Backlash Over Ad Depicting Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Apology

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2019-01-22 16:36Z by Steven

Backlash Over Ad Depicting Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Apology

The New York Times
2019-01-22

Daniel Victor


At left, a cartoon version of Naomi Osaka in an ad for Nissin, a Japanese instant-noodle brand; at right, the real Ms. Osaka at the Australian Open this month.
Nissin; Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Naomi Osaka, the half-Haitian, half-Japanese tennis champion, is the star of a new Japanese anime-style advertisement.

The problem? The cartoon Ms. Osaka bears little resemblance to her real, biracial self.

Her skin was unmistakably lightened, and her hair style changed — a depiction that has prompted criticism in Japan, where she has challenged a longstanding sense of cultural and racial homogeneity.

The ad — unveiled this month by Nissin, one of the world’s largest instant-noodle brands — features Ms. Osaka and Kei Nishikori, Japan’s top-ranked male tennis player, in a cartoon drawn by Takeshi Konomi, a well-known manga artist whose series “The Prince of Tennis” is popular in Japan…

Mr. Konomi and Ms. Osaka, who faces Elina Svitolina in an Australian Open quarterfinal match on Wednesday, have not publicly commented on the backlash to the ad…

Read the entire article here.

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A Century Later, a Novel by an Enigma of the Harlem Renaissance Is Still Relevant

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-01-04 19:44Z by Steven

A Century Later, a Novel by an Enigma of the Harlem Renaissance Is Still Relevant

Books of The Times
The New York Times
2018-12-25

Parul Sehgal


Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times

He is American literature’s greatest, most enduring enigma.

In 1923, Jean Toomer — highborn but an orphan and a drifter, a young man with secrets — published the single, slender novel upon which his reputation rests. In bursts of poetry and prose, “Cane” tells of black life in the lethal rural South and in the loveless cities of the North. The narration has a kind of cosmic consciousness, entering the world of the characters, the whispering pine trees, the falling dusk, the soil. It is oracular, delirious and American — rich with the intensities of Melville, the expansiveness of Whitman and Toomer’s own bedeviling preoccupation with color.

Many stories meander through “Cane” (including one autobiographical section featuring a Northern writer in the South), but at its core the book is about six Southern women, including beautiful, chaotic Karintha; Carma, who slays her jealous husband; Becky, white and an outcast, the mother of two black sons. Their lives are brief, vivid, doomed — but each “a wild flash that told the other folks just what it was to live.”

“Cane” sold modestly but exerted a powerful influence over the Harlem Renaissance; it was, according to the sociologist Charles S. Johnson, “the most astonishingly brilliant beginning of any Negro writer of his generation.”…

…A fleeting feeling. Toomer forbade his publisher to mention his race in the marketing for “Cane.” (“My racial composition and my position in the world are realities which I alone may determine.”) Nor would he allow his work to be included in black anthologies, insisting he was part of a new, emergent race, simply called American…

Read the entire article here.

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Together for Four Decades, Married for Four Years

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2018-12-30 21:10Z by Steven

Together for Four Decades, Married for Four Years

The New York Times
2018-12-26

Alix Strauss


Paula Martiesian and Ken Carpenter in the yard of their home in Providence, R.I. The couple met in college at Rhode Island School of Design. She’s a painter, he’s a musician. Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Because marriage is an ever-evolving experience, we constantly shift, change and, in some cases, start over. In It’s No Secret, couples share thoughts about commitment and tell us what they have learned along the way.

Who Paula Martiesian, 64, and Ken Carpenter, 65.

Occupations She is a painter, he is a musician (mostly jazz) and composer.

Their Marriage 4 years, 2 months and counting.

Through the Years

The couple quietly married Oct. 20, 2014, in an unplanned ceremony in the living room of their house in Providence, R.I. A friend officiated. “Since 1975, we were considered married by common law in Rhode Island,” Mr. Carpenter said. “When same-sex law passed a few years ago, common law wouldn’t be accepted and we wouldn’t be considered married anymore. The government needed a certificate; we didn’t.” No photos were taken, and the wedding was a surprise to all.

They met in 1972 as students at the Rhode Island School of Design, from which both graduated. Ms. Martiesian was 18 at the time and Mr. Carpenter was 20. “He was really talented, hard working and so secure,” she said. “He was skinny and cute. We didn’t really date; we fell into each other. He was a musician and I drove him to a gig he was playing at. I consider that our first date.”

