Demography Is Not Destiny

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-08-20 22:55Z by Steven

Demography Is Not Destiny

The Atlantic
2021-08-20

Adam Serwer, Staff Writer


Jan Hanus / Alamy; Paul Spella / The Atlantic

New numbers provide a reminder of the fluidity of American identity.

In the more racist corners of the mainstream right, the 2020 census findings that the white American population has declined are cause for panic.

“Democrats are intentionally accelerating demographic change in this country for political advantage,” the Fox News host Tucker Carlson insisted on Friday, treating the results as confirmation of this conspiracy theory. “Rather than convince people to vote for them—that’s called democracy—they’re counting on brand-new voters.”

Carlson, it’s worth noting, has it wrong—voters who are not white are no less persuadable than those who are. If Republicans want to win over those constituencies, nothing is stopping them beyond their own nativism. And any read of the census results that assumes the growing diversity of the United States will simply redound to one party’s benefit is likely mistaken.

Political parties and identities are not static, and few concepts are as elastic as the invention of race, in particular the category of “white,” which is defined not just by looks and ancestry, but also by ideology and class. The fact that fewer Americans identify as white in the 2020 census than did 10 years before does not spell doom for the Republican Party, nor does it herald an era of political dominance for the Democrats, despite the forlorn cries of those who are committed less to conservatism as an ideology than the political and cultural hegemony of those they consider white

Read the entire article here.

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The world these writers evoke is one in which white people remain the center of the story and Black people are at the margins, poor, stiff, and dignified, with little better to do than open their homes and hearts to white women on journeys to racial self-awareness.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-08-10 02:22Z by Steven

Interracial worlds, friendships, marriages—Black and white lives inextricably linked, for good and for bad, with racism and with hope—are all but erased by [Courtney E.] Martin and [Robin] DiAngelo, and with them the mixed children of these marriages, who are the fastest-growing demographic in the country. I found nothing of my own multiracial family history in these books; my husband’s Black middle-class family is nowhere to be found either, inconvenient for being too successful, too educated, too adept over generations to need Martin’s handouts or DiAngelo’s guidance on dealing with white people. The world these writers evoke is one in which white people remain the center of the story and Black people are at the margins, poor, stiff, and dignified, with little better to do than open their homes and hearts to white women on journeys to racial self-awareness.

Danzy Senna, “Robin DiAngelo and the Problem With Anti-racist Self-Help,” The Atlantic, September 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/09/martin-learning-in-public-diangelo-nice-racism/619497/.

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Robin DiAngelo and the Problem With Anti-racist Self-Help

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2021-08-09 21:21Z by Steven

Robin DiAngelo and the Problem With Anti-racist Self-Help

The Atlantic
September 2021 (Published online 2021-08-03)

Danzy Senna, Associate Professor of English
University of Southern California


Illustration by Vahram Muradyan; images by Les Byerley / Shutterstock; QuartoMundo / CGTrader

What two new books reveal about the white progressive pursuit of racial virtue

Last March, just before we knew the pandemic had arrived, my husband and I enrolled our son in a progressive private school in Pasadena, California. He was 14 and, except for a year abroad, had been attending public schools his whole life. Private was my idea, the gentle kind of hippie school I’d sometimes wished I could attend during my ragtag childhood in Boston-area public schools amid the desegregation turmoil of the 1970s and ’80s. I wanted smaller class sizes, a more nurturing environment for my artsy, bookish child. I did notice that—despite having diversity in its mission statement—the school was extremely white. My son noticed too. As he gushed about the school after his visit, he mentioned that he hadn’t seen a single other kid of African descent. He brushed it off. It didn’t matter.

I did worry that we might be making a mistake. But I figured we could make up for the lack; after all, not a day went by in our household that we didn’t discuss race, joke about race, fume about race. My child knew he was Black and he knew his history and … he’d be fine.

