“Obama, Post-Racialism and the New American Dilemma,” a lecture by Dr. Zebulon Vance Miletsky

Posted in Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-02-11 22:15Z by Steven

“Obama, Post-Racialism and the New American Dilemma,” a lecture by Dr. Zebulon Vance Miletsky

Frank Melville, Jr. Memorial Library
2nd Floor, E-2340 (Special Collections Seminar Room)
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York 11794
2017-02-13, 14:00-15:00 EST (Local Time)

Zebulon Vance Miletsky, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
Stony Brook University

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 as the 44th President of the United States, raised hopes for many that as a country we were entering a post-racial moment, that the twin legacies of oppression and slavery were overcome, not only in the United States, but the world. That same period, however, brought crises of authority caused by neo-liberalism, police violence, and mass incarceration that have consistently set back the very racial progress that Obama’s presidency seemed to inaugurate. Far from being post-racial, the Obama years were a period of constant racial crisis, the repercussions of which were felt daily since the killings of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson in the summer of 2014. It took the election of an African American to the nation’s highest office to uncover a level of racial hatred the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s, requiring an analysis of the relationship between multiracialism and post-racialism, as well as how whiteness operates in the United States, to fully appreciate what has come to pass. The election of Donald Trump as President has been a clear rejection of the post-racial era ushered in by Obama. Much like our more recent experiment in racial democracy, there are parallels between what happened with the overthrow of Reconstruction, America’s startling experiment in biracial democracy after the Civil War and today. The historical roots of the “whitelash” that fueled Trump’s victory lie in a prior racial backlash to an unprecedented attempt to grant African Americans citizenship during the period of Reconstruction. Based on a book chapter-in-progress for a volume on the Black Intellectual Tradition in America, this presentation discusses how the 21st century could potentially mark a new low in American race relations—or a “new American dilemma”.

Dr. Zebulon Vance Miletsky is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and a historian specializing in recent African-American History, Civil Rights and Black Power, Urban History, Mixed Race and Biracial identity, and Hip-Hop Studies. His research interests include: African-Americans in Boston; Northern freedom movements outside of the South; Mixed race history in the U.S. and passing; and the Afro-Latin diaspora. He is the author of numerous articles, reviews, essays and book chapters and is currently working on a manuscript on the civil rights movement in Boston. Ph.D.; African-American Studies with a concentration in History, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2008.

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Our faces occupy visual markers in society. On-lookers file faces into categories in unconscious, routine assessment. In that instant they assign identities to people that can usher in a whole set of assumptions.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-02-11 21:15Z by Steven

Within the context of the panel, the paradox refers to the “in-between” space in which mixed-race people find themselves, neither here nor there. Our faces occupy visual markers in society. On-lookers file faces into categories in unconscious, routine assessment. In that instant they assign identities to people that can usher in a whole set of assumptions. Yet the way someone looks—at face value—isn’t necessarily who they may be. “Paradoxical space” was first coined by feminist geologist Gillian Rose nearly a quarter of a century ago. Today, in both Canada and the US, the first wave of self-identified mixed-race adults has come of age and with it, artists seeking to find a foothold. The hope for tomorrow is that this generation’s children will navigate ethnically mixed milieus effortlessly, and migrate the discourse to new horizons.

Heidi McKenzie, “Paradox: Identity and Belonging,” Ceramics Monthly, March 2017. http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramics-monthly/article/paradox-identity-belonging/.

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If we could fuck away white supremacy, wouldn’t it be gone by now?

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-02-11 20:59Z by Steven

But contrary to popular narratives, interracial heterosexual relationships and their result, multiracial children, are not the antithesis of white supremacy, but can be easily co-opted as the glittery mask behind which racism and antiblackness continue to thrive. To be clear, though, interracial relationships themselves are not under critique here. The danger, rather, is in how we value interracial couples as something radical and disruptive to our current racist environment. The future, we assume, can all too easily elide necessities in the present. As Tahirah Hairston writes for Fusion on the subject, “no matter what America will look like in the future, we will still have to address these issues head-on.” If we could fuck away white supremacy, wouldn’t it be gone by now?

Lauren Michele Jackson, “Why A New Mixed Race Generation Will Not Solve Racism,” BuzzFeed, February 10, 2017. https://www.buzzfeed.com/laurmjackson/multiracial-families-cant-save-the-world-from-racism.

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‘To be black doesn’t have to mean anything more than what I already am’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 20:43Z by Steven

‘To be black doesn’t have to mean anything more than what I already am’

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Sofiya Ballin, Staff Writer

Sonia Galiber, Director of Operations at Urban Creators
Michael Bryant

For Black History Month, we’re exploring history and identity through the lens of joy. Black joy is the ability to love and celebrate black people and culture, despite the world dictating otherwise. Black joy is liberation.

