In Living Colors

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-02 04:08Z by Steven

In Living Colors

B.L.A.C. Detroit: Black Life, Arts and Culture Magazine
February 2011

Jared A. Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

[Listen to the interview with Jared Ball and Lori Robinson on WDET in Detroit on 2011-02-01 here.]

A Black man with a White mother examines the concept of multiracial identity—past, present and future

What are you?

I have been asked this question for so long, some might think I should be over it. I’m not.

Not because I mind answering it. In fact, I often enjoy the reactions my answers get. “You ever read James Forman’s “The Making of Black Revolutionaries?” I at times reply. “Well, my autobiography would be called “The Making of a Black, African, Pan-Africanist, Nationalist, Communist, Revolutionary, Son of a Jew.” Or I might simply say, “I’m from the Punchdummiesinthemouth people.”

At age 39, I’m not over the question because of the arrogance and derision that commonly accompanies it. There is often a sense of entitlement, even obligation, to have my identity made known. How dare I not be easily classifiable by onlookers? In the United States, everyone is expected to fit neatly into a racial box—which influences your economic, professional and educational opportunities, for better or worse.

In 2011, the color line W. E. B. Du Bois spoke of, rather than dissipating, has evolved into a multiplicity of color lines. Though these lines are intertwining and merging with increasing frequency, they remain firm boundaries determining the lived experiences of millions of people.

Freman Hendrix was raised in segregated Inkster by his Black father and White mother—the only White person in their community. “Walking down the street is where you get your identity,” says the 60-year-old former chair of the Detroit Charter Commission. “We don’t have signs on us telling [people] who we are. It’s how other people react to you that tells you who you are.

“It’s naïve for kids to assume a multiracial identity,” he says.

Nineteen-year-old Karima Ullah couldn’t disagree more.

Ullah, of Oak Park, is the daughter of a Bengali mother and a father who has one White parent and one Black parent. For her, being multiracial means being beyond categorization. She rejects entirely the notion of having to choose one racial identity over another. “Be who you are,” she says. “Be a person.”…

…We may be experiencing a generational shift in the self-identification of children born to parents of different races. After all, it was only one decade ago that Americans had the option to choose more than one racial category when filling out a Census Bureau form. For the record, I checked the African-American box in 2000 and 2010…

Jared Sexton, 36, is the director of the African American Studies Program at the University of California, Irvine. His mom is Irish American and his dad is African American. “Why do those who can want to identify as other than Black? Because this nation remains fundamentally anti-Black and continues to associate Blackness with an absence of humanity,” he says.

On the West Coast, people have attempted to refuse to allow Sexton to identify as Black. On more than one occasion, he’s heard, “No, you can’t be.” People have also guessed that he is Latino or Filipino. On the East Coast—he was raised in Rochester, N.Y.—people frequently assume he is Puerto Rican…

…“We have a right to identify as we choose,” says Sexton. He chooses to self-identify as Black because he thinks multiracial identity contributes to a denial of White supremacy and anti-Black sentiments…

…Says Hendrix, Black-White identity is different from other mixed-race identities. Sexton agrees, attributing this difference to the lingering negative connotations of Blackness…

Detroit native writer and filmmaker dream hampton rejects the concepts of a post-racial America and the tendency to self-identify as biracial or multi-racial.

“My mother is White. My father and stepfather, who both raised me, are Black,” she says. “I have never been mistaken for White.” She wants no part of what she calls the “anything-but-Black multi-racial movement.”

Says hampton, “The Census should simply have a ‘not Black’ box” so that those seeking an out from the perception of Black as “code for criminal and poor” can simply take it. She acknowledges that her acceptance of the “one drop” rule, or what scholars refer to as the practice of hypodescent—the adoption of the identity of the subordinate race—is “retro.” But it is this nation’s continued abuse of African Americans that compels her to do so…

Read the entire article here.
Also see, “Multi-Racial Detroiters: Here’s how some local folks with parents of different races self-identify“.

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The Politics of Multiracialism with Dr. Ralina Joseph

Posted in Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-08-07 22:30Z by Steven

The Politics of Multiracialism with Dr. Ralina Joseph


Jared A. Ball, Host and Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Ralina L. Joseph, Associate Professor of Communications
University of Washington

The struggles surrounding the politics of identity seem at new heights these days and to help bring some historical context we spoke with Dr. Ralina Joseph who joined us for a discussion of her recent article for Black Scholar, “Performing the Twenty-first Century Tragic Mulatto: Black, White, And Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, by Rebecca Walker.” We also discussed the politics of multiracial identity in terms of the history of the “tragic mulatto,” the upcoming census and Barack Obama.

Listen to the interview here (00:32:44).

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The Multiracial Sheep IS the White Supremacist Fox

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-05-24 01:47Z by Steven

The Multiracial Sheep IS the White Supremacist Fox

Black Agenda Report: the journal of African American political thought and action

Jared A. Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

A government and society that is ever ready to restrict the freedoms of Black folks now offers “freedom” from Blackness. This census and social “opt-out” for the progeny of interracial couples allows them to hope to be considered “as something entirely separate, different and apart from” what Curtis Mayfield called the “dark deep well.” The Black “baggage” can be left behind.

Let’s be very clear from the outset.  Multiracial categorization is an aggressive defense of white supremacy.  Multiracial census categorization, particularly in the era of what some are calling the first Black and multiracial president, is, pun-intended, the bulked up steroid-induced version of the old sports aphorism that “the best defense is a good offense.”  By aggressively encouraging younger generations to identify officially as multiracial the national desire to disappear worsening racial divides gets further juice by offering folks a chance to both adopt the illusion of the “post-racial” and to seemingly categorize themselves away from, if not out of, oppression. The beautiful dialectic traditionally developed in this country’s form of white supremacy was its built-in inability to be white and forced inclusion into Black which has made Black America, if even to a fault, among the most diverse, open and accepting communities in the world.  It also increased the potential that that community would become more threatening to white domination which has led to the centuries-long development of neocolonial-styled light-skin privilege as a mechanism of siphoning off some of the more willing participants in an escape from blackness…

Read the entire article here.

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