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

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:


  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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Obama Should Talk About Being Biracial

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-01-20 22:52Z by Steven

Obama Should Talk About Being Biracial

The Daily Beast

David Kaufman

The President identifies as black, but David Kaufman hopes that during his second term, he’ll also discuss his biracial heritage.

Four years after he first entered the White House, there’s no longer anything surprising about calling Barack Obama—America’s first black president—a “transformational” leader. Yet the full extent of Obama’s transformational potential has yet to be realized in one realm: his biracial heritage.

Obama’s 1995 book Dreams from my Father makes clear that his identity was influenced as much—if not more—by his Caucasian mother than his absentee African father. But since he won the Democratic nomination in 2008, both Obama and the media seem to have shut the closet door on his multi-culti background. With his black wife and children by his side, Obama certainly represents an aspirational—and much-needed—African-American cultural ideal. But with one half of his family history so conspicuously overlooked, whether by circumstance or design, that ideal is not the entire story of his identity.

To a certain extent, I think it’s been an act,” San Francisco State University Professor Andrew Jolivétte—editor of Obama and the Biracial Factor, a collection of essays—says of the president’s mono-racial messaging. “The President has been afraid to speak more openly about being biracial because it could be read in so many different ways.”…

…With so few journalists actually asking the President about being mixed-race, Obama has conversely had very little to tell them. Or maybe because he’s so publicly—and repeatedly—identified as black in the past, the President simply feels he has nothing left to reveal. “Some might suggest he’s purposely not talking about it, but perhaps his mixed heritage is no longer some on-going restless question for Obama,” suggests Michele Elam, Professor in the Department of English and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford. “I don’t think he’s repressing his mixed heritage or capitulating to the ‘one-drop’ rule,” Elam continues. “For Obama, the choice to identify as black has never been merely about biology or blood … He sees blackness as containing differences of experience and ancestry.”…

Read the entire aritcle here.

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Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference 2012 Recap

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2012-11-14 19:36Z by Steven

Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference 2012 Recap


Camilla Fojas, (CMRS 2012 organizer) Associate Professor and Chair
Latin American and Latino Studies
DePaul University

Laura Kina, (Mixed Roots Midwest 2012 co-organizer) Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University

Despite being sandwiched between Halloween, Superstorm Sandy, and the presidential elections, over 400 people attended the 2nd biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference, “What is Critical Mixed Race Studies?,” and Mixed Roots Midwest at DePaul University in Chicago November 1-4, 2012. Attendees came from across the United State from Hawaii to New York as well as internationally from Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, and Ukraine and included senior and junior scholars and cultural producers, graduate students, undergraduates, community members, and representatives from community organizations.
We would like to thank all of the attendees, participants, organizers, and volunteers for making CMRS 2012 an engaging and memorable conference. A special thanks to the invaluable conference support from DePaul’s Latin American and Latino Studies and our 2012 programming committee: Greg Carter, Michele Elam, Camilla Fojas, Rudy P. Guevarra Jr., and Rainier Spencer. Thank you to our DePaul University co-sponsors: Center for Latino Research (CLR), Center for Intercultural Programs, Global Asian Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies Program (LALSP), Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean’s Office, Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (OIDE), Women and Gender Studies Program, and African American and Black Diaspora Studies.

Click here to view the 2012 CMRS Conference Schedule.
Enjoy photos from CMRS 2012
Like our new organizational page on Facebook

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies Call For Papers
“What is Critical Mixed Race Studies?”

Papers that were presented at the 2012 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference “What is Critical Mixed Race Studies?” are invited for revision and submission for the second issue of JCMRS. We also welcome papers that speak to specialized research, pedagogical, or community-based interests. JCMRS encourages both established and emerging scholars, including graduate students and faculty, to submit articles throughout the year. Articles will be considered for publication on the basis of their contributions to important and current discussions in mixed race studies, and their scholarly competence and originality.
Visit JCMRS to download the CFP

What’s Next?