Sonia Galiber, 25, Director of Operations
Philly Urban Creators, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My high school was pretty segregated. As a biracial kid, I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t black enough or Asian enough. That’s when I developed an inferiority complex.

Throughout all of this, I’m also dealing with needing to be Japanese enough. My mother’s family didn’t approve of my parents’ marriage. My grandparents got to know my dad, but there are some extended family members that I’m just meeting.

It was a motivating force for me. I went to Japanese school every Saturday from third grade to high school. That was an identity I was chasing in the same way that I was chasing blackness…

Read the entire article here.

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First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive on 2017-02-11 20:21Z by Steven

First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)


Leo Barraclough, Senior International Correspondent

Courtesy of Tantrum Films/Pinewood Pictures

Variety has been given exclusive access to the first-look image from Amma Asante’sWhere Hands Touch,” which stars Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”) and George MacKay (“Captain Fantastic”) in a story of forbidden love in Nazi Germany.

Fifteen-year-old Leyna (Stenberg), daughter of a white German mother and a black father, meets Lutz (MacKay), the son of a prominent SS officer, and a member of the Hitler Youth. “They fall helplessly in love, putting their lives at risk as all around them the persecution of Jews and those deemed ‘non-pure’ slowly unfolds,” according to a statement. “Does their love stand a chance amidst violence and hatred?”…

Read the entire article here.

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A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United Kingdom on 2017-02-11 19:57Z by Steven

A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

LA Weekly

April Wolfe, Lead Film Critic

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

In director Amma Asante’s epic political romance A United Kingdom, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star as Seretse and Ruth Khama, the interracial royal couple who stunned the world when they fought to rule the country that would become the Republic of Botswana. The story’s a wildly interesting history lesson on African poverty, the rise of apartheid in the late 1940s and Britain’s passive role in separating Botswana’s blacks from whites. But here all that complexity plays more Disney than drama, with a script from Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky) that turns love into a montage and politics into a trite cartoon of good vs. evil.

The couple lindy-hops through courtship and right into an engagement in the early scenes, which are set to an American jazz soundtrack. They first lock eyes at a dance in London, where he’s a law student and she’s an office worker. In real life, the two met secretly for a year before Seretse even got the nerve to ask, “Do you think you could love me?” But the script ramming right through the early romance and into the marriage leaves so many open questions about the characters’ love; as portrayed in the film, they barely know one another when Ruth decides she’s going to move to Africa to be Seretse’s queen.

Against the wishes of their families — and the British and South African governments — Seretse and Ruth marry and travel to Bechuanaland so that he can ascend the throne and use his education to help his people. Soon after their arrival comes one of the film’s most poignant moments: Seretse’s aunt Ella (Abena Ayivor), who’s the current queen, drills right into the thin white woman before her to ask if Ruth knows what it would mean to be a mother to the nation and its predominantly black citizens. Ella has a good point: At a time when white people are swarming into Bechuanaland to turn black citizens into servants, how good an idea is a white queen? Later, Ruth sits in her room, practicing British queen skills such as waving and smiling, while the tribe’s women break their backs outside to get food to their families. But A United Kingdom doesn’t fully explore this cultural distance; the film’s structure requires that Ruth be quickly accepted into the tribe, so the story can move on to Britain’s treachery…

Read the entire article here.

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It’s Not Simply Black and White: Onscreen mixed-race romances (sort of) grow up

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 18:14Z by Steven

It’s Not Simply Black and White: Onscreen mixed-race romances (sort of) grow up

Film Journal International

Simi Horwitz, Cultural Reporter/Features Writer
New York, New York

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, was not the first film to deal with an interracial love story, though it was the first to present “the issue” in the starkest terms. To wit: An exemplary son-in-law—a well-mannered, well-spoken doctor with a stellar future who happens to be black—sparks feelings of profound equivocation for the girl’s parents, otherwise the most fair-minded, tolerance-spewing champions one can imagine. The good doctor refusing to marry her at all without their blessing only makes it worse. He is a paradigm of virtue but still an African-American, and his race defines him.

At the height of the Civil Rights movement, the Stanley Kramer film was a controversial groundbreaker. The brilliant casting didn’t hurt: Sidney Poitier as the romantic lead, Dr. John Prentice, with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as old-time liberals Matt and Christina Drayton, whose daughter Joey (Hepburn’s real-life niece Katharine Houghton) is engaged to Prentice.

Naturally, it all ends happily enough (Did I mention it’s a comedy?), with Tracy delivering a long, very long speech asserting that love is what matters and while the young couple will face obstacles in a bigoted world, they must get married. To fly in the face of their love is a violation and morally wrong.

