Quiet as its Kept: Passing Subjects, Contested Identities

Posted in History, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2019-03-25 14:18Z by Steven

Quiet as its Kept: Passing Subjects, Contested Identities

Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York
Friday, 2019-04-05 through Sunday, 2019-04-07

Passing Beyond Passing

The phrase “passing for white” first appears in advertisements for the return of runaway slaves. Abolitionist fiction later adopts the phenomenon of racial passing (together with the figure of the “white slave”) as a major literary theme. The term continued to enjoy currency in literature in the postbellum era and during the Harlem Renaissance. Today, “passing” has various manifestations and applications. Not limited to race, the term may indicate subversions of gender, sexuality, religion, ability and class, among other identity coordinates.

This conference responds to renewed interest in passing that derives from the popularity of genetic genealogy tests, sensational cases of racial fraud (i.e., Rachel Dolezal), the idea of “realness” appropriated from ball culture, racial ambiguity in a surveillance state, public fascination with celebrities like Meghan Markle, and the construction (and manipulation) of online identities (i.e., catfishing and blackfishing). Interdisciplinary perspectives on passing, miscegenation, authenticity, sexuality, kinship, and racial ambiguity in the arts, law, memory, popular culture, and the racial state are invited. Themes may include betrayal, secrecy, dissimulation, subjectivity, masquerade, visibility/invisibility, surveillance, fraud, and belonging.

At Vassar College, interest in this topic has reemerged since the publication of Karin Tanabe’s novel The Gilded Years (2016), about Anita Hemmings’ experience as the first black woman known to attend the College. In 1900, poet, novelist, lyricist Paul Laurence Dunbar modeled one of his musical characters (Parthenia Jenkins in Uncle Eph’s Christmas) after Anita Hemmings. By placing a character with Hemmings’ stature in a farce, Dunbar lampoons class / caste based distinctions. More importantly, he associates Hemmings – a racial performer celebrated for her respectability – with less-respected, equally assertive performers of race. Hemmings’s story is currently being adapted into a film, A White Lie, starring Zendaya and produced by Reese Witherspoon and Zendaya. This conference provides an opportunity to reflect on Hemmings’ experience – and those of other black women – who integrated women’s colleges.

This conference is also an occasion to rethink identity categories that have long been naturalized or taken for granted. From critical race theorists, sociologists, and social psychologists like Cheryl I. Harris, George Lipsitz, and Claude Steele to labor historians and feminist scholars such as David Roediger and Ruth Frankenberg, many intellectuals have examined whiteness as a social formation to which disparate ethnic groups (i.e., Jewish, Italian, and Irish) have assimilated. This conference (and concomitant art show at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center) can facilitate careful rethinking of assumptions about identity formations and affiliations. All are welcome.

For more information, click here.

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Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union

Posted in Anthologies, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-07-25 04:22Z by Steven

Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union

University Press of Mississippi
2014-07-17
432 pages
6 X 9 inches
3 B&W photographs
Hardcover ISBN: 9781628460216

Edited by:

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Hettie V. Williams, Lecturer of African American History
Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Essays that explore how the first black president connects to the past and reimagines national racial and political horizons

The concept of a more perfect union remains a constant theme in the political rhetoric of Barack Obama. From his now historic race speech to his second victory speech delivered on November 7, 2012, that striving is evident. “Tonight, more than two hundred years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” stated the forty-fourth president of the United States upon securing a second term in office after a hard fought political contest. Obama borrows this rhetoric from the founding documents of the United States set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

How naive or realistic is Obama’s vision of a more perfect American union that brings together people across racial, class, and political lines? How can this vision of a more inclusive America be realized in a society that remains racist at its core? These essays seek answers to these complicated questions by examining the 2008 and 2012 elections as well as the events of President Obama’s first term. Written by preeminent race scholars from multiple disciplines, the volume brings together competing perspectives on race, gender, and the historic significance of Obama’s election and reelection. The president heralded in his November, 2012, acceptance speech, “The idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like . . . . whether you’re black or white, Hispanic or Asian or Native American.” These essayists argue the truth of that statement and assess whether America has made any progress toward that vision.

Contributions by Lisa Anderson-Levy, Heidi Ardizzone, Karanja Keita Carroll, Greg Carter, Frank Rudy Cooper, Marhsa J. Tyson Darling, Tessa Ditonto, David Frank, Amy L. Heyse, David A. Hollinger, George Lipsitz, Mark McPhail, Tavia Nyong’o, David Roediger, Paul Spickard, Janet Mendoza Stickman, Paul Street, Ebony Utley, Ronald Waters

