Living a white lie

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2017-08-10 02:30Z by Steven

Living a white lie

Silver Chips Online: Montgomery Blair High School’s Online Student Newspaper
Silver Spring, Maryland

Lily Alexander, Managing Features Editor, Print-Online Coordinator

Jim Queen, 70, now lives in San Francisco with his wife of 40 years. From 1954 to 1957, he attended Montgomery Blair High School, where he was forced to pass as a white student by hiding his far more complex and multiracial heritage.

In 1954, Jim Queen arrived at Montgomery Blair High School. The school was all white. He was not.

The janitors would come to watch him run. They knew – or at least sensed – he wasn’t who he said he was. As he raced around the quarter-mile track at old Blair High School, they would silently agree about what was never said aloud. And at a time when race relations in the United States were defined by divisions, from water fountains to hospitals, Jim Queen was an anomaly. The janitors suspected it. His parents knew it. And so did he.

The school system did not.

Three years before MCPS [(Montgomery County Public Schools)] officially opened its doors to integration, Jim Queen was a student with a mixed heritage – part white, part black, part Native American – studying at a school comprised entirely of white students. For over two years, Queen maintained this façade, keeping his racial background a secret from friends, teachers and classmates.

Now 70, Queen is far-removed from his time at Blair, but the experiences of his upbringing and childhood clouded by questions of racial identity and self-discovery have played a large role in small farm in shaping the man he has become…

…More recently, Queen launched the “One Race Movement.” This movement promotes the idea that we all belong to one race – the human race – and that the concept of multiple races is “a false social construct used historically to divide and exploit people,” rather than a scientifically-based idea. He developed this idea after rediscovering his own Wesort roots and learning about the Genome Project conducted by Craig Venter, which aimed to prove that all humans originally come from Africa. To convey his movement’s core message, Queen designed a symbol that now adorns clothing and posters, depicting the silhouettes of many different colored faces and the word “ONE” beneath it…

Read the entire article here.

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Why it feels strange when people admire your mixed race kids

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2017-08-10 01:51Z by Steven

Why it feels strange when people admire your mixed race kids


Ian Rose

Friends and strangers always comment on what a “lovely mix” his Anglo-Vietnamese children are. (Blend Images/Getty)

Ian Rose gets a bit weirded out when people coo over his Anglo-Vietnamese children. But can’t turn down free dinner.

The other night, the end of a real midwinter Melbourne Tuesday, having finally got my daughter to choose a goddam BeenyBoo to sleep with, angled her rainbow lamp to her satisfaction and said goodnight, I walked into the kitchen to overhear my partner (who’d seen our son to bed with far less effort), on the phone to a friend, uttering words that chilled my heart.

“Yes, we can do that. We’ll be there tomorrow evening at six. No problem.”

She has this fetish for doing people favours. Her generosity of spirit is the bane of my existence. (Except when I’m its beneficiary, of course.)…

Read the entire article here.

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The Great Gatsby, Race, and Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-10 01:36Z by Steven

The Great Gatsby, Race, and Passing

English 356: The “Great” American Novel: 1900-1965 (Prof. VZ)
College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina

Christine McSwain

Like most people in the class, I’ve read The Great Gatsby several times, both for class and on my own.  Gatsby is one of those novels that doesn’t get old to me, and I think that’s due in part to the different ways each part of the novel can be interpreted, and how I notice something new each time I read it.  Not long after the Baz Luhrman adaptation of the novel came out, I saw a theory floating around that Jay Gatsby could be read as a black man passing as a white man, and I thought that theory was pretty interesting and did some more research on it.  I think reading the novel with that interpretation in mind brings a whole new narrative out.

The article I’m referencing was published in 2000, thirteen years before the newest adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby was released.  Professor Carlyle V. Thompson argues that Gatsby was indeed black, specifically that “‘Fitzgerald characterizes Jay Gatsby as a pale black individual passing as white.’”  There are clues throughout the novel that allude to Gatsby’s race, including his name change from Gatz to Gatsby, much like freed slaves changed their names to give themselves a new beginning.  There are also mentions that Gatsby’s family is dead, which according to Thompson references that “‘those light-skinned black individuals who pass for white become symbolically dead to their families’”, suggesting that perhaps Jay Gatsby had done the same…

Read the entire article here.

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Not There Yet

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-08-10 01:21Z by Steven

Not There Yet

Fordham Law News: From New York City To You

A conversation with six Fordham Law professors about civil rights.

While it has been more than 50 years since the last Civil Rights Act was passed, the United States still has work to do to fully realize the equality of all persons. To plot where we are on the long road of civil rights, Fordham Lawyer spoke with six professors: Elizabeth Cooper, Tanya Hernández, Leah Hill, Joseph Landau, Robin Lenhardt, and Kimani Paul-Emile.

How does the United States measure up against Latin American countries with our same history of slavery and racial inequality?

