Midwest Mixed: Taking the lead on antiracist conversations about multiraciality

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-07-29 13:52Z by Steven

Midwest Mixed: Taking the lead on antiracist conversations about multiraciality

Sharon H. Chang, Author, Photographer, Activist

Sharon H. Chang

Me and Alissa Paris

“There is colorism in this work. There is shadeism in this work. There is anti-blackness in this work. And we are here to critique that.” —Alissa Paris, Executive Director and Co-founder, Midwest Mixed

Heat bounces off the parking lot pavement, blazes bright off light beige walls of the church where the conference is being held. It’s a typically warm, humid morning in Minneapolis. Summer glimmers across a yellow Black Lives Matter banner, bold against the south wall. Inside, the air is comfortable and cooled. Organizers and volunteers in deep purple T-shirts, “Midwest Mixed” written in turquoise, mill about, preparing. More attendees drift through doors, queue up, write their pronouns, hang lanyards from their necks.

Volunteers hand us beautiful 29-page, full color programs. Workshops include reflective writing, creative movement, dialogue and panels. I appreciate right away that there is an emphasis in the workshops on healing, parenting, mental wellness, and healthy families. There is note taking space in the back of the program and a worksheet entitled “A Deep Dive On My Identity” to help attendees think on the different intersections of our whole selves (e.g. geography, nationality, ethnicity, language, race, religion, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, gender ID, etc.).

In the marketplace, vendors sell social justice buttons, cards and shirts, jewelry from Africa, Corage Dolls to build self-love and confidence in girls of color. Posters display Maria P. P. Root’s Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People, a history of the multiracial movement, definitions of terms like intersectionality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender pronouns. Multi-medium works by local artists fill social rooms and hallways, including Within, Between, and Beyond: a multi-layered interactive installation on mixed race and transracial adoptee stories…

…And by the end of the weekend, I realize I’ve just attended one of the best race conferences I’ve ever been to…

Read the entire article here.

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Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-05-18 01:46Z by Steven

Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

University of Manitoba Press
October 2015
214 pages
6 × 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-88755-796-5

Jill Doerfler (White Earth Anishinaabe), Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies
University of Minnesota, Duluth

Despite the central role blood quantum played in political formations of American Indian identity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there are few studies that explore how tribal nations have contended with this transformation of tribal citizenship. “Those Who Belong” explores how White Earth Anishinaabeg understood identity and blood quantum in the early twentieth century it was employed and manipulated by the U.S. government, how it came to be the sole requirement for tribal citizenship in 1961, and how a contemporary effort for constitutional reform sought a return to citizenship criteria rooted in Anishinaabe kinship, replacing the blood quantum criteria with lineal descent.

Those Who Belong illustrates the ways in which Anishinaabeg of White Earth negotiated multifaceted identities, both before and after the introduction of blood quantum as a marker of identity and as the sole requirement for tribal citizenship. Doerfler’s research reveals that Anishinaabe leaders resisted blood quantum as a tribal citizenship requirement for decades before acquiescing to federal pressure. Constitutional reform efforts in the twenty-first century brought new life to this longstanding debate and led to the adoption of a new constitution, that requires lineal descent for citizenship.

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Early black lawyer, wife endured bigotry

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive on 2016-07-22 18:23Z by Steven

Early black lawyer, wife endured bigotry

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Curt Brown

Nellie and William Francis were doing so well in 1924 they decided to move four miles southwest in St. Paul — leaving their Rondo neighborhood for a house in the Groveland Park area near the Mississippi River.

The 1920 census listed the couple, married for 27 years, as “Mu” for mulatto. Skin color hadn’t deterred William Francis from becoming “prominent in religious, political, social and fraternal circles,” according to the Twin City Star newspaper.

He was a railroad lawyer and she was a suffragette and civic activist. But when they moved into their house at 2092 Sargent Av., just east of Cretin Avenue, their race would render them “direct victims of virulent racial hatred,” according to former law school dean Douglas Heidenreich’s 2000 article in William Mitchell magazine.

Nellie Griswold was born in 1874 in Nashville, but moved north in time to graduate from St. Paul Central High School in the 1890s and become president of the Minnesota State Federation of Colored Women in the early 20th Century.

As leader of the Everywoman Suffrage Club, she helped women earn the right to vote in 1920. The next year, she was credited with writing the state anti-lynching bill that allowed survivors to collect $7,500 in damages, nearly $100,000 in today’s dollars. The legislation — spawned by the 1920 lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth — also punished neglectful police who allowed lynchings under their watch. They could be fired for malfeasance.

In 1893, Nellie married William Francis — an Indiana native five years her senior. At 19, he had moved to Minnesota, where he graduated in 1904 from St. Paul College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law)…

Read the entire article here.

