‘Good Hair’: A Cape Verdean Struggles With Her Racial Identity

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2014-05-29 21:32Z by Steven

‘Good Hair’: A Cape Verdean Struggles With Her Racial Identity

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Ana Sofia De Brito

Ana Sofia De Brito graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012 with a major in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies. This essay is adapted from a chapter in the book Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories, edited by Andrew Garrod, Robert Kilkenny, and Christina GĂłmez (Cornell University Press, 2014).

The issue of race has always been a problem in my Cape Verdean family—and in my life. We constantly argue about whether we’re white or black. My dad says he stayed with my mom to better his race, by lightening the color of his children, and I’d better not mess up his plan by bringing a black boy home.

It wasn’t until I was away at college that I started to question him seriously about his past. It was in Mozambique that my father’s views about race were formed. As the Cape Verdean son of an official in the administration of a Portuguese colony, my father led a privileged life, living in a big house with many servants.

All of that changed when he went away to a boarding school attended almost entirely by the children of white Portuguese settlers. My dad was neither Portuguese nor white, so he was constantly bullied, beaten up, made fun of, and humiliated. The whiter students called him “nigger” and other epithets, the very names he now calls people who are darker than he is. Had my dad’s family stayed in Cape Verde, where color lines are blurred and there is no outright racism, I believe my dad would not be the way he is.

My mother is the lightest in our family, and her thin, fine hair goes with the rest of her features. She has round dark eyes and a straight, European-­looking nose, the thin lips associated with being white, and a pale complexion. My brother and I both inherited many of her features, but our noses differ. Mine is broader and his is straighter, on account of our having different dads. And even though we have similar features and complexions, we have different mind-sets. We both identify strongly as Cape Verdean; he, however, identifies with being white, whereas I identify with being black.

It gets complicated when my family talks about skin color. They believe that black is ugly, but so is being “too white”; our Cape Verdean color is just right. The reality is that Cape Verdeans are mixed both culturally and racially, and are many different shades…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed: Four young alums open up about their multiracial heritage and how it shapes them

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, United States on 2014-05-26 07:15Z by Steven

Mixed:  Four young alums open up about their multiracial heritage and how it shapes them

Dartmouth Alumni Magzine
May/June 2014
pages 42-47

Book Excerpt from: Garrod, Andrew, Christina GĂłmez, Robert Kilkenny, Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013).

Seeking to be Whole
By Shannon Joyce Prince ’09

Whenever I’ve been called on to define my heritage, I smile and say, “I am African-American, Cherokee (Aniyunwiya) Native American, Chinese (Cantonese) American and English American.” I excise nothing of myself. I claim the slave who was a mathematical genius; the storyteller, the quilt maker and the wise healer; the bilingual railroad laborer; and the farmer—regardless of the amount of melanin in any of their skins. I pay no attention to the pseudoscientific idea of blood quantum (the idea that race is a biological, measurable reality) and am uninterested in dividing myself into fractions, I am completely, concurrently and proudly all of my heritages.

From the time I was able to think about such things, I have considered myself both quadricultural and ana-racial (my personal neologism for “without race”). I am zero (raceless) and hoop (part of the peoples from all over the world). I think my parents might have been a little less comfortable in it, but I felt that four peoples had found space in my blood; thus, people of all bloods belonged in every space in general. I was comfortable at school not because I didn’t know who I was but because I did. And I knew who I was because I came from a strong family.

At my secondary school, melanin in an adult person’s skin most likely meant he or she was a menial laborer. In Hanover, melanin was a status symbol: It automatically meant you were an Ivy League student or a professor. Many nonwhite students felt uncomfortable in such a white space, even to the point of leaving the College. I was stunned by their reaction…

Read entire excerpt here.

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‘Mixed’ [Watson Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-06 20:19Z by Steven

‘Mixed’ [Watson Review]

Inside Higher Ed

Andrea Watson

Garrod, Andrew, Christina GĂłmez, Robert Kilkenny, Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013). 208 pages.

Mixed (Cornell University Press) is a collection of 12 autobiographical essays written by college students who identify as multiracial. Unlike most books that focus on children with white and black parents, this one is by and about young adults with multiple racial backgrounds. Each chapter is written by a different author, who starts with family history and moves along from early years to college years. All of the contributors are Dartmouth students.

Thomas Lane is one of the authors. In his chapter, “The Development of a Happa,” he describes what it was like growing up with a Japanese mother and a white father. He discusses how he felt stuck between two worlds, but associated more with the white side until college. “Before college I knew I was ethnically Asian, but I refused to accept the Asian culture. Since coming to Dartmouth, however, I have learned to appreciate all aspects of being Japanese.”

“In My World 1+1=3,” by Yuki Kondo-Shah, is by a young woman who has a Japanese mother and a Bangladeshi father. She writes that she identified as Japanese when she lived in Japan, but when she moved to the United States, at 7, she had to figure out where she fit in. The author says growing up, she always felt stuck between her two identities and could never fully identify with one or the other. “While I spent most of my childhood being Japanese and my college years identifying as a mixed-race minority, I began my professional career as an Asian American.”

Ana Sofia De Brito wrote the “Good Hair” chapter. As a Cape Verdean, she says her father would always push her to date lighter-skinned men over dark-skinned men, because she would “destroy the race” if she married one. “Although I have never had a strong preference for any particular type and have dated boys from various backgrounds and races, at college my preference has focused on men with darker skin.” Within her family, De Brito is considered white because of her European features, but she writes that she identifies as black because society pressures her to choose; she can’t be “other.”…

Read the entire review and interview with editor Andrew Garrod here.

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Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Books, Campus Life, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-02-06 13:51Z by Steven

Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories

Cornell University Press
208 pages
6 x 9 in.
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8014-5251-2
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8014-7914-4

Edited by:

Andrew Garrod, Professor Emeritus of Education
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Christina GĂłmez, Professor of Sociology and Latino & Latin American Studies
Northeastern Illinois University

Robert Kilkenny, Executive Director; Clinical Associate
Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention
School of Social Work
Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts

Mixed presents engaging and incisive first-person experiences of what it is like to be multiracial in what is supposedly a postracial world. Bringing together twelve essays by college students who identify themselves as multiracial, this book considers what this identity means in a reality that occasionally resembles the post-racial dream of some and at other times recalls a familiar world of racial and ethnic prejudice.

Exploring a wide range of concerns and anxieties, aspirations and ambitions, these young writers, who all attended Dartmouth College, come from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Unlike individuals who define themselves as having one racial identity, these students have lived the complexity of their identity from a very young age. In Mixed, a book that will benefit educators, students, and their families, they eloquently and often passionately reveal how they experience their multiracial identity, how their parents’ race or ethnicity shaped their childhoods, and how perceptions of their race have affected their relationships.


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Who Am I?
    • 1. Good Hair / Ana Sofia De Brito
    • 2. So, What Are You? / Chris Collado
    • 3. In My World 1+1 = 3 / Yuki Kondo-Shah
    • 4. A Sort of Hybrid / Allison Bates
  • Part II. In-Betweenness
    • 5. Seeking to Be Whole / Shannon Joyce Prince
    • 6. The Development of a Happa / Thomas Lane
    • 7. A Little Plot of No-Man’s-Land / Ki Mae Ponniah Heussner
    • 8. Finding Blackness / Samiir Bolsten
  • Part III. A Different Perspective
    • 9. Chow Mein Kampf / Taica Hsu
    • 10. A Work in Progress / Anise Vance
    • 11. We Aren’t That Different / Dean O’Brien
    • 12. Finding Zion / Lola Shannon
  • About the Editors
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