The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-18 19:53Z by Steven

The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

The New York Times
2017-05-18

Rogers Brubaker, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles


Rachel Dolezal in 2015. The controversy over her choice to identify as black has lingered.
Credit Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

Rogers Brubaker is a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities.”

The world of academic philosophy is ordinarily a rather esoteric one. But Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defense of Transracialism,” published in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia this spring, has generated a broad public discussion.

Dr. Tuvel was prompted to write her article by the controversy that erupted when Rachel Dolezal, the former local N.A.A.C.P. official who had long presented herself as black, was revealed to have grown up white. The Dolezal story broke just 10 days after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut, and the two discussions merged. If Ms. Jenner could identify as a woman, could Ms. Dolezal identify as black? If transgender was a legitimate social identity, might transracial be as well? Dr. Tuvel’s article subjected these public debates to philosophical scrutiny.

The idea of transracialism had been rejected out of hand by the cultural left. Some worried — as many cultural conservatives indeed hoped — that this seemingly absurd idea might undermine the legitimacy of transgender claims. Others argued that if self-identification were to replace ancestry or phenotype as the touchstone of racial identity, this would encourage “racial fraud” and cultural appropriation. Because race has always been first and foremost an externally imposed classification, it is understandable that the idea of people declaring themselves transracial struck many as offensively dismissive of the social realities of race…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-05-14 18:47Z by Steven

Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

The New York Times
2017-05-09

Gia Kourlas


As Misty Copeland gets older, she seeks even more depth in her acting.
Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Misty Copeland isn’t one of those principals who step onstage a few times a season. She dances. A lot.

“It’s crazy how I took jumping for granted all these years,” Ms. Copeland, 34, said as she stretched out on the floor between rehearsals at American Ballet Theater’s studios. Stella Abrera, a fellow principal, nodded in agreement. “What did you just do?” she asked.

“Kitri,” Ms. Copeland replied.

“Ouch,” Ms. Abrera said.

This season — Ms. Copeland’s second year as a principal — is a killer that includes her debut as Kitri in “Don Quixote” on Tuesday, May 16, and her New York debut as Giselle on May 26. As the company’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, put it, it’s symbolic because “she’s taking the mantle of the classics on.”…

…During a rehearsal the night before a performance in Washington earlier this year, Ms. Copeland described how after her first fouetté, she felt a pop in her neck and a warm sensation travel down her spine. “Even just approaching the fouettés,” she said, “it was like something tensed up in me and made that happen.”

So she reached out to a sports psychologist in California. “I spent 10 hours with this guy nonstop, talking about my feelings about myself in connection to my career and how I feel people are judging me,” she said. “Especially when it comes to that role, and what it means to be a black woman doing it. I’m trying to get to the root of all of it, and just be like as pure as I can be when I go out there and not carry all that baggage.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Should I Get a Pet From a No-Kill Shelter?

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 02:54Z by Steven

Should I Get a Pet From a No-Kill Shelter?

The Ethicist
The New York Times Magazine
2017-04-26

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Law
New York University

…My mother is from Central America. She came to the United States for college and met my American father. I am, therefore, 50 percent Latino genetically, but I don’t identify as Latino. There were (to my regret) no Central American influences in my upbringing — no Spanish language, no Latino relatives, no foods from “the old country.” There was also no discrimination directed at me or my mother (we look “white”). Is it ethical to identify as Latino in social situations and on the census? Name Withheld

Our ethnic and racial categories drape loosely around the realities of our complex lives. I am the son of an English woman and a Ghanaian man. I am an American citizen. Am I a black American? African-American? Anglo-American? Anglo-African? “Latino” is a word that hovers uneasily between a category defined by culture and one defined by descent. The latter conception makes you Latino. The former doesn’t quite. There’s also a notion that ethnicity should be defined by your own sense of identity — by whether you think of yourself as Latino. But whether you think of yourself as Latino is shaped by ideas about culture and descent. There isn’t a single correct view about that. Still, here’s a solution: In cases in which you don’t have the time or space to explain your situation, probably the least confusing thing to say to people in the United States is that your mother is Latina. (As far as forms go, if they permit you to check two boxes, I’d do that. If they don’t, I don’t believe it matters much what you do.).

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

“I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-04-24 03:19Z by Steven

“What are you trying to do to me? You have caused a lot of problems in my family. I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night. Today, I don’t identify as mixed. I reject my white privilege in a racist America. There is no way that I or my kids will identify as anything other than black” —Bernard

Anita Foeman, “DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results,” The New York Times, April 20, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/23/us/dna-ancestry-race-identity.html.

Tags: , ,

DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-04-23 20:21Z by Steven

DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

The New York Times
2017-04-20

Anita Foeman, Professor of Communication Studies
West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania


Students at West Chester University in Pennsylvania have volunteered to take part in ancestry DNA testing. Anita Foeman, a communications professor, says she has found that conversations around race are “complicated and jagged.”
Credit West Chester University

Race and identity in many ways define who we think we are, while modern genetics can challenge those notions. To delve into these issues, I am involved with a communications studies project at West Chester University in Pennsylvania that explores narratives at the intersection of race and identity.

For the last decade, I have invited hundreds of people to be part of ancestry DNA tests. But first I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.

Biologically, our ancestral differences reflect only a 0.1 percent difference in DNA. Yet we often cling to those differences — both in unity with our fellow people of origin and, at times, in divisiveness.

