Not All Blacks Are African American: The Importance of Viewing Advisees as Individuals in a Culturally Mosaic Context

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2013-08-25 02:41Z by Steven

Not All Blacks Are African American: The Importance of Viewing Advisees as Individuals in a Culturally Mosaic Context

The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal
Pennsylvania State University
2013-08-15

Mary M. Livingston, Professor of Psychology
Louisiana Tech University

Latoya Pierce, Assistant professor of Psychology
Louisiana Tech University

Lou’uan Gollop-Brown, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Louisiana Tech University

When an advisee walks through the door, it is important for an adviser to consciously refrain from making possibly fallacious assumptions about the advisee’s racial heritage on the basis of skin color. Of course, this is also a mistake that may also be made by the advisee. One author of this paper, who is from the Caribbean, was selected as a preferred adviser by many undergraduate African American advisees, because they felt, as one of them, she would know and understand their experiences. Initial impressions influence the adviser-advisee interaction. This is not to say that the adviser should eschew accurate cultural recognition, which may be an important part of an advisee’s identity and a key to understanding and communication. Instead, we should attempt to verify our assumptions since our suppositions may not be correct…

…An additional issue is the racial identity of individuals who consider themselves to be biracial or multiracial. Biracial is defined as “of, relating to, or involving members of two races” (Biracial, 2013). Multiracial is defined as “composed of, involving, or representing various races” (Multiracial, 2013). When individuals are biracial or multiracial, our human tendency to fit them into one category no longer works. Numerous times, biracial or multiracial advisees have told stories about meeting a person, and during the conversation, racial identity came up. The multiracial student was almost always asked to readily identify himself or herself as a member of an established racial group. The acronym VREG coincides with this experience. VREG stands for visibly recognizable ethic groups, and the concept speaks to our need to classify and recognize people as such (Helms & Cook, 1999)…

Read the entire article here.

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PHIL 539: Critical Philosophy of Race

Posted in Course Offerings, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2013-04-02 17:30Z by Steven

PHIL 539: Critical Philosophy of Race

Pennsylvania State University
Summer 2012

The study of philosophical issues raised by racism and by the concept of race and other related concepts.

This course provides an intensive examination of a major area of philosophical research: the philosophical examination of racism and of our thinking about race. It will investigate philosophical debates about such topics as mixed-race identity, going beyond the Black-White binary, the distinction between racism and xenophobia, the distinction between race and ethnicity, the debate about the reality of race, as well as questions about the nature and genealogy of racism. The course will have a historical component that will show how thinking in terms of the concept of race first developed and was transformed across time as well as addressing contemporary issues that includes an examination both of the dominant theories and definitions or racial identity and of ethical and political questions raised by the persistence of the notion of race. The course will also examine debates about the complicity of certain canonical figures in the history of philosophy, such as Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the conceptualization of race and the spread of philosophical racism. In addition to these two philosophers the following authors will be among those studied: Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Frederick Douglass, Anténor Firmin, W. E. B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Alain Locke, Paulette Nardal, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Anthony Kwame Appiah, Gloria Anzaldúa, Bernard Boxill, and Angela Davis. Race will be examined in its relation to other ways of thinking about human difference, including class, gender, nationality, religion, and sexuality. Attention will be given to diverse experiences in the US context, such as those of African Americans, Latina/os, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Irish Americans, and so on. In addition to examining the role race has played and continues to play in the United States of America, the ways in which race is approached in other parts of the world, for example in China, will also be the subject of investigation. The course content will vary, dependent upon the instructor.

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From The Birth of a Nation to Havoc: The Evolution of Traditional Blackface to Modern Racial Passing in U.S. Cinema

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-05-20 01:19Z by Steven

From The Birth of a Nation to Havoc: The Evolution of Traditional Blackface to Modern Racial Passing in U.S. Cinema

Pennsylvania State University
August 2009
122 pages

Dorian Randall

A Thesis in Media Studies by Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

