Japanese-Canadian Identity Issues: One Big Hapa Family Screening with Jeff Chiba Stearns

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Social Science, Videos on 2012-03-18 23:35Z by Steven

Japanese-Canadian Identity Issues: One Big Hapa Family Screening with Jeff Chiba Stearns

University of Toronto, St. George
Hart House
2012-03-21, 18:30-20:30 EDT (Local Time)

According to recent statistics, the rate of mixed marriages among Japanese-Canadians is at 70% with intermarriage at 95%. Why? Jeff Chiba Stearns attempts to address this phenomena and more with his award-winning documentary, One Big Hapa Family. The combination live-action/animated film is a joint presentation between Hart House’s Conscious Activism Doc series and the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. Screening and artist talk followed by Q&A with introductory remarks by Aram Collier, Reel Asian Film Festival Programming Director. Wed., March 21 at 6:30 pm in the Music Room at Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto (St. George Campus). FREE.

Jeff Chiba Stearns is an award-winning Canadian independent filmmaker, writer and illustrator whose work incorporates animation, documentary, and experimental filmmaking. Stearns founded his Kelowna, BC-based company Meditating Bunny Inc. in 2001. He frequently addresses the issues of mixed race identity in his films, and has published articles and spoken around the world on issues of cultural awareness, Hapa and the animation process.

Hart House is a living laboratory of social, artistic, cultural and recreational experiences where all voices, rhythms and traditions converge. As the vibrant home for the education of the mind, body and spirit envisioned by its founders, Hart House encourages and supports activities that provide spaces for awakening the capacity for self-knowledge and self-expression.

For more information, click here.

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Using the Mixed-Race Category to Expose the Persistence of Anti-Black Racism: A Response to Thomas Chatterton Williams

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-03-18 20:44Z by Steven

Using the Mixed-Race Category to Expose the Persistence of Anti-Black Racism: A Response to Thomas Chatterton Williams


Mark S. James, Fulbright Scholar
Horlivka State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages

This article [Thomas Chatterton Williams, “As Black as We Wish to Be,” New York Times (March 16, 2012)] stipulates that people of mixed-race parentage do indeed experience advantages that those who are perceived to be monoracially black do not, yet argues that these people should deny this advantage because of an “ethical obligation” to identify as (monoracially) “black,” as if numbers alone tells the whole story of racial discrimination. It seems to me that it is precisely because many mixed-race individuals experience advantages that many “pure” black people do not that we can most effectively use the mixed-race category as a way of exposing the persistence of anti-black racism.

As we have seen with Obama, though he did not get the majority of white votes, one can argue that it was precisely his being part white that made quite a few white voters feel comfortable with voting for him. This was why he spoke about his white family early and often. It is highly unlikely that these voters would have felt similarly about a “pure” African American, let alone voted for him (or her). This is perhaps why we did not see the “Bradley effect.” Enough white people voted for him to enable the overwhelming majorities of minority votes to decide the election. Yet when he won, many of these same white people (and others) took this as proof of a “post-racial America.” Suddenly, it was cooler to highlight his “blackness” as evidence of “how far we’ve come.” I believe that some people—and not a trivial number at that—voted for him because of his “whiteness,” and then celebrated his election because of his “blackness.” Therefore, to the extent that we focus on Obama’s “blackness” to the exclusion of how “whiteness” and white privilege functioned in his election, we fail to come to terms with how anti-black racism works today.

It seems to me that Chatterton Williams has it exactly backward. As mixed race people continue to multiply and take advantage of opportunities that may not be available to those who continue to suffer from social and institutional anti-black racism, it makes little sense for him to insist on a “pure” black designation. If he says, “I’m black,” what’s to keep someone from saying, “Well then how can racism still exist? You’re clearly a highly educated black man living in Paris, married to a white woman, and that fact, as you put it, raises few eyebrows. What more do you all want, Negro?”

