Passing as White: Anita Hemmings 1897

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2012-03-04 20:50Z by Steven

Passing as White: Anita Hemmings 1897

Vassar Alumnae/i Quarterly
Volume 98, Issue 1 (Winter 2001)

Olivia Mancini ‘00

When Anita Florence Hemmings applied to Vassar in 1893, there was nothing in her records to indicate that she would be any different from the 103 other girls who were entering the class of 1897. But by August 1897, the world as well as the college had discovered her secret: Anita Hemmings was Vassar’s first black graduate — more than 40 years before the college opened its doors to African Americans.

In the late 19th century, Vassar’s atmosphere might have been best described as aristocratic. Since its opening in 1861, the prestigious women’s school had catered almost exclusively to the daughters of the nation’s elite. Had Hemmings marked her race as “colored” on her application, her admittance to the college most certainly would have been denied.

“She has a clear olive complexion, heavy black hair and eyebrows and coal black eyes,” a Boston newspaper wrote of a 25-year-old Hemmings in August 1897. “The strength of her strain of white blood has so asserted itself that she could pass anywhere simply as a pronounced brunette of white race.”

And pass she did, until her white roommate voiced suspicions about Hemmings’ background to her own father only a few weeks before the class was due to graduate.

The father hired a private investigator to travel to Hemmings’ hometown of Boston. There it was discovered that homemaker Dora Logan and janitor Robert Williamson Hemmings had conspired with their daughter to keep her race a secret…

Read the entire article here.

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Black-Indians in the Americas

Posted in Course Offerings, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-03-04 19:03Z by Steven

AIS 350 : Black-Indians in the Americas

San Francisco State University
Fall 2011

In this course students will be introduced to some of the major sociological and historical factors that have given rise to multiracial cultural identities in American Indian communities throughout the Americas and the Caribbean with a specific focus on Black-Indians within American Indian and African American Studies. Students will explore the ways that mainstream society comes to understand American Indians and their location within the social, legal, political, and economic sphere of race relations in the West. Students will engage key concepts and theories regarding blood quantum, sovereignty, and land rights as they apply to Natives of mixed ancestry. We will begin with a comprehensive analysis of the notion of a fixed or essential monolithic American Indian identity and how this construction has influenced social, legal, and political understanding of mixed-race Native Americans today and their role within the greater American Indian community. Issues of authenticity, group and community membership, as well as cultural vs. racial formation will be addressed in our weekly readings, lectures, discussions, films, guest lectures, and projects.


Variations in Multiracial Identity Integration

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-04 18:54Z by Steven

Variations in Multiracial Identity Integration

California State University, Los Angeles

Patricia Y. Singim

The purpose of this study was to explore how multiracial people integrate their racial identities and if this integration was related to well-being. Furthermore, differences based on type of mix (half White vs. mixed with groups of color), positive interactions with racial groups, and discrepancy between appearance and culture were also examined. Five hypotheses were tested: (1) Higher levels of integration and multiracial pride will predict better well-being; (2) Multiracial Whites will have lower integration, less positive interactions, and greater discrepancy compared to Multiracials of Color; (3) Participants with positive interactions will have higher identity integration; (4) Greater discrepancy between appearance and culture will predict lower identity integration; (5) Greater discrepancy will predict lower well-being. It was found that lower integration predicted negative affect, pride predicted positive affect, and discrepancy predicted lower integration. Encouraging multiracials to accept inconsistencies between appearance and culture may increase identity integration and well-being.

Log-in to read the thesis here.

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Population structure and admixture in Cerro Largo, Uruguay, based on blood markers and mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2012-03-04 18:29Z by Steven

Population structure and admixture in Cerro Largo, Uruguay, based on blood markers and mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms

American Journal of Human Biology
Volume 18, Issue 4 (July/August 2006)
pages 513–524
DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.20520

Mónica Sans
Departamento de Antropología Biológica, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación
Universidad de la República

D. Andrew Merriwether
Department of Anthropology
Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York

Pedro C. Hidalgo
Laboratorio de Inmunogenética e Histocompatibilidad
Instituto Nacional de Donación y Trasplante de Células, Organos y Tejidos
Hospital de Clínicas “Manuel Quintela”

Nilo Bentancor
Laboratorio de Inmunogenética e Histocompatibilidad
Instituto Nacional de Donación y Trasplante de Células, Organos y Tejidos
Hospital de Clínicas “Manuel Quintela”

Tania A. Weimer
Laboratório de Biotecnologia Veterinária
Universidade Luterana do Brasil

Maria Helena L.P. Franco
Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Inés Alvarez
Laboratorio de Inmunogenética e Histocompatibilidad
Instituto Nacional de Donación y Trasplante de Células, Organos y Tejidos
Hospital de Clínicas “Manuel Quintela”

