Race, Nation, and Refuge: The Rhetoric of Race in Asian American Citizenship Cases

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United States on 2017-09-16 21:43Z by Steven

Race, Nation, and Refuge: The Rhetoric of Race in Asian American Citizenship Cases

State University of New York Press
October 2017
318 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-6661-3

Doug Coulson, Assistant Professor
Department of English
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Explores the role of rhetoric and the racial classification of Asian American immigrants in the early twentieth century.

From 1870 to 1940, racial eligibility for naturalization in the United States was limited to “free white persons” and “aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent,” and many interpreted these restrictions to reflect a policy of Asian exclusion based on the conclusion that Asians were neither white nor African. Because the distinction between white and Asian was considerably unstable, however, those charged with the interpretation and implementation of the naturalization act faced difficult racial classification questions. Through archival research and a close reading of the arguments contained in the documents of the US Bureau of Naturalization, especially those documents that discussed challenges to racial eligibility for naturalization, Doug Coulson demonstrates that the strategy of foregrounding shared external threats to the nation as a means of transcending perceived racial divisions was often more important to racial classification than legal doctrine. He argues that this was due to the rapid shifts in the nation’s enmities and alliances during the early twentieth century and the close relationship between race, nation, and sovereignty.

Table of Contents

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Constantly proving my blackness is exhausting

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive on 2017-09-08 19:13Z by Steven

Constantly proving my blackness is exhausting

The Globe and Mail
2017-09-05

Chelene Knight


Chelene Knight

Chelene Knight is working on her third book, a novel about a friendship between two black women who grew up in Vancouver (Hogan’s Alley) in the 1930s and ’40s.

“But you don’t look that black.”

I remember walking into an event where I was asked to be a guest reader by a woman who had “heard about my book.” We had never met, I was unfamiliar with the other readers, never heard of the venue, but was still interested in expanding my literary horizons.

This is what emerging writers need to do, right? I introduced myself to her and she stared back at me for a good 15 seconds before furrowing her brow and saying “But you don’t look that black.”

I was left feeling “less than” and not worthy of being part of the event because I didn’t fit the mould of what black should be. I didn’t meet the expectations of the diversity hashtag.

My mother is an American-born black woman. My father is an East Indian-Ugandan who was kicked out of his country for not being black. Now, I am left to question my own blackness in a room full of white people with all eyes on me. I fumbled through my reading without ever looking up from my book…

Read then entire article here.

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Remembering Afro-German Intellectual May Ayim

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2017-09-08 15:10Z by Steven

Remembering Afro-German Intellectual May Ayim

Black Perspectives
2017-09-06

Tiffany Florvil, Assistant Professor of History
University of New Mexico


May Ayim (Photo: Orlanda Frauenverlag)

It has been almost twenty-one years since Black German activist, educator, writer, and public intellectual May Ayim died on August 9, 1996 at the age of 36. After facing some personal setbacks and a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Ayim committed suicide by jumping from her apartment building in Berlin-Kreuzberg. She also suffered from depression, which was often exacerbated by the psychological toil that everyday German racism had on her. Even though Ayim was born and raised by adoptive parents in Germany, some white Germans, including her adoptive parents, continued to harbor racist views that denied her humanity as a Black German citizen in a post-Holocaust society.

Her death shocked her colleagues and friends near and far. From South Africa to the United States, people sent their tributes, in which they recognized how much she inspired them through her writing and spoken word performances. Much like her mentor Caribbean-American poet Audre Lorde, Ayim, too, believed in the “subversive power of lyrical language.”1 As a talented and well-known writer at home and abroad, her poetry and prose served as a form of intellectual activism and as a medium to incite socio-political change. In fact, Ayim derived a key source of political and emotional energy from her writing, which was a constitutive element of her activism.

