Sheila K. Johnson on Yokohama Yankee

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive on 2013-04-30 03:27Z by Steven

Sheila K. Johnson on Yokohama Yankee

Los Angeles Review of Books

Sheila K. Johnson, Anthropologist, Gerontologist, and Freelance Writer

Oh, To Be Japanese!

MANY FOREIGNERS have fallen in love with Japan — its physical beauty, its culture, its people. Most of these foreigners have been men, and some have married Japanese women or taken Japanese male lovers. A few have become naturalized Japanese citizens, but this can be a difficult process unless one happens to be Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904), a famous early visitor and explicator of things Japanese who was adopted into his wife’s family, or Donald Keene (born 1922), an equally famous contemporary Japanologist, who became a citizen as an act of solidarity with Japan in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami.

In his book Yokohama Yankee, Leslie Helm tells the story of his part-German, part-Japanese, part-American family from the arrival of his great-grandfather Julius Helm in Yokohama in 1869 to his own adoption of two Japanese children in 1992. Intertwined with this story he recounts the vicissitudes of Japan’s history during this time — two world wars, massive earthquakes in 1923 and 1995, and his own ambivalence about being part Japanese and yet always being regarded there as an outsider, a gaijin.   

It is important to the Helm family story to understand that, until 1987, only children born to a Japanese father and a foreign mother could become Japanese nationals. The American sociologist William Wetherall, who married a Japanese woman and had two children with her, challenged this law because he wanted his children to have Japanese citizenship. After a lengthy legal battle the law was changed by giving the mother’s rights legal status.

Wetherall insists that Japanese citizenship laws have never been racist — as early 20th century American laws denying US citizenship to “Orientals” assuredly were. He argues that Japanese laws were merely rooted in the patrilineal social structure and household registers. But, given that Japan was a virtually monoracial society and enforced the exclusion of Westerners from its shores until the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1854, being a Japanese citizen has been, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as being ethnically Japanese.

In 1869, Leslie Helm’s great-grandfather Julius arrived in Yokohama from Germany. He’d first traveled to the US and briefly tried farming in Montana before taking the transcontinental railroad to San Francisco and then a ship to Japan. Yokohama was just becoming a busy port with ships bringing machinery and manufactured goods from Europe and the US before heading back loaded with silks, tea, and porcelain. Julius Helm quickly saw an opportunity to create a stevedoring and portage company; he soon owned horses, carts, and warehouses, and became a prosperous man. By 1871, he’d sent for two of his brothers from Germany and made them partners, and in 1875 he married his Japanese housekeeper, Hiro, who bore him seven children…

Read the entire review here.

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Hot Colors: Race, Sex, and Love

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-30 03:09Z by Steven

Hot Colors: Race, Sex, and Love

Harvard Magazine
March-April 2003

Craig Lambert

Tiger Woods, possibly the world’s best-known athlete, resists being called a “black” golfer. He coined the term “Cablinasian” (Caucasian, black, Indian, Asian) to identify his race, and used it on the Oprah Winfrey television show after winning the 1997 Masters tournament. Although Woods’s ancestry may be unusually diverse, his heritage is far less exceptional than his golfing skill, as professor of law Randall Kennedy makes clear in his new book, Interracial Intimacies (Pantheon). Five years in the making, the volume examines the history, lore, and especially the legalities, primarily in the United States, surrounding sexual, marital, and familial relationships among people of different races.

Racially mixed relationships are becoming more common. In the United States there are 1.5 million cross-racial marriages, a figure that has doubled about every decade. Forty percent of Asian Americans have married whites in recent years, as have 6 percent of blacks. “The general situation for people involved in interracial intimacies has never been better,” Kennedy writes. Most legal obstacles to pairing across races have been struck down, and Kennedy believes that even “public opinion now permits interracial intimacies to be pursued and enjoyed with unparalleled levels of freedom, security, and support.”…

…Yet Kennedy is neutral on the question of amalgamation—the view, advanced by many, including historian Will Durant and Harvard’s Beneficial professor of law, Charles Fried, that biological intermingling will eventually dissolve the race problem. “I’m not a biological determinist,” Kennedy declares. “If, in 50 years time, most whites still marry other whites and most blacks still marry other blacks, can we still have a racially decent society? Sure!”…

Read the entire article here.

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In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-04-30 02:56Z by Steven

In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites

Associated Press

Hope Yen

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

The analysis also used population projections to estimate the shares of eligible voters by race group through 2030. The numbers are supplemented with material from the Pew Research Center and George Mason University associate professor Michael McDonald, a leader in the field of voter turnout who separately reviewed aggregate turnout levels across states, as well as AP interviews with the Census Bureau and other experts. The bureau is scheduled to release data on voter turnout in May.

