It’s Not Simply Black and White: Onscreen mixed-race romances (sort of) grow up

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 18:14Z by Steven

It’s Not Simply Black and White: Onscreen mixed-race romances (sort of) grow up

Film Journal International

Simi Horwitz, Cultural Reporter/Features Writer
New York, New York

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, was not the first film to deal with an interracial love story, though it was the first to present “the issue” in the starkest terms. To wit: An exemplary son-in-law—a well-mannered, well-spoken doctor with a stellar future who happens to be black—sparks feelings of profound equivocation for the girl’s parents, otherwise the most fair-minded, tolerance-spewing champions one can imagine. The good doctor refusing to marry her at all without their blessing only makes it worse. He is a paradigm of virtue but still an African-American, and his race defines him.

At the height of the Civil Rights movement, the Stanley Kramer film was a controversial groundbreaker. The brilliant casting didn’t hurt: Sidney Poitier as the romantic lead, Dr. John Prentice, with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as old-time liberals Matt and Christina Drayton, whose daughter Joey (Hepburn’s real-life niece Katharine Houghton) is engaged to Prentice.

Naturally, it all ends happily enough (Did I mention it’s a comedy?), with Tracy delivering a long, very long speech asserting that love is what matters and while the young couple will face obstacles in a bigoted world, they must get married. To fly in the face of their love is a violation and morally wrong.

The film’s treatment of race relations is clearly dated. Not coincidentally, its depiction of women is also thesis-worthy, let alone its portrait of a black housekeeper (Isabel Sanford, years before “The Jeffersons”) who embodies a host of racial, gender and class stereotypes. Enraged and horrified at the prospect of Joey marrying a black man, she sputters, “Civil Rights are one thing. But this is something else.”

Still, it was a bellwether, landing an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and winning its screenwriter William Rose a statuette…

Read the entire article here.

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Trevor Noah, Colorism and The Unexpected Role He Plays In Expanding the Divide

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2017-02-11 03:27Z by Steven

Trevor Noah, Colorism and The Unexpected Role He Plays In Expanding the Divide

Atlanta Black Star

Jared Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

“He’s out to neutralize, not to awaken.” – Willa Paskin

The leadership of our School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University has encouraged that professors like myself find ways this semester to incorporate into our work the new book Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Noah is the South African-born, biracial, Colored comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Copies have been distributed to students and faculty alike and I anticipate there being a flurry of engagement for courses in media studies as Noah’s book has plenty to offer.

Immediately we can start with critiques of false balance and Western politicized notions of objectivity, both of which were in play during Noah’s recent extended exchange with the aggressive right wing commentator Tomi Lahren. Many know of Noah’s nightly television work and it appears many more know him now after the straw woman performed her role in enhancing Noah’s credibility and right in time to coincide nicely with his book’s launch. What liberal aspirant to the throne of legitimacy wouldn’t want her as an interlocutor? Even in the silly film Pop Star Conner Friel (Andy Samberg) made sure his entourage consisted of a “perspective adjuster” whose sole function was to make the star look better by comparison. Muhammad Ali’s legend wasn’t born by his fights with Henry Cooper and Brian London. It were the fights with Liston, Frazier, Foreman and the federal government that told us he was the greatest.

We can also as a class ask, what is happening semiotically with the book’s cover? It read to me from the first like the perfect symbolic display of Noah’s entire political function as celebrity.  Noah’s beige face, askew, askance even – especially – with that grin, hand touching his head, painted on a tattered township wall, imposing, top-down upon a faceless Black African woman, almost saying, in an aloof, twisted version of the Old Spice commercial, “aww-shucks, look at me. Now look at you. Now look at me again. Now look at you. And back to me. I’ve made it and you can to? Never mind that. Look at me!” Its reminiscent of any billboard falsely advertising an exclusive lifestyle of which most onlookers can only dream…

Read the entire article here.