And that’s how it started. “A black man from Harlem and a white girl from Pawtucket; a painter and a musician,” Ms. Martiesian said. “Racism swirled around us everywhere we went.”…

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Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-12-29 02:39Z by Steven

Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

The New York Times
2018-12-26

Richard Goldstein


Sono Osato rehearsing a number from the Broadway musical “On the Town” with the show’s choreographer, Jerome Robbins, in 1944. It was one of two hit musicals in which Ms. Osato appeared in the 1940s.
Eileen Darby/Graphic House

Sono Osato, a Japanese-American dancer who toured the world with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, performed with the Ballet Theater in New York and then gained acclaim on Broadway in the World War II-era musicals “One Touch of Venus” and “On the Town,” was found dead early Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her sons, Niko and Antonio Elmaleh.

In the 1930s, Ms. Osato was a groundbreaking presence in Col. Wassily de Basil’s Ballets Russes, the world’s most widely known ballet company. She was the company’s youngest dancer when she joined, at 14; she was also its first performer of Japanese descent…

…Although she was born and raised in the Midwest, Ms. Osato seemed an incongruous choice to play Ivy Smith, billed as the “all-American girl,” in “On the Town.” Her father, Shoji, was a native of Japan, and her mother, Frances, was of French-Irish background…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Another Hot Take on the Term ‘Latinx’

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-24 02:29Z by Steven

Another Hot Take on the Term ‘Latinx’

El Espace
The New York Times
2018-11-21

Concepción de León, digital staff writer for the Books desk


At the 11th Annual Trans Day of Action, in 2015, transgender and gender-nonconforming people rallied with allies to fight discrimination.
Credit Joana Toro/Redux

This week in El Espace: gender-bending, big news for bookworms and more.

The paradox of working in media is that even as your mind expands, your world also shrinks a bit. Because of my job, I read a lot of news, then go on Twitter to read people’s hot takes, then listen to podcasts, you know, just to round out the picture. It’s extra, for sure. But while there’s no question that my understanding of topics like foreign relations, economics and the president’s taxes, to name a few, has gone from zero to at least 80 in the last few years, the overexposure has also distorted my perception about what “everyone” knows.

Fortunately our readers keep me accountable. In my last column, for example, I used the word “Latinx” as a broader term for the Latino community, to some people’s perplexity…

Ed Morales, a Columbia University professor who wrote “Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture,” agrees. In a recent conversation he said that “the X, which is so strange and is not Spanish, sort of marks this new hybrid idea.” The title of his book, similarly, was meant to be forward-looking. “I thought it was a futurist term,” he said, “imagining a future of more inclusion for people that don’t conform to the various kinds of rigid identities that exist in the United States.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Sigrid Johnson Was Black. A DNA Test Said She Wasn’t.

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-20 21:41Z by Steven

Sigrid Johnson Was Black. A DNA Test Said She Wasn’t.

The New York Times Magazine
2018-11-19

Ruth Padawer


Sigrid E. Johnson this year. Illustration by Jules Julien

The surge in popularity of services like 23andMe and Ancestry means that more and more people are unearthing long-buried connections and surprises in their ancestry.

I.

Three years ago, when Sigrid E. Johnson was 62, she got a call from a researcher seeking volunteers for a study on DNA ancestry tests and ethnic identity. Johnson agreed to help. After all, she and the researcher, Anita Foeman, had been pals for half a century, ever since they attended the same elementary school in their integrated Philadelphia neighborhood, where they and other black children were mostly protected from the racism beyond its borders. Foeman, a professor of communication at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, asked Johnson to swab the inside of her cheek and share her thoughts about her ethnic and racial identity before and after the results came back.

Johnson’s father, a chauffeur who later became a superintendent at a housing project in North Philadelphia, had a golden-brown complexion. Her mother, who said her own father was a white Brit and her mother was half African-American and half Native American, was light-skinned. People sometimes mistook Johnson’s mother for white, and when she applied for seamstress jobs at department stores in the 1920s and ’30s, she chose not to correct them.

