Black Mormons and the Politics of Identity

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2012-05-22 21:03Z by Steven

Black Mormons and the Politics of Identity

The New York Times

Susan Saulny

SALT LAKE CITY — When Marguerite Driessen, a professor here, entered Brigham Young University in the early 1980s, she was the first black person many Mormon students had ever met, and she spent a good bit of her college time debunking stereotypes about African-Americans. Then she converted to Mormonism herself, and went on to spend a good deal of her adult life correcting assumptions about Mormons.

So the matchup in this year’s presidential election comes as a watershed moment for her, symbolizing the hard-won acceptance of racial and religious minorities.

“A Mormon candidate and a black candidate? Who would have thunk!” Ms. Driessen said. “I think 30 years ago, we would not have had this choice.”

After examining the dual — and sometimes conflicting — identities, she has decided that she will cast her vote for President Obama over Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee. Ms. Driessen believes that there is plenty in the Book of Mormon to support Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and she likes to cite chapter and verse, like Mosiah 29:39 and 23:13…

…While the church does not track members by race, there are thriving Mormon churches with hundreds of black members today in many urban areas, including Washington, Chicago and New York, although African-Americans represent only a tiny fraction of the six million Mormons in the United States…

…“I feel a definite sense of pride in the U.S.A. that we have a Mormon candidate and black candidate,” said Catherine Spruill, who is mixed-race like Mr. Obama and Mormon like Mr. Romney. “I feel pride for my people, because America picked that.”…

…Religion is always on her mind, however, and she particularly enjoys a certain political punch line that is making the rounds among some black Mormons here.

It goes like this: Mr. Obama calls Mr. Romney to say he thinks it is time the country had a Mormon president. But just as Mr. Romney is thanking the president for the apparent concession, Mr. Obama interrupts him to say, “My baptism is on Saturday.”

Undoubtedly, some black Mormons are still wrestling with the decision of whom to vote for.

“It’s tough because you’ve got the first black president, but he’s running against a candidate who has the values I believe in,” said Eddie Gist, 43, a black Mormon who lives in Salt Lake City. Mr. Gist said he may end up leaning more toward Mr. Romney, but added, “I really can’t go wrong either way.”…

Read the entire article here.  Watch the video of the interview with Susan Saulny and Megan Liberman here.

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Bordering Community: Reclaiming Ambiguity as a Transgressive Landscape of Knowledge

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, New Media, Social Work, United States, Women on 2012-05-22 18:08Z by Steven

Bordering Community: Reclaiming Ambiguity as a Transgressive Landscape of Knowledge

Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work
Volume 27, Number 2 (May 2012)
pages 167-179
DOI: 10.1177/0886109912443957

Kimberly D. Hudson
School of Social Work
University of Washington, Seattle

Critically investigating the concept of community, this article explores some of the ideological and epistemological frameworks that have defined both the potentialities and the limitations of community as a liberatory and/or liberated space. This article sheds light on how ambiguously identified, bodied, and placed people are affected by cultures and systems of oppression in ways that create unique tensions with community and generate knowledge of the meaning of community itself. The major foci include the transgression, occupation, and policing of racial, gendered, and sexualized borders. In the final section, emerging questions, reflections, and implications for the field of social welfare are discussed.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Lecturer Hettie V. Williams to be Featured Guest on Mixed Chicks Chat

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2012-05-22 17:45Z by Steven

Lecturer Hettie V. Williams to be Featured Guest on Mixed Chicks Chat

Mixed Chicks Chat (Founders of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival)
Hosted by Fanshen Cox, Heidi W. Durrow and Jennifer Frappier
Website: TalkShoe™ (Keywords: Mixed Chicks)
Episode: #257: Hettie V. Williams
When: Wednesday, 2012-05-23, 21:00Z (17:00 EDT, 14:00 PDT)

