Crossing B(l)ack: Mixed-Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-02-07 00:30Z by Steven

Crossing B(l)ack: Mixed-Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture

University of Tennessee Press
2013-01-11
150 pages
Cloth ISBN-10: 1572339322; ISBN-13: 978-1572339323

Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins, Associate Professor of English
Florida Atlantic University

The past two decades have seen a growing influx of biracial discourse in fiction, memoir, and theory, and since the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the presidency, debates over whether America has entered a “post-racial” phase have set the media abuzz. In this penetrating and provocative study, Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins adds a new dimension to this dialogue as she investigates the ways in which various mixed-race writers and public figures have redefined both “blackness” and “whiteness” by invoking multiple racial identities.

Focusing on several key novels—Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), Lucinda Roy’s Lady Moses (1998), and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998)—as well as memoirs by Obama, James McBride, and Rebecca Walker and the personae of singer Mariah Carey and actress Halle Berry, Dagbovie-Mullins challenges conventional claims about biracial identification with a concept she calls “black-sentient mixed-race identity.” Whereas some multiracial organizations can diminish blackness by, for example, championing the inclusion of multiple-race options on census forms and similar documents, a black-sentient consciousness stresses a perception rooted in blackness—“a connection to a black consciousness,” writes the author, “that does not overdetermine but still plays a large role in one’s racial identification.” By examining the nuances of this concept through close readings of fiction, memoir, and the public images of mixed-race celebrities, Dagbovie-Mullins demonstrates how a “black-sentient mixed-race identity reconciles the widening separation between black/white mixed race and blackness that has been encouraged by contemporary mixed-race politics and popular culture.”

A book that promises to spark new debate and thoughtful reconsiderations of an especially timely topic, Crossing B(l)ack recognizes and investigates assertions of a black-centered mixed-race identity that does not divorce a premodern racial identity from a postmodern racial fluidity.

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Star-Light, Star-Bright, Star Damn Near White: Mixed-Race Superstars

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-10-28 00:57Z by Steven

Star-Light, Star-Bright, Star Damn Near White: Mixed-Race Superstars

The Journal of Popular Culture
Volume 40, Issue 2
(April 2007)
pages 217–237
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2007.00376.x

Sika Alaine Dagbovie, Professor of English
Florida Atlantic University

In an episode of the “Chris Rock Show,” comedian Chris Rock searches the streets of Harlem to find out what people think of Tiger Woods. When he asks three Asian storekeepers if they consider Woods Asian, one replies, “‘Not even this much,” pressing two of his fingers together to show no space. This comic scene and the jokes chat surround Wood’s self-proclaimed identity reveal a cultural contradiction that I explore in this essay, namely the simultaneous acceptance and rejection of blackness within a biracial discourse in American popular culture. Though Wood’s self-identification may not fit neatly into the black/white mixed-race identity explored in this project, he still falls into a black/white dichotomy prevalent in the United States. The Asian storekeepers agree with Rock’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Tiger Woods is as black as James Brown, opposing sentiments like “The dude’s more Asian than he is anything else” on an Asian-American college Internet magazine (“Wang and Woods”). Woods cannot escape blackness (a stereotypical fried-chicken-and-collard-green-eating blackness according to Fuzzy Zoeller), and yet he also represents a multicultural posterboy, one whose blackness pales next to his much-celebrated multi-otherness.

Through advertising, interviews, and publicity, biracial celebrities encode a distinct connection to blackness despite their projected (and sometimes preferred) self-identification. Drawing from Richard Dyer’s Stars I read biracial celebrities Halle Berry, Vin Diesel, and Mariah Carey by analyzing autobiographical representations, celebrity statuses, public reception, and the publicity surrounding each of the…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/ Body Politics in Africana Communities

Posted in Anthologies, Arts, Autobiography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Poetry, Religion, Social Science, United States, Women on 2010-07-13 22:41Z by Steven

Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/ Body Politics in Africana Communities

Hampton Press
July 2010
484 pages
Paper ISBN: 978-1-57273-881-2
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-57273-880-5

Edited by

Regina E. Spellers, President and CEO
Eagles Soar Consulting, LLC

Kimberly R. Moffitt, Assistant Professor of American Studies
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