Over all, the experiment has provided a special opportunity to explore the lines of race. I found that as human beings, our strategies for survival are the same, and our similarities far outweigh our differences…

Bernard: Identifies as: Black; father is black and mother is white

Credit Erica C. Thompson/West Chester University

His prediction: 50% European, 50% African

His comments before the test: My mother said, “I know you are me, but no cop is going to take the time to find out your mother is white.” She was very specific about raising me as a black man.

Results: 91% European, 5% Middle Eastern, 2% Hispanic; less than 1% African and Asian

Thoughts about his ancestry results: What are you trying to do to me? You have caused a lot of problems in my family. I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night. Today, I don’t identify as mixed. I reject my white privilege in a racist America. There is no way that I or my kids will identify as anything other than black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Review: In ‘Little Boxes,’ a Biracial Family Meets a White Town

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-23 18:14Z by Steven

Review: In ‘Little Boxes,’ a Biracial Family Meets a White Town

The New York Times
2017-04-13

Neil Genzlinger, Television Critic


From left, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson and Melanie Lynskey in “Little Boxes,” about a biracial family’s move from Brooklyn to small-town America.
Credit Mark Doyle/Gunpowder & Sky Distribution

Little Boxes,” a mildly comic story about a biracial family that relocates to an exceedingly white town, feels a bit out of phase, but it’s delicately observed and does a nice job of staying within itself. It avoids the big confrontation or grand statement; doing so allows it to be an effective, if somewhat uneventful, study of the Brooklyn bubble effect.

Gina (Melanie Lynskey), who is white, and Mack (Nelsan Ellis), who is black, move from trendy and comfortably diverse Brooklyn so that she can take a new job in a small town in Washington State. Their son, Clark (Armani Jackson), is getting ready to start sixth grade…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , ,

“If my parents had instilled any Italian culture in me, I might want to share that with my son. But if you’re talking about general whiteness, there’s nothing there to pass down.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-04-03 02:48Z by Steven

When my son first started to black identify at about 5 or 6 years old, an acquaintance of ours asked my husband, in my presence, if he felt like we were “depriving” our son of his “white side.” My husband, a sociology professor and the author of two books on the failure of housing and school desegregation in the United States, said: “If my parents had instilled any Italian culture in me, I might want to share that with my son. But if you’re talking about general whiteness, there’s nothing there to pass down.”

Rebecca Carroll, “Black and Proud. Even if Strangers Can’t Tell.The New York Times, April 1, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/black-and-proud-even-if-strangers-cant-tell.html.

Tags: , ,

Black and Proud. Even if Strangers Can’t Tell.

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-02 16:20Z by Steven

Black and Proud. Even if Strangers Can’t Tell.

The New York Times
2017-04-01

Rebecca Carroll, Editor of Special Projects
WNYC, New York, New York


Rachel Levit

My 11-year-old is understated, but not shy. He likes to bake, loves video games, is loyal to his friends and, biased as I may be, is a pretty good-looking kid. He gets mad sometimes, though, that people don’t immediately register him as black. “You’re so lucky,” he said to me a few months ago. “People look at you and know that you are black.”

Being black in America has historically been determined by whether or not you look black to nonblack people. This keeps racism operational. Brown and black skin in this country can invite a broad and freewheeling range of bad behavior — from job discrimination to a child being shot dead in the street. For my son, though, being black in America is about more than his skin color. It’s about power, confidence, culture and belonging.

You inherit race, though. You don’t steal it. We’re reminded of this once again by Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who made national headlines in 2015 for claiming a black identity because she felt like it. She released a memoir last week…

…My son is not the only light-skinned, mixed or biracial person I know who identifies primarily as black. Increasingly, I have observed my adult peers and colleagues who fall into this category not merely identifying as black, but routinely pulling out the receipts to prove their blackness.

Some of this may have to do with what the brilliant Jordan Peele, who is also biracial and black, tapped into for the plot of his genre-redefining box office hit, “Get Out” — that it’s cool to be black right now, that we are trending…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Biracial and Jewish

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Letters, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-22 14:38Z by Steven

Biracial and Jewish

The New York Times
2017-03-20

Helen Kiyong Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Samuel Leavitt, Associate Dean of Students
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

To the Editor:

Re “What Biracial People Know” (Sunday Review, March 5):

Moises Velasquez-Manoff makes a number of vital points about the creative ways that biracial people navigate the world.

During 2011-14, we interviewed 39 young men and women who were the offspring of Jewish and Asian parents. Supporting Mr. Velasquez-

Manoff’s point that biracialism breaks down tribalism — and perhaps extending his assertions — our research found that these young people strongly identified both as multiracial as well as Jewish in a surprisingly traditional religious sense…

Read the entire letter here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Louise Erdrich, Matthew Desmond Among Winners of National Book Critics Circle Awards

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2017-03-20 02:21Z by Steven

Louise Erdrich, Matthew Desmond Among Winners of National Book Critics Circle Awards

The New York Times
2017-03-16

Alexandra Alter, Publishing Reporter


Louise Erdrich outside her bookstore, Birchbark Books, in Minneapolis.
Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Louise Erdrich’s novel “LaRose,” which centers on two Native American families in North Dakota whose lives are upended by a horrific hunting accident that kills a 5-year-old boy, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction on Thursday.

Ms. Erdrich, who has published 15 novels, won in an especially competitive year for high-profile literary fiction, with Michael Chabon, Ann Patchett, Zadie Smith and Adam Haslett among the finalists.

“I’m among such dramatically wonderful novels that it didn’t seem that this was possible,” Ms. Erdrich said in her acceptance speech, before making a passionate plea about the importance of free expression and the need for writers and journalists to challenge falsehoods.

“The truth is being assaulted not only in our country but all over the world,” she said. “More than ever, we have to look into the truth.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,