Mixed Race America: Identities and Culture

Posted in Arts, Communications/Media Studies, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-02-26 22:12Z by Steven

Mixed Race America: Identities and Culture

Fifteenth Annual American Studies Conference
Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55105
2014-02-27 through 2014-02-28

Keynote Address
Thursday, 2014-02-27, 18:00-19:30 CST (Local Time)
Alexander G. Hill Ballroom
Kagin Commons, Macalester

Keynote Speakers:

Ralina L. Joseph, Associate Professor of Communication
University of Washington

Author of: Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, 2012).

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Co-editor of: War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013).

Cover design by Ricardo Levins Morales

The American Studies Department at Macalester College is honored to host the 15th annual American Studies Conference, “Mixed Race America: Identities and Culture.”

Held every February during Black History Month, the conference brings renowned scholars to campus to present their work and engage with faculty, staff, students, alumni and Twin Cities residents. The conference seeks to highlight the links between scholarship, activism and civic engagement. Each year a different theme is selected based on pertinent issues.

The American Studies Department serves as the academic focal point for the study of race and ethnicity in a national and transnational framework.

For more information on the American Studies Department or this event, contact Kathie Scott at scott@macalester.edu.

For more information, click here. Read the program guide here.

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Multiple (Eye)dentity Series: (1)ne Drop Rule w/ Yaba Blay

Posted in Arts, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-26 19:16Z by Steven

Multiple (Eye)dentity Series: (1)ne Drop Rule w/ Yaba Blay

New York University
Kimmel Center for University Life
60 Washington Square Sout
Room 802
New York, New York 10012
Thursday, 2014-02-27, 17:00-21:00 EST (Local Time)

The Multiple (Eye)dentity Series is comprised of films, performances and speakers that showcase the ways in which art and media are platforms for creating dialogue, sharing personal narratives, exploring issues of identity and diversity, and encouraging activism and social change.

This session features Dr. Yaba Blay, creator of the (1)ne Drop Rule Project. Through this project, Dr. Blay, seeks to challenge narrow perceptions of Blackness as both an identity and lived reality. Featuring the perspectives of 58 contributors representing 25 different countries and countries of origin, and combining candid memoirs with simple, yet striking, portraiture, this multi-platform project provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness. Although contributors use varying terms to self-identify, they all see themselves as part of the larger racial, cultural, and social group generally referred to and known as “Black.” They all have experienced having their identity called into question simply because they don’t fit neatly into the stereotypical “Black box” — dark skin, “kinky” hair, broad nose, full lips, etc. – and most have been asked “What are you?” or the more politically correct, “Where are you from?” numerous times by various people throughout their lives. It is through contributors’ lived experiences with and lived imaginings of Black identity that we are able to visualize multiple possibilities for Blackness above and beyond appearances.

Please stop by the 8th floor of the Kimmel Center to see a portion of the exhibit until mid March!

For more information, click here.

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Black History Month in Germany

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive on 2014-02-26 16:59Z by Steven

Black History Month in Germany

German Mission to the United States

In the United States February has been celebrated as Black History Month for the past four decades or so, with schools, media, institutions and celebrities taking the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments and historical experiences of African Americans. In recent years, Germany has joined a number of other countries, namely Canada and the UK, with its own Black History Month events.

In Germany, people with a black African background use the term “Afrodeutsch” or “Schwarz” to identify themselves. Their ethnic backgrounds are varied: many are immigrants or children of immigrants from African countries, some with one white German parent; others are the children or descendants of black US soldiers who were stationed in Germany as far back as the 1950s. It is impossible to say how many black Germans there are, however; in 2008, Spiegel magazine used the number 500,000, though ethnicity is not officially counted.

The proportion to the overall German population is thus quite small, but with Black History Month events, a number or organizations are raising the profile of black people in Germany. Hamburg and Berlin, commonly recognized as the cities with the largest black communities, are the cities with the largest and most long-standing Black History Month celebrations. In both cities, the organization Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (Initiative of Black People in Germany) was instrumental in organizing the first celebrations in the early 90s…

Read the entire article here.

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Malaysians of mixed parentage back deleting ‘race’ in official paperwork

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-02-26 16:47Z by Steven

Malaysians of mixed parentage back deleting ‘race’ in official paperwork

The Malay Mail Online
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Ushar Daniele

PETALING JAYA, Feb 24 — The proposal to remove the race column in all paperwork in the country has been received positively.

he Malay Mail yesterday spoke to people on the street and with one voice, they agreed with the suggestion made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup after the National Unity Consultative Council’s meeting.