This book features engaging scholarly essays, poems and creative writings that all examine the meanings of the Black anatomy in our changing global world. The body, including its hair, is said to be read like a text where readers draw center interpretations based on signs, symbols, and culture. Each chapter in the volume interrogates that notion by addressing the question, “As a text, how are Black bodies and Black hair read and understood in life, art, popular culture, mass media, or cross-cultural interactions?” Utilizing a critical perspective, each contributor articulates how relationships between physical appearance, genetic structure, and political ideologies impact the creativity, expression, and everyday lived experiences of Blackness. In this interdisciplinary volume, discussions are made more complex and move beyond the “straight versus kinky hair” and “light skin versus dark skin” paradigm. Instead efforts are made to emphasize the material consequences associated with the ways in which the Black body is read and (mis)understood. The aptness of this work lies in its ability to provide a meaningful and creative space to analyze body politics—highlighting the complexities surrounding these issues within, between, and outside Africana communities. The book provides a unique opportunity to both celebrate and scrutinize the presentation of Blackness in everyday life, while also encouraging readers to forge ahead with a deeper understanding of these ever-important issues.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword, Haki R. Madhubuti
  • Introduction, Regina E. Spellers and Kimberly R. Moffitt
  • SECTION ONE: Hair/Body Politics as Expression of the Life Cycle
    • The Big Girl’s Chair: A Rhetorical Analysis of How Motions for Kids Markets Relaxers to African American Girls, Shauntae Brown White
    • Pretty Color ’n Good Hair: Creole Women of New Orleans and the Politics of Identity, Yaba Amgborale Blay
    • Invisible Dread: From Twisted: The Dreadlocks Chronicles, Bert Ashe
    • Social Constructions of a Black Woman’s Hair: Critical Reflections of a Graying Sistah, Brenda J. Allen
    • What it Feels Like for a (Black Gay HIV+) Boy, Chris Bell
  • SECTION TWO: Hair/Body as Power
    • Dominican Dance Floor, Kiini Ibura Salaam
    • Covering Up Fat Upper Arms, Mary L. O’Neal
    • Cimmarronas, Ciguapas, and Senoras: Hair, Beauty, and National Identity in the Dominican Republic, Ana-Maurine Lara
    • Of Wigs and Weaves, Locks and Fades: A Personal Political Hair Story, Neal A. Lester
    • “Scatter the Pigeons”: Baldness and the Performance of Hyper-Black Masculinity, E. Patrick Johnson
  • SECTION THREE: Hair/Body in Art and Popular Culture
    • From Air Jordan to Jumpman: The Black Male Body as Commodity, Ingrid Banks
    • Cool Pose on Wheels: An Exploration of the Disabled Black Male in Film, Kimberly R. Moffitt
    • Decoding the Meaning of Tattoos: Cluster Criticism and the Case of Tupac Shakur’s Body Art, Carlos D. Morrison, Josette R. Hutton, and Ulysses Williams, Jr.
    • Blacks in White Marble: Interracial Female Subjects in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Neoclassicism, Charmaine Nelson
    • Changing Hair/Changing Race: Black Authenticity, Colorblindness, and Hairy Post-ethnic Costumes in “Mixing Nia”, Ralina L. Joseph
    • “I’m Real” (Black) When I Wanna Be: Examining J. Lo’s Racial ASSets, Sika Alaine Dagbovie and Zine Magubane
  • SECTION FOUR: Celebrations, Innovations, and Applications of Hair/Body Politics
  • SECTION FIVE: Contradictions, Complications, and Complexities of Hair/Body Politics
    • Divas to the Dance Floor Please!: A Neo-Black Feminist Readin(g) of Cool Pose, D. Nebi Hilliard
    • Coming Out Natural: Dreaded Desire, Sex Roles, and Cornrows, L. H. Stallings
    • “I am More than a Victim”: The Slave Woman Stereotype in Antebellum Narratives by Black Men, Ellesia A. Blaque
    • Two Warring Ideals, One Dark Body: Hegemony, Duality, and Temporality of the Black Body in African-American Religion, Stephen C. Finley
    • The Snake that Bit Medusa: One (Phenotypically) White Woman’s Dreads, Kabira Z. Cadogan
  • Author Index
  • Subject Index
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