Brian M. Kemp
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Davis

Francisco M. Salzano
Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Recent studies of the Uruguayan population revealed different amounts of Amerindian and African genetic contributions. Our previous analysis of Afro-Uruguayans from the capital city of the Department of Cerro Largo showed a high proportion of African genes, and the effects of directional mating involving Amerindian women. In this paper, we extended the analysis to a sample of more than 100 individuals representing a random sample of the population of the whole Department. Based on 18 autosomal markers and one X-linked marker, we estimated 82% European, 8% Amerindian, and 10% African contributions to their ancestry, while from seven mitochondrial DNA site-specific polymorphic markers and sequences of hypervariable segment I, we determined 49% European, 30% Amerindian, and 21% African maternal contributions. Directional matings between Amerindian women and European men were detected, but differences involving Africans were not significant. Data about the specific origins of maternal lineages were also provided, and placed in a historical context.

Read the entire article here.

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Before state’s high court: role of race in identifying a face

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-04 03:45Z by Steven

Before state’s high court: role of race in identifying a face

Seattle Times

Ken Armstrong, Staff Reporter

In a case out of Seattle’s University District, the Washington State Supreme Court is being asked to determine whether jurors should be told that eyewitnesses who identify strangers across racial lines — for example, a white man identifying a black man — are more likely to be mistaken.

In State of Washington v. Bryan Edward Allen, two issues intersect that could hardly be of greater importance to the functioning of the criminal-justice system: the role of race, and the reliability of eyewitnesses.

The case, argued Thursday before the state Supreme Court, is also about sunglasses. We’ll get to that later.

On an August evening in 2009, in Seattle’s University District, Gerald Marcus Kovacs called 911 and said a stranger on the street had just threatened to kill him. Within minutes, police picked up Bryan Allen at a nearby bus stop. Officers took Kovacs to Allen and asked: Is this the guy? “Yeah, definitely, that is 100 percent him,” Kovacs told police.

Two months later, Allen was convicted of felony harassment. He received a sentence of 14 months.

Kovacs is white. Allen is black.

Allen’s appeal argues that when the case was tried in King County Superior Court, the judge should have instructed jurors that when someone from one race identifies a stranger from another race, the chances of a mistake go up.

An assemblage of professors and legal advocacy groups — including the Innocence Network, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation, and the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality — filed briefs in support, saying a wealth of research shows that people often struggle to distinguish faces outside their own racial group…

…Arguing the other side, Deborah Dwyer, a King County prosecutor, did not challenge the science on cross-racial identifications. Instead, she took issue with having a trial judge tackle the matter rather than having an expert witness testify.

The proposed instructions would not only violate the state’s constitution, Dwyer said, but invite all kinds of “practical difficulties.”

“Our society now is increasingly made up of mixed-race people. Well, what race are they? To take an example we could all relate to: President Obama. He is of mixed racial heritage. If he’s an eyewitness to a crime, is he presumed to be able to identify white people and black people? Or, perhaps, neither?”

Dwyer also asked: “Does race include ethnicity?” Some studies say Chinese people struggle to distinguish Japanese people, and vice versa. Would trial judges need to instruct jurors in cases like that? And if someone’s race isn’t entirely clear, how is a judge to figure that out?…

Read the entire article here.

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Race is a Social Construction

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive on 2012-03-04 03:33Z by Steven

Race is a Social Construction

Living Anthropologically

Jason Antrosio, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York

I usually avoid the phrase “race is a social construction.” It’s become too much of a mantra, it’s too much of a shortcut, and it is wildly misunderstood and misinterpreted. A perhaps better phrase–still concise but more accurate, and hopefully less susceptible to misinterpretation, is from John H. Relethford: Race is a “culturally constructed label that crudely and imprecisely describes real variation” (Race and global patterns of phenotypic variation 2009:20).

It is important to spell out what that means, and what people were after with the “race is a social construction” phrase. I am going to go out on an optimistic limb here and say that some recent posts on popular genetic-sorting blogs–Gene Expression and Dienekes–demonstrate these bloggers 1) acknowledge the genetic clustering data exhibits much more complexity and tells a much more complex story of human movement and mixing than is popularly understood; and 2) therefore acknowledge that the lived experience of racial classification can be much more real than the kinds of genetic clustering they are outlining; so that 3) correctly understood they are at least tacitly acknowledging that indeed “race is a social construction.”

Now before any of these bloggers or the people who inhabit their comment streams jump in and crush me, I want to make clear that this is an optimistic reading of some recent posts; that these comments apply to the main bloggers and not necessarily the commenters; and that since I am not a regular reader of these blogs, this may not be a new development even as I am reading a difference in tone…

Read the entire article here.

