On rare occasions, when my skin contrasts with a white shirt, or the humidity enhances the curliness of my hair, people might recognize me as the Black man that I am.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-08-31 14:12Z by Steven

I am a descendant of slaves and slave owners. My mixed heritage extends back as far as I can trace my ancestry. I have light beige skin, loosely curly brown hair, an angular nose, a small mouth, and brown almond-shaped eyes. I never know how others read my racially ambiguous appearance. On rare occasions, when my skin contrasts with a white shirt, or the humidity enhances the curliness of my hair, people might recognize me as the Black man that I am. Most of the time, they accept me as an ethnic variant of a broadly conceived whiteness. People are occasionally curious, and they try to press me for details.

Herb Harris, “I Was Expecting a Black Guy by Herb Harris,” Hippocampus Magazine, January 8, 2021. https://hippocampusmagazine.com/2021/01/i-was-expecting-a-black-guy-by-herb-harris/.

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I Was Expecting a Black Guy by Herb Harris

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2021-08-30 18:30Z by Steven

I Was Expecting a Black Guy by Herb Harris

Hippocampus Magazine: Memorable Creative Nonfiction
2021-01-08

Herb Harris

Peering over wire-rimmed glasses, the Vice President of Clinical Research looked directly at me for the first time since we sat down for the job interview and said, “I was expecting a Black guy.” There was no trace of humor in his comment.

At our greeting there had been a firm handshake, but no smile. Tall, portly, and balding, his presence conveyed gravitas and corporate seniority.

There was a long stretch of silence. I sat on a low uncomfortable couch, trying to maintain an impossible posture that appeared to be both relaxed and engaged. My back was aching from this contradiction, as I struggled to contain my shock at the inappropriate remark.

I had not been asked about race at any point in the application process. There had been no boxes to check, and no personal demographic information was ever requested. Whatever had created this expectation in the Vice President’s mind, he was disappointed. The person before him did not appear to be Black…

Read the entire article here.

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The Beiging of America, Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-05 13:23Z by Steven

The Beiging of America, Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century

2Leaf Press
June 2017
eBook ISBN: 978-1-940939-55-1

Edited by:

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Professor of English and Asian and Asian American Studies
University of Connecticut

Sean Frederick Forbes, Poet and Professor

Tara Betts, Author and Professor

The Beiging of America, Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century, takes on “race matters” and considers them through the firsthand accounts of mixed race people in the United States. Edited by mixed race scholars Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Sean Frederick Forbes and Tara Betts, this collection consists of 39 poets, writers, teachers, professors, artists and activists, whose personal narratives articulate the complexities of interracial life. Discrimination, instilling pride in family settings, sorting out the terms and names that people call themselves and their relatives, tackling colorism within communities of color, and childhood recollections fill these pages with compelling stories that speak to lived experiences, mapping a new ethnic terrain that transcends racial and cultural division.The Beiging of America was prompted by cultural critic/scholar Hua Hsu, who contemplated the changing face and race of U.S. demographics in his 2009 The Atlantic article provocatively titled “The End of White America.” In it, Hsu acknowledged “steadily ascending rates of interracial marriage” that undergirded assertions about the “beiging of America.”

As one flips through the pages of The Beiging of America, one discovers contributors’ shared exasperation with the inevitable and preposterous question – “What are you?” – simply because they do not fit neatly into any one racial category. This in itself is a reflection of how the black-white paradigm in America continues to obfuscate and distort rigid constructs and systemic racism, reminding readers that race – even in a post-racial imaginary – still matters. The Beiging of America is an absorbing and thought-provoking collection of stories that explore racial identity, alienation, with people often forced to choose between races and cultures in their search for self-identity. While underscoring the complexity of the mixed race experience, these unadorned voices offer a genuine, poignant, enlightening and empowering message to all readers.

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