For Asian-American Couples, a Tie That Binds

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2012-04-01 22:42Z by Steven

For Asian-American Couples, a Tie That Binds

The New York Times

Rachel L. Swarns

WHEN she was a philosophy student at Harvard College eight years ago, Liane Young never thought twice about all the interracial couples who flitted across campus, arm and arm, hand in hand. Most of her Asian friends had white boyfriends or girlfriends. In her social circles, it was simply the way of the world.

But today, the majority of Ms. Young’s Asian-American friends on Facebook have Asian-American husbands or wives. And Ms. Young, a Boston-born granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, is married to a Harvard medical student who loves skiing and the Pittsburgh Steelers and just happens to have been born in Fujian Province in China.

Ms. Young said she hadn’t been searching for a boyfriend with an Asian background. They met by chance at a nightclub in Boston, and she is delighted by how completely right it feels. They have taken lessons together in Cantonese (which she speaks) and Mandarin (which he speaks), and they hope to pass along those languages when they have children someday.

“We want Chinese culture to be a part of our lives and our kids’ lives,” said Ms. Young, 29, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College who married Xin Gao, 27, last year. “It’s another part of our marriage that we’re excited to tackle together.”

Interracial marriage rates are at an all-time high in the United States, with the percentage of couples exchanging vows across the color line more than doubling over the last 30 years. But Asian-Americans are bucking that trend, increasingly choosing their soul mates from among their own expanding community…

Read the entire article here.

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Religion and Racial Identity in the Movimento Negro of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Media Archive, Religion on 2012-04-01 18:05Z by Steven

Religion and Racial Identity in the Movimento Negro of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil

Iliff School of Theology and The University of Denver (Colorado Seminary)
June 1995
302 pages

Alan Doyle Myatt

A Dissertation Presented to the Faculties of The Iliff School of Theology and The University of Denver (Colorado Seminary) In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy

This project is a study of the interaction of religion with the process of racial identity construction in the black movement within the Brazilian Roman Catholic Church. The fundamental problem facing the movement is how to construct a viable black identity in the midst of a social situation filled with ambiguity and opposition. The process of this social construction of racial identity is the key problem explored in this dissertation.

The multi-racial polity of Brazilian society includes many racial designations for Brazilians of African descent. These identities are supported by the notions of Racial Democracy and whitening. Racial democracy is the idea that Brazilian society contains very little racial prejudice and discrimination. Whitening is the doctrine that the extensive racial mixing in Brazil has the effect of creating an increasingly whiter society. The social status of blacks may allegedly be improved through whitening. In this context very few Brazilians choose to identify themselves as blacks.

The study uses Berger and Luckmann’s sociology of knowledge and James Scott’s theory of the resistance of subordinate peoples to domination as its theoretical framework. The thesis argued is that the movimento negro is attempting to build a black identity by drawing on the history of black resistance that has been largely hidden, and constructing a new universe of meaning. The movement draws upon liberation theology, traditional Roman Catholicism, and Afro-Brazilian religions to achieve this. The research was based on field work in Brazil and focused on the analysis of interviews with movement activists as well as movement publications, documents, and videos. Long interviews were conducted according to a prepared guide, but in an open-ended fashion.

It was found that the notions of racial democracy and whitening are not plausible and that they act to inhibit blacks from overcoming problems due to racial discrimination. It was also determined that Afro-Brazilian religions, Catholicism, and liberation theology provide resources that enable movement activists to create a new racial identity, involving an essentialist notion of blackness, that did not previously exist. The conclusion that religion is an important resource in resistance to domination was supported.




The struggle for social justice has been the dominant theme of the various theologies of liberation originating in Latin America and now spread throughout the world. While liberation theology has traditionally focused on issues of economic justice defined in terms of class conflict, more recently liberation theology has been influential in the rise of feminist and black theologies in North America. This trend has also become apparent in Latin America where in 1984 a conference called “Conference on Black Culture and Theology in Latin America” was held by the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (ASETT). The proceedings were published under the title Identidade Negra e Religião: Consulta sobre Cultura Negra e Teologia na América Latina (Black Identity and Religion: Conference on Black Culture and Theology in Latin America- ASETT 1986). The conference and book provide an example of the activity of black theologians and lay  people wrestling with the racial situation in Latin America and the implications of liberation theology when this situation is considered.