Overall, the findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of America’s history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

But the numbers also offer a cautionary note to both Democrats and Republicans after Obama won in November with a historically low percentage of white supporters. While Latinos are now the biggest driver of U.S. population growth, they still trail whites and blacks in turnout and electoral share, because many of the Hispanics in the country are children or noncitizens…

Read the entire article here.

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Black pols stymied in Obama era

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-04-30 01:16Z by Steven

Black pols stymied in Obama era


Jonathan Martin, Senior Political Reporter

More than five years after Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses and demolished the notion that white voters wouldn’t support a black presidential candidate, progress for other African-American politicians remains elusive. Even as the country elected and reelected Obama, making it seem increasingly unremarkable to have a black family in the White House, African-Americans are scarce and bordering on extinct in the U.S. Senate and governorships.

The president is indeed exceptional — but in the wrong sense of the phrase as it applies to other black politicians.

Consider what has taken place, or not taken place, since Obama broke the presidential color barrier in 2008: There has not been one African-American elected to the Senate — the only blacks in the chamber were appointed to fill vacant seats; the country’s sole African-American governor, who was originally elected before Obama captured the presidency, won reelection but may leave the ranks of black governors empty when he leaves after 2013; and a cadre of promising, next-generation black politicians have either lost races (Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, Reps. Kendrick Meek of Florida and Artur Davis of Alabama) or seen their careers extinguished because of scandal (former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.).

The situation is particularly embarrassing for Democrats, to whom black voters give the vast majority of their support. Until Sen. Mo Cowan (D-Mass.) was appointed in February, the only African-American in the Senate was a Republican — Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina And it’s not lost on high-profile Democrats that the GOP now enjoys more ethnic diversity among its statewide leaders than the party whose president is both an illustration and a beneficiary of America’s changing face.

“We’re not there yet,” conceded Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). “That’s why when people ask me whether the election of President Obama is the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, I say, ‘No, it’s just a down payment. There’s still a lot of work to do.’”…

Read the entire article here.

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White Without Soap: Philanthropy, Caste and Exclusion in Colonial Victoria 1835-1888, A Political Economy of Race

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Oceania on 2013-04-29 03:39Z by Steven

White Without Soap: Philanthropy, Caste and Exclusion in Colonial Victoria 1835-1888, A Political Economy of Race

University of Melbourne Custom Book Centre
318 pages
Paperback ISBN: 0980759420, 9780980759426

Marguerita Stephens

Explores the connections between nineteenth century imperial anthropology, racial ‘science’ and the imposition of colonising governance on the Aborigines of Port Phillip/Victoria between 1835 and 1888. Based on the dissertation of the same name.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • The View from Coranderrk
  • Note on Language
  • Map
  • Introduction: Imperial Economies of Race
  • Chapter One: From Philanthropy to Race 1835-1848
  • Chapter Two: Colonising the Body: Infanticide and Governance
  • Chapter Three: Colonising the Body: A Species Apart
  • Chapter Four: Citizens, Rebels and Ambiguous Identities in the Ethno-Zoo
  • Chapter Five: The Coranderrk Dormitory: Gender, Caste and Extinction
  • Chapter Six: ‘You can make them white here without soap’
  • Conclusion: ‘Yarra, my father’s country’
  • Bibliography

INTRODUCTION: Imperial Economies of Race

In the expansionary movements of the European nation stales in the nineteenth century, race and empire were mutually constituted. ‘It was’, wrote Catherine Hall, ‘colonial encounters which produced a new category, race’.1 The idea of race raised colonialism to a biological imperative. The idea of race, and the ability of individuals to perceive the marks and differentials of race, have a history of their own. What follows is a history of how Europeans in one colonial encounter came to think that race mattered and how they produced specific categories of race that gave scientific and moral warrant to their rapacious colonising. It is a political economy of race.

This study is concerned with the multilateral connections between developments in the science of race across the European imperial domain and the operations of colonial policy in one location, that of Port Phillip, later Victoria, in south-eastern Australia in the middle and late nineteenth century. Specifically, it is concerned with the interactions between anthropology and the practical management of the Victorian government’s Aboriginal station Coranderrk, onto which the Kulin people, on whose land the colonial settlement of Melbourne was established in 1835, were gathered in 1863. It is concerned with the prominence of the Australians, particularly those from the south-eastern comer of the continent, in the formulation of European concepts of race, and with the daily lives of those on whom the ethnological gaze fell so heavily. It is concerned with the circularities of colonial theory and colonizing practice which produced the extinguishing Aboriginal body and the imperial fantasy of terra nullius. Colonialism and anthropology formed an hermetic ideological coupling of power and knowledge in which European desire, be it sexual or territorial, was projected onto the colonised with such force and effect that it delivered them up as objects who entreated their own colonization. It is with the twists and turns in this multidirectional relationship between theories of race and the practical expressions of colonial power through the categories of race that this study is concerned.