If, on the other hand, he can argue that it was precisely his proximity and access, however incomplete, to white privilege in terms of colorism, access to schools denied those who did not live in a (presumably mostly white) New Jersey suburb, etc., he can more effectively draw attention to how anti-black racism continues to function and even thrive in an environment where a “black” (but not really *wink, wink*) man can be president. It is conceivable that less privileged African Americans (those without access to white privilege) may be faring even worse under Obama than they did under W [George W. Bush] or Clinton. In my view, it is precisely because so many Americans are now looking for Obama to betray a bias towards black people that he cannot afford to even consider some policies that could specifically target the effects of anti-black racism that a “white” president could. To the chagrin of Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, et al., he has had to avoid race in a way other presidents before him did not have to, had they been so inclined.

In short, by identifying as “purely black,” Chatterton Williams’s essay seems more like self-congratulation masquerading as progressive politics. Chatterton Williams proudly proclaiming, “I’m one of them” in 2012 does not have anything like the same impact as it did for Ellison in the shadow of Jim Crow segregation. When Ellison did it, he was exposing those efforts to cast him as the “exceptional Negro” and therefore not like other “Negros” who “deserved” or “earned” their poor treatment. His saying, “I am one of them” raised the real question of, “Well, how many Ellisons are there that just don’t have a chance because of the explicitly anti-black racism that has been in practice since the founding of this country?” It was a spur to push for more civil rights for all African Americans. When Chatterton Williams does it in a post Civil Rights environment where so many are looking for proof that America has done quite enough on this score, they are more likely to say, “Yes, yes, YES!!! I accept that you are one of them! Therefore, we need do no more!”

©2012, Mark S. James

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Fashioning and Refashioning Marie Laveau in American Memory and Imagination

Posted in Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-03-18 19:58Z by Steven

Fashioning and Refashioning Marie Laveau in American Memory and Imagination

Florida State University
201 pages

Tatia Jacobson Jordan

A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Fashioning and Refashioning Marie Laveau in American Memory and Imagination follows the life and literary presence of the legendary figure, Marie Laveau. This female spiritualist lived in antebellum Louisiana from 1801-1881. After her death, her legend has continued to grow as evidenced by her presence in contemporary print and pop culture and the tens of thousands of visitors to her grave in New Orleans every year. Here, I contextualize Laveau in a pre-Civil war America by looking at the African American female in print and visual culture. I trace the beginnings of several tropes in literature that ultimately affect the relevancy of the Laveau figure as she appears and reappears in literature beginning with Zora Neale Hurston’s inclusion of Laveau in Mules and Men. I offer close readings of the appearance of these tropes in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, interrogate her connection to Caribbean lore in Tell My Horse, and show the evolution of this figure in several of Hurston’s short stories. I then offer close readings of the refiguring of Laveau in Robert Tallant’s works, Ishmael Reed’s novel The Last Days of Louisiana Red, and Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Marie Laveau trilogy. I intervene with contemporary scholarship by suggesting that novels like Corregidora by Gayl Jones, Mama Day by Gloria Naylor, and The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara draw not on a general conjure figure, as previously thought, but instead implicitly refashion feminist heroines that resemble Marie Laveau, characters with a circum-Atlantic consciousness that arise from Hurston’s literary legacy.


  • List of Figures
  • Abstract
  • INTRODUCTION: “Looking for the Join”: Positioning Laveau Lore in American Studies
  • CHAPTER ONE: Historical Context: Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Print Culture and Literature
  • CHAPTER TWO: “That’s what the old ones said in ancient times and we talk it again”: The Retelling of Laveau in Hurston’s Canon
  • CHAPTER THREE: “Dismissing” Laveau: Male Authorship in the Laveau Canon
  • CHAPTER FOUR: Glimpses of the Ghost: Hurston’s Legacy in Gloria Naylor, Toni Cade Barnbara, and Gayl Jones
  • CHAPTER FIVE: Hearing Voodoo, Writing Voodoo: Cultural Memory in Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Marie Laveau Trilogy
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Biographical Sketch


