Interracial couple representation in pop culture isn’t as progressive as we think

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2022-05-20 19:48Z by Steven

Interracial couple representation in pop culture isn’t as progressive as we think

Andscape
2021-05-21

Rebecca Theodore-Vachon

Chuck Anderson

The optics, while a sign of change, don’t point to any change in the status quo

In June 2013, Cheerios aired its usual family-friendly commercial where a cherub-faced little girl approaches her mother in the kitchen and asks, “Dad says Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?” What should have been a heartwarming ad about an everyday American family quickly attracted a firestorm of controversy. Why? This commercial depicted an interracial family consisting of a Black father, white mother and a mixed-race child.

Over the last five years, these portrayals of interracial relationships are so common that they often go unmarked. Yet, even though there is more diversity of different kinds of pairings – multiethnic, non-monogamous, queer – the optics are just one part of the story. Are depictions of interracial unions and by extension, mixed-race and biracial children, a sign of racial progress?

The answer isn’t as clear-cut as one might think. Hollywood has been wrestling with how to best reflect the representation and nuances of Black-white interracial unions with varying results. The critiques and conversations surrounding Black-white interracial relationships have evolved beyond just the visual representation to how filmmakers and TV showrunners choose to depict these unions. Are interracial couples rather than strictly monoracial, Black ones being presented because they’re more palatable to mainstream audiences? Do biracial, particularly light-skinned children, reinforce colorism? These are some of the concerns as the proliferation of interracial couplings continues to spread across media…

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Blackness in Mestizo America: The Cases of Mexico and Peru

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2022-05-16 18:54Z by Steven

Blackness in Mestizo America: The Cases of Mexico and Peru

Latino(a) Research Review
Volume 7, Number 1 (2008)
pages 30-58

Tanya Golash-Boza, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

Christina A. Sue, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Colorado, Boulder

In the PBS film series, Black in Latin America, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes on the ambitious task of depicting blackness in six countries – the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru – to a primarily “American” audience. Given that Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest concentration of persons of African descent outside of Africa, the documentary is an important one. Gates’ coverage of “blackness”1 in these countries is comprehensive, spanning from the time of slavery to the present, with a primary focus on the cultural contributions, social experiences, and identities of individuals of African descent in these regions. However, Gates’ research traditionally has not focused on race in Latin America and, as scholars positioned more centrally in this field, we found some of his characterizations and treatment of the topic to be problematic. In this and the following commentary articles, scholars of race in the featured countries engage in a critical analysis of the documentary.

We begin with an examination of Gates’ presentation of blackness in Mexico and Peru. In contrast to the other countries featured in the series, Mexico and Peru fall within mestizo America; their populations are mainly comprised of mestizos2 and Indigenous peoples and they have relatively small populations of African descent. Moreover, blackness is marginalized in the historical narratives and national ideologies (state-sponsored belief systems) of these countries. Consequently, many people are unaware of the nations’ African heritage. The film endeavors to expose this hidden history…

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Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples: Ethnic Mixing in Soviet Central Asia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Family/Parenting, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2022-05-16 18:28Z by Steven

Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples: Ethnic Mixing in Soviet Central Asia

Cornell University Press
2022-05-15
300 pages
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN13: 9781501762949
Hardcover ISBN10: 150176294X

Adrienne Edgar, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples examines the racialization of identities and its impact on mixed couples and families in Soviet Central Asia. In marked contrast to its Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union celebrated mixed marriages among its diverse ethnic groups as a sign of the unbreakable friendship of peoples and the imminent emergence of a single “Soviet people.” Yet the official Soviet view of ethnic nationality became increasingly primordial and even racialized in the USSR’s final decades. In this context, Adrienne Edgar argues, mixed families and individuals found it impossible to transcend ethnicity, fully embrace their complex identities, and become simply “Soviet.”

Looking back on their lives in the Soviet Union, ethnically mixed people often reported that the “official” nationality in their identity documents did not match their subjective feelings of identity, that they were unable to speak “their own” native language, and that their ambiguous physical appearance prevented them from claiming the nationality with which they most identified. In all these ways, mixed couples and families were acutely and painfully affected by the growth of ethnic primordialism and by the tensions between the national and supranational projects in the Soviet Union.

Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples is based on more than eighty in-depth oral history interviews with members of mixed families in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, along with published and unpublished Soviet documents, scholarly and popular articles from the Soviet press, memoirs and films, and interviews with Soviet-era sociologists and ethnographers.

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Meghan Markle is the biracial hero I’ve always wanted

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2022-05-12 20:58Z by Steven

Meghan Markle is the biracial hero I’ve always wanted

Quartz
2017-11-28

David Kaufman, Global Lifestyle Editor

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 15: Meghan Markle at the USA Network 2013 Upfront event at Pier 36 on May 16, 2013 in New York.