Hettie V. Williams, Lecturer of African American History
Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Hettie Williams’ research and teaching interests include: recent American history; the 1960s; the history of African Americans; race; identity; studies in the African Diaspora; and gender. She has taught survey courses in U.S. history, world history, western civilization, and upper division courses on the history of African Americans. She has published various entries and essays for several volumes and a text on the American civil rights movement titled We Shall Overcome to We Shall Overrun: The Collapse of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Revolt (1962-1968). Currently, she teaches as a lecturer of African American history in the Department of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University. She has recently completed an edited volume titled Color Struck: Essays on Race and Ethnicity in Global Perspective and is currently working on an edited volume titled, Race and the Obama Phenomenon: toward a More Perfect Union? (University of Mississippi Press) with the renown race scholar G. Reginald Daniel.

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Identity Formation in Biracial Female Authors’ Narratives of Passing: Transgressing Racial and Sexual Boundaries in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

Posted in Dissertations, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-05-22 17:06Z by Steven

Identity Formation in Biracial Female Authors’ Narratives of Passing: Transgressing Racial and Sexual Boundaries in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
September 2008
150 pages

Stamatia Koutsimani

A Dissertation submitted to the Department of American Literature and Culture, School of English, Faculty of Philosophy of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.

The complex presence of the mulatta figure in American cultural history is mostly reflected in twentieth-century narratives of passing where the light-skinned enough to pass Negress becomes a vehicle for challenging both the color line and the very notions of blackness and whiteness. Contrary to nineteenth-century whites’ stereotypical representations of the “tragic mulatta” as a victim of her divided racial heritage, the use of the passing mulatta by twentieth-century biracial female authors has served to criticize racial as well as gender essentialisms. In this respect, this thesis will focus on Nella Larsen’s Passing, published in 1929 and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia, published in 1998, trying to show how the changing representation of the passing mulatta characters reflects the gradual reversal of the tragic mulatta myth and reveals the interconnections among race, gender, class and sexuality in different sociopolitical contexts. By examining the authors’ use of the passing mulatta as a trope through which to question the dominant political and racial ideology of their time, the thesis will attempt to explain how the biracial female characters’ transgression of racial and gender boundaries contributes to the understanding of identity as constructed and performed. More specifically, the reading of Passing and Caucasia will be based on Judith Butler’s concept of gender performativity and Catherine Rottenberg’s theoretical discussion of race performativity. In addition, Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality, which is central to Valerie Smith’s notion of black feminism, will play a major role in the analysis of the two works.

Based on a comparative analysis of the novels, the thesis will draw attention to the central mulatta characters’ search for racial and gender identities, with a view to tracing potential changes in the authors’ employment of the passing theme in the increasingly multicultural US racial context. Moreover, by highlighting the passing novels’ difference from stereotypical depictions of mulatta figures, the thesis aims at responding to questions regarding racial dualism and ongoing debates over mixed race identity. On the whole, it will reveal that the biracial female authors’ representations of the permeable borders between identity categories serve to challenge dominant cultural understandings of racial and gender differences which have long contributed to the mulatta figure’s liminal status in American society.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Sequencing the Trellis: The Production of Race in the New Human Genomics

Posted in Dissertations, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2012-05-22 13:39Z by Steven

Sequencing the Trellis: The Production of Race in the New Human Genomics

Brown University
December 2003
185 pages

Brady Dunklee, Executive Director

In partial completion of the requirements for honors.

Note on the Title: “Trellis” refers to an analogy that NHGRI director Francis Collins uses to describe race and human evolution, emphasizing mixture between “races,” in opposition to evolutionary trees which emphasize divergence. “Sequencing” refers to the main activity of recent genomic research, and is meant to suggest both this activity and the differentiation of groups of people, which is the subject of this thesis.

Human genomic science has emerged in the past decade as a powerful new biological field, combining molecular and population genetics with advanced information technologies, allowing DNA sequencing and analysis in a rapid, high throughput fashion. In addition to producing a vast quantity of scientific data, the Human Genome Project and other efforts in human genomics have produced claims about the social implications of their work. The result has been a complex expert discourse on the nature of the human.

