‘One Drop of Love’ star Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni talks race, family and more

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-11-06 21:37Z by Steven

‘One Drop of Love’ star Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni talks race, family and more

The Tampa Bay Times
St. Petersburg, Florida

Robbyn Mitchell, Times Staff Writer

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: “Race is like a religion to us.”

It’s been an interesting year in race relations for America. In just over 10 months, there have been communities violently protesting loss of due process, NBA owners losing their teams over racist remarks and anti-immigration zealots blockading school buses full of brown children because they were presumed to be foreign.

It’s a climate — not of change, as was promised by the election of President Barack Obama, but of an overwhelming dedication to fight change.

“People believe in race so strongly they’re faithful to it. Race is like a religion to us,” said Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, writer and performer of One Drop of Love, a one-woman multimedia show coming to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Saturday night.

As a woman with parents who identify themselves as different races — her father is black and her mother is white — Cox DiGiovanni says she has the had the privilege to move between two different spheres of American society and decide for herself how she would be defined.

“The way I identify myself is as a culturally mixed woman searching for racial answers,” she said. “I care about justice and that’s more important than racial identity.”…

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CNN’s Soledad O’Brien keeps own story under wraps while exploring colorism in “Who is Black in America?

Posted in Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-12-10 04:37Z by Steven

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien keeps own story under wraps while exploring colorism in “Who is Black in America?

Tampa Bay Times
The Feed

Eric Deggans, TV/Media Critic

More than any other, one moment crystallizes the confusing, sometimes comically absurd contortions built up around racial identity unveiled in CNN’s latest documentary Who Is Black in America?
It’s not the 7-year-old, dark-skinned black girl who turns to her mother and insists light skin is pretty. It’s not the professor [William A. Darity, Jr.] who cites studies showing dark-skinned black men suffer a 10 to 12 percent income inequality compared to white men.
It’s when Becca Khalil, a Philadelphia-based high schooler who is the light-skinned child of Egyptian parents, feels compelled to identify herself as white on a college scholarship application.
Declaring to CNN’s cameras that she identifies as black personally, Khalil is nevertheless challenged by a friend born of African-American parents, who says she hasn’t had a “black experience.”…

…When most of the youths in CNN’s documentary talk about being black, they mean African American. But [Soledad] O’Brien, who also self-identifies as black, has her non-white roots in Cuba, a Hispanic-centered culture that’s different than the environment for black folks raised in Atlanta or Detroit.
And unlike some of the kids she profiles, O’Brien doesn’t believe anyone gets to choose their racial identity.
“This idea that someone gets to choose seems odd,” added the anchor. “I’m lighter-skinned than the president of the United States, but my mom is black, my brothers and sisters are black, my mom has a short afro. I never thought I had a choice about how I identified … My identity was given to me very early by my parents.”…

…O’Brien’s documentary also doesn’t mention the most famous person navigating issues of race and identity in modern times: President Barack Obama. And the reason Obama isn’t featured is the same reason O’Brien doesn’t tell her story, even though the details — she was raised as an Afro-Cuban/Irish child in an all-white neighborhood where she felt “people like me weren’t attractive” — seems the embodiment of the documentary’s spirit…

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Mixed-race teen in the middle: who will she choose?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, United States on 2012-09-22 14:17Z by Steven

Mixed-race teen in the middle: who will she choose?

Tampa Bay Times
St. Petersburg, Florida

Leonora LaPeter Anton, Times Staff Writer

Her dark eyes scanned the fluorescent-lit lunchroom, locking onto her friends in the center of the chaos. Her thoughts sprayed in many directions: the upcoming eighth-grade formal, a surprisingly bad grade she recently got on an English paper, her role in the school play.

She passed a table full of white girls and one of them high-fived her. She passed a table full of white boys and one of them called her name. She arrived at a table full of black girls — the table where she sits almost every day. As she set her notebook down, one of her best girlfriends ignored her and moved to another table.

Asianna Williams, 14, wanted to ignore the drama. She is a light-skinned mixed-race girl trying to discover who she is in a society that still carves up territory by race. Nowhere was this more evident than in the lunchroom at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School. Table after table, as far as the eye could see, white faces congregated around one table, black faces around another.

Asianna’s father is black and her mother is white. Years ago, this might have relegated her to a no-man’s land, not fully welcomed by either blacks or whites. Now, thanks in part to sheer numbers (last year, there were 42 other mixed-race students at Thurgood Marshall), Asianna doesn’t feel ostracism. But she does feel pressure.

Pressure to choose black kids. Pressure to choose white kids. Like the tables in the lunchroom, nearly everything Asianna does — and she does a lot of things — comes with an overlay of race.

But what if you were someone who didn’t want to choose?…

…There have always been people of mixed race in American society. Cultural taboos and prejudice often meant they simply identified themselves as black, or if their skin was sufficiently light-colored, tried to pass as white…

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