Sigrid, who had light caramel skin, was their only child, and her parents, Martha and Frank Gilchrist, doted on her. In grade school, she prayed each night for an older brother, someone who would be fun to play with and would look after her, as her friends’ brothers did with their siblings. When she wasn’t busy with ballet and piano lessons, she caught lightning bugs and played dolls, hopscotch and jump rope with nearby friends. The neighborhood, West Mount Airy, was a tree-lined community, one of the first in the nation to integrate successfully. It was populated mostly by middle- and upper-class people, including many African-American professional men who had fair-skinned wives and children whose complexions matched their mothers’.

Johnson doesn’t remember her parents talking much about race, except when her father made it clear that he expected her to marry a black man. But even without that explicit talk, she was immersed in the highs and lows of black life. Her cousin, a surgeon named William Gilchrist Anderson, lived in Albany, Ga., where he led a large coalition of activists in the early 1960s to desegregate public facilities. A friend and classmate of Ralph Abernathy, Anderson persuaded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to participate in the city’s demonstrations, which Johnson remembers she and her parents sometimes joined. During the family’s trips to visit her cousin in Georgia, Johnson saw water fountains that said “Whites Only.” And she still remembers the night that a giant cross burned near her cousin’s front yard and how he swept her and everyone else out of the house and put them all up in a hotel…

As a young teenager, Johnson pestered her mother about what it was like to give birth to her — a query her mother always dodged. But when Johnson was 16, her mother broke down and said through tears that they adopted her when she was an infant. Her mother explained that Johnson’s biological father was black and that her biological mother was a white Italian woman who said she couldn’t keep the baby, who by then was 2 or 3 months old. The woman, who lived in South Philadelphia, had explained that she already had several children, all of whom were blond, and that her white husband didn’t want another man’s child raised in his home, not least of all one whose color so boldly announced that fact. Johnson’s mother said the woman came to see the baby for about a year, until she asked the woman to stop visiting because she didn’t want Sigrid to find out she was adopted. Johnson teared up as she recounted the conversation with her mother that took place 49 years ago. “The news — all of it — was crushing,” Johnson told me. “To this day, I honestly wish she had never told me. I wanted my mom to be my mom.” Neither one ever broached the subject with the other again.

So when Anita Foeman requested that she take a DNA test, Johnson figured it was no big deal: She was half African and half Italian. “I knew what the results would show when they came back — that is, until the results actually came back.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Before Arguing About DNA Tests, Learn the Science Behind Them

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy on 2018-10-25 00:51Z by Steven

Before Arguing About DNA Tests, Learn the Science Behind Them

The New York Times
2018-10-18

Carl Zimmer


Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test results indicated that she had a Native American ancestor several generations ago.
Bridget Bennett for The New York Times

Our genetic code cannot be treated as a matter of simple fractions.

People have always told stories about their ancestral origins. But now millions of people are looking at their DNA to see if those stories hold up. While genetic tests can indeed reveal some secrets about our family past, we can also jump to the wrong conclusions from their results.

The reception of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA results is a textbook case in this confusion…

…Slavery, too, led to an obsession with increasingly tiny fractions of ancestral blood, reaching the absurd extreme of the “one drop” rule. A single black ancestor — no matter how far back in the family tree, no matter how tiny the mythical drop of blood he or she contributed — was enough to make a person black…

…But DNA is not a liquid that can be divided down into microscopic drops. It’s a string-like molecule, arranged into 23 pairs of chromosomes, that gets passed down through the generations in a counterintuitive way.

Eggs and sperm randomly end up with one copy of each chromosome, coming either from a person’s mother or father. In the process, some DNA can shuffle from one chromosome to its partner. That means we inherit about a quarter of our DNA from each grandparent — but only on average. Any one person may inherit more DNA from one grandparent and less from another.

Over generations, this randomness can lead to something remarkable. Look back far enough in your family tree, and you’ll encounter ancestors from whom you inherit no DNA at all…

Read the entire article here.

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Was Interracial Love Possible in the Days of Slavery? Descendants of One Couple Think So

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-10-21 14:45Z by Steven

Was Interracial Love Possible in the Days of Slavery? Descendants of One Couple Think So

The New York Times
2018-10-21

Adeel Hassan


Paula Wright, a seventh-generation descendant of an interracial couple, has documented over 500 images that chronicle her family’s history.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

He was buried in a white cemetery. She was buried in a black cemetery. Their marriage was unheard-of at the time.