Weeks after we sent in our tuition deposit, the pandemic hit, followed by the summer of George Floyd. The school where my son was headed was no exception to the grand awakening of white America that followed, the confrontation with the absurd lie of post-racial America. The head of school scrambled to address an anonymous forum on Instagram recounting “experiences with the racism dominating our school,” as what one administrator called its racial reckoning began. Over the summer, my son was assigned Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. When the fall semester began, no ordinary clubs like chess and debate awaited; my son’s sole opportunity to get to know other students was in affinity groups. That meant Zooming with the catchall category of BIPOC students on Fridays to talk about their racial trauma in the majority-white school he hadn’t yet set foot inside. (BIPOC, or “Black, Indigenous, and people of color,” was unfamiliar to my son; in his public school, he had described his peers by specific ethnic backgrounds—Korean, Iranian, Jewish, Mexican, Black.)…

Read the entire review of the books here.

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In the End, the NFL Proved Colin Kaepernick Right

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-12-13 14:58Z by Steven

In the End, the NFL Proved Colin Kaepernick Right

The Atlantic
2019-12-12

Jemele Hill, Staff writer

Colin Kaepernick
Al Bello / Getty

In pronouncing the outspoken quarterback’s career dead, the league underscored its own unwillingness to let players exercise their own power.

When the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, declared yesterday that the league had “moved on” from the embattled quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the finality of Goodell’s tone answered the question about whether Kaepernick would ever play professional football again.

Kaepernick became persona non grata in the National Football League after the 2016 season, during which he protested police violence against African Americans by kneeling during the national anthem. The league then spent more than two years trying to make him go away, but seemed to relent by scheduling a workout for him last month in Atlanta. But that proposed session didn’t happen on the NFL’s terms, and Goodell, in his first public comments about the matter, implied yesterday that Kaepernick had blown his last chance.

“It was a unique opportunity—an incredible opportunity—and he chose not to take it. And we’ve moved on here,” Goodell said at an owners’ meeting in Irving, Texas.

But if Goodell believes that the Atlanta fiasco provided closure to this situation, he’s being horribly naive. The league’s clumsy treatment of Kaepernick only showed what the quarterback’s supporters have been saying all along: The NFL is unwilling to tolerate black athletes’ outrage, outspokenness, and desire to exercise their power—even though all three are entirely justified…

Read the entire article here.

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Meaning, Without the White Gaze

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2019-11-10 02:31Z by Steven

Meaning, Without the White Gaze

The Atlantic
2019-08-07

Rebecca Carroll, Host
WNYC Radio, New York, New York


Kate Martin / The Atlantic

I’m writing my memoir for the late, great Toni Morrison.

I had been writing it for her. For her, and for Pecola Breedlove. Perhaps too ambitious or presumptuous or high-minded, I had, until the announcement of her death this week, been writing my memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, for Toni Morrison and Pecola Breedlove. Because I survived the white gaze for Pecola, and Morrison taught me how.

I knew Pecola first. I lived inside her skin, her ache; felt sickened, ashamed, and unseen by that baby doll’s dead blue eyes on one of the book’s early covers. Page after page of The Bluest Eye, I felt Pecola’s mind curl into anguish and succumb to a delusion better than reality. Pecola lost her mind because she wanted the blue eyes set inside the ceaseless standard of white beauty—a gaze so narcotic that it ravaged her body from flesh to bone—and I almost did, too.

I say that I knew Pecola first because Morrison’s writing of her was so thorough and fully realized that in my initial reading of The Bluest Eye, the character loomed larger than the author. This is what will happen to me, I remember thinking. If I keep internalizing the white gaze and contorting my own reflection in response to it, I will spiral into madness and still be seen as ugly

Read the entire article here.