A particularly rich subset of this discourse has addressed the meanings, use and reality of race and ethnicity in light of new genomic knowledge. A great variety of positions on racial and ethnic difference have been put forth, best known of which is the contention that race is biologically meaningless.

This thesis shows that this claim is not the whole story. Genomic discourse has, since its beginnings, deployed and produced race in a constant, if variegated manner. A “technology of difference” has been produced, a set of terms, meanings, and ways in which knowledge is structured and authorized, whose collective action is to differentiate people racially and ethnically.

This thesis examines this technology of difference, showing that genomics is in fact making race, and demonstrating some of the ways in which it does so. My approach is an analysis of discourse, which addresses terminology, formal configurations and epistemology in the literatures produced by genomic scientists. The dominant characteristic in this discourse is instability. Meanings, forms, and claims shift and change on a variety of levels.

This thesis shows that surprising patterns can be seen in this instability, and that instability is itself a constitutive factor giving strength and cohesion to the genomic production of human racial and ethnic difference.

I suggest, further, that now is a crucial time for interventions to be made in the genomics of human difference. Those who want an end to race, or who want positive, livable transformations of race, can find both opportunity and danger in these new differentiations.

Table of Contents

  • Title Page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Table of Figures
  • Inscriptions
  • Thesis Statement…………………………………………………………………
  • Introduction……………………………………………………………………………
    • I. Unifications
    • II. Divisions
    • III. Contexts
    • IV. Materials and Methods
  • Chapter 1: Categories and Keywords in the Genomics of Race
    • I. Transferals
    • II. “Race” and “Ethnicity”
    • III. Populations, Groups and Communities
    • IV. “Minorities” and “Inclusion”
    • VI. Chapter Summary
  • Chapter 2: Formal Configurations: Nested Proxies & Perspectival Phasing
    • I. Theoretical Framework
    • II. Making Difference Within Race
    • III. Making Difference Around Race
  • Chapter 3: Instability and Discourse
    • I. Reading and Writing
    • II. Articulate Instability
  • Chapter 4: Epistemology……………………………………………………………
    • I. Definitions and Methods
    • II. One Drop
    • III. White Normativity
    • IV. Racial Essentialism
    • V. Three Spaces
  • Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………
  • Bibliography

Table of Figures

  • Figure I-1— Craig Venter of Celera Genomics, left, shakes hands with Francis Collins of NHGRI, right, at a ceremony at the White House, June 2000.
  • Figure I-2 — Cover of Nature, February 15, 2001. The mosaic includes the faces of Mendel, Watson and the Beatles.
  • Figure I-3 — Stills from “Exploring Our Molecular Selves,” a film produced by NHGRI as part of a free educational toolkit for high school students.
  • Figure 1-1 — “Populations” and Race: “Not everyone’s smiling. A plan to study haplotypes in these populations is prompting angry words.”
  • Figure 2-1 — Diagram of racial schema in Risch, et al. (2002).
  • Figure 2-2 — Perspectival Differentiation in Collins (2003).
  • Figure 4-1 — One Drop Rule and Founding Populations in genomics.

…At first glance, the appearance of these types of anti-race critiques appears to frustrate an attempt to theorize a mainstream of genomic ideas about race and ethnicity—they simply appear contradictory. It is my contention that they are contradictory on significant levels, but that they share a terminology, a set of discursive patterns, and a certain epistemology that allow them to resolve such contradictions, and unite them in making race.

Even when the term race is used as a “misconception,” race is configured in new ways with respect to genomic knowledge. Race is produced, as an entity that is purely mythical and controverted by this expert discourse. Race is made by genomicists into something new which is not genomic…

Read the entire thesis here.

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The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-05-22 02:11Z by Steven

The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People

University Press of Florida
352 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-1451-7

Kenneth W. Porter, Professor of History Emeritus
University of Oregon

Edited by:

Alcione M. Amos, Librarian

Thomas P. Senter, M.D.

