Choosing Blackness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2021-09-20 15:18Z by Steven

Choosing Blackness

The Philadelphia Inquirer
2021-09-15

Elizabeth Wellington, Staff Columnist


Columnist Elizabeth Wellington poses for a photograph with her mother Margaret outside of the family home in New York. MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

Black identity is usually wrapped up in not having choice. My family used their light-skinned privilege to flip that choice and turned Blackness into a celebration of pride and identity and love.

I thought my mother was a white woman until I was about five years old.

So I will never forget the day she told me she was Black. The conversation started simple enough: I described someone on television as white, like she was.

If um, hell to the no was a person, she would have been Margaret Wellington in that moment.

My mother is so fair that whether she styled her hair in a Pam Grier-esque, mega Afro or a blonde-streaked press and curl, she was sometimes mistaken for a white woman. I’m sure she wasn’t surprised by my question given my milk chocolate hue. But she wasn’t angry. She settled into her rocking chair and motioned for me to sit next to her. We were wearing matching green cardigans. I may have been darker, but to her, I was still her toddler-sized replica. She took my chubby little hand into her slender one, and looking me in the eye said, “Beth, I’m Black.”

Clearly I looked confused. Because she said it again. This time with more soul. “I AM BLACK. I do not have the same pretty brown skin that you have. But I AM BLACK. And I am YOUR MOTHER.”

My 5-year-old self was relieved….

Read the entire article here.

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What Does It Mean To Be Latino? The ‘Light-Skinned Privilege’ Edition

Posted in Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-08-21 03:46Z by Steven

What Does It Mean To Be Latino? The ‘Light-Skinned Privilege’ Edition

Code Switch
National Public Radio
2021-07-14

Shereen Marisol Meraji, Co-host/ Senior Producer

Kumari Devarajan, Producer

Leah Donnella, Editor


Maria Hinojosa (left) and Maria Garcia.
Krystal Quiles for NPR

Maria Garcia and Maria Hinojosa are both Mexican American, both mestiza, and both relatively light-skinned. But Maria Hinojosa strongly identifies as a woman of color, whereas Maria Garcia has stopped doing so. So in this episode, we’re asking: How did they arrive at such different places? To find out, listen to our latest installment in this series about what it means to be Latino.

Listen to the story (00:37:15) here.

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The Spectacle of Latinx Colorism

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2021-08-01 22:17Z by Steven

The Spectacle of Latinx Colorism

The New York Times
2021-07-30

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio


Tina Tona

This summer’s controversy over the underrepresentation of dark-skinned Afro-Latinos in “In the Heights,” the Hollywood adaptation of the Broadway musical, laid bare the cancer of colorism in Latinx communities in the United States. The reckoning was long overdue, a pain that goes back as long as our community has existed. And the mainstream media was enraptured. It created what I think of as the spectacle — el espectáculo. I haven’t seen as high a demand for Latinx voices since the Pulse shooting.

Latinidad” is the shared language, childhood references, music, food, inside jokes and idiosyncratic TV Spanglish among the Latinx in this country. It is the sameness that unites us no matter where we grow up, and no matter where our parents were from. But the idea of sameness can devastate as much as it can connect. An open wound in this world of Latinx has been the shame around darkness, our own and that of our family and neighbors and compatriots. According to media by us or for us, dark-skinned Afro-Latinos do not exist and if they do, they aren’t Latino. Not really

Read the entire essay here.

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The ‘Heights’ of Anxiety and the Color Line: Racial Ambiguity in a Culture of Absolutes

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-07-14 22:56Z by Steven

The ‘Heights’ of Anxiety and the Color Line: Racial Ambiguity in a Culture of Absolutes

Nerds of Color
2021-07-09

Lara Stapleton, Lecturer of English
Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, New York

I once heard the great political philosopher and activist Angela Davis argue that Americans are so obsessed with race as an identifying feature that when we meet racially ambiguous people, we are anxious until we know on which side of the color line they fall. Upon hearing this, I was relieved by the articulation of something I had suspected was at the heart of my experience. It was like experiencing great art, that rush of adrenaline that comes with recognizing what we’ve known all along presented as fantastically new.

I say this because I am extremely racially ambiguous person, particularly in the United States where we traditionally discuss race as an absolute. I am bi-racial, Filipino and white, and I hear, from day-to-day, wildly different interpretations of who I am. I have been recently called “Kaitlin” on the train, and also described as many permutations of light brown people: Latinx, Native American, and Arab. I get Mediterranean, Jewish, and Sicilian and quite often, I am asked if I have some Black ancestry (which coincides also with being Latinx)…

Read the entire article here.

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Phenotypic Proximity: Colorism and Intraracial Discrimination among Blacks in the United States and Brazil, 1928 to 1988

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2021-06-22 22:22Z by Steven

Phenotypic Proximity: Colorism and Intraracial Discrimination among Blacks in the United States and Brazil, 1928 to 1988

Journal of Black Studies
Volume 52, Issue 5 (July 2021)
pages 528-546
DOI: 10.1177/00219347211021088

Teisha Dupree-Wilson, Assistant Professor of History
Coppin State University, Baltimore, Maryland

The level of colorism that developed among blacks in the United States (U.S.) and Brazil, during the 20th century, gave rise to intense altitudes of intraracial discrimination. This distinct form of discrimination was based on proximity to whiteness and white privilege. This essay will illustrate how attitudes toward complexion, within the black community, are a direct consequence and perpetual remnant of the white supremacy and racial hierarchy that developed in colonized societies. Colorism manifested itself in different forms in Brazil and in the U.S. However, the level of black-on-black discrimination that it spawned was grounded in the belief that one’s immediacy to whiteness created a vehicle for upward mobility.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Opinion: ‘In the Heights’ is just more of the same whitewashed Hollywood