Engineer Shawn Sreedharan, 25, who is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian, said he had to ask his father whenever he had to fill in his race in a form.

“My father tells me to choose whichever I want but what defines my race is that I am a product of my father, so I would like to follow my father’s bloodline.

“Socially, I can be seen as Malay or Chinese but both works for me as ticking a box on a piece of paper does not define who I am.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking by Michael Keevak (review) [Spickard]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive on 2014-02-26 16:36Z by Steven

Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking by Michael Keevak (review)

China Review International
Volume 19, Number 1, 2012
pages 103-105
DOI: 10.1353/cri.2012.0023

Paul Spickard, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Michael Keevak, Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). 248 pages.

Becoming Yellow is a smart, erudite, intriguing, quirky, delightful, and ultimately unsatisfying book. Michael Keevak sets out to trace how, from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, the skin color of East Asians changed from white to yellow in the minds of Europeans and how all East Asians came to be viewed as members of a single Mongolian race. His larger purpose may be to comment on the broader history of European racial thinking and, perhaps, to displace whiteness and blackness from the core of that story, although he never quite articulates that intent.

Keevak traces the ideas of some familiar racial thinkers: Linneaus, Blumenbach, Buffon, Cuvier, Broca, Gobineau, and Davenport. He also gives us a taste of the ideas of a lot of writers whose racial ideas have remained hidden to all but the most diligent scholars—people such as Giovanni da Empoli, Duarte Barbosa, Juan González de Mendoza, Karl Gützlaff, François Bernier, Johann Christian Polykarp Erxleben, G. S. Mellin, James Cowles Prichard, Carl Gustav Carus, and dozens of others.

The main outlines of Keevak’s book are clear. Becoming Yellow begins with an introduction that gestures toward several topics that will be treated later in the book. There follows a chapter on how the skin and character of East Asians were perceived by European scholars and missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These are followed by an account of how Linnaeus, Blumenbach, and their eighteenth-century contemporaries arrived at yellow as the color that would stand for East Asians, and how they decided that Mongolians were the core people in East Asia. Then follows a chapter on the rise of anthropometry in the nineteenth century and the measurement of so-called Mongolians’ skull shapes, skin color, and the like. The next chapter focuses on the fascination of nineteenth-century Western medicine with Asian bodies—the so-called Mongolian eyefold, the Mongolian spot, Mongolism, and so on. The final chapter is a hodge-podge that briefly describes the turn-of-the-century Western political movement fed by fear of invasion by a “yellow peril.” It outlines the very different responses of Chinese and Japanese writers to Western ideas about Asian skin color and attempts to sum them up.

Keevak has a curious manner of pursing an argument. Despite the fairly clear overall arc of the book, each chapter is quite muddled internally. Keevak tends, early in each chapter, to refer, without explanation or context, to key ideas that he has not introduced (but, it turns out, may develop later). This approach suggests that the reader and author had already discussed the issue, so he does not have to establish or articulate its significance. The narrative in each chapter whirls around its subject, feinting here and there, rather than proceeding in a linear fashion. Keevak offers lots of esoteric details, all dutifully footnoted. He presents them by way of illustrating points, rather than as proof that his points are true. Even so, his knowledge is impressive. Then, when he comes to the major assertions in each chapter’s argument, there are no notes at all, and everything proceeds at the level of naked assertion. It is as if Keevak is displaying all his minute and intricate learning early on, so that we will believe him later, when he makes, unsupported, the key parts of his argument.

Nonetheless, many of his ideas are arresting, even if unsupported. To take just one example, Keevak concludes that “yellow began as a way of emphasizing Chinese proximity to Europeans . . . but . . . over time it had become redeployed as a term of complexional distance” (p. 34). This assertion might be true, though Keevak does not really demonstrate it, much less prove it.