Race is a complicated and debatable term in the United States today. Film is one venue in which the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of race is challenged, particularly with representations of minstrelsy and episodes of racial passing that also evolve into performance of class distinctions. Through textual and rhetorical analysis, I chronicled the evolution of minstrelsy as a form of racial passing through a cinematic lens and demonstrated how the racial/class performance creates multiracial identity in the films’ characters. The purpose of this research is to add to the continuing analysis and investigation of racial passing and minstrelsy by evaluating the construction of multiracial identity in monoracial characters that perform a race other than their own in the films under analysis. This study also reveals how the definition of race evolved through class performance as race and class are heavily related terms.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Literature Review Part I: A Brief History of Slavery
  • 3. Literature Review Part II: Minstrelsy and Racial Passing
  • 4. Burnt Cork Cinema: From Black and White to Color
  • 5. Fade into White: Passing Films
  • 6. Class Act: Race/Class Films
  • 7. Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Read the entire thesis here.

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Rewriting of the past and paradigm of the feminine in “The Quadroons of New Orleans” by Sidonie de La Houssaye

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2011-12-13 01:58Z by Steven

Rewriting of the past and paradigm of the feminine in “The Quadroons of New Orleans” by Sidonie de La Houssaye

Pennsylvania State University
2008
231 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3336040
ISBN: 9780549923022

Christian Hommel

Les Quarteronnes de la Nouvelle-Orléans is a novel written by a Creole women of the white francophone aristocracy, and appeard as a serial in a Louisianan newspaper from 1894 to 1898. The action is set in a mythical immoral New Orleans of the early 19th century, and tells the story of multiple characters who belong to different social spheres, yet each linked in some way to quadroons. The Quadroons of New Orleans draws upon different literary genres and traditions, both French and English, to tell stories of love and seduction, but distinguishes itself from other romance novels by the progressive attention the novel gives to the condition of women. Stereotypical tales of seduction give way to complex tales of friendship, personal conflicts and love where quadroons and white heroines alike become less typified, hence permitting the gradual deconstruction of the categories, social class and race assigned to the characters at the start of the novel. In my dissertation, I analyse the substitution of a phallocentric point of view (male gaze) for a gynocentric one (female gaze), through the theoretical framework of narratology and semiotics. The adoption of a gynocentric point of view can be seen everywhere, in the narration of the narrator, but also in the numerous dialogues of the female characters. Women stand out and speak out. My analysis is not limited to the story but also considers the agency of the character of the quadroon (her use of power, knowledge, desire, etc.) and how that shifts throughout the novel. My dissertation concludes by suggesting that those shifts in agency serve as a critique of a male-run society and the moral disorder produced by it. Despite the idealized representation of a past and world that never existed, the character of the quadroon allowed Sidonie de La Houssaye to give birth to a female narrator and characters unimaginable in a novel with only white characters.

Purchase the dissertation here.

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What race do you identify Obama as? Does President Obama’s race effect your opinion of him?

Posted in Barack Obama, Campus Life, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2011-09-19 03:58Z by Steven

What race do you identify Obama as? Does President Obama’s race effect your opinion of him?

SOC 119 – Voices from the Classroom
World in Conversation Project
Pennsylvania State University
2011-09-08