In the following chapters I explore how anthropology projected imminent Aboriginal extinction as an effect of biology and culture, rather than as an effect, and an animating ambition, of colonial practice. I also explore the complicity of humanitarian philanthropists in the production of the ‘ideological dissimulations’ encapsulated in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s provocative formula: ‘white men are saving brown women from brown men’ with its slippery and readily mutable verb. In south-eastern Australia, white men produced and reinforced colonizing power through the purported rescue of brown women, whose cthnologically-predicated ill-treatment by brown men provided the singular event that permitted the suspension of the letter of the law in order to impose ‘not only a civil but a good society’.

From the generalised rape, abuse and exploitation of the sexual labour of Aboriginal women and girls by colonists on the frontier in the late 1830s, to the emphasis laid by the Victorian Board for the Protection of Aborigines (BPA) on the seizure of Aboriginal girls from their kin in the 1860s and 1870s, to the Board’s determination in the 1880s to bring ‘finality’ to the Aboriginal ‘problem’ by steering young Aboriginal women into marriages with white men, the exercise of power over Aboriginal women was the most crucial vector of colonial power. In Victoria, as in so many other colonial sites, the control of female sexuality and reproduction was, as Anne McClintock argues, crucial to the ‘transmission of white, male power’.

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Interview: Nia King, “Bodies on the Line”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Gay & Lesbian, Interviews, Media Archive, Women on 2013-04-29 01:14Z by Steven

Interview: Nia King, “Bodies on the Line”

Mixed Reader: A blog of mixed race literature

Tali Weinberg

Nia King is multimedia producer with a passion for social justice. She started out as a zinester writing about mixed-race identity, made a short film about searching for trans-friendly housing in the Bay Area, and has recently transitioned into journalism. Her ongoing projects include a web comic about her interracial relationship, and a podcast about queer and trans art activists of color. Feminist textile artist Tali Weinberg, an MFA student at California College of Art, recently interviewed Nia for part of her thesis on women art activists in the Bay Area. Below is an abridged transcript of the interview.

Do you consider yourself part of a certain activist or artistic lineage?

 As a queer, mixed-race woman of color who’s an ex-punk and an ex-anarchist I feel like there’s lots of different things that I draw from, some of which have nothing to do with my identity. Jaime Hernandez is definitely my biggest influence in terms of my comics. He and his brother do a series of comics called Love and Rockets. His branch of the Love and Rockets franchise is about these two young queer punk rockers growing up outside LA, I think one of them is Chicana and the other is Colombian and Scottish. For me as a young punk growing up in a white scene, seeing queer women of color represented in comics as actual people was a really amazing thing.

 I also really love the visual art. Every panel looks like something you could put up on a wall, which is not something you see with all comics. There’s a really strong graphic style with a lot of solid black and white shapes that are really sort of distinct visually and that’s something I also really draw from…

Read the entire interview here.

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On Being Brown in America

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-28 23:15Z by Steven

On Being Brown in America

The New York Times

Amitava Kumar, Writer and Professor of English
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

The recent bombings in Boston threw up many questions. One of the most pressing, in my somewhat narrow view, is the meaning of being brown in America.

On April 17, two days after the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring almost 200 others, CNN’s John King went on air to say that the suspect was a “dark-skinned male.” In the CNN video, which shows that the time of the broadcast was 1.15 p.m. on Wednesday, we see King pointing to a photograph from the front-page of The New York Times. A positive identification had been made based on a surveillance video from a Lord & Taylor store just outside the frame of the picture in the Times, King said. A little later that afternoon, King would go on to assure viewers that a subsequent arrest had been made.

No one had been arrested that day, of course, and, alas, there was no dark-skinned male. What is remarkable is that even while first reporting his piece of “exclusive” news, CNN’s King felt it necessary to qualify what he was saying. The qualifications he offered were not about the haste with which he was sharing a piece of misinformation, or the bewildering lack of specificity in his description, or even the absence of adequate verification. Instead, his remarks appeared to suggest to his viewers that he couldn’t be more open with them because of politically correct sentiments that complicated open disclosures of “game changers” that the police had uncovered:

“I was told they have a breakthrough in the identification of the suspect, and I’m told — and I want to be very careful about this because people get very sensitive when you say these things — I was told by one of these sources who’s a law enforcement official that this was a dark-skinned male… The official used some other words. I’m not going to repeat them until we get more information because of the sensitivities. There are some people who will take offense even in saying that.”

