From Color Line to Color Chart: Racism and Colorism in the New Century

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-16 04:28Z by Steven

From Color Line to Color Chart: Racism and Colorism in the New Century

Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy
Volume 10, Issue 1 (January 2008)
pages 52-69
DOI: 10.15779/Z380C9X

Angela P. Harris, Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Davis

When my sister graduated from college in the mid-1980s with a degree in musical theater she moved to Chicago with her new husband in search of work in television commercials and the performing arts. To her frustration and dismay, however, despite her good looks, acting ability, and musical talent, she was rejected in audition after audition. Getting rejected for arbitrary reasons or for no reason, of course, is just life in the entertainment industry. After a while, though, my sister began to hear some repetition in the rejections she received. “You don’t look black enough,” is the apology she would get.

My sister is very fair-skinned, with hair that streaks blonde in the summer. Yet, at least to discerning eyes, she can’t “pass” for white: her features, her creamy skin, and her “African booty” distinguish her from the Scandinavian descent blondes that populate beer commercials and musical revues. For casting directors, then, she fell into a limbo: too white to play black, but too black to play white.

Today, my sister has a recurring role on a children’s television show (she’s Prudence the Musical Genie on “Jack’s Big Show,” produced by Nickelodeon, if you want to see her), and fortunes are changing not just for her but for many women and men in the performing arts who “read” as racially ambiguous, or racially “mixed.” To put it bluntly, the ambiguous/mixed look is now “hot.” Celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, and The Rock discuss their mixed background with pride;’ television, catalog, magazine, and newspaper advertising is full of adorable light-brown children with flowing locks that are not quite nappy, not quite straight; and mixed-race.

Politician Barack Obama finds himself able to appeal to both white and African-American audiences. A recent essay predicts that in the future the most desirable aesthetic both in the United States and in Latin America will not be to look “white,” but to look cafĂ© con crema.

Not only the aesthetics but the ideologies of race are undergoing a shift. Tanya Hernandez, who writes in the field of comparative race and racism, argues that the United States is poised to adopt the “multiracial matrix” that characterizes state and civil society in Cuba, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. Hernandez describes this matrix as composed of four beliefs:

(1) [R]acial mixture and diverse racial demography will resolve racial problems by transcending race; (2) fluid racial identity is an indicator of a form of racial progress that deconstructs the stability of racial categories and thereby brings society closer to a colorblind utopia; (3) racism is solely a phenomenon of aberrant racist individuals who inappropriately express their prejudice; and (4) discussing race or focusing on race is itself racist because it disrupts the harmony of race neutrality.

Judging from these indicators, perhaps the dream of finally achieving racial harmony through racial intermixing is about to become real. Hernandez and some other scholars, however, are worried rather than pleased about the emergence of the multiracial matrix. Some worry that despite the emergence of an anti-race public discourse, racism has not disappeared, but instead has retreated into individual cognitive processing systems, where it is inaccessible to legal intent tests (and, often, the individual’s own conscious mind), yet continues to shape the life chances of persons according to race. In this view, what is disappearing is not racism but rather our ability to talk about it. Others argue that in the new millennium traditional racism is indeed disappearing, but only to be slowly supplanted by colorism, in which the color of a person’s skin will take on more importance in determining how she is treated by others than her ancestry. In this Article, I speculate about the implications of this second possibility.

In Part I, I survey the critical race theory literature addressing colorism. This literature has examined how colorism fits (or doesn’t fit) into the existing apparatus of anti-discrimination law in the United States, and – as in Hernandez’s work – the relationship between colorism in the United States and in other countries. In Part II, I draw on a different strand of critical race theory literature to argue that the work of the performativity school offers a way to conceptually link colorism to more familiar forms of racism. In Part III, I speculate about the possible effects on society and anti-discrimination law of a drift away from ancestry as an important component of assigned race and towards a greater focus on color…

Read the entire article here.

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Equality Trouble: Sameness and Difference in Twentieth-Century Race Law

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2012-07-22 19:40Z by Steven

Equality Trouble: Sameness and Difference in Twentieth-Century Race Law

California Law Review
Volume 88, Issue 6 (2000)
pages 1923-2015

Angela P. Harris, Professor of Law
University of California, Davis

In this Essay, Professor Harris suggests that “race law” consists not only of antidiscrimination law, but law pertaining to the formation, recognition, and maintenance of racial groups, as well as the law regulating the relationships among these groups. Harris argues that a constant tension in the story of race law in the past century has been the effort to reconcile constitutional and statutory norms of equality with the desire for white dominance. In the first part of the century, it was assumed that the fact of racial difference required management through sound public policy; in the second part of the century, race gradually became understood as an arbitrary distinction that the law should ignore. Neither treating race as difference nor as sameness, however, has succeeded in accomplishing racial justice.