Despite the shortcomings of his approach, each chapter is, nonetheless, quite delightful if one can let go of the need for linear arguments undergirded by solid supporting evidence. Keevak is so learned about odd esoterica that the reader can sit back and just enjoy the details. In each chapter Keevak presents a lovely collection—a bit like John Soane’s house on Lincoln Inn’s Fields in London—of overstuffed rooms of ephemera, all jumbled together, each of interest individually…

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What’s in a name? ‘Mixed,’ ‘biracial,’ ‘black’

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-02-24 20:24Z by Steven

What’s in a name? ‘Mixed,’ ‘biracial,’ ‘black’

Cable News Network (CNN)

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan

(CNN) — When the census listed Negro as a race option in 2010, a controversy erupted.

My students at the University of Michigan were eager to denounce the term’s use: “Negro? It has to go!”

To their ears, “Negro” was derogatory, too close in tone to the other, more infamous n-word. I played devil’s advocate, to test their thinking: “But some black elders still self-identify as Negroes.” “It’s preferable to its predecessor, colored.”

“Don’t some of you belong to the National Council of Negro Women chapter?”

I could not shake their thought.

I was confronting a generational divide. For my grandmother, “Negro” was a term of respect. To my students, it was an epithet…

…My CNN essay “Biracial and also black” generated a debate about the words we use to describe African-Americans. I called myself mixed-race, a phrase that includes identities rooted in multiple races.

Another term, biracial, some readers pointed out, assumes one identity borne out of two. It is, perhaps, too narrow for a discussion about identity in the 21st century.

Some readers also rejected the phrase “African-American,” deeming it awkward and inaccurate. Renee wrote: “We are not from Africa, I was born here in the U.S. I don’t know anyone there, can’t even say my ancestors are from there.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Race, Marriage, and the Law of Freedom: Alabama and Virginia 1860s-1960s

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2014-02-24 03:05Z by Steven

Race, Marriage, and the Law of Freedom: Alabama and Virginia 1860s-1960s

Chicago-Kent Law Review
Volume 70, Issue 2: Symposium on the Law of Freedom, Part I: Freedom: Personal Liberty and Private Law (1994)
pages 371-437

Peter Wallenstein, Professor of History
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


In 1966, one hundred years after Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification,’ Richard and Mildred Loving took a case to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge their convictions for having violated Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage. In the months ahead, the nation’s high court would face squarely, for the first time, the question of whether laws like Virginia’s violated the Fourteenth Amendment. In June 1967, in a unanimous decision, the Court struck down all laws that made the racial identity of an American citizen a criterion for indictment and conviction for the crime of contracting a marriage.

The most private of relationships proved tightly entwined with public policy in the years after the end of American slavery. Sexual relations across racial lines-whether within marriage or outside itproved a topic of judicial interest into the 1960s for two reasons. First, many American states enacted and long retained statutes restricting such interracial relations, and second, some people sought to establish and maintain such relations whatever the law. Generalizing about the racial attitudes and behavior of white southerners, Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal noted in the early 1940s that “the closer the association of a type of interracial behavior is to sexual and social intercourse on an equalitarian basis, the higher it ranks among the forbidden things.”

This Essay focuses on the most forbidden thing of all: marriage between African Americans and European Americans. The Essay details the origins and application of laws against such marriages, and tracks the history of challenges in the courts to those laws. Two states, Virginia in the Upper South and Alabama in the Deep South, together illustrate how the law related to sex, marriage, and interracial couples. Though the variations on a general theme are intriguing, the two states differed little in the outlines of their legislative or judicial histories on questions of miscegenation. Both states criminalized sexual and marital relations of an interracial nature. In both states, any number of cases developed at the local level, as the courts dealt with indictments for violating the antimiscegenation laws. At the appellate level some defendants brought appeals on constitutional or other grounds. The legal environment in each state was shaped by a decision from the other state.

Four cases, two from Alabama and two from Virginia, went to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1883, Pace v. Alabama supplied a major precedent in favor of the constitutionality of antimiscegenation statutes. Virginia relied on Pace into the 1960s to justify its own antimiscegenation  laws. In two cases in the 1950s, Jackson v. Alabama and Naim v. Virginia, the Court skirted the issue and left Pace intact. In 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court finally reversed Pace and established a new law of race and marriage throughout the nation. Only in the 1960s, a full century after Emancipation, did the Supreme Court declare statutes against interracial marriage unconstitutional. Only then did the law of slavery and racism defer at last to the law of freedom and racial equality.

