Black & White: Search for roots uncovers forgotten family secret

Posted in Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion on 2012-04-15 23:56Z by Steven

Black & White: Search for roots uncovers forgotten family secret

National Post
Toronto, Canada

Sarah Boesveld, General Assignment Writer

About 20 years ago, David Dossett watched his grandfather politely shut down a woman who called to say she was a relative and that their family had come to Canada from Jamaica and that they were black. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” Mr. Dossett said to his granddad, businessman John B. Sampson, who seemed amused by this idea. Their family — Mr. Dossett’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side — had come to Canada from Scotland in 1907 and settled in Toronto. No one disputed that. But while doing some casual family tree sleuthing online a few years ago, Mr. Dossett, an IT manager and father of four, stumbled upon a tree that looked a lot like his. As it turns out, it belonged to the woman who called his grandfather that day — Jenny Sampson from Illinois. And so began Mr. Dossett’s “obsessive” hunt for a family’s past that had remained a secret for over 100 years. In the end, he discovered his family is not Protestant and Scottish, but Jamaican and Jewish. Not everyone is pleased about the discovery — much of which was broadcast last week on an episode of The Generations Project on Brigham Young University TV. Mr. Dossett spoke with the Post’s Sarah Boesveld from his hometown of Kingston, Ont.:

Q Jenny Sampson had been doing research independently before you began to question your family’s roots and identity. What had she found?

A When I was looking at her family tree, it was describing my family, it was describing me. And the tree said the family was Jewish, that they lived on an estate in Jamaica called Gaza. The name “Gaza” sounds very Jewish, so I’m thinking “Wow.” I contacted the person whose name was on the website — it ended up being her husband — and Jenny emailed back, explained the whole thing — that her family had come to Toronto in 1907, that they came as mulatto Hebrews. When it really sank into me that this was true I started thinking “What are the odds that my family is from Jamaica?” The odds turned out to be pretty good…

Q Why do you think your family kept their heritage a secret even years after they immigrated?

A Deep down inside I think people [in my family] are concerned about having Jewish or black heritage. My mother’s cousin was concerned her father, my great-uncle the decorated war hero [and top-ranked army official] Franklin Augustus Sampson, would be looked down on if it was revealed our family lied about their heritage. But what are they going to do? Yank medals away from people? He’s dead. My grandfather lied about his heritage because he said he was born in Toronto, not Jamaica. A lot of people lied when they enlisted in WWI, lied about their age, lied about their ethnicity. One of my cousins found out many years ago through a blood test that there was either Asian or African blood in her system. When she took the blood test, she went into grandfather’s office, she threw it down on his desk in front of him and said “Explain this.”

Q How did your mother react?

A She doesn’t believe it. She says we’re from Scotland, but doesn’t provide details. She’s going through stages of dementia, but even without that she wouldn’t believe it. Jenny told me her mother is no longer speaking to her. If this had happened maybe 20 years earlier, I could have been a little concerned about it too.

Q Did you feel betrayed at all that your family kept this from you?

A Initially I was, but then I became aware of why this was done. I think what I find most discouraging is the way people were treated when they came to the country, if they weren’t from this white background. We have a past we don’t like to talk about. It’s too bad that Canada wasn’t as open a country as it could have been…

Q You say there are likely thousands of other families out there who may actually be of black heritage despite their families’ white complexions.

A In the late 1800s there was a mass exodus of Jews from Jamaica. The perception was that they were becoming too powerful, so laws were passed to limit what they could own and how much they could acquire. I bet there are a lot of people out there that aren’t searching because they just don’t know. Maybe they just assume they’re from Scotland. Other than myself going to Queen’s University, no one in my family has a kilt, I don’t like bagpipes, I don’t eat oatmeal, I don’t like haggis. Nothing about me would indicate I’m Scottish except for my appearance — I have reddish hair because my grandfather married an Irish woman. They were very pale and I burn quite easily…

Read the entire article here.

