It has become commonplace to acknowledge the following point, but it bears repeating anyway: The idea of racial classification, as we understand it now, stretches back only to Enlightenment Europe.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-19 23:15Z by Steven

It has become commonplace to acknowledge the following point, but it bears repeating anyway: The idea of racial classification, as we understand it now, stretches back only to Enlightenment Europe. I have stayed in inns in Germany that have been continuously operating longer than this calamitous thought. But even though we can trace race’s origins without much difficulty, it seems impossible — and worse than that, woefully naïve — even to speak of an end to such persistent and flattening thinking, thinking that has led to so much human suffering, precluded and squandered so much human potential. And yet I am convinced that we will never overcome the evils of racism as long as we fail first to imagine and then to conjure a world free of racial categorization and the hierarchies it necessarily implies.

Thomas Chatterton Williams, “My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories,” The New York Times Magazine, September 17, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/17/magazine/black-white-family-race.html.

Tags: , , , ,

My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2019-09-18 00:39Z by Steven

My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

The New York Times Magazine
2019-09-17

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Thomas Chatterton Williams at home in Paris this summer with his wife and children, from left, Marlow, Valentine and Saul.
Thomas Chatterton Williams at home in Paris this summer with his wife and children, from left, Marlow, Valentine and Saul.
Christopher Anderson/Magnum, for The New York Times

My father was raised under Jim Crow. My children could pass for white. Where does that leave me?

I left the cafeteria where my brother, Clarence, was racing the wooden kit car he built with the older Boy Scouts, and made my way down the long corridor to the restroom. The building was virtually empty on a Saturday and charged with that faint lawlessness of school not in session. When I finished, I fixed myself in the mirror and, on the way out, ran and leapt to swing from the high bar joining the metal stalls to the tiled wall. In third grade, this was hard to do, a feat of superior athleticism that I savored even in the absence of a witness. The bounce in my legs linked me with my favorite athletes. I wore my hair like them, too, shaved low on the sides and back and slightly higher on top with a laser-sharp part engraved on the left. As my feet thrust forward, the door shot open and B. stepped in. An eighth grader, the eldest of three freckled, blond, almost farcically preppy brothers — Irish Catholic but still WASPier than the sons of Italians, Poles and Ukrainians who formed the backbone of the student body at our parochial school — he watched me dismount. In his costume of boat shoes and Dockers, B. was far from an intimidating sight, but he was bigger than me, and he smiled at me strangely.

I made to pass him on the way out, but he blocked me, his smile turning menacing. “What?” I managed, confused. We’d been in school together for years without ever having exchanged a word. “Monkey,” he whispered, still smiling, and my whole body froze: I was being insulted — in an ugly way, I could sense from his expression more than from what was said — but I couldn’t fully grasp why. I’d been swinging like a monkey, it was true, but this was something else. I tried again to step around him, at a loss for words; he blocked my way again, looming over me, still with that smirk. “You little [expletive] monkey,” he repeated with deliberate calm, and to my astonishment I realized that, although I could not understand why, there was, however vague and out of place, suddenly the possibility of violence. Out of nothing more than instinct, I shoved past him with all the determination an 8-year-old can gather.

He let me go, but I could hear his laughter behind me as I made my way back to the cafeteria, my heart pumping staccato, my face singed with the heat of self-awareness, my inexperienced mind fumbling for the meaning behind what had just transpired. But I knew enough to know that I could not tell my father what happened. I could see his reaction — see him shoot from his leather desk chair where he spent a majority of weekends as well as weekdays bent over a book. “Let’s go,” he would say in a clipped tone, with that distant expression, as if he were looking at something else, not at me, and by that time he would already be at the hall closet throwing his dark gray overcoat around his broad shoulders, keys jangling in his strong hand.