The first of 138+ student comments…

  1. Personally President Obama’s race does not affect my opinion of him at all. When viewing Obama I consider him black, even though he is multiracial. Part of the reason I consider Obama to be black is because he looks black, and also when he was elected President there was pandemonium and celebration because he was seen as the first black President of the United States. I could not vote in the 2008 election because I was not old enough, but if I was Obama’s race would not have swayed my vote one way or the other in considering a candidate for election…
  2. I consider Presiden Obama as multi racial because he is in fact half black and half white. I dont think it matters what race President Obama is. I think he should be respected as our Commander in Chief no matter what race or religion he is…
  3. Our President, Barack Obama, is black. I have absolutely no opinion about what race my President is or any other important figure for that matter. Different people have different opinions about what President Obama is and if he is American and all of this nonsense but he is an American. He is an American that I consider to be black based on how I categorize people. Others may not agree with how I categorize who he is but that is how I go about business. I consider myself to be white and someone can disagree but I am still going to think I am white. My outlook on what someone is, is straight forward and I do not pass judgment based on what someone looks like besides that that person is what they are. As a result, Mr. Obama is black…
  4. I identify Obama as a mixed race; he is not one hundred percent black, nor is he one hundred percent white. Obviously, his skin is darker than any other president we have had, but I don’t believe that this should be his sole identifier, nor should it be the only thing he is to be remembered for. He was raised by a white mother and is most definitely from a mixed background. Unfortunately, skin color is the first thing people see, and that is what sticks in people’s minds…
  5. I am sure that almost everyone who had one glance at Obama would immediately classify him as Black, even though he is actually multiracial. Even so, his race did not change my opinion of him negatively, but rather positively I must say before and after I learned from class that he is multiracial…
  6. What race do I identify Obama as and does Obama’s race effect my opinion of him? Previously to today’s sociology discussion, I thought that Barack Obama was black. I think I thought this because when he first ran for presidency, everyone made a huge deal that he would be the first black president in the United States. Clearly, I was wrong and learned that he is biracial. His Mother is a White American and his father is a Black Kenyan…
  7. Despite what most people may say, President Barack Obama is multi-racial. He is only fifty percent black despite the fact that people refer to him as our “black president,” while the rest of his makeup includes white and possibly even Native American…
  8. Although I do not know much about Obama’s background, just by looking at him I would classify him as a black person. I think that it was a phenomenal thing when a black man was elected as the president of the United States of America because it showed just how far we had come as a society. We had become one step closer to true racial equality…
  9. First and foremost, I identify President Barack Obama as being a mixed race. Obama is English, Irish, and Kenyan. To me, that does not make him black, that makes him mixed. People were so hyped up with the fact that he is part black that I feel they chose to ignore the rest of his background. I can imagine this made some people upset…
  10. I personally think that it is awesome that Obama is black. When I first heard that a black man was running for president, I was younger and pretty ignorant. I didn’t think he had a chance at winning at all. I figured most of America was more ignorant than I and that they were all republicans and/or racist. Clearly, I was extremely wrong…
  11. Barrack Obama is the nation’s first black president. Most everybody I know categorizes Barrack Obama as a black man, as do I. If you were to ask me if Barrack Obama is black, I would say yes. But if you asked me what race Barrack Obama is, I would say multi-racial like I did on the clicker question asked in class…
  12. I would consider President Obama to be multiracial, his father was black and his mother was white. But, does this affect my opinion of him? To say the honest truth, I absolutely do not have any knowledge in politics or government. I am not registered to vote, nor do I think I should have the right to vote knowing my lack of knowledge on the subject…
  13. I view President Obama as multiracial although when he first started running for president I saw him as black because of all the hype of him possibly being the first black President of the United States. I personally think the debates that occurred about his race and religion got way out of hand during the election and often took the focus away from actual issues. For me personally it does not affect my opinion of him…
  14. I personally identify Obama as a mixed individual. It is clearly seen that he is a man of mixed origins. It is also very apparent that he has some Black in him. Now to get into the total percents I don’t know what fraction of his blood is Black, Asian, etc. but the fact still remains that he has Black blood in him. To say that he is black is not totally wrong either…
  15. Let me start off by saying that I consider Barack Obama to be a black man for the sheer fact that he seemed to identify with the black community throughout his campaign. I also understand that when you could possibly be the first black president in American history you do not want to ruin the hopes of millions of minorities by denying your heritage because you are multi-racial and not a fully black man. But since he does consider himself a black man and not multi-racial I have different feelings towards him than other white candidates…
  16. I dont care at all that Obama is black or part Asian or whatever he is. To me he is black and that is just fine. I dont follow politics much but it’s hard to do worse than Bush. Obama inherited a shitty economy and I dont blame him at all for that. He did manage to catch Osama Bin Laden after Bush failed for however many years. That was pretty badass. He’s just a likable, intelligent, pretty good looking guy. The fact that he’s black doesnt do anything to detract from that…
  17. When I first look at someone, I identify them by the color of their skin. Without talking to someone and finding out how he or she identifies him/herself, that’s all I can go by. With that idea in mind, I identify Barack Obama as a black male because his skin is clearly darker than mine and other white people. That does not affect my views, though…
  18. Barack Obama’s father is from Africa and his mother is white. So I guess I would consider him biracial but I mostly view him as a black man. It is the easiest to identify him with because he is a man of color. To be honest his race does not alter my opinion of him but it does scare me. It makes me afraid for him, for me and for blacks in general. There is a ton of pressure on anybody who decides to become the president of the United States. Him being the first black president brings added pressure because he is the first of his kind to be in such a high position of power. This is a double edged sword because though he is in the position to knock down barriers and give more people of color the opportunity to become president he is also in position to give white America a reason to not vote for another candidate of color…

Read all of the other comments here.