The law that the Lovings challenged in the 1960s had its origins in the seventeenth century. In Virginia, slavery and antimiscegenation legislation developed together. In Alabama, by contrast, laws restricting interracial marriage originated only in the 1850s. In both states, such laws reached their fullest development in the years between 1865 and 1883, that is, in the generation after the Civil War and Emancipation. Moreover, in both states the legal definitions of white and non- white shifted in the early twentieth century, such that residents with any discernible African ancestry were classified as nonwhite (something not the case in the nineteenth century).

When the Lovings married each other in 1958, no constitutional challenge to antimiscegenation laws had succeeded in any federal court. The American system of marital Apartheid no longer held sway in many states outside the former Confederacy, but in the South it showed no promise of relinquishing its control. That system had its origins, at least in Virginia, as far back as the 1690s. It had grown more powerful as slavery had. It had continued to grow more powerful into the 1920s and 1930s. As late as the 1950s, efforts to challenge the system in state and federal courts alike in both Alabama and Virginia had come to naught. Yet, the Lovings prevailed in their challenge. This Essay tells the history of the system they challenged and outlines the story of that challenge and its aftermath…

Read the entire article here.

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Being Mixed in Today’s America

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-23 23:46Z by Steven

Being Mixed in Today’s America

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

Jonathan Ng
California State University, San Bernardino

For me, being mixed ethnicity has been a multiple-way street ― like a giant intersection. I am Black, White and Chinese; however, based on my skin color, most people classify me as Black. I look racially ambiguous, so people like to ask me what I am. When I tell them that I am Black and White, they think, “Oh, that’s kind of what I guessed.” But then when I finish and say that I am Chinese, it absolutely blows their minds. They respond “How?” or “No you are not!”

It is strange to think that people actually deny me of my own heritage like I am wrong, but when I tell them that my last name is Chinese (Ng), they accept it and say, “Oh so that’s where your last name comes from. I thought it was different.” Here’s something I found to be interesting, though. When I tell people that I am Black, White and Chinese, they understand that I am mixed; however, the only thing they care about is the Black and Chinese part. I think they selectively hear Black and Chinese because it seems the most interesting to them. I often get asked questions like, “What part of you is Chinese?” I have to explain my family history to just about everybody I meet. When I tell them that my family has been mixed since my great-grandparents on one side and my grandparents on my other side, they are absolutely shocked. Yes, I have a family of rebels.

This has become a daily routine for me ― let’s say weekly routine, because, yes, it has become that common for me to explain my heritage to people I meet. I don’t really mind it as much because I try to put myself in their shoes and understand how hard it is to grasp that my family has been mixed for so many generations back…

Read the entire article here.

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Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race

Posted in Anthropology, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2014-02-23 22:48Z by Steven

Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race

University of California, San Diego
320 pages

Maile Renee Arvin

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnic Studies

This dissertation analyzes how scientific knowledge has represented the Polynesian race as an essentially mixed, “almost white” race. Nineteenth and twentieth century scientific literature—spanning the disciplines of ethnology, physical anthropology, sociology and genetics—positioned Polynesians as the biological relatives of Caucasians. Scientific proof of this relationship allowed scientists, policymakers, and popular media to posit European and American settler colonialism in the Pacific as a peaceful and natural fulfillment of a biological destiny. Understanding knowledge as an important agent of settler colonial possession—in the political as well as supernatural, haunting connotations of that word— this project seeks to understand how Polynesians (with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians) have been bodily “possessed,” along with the political and economic possession of their lands. Thus, the project traces a logic of “possession through whiteness” in which Polynesians were once, and under the salutary influence of settler colonialism, will again be white.

The project’s analysis coheres around four figures of the “almost white” Polynesian race: the ancestrally white Polynesian of ethnology and Aryanism (1830s- 1870s), the Part-Hawaiian of physical anthropology and eugenics (1910s-1920s), the mixed-race “Hawaiian girl” of sociology (1930s-1940s), and the mixed-race, soon-to-be white (again) Polynesian of genetics, whose full acceptance in Hawaiʻi seemed to provide a model of racial harmony to the world (1950s). Rather than attempting to uncover “racist” scientific practices, the project reveals how historical scientific literature produced knowledge about the Polynesian race that remains important in how Native Hawaiians are recognized (and misrecognized) in contemporary scientific, legal and cultural spheres.