Contents

  • Preface / Hettie V. Williams and G. Reginald Daniel
  • Foreword: Race Will Survive the Obama Phenomenon / David Roediger
  • Introduction: Understanding Obama and Ourselves / George Lipsitz
  • Part I: Race, Obama, and Multiraciality
    • 1. Race and Multiraciality: From Barack Obama to Trayvon Martin / G. Reginald Daniel
    • 2. By Casta, Color Wheel, and Computer Graphics: Visual Representations of Racially Mixed People / Greg Carter
    • 3. Barack Obama: Embracing Multiplicity—Being a Catalyst for Change / Janet Mendoza Stickmon
    • 4. In Pursuit of Self: The Identity of an American President and Cosmopolitanism / Hettie V. Williams
  • Part II: Obama, Blackness, and the “Post-Racial Idea”
    • 5. Barack Hussein Obama, or, the Name of the Father / Tavia Nyong’o
    • 6. The End(s) of Difference? Towards an Understanding of the “Post” in Post-Racial / Lisa Anderson-Levy
    • 7. On the Impossibilities of a Post-Racist America in the Obama Era / Karanja Keita Carroll
    • 8. Obama, the Instability of Color Lines, and the Promise of a Postethnic Future / David A. Hollinger
  • Part III: Race, Gender, and the Obama Phenomenon
    • 9. From Chattel to First Lady: Black Women Moving from the Margins / Marsha J. Tyson Darling
    • 10. The “Outsider” and the Presidency: Mediated Representations of Race and Gender in the 2008 Presidential Primaries / Tessa Ditonto
    • 11. Obama’s “Unisex” Campaign: Critical Race Theory Meets Masculinities Studies / Frank Rudy Cooper
    • 12. “Everything His Father Was Not”: Fatherhood and Father Figures in Barack Obama’s First Term / Heidi Ardizzone
  • Part IV: Race, Politics, and the Obama Phenomenon
    • 13. Barack Obama’s Address to the 2004 Democratic Convention: Trauma, Compromise, Consilience and the (Im)Possibility of Racial Reconciliation / David Frank and Mark Lawrence McPhail
    • 14. Barack Obama and the Politics of Blackness / Ronald W. Walters
    • 15. Barack Obama’s White Appeal and the Perverse Racial Politics of the Post-Civil Rights Era / Paul Street
    • 16. Barack Obama’s (Im)Perfect Union: An Analysis of the Strategic Successes and Failures in His Speech on Race / Ebony Utley and Amy L. Heyse
  • Epilogue: Obama, Race, and the 2012 Presidential Election / Paul Spickard
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White supremacy is an equal opportunity employer; nonwhite people can become active agents of white supremacy as well as passive participants in its hierarchies and rewards.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-04-21 13:41Z by Steven

I hope it is clear that opposing whiteness is not the same as opposing white people. White supremacy is an equal opportunity employer; nonwhite people can become active agents of white supremacy as well as passive participants in its hierarchies and rewards. One way of becoming an insider is by participating in the exclusion of other outsiders. An individual might even secure a seat on the Supreme Court on this basis. On the other hand, if not every white supremacist is white, it follows that not all white people have to become complicit with white supremacy—that there is an element of choice in all of this. White people always have the option of becoming antiracist, although not enough have done so. We do not choose our color, but we do choose our commitments. We do not choose our parents, but we do choose our politics. Yet we do not make these decisions in a vacuum; they occur within a social structure that gives value to whiteness and offers rewards for racism.

George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Revised and Expanded Edition) (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), viii.

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The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Revised and Expanded Edition)

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-20 20:48Z by Steven

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Revised and Expanded Edition)

Temple University Press
March 2006
312 pages
Paper ISBN: 978-1-59213-494-6
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-59213-493-9
Electronic Book ISBN:  978-1-59213-495-3

George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies and Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Outstanding Books Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America, 1999

In this unflinching look at white supremacy, George Lipsitz argues that racism is a matter of interests as well as attitudes, a problem of property as well as pigment. Above and beyond personal prejudice, whiteness is a structured advantage that produces unfair gains and unearned rewards for whites while imposing impediments to asset accumulation, employment, housing, and health care for minorities. Reaching beyond the black/white binary, Lipsitz shows how whiteness works in respect to Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.

Lipsitz delineates the weaknesses embedded in civil rights laws, the racial dimensions of economic restructuring and deindustrialization, and the effects of environmental racism, job discrimination and school segregation. He also analyzes the centrality of whiteness to U.S. culture, and perhaps most importantly, he identifies the sustained and perceptive critique of white privilege embedded in the radical black tradition. This revised and expanded edition also includes an essay about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on working class Blacks in New Orleans, whose perpetual struggle for dignity and self determination has been obscured by the city’s image as a tourist party town.