Read the entire article here.

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Reflections: An Anthology of African-American Philosophy, 1st Edition

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Science, United States, Women on 2012-02-06 05:26Z by Steven

Reflections: An Anthology of African-American Philosophy, 1st Edition

Cengage Learning
2000
464 pages
Paperback ISBN-10: 0534573932  ISBN-13: 9780534573935

Edited by:

James Montmarquet, Professor of Philosophy
Tennessee State University

William Hardy, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion
Tennessee State University

This anthology provides the instructor with a sufficient quantity, breadth, and diversity of materials to be the sole text for a course on African-American philosophy. It includes both classic and more contemporary readings by both professional philosophers and other people with philosophically intriguing viewpoints. The material provided is diverse, yet also contains certain themes which instructors can effectively employ to achieve the element of unity. One such theme, the debate of the “nationalist” focus on blackness vs. the many critics of this focus, runs through a great number of issues and readings.

Table of Contents

  • Preface.
  • Introduction.
  • PART ONE: FOUNDATIONS-RACE AND RACISM.
    • 1. W.E.B. DuBois: From The Souls of Black Folk.
    • 2. Molefi K. Asante: Racism, Consciousness, and Afrocentricity.
    • 3. Kwame Anthony Appiah: Racisms.
    • 4. J. L. A. Garcia: The Heart of Racisms. Contemporary Issue: Views on “Mixed Race”.
    • 5. Naomi Zack: Mixed Black and White Race and Public Policy.
    • 6. Lewis R. Gordon: Race, Biraciality, and Mixed Race-In Theory.
  • PART TWO: MORAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY-NATIONALISM, SEPARATISM, AND ASSIMILATION.
    • 7. Martin R. Delaney: The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored Peoples of the United States.
    • 8. Frederick Douglass: The Future of the Negro, The Future of the Colored Race, The Nation’s Problem, and On Colonization.
    • 9. Marcus Garvey: From Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
    • 10. Maulana Karenga: The Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Their Meaning and Message.
    • 11. Molefi K. Asante: The Afrocentric Idea in Education.
    • 12. Cornel West: The Four Traditions of Response. Contemporary Issue: “Ebonics”.
    • 13. Geneva Smitherman: Black English/Ebonics: What it Be Like?
    • 14. Milton Baxter: Educating Teachers about Educating the Oppressed. Feminism, Womanism, and Gender Relations.
    • 15. Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?
    • 16. Patricia Hill Collins: The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought.
    • 17. bell hooks: Reflections on Race and Sex.
    • 18. Angela P. Harris: Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory.
    • 19. Charles W. Mills: Do Black Men Have a Moral Duty to Marry Black Women? Contemporary Issue: Women’s Rights and Black Nationalism.
    • 20. E. Francis White: Africa on My Mind: Gender, Counterdiscourse, and African American Nationalism.
    • 21. Amiri Baraka: Black Woman. Violence, Liberation, and Social Justice.
    • 22. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
    • 23. Malcolm X: Message to the Grass Roots.
    • 24. Howard McGary: Psychological Violence, Physical Violence, and Racial Oppression.
    • 25. Laurence M. Thomas: Group Autonomy and Narrative Identity. Contemporary Issue: Affirmative Action.
    • 26. Bernard Boxill: Affirmative Action.
    • 27. Shelby Steele: Affirmative Action. Ethics and Value Theory.
    • 28. Alain Locke: Values and Imperatives.
    • 29. Michele M. Moody-Adams: Race, Class, and the Social Construction of Self-Respect.
    • 30. Laurence M. Thomas: Friendship.
    • 31. Cornel West: Nihilism in Black America.
    • 32. Katie G. Cannon: Unctuousness as a Virtue: According to the Life of Zora Neale Hurston. Contemporary Issue: A Classic Question of Values, Rights, and Education.
    • 33. Booker T. Washington: Atlanta Exposition Address.
    • 34. W.E.B. DuBois: The Talented Tenth.
  • PART THREE: PHILOSOPHY AND RELATED DISCIPLINES.
    • 35. Patricia J. Williams: Alchemical Notes: Reconstructing Ideals from Deconstructed Rights.
    • 36. Regina Austin: Sapphire Bound!
    • 37. Derrick Bell: Racial Realism-After We’re Gone: Prudent Speculations on America in a Post-Racial Epoch.
    • 38. John Arthur: Critical Race Theory: A Critique. Contemporary Issue: Racist Hate Speech.
    • 39. Charles Lawrence and Gerald Gunther: Prohibiting Racist Speech: A Debate. Aesthetics.
    • 40. James Baldwin: Everybody’s Protest Novel.
    • 41. Larry Neal: The Black Arts Movement.
    • 42. Angela Y. Davis: Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”: Music and Social Consciousness.
    • 43. Ralph Ellison: Blues People. Contemporary Issue: Rap Music.
    • 44. Crispin Sartwell: Rap Music and the Uses of Stereotype.
    • 45. Kimberle Crenshaw: Beyond Racism and Misogyny: Black Feminism and 2 Live Crew. Philosophy and Theology.
    • 46. David Walker: David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United stated.
    • 47. James H. Cone: God and Black Theology.
    • 48. Victor Anderso: Ontological Blackness in Theology.
    • 49. Anthony Pinn: Alternative Perspectives and Critiques. Contemporary Issue: Womanist Theology and the Traditionalist Black Church.
    • 50. Cheryl J. Sanders: Christian Ethics and Theology in a Womanist Perspective.
    • 51. Delores Williams: Womanist Reflections on “the Black Church,” the African-American Denominational Churches and the Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church.
  • SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING.
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Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2011-04-02 18:04Z by Steven

Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters

Stanford University Press
2009
312 pages
11 tables, 15 figures, 16 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 9780804759984
Paper ISBN: 9780804759991
E-book ISBN: 9780804770996

Edited by:

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Professor of Asian American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Shades of Difference addresses the widespread but little studied phenomenon of colorism—the preference for lighter skin and the ranking of individual worth according to skin tone. Examining the social and cultural significance of skin color in a broad range of societies and historical periods, this insightful collection looks at how skin color affects people’s opportunities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and North America.

Is skin color bias distinct from racial bias? How does skin color preference relate to gender, given the association of lightness with desirability and beauty in women? The authors of this volume explore these and other questions as they take a closer look at the role Western-dominated culture and media have played in disseminating the ideal of light skin globally. With its comparative, international focus, this enlightening book will provide innovative insights and expand the dialogue around race and gender in the social sciences, ethnic studies, African American studies, and gender and women’s studies.

Contents

    Contributors

  • Introduction: Economies of Color—Angela P. Harris
  • Part I The Significance of Skin Color: Transnational Divergences and Convergences
    • 1. The Social Consequences of Skin Color in Brazil—Edward Telles
    • 2. A Colorstruck World: Skin Tone, Achievement, and Self-Esteem Among African American Women—Verna M. Keith
    • 3. The Latin Americanization of U.S. Race Relations: A New Pigmentocracy—Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and David R. Dietrich
  • Part II Meanings of Skin Color: Race, Gender, Ethnic Class, and National Identity
    • 4. Filipinos and the Color Complex: Ideal Asian Beauty—Joanne L. Rondilla
    • 5. The Color of an Ideal Negro Beauty Queen: Miss Bronze 1961-1968—Maxine Leeds Craig
    • 6. Caucasian, Coolie, Black, or White? Color and Race in the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora—Aisha Khan
    • 7. Ihe Dynamics of Color: Mestizaje, Racism, and Blackness in Veracruz, Mexico—Christina A. Sue
  • Part III Consuming Lightness: Modernity, Transnationalism, and Commodification
    • 8. Skin Tone and the Persistence of Biological Race in Egg Donation for Assisted Reproduction—Charis Thompson
    • 9. Fair Enough? Color and the Commodification of Self in Indian Matrimonials—Jyotsna Vaid
    • 10. Consuming Lightness: Segmented Markets and Global Capital in the Skin-Whitening Trade—Evelyn Nakano Glenn
    • 11. Skin Lighteners in South Africa: Transnational Entanglements and Technologies of the Self—Lynn M. Thomas
  • Part IV Countering Colorism: Legal Approaches
    • 12. Multilayered Racism: Courts’ Continued Resistance to Colorism Claims—Taunya Lovell Banks
    • 13. The Case for Legal Recognition of Colorism Claims—Trina Jones
    • 14. Latinos at Work: When Color Discrimination Involves More Than Color—Tanya KaterĂ­ Hernandez
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index

Read the Introduction here.

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