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Leslie Barlow’s mixed-race identity inspires her to paint underrepresented people

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-18 23:12Z by Steven

Leslie Barlow’s mixed-race identity inspires her to paint underrepresented people

City Pages
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Erica Rivera

There are plenty of portrait painters in Minnesota, but few have captured such a wide range of diverse faces in the tender and beautiful way Leslie Barlow does. The recent MCAD MFA grad focuses on the underrepresented faces of the Twin Cities, a mission driven by the lack of visibility of stories like hers: people of mixed-race backgrounds.

Barlow first became fascinated by the question of how we define who we are in the fifth grade, when she was asked to label her race on a standardized test. This was before the “other” box existed or multiple choices were allowed. She checked “African-American” (her father is primarily black), but when she went home and relayed the day’s events, her mother (who is primarily white) asked why she hadn’t checked the “white” box.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled in two different communities or I feel like I’m not part of any community because of my background,” says Barlow…

Read the entire article here.

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A Citizen of Fine Spirit

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-12 23:55Z by Steven

A Citizen of Fine Spirit

William Mitchell Magazine
Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2000
pages 2-6

Douglas R. Heidenreich, Emeritus Professor of Law
Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

William T. Francis was (1869-1929), by most measures, the most successful of the early African American alumni of William Mitchell College of Law’s predecessor law schools. Francis was a skilled lawyer, an adroit politician, a popular orator, a vigorous crusader for human and civil rights, and a respected U.S. diplomat.

Read the entire article here.

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1-on-1 with Gopher basketball star Rachel Banham

Posted in United States, Videos, Women on 2016-02-28 22:58Z by Steven

1-on-1 with Gopher basketball star Rachel Banham

Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Hobie Artigue, Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) – University of Minnesota senior Rachel Banham has been the best player to watch in the Twin Cities on the basketball court and is the toast of the Big Ten.

Watch Fox 9’s Hobie Artigue hit the court with Banham in a good, old fashioned game of HORSE.

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“End the Autocracy of Color”: African Americans and Global Visions of Freedom

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-02-15 16:50Z by Steven

“End the Autocracy of Color”: African Americans and Global Visions of Freedom

Imperial & Global Forum (blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department, University of Exeter)

Keisha N. Blain, Assistant Professor of History
University of Iowa

John Q. Adams

Historically, black men and women in the United States frequently linked national and geopolitical concerns. Recognizing that the condition of black people in the United States was “but a local phase of a world problem,” black activists articulated global visions of freedom and employed a range of strategies intent on shaping foreign policies and influencing world events.

During the early twentieth century, John Q. Adams, an African American journalist, called on people of African descent to link their experiences and concerns with those of people of color in other parts of the globe. Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1848, Adams moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1886, where he became associate editor, and subsequent owner, of the Appeal newspaper. The paper’s debut coincided with key historical developments of the period including the hardening of U.S. Jim Crow segregation laws, the rising tide of anti-immigration sentiment, and the rapid growth of American imperial expansion overseas…

John Q. Adams, “End Autocracy of Color,” The Appeal, 4 January 1919

Read the entire article here.

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White Earth members approve new constitution

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-01-27 17:17Z by Steven

White Earth members approve new constitution

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Pam Louwagie

New constitution does away with blood quantum rule.

In a historic vote that could vastly increase their membership, White Earth Band of Ojibwe members have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution.

The new document removes a requirement that tribal citizens possess one-quarter Minnesota Chippewa Tribe blood, a controversial “blood quantum” standard adopted at the urging of the federal government decades ago. Under the new constitution, White Earth’s declining citizenship will instead be based on lineal descent.

The change could mean more than doubling the population, which now stands at under 20,000.

According to ballots counted Tuesday night, nearly 80 percent of the nearly 3,500 votes cast approved of adopting a new constitution, which in addition to changing citizenship standards will create a tribal government with three branches and a separation of powers instead of one tribal council overseeing everything.

The old citizenship standard was divisive among families, with some members having children or grandchildren who couldn’t become citizens, said Jill Doerfler, associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Lineage citizenship won’t be automatic, however. People will still need to apply to become citizens, said Doerfler, who consulted with the tribe on reforming the constitution…

Read the entire article here.

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Once Upon a Time in Minneapolis: 20 Years of Rhymesayers

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-17 00:48Z by Steven

Once Upon a Time in Minneapolis: 20 Years of Rhymesayers

Consequence of Sound

Killian Young, Contributing Writer

Two decades later, the Midwestern independent hip-hop label is still going strong.

On an unseasonably warm January night in Minneapolis, as a wintry mix falls innocuously to the ground, Atmosphere heats up First Avenue with a blistering, career-spanning set. Now comprising producer Ant, MC Slug, and DJ Plain Ole Bill, the iconic Twin Cities hip-hop crew commands the attention of the room, as they’ve done countless nights before.