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-22 20:11Z by Steven

Opinion: ‘In the Heights’ is just more of the same whitewashed Hollywood

The Washington Post
2021-06-21

Julissa Contreras and Dash Harris Machado


Producer Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival opening-night premiere of “In the Heights” on June 9 in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Julissa Contreras is a Dominican writer, poet, actor and creator of the “Ladies Who Bronché” podcast. Dash Harris Machado is co-founder of AfroLatino Travel, producer and facilitator of the “Radio Caña Negra” podcast and producer of “NEGRO: A Docu-series About Latinx Identity.”

The recent controversy surrounding “In the Heights,” the big-budget film based on the musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, came as no surprise for Black Latin American and Caribbean people. With its White and light-skinned leading roles, the film became part of a long tradition in the Americas of Black erasure.

When moviegoers and journalists, including the Root’s Felice León, started highlighting the lack of Black leading cast members in the film, many prominent figures rushed to defend it. “We shouldn’t burden Lin-Manuel with the responsibility of representing every Latino,” commentator Ana Navarro said. “You can never do right, it seems,” actress Rita Moreno said in defense of Miranda. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.” Both accounts are inaccurate.

Read the entire article here.

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How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-21 02:06Z by Steven

How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation

Rolling Stone
2021-06-16

Andrea Marks, Research Editor


MELISSA BARRERA (center) as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS
Macall Polay/Warner Bros

A prevalence of light-skinned actors demonstrates Hollywood’s — and Latin America’s — history of colorism

When the musical In the Heights debuted in 2008, it was considered a triumph of Latin American story-telling. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, it brought the barrio to Broadway and centered Latino immigrants building a community in New York “north of 96th street” so their children could chase the American Dream. The plot is centered around Usnavi (originally played by Miranda himself), the son of Dominican immigrants, who runs the family bodega but dreams of something bigger.

The movie version of the Tony Award–winning show hit theaters and HBO Max last week to largely positive reviews and praise for its three-dimensional portrayals of Latin-American characters, not to mention its ambitious full-cast musical numbers. A majority-Latino cast carries the film, starring actors like Anthony Ramos, a star of Miranda’s other Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton, who is of Puerto Rican descent, playing Usnavi; Mexican TV actress Melissa Barrera; and Bronx-born bachata singer Leslie Grace, who is of Dominican descent. At the same time, many viewers have expressed disappointment at a lack of Afro-Latino representation in the cast, especially among lead characters…

Read the entire article here.

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George Floyd Protests Prompted a Reckoning Over Colorism, Afro-Latinx Identity

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2021-06-09 20:38Z by Steven

George Floyd Protests Prompted a Reckoning Over Colorism, Afro-Latinx Identity

Teen Vogue
2021-05-26

Zoë Watkins

Racial Reckoning is a series produced by student journalists reflecting on how the national uprisings after the police killing of George Floyd affected their generation. It was produced in collaboration with Dr. Sherri Williams’ Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting class at American University.

Alé Headley, 24, an Afro Panamanian living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, attended over 20 marches and rallies last summer to protest the death of George Floyd. Headley, who is Black, Afro-Latina, and queer, identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them and ella. They say they were “immediately” driven to join movements demanding justice for Black and brown lives lost to police violence.

Their decision to get involved was multifaceted and deeply personal: They had witnessed police officers mistreat unhoused people in their neighborhood, thought of their younger brother who regularly endures police harassment, and their own experiences with racial profiling. “It’s disgusting to see how other people are treated, and then experiencing it for yourself,” Headley tells Teen Vogue. “It’s a different level of empathy.”

While navigating dual identities, many members of Afro-Latinx communities got involved in last summer’s uprisings against systemic racism. Many often found themselves in an uncomfortable tug of war with their identities. As they protested and heard personal stories of racism, some realized that their identification with their Blackness had been muddied throughout childhood, and their dual identities were never allowed to fully shine…

Read the entire article here.

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Brit Bennett – Colorism & Racial Passing in “The Vanishing Half” | The Daily Social Distancing Show

Posted in Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-12-14 04:04Z by Steven

Brit Bennett – Colorism & Racial Passing in “The Vanishing Half” | The Daily Social Distancing Show

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
2020-12-03

Brit Bennett talks about exploring the effects of colorism in Black communities and the ability to pass as white in her new novel “The Vanishing Half.”

Watch the interview here.

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Because She Can: The Unbearable Whiteness of Jessie

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-09-13 01:25Z by Steven

Because She Can: The Unbearable Whiteness of Jessie

The Crisis
2020-09-09

TaRessa Stovall

I’m a mixed (Black, Jewish, Native American) boomer, very light-skinned and so racially ambiguous looking that most people question, assume and try to challenge my racial identity.

My copper-toned Black father hated that I wouldn’t exploit my appearance to “be anything.” My Russian Jewish mother wondered about my lifelong allegiance to Blackness and my stubborn insistence on conveying the messy totality of my DNA even when it wasn’t comfortable, advantageous or convenient.

Still, I never lied about my identity. Even when doing so might have made my life easier.

We’re familiar with the reasons that many Black people passed for white, especially in the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras — as a way to lessen oppression and “level up” to better opportunities. But why would a white person discard their privilege to pretend to be Black?

Read the entire article here.

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