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The “ethnology” of Josiah Clark Nott

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2012-03-04 02:23Z by Steven

The “ethnology” of Josiah Clark Nott

Journal of Urban Health
Volume 50, Number 4 (April 1974)
pages 509–528.

C. Loring Brace, Ph.D.
Museum of Anthropology
University of Michigan

It is only rarely that a person so completely transcends the ethos of his age that the recorded results of his scientific endeavors can be read a century or more later with any real profit, and apart from the desire to gain some historical perspective on the time in question. Copernicus, Darwin, and Einstein, among others, can still be read with instruction, not so much for their conclusions, but for the methods by which these were reached. This is because the conclusions, while now taken for granted, are no more intuitively obvious today than when they were first advanced.

Except for the rare transcending genius, the best minds of an age tend to typify the thinking of the time rather than to advance it. It is no surprise, then, to discover that the ablest figures in the American South prior to the Civil War, including Josiah Clark Nott, were unanimous in the defense of their “peculiar institution,” slavery. Although educated Southerners were unanimous in their defense of slavery, they diverged widely in their justification for doing so. As the 19th century progressed, two camps emerged which were engaged in vigorous, prolonged, and often acerbic debate at the time the Civil War broke out. Both sides took it as self-evident that Negroes were inferior and slavery justified, but they differed in their attempts to explain how racial differences arose in the first place.

The issue, at bottom, involved the relation between scientific and historical reality, and the written accounts in the Protestant Bible. On the one side it was argued that the words in the Bible were inspired by God and must therefore be literally true-all men, black and white, slave and free, were the descendants of Adam and Eve. On the other, the argument suggested that the inspiration in Holy Writ was largely moral and that the geographic and scientific information reflected the human fallibility and ignorance of the human authors. Neither side questioned the rectitude of a world view dominated by Protestant Christianity; both declared that, by definition, the basic teachings of science and religion must be in agreement. However, since there were apparent discrepancies between the views of the two realms, disputes arose over which should bend to accommodate the other…

…On August 12, 1845, Nott wrote to his friend John Henry Hammond, governor of South Carolina, that “the negro question was the one that I wished to bring out and embalmed it in Egyptian ethnography, etc., to excite a little more interest.”‘ He was referring specifically to his second published foray into the realm of “anthropology,” which had appeared just the year before and which set the tone and the dimensions of everything he was to write in an anthropological vein for the next 20 years. Once started, his involvement snowballed. As he wrote Hammond in a subsequent letter, September 4, 1845, “the nigger business has brought me into a large and heterogeneous correspondence,” and he declared his intention “to follow out the Negro, moral and physical in all his ramifications.”

Nott’s first anthropological contribution, entitled “The Mulatto a Hybrid-Probable Extermination of the Two Races If the Whites and Blacks Are Allowed to Intermarry,” was published in i843 in the highly respectable American Journal of the Medical Sciences.’ In this article, Nott became the first American public figure to declare that whites and blacks belonged to separate species of the genus Homo. As he stated, “this I do believe, that at the present day the Anglo-Saxon and Negro races are, according to common acceptation of the terms, distinct species, and that the offspring of the two is a Hybrid” (italics Nott’s) . To support this conclusion he reprinted figures from a paper that had appeared the year before in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, written by an anonymous author who signed himself Philanthropist.

The figures purported to show that the life spans of mulattoes are the shortest of any kind of human population, indicating that in the long run they were destined for eventual extinction. While it was not so acknowledged, the data on which these conclusions were based originally came from the census of  1840, which was filled with unverifiable claims and gross errors and slanted in a blatantly proslavery manner. Nott could hardly have been ignorant of the problems associated with the data of the census since these had been exposed in the very same Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, but he used them anyway without apology or qualification. In this instance, as in many others in his “anthropological” career, it is clear that the lip-service he gave to science was mainly camouflage to cover the racist advocacy that lay beneath.

Despite the weakness in his case, Nott’s hybridity argument drew favorable notice from Morton and helped enlist the latter in the ensuing debate. The ostensible issue was the criterion for the establishment of valid species. If members of different populations either could not crossbreed or, having done so, could only produce offspring that were sterile or of reduced viability and fertility, then the populations could be considered as different biological species. All agreed that the failure to crossbreed or the production of sterile offspring-the mule, for example-indicated a valid specific difference. The argument concerned the evidence for cases of reduced viability and fertility. In Mobile, Ala., Nott lacked the library resources as well as the time and inclination to pursue the matter beyond its initial stages. Morton, however, had the inclination; he also had the collections of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. He had just completed the second of his two principal contributions to anthropological research, his Crania Aegyptiaca, in which he had demonstrated that the physical characteristics of Caucasian and Negro populations were just as distinct in ancient Egypt as they are today. With the dates of Egyptian antiquity established by the follow-up of Champollion’s translation of the Rosetta stone, and with a concept of the antiquity of human existence assumed to be on the order of those appended to the English Bible by Archbishop Ussher, Morton felt that human racial distinctions must have existed “in the beginning. Realizing that such an opinion was likely to stir up controversy, Morton was diffident about advancing it, but he finally did so with qualified caution in his defence and expansion of Nott’s hybridity position…

Read the entire article here.

