MAMP Podcast Ep #4: Revisiting the One-Drop Rule

Posted in Audio, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-01-25 15:42Z by Steven

MAMP Podcast Ep #4: Revisiting the One-Drop Rule

My American Melting Pot
2019-01-04

Lori L. Tharps, Host, Head Chef and Chief Content Creator; Associate Professor of journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On episode #4 of the MAMP podcast, we’re revisiting the one-drop rule with two women who both believed they were white, until they discovered by accident, that they weren’t.

My guests are Gail Lukasik and Shannon Wink. Gail is the author of the new book, White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing and Shannon is a Philadelphia-based journalist and writer. In her late 40s, Gail discovered that her mother had been passing as white for her entire adult life. Shannon learned her maternal grandfather wasn’t Native American as he’d claimed, he was actually Black.

In this riveting discussion, we hear about Gail and Shannon’s “family secrets,” but spend the majority of the time speaking about what it means to be Black or white. We revisit this flawed concept of the one-drop rule that stipulates a person is Black if they have just one drop of Black blood in them. If that were truly the case, then both Gail and Shannon would be certifiably Black. But they’re not.

What does it mean to be white or Black in this country? How does knowing you have Black ancestry change one’s sense of racial identity? What role do culture and community play in one’s identity formation? Listen in on the conversation to hear how we answer these questions and more.

“I’ve often wondered why more colored girls … never ‘passed’ over. It’s such a frightfully easy thing to do. If one’s the type, all that’s needed is a little nerve.”Nella Larsen, from the novel Passing

Listen to the episode (00:47:24) here download the episode here.

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New Book Confronts Colorism in 21st Century America

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-21 19:27Z by Steven

New Book Confronts Colorism in 21st Century America

NBC News
2016-12-21

Lesley-Ann Brown

The Masque of Blackness” (1605) is an early Jacobean era “masque” — a popular form of 16th & 17th century amateur dramatic theatre — and is quite possibly the first instance in English literature where the topic of skin color is not only discussed, but where Blackness is cast in an unfavorable light.

Project Muse writes, “In The Masque of Blackness (1605) and its plot sequel “The Masque of Beauty” (1608), Ben Jonson represents the transformation of African people to Europeans when they travel to England from Africa.” The period in which it was commissioned and produced coincides with England’s expansion of her Atlantic journey into slavery, sugar and empire and so it ought not be underscored the role literature is enlisted to play in terms of the color hierarchy it was meant to entrain. The masque, commissioned by Anne of Denmark, queen consort of King James I, was also one of the first documented cases of “blackface” a practice so novel at the time that many of the English court found it disturbing…

…In “Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families,” Lori Tharps, an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University and author of “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America” and “Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain,” Tharps gives voice to a dynamic that as she notes, “…doesn’t even exist. Not officially. It autocorrects on my computer screen. It does not appear in the dictionary. So, how does one begin to unpack a societal ill that doesn’t have a name?”…

Read the entire article here.

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I feel what we’re what we’re experiencing with Trump and his constituents is a lot of backlash anxiety about the loss of white supremacy, but this too is part of progress.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-11-20 01:16Z by Steven

I feel what we’re what we’re experiencing with [Donald] Trump and his constituents is a lot of backlash anxiety about the loss of white supremacy, but this too is part of progress. Do you know the comedian Hari Kondabolu?  I bet Z will like his stuff in a couple more years. Here he is on the year 2042 when Census figures indicate that whites will be the minority: “In 2042 apparently white people will be 49 percent. First of all, why do we give a fuck? Why do we keep mentioning this? Why is this even an issue? Are there white people here that are concerned that they’ll be the minority in 2042? Don’t worry white people, you were a minority when you came to this country. Things seemed to have worked out for you.” And have you heard about Lori Tharps’ important new book, Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families. The author, who is in a mixed-race marriage and mother to mixed kids, shares the concerns that have driven your work. Of course, Z’s experience is a lot different than mine when I was growing up. I was a unicorn. He’s of another, more diverse, generation, a different ethnic background, and lives in a cosmopolitan neighborhood. As you’ve pointed out, you can’t throw a rock in your corner of Brooklyn without hitting a mixed kid. Not that anyone should be throwing stones. —Emily Raboteau

Mira Jacob and Emily Raboteau, “Our Kids, Their Fears, Our President?Literary Hub, November 7, 2016. http://lithub.com/our-kids-their-fears-our-president/.

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I’m Not the Nanny: Multiracial Families and Colorism

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2016-11-04 00:56Z by Steven

I’m Not the Nanny: Multiracial Families and Colorism

Book Review
The New York Times
2016-11-03

Allyson Hobbs, Associate Professor of History
Stanford University

SAME FAMILY, DIFFERENT COLORS: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families
By Lori L. Tharps
203 pp. Beacon Press. $25.95.

In Danzy Senna’s 1998 novel “Caucasia,” two sisters — Cole and Birdie — share a bond so intimate that they create a language only they can understand. Engulfed in the racial chaos of Boston in the mid-70s, the sisters nestle themselves away in the cozy world they have created in their attic bedroom. Their lives are forever changed when their mother, a liberal white New Englander, and their father, a black man with radical political leanings, decide to divorce. The sisters are divided: Birdie lives with her mother and essentially passes for white, while Cole, who looks black, moves in with her father and his black girlfriend. In a city as racially divided and explosive as Boston in the 1970s, this separation by skin color strikes the reader as a chillingly rational decision.

Forty years later, America is no longer the bipolar racial regime of black and white that set Birdie and Cole on such different paths. Not only have personal attitudes changed, but the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 — which upended American immigration policy by abolishing the quota system based on national origins — has also transformed the country’s demographic character. The landmark Loving v. Virginia case of 1967 prohibited legal restrictions on interracial marriages. Federal racial classifications now recognize mixed-race identities. But neither Cole nor Birdie would have been widely understood as mixed-race in the 1970s. As Danzy Senna, who is mixed-race, has written of her own experiences during that tumultuous decade: “Mixed wasn’t an option. . . . No halvsies. No in between.”