If I had told him what that white boy said to me in the restroom, Pappy — as we called my father, in a nod to his Southern roots — would have descended into an indescribable fury, the memory of which can tense me up to this day. He would have lost a week of work and concentration — that was as certain as two and two is four. But I also knew that he would be shot through with pain, unable to sleep, up at his desk in the dark, transported to his past, agonizing over this awful proof of what he’d always suspected: that no matter how strong he was, he was not strong enough to shield — not fully — his sons from the psychological warfare of American racism that whispers obscenities at little boys when they find themselves alone…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

For instance, Sarah Gaither at Duke, a frequent collaborator of Dr. Pauker’s, has discovered that, when reminded of their multiracial heritage, mixed-race individuals score higher on tests that measure creativity.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-07-28 23:40Z by Steven

But Dr. [Kristin] Pauker belongs to a small group of psychologists, many of them mixed themselves, who have begun to explore the advantages of being multiracial. For instance, Sarah Gaither at Duke, a frequent collaborator of Dr. Pauker’s, has discovered that, when reminded of their multiracial heritage, mixed-race individuals score higher on tests that measure creativity. This is probably not because they are inherently superior in some way, but because the very thing that’s so difficult for them — the need to navigate multiple worlds — may actually enhance mental flexibility.

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Damon Winter (photography), “Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii,” The New York Times, June 28, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/opinion/sunday/racism-hawaii.html.

Tags: , , , , ,

Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-07-28 23:14Z by Steven

Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii

The New York Times
2019-06-28

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Contributing Opinion Writer
Photographs by Damon Winter

We asked people on Oahu to give their ethnicity. Many had long answers.
We asked people on Oahu to give their ethnicity. Many had long answers.
Photographs by Damon Winter/The New York Times; Illustration by Katie Scott

The “aloha spirit” may hold a deep lesson for all of us.

HONOLULUKristin Pauker still remembers her uncle’s warning about Dartmouth. “It’s a white institution,” he said. “You’re going to feel out of place.”

Dr. Pauker, who is now a psychology professor, is of mixed ancestry, her mother of Japanese descent and her father white from an Italian-Irish background. Applying to colleges, she was keen to leave Hawaii for the East Coast, eager to see something new and different. But almost immediately after she arrived on campus in 1998, she understood what her uncle had meant.

She encountered a barrage of questions from fellow students. What was her ethnicity? Where was she from? Was she Native Hawaiian? The questions seemed innocent on the surface, but she sensed that the students were really asking what box to put her in. And that categorization would determine how they treated her. “It opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone sees race the same way,” she told me…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In Brazil, a New Rendering of a Literary Giant Makes Waves

Posted in Articles, Biography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism on 2019-07-16 01:44Z by Steven

In Brazil, a New Rendering of a Literary Giant Makes Waves

The New York Times
2019-06-14

Shannon Sims

A widely known image of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, left, that appears on his books, compared with the one that has gone viral on Brazilian social media in recent months, right.
A widely known image of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, left, that appears on his books, compared with the one that has gone viral on Brazilian social media in recent months, right.
Left: Academia Brasileira de Letras

Machado de Assis Real, developed by a Brazilian university and an ad agency, shows the 19th-century writer in color, challenging some long-held ideas about him in the process.

RECIFE, Brazil — Throughout elementary and middle school, Ricardo Pavan Martins remembers reading Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, one of Brazil’s most famous writers.

So the 29-year-old, who lives in Bauru, was shocked to see a new image of Machado that has gone viral in the country. It shows him with chocolate-brown skin, considerably darker than how he appears in the black-and-white photograph that appears on virtually all of his books and hangs prominently in the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

“I always imagined him as white because this is the default image of most writers,” Martins said. “I am certain that if the skin color of an author so important was at the very least discussed during my experience at school, my black friends would have felt more represented.”

Among Brazilian writers, Machado, who lived from 1839 to 1908, inhabits a unique position. “Dom Casmurro,” his 1899 masterpiece about cuckoldry and jealousy, is required reading at some schools around the country. His name has been lent to streets and subway stops across Brazil. Susan Sontag called him “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America,” and others have compared him to Flaubert, Kafka, Henry James and Alice Munro.