Contents

  • Introduction: Bill Moore’s Body
  • 1. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness
  • 2. Law and Order: Civil Rights Laws and White Privilege
  • 3. Immigrant Labor and Identity Politics
  • 4. Whiteness and War
  • 5. How Whiteness Works: Inheritance, Wealth, and Health
  • 6. White Desire: Remembering Robert Johnson
  • 7. Lean on Me: Beyond Identity Politics
  • 8. “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac”: Antiblack Racism and White Identity
  • 9. “Frantic to Join . . . the Japanese Army”: Beyond the Black-White Binary
  • 10. California: The Mississippi of the 1990s
  • 11. Change the Focus and Reverse the Hypnosis: Learning from New Orleans
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-01-07 19:48Z by Steven

Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story

University of Minnesota Press
2010
272 pages
23 b&w plates, 6 x 9
cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-6678-2

George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies and Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Considered by many to be the godfather of R&B, Johnny Otis—musician, producer, artist, entrepreneur, pastor, disc jockey, writer, and tireless fighter for racial equality—has had a remarkable life by any measure. In this first biography of Otis, George Lipsitz tells the largely unknown story of a towering figure in the history of African American music and culture who was, by his own description, “black by persuasion.”

Born to Greek immigrant parents in Vallejo, California, in 1921, Otis grew up in an integrated neighborhood and identified deeply with black music and culture from an early age. He moved to Los Angeles as a young man and submerged himself in the city’s vibrant African American cultural life, centered on Central Avenue and its thriving music scene. Otis began his six-decade career in music playing drums in territory swing bands in the 1930s. He went on to lead his own band in the 1940s and open the Barrelhouse nightclub in Watts. His R&B band had seventeen Top 40 hits between 1950 and 1969, including “Willie and the Hand Jive.” As a producer and A&R man, Otis discovered such legends as Etta James, Jackie Wilson, and Big Mama Thornton.

Otis also wrote a column for the Sentinel, one of L.A.’s leading black newspapers, became pastor of his own interracial church, hosted popular radio and television shows that introduced millions to music by African American artists, and was lauded as businessman of the year in a 1951 cover story in Negro Achievements magazine. Throughout his career Otis’s driving passion has been his fearless and unyielding opposition to racial injustice, whether protesting on the front lines, exposing racism and championing the accomplishments of black Americans, or promoting African American musicians.

Midnight at the Barrelhouse is a chronicle of a life rich in both incident and inspiration, as well as an exploration of the complicated nature of race relations in twentieth-century America. Otis’s total commitment to black culture and transcendence of racial boundaries, Lipsitz shows, teach important lessons about identity, race, and power while encapsulating the contradictions of racism in American society.

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Crossing Lines: Race and Mixed Race Across the Geohistorical Divide

Posted in Anthologies, Arts, Books, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2009-10-31 00:15Z by Steven

Crossing Lines: Race and Mixed Race Across the Geohistorical Divide

Rowman & Littlefield
Paper: 0-9700-3841-0 / 978-0-9700-3841-8
June 2005
190 pages

Edited by

Marc Coronado
DeAnza College

Rudy P. Guevarra
University of California, Santa Barbara

Jeffrey A. S. Moniz, Associate Professor and Director
University of Hawai’i

Laura Furlan Szanto
University of California, Santa Barbara

Crossing Lines addresses the issues of race and mixed race at the turn of the 21st century. Representing multiple academic disciplines, including history, ethnic studies, art history, education, English, and sociology, the volume invites readers to consider the many ways that identity, community, and collectivity are formed, while addressing the challenges that multiracial identity poses to our understanding of race and ethnicity. The authors examine such subjects as social action, literary representations of multiracial people, curriculum development, community formation, Whiteness, and demographic changes.

List of Contributors
Marc Coronado (DeAnza College), Carina Evans (UC Santa Barbara), Melinda Gandara (UC Santa Barbara), Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr. (UC Santa Barbara), Tomas Jimenez (Harvard University), George Lipsitz (UC San Diego), Jeffrey Moniz (University of Hawai’i), Paul Spickard (UC Santa Barbara), Laura Furlan Szanto (UC Santa Barbara), and Nicole Marie Williams (UC Santa Barbara).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Noises in the Blood: Culture, Conflict, and Mixed Race Identities
    George Lipsitz
  • Does Multiraciality Lighten? Me-Too Ethnicity and the Whiteness Trap
    Paul Spickard
  • “My Father? Gabacho?” Ethnic Doubling in Gloria Lopez Stafford’s A Place in El Paso
    Marc Coronado
  • Burritos and Bagoong: Mexipinos and Multiethnic Identity in San Diego, California
    Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr.
  • Challenging the Hegemony of Multiculturalism: The Matter of the Marginalized Multiethnic
    Jeffrey A.S. Moniz
  • Beyond Disobedience
    Nicole M. Williams
  • “Fictive Imaginings”: Constructing Biracial Identity and Senna’s Caucasia
    Carina A. Evans
  • The Beginning
    Laura Furlan Szanto
  • Los Angeles Museum of Art: Looking Forward
    Melinda Gandara
  • Multiethnic Mexican Americans in Demographic and Ethnographic Perspectives
    Tomas R. Jimenez
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