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“Self-Portrait in Black and White” doesn’t meaningfully engage with centuries of work from black-identifying scholars who wrote accessibly about their backgrounds, especially those with mixed-race ancestry.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-10-27 17:15Z by Steven

Nor is he [Thomas Chatterton Williams] the first thinker to ponder how multiracial people navigate a world so obsessed with the minutiae of race. Self-Portrait in Black and White doesn’t meaningfully engage with centuries of work from black-identifying scholars who wrote accessibly about their backgrounds, especially those with mixed-race ancestry. Nella Larsen’s novel, Passing, was published nearly a century ago; the former NAACP leader Walter White published his memoir, A Man Called White, in 1948. Upon his death in 1955, The New York Times wrote that the fair-skinned White “could easily have joined the 12,000 Negroes who pass the color-line and disappear into the white majority every year in this country. But he deliberately sacrificed his comfort to publicize himself as a Negro and to devote his entire adult life to completing the emancipation of his people.” Absent from Williams’s memoir is any critical analysis of texts written by White or even by major figures such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Angela Davis, or Malcolm X.

Hannah Giorgis, “A Simplistic View of a Mixed-ish America,” The Atlantic, October 26, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/10/mixed-ish-thomas-chatterton-williams-race/600679/.

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A Simplistic View of a Mixed-ish America

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-26 18:34Z by Steven

A Simplistic View of a Mixed-ish America

The Atlantic
2019-10-26

Hannah Giorgis


ABC / Byron Cohen

ABC’s Black-ish spinoff joins a new memoir by Thomas Chatterton Williams in presenting a seemingly enlightened but ahistorical view of race.

Mixed-ish, the prequel of the Tracee Ellis Ross–fronted sitcom Black-ish, begins with a rupture. At the tender age of 12, Rainbow “Bow” Johnson (played by Arica Himmel) is ejected from the hippie commune where she and her family live. As the adult Bow, Ross narrates the predicament that follows the government raid of the utopian community: Bow’s black mother and white father must now raise their three biracial children in the harsh world of mid-1980s suburban America. Though it’s set during the broader tumult of the Reagan era, Mixed-ish is driven by the identity crisis that Rainbow and her siblings, Johan and Santamonica, face. On their first day at their new school, the trio are stopped by a pair of dark-skinned students who ask them, “What are you weirdos mixed with?” When the fairer-skinned Johnson kids naively respond, “What’s ‘mixed’?” their classmates laugh.

Ross, who also serves as a series writer and executive producer, talks viewers through this confrontation in a didactic voiceover. “I know the idea of not understanding what it means to be mixed sounds crazy, but you have to understand—growing up on the commune, race wasn’t a thing,” she says. “Do you have any idea how many more mixed babies there are today? Probably because interracial marriage was illegal until the Loving Act of 1967,” she explains, adding that she and her siblings were “were basically the beta testers for biraciality.” In this scene and in later episodes, Mixed-ish falls into the trap of framing its protagonists as pioneers of mixed-race consciousness, rather than inheritors of a long and complex history…

…In addition to Mixed-ish, Loving and the mythos surrounding it has provided fodder for another recent work about biraciality. In his new book, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, the author Thomas Chatterton Williams notes that his “black” father and “white” mother met the year after the Loving decision. (In an author’s note, Williams explains that he sought “to cast doubt on and reject terms … such as ‘white,’ ‘black,’ ‘mixed,’ ‘biracial,’ ‘Asian,’ ‘Latino,’ ‘monoracial,’ etc.” by placing them in quotation marks.) The author’s second memoir, Self-Portrait was inspired by a moment of shock. When Williams’s white French wife gave birth to their daughter, he was stunned to see that the child had blond hair. The baby’s appearance upended Williams’s self-conception: How could he, a biracial man who’d identified as black and written Obama-era columns about his future children being undeniably black, produce a child who looked, well, white?…

Read the entire article here.

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“I think that America has a kind of fantasy about what an interracial relationship is like—people who understand each other from the get-go; they are the future; they will save humanity and all babies will be beige—I mean, there’s a real deep fantasy about this.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-04-22 00:08Z by Steven

“I think that America has a kind of fantasy about what an interracial relationship is like—people who understand each other from the get-go; they are the future; they will save humanity and all babies will be beige—I mean, there’s a real deep fantasy about this.