[“The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis,” one of the Times critics’ top books of 2018, “reveals the arc of Machado’s career, from the straightforward love stories to the cerebral and unpredictable later works.” ]

The traditional historical photo of him shows a man whose skin is nearly as light as his crisp white dress shirt. But a new project, developed by the São Paulo office of the advertising agency Grey and São Paulo’s University Zumbi dos Palmares, a predominantly black university, re-creates that photo in a way that the project’s leaders say more accurately reflects what Machado looked like.

Machado was known to be the descendant of freed slaves, but the new rendering, which shows him as a black man, has shaken Brazilians, prompting some to reconsider how they previously read his work and angering others who feel his legacy had been whitewashed…

…It isn’t clear how or why Machado’s image was lightened. Machado scholars like G. Reginald Daniel, a sociology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said that in 19th-century Brazil, Machado’s publishers “would have totally wanted him white to sell. For people to see this great author as of African descent would have been very troubling for many.”…

“He was celebrated during a period of Brazilian society where to be recognized and valued you had to be white,” Matos said. “He would have never been taken seriously, and never achieved commercial success, if people had known his true racial identity. He would have been a failure if he had been known as black.”

But some of those most familiar with Machado’s life are ambivalent about the push to identify him as black. Daniel, who wrote a book exploring Machado’s mixed-race identity, said that while he commended the efforts to “re-racialize” him, “the real Machado de Assis was not a black man but mixed. Portraying him otherwise misses the duality and in-between experience he had as a biracial man.”…

Read entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Why ‘Raising a Black Son’ Is a de Blasio Campaign Theme

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-07-04 21:38Z by Steven

Why ‘Raising a Black Son’ Is a de Blasio Campaign Theme

The New York Times
2019-07-01

Jeffery C. Mays

Dante de Blasio wrote an op-ed published in USA Today that expanded on how his father, Mayor Bill de Blasio, talked to him about being wary of the police.
Dante de Blasio wrote an op-ed published in USA Today that expanded on how his father, Mayor Bill de Blasio, talked to him about being wary of the police.
Sina Schuldt/Picture Alliance, via Getty Images

Dante de Blasio, whose giant Afro was featured in his father’s bid for New York City mayor, is playing a role in his presidential campaign.

The first frame in the now-famous 33-second ad is taken up almost entirely by Dante de Blasio’s giant Afro.

He was only 15 then, an unlikely star of his father’s equally unlikely victory in the 2013 mayor’s race in New York City.

Through Dante, his father, Bill de Blasio, was able to highlight his biracial family, offer a personal perspective on his policies on affordable housing and early childhood education and signal his intention to end the police practice, known as stop and frisk, that Dante said in the ad “unfairly targets” minorities.

Now, deep into his second and final term as mayor and in the midst of another long-shot candidacy, this time for president, Mr. de Blasio is once again leaning on his son for a boost…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Do Women Have Superpowers? Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says Yes

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-03 19:18Z by Steven

Do Women Have Superpowers? Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says Yes

The New York Times
2019-05-10

Kathryn Shattuck


Emily Berl for The New York Times

When Gugu Mbatha-Raw signed up to be a superhero, little did she know she’d be squaring off against Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the rest of the Marvel universe.

But two years later, “Fast Color” has found itself in theaters at the same time as “Avengers: Endgame” — and heralded as the antidote to men destroying the world to save it.

“It’s quite an interesting journey that it’s being compared and contrasted to a huge Marvel juggernaut, which was never our intention,” she said. “But I have to say I’m interested in the conversation. I haven’t always seen myself represented in those kinds of movies, as a lot of people haven’t.”