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The Ordinary Conception of Race in the United States and Its Relation to Racial Attitudes: A New Approach

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science, United States on 2012-04-15 21:27Z by Steven

The Ordinary Conception of Race in the United States and Its Relation to Racial Attitudes: A New Approach

Journal of Cognition and Culture
Volume 9, Issue 1 (2009)
pages 15-38
DOI: 10.1163/156853709X414610

Joshua Glasgow, Lecturer of Philosophy
Sonoma State University
also Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.

Julie L. Shulman, Assistant Professor of Pyschology
Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California

Enrique G. Covarrubias

Many hold that ordinary race-thinking in the USA is committed to the ‘one-drop rule‘, that race is ordinarily represented in terms of essences, and that race is ordinarily represented as a biological (phenotype- and/or ancestry-based, non-social) kind. This study investigated the extent to which ordinary race-thinking subscribes to these commitments. It also investigated the relationship between different conceptions of race and racial attitudes. Participants included 449 USA adults who completed an Internet survey. Unlike previous research, conceptions of race were assessed using concrete vignettes. Results indicate widespread rejection of the one-drop rule, as well as the use of a complex combination of ancestral, phenotypic, and social (and, therefore, non-essentialist) criteria for racial classification. No relationship was found between racial attitudes and essentialism, the one-drop rule, or social race-thinking; however, ancestry-based and phenotype-based classification criteria were associated with racial attitudes. These results suggest a complicated relationship between conceptions of race and racial attitudes.

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Science of desire: Race and representations of the Haitian revolution in the Atlantic world, 1790-1865

Posted in Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2012-04-15 16:09Z by Steven

Science of desire: Race and representations of the Haitian revolution in the Atlantic world, 1790-1865

University of Notre Dame
July 2008
489 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3436234
ISBN: 9781124353197

Marlene Leydy Daut, Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California

A Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Notre Dame in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This dissertation reads representations of the Haitian Revolution with and against the popular historical understanding of the events as the result of the influence of enlightenment philosophy or the Declaration of the Rights of Man on Toussaint L’Ouverture; or what I have called a “literacy narrative.” This understanding is most visible in texts such as C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins (1938) and reproduces the idea that Toussaint read Raynal’s Histoire des deux Indes (1772) and thus became aware that slavery was contrary to nature and was inspired to lead the revolt. Instead, I show how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century understandings of the Revolution were most often mediated through the discourse of scientific debates about racial miscegenation–an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century obsession with what happens when white people produce children with black people–making the Revolution the result of the desire for vengeance on the part of miscegenated figures, whose fathers refused to recognize or defend them, rather than a desire for the ideals of liberty and equality; or what I have called the “mulatto vengeance narrative.”

Chapter one examines the figure of the “tropical temptress” in the anonymously published epistolary romance La Mulâtre comme il y a beaucoup de blanches (1803). Chapter two takes a look at “evil/degenerate mulattoes” in Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” (1855) and Victor Hugo’s Bug-Jargal (1826). In chapter three I analyze the trope of the “tragic mulatto/a” in French abolitionist Alphonse de Lamartine’s verse drama Toussaint L’Ouverture (1850); the Louisiana born Victor Séjour’s short story, “The Mulatto” (1837); and Haitian author Eméric Bergeaud’s Stella (1859). Chapters four and five look at the image of the “inspired mulatto” in French novelist Alexandre Dumas’s adventure novel, Georges (1843); black American writer William Wells Brown’s abolitionist speech turned pamphlet, “St. Domingo; its Revolutions and its Patriots” (1854); and the Haitian poet and dramatist Pierre Faubert’s play, Ogé; ou le préjugé de couleur (1841; 1856). By insisting on a discourse of science as a way to understand these representations, I show how these texts contributed to the pervasive after-life of the Haitian Revolution in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World, on the one hand, but also created an entire vocabulary of desire with respect to miscegenation, revolution, and slavery, on the other.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    • Part 1: Mulatto Vengeance and the Haitian Revolution
    • Part 2: Literacy Narratives and the Haitian Revolution
    • Part 3: Notes on Terminology
  • Chapter 1: Tropical Temptresses: Desire and Repulsion in Revolutionary Saint-Domingue
    • Part 1: The Color of Virtue
    • Part 2: Colonialism and Despotism
    • Part 3: Desire and Abolition
  • Chapter 2: Black Son, White Father: Mulatto Vengeance and the Haitian Revolution in Victor Hugo’s Bug-Jargal and Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno”
    • Part 1: Victor Hugo’s Parricide
    • Part 2: Melville’s “Usher of the Golden-Rod”
  • Chapter 3: Between the Family and the Nation: Parricide and the Tragic Mulatto/a in 19th-century Fictions of the Haitian Revolution
    • Part 1: Séjour’s Oedipal Curse
    • Part 2: Toussaint’s Children
    • Part 3: Bergeaud’s Romantic Vision
  • Chapter 4: The “Inspired Mulatto:” Enlightenment and Color Prejudice in the African Diaspoa
    • Part 1: Alexandre Dumas and the Haitian Revolution
    • Part 2: Economics and Civilization
    • Part 3: The “Never-to-be-forgiven course of the mulattoes”
  • Chapter 5: “Let Us Be Humane After the Victory:” Pierre Faubert’s New Humanism
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited

Purchase the dissertation here.

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Family Dynamics Between Arab Muslim parents, Western Parents and Their Bi-ethnic Children

Posted in Dissertations, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work, United States on 2012-04-15 15:28Z by Steven

Family Dynamics Between Arab Muslim parents, Western Parents and Their Bi-ethnic Children

California State University, Sacramemto
Spring 2011
75 pages

Yasmine Binghalib

THESIS Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE in COUNSELING (Marriage, Family and Child Counseling)

Families made up of one an Arab Muslim parent, Western parent and their children were examined to find out what unique dynamics and issues they face. Bi-ethnic Arab and American participants completed a questionnaire about demographics and underwent an in-depth interview that explored their experiences as a bi-ethnic person and the dynamics within their families. Participants reported a variety of experiences, though certain themes were extrapolated from their responses. Participants either identified more strongly with their Western mother or their Middle Eastern father. Feelings of marginalization were identified as part of the bi-cultural Arab and American experience as well as some identity confusion. Participants also reported that they felt unable to disclose as much information about their life to their Middle Eastern fathers as they did their American mothers.


  • Acknowledgments
    • Introduction to the Research
    • Rationale for Research
    • Statement of the Problem
    • Definitions
    • Introduction
    • Introduction to Arabs and Islam
    • Introduction to Anglo Americans
    • Family Life
    • Marriages
    • Parenting
    • Summary
    • Introduction
    • Purpose of the Study
    • Research Questions
    • Research Methods and Procedures
    • Sample Population
    • Research Design
    • Research Procedure
    • Analysis
    • Summary
    • Introduction
    • Demographics of Participants
    • Family Characteristics
    • Summary
    • Introduction
    • Summary of Study
    • Discussion
    • Limitations
    • Recommendations for Further Research
  • Appendix A. Informed Consent
  • Appendix B. Questionnaire
  • Appendix C. Interview Questions
  • References

Read the entire thesis here.

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In Conversation with Mix-d

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-04-15 02:55Z by Steven

In Conversation with Mix-d

the mixed project

First to enter is Jeanette. Attired in an elegant blouse, she is ready for her close-up. Her sweet smile and murmur of ‘good morning’ gets immediate replies from the rest of us in the studio. Jeanette’s blue eyes will not get completely accustomed to the dim lighting, they are not as sharp as they used to be. Bradley Lincoln, her son, standing a few inches taller is leading her from behind and with a tender hand on her waist, he guides her to turn left into the studio.

The pair make their way to the sofas. After a long train excursion from Manchester, tea with milk for Bradley and water for Jeanette puts everyone at ease. Mother and son sit with the warm sun on their backs, facing Rhoda and Andy. Angela, Andy’s assistant is away from the studio today. Andy’s younger daughter, Emilia and I are sat parallel to the group, excited for the discussion to begin. Faint music can be heard playing from a distance. Bradley is usually the one asking the questions. In 2006, he founded Mix-d, an organisation that aims to elevate discussions on mixed race identity. Mix-d is today a place where all people of multiple heritage are able to express their feelings on the subject. This fantastic organisation has several ongoing projects, including an information pack offering helpful advice for parents and imminent parents of mixed race children. Last year they held the second Mix-d Face, the UK’s first modelling competition for people of mixed race and judged by Jade Thompson, the winner of Britain’s and Ireland’s Next Top Model.