The Conference on Black Culture and Theology in Latin America was held in São Paulo with about two-thirds of the participants being Brazilian (ASETT 1986, 13, 79-80). This was a natural location as São Paulo serves as the center of the movimento negro (black movement) that has developed in the Roman Catholic Church of Brazil since the late 1970s. This study will focus on the movimento negro in the Roman Catholic Church of Brazil, documenting its origins and discussing its struggle to sustain an agenda for black liberation…

…An outline of the ethical ethos of race relations in Brazil will provide an essential context for understanding the movimento negro in Brazilian Catholicism. An exposition of this ethos will be given in chapter two. Meanwhile the two central aspects of this ethos, “racial democracy” and “whitening,” must be introduced here as a necessary prelude to the theoretical and methodological considerations that form the bulk of this chapter.

Racial democracy is the notion that Brazilian society is relatively free from the racial prejudice, discrimination, and tension found historically in the United States, South Africa, and other western nations. Supporters of this view indicate as evidence in its favor Brazil’s alleged peaceful abolition of slavery, the supposed lack of racial violence, the prominence of blacks in Brazilian historical and literary works, the absence of “Jim Crow” or apartheid laws, and the pervasive miscegenation of Brazilian society (Freyre 1986, 1963a; Degler 1986; Freire-Maia 1987; Fiola 1990).

The presence of widespread miscegenation is itself fundamental to the notion of branqueamento or “whitening” (Marcos Silva 1990, 60ff; Skidmore 1993; Fiola 1990). It is alleged that through the mixing of the various peoples of Brazil, the population as a whole is becoming more white and so being “purified” (Skidmore 1985, 13-14). Beyond the idea of biological change in the composition of Brazilian society there are also notions of social whitening. In the social sense it is said that being white is more valued than being black, leading people to adopt white values and attempt to marry lighter skinned partners (Fiola 1990).

Numerous challenges to the racial democracy and whitening theses have been raised in recent years. As will be shown in a subsequent discussion, these notions can no longer be sustained under scholarly critique. However, black activists go a step further in contending that racial democracy and whitening theories have been deliberately perpetrated by Brazilian elites in order to preserve white superiority. I will argue that racial democracy and whitening are ideologies that are widespread in Brazil and may be said to form a socially constructed ethos of race relations that is still largely accepted by many Brazilians. This ethos forms the critical aspect of the context in which the black movement in Brazil has arisen…

Read the entire dissertation here.

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The Shifting Race-Consciousness Matrix and the Multiracial Category Movement: A Critical Reply to Professor Hernandez

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-04-01 17:10Z by Steven

The Shifting Race-Consciousness Matrix and the Multiracial Category Movement: A Critical Reply to Professor Hernandez

Boston College Third World Law Journal
Volume 20, Issue 2 (May 2000)
pages 231-289

Reginald Leamon Robinson, Professor of Law
Howard University

In this article, the author posits that race as an idea begins with consciousness that reinforces that race is real and immutable. The Multiracial Category Movement can shift our race consciousness away from traditional ways of thinking, talking, and using race. The Movement moves us beyond binary race thinking, and this new thinking shifts the extant race consciousness matrix. It also frees our consciousness so that we can personally and politically acknowledge our biracial and multiracial identities, and it perforce alters the traditional political meaning of race. Legal scholars like Professor Tanya Hernandez argue for the political meaning of race against a remediating balm against the color-blind jurisprudence, weakening of civil right protections, and pigmentocracy. While these new identities can promote color-blind jurisprudence by conservatives and pigmentocracy by those fleeing the oppressive constraints of traditional racial categories, the author argues against Hernandez and for the Movement’s paradigm shifting possibilities.

Read the entire article here.

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Berlin Film Festival: Critics hail new Bob Marley documentary

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, New Media on 2012-04-01 02:41Z by Steven

Berlin Film Festival: Critics hail new Bob Marley documentary

The Telegraph

Critics at the Berlin Film Festival have been unanimous in their praise of Kevin Macdonald’s new documentary ‘Marley’, which some have called the definitive biography of the reggae singer.

