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

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media on 2017-05-30 20:51Z 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

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Michele Elam: “The Souls of Mixed Folk” (NBAAS, 31/10/12)

Posted in Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-14 19:15Z by Steven

Michele Elam: “The Souls of Mixed Folk” (NBAAS, 31/10/12)

YouTube
Race & Ethnicity Archive
2016-03-19

“What are you?” The question can often comes out of nowhere One can be going about her quotidian activities, or she might have just finished a meeting at work. “What are you?” The question is disorienting for most, but for others who are racially ambiguous it is commonplace. The ostensibly benign question suggests that it is about the person being asked. However, one might argue that it is more about the one who does the asking. In The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millenium (Stanford University Press, 2011), Michele Elam critically discusses the rise of the Mixed Race Studies. To demonstrate the new sub-genre of cultural studies in both art and academia Elam shows elements of what mixed-racedness looks like in the classroom, as well as in the public sphere here at the turn of the 21st century.

One of the contributions of Elam’s Souls makes to Mixed Race Studies is her careful outline of the ways people of mixed biological ancestry have historically worked for the goal of social justice for all oppressed groups; moreover, she shows how those who look at mixed-racedness critically continue to do so. This, despite the trajectory in which some of mixed-race advocates are moving: people of mixed-race backgrounds are a separate group with separate issues, and most importantly, being both black and white–and that is most often the only definition many use of being “mixed”–their experience falls outside the purview of race studies. This notion of being separate and outside is often used to justify a view of race that essentially reifies notions of identity as being defined by blood percentage–a point of view that takes us back, not forward. While those who critically study mixed- raceness see that one’s movement through a society that continues to ask What are you? can result in alternate experiences, many show that the difference can work in a way to help all understand racial oppression. Dr. Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor in the English Department at Stanford University, falls within the latter group.

And, so do Lezley Saar, Danzy Senna, Philip Roth, Aaron McGruder, and Dave Chappelle, to name but a few. A mixed bag, for sure, Elam examines relevant works of the aforementioned artists as she considers the way in which they challenge what is quickly becoming conventional thought on mixed-racedness from the academic classroom to the public sphere.

Whether one is fascinated with her critical reading of K-12 textbooks focused on mixed race curriculum or with her reading of artist Lezley Saar’s “Baby Halfie Brown Head”; with her insightful readings of Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks comic strips and/or the unforgettable episode “The Racial Draft” from The Dave Chappelle Show; whether one is interested in the ways that author Colson Whitehead and playwright Carl Hancock Rux ask their audiences to think critically about mixed-racedness in the 21st century one thing is clear: Elam first highlights and subsequently knocks down the notion that “fetishizing the box” of the racial categories on census forms or outlining one’s mixed family tree represents progression towards a most just society in the US.

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The End of Race As We Know It?

Posted in Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2014-10-29 15:06Z by Steven

The End of Race As We Know It?

Stanford+Connects
Stanford University
2014-10-09

Michele Elam, Professor of English
Stanford University

Sharing demographic shifts and a personal story about the use of her photograph in various advertisements, Professor Michele Elam traces multiracial identities from the 1940s to present day. In this talk, she explores how society understands race through context and their own cultural perceptions, and what this means for society.

For more information, click here.

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The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Philosophy, Social Science, United States on 2014-03-11 22:18Z by Steven

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014-01-30)
ISSN: 2325-4521

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California at Santa Barbaral


Saya Woolfalk, video still from “The Emphathics,” 2012.

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available. Volume 1, No. 1, 2014 “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies” It has been a long journey from the publication of Maria Root’s groundbreaking and award-winning anthology Mixed People in America (1992) to the inauguration of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. We would like to thank all of our contributors, volunteers, and editorial review board for their hard work and patience. We hope you enjoy this issue of the journal and find it an informative resource on the topic of mixed race identities and experiences.

G. Reginald Daniel, Editor in Chief

Laura Kina, Managing Editor

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS). Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies. Sponsored by UC Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library.

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
  • Cover Art
  • Table of Contents
  • Editor’s Note / Daniel, G. Reginald
  • Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies / Daniel, G. Reginald; Kina, Laura; Dariotis, Wei Ming; Fojas, Camilla
  • Appendix A: Publications from 1989 to 2004 / Riley, Steven F.
  • Appendix B: Publications from 2005 to 2013 / Riley, Steven F.