Lori L. Tharps’s new book, “Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families,” is an urgent and honest unveiling of how generations of American families have lived with these changes. Tharps focuses on “colorism,” which she notes is not an official word, but has been defined by Alice Walker as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.”…

Read the entire review here.

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Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families

Posted in Books, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2016-10-08 01:14Z by Steven

Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families

Beacon Press
2016-10-04
216 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-080707678-1

Lori L. Tharps, Assistant Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Weaving together personal stories, history, and analysis, Same Family, Different Colors explores the myriad ways skin-color politics affect family dynamics in the United States.

Colorism and color bias—the preference for or presumed superiority of people based on the lighter color of their skin—is a pervasive but rarely openly discussed phenomenon, one that is centuries old and continues today. In Same Family, Different Colors, journalist Lori Tharps, the mother of three mixed-race children with three distinct skin colors, uses her own family as a starting point to explore how skin-color difference is dealt with in African American, Latino, Asian American, and mixed-race families and communities. Along with intimate and revealing stories and anecdotes from dozens of diverse people from across the United States, Tharps adds a historical overview and a contemporary cultural critique. Same Family, Different Colors is a solution-seeking journey to the heart of identity politics, so this more subtle “cousin to racism,” in the author’s words, will be acknowledged, understood, and debated.

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Raising mixed-race kids who feel secure in their identity

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-12 22:19Z by Steven

Raising mixed-race kids who feel secure in their identity

NewsWorks
WHYY
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2016-04-11

Lori L. Tharps, Assistant Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I’m black American. My husband is from Spain. Before we started a family, the race of my future children never gave me cause for concern or worry. I guess I just assumed that since we lived in the United States, they’d be black like me. I did spend a lot of time researching the most successful ways to raise bilingual children. I actually thought the fact that my children were going to speak two different languages was going to be the biggest difference between us. I was wrong.

My children aren’t just black. They have a Spanish father. So that makes them biracial. And while finding the perfect label or identity box to check off on government forms is hardly a critical issue in my parenting routine, raising children who are secure in their ethnic identity often feels like a struggle.

Living in a country as race obsessed as the United States makes identity politics a necessary evil to explore when family members in the same household are different races. Please note, I firmly believe there is only one human race and that the false construct of race that was invented in the 18th century with intentions of creating a hierarchy of man, is complete and utter hogwash. Unfortunately, because as a nation we subscribe to said hogwash, I would be a bad parent if I did not address these issues with my children who will face questions and challenges about their racial identity. But the questions they face will be and are different from mine. These aren’t the kind of things they teach you how to deal with in a Parenting 101 class…

Read the entire article here.

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The Case for Black With a Capital B

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-19 20:45Z by Steven

The Case for Black With a Capital B

The New York Times
2014-11-18

Lori L. Tharps, Associate Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA — I WAS sitting in my office at Temple University when I overheard an exchange between a colleague and his student. The student had come to see her professor to go over a paper, and he was patiently explaining that the abundance of grammatical mistakes detracted from her compelling content. I sympathized with my colleague as he pointed out error after error. Until he came to this one.

“Why did you capitalize black and white people?” he asked. “I thought I’d seen it written that way before,” the girl stammered. “Come on,” he said. “Why would you capitalize black or white?”…

…After emancipation, as many individuals replaced their slave surnames with ones of their own devising, like Freedman or Freeman, they still bore the painful legacy of the labels they’d been given: black, negro and colored.

It wasn’t only Black people who didn’t know what to call the nearly four million newly freed citizens of the United States. The government itself fumbled its way through names, categories and labels for Black people. Between 1850 and 1920, the United States census classified those of African descent as black, negro, mulatto, quadroon or octoroon — depending on the visual assessment of the census taker. By 1930, the Census Bureau offered just one of these categories: negro.

This wasn’t solely an issue of identity politics. In a 2008 article on the census for Studies in American Political Development, Jennifer L. Hochschild and Brenna M. Powell wrote, “Over the course of almost a century, the U.S. government groped its way through extensive experimentation — reorganizing and reimaging the racial order, with corresponding impact on individuals’ and groups’ life chances.” These names matter…

Read the entire article here.

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At Least We Talk About Race in the USA: Zadie Smith on Writing, Race and Color

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-09-24 20:13Z by Steven

At Least We Talk About Race in the USA: Zadie Smith on Writing, Race and Color

My American Meltingpot: A Multi-Culti Mix of Identity Politics, Parenting & Pop Culture
2014-09-22

Lori L. Tharps, Associate Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

…Last week Wednesday I skipped out of work as early as possible so I could get a front row seat at the University of Pennsylvania’s Speaker’s Series on Color featuring one of my all-time favorite authors, Zadie Smith. I’ve read (and own) almost all of Smith’s fiction, but I am also a big fan of her critical essays, especially those dealing with race and culture. I like her writing and I love her mind.

So, my biggest takeaway from the almost sold-out event, is that not only is Zadie Smith absolutely brilliant (and gorgeous, and taller than I expected), she’s also got a terrific sense of humor. Rather than present a formal reading of her work, Smith sat “in conversation,” (which is clearly a thing now.) with Penn English professor, Jed Esty who peppered her with questions about her books, her upbringing as a Mixed child in London and her process as a writer. She answered every query with honesty and held none of her opinions back, even when they may have insulted the vast majority of the mostly White audience.

I found myself nodding in agreement with so much of what Smith said regarding the difference between being Black in the USA vs, the UK…

Read the entire article here.

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