Today, it’s Rhoda who will be asking the questions. Andy explains the project originated from several questions that kept resonating in his mind. “What impact, if any, does having an English father and a mother of Afro-Caribbean descent have on my children? How does the world’s view of my three children affect the way they see themselves?” Bradley nods in between Andy queries. “Okay, I get that.”

Andy concludes, “and it would be interesting to have a project where we could get people from different mixed backgrounds to share their life experiences and bring new faces and a new dimension to the discussion.” Bradley is the ideal candidate for this project. He has spent his life negating his own racial identity and brings this determination to helping others at various stages in their own understanding…

…Excerpts from Bradley and Jeanette’s testimony.

Rhoda Where are your parents from?

Bradley My Mum is white English, my Dad is black Jamaican.

Rhoda And how would they describe themselves?

Bradley My Dad describes himself as Jamaican. My Mum, how would you describe yourself?

Jeanette White English.

R How did you meet Bradley’s dad?

J I used to work in a pub. I worked at the bar and he came in quite often with his friends. I’d already been married. I already had three sons. I met Lloyd then.

B It’s all right, we can be honest. My Mum and Dad are not still together…

R When you were growing up was there anybody or any media personality with whom you identified or were particularly proud of?

B Not necessarily proud of, but I remember going to my Dad’s and he used to have the Ebony magazine and I’d read it. And maybe I just felt more attuned to that styling, and thought I can’t bring it home because my brother is going to think that it’s racist so I didn’t bring it home but I used to look at it and see black people in a certain way. it was a very mild sensation, but…

R So it wasn’t anyone in particular, it was the notion of there being a clandestine black elite.

B Yeah, somebody who wasn’t white. I lived in a predominantly white environment and in school I remember not being represented in the curriculum even though I couldn’t articulate it. the small bit of work we did around black history which was very minimal. I didn’t feel like I could authentically be with this because I’m not fully black. I felt quite absent from lots of things but because I had a happy home life in lots of other ways I think that counter balanced it, but given the personality I have I was always searching for what truly represented me without having to give up my Mum or my Dad.

J I think also when Bradley’s father came over here from Jamaica he tried to pursue another lifestyle, he didn’t want to be seen as black. He tried to fit in into the white…to assimilate. So I think this is maybe why he didn’t navigate Bradley through some of the Jamaican culture because he himself had come from that and he didn’t want that any more, he didn’t want that in his background. He just wanted to be seen as someone who had lived in England for years and years. He didn’t want to take Bradley through all this, he just wanted to push all the Jamaican things to the background. Cos it was later on wasn’t it, when you got older started to investigate your Grandma and everything. It wasn’t up to your Dad that instigated that…

R Are there are any personal thoughts you’d like to see included in the debate?

B I’d certainly like to see the discussion handed over to more younger people. Cos I’ve done some work in Europe, in the States and here and I find we can get locked into that victim or blaming other people, or victimhood, or looking for a problem. I find that lots of people seem to be looking for a problem. So they want to have a conversation but not to the end of finding an issue. Creating a space that gives them permission to talk about it. It seems that lots of academics enable the conversation by looking at the sociological and the psychological. Sociological is how it’s introduced in schools and how governments see mixed race. The psychological is the disconnect between the two, but the larger voice is the sociological voice. What I’d like to see is people who are mixed race from different backgrounds and experiences just talking about things from their own point of view, to kind of balance out the academic discussion. Cos the academic discussion is a different language. When I went into this project I wanted to look at the academic route but they’re actually just saying the same things. You can codify it and break it down. And they’re moaning and complaining and being intellectually superior to each other, which doesn’t actually involve the individual. It’s more of a cerebral exercise that they pass between each other. I’m more interested in nurturing the emotional side of this discussion, which then leads to the vocabulary of the psychological and the sociological so they can talk about it…

R The things that define these kids is that they all sound the same.