Articles

  • “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States” / Jordan, Winthrop D. (Edited by Spickard, Paul)
  • “Reconsidering the Relationship Between New Mestizaje and New Multiraciality as Mixed-Race Identity Models / Turner, Jessie D.
  • “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation / Jolivétte, Andrew J.
  • “‘Only the News They Want to Print’: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies” / Spencer, Rainier
  • “The Current State of Multiracial Discourse” / McKibbin, Molly Littlewood
  • “Slimy Subjects and Neoliberal Goods: Obama and the Children of Fanon” / McNeil, Daniel

Book Reviews

  • Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, When Half Is Whole: Multiethnic Asian Americans Identities / Crawford, Miki Ward
  • Ralina Joseph, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial / Elam, Michele
  • Greg Carter, The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing / Mount, Guy Emerson
  • Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr., Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego / Schlund-Vials, Cathy J.

About the Contributors

  • About the Contributors
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One Big Mixed Race Classroom: New Models for Digital, Transnational, and Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogy

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Teaching Resources, United States on 2013-11-21 05:03Z by Steven

One Big Mixed Race Classroom: New Models for Digital, Transnational, and Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogy

Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association
Beyond the Logic of Debt, Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent
2013-11-21 through 2013-11-24

Washington Hilton
1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.

Washington Hilton, Columbia Hall 9 (T)
Friday, 2013-11-22, 12:00-13:45 EST (Local Time)

CHAIR: Asha Nadkarni, Assistant Professor of English
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

PANELISTS:

Zelideth María Rivas, Assistant Professor of Japanese
Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia

Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of English and Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Stanford University

Lawrence-Minh B. Davis
University of Maryland, College Park

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Professor Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Steven F. Riley, Independent Scholar
MixedRaceStudies.org

In Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, the Mixed Race Initiative, a new digital pedagogy project, will stage a global conversation about mixed race, virtually connecting over 70 classrooms in 9 countries, exploring how notions of race vary—and remain constant—across regions and borders. Transnational and cross-disciplinary in character, the project will exist at once inside and outside of American studies, with numerous participating Americanists and American studies classrooms in dialogue with an even greater number of scholars and students in other fields.

This engages the hows and whys of the initiative, thinking through its guiding theoretical and ethical concerns, its challenges and opportunities. Roundtable participants, all of whom helped develop the project curriculum and/or took part in the teaching program, will discuss their particular points of entry, the cross-disciplinary and transnational work in which they engaged, and how that work has grown or could grow the humanities, American studies, and mixed race studies. How, we might consider, can mixed race pedagogy be a critical means of rethinking American studies—and vice versa?  How can a global initiative, extending beyond U.S. borders and the English language, explore mixed race as a necessarily inter- and transnational subject? What does it mean to teach—and craft curriculum—communally?

For more information, click here.

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All the parts of myself…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-11-09 15:10Z by Steven

For similar reasons, The Boondocks also critiques one of the mainstays of mixed race representation: the obligatory rehearsal of one’s multiracial family tree. Replacing calls for social justice or racial equity, the most often repeated goal of  “mixed race rights” is merely to “name all the parts of myself.” The rhetorical or graphic display of the family tree (almost de rigueur in the growing genre of mixed race narratives) participates in a racial gaze that can interrupt political reflection. For Jazmine and her family, description has come to stand in for politics, genealogy substituting for political discussions of the body politic. The family tree is paraded as revelatory and socially transforming fact. It has come to serve as proxy for social change, in which representing one’s family tree has become a political end in itself. The exercise of those rights often amounts to making identity a category of genealogical documentation, documentation which, to the extent that it is complacently represented as an end in itself whose social good is somehow self-evident, obscures identity as social index and mode of analysis. When Huey asks Jazmine, “OK… if you’re not black, then what are you, hmmm?” she responds dutifully with a list documenting down to the fraction her ethnic racial portfolio: “My mother is one-quarter Irish, one-quarter Swedish, and one-half German, and on my father’s side is part Cherokee, and my grandfather is mostly French, I think, because he’s originally from Louisiana, and his father was from Haiti I believe, which makes me…” Huey intervenes: “Which makes you as black as Richard Roundtree in ‘Shaft in Africa’” (A Right to Be Hostile 15).  Huey disparages not so much her mixed genealogy as the idea that a recapitulation of ethnic and national descent really says anything meaningful about racial identity. At the very least, he suggests, her genealogy is neither progressive nor has sufficient explanatory force. Rather, her accounting retroactively ratifies the idea of racially homogeneous categories and national identities by suggesting that each parent’s race or ethnicity is unitary.