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What the #ThankYouLovings campaign gets wrong about interracial couples and the future of America

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-02-11 02:53Z by Steven

What the #ThankYouLovings campaign gets wrong about interracial couples and the future of America


Tahirah Hairston


Last month, Loving, a biopic about Mildred and Richard Loving—the couple at the center of the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision which struck down bans on interracial marriage in 1967—was released nationwide. June 12th, 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of the historic trial.

As a way to celebrate the Lovings—and promote the movie—the Loving Twitter account began encouraging people to use the hashtag #ThankYouLovings. The hashtag has been shared across social media, accompanied by photos of interracial couples—everything from candid selfies to intimate wedding photos.

It’s important, beautiful, and in a sense almost surreal to see how much America has progressed—and how much it has failed—in one photo and one film. On one hand, there is no rule on who we can or can’t love. People of all races and, thanks to last year’s Supreme Court ruling, genders, can now marry. On the other hand, we’re no closer to ending systematic racism, sexism or homophobia, with the 2016 election being our most up-to-date example…

Read the entire article here.

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Why A New Mixed Race Generation Will Not Solve Racism

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2017-02-11 02:42Z by Steven

Why A New Mixed Race Generation Will Not Solve Racism


Lauren Michele Jackson, BuzzFeed Contributor
Chicago, Illinois

A promotional still from A United Kingdom. Fox Searchlight Pictures

Love may trump hate, but it can’t cure white supremacy.

On January 23, Chrissy Teigen — model,domestic goddess,” and number one John Legend troll — decided to have some fun with Richard Spencer on Twitter. Now best known as the neo-Nazi who got punched at the January 20 presidential inauguration, Spencer was salving his wounded pride with a “selection of Nelson Mandela quotes. 😉”. The tweet to which Teigen responded, however, was actually a quote from Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become,” Spencer tweeted. Teigen’s @reply: “you became someone who was punched in the face.”

When Spencer attempted to embarrass Teigen, implying she was not educated enough to recognize a quote from Mandela (while, again, the quote in question was not from Mandela), Teigen responded with “you are a literally a nazi. I don’t even need to come up with a comeback. Thanks, nazi!” Teigen meanwhile tweeted to her followers sans @reply, “Hey guys, just conversing with a literal nazi over here wyd,” followed by “Nothing I could say will piss him off more than the fact I have a black/asian/white baby. Life is grand.”.

A month prior, Ellen Pompeo of Grey’s Anatomy summoned her black husband and mixed children in a similar maneuver, if under slightly different circumstances. Against criticism she received for her usage of brown emojis in a tweet applauding A&E’s decision to revamp its (now canceled) docuseries on the KKK, Pompeo told followers, “You do realize…being married to a black man and having black children can make you a target from racist white people right? That’s a thing.” In response to one user’s taunt (“SHUT UP, WHITE LADY”) she tweeted, “That’s white lady with a black husband and black children to you babe.”

In their respective contexts, the tweets from Teigen and Pompeo look very different if not completely contradictory. Chrissy Teigen snubs the nose of a professed white supremacist and flounces away with her superstar black husband and multiracial child; Pompeo calls up her black husband and children to deflect criticism. And yet, very similarly, both position interracial relationships — implied in Teigen’s case — and multiracial children as the antidote to racism. That they are both able to invoke this rationale so congruently points to a culture-wide infatuation with interracial relationships and their heteronormative outcome, multiracial children. In advertising, on film, and on TV, there is a common preference for multiracial-looking people, along with the belief that they represent a utopian political future. Why do multiracial children so often function as the antonym for racism? What is the political value of an interracial relationship? The notion that cream-colored babies will save the world is a popular one. Unfortunately, it’s a myth…

Read the entire article here.

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Reel Representation: Amma Asante’s films adeptly portray multiracial identity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 02:19Z by Steven

Reel Representation: Amma Asante’s films adeptly portray multiracial identity

The Daily Bruin
Los Angeles, California

Olivia Mazzucato

Diversity in film and television came into the spotlight in 2016 with #OscarsSoWhite. A USC study in 2016 found only about a quarter of speaking characters belonged to non-white racial/ethnic groups. In “Reel Representation,” columnist Olivia Mazzucato discusses different issues of race and representation in media as they relate to new movies and TV shows.