B Yeah, that’s true. I was tired of academics talking in a certain way so I didn’t start this project til I was 36 so I’d seen lots of different discussions and I thought this is boring, everyone was saying much of the same things. I was trying to find a way to have this conversation with young people in a way they wanted to have this conversation. And that was quite freeing because nobody was doing that and people criticised it, academics criticised it and that’s what they do, but they critique to the point where they somehow find problems that aren’t there. But there is a way of still having this conversation, to have it in a way where being seen as mixed isn’t victimised. It’s a very middle line, that some will resist, but it exists and people say, yeah, that’s where I live, that’s how my mind works. But academics don’t like that.

Read the entire interview here.

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Categorization of racial/ethnic identity for racialized and marginalized biracials in the mainland United States

Posted in Dissertations, Economics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-04-15 00:36Z by Steven

Categorization of racial/ethnic identity for racialized and marginalized biracials in the mainland United States

California State University, Sacramento
Spring 2009
169 pages

Estrella Valdez

THESIS Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in SPECIAL MAJOR (Ethnic Studies)

There is no singular agreed-upon understanding of what it means to be identified as biracial in the mainland United States, especially when a person is the product of the union of two marginalized ethnicities. For decades, the hegemonic (white) group has set in place values and social forces that do not allow biracials to fully embrace all parts their ethnic identities. Marginalizing this group has not only led to a misunderstanding of their needs in social and institutional settings, but has caused confusion in the individual when they attempt to define who they are racially. This group of biracials is one of the fastest-growing segments of the United States population; they need to be understood and their needs met. In order to do this, changes in existing laws and socials forces must be addressed. Twelve women, all products of minority-minority unions, were interviewed for this study. Using a qualitative approach, biethnic/biracial participants used their own voices to offer first-hand accounts of their life experiences without persistent hegemonic influences or the influence of the researcher. An examination of the historical construction of race through miscegenation laws, the United States Census, existing studies on biracial self-identfication was also used to determine how and what processes and social conditions impact identity formation. What was ultimately learned from the results of the study is that social class and economics together-not just race serve as the catalyst for the division of society. Participants who had a more stable economic base were more comfortable with their racial self-identity; participants who were raised by a single parent did not have a very stable economic base and struggled more in the formation of their racial self-identity.


  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
    • Statement of the Problem
    • Racial Designations
    • Definition of Terms
    • Historical Construction of Race
      • Subjugation of People of Color
    • Relationship of Identity Formation in the United States
      • Literature Supporting the Role and Rule of Hypodescent as an Influence in Identity Construction
      • Literature Supporting the Effect of Miscegenation Laws as an Influence in Racial Identity Construction
      • Literature Supporting the Effect of the United States Census as an Influence in Racial Identity Construction
    • The Construction of Identity Formation
      • Literature Supporting the Influence of Social and Peer Forces in Racial Identity Construction
      • Literature Supporting the Influence of Parents as Forces in Racial Identity Construction
      • Literature Supporting the Individual as Force in Racial Identity Construction
    • Summary and Conclusion
    • Introduction and Overview
    • Research Design
      • Criteria
    • Research Questions and Guiding Questions
    • Constraints
    • Data Analysis
    • Summary and Conclusion
    • Narrative Portraits
      • Morar Suave
      • Mercy Lamb
      • Jenny Jones
      • Ella Bee
      • Hilary Mahler
    • Who Am I?
    • Discussion and Analysis
      • New Census Overview
      • The Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM)
      • Naming: Who am I?
      • How Do I Belong?
    • Where Do I Belong?
    • Where Do I fit With My Parents
    • Summary and Conclusion
    • Reason for the Study
    • Next Steps
  • Appendix A. Research Subjects’ Bill of Rights
  • Appendix B. Informed Consent
  • Appendix C. Ethnic Self-Identification Inventory

Read the entire thesis here.

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