifically in the works of Sapphire, Danzy Senna, and Colson Whitehead, the historical moment of passing yet endures into the future. Scholars have thoroughly analyzed racial passing in African American literature according to a standard definition of narratives written primarily in the early twentieth-century. These texts are steeped in sentimentality and tragedy about the abandonment of the black body and social identity. However, the popularity of post-racial discourse at the turn of the twenty-first century marks a shift in racial passing as a millennial concept, creating a space for the expansion of what constitutes a passing narrative. These millennial narratives address and parallel the changing social-political American racial climate. This research is an attempt to trace the shifts of the racial passing construct that allow for questions of representation, resistance, agency, and power relative to race and race relations in an ever increasingly, but arguably, post-racial society. Furthermore, passing narratives at the turn of the century critique the importance of maintaining fixed racial identities in order to empower the individual through redefining, reconnecting, and reclaiming one’s blackness.

Read the introduction here.

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Assessing Multiracial Ethnic Identity Status and Mental Health in Hawaiʻi

Posted in Dissertations, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-27 00:17Z by Steven

Assessing Multiracial Ethnic Identity Status and Mental Health in Hawaiʻi

University of Hawai’i at Manoa
April 2019
104 pages

David A. Stupplebeen

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE DIVISION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAIʻI AT MĀNOA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN PUBLIC HEALTH

The multiracial population, or people who identify as two or more races, is one of the fastest growing segments of the population nationally, and about one-quarter of people in Hawai‘i are multiracial. How multiracial people identify racially or ethnically has been explored by researchers for nearly 100 years. Many theories developed during this time suggest that multiracial people develop an identity in a linear fashion, though others contend that ethnic and racial identity is situational and in reaction to a number different factors, ranging from individual-level factors like skin color to policy-level factors related to data collection. In addition, ethnic and racial identity have a demonstrated relationship with self-esteem and mental health outcomes. However, much of this research has been conducted on the continental United States. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the relationship between ethnic and racial identity and mental health across the lifespan in Hawaiʻi.

Study 1: In the first study, the psychometric properties of the Multiracial-Heritage Awareness and Personal Affiliation scale (M-HAPA), which measures identity status, was tested with a cohort of multiracial Hawaiʻi-based adolescents. After iterative exploratory factor analyses and confirmatory factor analysis, this study found that the cohort endorsed five different identity statuses.

Study 2: The second study examined the relationship between identity status, self-esteem, and depression via structural equation modeling. This study found a highly significant relationship between identity status, self-esteem and depression, and that identity status and self-esteem mediated one another.

Study 3: A qualitative study that employed a timeline method examined the relationship between ecological factors that affect identity status and mental health across time in a sample of multi-racial adults in Hawai‘i. Thematic results from this study reflected the racism and health model and common factors across the lifespan that affect identity and mental health. Taken together, these three studies demonstrate the relationship between ethnic identity and mental health for multiracial individuals across the life course in Hawaiʻi. Implications for public health practice, educators, and mental health practitioners include considerations for multiracial identity status in culturally grounded interventions, shifting practice to include cultural humility, and supporting multiracial individuals in their identity development through increased practitioner awareness of multiracial identity issues.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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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.

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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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