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Mapping the liminal identities of mulattas in African, African American, and Caribbean literatures

Posted in Africa, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2011-01-16 04:05Z by Steven

Mapping the liminal identities of mulattas in African, African American, and Caribbean literatures

Pennsylvania State University
December 2006
285 pages
AAT: 3343682
ISBN: 9780549992738

Khadidiatou Gueye

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy December 2006

In twentieth-century African, African American, and Caribbean literatures, mixed-blood women are often misread as figures frozen in tragic postures. Such unrealistic portraitures replicate the traditional white-authored pathologizations of racial hybridity. Drawing on the theoretical framework of liminality, this study investigates how mulattas negotiate their identities in specific socio-cultural environments, times, and places. Four writers of African descent and dissimilar socio-historical backgrounds are studied: Abdoulaye Sadji from Senegal, Bessie Head from South Africa, Mayotte Capécia from Martinique, and Nella Larsen from the United States.

The study is divided into five chapters that deal with the experiences of mulattas in autobiographical writing, sexuality, madness, racial passing, and expatriation. Thematic and stylistic discrepancies in the works examined are ancillary to the common liminal strategies of de-marginalization and self-reconstruction of female heroines. Their attempts at self-assertion appear in the ways in which they resist the constrictions of patriarchal and racist regimes. Their construction of spaces of agency is interwoven with ambiguity, ambivalence, and contradictions, which are emblematic of the discontinuities of their lives and paradigmatic of their intricate search for identity. In the works, the liminal experiences of mulattas are framed within the quests for social visibility, the affirmation of humanity, the renegotiation of space, and the anomic straddling between oppositional boundaries and statuses. Through their striving to rise above the limitations imposed on their gender and race, mulattas commit acts of transgression and dissemblance, and disrupt racial taxonomy. I demonstrate that liminality is a major unifying thread that runs through all the narratives and argue that it creates alternative existential paradigms for mixed-blood women. Liminality is an appropriate tool that challenges monolithic views of identities through the re-articulation of cultural meanings.

My main contribution is twofold. First, I extend the traditional cartography of liminality, which is usually based on small-scale societies where individuals have loyalty to their primary communities. Second, I suggest new vistas for race criticism in diasporic studies.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter One
    • Monoracial, Biracial, and the Entre-Deux
    • Introduction
    • Black/White Polarization
    • Racial Hybridity
    • Betwixt and Between: The Ambiguity of Liminality
  • Chapter Two
    • Liminal Psychoautobiographies: Rites and Routes
    • Autobiography as Autrebiographie: Je-Jeu in Mayotte CapĂ©cia’s Je suis martiniquaise
    • Internal Drama: Spectralized Presences in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power
  • Chapter Three
    • The Liminal Experience of Sexuality and the Problematic of Respectability
    • Sexuality at Point Zero in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand and Mayotte CapĂ©cia’s La nĂ©gresse blanche
    • Sexuality and Normative Illegitimacy in Mayotte CapĂ©cia’s La nĂ©gresse blanche
    • Nini, mulâtresse du SĂ©nĂ©gal: Between Sexual Empowerment and Disempowerment
  • Chapter Four
    • Herspace: Liminal Madness and Racial Passing of the Mulatta
    • I am Mad But I am Not Mad: Shuttling Between Seamless Identities in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power
    • Telling a New Story: Racial Performance and Ambiguity in Nella Larsen’s Passing
  • Chapter Five
    • The Limen of Journeys: Mulattas and Colonial Paris
    • The French MĂ©tropole: Interior Landscapes in Nini, mulâtresse du SĂ©nĂ©gal
    • Migration and Trans-Caribbean Identity in Je suis martiniquaise and La nĂ©gresse blanche
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited

Purchase the dissertation here.

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