The closest I’ve ever felt to seeing myself on screen is when I watched the film “Belle.”

Belle” tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of an enslaved African woman and a white British officer. She’s brought to England and raised by her uncle, an earl and the Lord Chief Justice, and finds herself facing a choice between two men – a poor vicar’s son, whom she loves, and a naive aristocrat with a bigoted family. Throughout the film, she tries to reconcile her identities, both as an heiress in the British upper class and as a black woman struggling to find her place in a shifting society.

I may not be able to relate directly to Dido’s life, but her struggles with identity are all too familiar to me.

As someone who is biracial – half Italian-American and half Japanese-American – it’s difficult to process my identity, particularly when it comes to seeing myself represented in media. I don’t look like the white female characters I see, nor the few Asian characters that occasionally grace the screen. On some level, I feel like I’ll never truly be represented because my identity is so specific…

Read the entire article here.

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In Plain Sight: Changing Representations of “Biracial” People in Film 1903-2015

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Dissertations, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-09 21:26Z by Steven

In Plain Sight: Changing Representations of “Biracial” People in Film 1903-2015

Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
December 2016
247 pages

Charles Lawrence Gray

A Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School, Marquette University, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Educational Policy and Leadership)

Rooted in slavery, the United States in both law and custom has a long history of adhering to the one drop rule–the stipulation that any amount of African ancestry constitutes an individual as black. Given this history, decidedly mixed race people have been subjected to a number of degrading stereotypes. In examining the three broad themes of the tragic mulatto, racial passing, and racelessness in cinema, this dissertation asks to what extent film representations of mixed race characters have had the capacity to educate audiences beyond stereotypes. Although a number of film scholars and critics have analyzed mixed race characters in American cinema, there is no treatment spanning the last century that comprehensively analyzes each film’s capacity to diminish racism.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Call for Papers: Power, Intimacy and the State: Mixed Families in Europe and Beyond

Posted in Anthropology, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-01-26 15:40Z by Steven

Call for Papers: Power, Intimacy and the State: Mixed Families in Europe and Beyond

Power, Intimacy and the State: Mixed Families in Europe and Beyond Conference
University of Amsterdam
June 12-13, 2017

Betty de Hart, Professor of Migration Law
Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG)
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

CALL FOR PAPERS (View PDF version here.)

Historically, mixed couples and people of mixed descent have been seen as a problem, in popular culture as well as in academic literature. ‘Ethnically’ and ‘racially’ mixed relationships were described as dominated by power imbalances and as devoid of love. This perspective was brought to bear upon relationships and marriages in colonial times and in times of slavery. Even today, within the context of global migration, mixed couples are often perceived in negative terms, e.g. in discourses on ‘mail order brides’ (marriages between white men and migrant women) or ‘beznez marriages’ (marriages between white women and migrant men).

There is no denying that mixed couples and relations are fraught with power inequalities as they developed in the context of historical and modern-day global inequalities, colonialism, post-colonialism, slavery and racialised hierarchies. However, issues concerning the entanglement of power and privilege with intimate relationships are much more complex than they are often envisioned to be. Since the 1980s, scholars of ‘mixture’ and ‘mixedness’, including critical race and critical mixed race studies, have been questioning this pathologisation of mixed couples and mixed descent. They have called for more nuanced approaches to the lived experiences of mixed couples and persons of mixed descent, that should help us strike a proper balance between an overly negative view on the one hand and an unwarranted romanticised view on the other, which regards mixed relationships and mixed heritage as a means for creating a boundary-less and race-less world.

Hence, this conference addresses questions such as: how we may gain a fuller understanding of the lived experiences of mixed couples, power, and intimacy, without pathologizing and dehumanizing them? This conference aims to approach these questions from international comparative perspectives. How can a balanced view be achieved in the European context, where mixed couples are mostly studied with respect to the contradictory imperative of cultural assimilation on the one hand and respect for cultural difference on the other? And what about other continents such as Africa or Asia?