The inaugural issue of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies will be published in Jan-Feb 2013. We are in the process of building a dedicated CMRS website, gearing up for the next conference in 2014 (or sooner), and continuing a creative partnership with Mixed Roots Stories (launching in December 2012), and planning to form a CMRS association. Please keep the conversations going through the CMRS Facebook group page and through the CMRS caucus grouops: Latina/os of Mixed Ancestry, the National Association of Mixed Student Organizations, and the newly proposed Queer Caucus. For more information or to get involved contact us at

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

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2012-11-01 04:26Z by Steven

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

New Books in African American Studies: Discussions with Scholars of African Americans about Their New Books

Sherry Johnson, Assistant Professor of English
Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan

“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…

Read the entire review here. Listen to the interview (00:59:00) here.

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Students more likely to identify as multiracial

Posted in Arts, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2012-10-24 23:56Z by Steven

Students more likely to identify as multiracial

The Stanford Daily: Breaking News from the Farm Since 1892
Stanford University

Taylor Chambers

Erika Roach ’13 identifies herself as “Blasian,” while Marcus Montanez-Leaks ’13 says he’s “Blexican.”

These terms and others used to describe mixed race individuals are becoming more common in conversation and student groups focused on mixed race issues have begun popping up on campus, a trend mirroring the rise in applications.

Mixed race applicants to Stanford are “one of the fastest growing groups,” according to Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw.

During the 2011-12 academic year, 11.6 percent of undergraduates identified their racial/ethnic category as “two or more races,” up from 8.4 percent the previous year. 2010-11 was the first year the University began collecting data on mixed race individuals.

In 2011, the Department of Education started requiring universities to collect more information about applicants’ race and ethnicity. Many college applications, including the Common Application that Stanford uses, now allow students to check multiple boxes when it comes to describing their racial and ethnic identities.

“Students [telling] us exactly what their racial background is … not a mandatory request. It is optional,” Shaw said. He added that the ability to self-identify accurately is a crucial part of the college admissions process.

For students who identify with more than one heritage, the ability to check all that apply on the racial background section of college admissions proves crucial to establishing their identity…

Michele Elam, English professor and author of a 2011 book on mixed race, The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium, argues that diversity remains an important consideration among many others in college admissions, but does not believe that students are simply “cynically trying to game the system by checking as many boxes as possible.”
“A lot of young high school students when doing college admissions are just coming of age politically and racially,” Elam said. “Some may not have thought of themselves as having a distinct mixed identity before being asked to check multiple boxes.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Racing “mixed race” in the 21st century

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-03-17 03:11Z by Steven

Racing “mixed race” in the 21st century

Gender News
The Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Stanford University

Krystale E. Littlejohn

Mixed race and social negotiation

What are you?  For many people, this question elicits a variety of responses: student, sister, brother, dancer, mother, sports enthusiast.  For ethnically ambiguous people, however, the question usually refers to what race they are — or whether they identify as mixed race.  Implicit in such a question is the notion that mixed race people have a choice, a choice to decide how they racially identify.

This view of choice implies that America has arrived in a post-race society. For the first time since its origin in 1790, the U.S. Census in 2000 gave respondents the choice to mark more than one race.  Many view the “mark one or more races” (MOOM) option as validation that mixed race people can freely choose their racial identities.  In a recent talk at the Clayman Institute, race scholar Michele Elam challenged the notion of unconstrained choice for mixed race people and offered a nuanced view of the relationship between race, art and social justice in the 21st century…

Read the entire article here.

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The Souls of Mixed Folk [Review: Samatar]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2012-02-07 02:00Z by Steven

The Souls of Mixed Folk [Review: Samatar]

Sofia Samatar

Sofia Samatar

This book, by Stanford professor Michele Elam, comes at you with a provocative title and a provocative cover.

The title, a reference to the brilliant and still relevant 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois, is provocative because it could be read as trivializing a classic of African-American literature and cultural theory. The cover, which shows an image of “Baby Halfie Brown Head” by artist Lezley Saar, is provocative because of the way it presents a mixed-race body as a creepy, freakish-looking doll.