  • Figure 1: “Marie Laveau,” 1920s; Franck Schneider after George Catlin Courtesy of the Louisiana State Museum
  • Figure 2: The Original Cover of Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, 1899
  • Figure 3: “This is a white man’s government,”from Harper’s Weekly, 1868; Library of Congress
  • Figure 4: “‘Well, Missy! Heah we is!'”1913; Library of Congress
  • Figure 5: “Jinnoowine Johnson ticket. ‘Carrying the war into Africa,”‘ 1836; Library of Congress
  • Figure 6: “An Affecting Scene in Kentucky,” 1836; Library of Congress
  • Figure 7: “Children on the Lawn at Brookhill (Nanny Hiding Behind the Children) Courtesy of the Valentine Richmond Historical Center
  • Figure 8: Racist Mammy Postcard 1, 1900; Library of Congress
  • Figure 9: Racist Mammy Postcard 2, 1900; Library of Congress
  • Figure 10: “Mr. T. Rice as the original Jim Crow,” 1832; Sheet Music Cover Illustration
  • Figure 11: Zora Neale Hurston in the Caribbean; Library of Congress
  • Figure 12: Hurston’s Ft. Pierce Chronicle Column circa 1958
  • Figure 13: Cover of Fire!! Literary Magazine, 1926
  • Figure 14: “Voodoo Painting/’ Courtesy of the Robert Tallant Photograph Collection, Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library
  • Figure 15: “Marie Laveau,”2007, Courtesy of Artist Holly Sarre

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2012-03-18 03:04Z by Steven

Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging

Berghahn Books
January 2012
226 pages
tables & figs, bibliog., index
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-85745-253-5

Edited by:

Katharina Schramm, Senior Lecturer of Social Anthropology
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

David Skinner, Reader in Sociology
Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom

Richard Rottenburg, Professor Social Anthropology
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Racial and ethnic categories have appeared in recent scientific work in novel ways and in relation to a variety of disciplines: medicine, forensics, population genetics and also developments in popular genealogy. Once again, biology is foregrounded in the discussion of human identity. Of particular importance is the preoccupation with origins and personal discovery and the increasing use of racial and ethnic categories in social policy. This new genetic knowledge, expressed in technology and practice, has the potential to disrupt how race and ethnicity are debated, managed and lived. As such, this volume investigates the ways in which existing social categories are both maintained and transformed at the intersection of the natural (sciences) and the cultural (politics). The contributors include medical researchers, anthropologists, historians of science and sociologists of race relations; together, they explore the new and challenging landscape where biology becomes the stuff of identity.


  • List of Illustrations and Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Ideas in Motion: Making Sense of Identity After DNA; Katharina Schramm, David Skinner, Richard Rottenburg
  • Chapter 1. ‘Race’ as a Social Construction in Genetics; Andrew Smart, Richard Tutton, Paul Martin, George Ellison
  • Chapter 2. Mobile Identities and Fixed Categories: Forensic DNA and the Politics of Racialised Data; David Skinner
  • Chapter 3. Race, Kinship and the Ambivalence of Identity; Peter Wade
  • Chapter 4. Identity, DNA, and the State in Post-Dictatorship Argentina; Noa Vaisman
  • Chapter 5. ‘Do You Have Celtic, Jewish, Germanic Roots?’ – Applied Swiss History Before and After DNA; Marianne Sommer
  • Chapter 6. Irish DNA: Making Connections and Making Distinctions in Y-Chromosome Surname Studies; Catherine Nash
  • Chapter 7. Genomics en route: Ancestry, Heritage, and the Politics of Identity Across the Black Atlantic; Katharina Schramm
  • Chapter 8. Biotechnological Cults of Affliction? Race, Rationality, and Enchantment in Personal Genomic Histories; Stephan Palmié
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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