Some people! Who are they?…

…You’ve heard the words of the old blues song: “They say if you’s white, should be all right, / If you’s brown, stick around, / But if you’s black, mmm mmm, brother, get back, get back, get back.” That old racial imaginary is changing. Brown is staining the edges of the racial divide. Richard Rodriguez has written, “Brown bleeds through the straight line, unstaunchable — the line separating black from white, for example.” If we are going to be optimistic, we can even say that brown is the color of the future.

A new book by a Boston-based academic and filmmaker, Vivek Bald, describes the formation of what he calls Bengali Harlem in the early decades of the last century. Starting with the migration of Bengali peddlers to the United States in 1880s, and a later group of seamen, mostly Muslims, in the 1930s and 1940s, those who came to this country didn’t establish separate ethnic enclaves like later immigrants. Instead, they formed “networks that were embedded in working-class Creole, African-American, and Puerto Rican neighborhoods and entwined with the lives of their residents.” This radical mixing and assimilation, Bald argues, is an unnoticed aspect of the history of U.S. immigration.

The invisible assimilation of working-class immigrants in that early phase has given way to an entirely different order of mixing in contemporary America. The attacks of Sept. 11 might have drawn a line in the sand, but the reality of sand is that it keeps shifting…

Read the entire article here.

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Tries to Marry Quadroon

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2013-04-28 22:54Z by Steven

Tries to Marry Quadroon

Los Angeles Herald
Volume 35, Number 31 (1907-11-02)
page 2, column 6
Source: California Digital Newspaper Collection

By Associated Press

YUMA, Ariz,, Nov. 1-M. G. Graff, aged 21 years, white, of Riverside, Cal., and Addle Burkhart, aged 20, were refused the office of marriage by Probate Judge Godfrey here today and the license issued them was destroyed on the girl’s confession that she is a quadroon.

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Zumbi dos Palmares College encourages Afro-Brazilians to study

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2013-04-28 22:33Z by Steven

Zumbi dos Palmares College encourages Afro-Brazilians to study
2012-04-27 is a one-stop source of news and information about, and for, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is sponsored by the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).

Thiago Borges

Opened in 2004 in São Paulo, the institution reserves 50% of its enrollment for people of African descent, who account for only 13% of college students in Brazil.

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – As the country’s classrooms become gradually more diverse, the debate over racial quotas at public universities has once again reached the Brazilian Supreme Court.

The 10 judges representing the country’s highest court voted unanimously on April 26 that affirmative action based on race is legal.

Though quotas remain a controversial issue in Brazil, the path to a college education is becoming increasingly accessible for Brazilians of African descent.

In 2000, only 2% of university students in Brazil were black, according to the NGO African Brazilian Society for Social Cultural Development (Afrobras), which is working to increase the inclusion of Afro-Brazilians in higher education.

That rate has risen to 13%, according to the Ministry of Education (MEC).

The federal government’s University for All Program (ProUni) provides scholarships in private universities to students with disabilities, as well as indigenous, mixed-race and black students. The number of scholarships awarded is based on percentages of each group within the overall population, using figures from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

“The situation is somewhat different because of ProUni, which made it possible for a lot of people from low-income communities to study at private universities (by granting them scholarships),” says Francisca Rodrigues, the director of communication for the Afrobras. “But the proportion is still very low when you take into account the fact that 51% of the population is black or mixed-race.”

Of the 919,551 scholarships awarded throughout Brazil by ProUni from 2005 to 2011, 35.34% went to students who declared themselves to be mixed race and 12.51% went to students who declared themselves to be black…

Read the entire article here.

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Brown Man and Fiancee Can Not Get Knot Tied

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2013-04-28 21:54Z by Steven

Brown Man and Fiancee Can Not Get Knot Tied

San Francisco Call
Volume 107, Number 106 (1910-03-16)
page 3, column 5
Source: California Digital Newspaper Collection

Unfeeling Goldfield Sheriff Suggests a Hurried Departure

GOLDFIELD, Nev., March 15.—George Masaki, a Japanese gardener, and Juliette S. Schwann, both of Los Angeles, were unable to get a judge to make them man and wife here today. Masaki took out marriage license during the afternoon, but as soon as the sheriff found it out he hunted the couple up and escorted them to the railroad station, where he ordered them not to appear in Goldfield again. This action of the authorities was taken because of unpleasant publicity resulting from a recent case of miscegenation.

The couple took a train to Tonopah. The authorities in Tonopah have been warned.

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