Her laundry list also collapses blood and nation and then fractionalizes both—how else can the notion of “one-quarter Swedish” make sense—and looks less like the new millennial model of post-race and more like an uncritical revival of classic nineteenth-century positivist racialism. Huey interrupts her—and the discourse itself—by insisting instead on the political nature of racial identity: he teases her by saying, “I understand, Jazmine. I’m mixed too.” We see an up-close shot of her face, which lights up as she says hopefully, “You are?” only to have him sarcastically claim, much to her disappointment, to be “part Black, part African, part Negro, and part colored.” Significantly, his designations do not pretend to be descriptive; they all carry heavy historical and political implication. He then walks off wailing, “Poor me. I just don’t know where I fit in,” as she cries after him (again): “You’re making fun of me!” (16). Of course, Huey is making fun of Jazmine in this exchange. However, his send-up is social critique to the degree that it does not concede the reduction of racial identity to the sum of one’s parts; he thinks of race not in terms of  blood but in relation to representation. Shaft in Africa, after all, is late in the series of 1970s campy sex-and-adventure Blaxploitation films. Huey’s invocation of the hyper-blackness represented in the Blaxploitation genre of film is a spoof of them—he is concerned not with black authenticity but with cultural figurations of blackness. Race, for McGruder, is always cast as a matter of historical consciousness, social play, and political engagement. This perspective is reinforced in his comments on the racial status of  Barack Obama, when he notes, “We all share the common experiences of being Black in America today—we do not all share a common history.” In such scenes, The Boondocks replaces mere optic confirmation of race with black cultural performance and historical citation as more useful markers of racial identity. His coherent sense of “Black” is historically informed, historically evolving, and historically heterogeneous in both community composition and cultural practice.

Michele Elam, The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2011), 69-70.

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The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium [Ibrahim Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2013-11-09 15:08Z by Steven

The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium [Ibrahim Review]

Modern Language Quarterly
Volume 74, Number 4, December 2013
page 566
DOI: 10.1215/00267929-2153679

Habiba Ibrahim, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington

The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium. By Elam Michele. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011. viii + 277 pp.

Read or purchase the review here.

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Clearly Invisible Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity by Marcia Alesan Dawkins, and: The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium by Michele Elam (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2013-10-08 21:15Z by Steven

Clearly Invisible Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity by Marcia Alesan Dawkins, and: The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium by Michele Elam (review)

Philip Roth Studies
Volume 9, Number 2, Fall 2013
pages 99-103
DOI: 10.1353/prs.2013.0024

Donavan L. Ramon
Rutgers University

Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012, vxi + 229 pp.

Michele Elam, The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2011, xxiii + 277 pp.

According to W.E.B. DuBois’s prophetic theory articulated in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line” (221). Myriad critical and popular pieces over the past several years suggest that this theory has run its course: the celebration of mixed race people putatively implies the “end” of race. Certainly the election of the first biracial president has been touted as the epitome of post-race life in America. Yet as recent critical interventions by Michele Elam and Marcia Alesan Dawkins remind us, race remains prevalent because of biracial people, not in spite of it.

The continuities between DuBois’s theory and Elam’s are underscored by the title of the latter’s monograph. In The Souls of Mixed Folk, the Stanford University English Professor asserts that the notion of post-Black art being apolitical is a complete fiction, much like the idea that post-Civil Rights politics are in decline. By examining the images of mixed race subjects in a wide range of artistic forms, Elam argues that these venues are the newer locations that “engage issues of civil rights and social change” (16). To accept this belief, she begins her book by convincing readers that the increased interest in mixed race deludes many people into believing that race no longer exists. If this is truly the case, then why do fictional representations of biracial people continue to represent anxiety across a multitude of genres? More specifically, why has the last several years seen a resurgence in narratives of racial passing—such as Philip Roth’s The Human Stain?

Elam explores these questions across five thoroughly researched and well-written chapters. The first traces the history of mixed race studies in curricula across the nation while raising related yet ignored issues. For instance she problematizes the focus of heteronormative depictions of mixed race families at the expense of homosexual ones, while also reminding us that mixed Americans have historically been the result of sexual violation. She believes we must be mindful of considering the product of these unions as representatives of racial progress without understanding the nuances of slavery and violence inflicted on black bodies by whites.

Chapter two changes the focus from history to contemporary comic strips by Aaron McGruder and Nate Creekmore. In their works, Elam rightly sees racial identity as “a matter of public negotiation, social location, cultural affirmation, political commitment, and historical homage” (58). In chapter four, Elam situates the traditional European bildungsroman against the “mixed race bildungsroman”. The former focuses on the “social incorporation of the individual” (125) whereas protagonists in the latter are not “incorporated into the society or the social progress that they are supposed to represent . . . [and they] challenge the popular image of the ‘modern minority’” (126). She applies her theory of the “mixed race bildungsroman” to Emily Raboteau’s The Professor’s Daughter (1997) and Danzy Senna’s Symptomatic (2004). Elam’s last chapter examines performances of mixed race in Carl Hancock Rux’s play Talk and “The Racial Draft” skit from Dave Chappelle’s defunct late-night comedy show. Her argument here is that in both performances, there is a “re-visioning and a re-membering of the national order” (161).