Mbatha-Raw is herself a fighter: In 2014, she broke through with Amma Asante’sBelle,” about the mixed-race daughter of an 18th-century British naval captain raised among the white aristocracy — a role she pursued for eight years. Months later, she transformed herself into a flailing pop superstar who divines peace through the music of Nina Simone in Gina Prince-Bythewood’sBeyond the Lights.”…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

Rediscovering My Father

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-01 12:55Z by Steven

Rediscovering My Father

The New York Times
2019-05-31

Shannon Luders-Manuel


Lucy Jones

In a lost photo, I found the memory of my dad I wanted to preserve.

One night in 2001, newly married and in my first real apartment, I pulled out my grandma’s vintage leather suitcase. Its handle was long gone, but I used it to store hundreds of old photos.

I searched through each photo and negative, hoping I might find a double of the one good picture of my dad and me.

My dad had recently died of lung cancer. The last photo I had was of him lying on his hospice bed, feeble and hooked to an oxygen tank. Any hope of future connection was buried along with his ashes.

Back when I was in high school and living in San Jose, my friends Pamela and Emily had joined me on a rare weekend train ride to see my father in Sacramento. The infectious giggles of teenage girls rubbed off on my dad, who was a natural kidder but always reserved and debonair. He and I were growing apart, as parents and teenagers often do, but the space between us was inflated by the extra complications of alcoholism, poverty and racially-blended families…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

I’m Darker Than My Daughter. Here’s Why It Matters.

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-25 02:31Z by Steven

I’m Darker Than My Daughter. Here’s Why It Matters.

NYT Parenting
The New York Times
2019-05-21

Norma Newton

Norma Newton and her daughter at their home in Los Angeles.
Norma Newton and her daughter at their home in Los Angeles.
Carolina Adame

Breaching colorism with my little girl sent me reeling back into my childhood shame.

Our bedtime routine that night started off like so many others, harried but mostly sweet. After making our way through brushing teeth and getting into pajamas, my daughter and I lay down on her bedroom floor to sing songs, the final step before crawling into bed.

When I tried to curl up next to my 4-year-old, though, I sensed her hesitation. She wiggled her little body away from mine each time I inched closer. “Do you not want mommy close to you, sweetie?” I asked, assuming she was initiating a game to extend our nighttime ritual. Her light-brown eyes locked in on me as she brushed her honey-colored locks aside with her hand.

In a casual on-the-edge-of-sleep voice she cooed, “Your skin is dark. I don’t want you to touch me.”

My brown Indigenous Latina body stiffened; I labored to breathe, outraged and confused. She rendered me speechless…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

A Century of Times Dance Photos, Through the Lens of Misty Copeland

Posted in Articles, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-22 22:43Z by Steven

A Century of Times Dance Photos, Through the Lens of Misty Copeland

The New York Times
2019-04-13

Remy Tumin


The ballerina Misty Copeland reviewing photographs for the Past Tense: Dance section in The New York Times’s building. Karen Hanley/The New York Times

Ms. Copeland, the American Ballet Theater’s first black principal ballerina, served as guest editor for a special section on dance photography.

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

There’s one photograph from The New York Times archives that stands out to Misty Copeland. It’s a black-and-white image of a group of young ballerinas, boys and girls, their dark skin accented by bright tights and tutus.

“They look so uncomfortable,” Ms. Copeland said in a recent interview. “In ballet, we’ve never been told there was a place for us to fit in. You can see that within this image.”

The “tension and awkwardness” that Ms. Copeland said she saw in the photo is familiar to her. She was the American Ballet Theater’s first black female principal dancer. Last month, when she visited The Times to serve as a guest editor of a special print section featuring dance images from our archives, she saw those threads throughout dance history.

The section is the latest from Past Tense, which highlights stories and photographs from The Times’s archives. Veronica Chambers, who leads the team, said that of the six million photos in the archives, at least 5,000 are dance-related. A dedicated section was a natural fit, as was the choice of Ms. Copeland as its guest editor, Ms. Chambers said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,