Michele Elam: “The Souls of Mixed Folk” (NBAAS, 31/10/12)

Posted in Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-14 19:15Z by Steven

Michele Elam: “The Souls of Mixed Folk” (NBAAS, 31/10/12)

Race & Ethnicity Archive

“What are you?” The question can often comes out of nowhere One can be going about her quotidian activities, or she might have just finished a meeting at work. “What are you?” The question is disorienting for most, but for others who are racially ambiguous it is commonplace. The ostensibly benign question suggests that it is about the person being asked. However, one might argue that it is more about the one who does the asking. In The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millenium (Stanford University Press, 2011), Michele Elam critically discusses the rise of the Mixed Race Studies. To demonstrate the new sub-genre of cultural studies in both art and academia Elam shows elements of what mixed-racedness looks like in the classroom, as well as in the public sphere here at the turn of the 21st century.

One of the contributions of Elam’s Souls makes to Mixed Race Studies is her careful outline of the ways people of mixed biological ancestry have historically worked for the goal of social justice for all oppressed groups; moreover, she shows how those who look at mixed-racedness critically continue to do so. This, despite the trajectory in which some of mixed-race advocates are moving: people of mixed-race backgrounds are a separate group with separate issues, and most importantly, being both black and white–and that is most often the only definition many use of being “mixed”–their experience falls outside the purview of race studies. This notion of being separate and outside is often used to justify a view of race that essentially reifies notions of identity as being defined by blood percentage–a point of view that takes us back, not forward. While those who critically study mixed- raceness see that one’s movement through a society that continues to ask What are you? can result in alternate experiences, many show that the difference can work in a way to help all understand racial oppression. Dr. Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor in the English Department at Stanford University, falls within the latter group.

And, so do Lezley Saar, Danzy Senna, Philip Roth, Aaron McGruder, and Dave Chappelle, to name but a few. A mixed bag, for sure, Elam examines relevant works of the aforementioned artists as she considers the way in which they challenge what is quickly becoming conventional thought on mixed-racedness from the academic classroom to the public sphere.

Whether one is fascinated with her critical reading of K-12 textbooks focused on mixed race curriculum or with her reading of artist Lezley Saar’s “Baby Halfie Brown Head”; with her insightful readings of Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks comic strips and/or the unforgettable episode “The Racial Draft” from The Dave Chappelle Show; whether one is interested in the ways that author Colson Whitehead and playwright Carl Hancock Rux ask their audiences to think critically about mixed-racedness in the 21st century one thing is clear: Elam first highlights and subsequently knocks down the notion that “fetishizing the box” of the racial categories on census forms or outlining one’s mixed family tree represents progression towards a most just society in the US.

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Poetry Betrays Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2016-04-14 17:43Z by Steven

Poetry Betrays Whiteness

Harriet: A Poetry Blog
Poetry Foundation

Lucas de Lima (Introduction by Daniel Borzutzky)

Among the many pointed questions that Lucas de Lima raises in “Poetry Betrays Whiteness” is that of how positions of unitedstatesian privilege can be used “to fight structural inequality and global anti-blackness.” This far-reaching essay touches upon, among other things, conceptions of race in the U.S. and Brazil; afro-Brazilian artists who have offered alternative conceptions; and a fascinating discussion of the ways that Brazilian Portuguese has been shaped by indigenous and African influences.

Lucas concludes by drawing our attention to a racist and sexist post on Harriet in 2008 that I had never seen before, and which sadly seems illustrative of the disgusting racism embedded in U.S. literary institutions that has been exposed in the past few years. Lucas asks, among other things, for the Poetry Foundation to take responsibility for the publication of the racist post it provided a platform for. This is a fair request, and one that I second. We should know why such posts are published. Editorial policies surrounding racist content should be clearly articulated and transparent

…When I’m in Brazil—the country with the largest Black population in the world outside of Africa—I am not a light-skinned Latino or a person of color. I occupy the position of a white person.

Lately, moving between racial categories has magnified my political feelings. The more time I spend in the country I left as a child, the more I hone the grief and rage that whiteness, as a global logic, provokes in me. For every Black person killed by the police in the U.S., countless more are killed in Brazil. In both places, the rise of police brutality and mass incarceration is one condition of racialized life. Another is the exploding suicide rate in Native communities, particularly among youth.

I think of nation-states as inherently militarized spaces articulated through each other. When Frederick Douglass said Brazil was less racist than the U.S. in its treatment of freed slaves, he anticipated the self-fashioning of a ‘racial democracy’ whose mixture would be defined against U.S.-style segregation. Like the vast majority of Brazilians, I have mixed-race ancestry. Because my nonwhite ancestors survived, I am alive and need to be explicit about the horrors of miscegenation—the rape of African and Indigenous women by Portuguese men. My light skin is the result of policies that whitened the population by incentivizing European immigration at the turn of the century. I think all the time about how the state transmits white supremacy through my body. My phenotype encodes a national fear of being too black and brown. As in other slaveholding societies, the idea that Brazil could one day be Haiti haunted the elite…

Read the entire article here.