If you are bothered by these things, you should keep reading Elam’s book. She explains very quickly that she doesn’t mean to trivialize Du Bois: her title comes from a frame in Nate Creekmore’s comic strip, Maintaining, and she chose it for a number of good reasons, among them a wish “to both evoke and unsettle expectations, to prepare the reader for examples of art, literature, comics, and drama that collectively reframe…conversations about the ‘spiritual strivings’ of mixed race people.” The disturbing doll on the cover is meant to play a similar role. Elam writes: “Politically incorrect in an age seeking to answer ever more earnestly the philosophical and democratic problem of ‘the one and the many,’ its body will not deliver the desired whole.”…

Read the entire review here.

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James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex–Colored Man: A Century Later (Session 529)

Posted in Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2011-12-14 22:41Z by Steven

James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex–Colored Man: A Century Later (Session 529)

Modern Language Association
127th MLA Annual Convention
2012-01-05 through 2012-01-05
Washington State Convention Center
Seattle, Washingon

Program arranged by the Division on Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century American Literature


Gene Andrew Jarrett, Associate Professor of English
Boston University


1. “Music, Race, and Nation in Johnson’s Autobiography”

Erich Nunn, Assistant Professor of English
Auburn University
2. “An Old Negro in a New Century: Locating the Southern Slave in Johnson’s Autobiography”

Adena Spingarn
Harvard University
3. “The Ex-Colored among Us: Johnson’s Autobiography and the New Millennial Multiracialism”

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

4. “Pragmatic Nationalism in Johnson’s Autobiography”

Michael Clay Hooper, Assistant Professor of English
Prairie View A&M University 

For more information, click here.

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Professor Michele Elam to be Featured Guest on Mixed Chicks Chat

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-09-29 00:01Z by Steven

Professor Michelle Elam to be Featured Guest on Mixed Chicks Chat

Mixed Chicks Chat (The only live weekly show about being racially and culturally mixed. Also, founders of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival) Hosted by Fanshen Cox, Heidi W. Durrow and Jennifer Frappier
Website: TalkShoe™ (Keywords: Mixed Chicks)
Episode: #227 – Professor Michele Elam
When: Wednesday, 2011-09-28, 21:00Z (17:00 EDT, 14:00 PDT)

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

Mixed Chicks Chat will be talking with Michele Elam about her work on mixed-race identity and her new book, The Souls of Mixed Folks: Race, Aesthetics & Politics in the New Millenium which 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.”

Listen to the episode here.  Download the episode here.

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Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2011-07-06 18:33Z by Steven

Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice

The New York Times

Felicia R. Lee

Heidi Durrow, left, and Fanshen Cox, the co-producers of the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival. (Ann Johansson for The New York Times)

Note from Steven F. Riley: Please make sure to view the many reader comments for the article here.

Race Remixed: Articles in this series explore the growing number of mixed-race Americans.

For years Heidi W. Durrow heard the refrain: editors wouldn’t publish her novel because readers couldn’t relate to a protagonist who was part black and part Danish. But when that novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” was finally published last year (after about four dozen rejections, said Ms. Durrow, who is, of course, black and Danish), the coming-of-age story landed on best-seller lists.

Today Ms. Durrow finds herself in the elite precincts of The New Yorker and National Public Radio — which a few weeks ago began the Summer Blend Book Club, featuring works about multiracial people…

…“The national images of racially mixed people have dramatically changed just within the last few years, from ‘mulattoes’ as psychically divided, racially impure outcasts to being hip new millennials who attractively embody the resolution of America’s race problem,” said Michele Elam, an associate professor of English at Stanford University.

Both images, she said, are wrongheaded and reductive.

Much of the work by mixed-race artists, though certainly not all of it, reveals the fault lines and pressure points that still exist in a rapidly changing America. It is on these rough edges that many multiracial people live, and where many artists find the themes that animate their work: the limits of tolerance, hidden or unacknowledged assumptions about identity, and issues of racial privilege and marginalization.

“These images and narratives are not just entertaining,” said Ms. Elam, who is also the author of “The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium.” “They can influence, both consciously and unconsciously, how we think about race today in our nation.”…

…To support and showcase artists telling their stories of the mixed experience, Ms. Durrow and Fanshen Cox, a biracial actor and Ms. Durrow’s best friend, created the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival in Los Angeles in 2008…

Read the entire aritcle here.  View the reader comments here.

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