Barack Obama may have been a hero to “black America,” but for biracial Americans like myself, the former president never quite felt like the champion we’d waited so long for.

Early on, he seemed like he might be: As the son of a white mother and Kenyan father, Obama vocally touted his unique—and uniquely multi-cultural—background throughout his education, writing and early career. Finally, it seemed, folks like me had found a role model.

Yet when it came time for Obama to shift into “candidate” mode, he clearly calculated that positioning himself as black, rather than biracial, was the wisest way to secure the presidency. Little changed once he entered to Oval Office.

Indeed, despite having as much white heritage as black, Obama formally marked himself African-American on his 2010 Census form. The timing was important: That year, for one of the first times ever, the Census Bureau included a multi-racial category. I was thrilled to check the box—and had naively hoped the President would too.

Nearly a decade later, we now have Meghan Markle, the biracial future bride of Britain’s Prince Harry. Born in California to a Caucasian father and African-American mother, Markle is vocal about her biracial parentage. “I’m half black/half white,” she wrote in a piece for British Elle last year—six simple words that honor her background in a way the former president avoided…

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Lost Boundaries: How a UNH student inspired one of America’s first “race films” and why we’re still talking about it

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2022-05-09 02:34Z by Steven

Lost Boundaries: How a UNH student inspired one of America’s first “race films” and why we’re still talking about it

New Hampshire Magazine
2022-04-12

J. Dennis Robinson
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A Johnston family portrait. From left to right, standing: Albert Sr. and Albert Jr. From left to right, seated: Thyra, Paul, Ann and Donald.

How a UNH student inspired one of America’s first “race films” and why we’re still talking about it

Albert Johnston Jr. was 16 when he found out he was Black. His fair-skinned African American parents had been “passing” as white, they told him, since moving from Chicago to rural Gorham, New Hampshire, and later to Keene. His father had been the town’s country doctor with 2,500 white patients. He was an active member of the school board, the Masons and the Rotary. His mother Thyra was a two-time president of the Gorham Women’s Club and active in the Congregational Church.

Born in 1925, growing up skiing the White Mountains, Albert had only a single Black acquaintance in high school. In an era of widespread racial segregation and discrimination, he felt a seismic shift as he adapted from a dark-skinned Caucasian to a light-skinned Negro. Formerly gregarious, he drew inward. He attended and then dropped out of Dartmouth College. He enlisted and left the Navy, talked of suicide, battled with his parents, and spent time in a psychiatric ward.

Then Albert took a road trip. Decades before Ken Kesey and “Easy Rider,” with only a few dollars in their pockets, Albert and an old school chum named Walt hitch-hiked and hopped freight trains from New Hampshire to California. For Albert, it was a spiritual journey into the homes of his long-lost African American relatives and into the roots of Black culture. For Walt, who was white, it was a great adventure with a good friend. After odd jobs, a love affair and a stint at the University of California in Los Angeles, Albert found his way home. Renewed and focused, he enrolled in the well-regarded music program at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. And there in a UNH college lounge in front of 20 fellow students, Albert (Class of ’49) finally laid his burden down. During a seminar on the “race problem” in America, the topic turned to “cross-bred” people. He could offer some insight on that topic, Albert told his classmates, because he, himself, was a Negro. The room got very still, he later recalled, like the sudden silence after the climax of a concerto.

“Why not tell everybody?” Albert said. “Why carry a lie around all your life?”…

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Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice on 2022-05-07 21:43Z by Steven

Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media

University of Illinois Press
2022-04-26
152 pages
6 x 9 in
12 black & white photographs
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-04441-0
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-08648-9
eBook ISBN: 978-0-252-05340-5

Reighan Gillam, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Southern California

A new generation of Afro-Brazilian media producers have emerged to challenge a mainstream that frequently excludes them. Reighan Gillam delves into the dynamic alternative media landscape developed by Afro-Brazilians in the twenty-first century. With works that confront racism and focus on Black characters, these artists and the visual media they create identify, challenge, or break with entrenched racist practices, ideologies, and structures. Gillam looks at a cross-section of media to show the ways Afro-Brazilians assert control over various means of representation in order to present a complex Black humanity. These images–so at odds with the mainstream–contribute to an anti-racist visual politics fighting to change how Brazilian media depicts Black people while highlighting the importance of media in the movement for Black inclusion.

An eye-opening union of analysis and fieldwork, Visualizing Black Lives examines the alternative and activist Black media and the people creating it in today’s Brazil.

Watch IRAAS Conversations | Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro Brazilian Media on YouTube (01:26:36) here.