Hernández: It’s somewhat of a mixed bag in Latin America. There are examples of very impoverished understandings of race—a sort of denial that there is any problem with racism because of the extant mythology across the region that perpetuates the idea that racial mixture equals racial harmony. At the same time, there’s a lot of social justice activism on the part of Afro-Latinos; in fact, they have garnered significant traction with political administrations that have been amenable to them. For example, in 2012 Brazil had a significant Supreme Federal Court ruling that held that race-based affirmative action was constitutional. Notably, the opinion was rooted in the idea that neutrality was not enough—that it was not enough for law to be neutral if they wanted to achieve equality. That’s pretty remarkable. It contrasts with what has been happening with the U.S. Supreme Court in this area. Since the Reagan years, there has been this shift to a jurisprudence that is all about color blindness: Equality is viewed as simply being neutral. The Court doesn’t look at the material effects of people having different starting points and, consequently, different needs. That particular comparison shows a kind of enlightenment in the Latin American sphere that we have not seen in a while in the United States.

About a year or so after this Federal Supreme Court decision, new legislation called the Law of Social Quotas was passed in Brazil. What this did was mandate that there be race-based affirmative action within all the public federal universities. What’s significant about this is that there are actual quotas—numbers that can be measured and monitored. Institutions can be held accountable. There’s none of this discomfort with the idea that having accountability means that you’re demeaning someone by only viewing them as being a race. Instead, it’s a notion that the numbers matter because the numbers inform the direct way to integrate an institution.

This type of attention to race stands in marked contrast to the United States, where the use of affirmative action is sometimes misdescribed as being the most radical. But what is often misunderstood is that the United States has forbidden quotas since 1978 with the Bakke case [Regents of the University of California v. Bakke]. Thus, we don’t have authorization to use direct numerical set-asides. We can have targets and wish lists, but there can be no hard number. Without a hard number, how do you hold the institution accountable?…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and sovereignty, a story of the body

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Religion, Social Justice on 2017-08-10 01:05Z by Steven

Race and sovereignty, a story of the body

National Catholic Reporter

La Reine-Marie Mosely, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore, Maryland

Brian Bantum (Jessica Wood)

By Brian Bantum
Published by Fortress Press, 182 pages, $16.99

In The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World, Brian Bantum explores the practical consequences of race in our world: Those who have inherited sovereignty have long organized the world according to the belief that whiteness is the paragon of existence, while black and brown bodies are deficient and suspect. It is this misconstrued and dangerous understanding of race that Bantum believes must die if followers of Jesus Christ want to live a meaningful embodied life in the spirit of their Savior.

Bantum is a biracial person who married a Korean-American woman. His life story is woven throughout the book as he explains the manner in which he came to racial consciousness.

It began with a choice. When the author was 6 years old, his mother was filling out a government document. Under the category of race, she asked her son to select the race that best captured his identity: white or black. Bantum selected “white” because of his love of his mother and the physical characteristics he shared with her. His brother, on the other hand, chose black because of the physical characteristics he shared with his father. Early in his life, Bantum began to realize the complexity of race in the U.S...

Read the entire review here.

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Danzy Senna’s New People Explores Race, Love, and Gentrification

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-10 00:47Z by Steven

Danzy Senna’s New People Explores Race, Love, and Gentrification


Lisa Shea

The Caucasia author returns to her home ground: the personal and political dynamics of race.

In her latest novel, New People (Riverhead), Danzy Senna bores into the dynamics of race, identity, heritage, poverty, and privilege in contemporary America, exposing the pride and promises of change therein, as well as the pitfalls and pathologies. Agile and ambitious, the novel is also a wild-hearted romance about secrets and obsessions, a dramedy of manners about the educated black middle-class—the “talented tenth”—that is Senna’s authorial home ground. One critic, in reviewing Senna’s 2009 memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night?, about her writer parents’ marriage and divorce, and her father’s disappearance from her life, called her trenchant observations on America’s fixation with race “nod-inducingly brilliant.”

The female protagonist of New People, Maria, shares some of Senna’s biographical outlines: Maria refers to herself as a “quadroon” adopted and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by a single mom, Gloria, who struggled for years but never was able to complete her dissertation at Harvard. Maria meets Khalil—who “grew up in a liberal, humanist, multiracial family, oblivious to his own blackness,” when they are students at Stanford—after he’d broken up with his white girlfriend. “Maria liked to joke that she was his transitional object,” Senna writes. “He was morphing into a race man before her very eyes.”

Now it is 1996, and they’re engaged and living together in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. “Interspersed among the old guard—the Jamaican ladies with their folding chairs, the churchy men in their brown polyester suits—are the ones who have just arrived. It is subtle, this shift, almost imperceptible. When Maria blurs her eyes right it doesn’t appear to be happening. They dance together at house parties in the dark. If I ruled the world they sing, their voices rising as one, Imagine that. I’d free all my sons.“…

Read the entire review here.

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