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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Joseph Boyden, where are you from?

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2016-12-30 02:51Z by Steven

Joseph Boyden, where are you from?

The Globe And Mail
2016-12-28

Hayden King, Assistant Professor
School of Public Policy
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

My name is Hayden King. I am the son of Hayden (Sr.) and Carol. On my father’s side I am Anishinaabe, Ojibwe from my grandmother Eleanor and Potawatomi from my grandfather, Rufus. Through blood and adoption we can trace our roots back seven generations. But eventually threads of this lineage were woven together on the sandy shores of Gchi’mnissing, or Beausoleil First Nation (Christian Island), in southern Georgian Bay.

I offer this orientation as a matter of custom. Among Anishinaabeg, it is an expected response to the standard greeting-question, “Where are you from?” For we are a people of renewal, a people seeking each other out in our century-long reclamation of culture, language, family and identity. We are a people bound by our relationships.

But earlier this week, after years of unclear answers to this question from celebrated Canadian author Joseph Boyden, APTN reporter Jorge Barrera, supported by independent researchers, investigated the author’s claims and couldn’t find evidence of either Nipmuc or Ojibwe heritage. It appears that Mr. Boyden has not been forthcoming about his indigenous identity, benefiting from a crafted ambiguity.

Mr. Boyden is just the latest. Last year prolific scholar Andrea Smith’s claims to Cherokee ancestry were debunked. Before Ms. Smith were academics Susan Taffe Reed and Ward Churchill, writers Margaret Seltzer and Archie Belaney (Grey Owl), actors Espera Oscar de Corti (Iron Eyes Cody), Johnny Depp and so on. There is a long tradition of playing Indian…

Read the entire article here.

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Black or white?

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2016-12-12 18:45Z by Steven

Black or white?

The Globe and Mail
2016-12-12

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Bureau Chief
Rio De Janiero, Brazil


Jacqueline Suellen Chaves poses for a photo on Belm Docs. She’s a black woman rejected as too white for a job as a social worker by a panel.
Daniel Ramalho/For The Globe and Mail

It was a policy was born of good intentions but has stirred up perplexing, often painful, questions: What makes a person black, or white? Is it facial features? Hair? Family? Or an experience of racism? And who gets to decide?

Jacqueline Chaves checked the Internet every day, waiting to see test results posted – a pass would be the last step in her long road to a job as a social worker.

Ms. Chaves, 23, had worked hard to get through a degree program at the competitive federal university in Belem do Para, a port city on the Amazon forest’s Atlantic coast. There were many tough tests along the way but she wasn’t a bit worried about this final one. It was an exam to assess whether she qualified for a position being reserved for an affirmative-action candidate. Ms. Chaves knew she would sail through, because she is black.

Or thought she was…

…Commissions are vital to ensure that limited affirmative-action spaces are not used by cheating white students, said Iuri Nascimento, an activist with a racial-equality advocacy organization called Negrex. Any argument that it’s impossible to tell who is eligible in a country with a lot of mixed-raced people is simply aimed at undermining the system, he added.

There is no “purely objective scale” of blackness, he said, but it’s also not that hard to tell who is black and who isn’t: Police officers identify who is black just fine, argued Mr. Nascimento. (Black Brazilian men are killed by police three times more often than white.)…

…Yet there are many Brazilians – including other black activists – who think that the tribunals are a terrible idea. Petronio Domingues, a historian with the Federal University of Sergipe who studies the fight for racial equality in Brazil, said it’s absurd to think that there are characteristics that can be evaluated objectively to determine race.

“They’re looking only at a person’s appearance, and that doesn’t define race,” he said. “Any definition of what it is to be black cannot be external to the individual. … Race is a social construction, without scientific basis.” Nor is there any evidence that proves that black people with very dark skin suffer more prejudice than those who are called pardo, or brown, he added, so it makes no sense to give more “points” to someone whose skin is darker or hair curlier…

Read the entire article here.

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Where is the love: How tolerant is Canada of its interracial couples?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Canada, Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-10-04 01:09Z by Steven

Where is the love: How tolerant is Canada of its interracial couples?

The Globe and Mail
2016-10-03

Zosia Bielski


Minelle Mahtani, an associate professor in human geography and journalism at the University of Toronto Scarborough, wrote the book Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality in Canada.
(Jennifer Van Houten)

Is love the last frontier of racial bigotry in Canada?