In addition to the historical analysis, the project also examines contemporary Native Hawaiian responses to the logic of possession through whiteness. These include regenerative actions that radically displace whiteness, such as contemporary relationship building between Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. At the same time, other regenerative actions attempt to reproduce Native Hawaiian-ness with a standard of racial purity modeled on whiteness, including legal fights waged over blood quantum legislation. Overall, the project provides a scientific genealogy as to how Polynesians have been recognized as “almost white,” and questions under what conditions this possessive recognition can be refused.


  • Signature Page
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Vita
  • Abstract of the Dissertation
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Polynesian Problem and its Genomic Solutions
    • Part 1: Defining the Polynesian Problem
      • 1.1.1: From Who to Whose: Origins, Identity, and Possession of the Indigenous Pacific
      • 1.1.2: Polynesia Through the Christian Lens of Degeneration
      • 1.1.3: Heirlooms of the Aryan Race
    • Part 2: (Un)Mapping Humanity: Genetic Sameness and Mixture in the Pacific
      • 1.2.1: Genetically “Solving” the Polynesian Problem
      • 1.2.2: The Hawaiian Genome Project
  • Chapter 2: “Still in the Blood”: Past and Present Configurations of the “Part-Hawaiian”
    • Part 1: Eugenic Thinking About Native Hawaiian Betterment
      • 2.1.1: Eugenics Pedagogy in Hawaiʻi: Uldrick Thompson’s Hopes for the Hawaiian “Remnant”
      • 2.1.2: Sullivan’s “Two Types” of Polynesians
    • Part 2: Leveraging Blood and Whiteness
      • 2.2.1: Polynesian Blood and the Pre-requisite of Whiteness
      • 2.2.2: Calling the Law on “Native Hawaiians with a Capital N”
  • Chapter 3: Re-envisioning “Hybrid” and “Hapa”: Race, Gender and Indigeneity in Hawaiʻi as Racial Laboratory
    • Part 1: Hybrid Hawaiian Types: Native Hawaiian Women in Hawaiʻiʻs Racial Laboratory
      • 3.1.1: The Racial Laboratory of Romanzo Adams and the Chicago School of Sociology
      • 3.1.2: Hybrid Hawaiian Girls
    • Part 2: Hapa and Whole
      • 3.2.1: Kip Fulbeck’s Vision of Hapa as a “Whole” New Race
      • 3.2.2: Re-constellations of Asian Settlers, Haoles Settlers, and Native Hawaiians
  • Chapter 4: Beyond Recognition: Native Hawaiians, Human Rights, and Global Indigenous Identities
    • Part 1: Polynesia and Hawaiʻi in the Science of Race After World World II
      • 4.1.1: The Polynesian Problem as Anti-Racist Example
      • 4.1.2: “Tropical Democracy” and the Science of Stabilizing Mixed Race
    • Part 2: Reframing Recognition: Indigenous Rights and Relationships in Oceania and Beyond
      • 4.2.1: Polynesian / Pacific / Pacific Islander
      • 4.2.2: Indigenous / Non-Self-Governing Territory
      • 4.2.3: Native American / Alaska Native / Idle No More
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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The invisible weight of whiteness: the racial grammar of everyday life in contemporary America

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-02-23 20:36Z by Steven

The invisible weight of whiteness: the racial grammar of everyday life in contemporary America

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 35, Issue 2, 2012
pages 173-194
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2011.613997

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Professor of Sociology
Duke University

Racial domination, like all forms of domination, works best when it becomes hegemonic, that is, when it accomplishes its goal without much fanfare. In this paper, based on the Ethnic and Racial Studies Annual Lecture I delivered in May 2011 in London, I argue there is something akin to a grammar – a racial grammar if you will – that structures cognition, vision, and even feelings on all sort of racial matters. This grammar normalizes the standards of white supremacy as the standards for all sort of social events and transactions. Thus, in the USA one can talk about HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), but not about HWCUs (historically white colleges and universities) or one can refer to black movies and black TV shows but not label movies and TV shows white when in fact most are. I use a variety of data (e.g., abduction of children, school shootings, etc.) to illustrate how this grammar works and highlight what it helps to accomplish. I conclude that racial grammar is as important as all the visible practices and mechanisms of white supremacy and that we must fight its poisonous effects even if, like smog, we cannot see how it works clearly.

Read the entire article here.

[View Dr. Bonilla-Silva’s lecture at the Fall 2010 Honors Colloquium at the University or Rhode Island here.]

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