May Ayim was not unlike other Black diasporic women such as Claudia Jones or the Nardal sisters, producing materials that shaped diasporic culture and politics and that promoted Black intellectualism and internationalism. She integrated diverse styles, such as the Blues, that reflected her wide-ranging interests in and ties to the transnational Black diaspora. Ayim even incorporated West African Adinkra symbols in her first poetry volume blues in schwarz weiss (Blues in Black White) – representing her Ghanaian roots. In the volume, poems such as “afro-deutsch I,” “afro-deutsch II,” “autumn in germany,” “community,” and “soul sister” tackled the themes of identity, difference, community, and marginalization, reflecting her (and other Black Germans’) experiences in Germany.2 She also used her writing to negotiate her Black Germanness and to write herself into German society and the Black diaspora…

Read the entire article here.

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The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-09-08 13:53Z by Steven

The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick

The New York Times
2017-09-07

John Branch


Colin Kaepernick may forever be known as the quarterback who knelt for the national anthem before N.F.L. games in 2016 as a protest against social injustice.
Credit Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The standout college quarterback went to the meeting alone that winter night, looking to join. The fraternity brothers at Kappa Alpha Psi, a predominantly black fraternity with a small chapter at the University of Nevada, knew who he was. He was a tall, lean, biracial junior, less than a year from graduating with a business degree.

“When he came and said he had interest in joining the fraternity, I kind of looked at him like, ‘Yeah, O.K.,’” said Olumide Ogundimu, one of the members. “I didn’t take it seriously. I thought: ‘You’re the star quarterback. What are you still missing that you’re looking for membership into our fraternity?’”

His name was Colin Kaepernick, and what he was looking for, Ogundimu and others discovered, was a deeper connection to his own roots and a broader understanding of the lives of others.

Seven years later, now 29, Kaepernick is the most polarizing figure in American sports. Outside of politics, there may be nobody in popular culture at this complex moment so divisive and so galvanizing, so scorned and so appreciated…

‘How Dare You Ask Me Something Like That?’

Turlock is a pleasant and unremarkable place in California’s flat, interior heartland. It is stifling hot in the summer and can be cool and rainy in the winter. Like many sprawling cities of central California, it features suburban-style neighborhoods and strip malls slowly eating the huge expanses of agriculture that surround it. And, like neighboring cities, the population of about 73,000 is overwhelmingly white and increasingly Latino. In Turlock, fewer than 2 percent of residents identify as African-American, according to the census.

Kaepernick moved there when he was 4. He was born in Milwaukee to a single white mother and a black father and quickly placed for adoption. He was soon adopted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick of Fond du Lac, Wis., who were raising two biological children, Kyle and Devon. They had also lost two infant sons to congenital heart defects.

The family moved to California because Rick Kaepernick took a job as operations manager at the Hilmar Cheese Company, where he later became a vice president.

The boy became used to strangers assuming he was not with the other Kaepernicks. When anyone asked if he was adopted, he would scrunch up his face in mock sadness. “How dare you ask me something like that?” he would reply, and then laugh…

Read the entire article here.

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In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-09-08 13:02Z by Steven

In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington

The New York Times
2017-02-06

Jennifer Schuessler


Erica Armstrong Dunbar, the author of “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va.
Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

MOUNT VERNON, Va. — The costumed characters at George Washington’s gracious estate here are used to handling all manner of awkward queries, whether about 18th-century privies or the first president’s teeth. So when a visitor recently asked an African-American re-enactor in a full skirt and head scarf if she knew Ona Judge, the woman didn’t miss a beat.

Judge’s escape from the presidential residence in Philadelphia in 1796 had been “a great embarrassment to General and Lady Washington,” the woman said, before offering her own view of the matter.

“Ona was born free, like everybody,” she said. “It was this world that made her a slave.”

It’s always 1799 at Mount Vernon, where more than a million visitors annually see the property as it was just before Washington’s death, when his will famously freed all 123 of his slaves. That liberation did not apply to Ona Judge, one of 153 slaves held by Martha Washington.

But Judge, it turned out, evaded the Washingtons’ dogged (and sometimes illegal) efforts to recapture her, and would live quietly in New Hampshire for another 50 years. Now her story — and the challenge it offers to the notion that Washington somehow transcended the seamy reality of slaveholding — is having its fullest airing yet…

Ms. Dunbar, the author of “Never Caught,” first came across Ona Judge in the late 1990s, when she was a graduate student at Columbia researching free black women in Philadelphia. One day in the archives, she noticed a 1796 newspaper ad offering $10 for the return of “a light Mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy hair” who had “absconded” from the president’s house.