It’s a question that intrigues Minelle Mahtani, who has dared to ask whether interracial couples and their families still test the limits of tolerance in this country.

In her recent book Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality in Canada, Mahtani, an associate professor in human geography and journalism at the University of Toronto Scarborough, questions whether we’ve not just put rose-coloured glasses on our multiculturalism, especially where mixed-race families are concerned.

While interracial relationships are on the rise in Canada (we had 360,000 mixed-race couples in 2011, more than double the total from 20 years earlier), the numbers remain slim. Just 5 per cent of all unions in Canada were between people of different ethnic origins, religions, languages and birthplaces in 2011, the last year Statistics Canada collected such data. That figure rises only marginally in urban areas: Just 8 per cent of couples were in mixed-race relationships in Toronto, 10 per cent in Vancouver.

How do people in interracial relationships experience that multiculturalism on the ground, when they introduce their boyfriends and girlfriends to family, or hold hands on a date? How do mixed-race families and their children feel about it, in their communities and in their schools?

Mahtani was the keynote speaker at last month’s Hapa-palooza, an annual festival celebrating mixed heritage in Vancouver, and she will present at the next Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in California in February. She spoke with The Globe and Mail about the daily realities of mixed-race families…

Read the entire interview here.

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Canada’s racial divide: Confronting racism in our own backyard

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive on 2016-09-30 01:34Z by Steven

Canada’s racial divide: Confronting racism in our own backyard

The Globe and Mail
2016-09-26

Tavia Grant, Reporter


Nova Browning Rutherford, who is half black and half white, and has lived in Ontario, Alberta and Los Angeles, poses for a photo at her home in Mississauga, Ont. on Friday. (Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail)

Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., Rhonda Britton experienced occasional moments of racism. As the only black girl in her junior-high class, she was once told by a white friend that she wasn’t allowed to come over and play.

But it was when she moved to Canada as an adult that she felt racism more overtly: In 2011, she discovered a historic plaque in front of her church in Halifax spray painted with the words: Fuck All Niggers.

It was a shock, and not the only one: She’d expected Canadians would be kinder and more welcoming than Americans.

But in Nova Scotia, where a large, historic black community has long faced racial discrimination, racist acts are both subtle and blatant…

…Like Dr. Britton, Nova Browning Rutherford has lived in both countries. She was born in Chatham, Ont., to a black father and white mother, and raised in Edmonton and London, Ont., before spending five years in Los Angeles.

She says that a big difference in the U.S. is the separation of people based on race or ethnicity. She often felt pigeonholed. “Black people don’t do that,” she was told when she’d mention to colleagues she was going hiking, or out to a Korean restaurant.

She feels relieved to now live in Toronto. But any notion that Canada is morally superior vanishes when she thinks of the deep disparities in living conditions of indigenous peoples…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial identity: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Anatole Broyard

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-19 01:22Z by Steven

Racial identity: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Anatole Broyard

The Globe and Mail
1999-11-23

Robert Fulford

For many years, Anatole Broyard of The New York Times was a dashing figure in literary New York, a critic of exceptional charm and wit. He was said to be one of those people who talk spontaneously in well-shaped and often funny sentences. After his death in 1990, at the age of 70, a friend remarked in an obituary, “When Anatole entered, the room would light up.”

His essays were full of engaging ideas, but it turned out that his life was even more interesting. He had a secret that even his wife wasn’t allowed to mention. As they used to say, he was “passing.”…

Read the entire article here.

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In Brazil we do talk about race but not in an honest way – about white privilege, concentration of power, about the importance of diversity – no, we talk about how we’re all Brazilian, we’re all mixed.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-08-08 18:22Z by Steven

“In Brazil we do talk about race but not in an honest way – about white privilege, concentration of power, about the importance of diversity – no, we talk about how we’re all Brazilian, we’re all mixed.” —Paulo Rogerio

Stephanie Nolen, “Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism,” The Globe and Mail, July 31, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/three-personal-stories-that-show-brazil-is-not-completely-beyond-racism/article25761242/.

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Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-05 02:08Z by Steven

Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2015-07-31

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil’s national mythology is built on the idea of a democracia racial – a country whose population is uniquely mixed and has moved beyond racism.

The lived experience of its citizens, especially the majority who are black or mixed-race, tells a different story. Three residents of Bahia, known as the country’s “blackest” state, share their personal stories with The Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen.