But we know that can’t be true. We have too many things we misunderstand about each other. So then people assume that people who are together from different races secretly hate themselves and their culture. There is a distrust of interracial relationships, too.

What I wanted to write about was not the kumbaya fantasy or the gross assumptions, but the actual reality. It’s all of these things: We have moments of tremendous love, and we have tremendous dissonance. We have moments when we get each other, and moments when we’ve really failed each other. That’s what that love looks like. It’s complicated and it is real. The minute you’re not allowed to investigate your own interiority and complexity, you’ve lost. I wanted to stop losing.” —Mira Jacob

Amal Ahmed, “Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family,” The Atlantic, April 12, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/04/in-mira-jacobs-good-talk-talking-about-race-with-your-family-isnt-easy/586954/.

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Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Interviews, United States on 2019-04-21 14:51Z by Steven

Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family

The Atlantic
2019-04-12

Amal Ahmed


Mira Jacob / Courtesy of Penguin Random House

In her new graphic memoir, the author Mira Jacob documents conversations about love and race with multiple generations of her family.

When the novelist Mira Jacob’s son was 6, he started asking her a lot of questions about race and identity. It started with Michael Jackson: Was he brown or black or white, and what did he like best? Then his questions took a more serious turn: Was it bad to be brown in America? Though he was only 6, Jacob’s son, who is biracial, was old enough to understand the news at the time, which was fixated on the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white cop shot a black teenager. He wanted to know whether white people were afraid of brown people. And what about his own father, who was white? Was he ever scared of brown people?

Jacob didn’t always know how to answer him in the moment. She remembered the confusing conversations about race and identity that she’d had as a child herself, growing up in one of the few South Asian families in New Mexico. But having those conversations with her son in the years leading up to Donald Trump’s presidency made her realize that there weren’t any easy answers to the question of what it means to grow up as a person of color in the United States.

Even though she’s a writer by trade, Jacob couldn’t find the words to describe what she was feeling. She often felt paralyzed thinking about the hurtful comments she might receive online if she did write openly about those tricky conversations. But she still felt the urge to record them somehow, and that led her to producing a memoir in the form of a graphic novel. The book, Good Talk, spans from her childhood in New Mexico to her more recent arguments with in-laws who wanted to vote for Trump and who she felt weren’t listening to her concerns about his racist rhetoric on the campaign trail…

Read the entire interview here.

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Kamala Harris’s Blackness Isn’t Up for Debate

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-02-17 00:41Z by Steven

Kamala Harris’s Blackness Isn’t Up for Debate

The Atlantic
2019-02-16

Jemele Hill, Staff Writer

Kamala Harris
Leah Millis / Reuters

Her identity and motives are being unfairly challenged on all sides.

I would never have put Snoop and Tupac Shakur on the list of things that could potentially harm Senator Kamala Harris’s presidential bid. But this week, two of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time unwillingly played a part in the latest attack on Harris’s blackness, which came after the California Democrat’s appearance on the popular morning-radio show The Breakfast Club.

Harris engaged in a 40-minute-plus, wide-ranging conversation with the hosts Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy, detailing an agenda focused on issues disproportionately affecting African Americans: the staggering rate at which black women are dying in childbirth, mass incarceration, and poverty.

Unfortunately for Harris, her stances on these matters were drowned out by a dumb headline. Call it #AllEyezOnMeGate. Charlamagne asked Harris whether she’d ever smoked marijuana. She admitted that she’d smoked in college—and did indeed inhale. At some point, Envy asked Harris about her favorite music. But before she could respond, Charlamagne jokingly asked Harris about what she liked to listen to when she imbibed. Harris laughed off Charlamagne’s question and instead told Envy that some of her favorite artists were Snoop and ’Pac. She also mentioned her affinity for Cardi B.

Read the entire article here.

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