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The Specter of Races: Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-04-14 02:16Z by Steven

The Specter of Races: Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars

University of Virginia Press
April 2016
224 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 9780813938790
Cloth ISBN: 9780813938783
Ebook ISBN: 9780813938806

Anke Birkenmaier, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Indiana University, Bloomington

Arguing that race has been the specter that has haunted many of the discussions about Latin American regional and national cultures today, Anke Birkenmaier shows how theories of race and culture in Latin America evolved dramatically in the period between the two world wars. In response to the rise of scientific racism in Europe and the American hemisphere in the early twentieth century, anthropologists joined numerous writers and artists in founding institutions, journals, and museums that actively pushed for an antiracist science of culture, questioning pseudoscientific theories of race and moving toward more broadly conceived notions of ethnicity and culture.

Birkenmaier surveys the work of key figures such as Cuban historian and anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, Haitian scholar and novelist Jacques Roumain, French anthropologist and museum director Paul Rivet, and Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, focusing on the transnational networks of scholars in France, Spain, and the United States to which they were connected. Reviewing their essays, scientific publications, dictionaries, novels, poetry, and visual arts, the author traces the cultural study of Latin America back to these interdisciplinary discussions about the meaning of race and culture in Latin America, discussions that continue to provoke us today.

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Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2016-04-14 02:15Z by Steven

Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution

University of North Carolina Press
April 2016
332 pages
6.125 x 9.25
24 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2672-7

Devyn Spence Benson, Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies
Louisiana State University

Analyzing the ideology and rhetoric around race in Cuba and south Florida during the early years of the Cuban revolution, Devyn Spence Benson argues that ideas, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices relating to racial difference persisted despite major efforts by the Cuban state to generate social equality. Drawing on Cuban and U.S. archival materials and face-to-face interviews, Benson examines 1960s government programs and campaigns against discrimination, showing how such programs frequently negated their efforts by reproducing racist images and idioms in revolutionary propaganda, cartoons, and school materials.

Building on nineteenth-century discourses that imagined Cuba as a raceless space, revolutionary leaders embraced a narrow definition of blackness, often seeming to suggest that Afro-Cubans had to discard their blackness to join the revolution. This was and remains a false dichotomy for many Cubans of color, Benson demonstrates. While some Afro-Cubans agreed with the revolution’s sentiments about racial transcendence–“not blacks, not whites, only Cubans”–others found ways to use state rhetoric to demand additional reforms. Still others, finding a revolution that disavowed blackness unsettling and paternalistic, fought to insert black history and African culture into revolutionary nationalisms. Despite such efforts by Afro-Cubans and radical government-sponsored integration programs, racism has persisted throughout the revolution in subtle but lasting ways.

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Negotiating Identities: Mixed Race Individuals in China, Japan, and Korea

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-04-14 02:11Z by Steven

Negotiating Identities: Mixed Race Individuals in China, Japan, and Korea

University of San Francisco
McLaren Complex – MC 250
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, California 94117-1080
2016-04-14 through 2016-04-15

The University of San Francisco Center for Asia Pacific Studies is pleased to announce its spring symposium Negotiating Identities: Mixed-Race Individuals in China, Japan, and Korea, a conference to be held at the University of San Francisco on Thursday and Friday, April 14-15, 2016.

The highlight of the conference will be a keynote address by Emma Teng, Professor of History and Asian Civilizations, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

With this conference, the Center plans to provide a forum for academic discussions and the sharing of the latest research on the history and life experiences of mixed-race individuals in China, Japan, and Korea. The conference is designed to promote greater understanding of the cross-cultural encounters that led to the creation of interracial families and encourage research that examines how mixed-race individuals living in East Asia have negotiated their identities…

For more information and to register, click here.

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The PBS NewsHour Launches Year Long Conversation on Race, Diversity and Intolerance

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-04-14 01:40Z by Steven

The PBS NewsHour Launches Year Long Conversation on Race, Diversity and Intolerance

PBS NewsHour

Media Relations Contacts:

Nick Massella, Director of Audience Engagement and Communications
James Blue, Senior Content and Special Projects Producer

WASHINGTON, DC (August 31, 2015) – Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. Eric Garner. These are just three names that have dominated news coverage in the past year. Different stories and different circumstances, provoking similar conversations about race on a national and international level. They underscore the reality that America’s deepest wound is far from healed.

Meanwhile, debates about immigration and citizenship have left many feeling alienated and angry on all sides of the issues. A recent New York Times / CBS News poll shows that the majority of Americans think race relations are bad.

With all of that in mind, the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff has launched a yearlong series focusing on diversity, divisions and various efforts and ideas to bridge and heal these issues. This series includes a deep look at the enduring and painful issues we will call Race Matters. On broadcast and online, NewsHour will host conversations on finding solutions to the painful divides that continue to plague our communities.

Returning to the NewsHour to take a leading role in this project is special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The series will take viewers throughout the United States to the Americans having tough conversations on these important issues and will feature experts on race relations and their proposals for how to address race-fueled issues. This is a periodic series that will air on the program frequently throughout the year…

Read the entire press release here.

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