The conference

The conference seeks to bring together people from different disciplines (ethnic and racial studies, critical (mixed) race studies, history, (post)colonial studies, film and media studies, literature, sociology, anthropology, geography, law, gender studies, sexuality and queer studies, migration studies, et cetera), and from different national backgrounds. We believe that an interdisciplinary and comparative approach is key to gaining the ‘thick’ understanding of mixed relationships that this conference aims at. We especially hope to give a boost to the study of mixture and mixed intimacies in the European context.

The conference is a joint initiative of the Amsterdam Centre of European Law and Governance (University of Amsterdam), and the Maastricht Centre for Gender and Diversity, in cooperation with LovingDay.NL. It will take place on 12 and 13 June 2017, when Loving Day is commemorated as the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia American Supreme Court decision, that held that interracial marriage prohibitions were unconstitutional.

Papers may relate to, but are not limited to, the following topics:

1. Mixed couples and persons of mixed heritage navigating power and inequality

In order to study power differentiations within mixed families adequately, obviously, not only race or ethnicity but also gender and class are relevant identity markers. How can an intersectional approach of race, gender and class illuminate power dynamics within mixed families? How do members of mixed families respond to them? Another issue is how youngsters and persons of mixed descent negotiate the different social dynamics and power relations that shape their experiences? How and by what means do they claim the power to define themselves?

2. Activism and NGOs of mixed families and people of mixed descent

Across the globe, mixed couples and people of mixed descent have become activists and established NGOs to facilitate the telling of their stories and to challenge the disempowerment caused by dominant negative, pathologizing understandings of mixed couples and mixture. Who are the persons and parties that speak in the name of mixed families, and what are the interests at stake? What alternative discourses do they put forward? How do stories and experiences of mixed families and persons of mixed heritage matter in public and political debates on multicultural/multiracial societies, and anti-racism? And how does discovering ‘hidden’ historical stories of mixed heritage function in these debates?

3. State and institutional policies shaping power and inequalities

Power dynamics within mixed couples and families are closely intertwined with the power hierarchies of race/ethnicity, gender, and class within society at large. State laws and policies shape identities of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ and determine the definition of who or what is ‘mixed’. State and institutional policies have both struggled to discourage or prevent, and to encourage or even celebrate mixed relationships. If state and institutional policies decide the meaning of difference, how should we understand various meanings of ‘mixed couples’ and ‘mixed descent across Europe and beyond? What are the transnational linkages between continents, colony and metropole, global north and global south? How does the state shape and regulate mixed families and identities and which effects do they have on the internal power dynamics of mixed couples?

4. Performing mixed relationships in the arts, popular culture and news media

In the present and in the past, the arts, popular culture and news media have been enacting specific scripts for mixed relationships, which have confirmed and critiqued perspectives implied in social policies, and state politics. We will study in what ways the arts, popular culture and news media have constructed, mediated and challenged the dominant, problematizing approach to mixed couples and people of mixed descent, as well as unwarranted romantic idealizations of mixed couples as the key to a fair society. What concepts of mixed identity have been produced by these media and how were these perceived by the general public? What were the agencies of mixed individuals and families in dealing with the written texts and visual images about them? And how have these changed through time and across space?

5. Studying mixedness in Europe

Until today, Europe does not have a strong academic tradition in studying mixed couples and mixed descent, as opposed to, for instance, the US or the UK. How can the study of mixedness in Europe be given a boost, and move beyond the exclusive association of mixed couples with the ‘assimilation versus difference’ debate? How is European research linked to dominant, politicized categorizations of what and who is ‘mixed’? How is research in Europe linked to policy perceptions of the social meaning of mixed relationships and mixed heritage? Do European research traditions challenge the binaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’? And what about the heteronormativity of much of the studies on mixed couples and families? How can the development of an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach help us understand the relation between power, intimacy and the state in the European context? How can we take inspiration from the Anglo-American research traditions? And in what ways can we employ approaches from critical race and critical mixed race studies?

Abstracts of maximum 400 words to be submitted before March 1, 2017 at:

Check our website for regular updates of conference information and practical matters

The conference will be held at University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Conference organizers:

View in PDF here.