“As far as the history of First Avenue,” says Nate Kranz, the downtown venue’s general manager, “they’re right at the top of the legendary Minneapolis groups.”

Founded in Minneapolis in 1995, Atmosphere’s independent hip-hop label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Tonight, Atmosphere headlines the House That Prince Built to honor another major milestone for Minneapolis music: The Current, the area’s alternative radio station, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The first track the station played? Atmosphere’s “Say Shh”, which “has really become an anthem locally,” according to Jim McGuinn, The Current’s program director who booked the show.

Atmosphere kicks off the set with “Say Shh”, and the crowd goes wild as Slug meanders through the opening bars: “I wanted to make a song about where I’m from, you know?/ Big up my hometown, my territory, my state.”.

Minneapolis probably isn’t the first city that comes to mind when you think about rap. Slug remembers hearing Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in his dad’s car, and the first record he bought was Run-D.M.C.’s “30 Days”. The go-to local radio program for Slug and his friends was the “Hip-Hop Shop” hosted by Travitron, aka Travis Lee. The next year, I.R.M. Crew released the city’s first single that was available nationwide, according to Justin Schell in Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide….

…A 2004 SPIN feature dubbed Atmosphere’s brand of vulnerable lyricism “emo rap,” a term that Slug says doesn’t really bother him anymore. As far as being considered a “white rapper,” he says he’s recently started to reconsider the role of his multiracial identity — which includes black, white, and Native American roots — and his music.

“If you’re passing due to white privilege, then you’re white in a societal way,” Slug says. “Now, does that build a different set of issues inside somebody who knows they’re not white, but they know that they’re passing as white? Yeah, sure. Who the fuck am I to sit here and act like I can speak for black people? I can’t even speak for white people. I can’t speak for nobody. And I felt weird about that. So I took my racial makeup and just stuck it in the back corner for a long time.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Learning to be different: A white mother of biracial children experiences racism

Posted in Dissertations, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work, United States, Women on 2012-10-30 03:24Z by Steven

Learning to be different: A white mother of biracial children experiences racism

University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)
December 2004
194 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3154007
ISBN: 9780496146376

Jennifer Ann Greer Johnson

A Dissertation Submitted to the Education Faculty of the University of St. Thomas in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree Doctor of Education

This qualitative autoethnographic study examines the experiences of an inner-city assistant principal in a multiracial high school who is also a Caucasian mother of biracial children of African American and Caucasian descent. The narratives throughout this study illustrate encounters with prejudice, discrimination, and racism in public and private places. The stories are analyzed through the lens of racial formation theory and Critical Race Theory. Results indicate that the identity of a mother of biracial children is complex as she straddles two cultures, that of the black and white community. An Ethnic Identity Development Model illustrates the struggles of rearing biracial children while working in an urban high school. This autoethnographic study illustrates the mother’s identity shift as she learns to be different in both worlds.


    • A journey into difference
    • Evolution of the study
    • Autoethnography
    • Data collection and analysis
    • Validity and ethics
    • Organization of the Dissertation
    • Interracial Relationships
    • Biracial Identity
    • Class Issues
    • Racial Formation Theory
    • Critical Race Theory
    • Is she adopted?
    • Their father is Black.
    • Children are not supposed to be out in the sun
    • Intraracial Discrimination
    • We can only choose one
    • Would you buy a warranty on a Cadillac?
    • Another Awakening
    • Is that your child?
    • I will never be with another white woman again!
    • His mouth fell open, and he stared at my children and then at me
    • What is this, the next Shirley Temple?
    • Do you use this on your hair?
    • I decided that you need to do something with Jacqueline’s hair
    • Everyone stopped and stared at me
    • Shampoo and conditioner for one colored girl
    • I have to get their hair “right” in the eyes of the Black community
    • I was raised in a strict Catholic household
    • The Archbishop’s Letter
    • Racism is a sin
    • For my children’s sake, great changes need to be made
    • Appointment as Assistant Principal
    • “Are those your children?”
    • I circled ‘White’ even though my son does not look White
    • “She does not like you”
    • “So you’re kickin it with a black man”
    • You’re just picking on me because I am Black
    • Does anyone speak another language?
    • Mama, will you still like us even though your skin is white and mine is brown?
    • Let’s not just give people the boots, let’s give them the straps
    • Most of the International Baccalaureate students are white
    • “Second-Hand Racism”
    • Racism at school and the workplace
    • Rearing my children
    • Ethnic Identity Development Model


  • TABLE 1 Changing Racial Combinations of Interracial Marriages in Minnesota.
  • TABLE 2 My Journey in a Racialized Society
  • FIGURE 1 2000 Census Self-Identification Questionnaire
  • FIGURE 2 Ethnic Identity Development Model (Fluid)

Purchase the dissertation here.

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