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The Mulatto a Hybrid-probable extermination of the two races if the Whites and Blacks are allowed to intermarry

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2012-03-04 01:55Z by Steven

The Mulatto a Hybrid-probable extermination of the two races if the Whites and Blacks are allowed to intermarry

The American Journal of the Medical Sciences
Volume 6, Issue 11 (July 1843)
pages 252-256

Josiah C. Nott, M.D.
Mobile, Alabama

The reader will probably be astonished at this late clay to sec so novel an assertion us that the mulatto is a hybrid; but I hope ho will read and ponder upon the diets given below before be concludes that it has no foundation in reason.

A writer in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, under the signature of ” Philanthropist,” has made the following important and interesting statements:—

  • “From authentic statistics and extensive corroborating information, obtained from sources, to me of unquestionable authority, together with my own observation, I am led to believe that the following statements are substantially correct.
  • 1st, ” That the longevity of the pure Africans is greater than that of the inhabitants of any other part of the globe.”
  • 2d, “That the mulattoes, i. e. those born of parents one being African and the other Caucasian or white, are decidedly the shortest lived of any class of the human race.”
  • 3d, “That the mulattoes are no more liable to die under the age of 25* than the whites or blacks; but from 85 to 40, their deaths are as 10 to 1 of either the whites or blacks between those ages—from 40 to 55, 50 to 1–and from 55 to 70, 100 to 1.”
  • 4th, “That the mortality of the free people of colour in the United States, is more than 100 per cent, greater than that of the slaves.”
  • 5th, “That those of unmixed African extraction in the “free states” are not more liable to sickness or premature death than the whiles of their rank and condition in society; but that the striking mortality, so manifest amongst the free people of colour, is in every community and section of the country, invariably confined to the mulattoes.”

The following extracts are from the same writer:—

“It was remarked by a gentleman eminent for his intellectual attainments and distinguished for his correct observation, and who had lived many years in the Southern States, that he did not believe be had ever seen a mulatto 70 years of age.”…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Does ‘Race’ Have a Future?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-03-04 00:19Z by Steven

Does ‘Race’ Have a Future?

Philosophy & Public Affairs
Volume 35, Issue 4 (Fall 2007)
pages 293–317
DOI: 10.1111/j.1088-4963.2007.00115.x

Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy
Columbia University

There are simple and powerful arguments against the biological reality of race. Although the phenotypic characteristics, the manifest features that have traditionally been used to divide our species into races, are salient for us, they are superficial, indicating nothing about important differences in psychological traits or genetic conditions that constitute some racial essence. Throughout history, allegations of deep differences in temperament and capacity, claims grounded in no evidence, have done incalculable harm. Contemporary genetic studies of human populations have revealed that there are no alleles distinctive of this race or of that, and, although a few researchers like J. Philippe Rushton—”ogre naturalists,” as Ian Hacking aptly dubs them—continue to seek such simple genetic differences, there is a widespread consensus among anthropologists that races are not “biologically real.”

If you have a particular view of natural kinds, the line of reasoning I have just sketched will appear overwhelming. Suppose you believe that natural kinds are distinguished by some special underlying feature that explains the behavior of members of the kind- like atomic number, for example, in the case of the elements-then you will infer directly from the absence of special genetic or chromosomal markers of race to the biological insignificance of racial divisions. But there is a serious mistake here. The essentialist/explanationist approaches to natural kinds that have dominated much philosophical discussion in past decades have always been woefully inadequate as accounts of biological kinds. Indeed, anyone familiar with the writings of two of the greatest evolutionary biologists of the last century, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ernst Mayr, can only wonder at philosophical insistence on the idea that natural kinds have essences. As Dobzhansky and Mayr tirelessly pointed out, biological taxa are not demarcated by essential differences; in general, there is no analogue of atomic number, no genetic feature, say, that separates one species of mosquito or mushroom from another; there are occasional exceptions, cases in which species of lizards are formed by hybridization or species of grasses result from doubling, or tripling, of chromosomes, but these are relatively rare.

Many of the premises from which eliminativists about race begin are correct, and important enough to repeat, again and again: there are no genes distinctive of the groups we call races, no biological markers of psychological or behavioral differences. In their studies of nonhuman organisms, however, biologists typically do not appeal to distinctive genes in their demarcation of taxa. Once this fact is appreciated, the question of race as a biological category should be recast. Is there a biological basis for dividing species into smaller units, and does appeal to this basis generate a division of our own species into races?…

Read the entire article here or here.

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