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Mixed: Documentary to Explore Interracial Families

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Family/Parenting, United States on 2017-01-08 00:05Z by Steven

Mixed: Documentary to Explore Interracial Families

American University
Washington, D.C.

Gregg Sangillo, Online Writer

School of Communication professors Leena Jayaswal (l) and Caty Borum Chattoo (r) are making a film about interracial families in the United States.

It took a while for documentary filmmakers Leena Jayaswal and Caty Borum Chattoo to realize that they were part of their own story. They’re both in interracial marriages with biracial children, and that’s the subject of their upcoming film, Mixed.

“Everybody kept telling us this film is about the two of you. And we said, ‘No, it’s not.’ But then somebody would say, ‘Why are you making this film?’” Jayaswal recalls.

The documentary is a travelogue—talking with people in Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, and Los Angeles, among other places—but Jayaswal and Borum Chattoo are inextricably linked to the subject matter at hand.

“It’s a journey film about the two of us finding mixed-race stories across America,” says Jayaswal, an associate professor at American University’s School of Communication.

Throughout the process, they’ve discovered so much more about their country—and themselves. “We actually had all these questions. How does mixed-race identity develop? So we talked to a psychologist about that. What’s the media representation? So we talked to a bunch of Hollywood people. So we’re finding those answers,” says Borum Chattoo, an executive in residence at SOC…

Read the entire article here.

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Three movies this year show Virginia’s racial history. In short, it’s complicated.

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-12-22 19:27Z by Steven

Three movies this year show Virginia’s racial history. In short, it’s complicated.

The Washington Post

Stephanie Merry, Reporter

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as Mildred and Richard Loving in the movie “Loving.” (Ben Rothstein/Focus Features)

Loving” shows Virginia at its most romantic and picturesque. Toward the beginning of the drama, a man takes his pregnant wife-to-be to an empty field and tells her in a slow drawl, “I’m going to build you a house right here.”

The couple stand on a patchy, tree-lined stretch of grass, the rhythmic buzzing of cicadas pulsing around them. Low-hanging clouds pass languidly overhead, and the grass flutters in the breeze; humidity practically radiates off the screen.

In the movie, Virginia is the place where these sweethearts, played by Golden Globe nominees Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, meet and fall for each other in the mid-1950s. But it’s also the place where a white man and his wife, who’s black and Native American, would get arrested for the crime of cohabitating. Virginia forced Richard and Mildred Loving to go to jail or leave the state they loved, and they spent nearly a decade in Washington, D.C., trying to return.

Virginia showed up in three major movies this year, all based on true stories. “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the 1831 slave uprising led by Nat Turner, takes place in Southampton County, not far from the setting of “Hidden Figures,” which opens Sunday and tells the story of black female mathematicians working for NASA during the space race.

These dramas capture the conflicted nature of the commonwealth — the way progress and resistance are in constant battle, with some citizens rejecting the status quo just as forcefully as others cling to it…

Read the entire article here.

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Are Brazilians Latinos? What their identity struggle tells us about race in America

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-12-21 19:03Z by Steven

Are Brazilians Latinos? What their identity struggle tells us about race in America

The Conversation

Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University, New York, New York

Bikini waxes, keratin hair blowouts and all-you-can-eat steakhouses.

In the United States, all three are closely associated with the word “Brazilian.” Yet, although none of these things are linked to Latino identity, one of the questions that journalists frequently ask me is, “Are Brazilians Latinos?” Surprisingly, many Brazilian-Americans also ask me the same question. As one of my students put it, “Because ‘Brazilian’ is not an option in any census, job or college form, you get older and wonder, where do I fit in?”

The confusion is warranted.

It illuminates how U.S. public discourse and policy classifies 57 million people from very different ethnic, racial and national backgrounds into the categories of “Latino” and “Hispanic.” That Brazilians do not quite fit the box enables us to probe the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” and their implications. This is important at a time when Latinos are reaching 18 percent of the U.S. population…

Read the entire article here.

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