This story of a remarkable people, the Black Seminoles, and their charismatic leader, Chief John Horse, chronicles their heroic struggle for freedom.

Beginning with the early 1800s, small groups of fugitive slaves living in Florida joined the Seminole Indians (an association that thrived for decades on reciprocal respect and affection). Kenneth Porter traces their fortunes and exploits as they moved across the country and attempted to live first beyond the law, then as loyal servants of it.

He examines the Black Seminole role in the bloody Second Seminole War, when John Horse and his men distinguished themselves as fierce warriors, and their forced removal to the Oklahoma Indian Territory in the 1840s, where John’s leadership ability emerged.

The account includes the Black Seminole exodus in the 1850s to Mexico, their service as border troops for the Mexican government, and their return to Texas in the 1870s, where many of the men scouted for the U.S. Army. Members of their combat-tested unit, never numbering more than 50 men at a time, were awarded four of the sixteen Medals of Honor received by the several thousand Indian scouts in the West.

Porter’s interviews with John Horse’s descendants and acquaintances in the 1940s and 1950s provide eyewitness accounts. When Alcione Amos and Thomas Senter took up the project in the 1980s, they incorporated new information that had since come to light about John Horse and his people.

A powerful and stirring story, The Black Seminoles will appeal especially to readers interested in black history, Indian history, Florida history, and U.S. military history.

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Black Indian Slave Narratives

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-05-22 01:54Z by Steven

Black Indian Slave Narratives

John F. Blair, Publisher
200 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-89587-298-2

Patrick Minges

Few people realize that Native Americans were enslaved right alongside the African Americans in this country. Fewer still realize that many Native Americans owned African Americans and Native Americans from other tribes. Recently, historians have determined that of the 2,193 interviews with former slaves that were collected by the Federal Writers’ Project, 12 percent contain some reference to the interviewees’ being related to or descended from Native Americans. In addition, many of the interviewees make references to their Native American owners. In Black Indian Slave Narratives, Patrick Minges offers the most absorbing of these firsthand testimonies about African American and Native American relationships in the 19th century.

The selections include an interview with Felix Lindsey, who was born in Kentucky of Mvskoke/African heritage and who served as one of the buffalo soldiers who rounded up Geronimo. Chaney Mack, whose father was a “full-blood African” from Liberia and whose mother was a “pure-blood Indian,” gives an in-depth look at both sides of her cultural heritage, including her mother’s visions based on the “night the stars fell” over Alabama. There are stories of Native Americans taken by “nigger stealers,” who found themselves placed on slave-auction blocks alongside their African counterparts.

The narratives in this collection provide insight into the lives of people who lived in complex and dynamically interconnected cultures. The interviews also offer historical details of capture and enslavement, life in the Old South and the Old West, Indian removal, and slavery in the Indian territory.

I wasn’t as dark as I am now, but kind of red-like, and when Geronimo saw me he said, “You ain’t no nigger, you’re an Indian.”

“My father may have been an Indian, but I’m a nigger because that’s the race of my mother, and the race I chose,” I said.

—From Felix Lindsey’s narrative

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(ANT/NAS 493): Mixed Blood: Looking at the Relationship Between Africans and Native Americans (NAS 493)

Posted in Anthropology, Course Offerings, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2012-05-22 00:48Z by Steven

(ANT/NAS 493): Mixed Blood: Looking at the Relationship Between Africans and Native Americans

Creighton University
Omaha, Nebraska
Fall 2005

Rev. Raymond A. Bucko, S.J., Professor of Anthropology

In this course the relationship between Africans and Native Americans will be explored.  “Africans and Native Americans worked as slaves and as free men together.  Both groups played important role in the shaping of the history of this country and the relationships that had are often overlooked and unknown.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn and understand the complex relationships between Africans and Native Americans.
  2. Examine pre and post-Civil War African and Native relationship.


For more information, click here.

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