Both William Ramey and his wife, Kittie Simkins, were born and raised in Edgefield, S.C., or “Bloody Edgefield,” a town known for its grisly murder rate in the antebellum South. Their relationship defied convention, and yet it survived war and bitter family resentment.

Mr. Ramey, born in 1840, came from a prominent white family. Ms. Simkins was born a slave in 1845, most likely on a property called Edgewood owned by Francis Pickens, who would become a Confederate governor.

The love affair could have been lost if not for Paula Wright, a seventh-generation descendant of the couple who inherited vintage photographs documenting eight generations of her family, dating to 1805. Ms. Wright, a New York Times reader, shared her family’s story with Race/Related earlier this year…

Read the entire article here.

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Naomi Osaka, a New Governor and Me

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive on 2018-10-08 03:48Z by Steven

Naomi Osaka, a New Governor and Me

The New York Times
2018-10-06

Motoko Rich, Tokyo Bureau Chief


The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun printed a special edition when Naomi Osaka won the United States Open tennis championship in September. Yomiuri Shimbun, via Associated Press

Is Japan becoming more welcoming to mixed-race people?

TOKYO — Just over 40 years ago, when my family moved from California to Tokyo, the fact that my mother was Japanese did not stop schoolchildren from pointing at me and yelling “Gaijin!” — the Japanese word for foreigner — as I walked down the street.

After seeing my red-haired, blue-eyed father, a shopkeeper in the suburb where we lived asked my mother what it was like to work as a nanny in the American’s house.

When we moved back to California two years later, I entered fourth grade and suddenly, I was the Asian kid. “Ching chong chang chong ching!” boys chanted on the playground, tugging at the corners of their eyes. Classmates scrunched their noses at the onigiri — rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed — that my mother packed in my lunch bag. When our teacher mentioned Japan during a social studies lesson, every head in the class swiveled to stare at me.

Now, back in Tokyo as a foreign correspondent for this newspaper, I am no longer pointed at by people on the street. But I am incontrovertibly regarded as a foreigner. When I hand over my business card, people look at my face and then ask in confusion how I got my first name. My Japanese-ness, it seems, barely registers.

In the past few weeks, covering local reaction to the tennis champion Naomi Osaka, the daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian-American father, and Denny Tamaki, who is the son of a Japanese mother and a white American Marine and was elected governor of Okinawa last weekend, I have wondered whether Japanese attitudes toward identity are slowly starting to accommodate those of us with mixed heritages…

Read the entire article here.

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Zazie Beetz on ‘Atlanta,’ Her Emmy Nomination and Impostor Syndrome

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2018-08-28 01:42Z by Steven

Zazie Beetz on ‘Atlanta,’ Her Emmy Nomination and Impostor Syndrome

The New York Times
2018-08-24

Aisha Harris, Assistant Television Editor, Culture Desk


Zazie Beetz received her first Emmy nomination, for her work in “Atlanta” on FX. Guy D’Alema/FX

Zazie Beetz has had quite the year. The burgeoning actor returned for Season 2 of FX’s critically acclaimed dramedy “Atlanta,” unpacking more layers of her character Van in some particularly memorable episodes. (One scene from the episode “Champagne Papi” took on new life thanks to Drake, who included one of her lines at the end of his No. 1 hit “In My Feelings.”) This summer, she reached an even wider audience with “Deadpool 2,” receiving accolades for her performance as Domino, a mutant whose superpower is luck.

And last month Ms. Beetz received her first Emmy nomination, for best supporting actress in a comedy for “Atlanta.” As someone who suffers from severe anxiety, however, the awards recognition and the increased visibility that comes with it have not been easy to process. “I don’t even know if I should say this publicly, but I feel kind of like, ‘O.K., cool,’” she said.

“I’m glad that shows like ‘Atlanta’ and our other contemporaries are having an opportunity to be seen and to be appreciated,” she continued, “and I’m glad that I can contribute in that way. That’s really what I’m happy about.”

In a phone interview, Ms. Beetz discussed exploring new facets of Van, her own biracial identity and experiencing anxiety and impostor syndrome in Hollywood. These are edited excerpts from the conversation…

Read the entire interview here.

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