“I said to myself: ‘Here I am, a scholar in this field. Why don’t I know about her?’” Ms. Dunbar recalled…

Read the entire article here.

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Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-09-08 02:45Z by Steven

For Trump, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The First White President,” The Atlantic, October 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/10/the-first-white-president-ta-nehisi-coates/537909/.

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We should abandon attempts to save the category of race. There is no good way to make sense of the category from a biological or a social perspective.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-09-08 02:37Z by Steven

We should abandon attempts to save the category of race. There is no good way to make sense of the category from a biological or a social perspective. There are no races, only groups misunderstood as races: racialised groups.

Adam Hochman, “Racism is real, race is not: a philosopher’s perspective,” The Conversation, August 31, 2017. https://theconversation.com/racism-is-real-race-is-not-a-philosophers-perspective-82504.

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The First White President

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-09-08 01:17Z by Steven

The First White President

The Atlantic
October 2017

Ta-Nehisi Coates


Jesse Draxler; Photo: David Hume Kennerly / Getty

The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.

It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers

Read the entire article here.

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The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-09-07 20:54Z by Steven

The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation

Harvard University Press
September 2017
256 pages
4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674976528

Stuart Hall (1932–2014), Professor of Sociology
Open University

Edited by:

Kobena Mercer, Professor of History of Art and African American Studies
Yale University

Foreword by:

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor; Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University

In The Fateful Triangle—drawn from lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1994—one of the founding figures of cultural studies reflects on the divisive, often deadly consequences of our contemporary politics of identification. As he untangles the power relations that permeate categories of race, ethnicity, and nationhood, Stuart Hall shows how old hierarchies of human identity in Western culture were forcefully broken apart when oppressed groups introduced new meanings to the representation of difference.

From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the concept of race stressed distinctions of color as fixed and unchangeable. But for Hall, twentieth-century redefinitions of blackness reveal how identities and attitudes can be transformed through the medium of language itself. Like the “badge of color” W. E. B. Du Bois evoked in the anticolonial era, “black” became a sign of solidarity for Caribbean and South Asian migrants who fought discrimination in 1980s Britain. Hall sees such manifestations of “new ethnicities” as grounds for optimism in the face of worldwide fundamentalisms that respond with fear to social change.

Migration was at the heart of Hall’s diagnosis of the global predicaments taking shape around him. Explaining more than two decades ago why migrants are the target of new nationalisms, Hall’s prescient vision helps us to understand today’s crisis of liberal democracy. As he challenges us to find sustainable ways of living with difference, Hall gives us the concept of diaspora as a metaphor with which to enact fresh possibilities for redefining nation, race, and identity in the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Introduction by Kobena Mercer
  • 1. Race—The Sliding Signifier
  • 2. Ethnicity and Difference in Global Times
  • 3. Nations and Diasporas
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Editor’s Acknowledgments
  • Index
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Racism is real, race is not: a philosopher’s perspective

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania, Philosophy, Social Science on 2017-09-07 02:31Z by Steven

Racism is real, race is not: a philosopher’s perspective

The Conversation
2017-08-31

Adam Hochman, Lecturer in Philosophy
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


from www.shutterstock.com

There are no races – biological or social – only racialised groups.

We live in a richly diverse country, populated by Indigenous Australians, recent immigrants, and descendants of relatively recent immigrants. Some feel threatened by this diversity; some relish it.

Most of us, I think, are unsure quite how to talk about it.

We have many words to describe diversity. We ask people about their ancestry, their ethnicity, and – most awkwardly – their “background”. We seem least comfortable asking people about their “race”, and with good reason.

Racial classification has been used to justify some of the most heinous crimes of modernity, including those committed on our own shores. Asking people about their “race” can make you sound a bit, well, racist…

Read the entire article here.

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