The middle chapter is the one that is most germane to this journal, as it examines racial passing in Danzy Senna’s Causcasia (1999), Philip Roth’s The Human Stain (2000), and Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist (2000). Despite research to the contrary, Elam begins this chapter by arguing that racial passing literature is far from being an obsolete genre, as these novels attest. Despite living in a post-race era, these narratives collectively argue for the rebirth of racial passing as a “social inquiry” (98). Explaining further, the novels addressed here force readers to reconsider “the performative, iterative nature of racial identity as a rich social heuristic” (98).

This is nowhere more evident than in The Human Stain , where racial passing acts as a “reactionary vehicle to critique political correctness”—particularly because it is set during President Clinton’s sex scandal (98). In this regard, “performance,” can have multiple meanings in the novel: one referring…

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The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-03-24 18:51Z by Steven

The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium

Stanford University Press
February 2011
312 pages
23 illustrations
Cloth ISBN-10: 0804756295; ISBN-13: 9780804756297
Paper ISBN-10: 0804756309; ISBN-13: 9780804756303

Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of English and Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Stanford University

Cover Photo: “Baby Halfie Brown Head”, from artist Lezley Saar’s, Mulatto Nation (2003) art installation.

The Souls of Mixed Folk examines representations of mixed race in literature and the arts that redefine new millennial aesthetics and politics. Focusing on black-white mixes, Elam analyzes expressive works—novels, drama, graphic narrative, late-night television, art installations—as artistic rejoinders to the perception that post-Civil Rights politics are bereft and post-Black art is apolitical. Reorienting attention to the cultural invention of mixed race from the social sciences to the humanities, Elam considers the creative work of Lezley Saar, Aaron McGruder, Nate Creekmore, Danzy Senna, Colson Whitehead, Emily Raboteau, Carl Hancock Rux, and Dave Chappelle. All these writers and artists address mixed race as both an aesthetic challenge and a social concern, and together, they gesture toward a poetics of social justice for the “mulatto millennium.”

The Souls of Mixed Folk seeks a middle way between competing hagiographic and apocalyptic impulses in mixed race scholarship, between those who proselytize mixed race as the great hallelujah to the “race problem” and those who can only hear the alarmist bells of civil rights destruction. Both approaches can obscure some of the more critically astute engagements with new millennial iterations of mixed race by the multi-generic cohort of contemporary writers, artists, and performers discussed in this book. The Souls of Mixed Folk offers case studies of their creative work in an effort to expand the contemporary idiom about mixed race in the so-called post-race moment, asking how might new millennial expressive forms suggest an aesthetics of mixed race? And how might such an aesthetics productively reimagine the relations between race, art, and social equity in the twenty-first century?

Read an excerpt of “Obama’s Mixed Race Politics” here.

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The JCMRS inaugural issue will be released Summer, 2013

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2013-03-18 03:35Z by Steven

The JCMRS inaugural issue will be released on Summer, 2013

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
c/o Department of Sociology
SSMS Room 3005
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California  93106-9430
E-Mail: socjcmrs@soc.ucsb.edu
2012-10-10

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to developing the field of Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) through rigorous scholarship. Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies.

JCMRS is transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational in focus and emphasizes the critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions and constructions of ‘race.’ JCMRS emphasizes the constructed nature and thus mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. JCMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.

Sponsored by University of California, Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library. JCMRS functions as an open-access forum for critical mixed race studies scholars and will be available without cost to anyone with access to the Internet.


Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 2013 will include:

Articles

  1. “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States”—Winthrop Jordan edited by Paul Spickard
  2. “Retheorizing the Relationship Between New Mestizaje and New Multiraciality as Mixed Race Identity Models”—Jessie Turner
  3. “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation,” Keynote Address presented at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, November 5, 2010, DePaul UniversityAndrew Jolivétte
  4. “Only the News We Want to Print”—Rainier Spencer
  5. “The Current State of Multiracial Discourse”—Molly McKibbin
  6. “Slimy Subjects and Neoliberal Goods”—Daniel McNeil

Editorial Board

Founding Editors: G. Reginald Daniel, Wei Ming Dariotis, Laura Kina, Maria P. P. Root, and Paul Spickard

Editor-in-Chief: G. Reginald Daniel

Managing Editors: Wei Ming Dariotis and Laura Kina

Editorial Review Board: Stanley R. Bailey, Mary C. Beltrán, David Brunsma, Greg Carter, Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Michele Elam, Camilla Fojas, Peter Fry, Kip Fulbeck, Rudy Guevarra, Velina Hasu Houston, Kevin R. Johnson, Andrew Jolivette, Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Laura A. Lewis, Kristen A. Renn, Maria P. P. Root, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, Gary B. Nash, Kent A. Ono, Rita Simon, Miri Song, Rainier Spencer, Michael Thornton, Peter Wade, France Winddance Twine, Teresa Williams-León, and Naomi Zack

For more information, click here.

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