Oscar-winning documentary maker Kevin Macdonald has made what critics are calling the definitive biography of reggae legend Bob Marley, aided by the singer’s family and record label who have given the project their blessing.

The first authorised film of his life had its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, and while questions about Marley remain, it goes some way to revealing the man behind the myth.

“I just felt like there weren’t any good films about him and a lot of misinformation,” Macdonald told Reuters this week…

…The film explores how Marley, who died of cancer in 1981 aged 36, was troubled by his mixed-race heritage, which was the source of bullying when he was a child. It also looks at how his many affairs and children out of wedlock took its toll on wife Rita and their daughter Cedella.
Marley had 11 children by seven mothers, according to several accounts of his life…

Read the entire article here.

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Carolina Genesis: Beyond the Color Line

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion, Slavery, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2012-04-01 01:48Z by Steven

Carolina Genesis: Beyond the Color Line

Backintyme Publishing
April 2010
258 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780939479320

Edited by

Scott Withrow

Borderlands of “Racial” Identity

Some Americans pretend that a watertight line separates the “races.” But most know that millions of mixed-heritage families crossed from one “race” to another over the past four centuries. Every essay in this collection tells such a tale. Each speaks with a different style and to different interests. But taken together, the seven articles paint a portrait, unsurpassed in the literature, of migrations, challenges, and triumphs over “racial” obstacles.

Stacy Webb tells of families of mixed ancestry who pioneered westward paths from the Carolinas into the colonial wilderness, paths now known as Cumberland Road, Natchez Trace, Three-Chopped Way, and others. They migrated, not in search of wealth or exploration, but to escape the injustice of America’s hardening “racial” barrier.

Govinda Sanyal’s astonishing research uses mtDNA markers to trace a single female lineage that winds its way through prehistoric Yemen, North Africa, Moorish Spain, the Sephardic diaspora, colonial Mexico, and finally escapes the Inquisition by assimilating into a Native American tribe, ending up in South Carolina. He fleshes out the DNA thread with documented genealogy, so we get to know their names, their lives, their struggles.

Cyndie Goins Hoelscher focuses on a specific family that scattered from the Carolinas. One branch fled to Texas, becoming friends with Sam Houston and participating in the founding of that state. Other bands fought in the war of 1812, or migrated to Florida or the Gulf coast. Nowadays, Goins descendants can be found in nearly every state and are of nearly every “race.”

Scott Withrow (the collection’s editor) concentrates on the saga of one individual of mixed ancestry. Joseph Willis was born into a community of color in South Carolina. He migrated to Louisiana, was accepted as a White man, founded one of the first churches in the area, and became one of the region’s best-loved and most fondly remembered Christian ministers.

S. Pony Hill recounts the historic struggles of South Carolina’s Cheraw tribe, in a reprint of Chapter 5 of his book, Strangers in Their Own Land.

Marvin Jones tells the history of the “Winton Triangle,” a section of North Carolina populated by successful families of mixed ancestry from colonial times until the mid-20th century. They fought for the Union, founded schools, built businesses, and thrived through adversity until the civil rights movement of 1955-65 ended legal segregation.

K. Paul Johnson traces the history of North Carolina’s antebellum Quakers. The once-strong community dissolved as it grew morally opposed to slavery. Those who stayed true to their faith migrated north. Those who remained slaveowners left the church. The worst stress was the Nat Turner event. Its aftermath helped turn the previously permeable color line into the harsh endogamous barrier that exists today.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction by Scott Withrow
  • They Were Other: Free Persons of Color, Restrictive Laws and Migration Patterns by Stacy R. Webb
  • The Amorgarickakan Lineage of Sarah Junco by Govinda Sanyal
  • Judging the Moore County Goings / Goyens / Goins Family 1790-1884 by Cyndie Goins Hoelscher
  • Joseph Willis: Carolinian and Free Person of Color by Scott Withrow
  • The Leading Edge of Edges: The Tri-racial People of the Winton Triangle by Marvin T. Jones
  • The Cheraws of Sumter County, South Carolina by S. Pony Hill
  • Dismal Swamp Quakers on the Color Line by K. Paul Johnson
  • Meet The Authors
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