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The White Indians of Mexican Cinema

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2022-04-21 17:00Z by Steven

The White Indians of Mexican Cinema: Racial Masquerade throughout the Golden Age

State University of New York Press
April 2022
326 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781438488035

Mónica García Blizzard, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Emory University, Atlantic, Georgia

The White Indians of Mexican Cinema theorizes the development of a unique form of racial masquerade—the representation of Whiteness as Indigeneity—during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, from the 1930s to the 1950s. Adopting a broad decolonial perspective while remaining grounded in the history of local racial categories, Mónica García Blizzard argues that this trope works to reconcile two divergent discourses about race in postrevolutionary Mexico: the government-sponsored celebration of Indigeneity and mestizaje (or the process of interracial and intercultural mixing), on the one hand, and the idealization of Whiteness, on the other. Close readings of twenty films and primary source material illustrate how Mexican cinema has mediated race, especially in relation to gender, in ways that project national specificity, but also reproduce racist tendencies with respect to beauty, desire, and protagonism that survive to this day. This sweeping survey illuminates how Golden Age films produced diverse, even contradictory messages about the place of Indigeneity in the national culture.

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Performance and Identity in Adrian Piper’s Work

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2022-04-01 03:02Z by Steven

Performance and Identity in Adrian Piper’s Work

InMedia: The French Journal of Media Studies
Volume 8, Number 2 (2020)
DOI: 10.4000/inmedia.2754
17 pages

Antonia Rigaud, Associate Professor of American Studies
Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris France

Lorna Simpson
Head On Ice #3
2016
Ink and screenprint on gessoed fiberglass
Unique
67 x 50 x 1 3/8 in (170.2 x 127 x 3.5 cm)
©Lorna Simpson
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: James Wang

Adrian Piper’s career which spans close to 60 years illustrates the passage in American art from conceptualism to performance art at the turn of the 1970s. She uses the language of conceptualism to interrogate, through performance, the notion of identity in American culture. Confronting her viewers with racial stereotypes, or presenting strategies of retreat, her performances suggest that identity is a fluctuating notion, one which can only exist in dialogue between artist and audience. Her critique of essentialism is at the heart of artworks which are to be construed as social contracts binding artist and audiences together in the definition of the self.

Contents

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“What are you?” Reactions to American Racial Rhetoric among Mixed and Multiracial Caribbeans

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science on 2022-03-31 17:30Z by Steven

“What are you?” Reactions to American Racial Rhetoric among Mixed and Multiracial Caribbeans

Charisse L’Pree, Ph.D.: Media Made Me Crazy
2014-08-19

Charisse L’Pree, Associate Professor of Communications
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Historically, the United States has had tumultuous relationship with mixed and multiracial individuals within its borders; interracial marriage was illegal until 1967, and the one-drop rule continues affect racial discourse. Combined with the hegemonic power of American culture, the effect of this rhetoric is especially evident in neighboring cultures with different social constructions of race. This paper explores the experiences of young adults in the United States and the Caribbean who identify as mixed or multiracial, and their use of social media to publicly identify and affect this conversation.

To be “mixed” is to contain different qualities or elements. Although racial categorizations can differ from culture to culture, much of the literature regarding the identity of mixed individuals has emerged from the United States and Western Europe. In these communities, multiracial individuals are less than 3% of the population and considered to be between groups. Stereotypes like the “tragic mulatto” describe the psychological stress that multiracial individuals can experience as simultaneously ostracized and exoticized anomalies. They are the targets of curiosity, resulting in the common question: “What are you?”

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A War Born Family: African American Adoption in the Wake of the Korean War

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-03-17 14:31Z by Steven

A War Born Family: African American Adoption in the Wake of the Korean War

New York University Press
January 2020
328 Pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479872329
Ebook ISBN: 9781479815869

Kori A. Graves, Associate Professor of History
University at Albany, State University of New York

The origins of a transnational adoption strategy that secured the future for Korean-black children

The Korean War left hundreds of thousands of children in dire circumstances, but the first large-scale transnational adoption efforts involved the children of American soldiers and Korean women. Korean laws and traditions stipulated that citizenship and status passed from father to child, which made the children of US soldiers legally stateless. Korean-black children faced additional hardships because of Korean beliefs about racial purity, and the segregation that structured African American soldiers’ lives in the military and throughout US society. The African American families who tried to adopt Korean-black children also faced and challenged discrimination in the child welfare agencies that arranged adoptions.

Drawing on extensive research in black newspapers and magazines, interviews with African American soldiers, and case notes about African American adoptive families, A War Born Family demonstrates how the Cold War and the struggle for civil rights led child welfare agencies to reevaluate African American men and women as suitable adoptive parents, advancing the cause of Korean transnational adoption.

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