‘It’s not easy to start working when you’re 12’

Cleusa de Jesus Santos was one of eight children whose father left when she was small. Her mother, illiterate and living in a slum, had no way to feed them all. “A friend of my mum’s said, ‘There is a person who needs a girl, just to watch her son, to keep him company.’”

So Ms. Santos was sent. “But when I got there, the reality was completely different: They said they were going to put me in school and so on, and they didn’t. I didn’t have vacation. I couldn’t see my family.”…

Read the entire article here.

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“Não passou por branco é preto,” she often says, often tells their teenagers: If you’re not white, you’re black.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-08-05 01:30Z by Steven

When she fills out the census, Ms. de Lucena ticks the box for “negra.” Her husband, Joacinei Araújo de Lucena, 48, has a black parent and a white one, just like she does, but identifies himself as “pardo,” or brown. He insists that he, Ms. de Lucena and their two children are mixed – not one, not the other – and that mixed is a race of its own. Ms. de Lucena doesn’t buy it. “Não passou por branco é preto,” she often says, often tells their teenagers: If you’re not white, you’re black.

Stephanie Nolen, “Brazil’s colour bind,” The Globe and Mail, July 31, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/brazils-colour-bind/article25779474/.

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Brazil’s colour bind

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, Videos on 2015-08-03 01:46Z by Steven

Brazil’s colour bind

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2015-07-31

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil is combating many kinds of inequality. But one of the world’s most diverse nations is still just beginning to talk about race

When Daniele de Araújo found out six years ago that she was pregnant, she set out from her small house on a dirt lane in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and climbed a mountain. It is not a big mountain, the green slope that rises near her home, but the area is controlled by drug dealers, so she was anxious, hiking up. But she had something really important to ask of God, and she wanted to be somewhere she felt that the magnitude of her request would be clear.

She told God she wanted a girl, and she wanted her to be healthy, but one thing mattered above all: “The baby has to be white.”

Ms. de Araújo knows about the quixotic outcomes of genetics: She has a white mother and a black father, sisters who can pass for white, and a brother nearly as dark-skinned as she is – “I’m really black,” she says. Her husband, Jonatas dos Praseres, also has one black and one white parent, but he is light-skinned – when he reported for his compulsory military service, an officer wrote “white” as his race on the forms.

And so, when their baby arrived, the sight of her filled Ms. de Araújo with relief: Tiny Sarah Ashley was as pink as the sheets she was wrapped in. Best of all, as she grew, it became clear that she had straight hair, not cabelo ruim – “bad hair” – as tightly curled black hair is universally known in Brazil. These days, Sarah Ashley has tawny curls that tumble to the small of her back; they are her mother’s great joy in life. The little girl’s skin tone falls somewhere between those of her parents – but she was light enough for them to register her as “white,” just as they had hoped. (Many official documents in Brazil ask for “race and/or colour” alongside other basic identifying information.)

Ms. de Araújo and Mr. dos Praseres keep the photos from their 2005 wedding in a red velvet album on the lone shelf in their living room. The glossy pictures show family members of a dozen different skin colours, arm in arm, faces crinkled in stiff grins for the posed portraits. There are albums with similar pictures in living rooms all over this country: A full one-third of marriages in Brazil are interracial, said to be the highest rate in the world. (In Canada, despite hugely diverse cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the rate is under five per cent.) That statistic is the most obvious evidence of how race and colour in Brazil are lived differently than they are in other parts of the world.

But a range of colours cannot disguise a fundamental truth, says Ms. de Araújo: There is a hierarchy, and white is at the top.

Many things are changing in this country. Ms. de Araújo left school as a teenager to work as a maid – about the only option open to a woman with skin as dark as hers – but now she has a professional job in health care and a house of her own, things she could not have imagined 15 years ago. Still, she says, “This is Brazil.” And there is no point being precious about it. Black is beautiful, but white – white is just easier. Even middle-class life can still be a struggle here. And Sarah Ashley’s parents want her life to be easy.

Brazil’s history of colonialism, slavery and dictatorship, followed by tumultuous social change, has produced a country that is at once culturally homogenous and chromatically wildly diverse. It is a cornerstone of national identity that Brazil is racially mixed – more than any country on Earth, Brazilians say. Much less discussed, but equally visible – in every restaurant full of white patrons and black waiters, in every high rise where the black doorman points a black visitor toward the service elevator – is the pervasive racial inequality…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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