Asian Am 251/Af Am 251: The Mixed Race Experience

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Course Offerings, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-21 01:56Z by Steven

Asian Am 251/Af Am 251: The Mixed Race Experience

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Spring 2016

Nitasha Sharma, Associate Professor of African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Performance Studies; Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Growing numbers of interracial marriages and children of mixed racial descent have contributed to the increasing diversity of 21st century America. In this course, we will evaluate the experiences of self-identified multiracials. This class will explore the interracial and inter-ethnic marriage trends in various Asian communities in the U.S. Additionally, we will compare the experiences of multiracials representing a range of backgrounds, including those of Asian/White and Asian/Black ancestry as well as Asian/Black heritage. Some of the specific topics that will be covered in this course include: racial and ethnic community membership and belonging; passing; the dynamics of interracial relationships; identity, authenticity, and choice; and the gender identities of the mixed race individuals.

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Mixed Feelings

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-05-26 06:04Z by Steven

Mixed Feelings

North by Northwestern
Northwestern University’s leading independent online publication
Evanston, Illinois
2014-05-22

Sarah Turbin, Class 0f 2016
Medill School of Journalism

There’s no question quite like it. “What are you?” has trailed behind me my whole life, tapping me on the shoulder with a different lilt to its tone each time: curious, doubtful, complimentary, surprised, sympathetic.

I used to respond with what I thought was simplest. “I’m half-Japanese and half-white.” Still no good – that, too, is typically met with more curious inquiries about the nature of my whiteness (eastern European, mostly) and questions about which parent is the Asian one (hold on, I’m getting to it).

My class, the class of 2016, is listed on Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Admission website as 8 percent African-American, 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, 20 percent Asian, 9 percent Hispanic, 7 percent international students and 55 percent white. This adds up to 100. Here, on one of the first pages that parents and high school students might look at when dancing with the idea of applying to our school, I am incorrectly listed. There’s not even a meager “other” category to be found.

Samantha Yi, a Weinberg junior, isn’t bothered by the question. “All growing up, people would ask me,” Yi says.

Yi’s father is Korean, and her mother is Jewish, of Russian and Polish descent. She identifies as Jewish Asian-American. “I think, recently, I’ve been thinking about [the question], because it’s been in the Northwestern discourse – ‘Is that a microaggression?’”

But Yi attributes the question as an attempt to understand. “I think it’s linked to a curiosity about who I am … it just makes me realize that, oh, a lot of people didn’t grow up like me, with mixed-race families,” she says.

When I do answer to that curiosity, I stick to the barest of bones by describing my parents, though they weren’t even in the question to begin with. It’s almost down to a science. “My mom is Japanese, and my dad is a Jewish guy from Illinois.” Yes, good. All of the bases are covered.

For some, the question feels constraining. Weinberg senior Amrit Trewn identifies “generally speaking, as just black.” His mother is African-American, and his father is Indian. Strangers, peers and professors alike have asked him the question, and Trewn does not always oblige by giving an answer…

Nitasha Sharma, a professor of African-American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern, has done research on mixed-race studies. She taught “Hapa Issues,” a course that was previously offered at Northwestern and focused on the experience of people who are hapa – “hapa” being a Hawaiian term meaning “half” that has evolved into denoting a person who is partially of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.

Sharma notes that the spectrum of reactions to the “What are you?” question is telling. “Like black, Asian, white, middle-class, college student – like any category, you’re going to have a huge diversity of views … and part of it is that people change how they feel about that question over the course of their lives.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Asian American Studies: Building Academic Bridges – Nitasha Sharma

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-01-31 00:22Z by Steven

Asian American Studies: Building Academic Bridges – Nitasha Sharma

The Department of African American Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois
October 2010

Ronald Roach

NITASHA TAMAR SHARMA Title: Assistant Professor of African-American and Asian American Studies, Northwestern University Education: Ph.D., Anthropology, University of alifornia at Santa Barbara; M.A., Anthropology, University of California at Santa Barbara; B.A., Anthropology, University of California at Santa Cruz Age: 35

With a dual appointment in the African-American Studies department and the Asian American studies program at Northwestern University, Dr. Nitasha Sharma is well positioned to produce scholarship that bridges the two disciplines. Sharma’s forthcoming book, based on her anthropology dissertation, Claiming Space, Making Race: South Asian American Hip Hop Artists, examines the influence that African-American-inspired hip hop culture has had on young musicians of South Asian descent, developing what some scholars see as fertile ground in ethnic studies—cross-cultural and comparative inquiry on U.S. racial and ethnic groups.

In her third year as an assistant professor at Northwestern, Sharma is regarded as a skillful and popular teacher. Her courses have included “The Racial and Gender Politics of Hip Hop”; “Race, Crime, and Punishment: The Border, Prisons, and Post-9/11 Detentions”; and “Cracking the Color Lines: Asian and Black Relations in the U.S.” Sharma has also done considerable work on mixed-race populations, including those in the U.S. and Trinidad. The African-American Studies department has awarded its Outstanding Teaching Award to Sharma in both her first and second years.

In addition, Sharma’s dual appointment has attracted the attention of Asian American studies scholars as well as Asian American student groups nationally and has resulted in numerous speaking engagements for the young professor. “(These individuals and organizations) really want to have the framework to understand the collaborations that my appointment symbolizes,” she says…

…“Nitasha is especially attractive in the way that she complicates our understanding of how race is constructed… And she is very good at demonstrating the impact of African-American culture and history on diverse populations around the globe,” Hine adds.

Sharma’s personal background may help explain her rise as a young scholar. She knew as a youngster growing up in Hawaii that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her parents, both professors. Her father, a retired University of Hawaii history professor and Indian immigrant, and mother, a still-active University of Hawaii anthropologist in Asian studies and Brooklyn, N.Y., native of Russian Jewish descent, met and married in the United Kingdom and settled in Hawaii. “I wanted the life that my parents had. They had summers off and traveled around the world; they were frequently at home during the week days… The talk at the dinner table was largely about academic life and their work,” Sharma says…

Read the entire article here.

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