The film’s treatment of race relations is clearly dated. Not coincidentally, its depiction of women is also thesis-worthy, let alone its portrait of a black housekeeper (Isabel Sanford, years before “The Jeffersons”) who embodies a host of racial, gender and class stereotypes. Enraged and horrified at the prospect of Joey marrying a black man, she sputters, “Civil Rights are one thing. But this is something else.”

Still, it was a bellwether, landing an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and winning its screenwriter William Rose a statuette…

Read the entire article here.

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Paradox: Identity and Belonging

Posted in Articles, Arts, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 17:57Z by Steven

Paradox: Identity and Belonging

Ceramics Monthly
March 2017

Heidi McKenzie, Ceramic Artist
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I was in the room when Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates delivered his keynote speech at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2014. Among many things, he spoke about his sense of isolation working as a black artist in an otherwise white-dominated creative milieu. He asked people in the audience who self-identified as African American to stand up. When fewer than 40 people in a room of 4000-plus stood up, I was shaken. I recognized that this was a physical expression of a deeply rooted sense of disenfranchisement, on both collective and personal levels. Gates put the discomfort of race on the table. It was a call to action.

I organized a panel of mixed-race ceramic sculpture artists whose work speaks to issues of race and identity titled “Paradox: Identity & Belonging” for NCECA’s 50th anniversary conference in Kansas City, Missouri, last spring. Fellow Canadian, Brendan Tang, as well as Americans Jennifer Datchuk and Nathan Murray joined me on stage. Their words cut deeply into the personal journeys of many in the audience who stayed and shared with us for over an hour after the panel discussion, a conversation that moved onto a gathering of more than 20 at a local eatery. The synergies, revelations, and resonances were powerful, walls came tumbling down, and for a moment in time there was a collective sense of empowerment, a feeling that we’re all in this together, sifting through the paradox of mixed race…

Read the entire article here.

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Trevor Noah, Colorism and The Unexpected Role He Plays In Expanding the Divide

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2017-02-11 03:27Z by Steven

Trevor Noah, Colorism and The Unexpected Role He Plays In Expanding the Divide

Atlanta Black Star

Jared Ball, Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

“He’s out to neutralize, not to awaken.” – Willa Paskin

The leadership of our School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University has encouraged that professors like myself find ways this semester to incorporate into our work the new book Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Noah is the South African-born, biracial, Colored comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Copies have been distributed to students and faculty alike and I anticipate there being a flurry of engagement for courses in media studies as Noah’s book has plenty to offer.

Immediately we can start with critiques of false balance and Western politicized notions of objectivity, both of which were in play during Noah’s recent extended exchange with the aggressive right wing commentator Tomi Lahren. Many know of Noah’s nightly television work and it appears many more know him now after the straw woman performed her role in enhancing Noah’s credibility and right in time to coincide nicely with his book’s launch. What liberal aspirant to the throne of legitimacy wouldn’t want her as an interlocutor? Even in the silly film Pop Star Conner Friel (Andy Samberg) made sure his entourage consisted of a “perspective adjuster” whose sole function was to make the star look better by comparison. Muhammad Ali’s legend wasn’t born by his fights with Henry Cooper and Brian London. It were the fights with Liston, Frazier, Foreman and the federal government that told us he was the greatest.

We can also as a class ask, what is happening semiotically with the book’s cover? It read to me from the first like the perfect symbolic display of Noah’s entire political function as celebrity.  Noah’s beige face, askew, askance even – especially – with that grin, hand touching his head, painted on a tattered township wall, imposing, top-down upon a faceless Black African woman, almost saying, in an aloof, twisted version of the Old Spice commercial, “aww-shucks, look at me. Now look at you. Now look at me again. Now look at you. And back to me. I’ve made it and you can to? Never mind that. Look at me!” Its reminiscent of any billboard falsely advertising an exclusive lifestyle of which most onlookers can only dream…

Read the entire article here.

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What the #ThankYouLovings campaign gets wrong about interracial couples and the future of America

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-02-11 02:53Z by Steven

What the #ThankYouLovings campaign gets wrong about interracial couples and the future of America


Tahirah Hairston


Last month, Loving, a biopic about Mildred and Richard Loving—the couple at the center of the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision which struck down bans on interracial marriage in 1967—was released nationwide. June 12th, 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of the historic trial.

As a way to celebrate the Lovings—and promote the movie—the Loving Twitter account began encouraging people to use the hashtag #ThankYouLovings. The hashtag has been shared across social media, accompanied by photos of interracial couples—everything from candid selfies to intimate wedding photos.

It’s important, beautiful, and in a sense almost surreal to see how much America has progressed—and how much it has failed—in one photo and one film. On one hand, there is no rule on who we can or can’t love. People of all races and, thanks to last year’s Supreme Court ruling, genders, can now marry. On the other hand, we’re no closer to ending systematic racism, sexism or homophobia, with the 2016 election being our most up-to-date example…

Read the entire article here.

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