Jewish tent widens as diversity grows

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-12-17 19:58Z by Steven

Jewish tent widens as diversity grows

The Chicago Tribune

Bonnie Miller Rubin, Reporter

Ellen Zemel (left) lends a hand for a symbolic lighting of a menorah for Hanukkah during a party for parents and children of Project Esther: The Chicago Jewish Adoption Network of the Jewish Child & Family Services, at the Elain Kersten Children’s Center in Northbrook. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)

‘The tribe’ expands to include children of many ethnicities

Meira and Tyler Burnett look forward to their family’s annual Hanukkah party, when they will light the menorah and enjoy traditional potato pancakes, called latkes.

The siblings, ages 11 and 14, respectively, also will sing in the children’s choir at B’nai Yehuda Beth Shalom, where four of the eight participants are African-American — just like them.

“When I tell friends at school that I’m Jewish, they don’t believe me,” said Meira, at the Homewood synagogue. “But that’s what I am.”

The American Jewish population has always been overwhelmingly white, with Central or Eastern European roots — synonymous with matzo ball soup, bagels, Maxwell Street pushcarts and “Seinfeld” — and it’s common to hear Jewish people refer to themselves as members of “the tribe.”

But today, as Jews prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday that begins Tuesday, the tribe looks different, because of interracial marriages, adoptions and conversions. And while the white majority still holds true, experts say more racial and ethnic diversity can be found across the spectrum of Judaism.

“There’s more variety of narratives than ever before,” said Chava Shervington, president of The Jewish Multicultural Network. The Philadelphia-based organization started in 1997 with 20 families and has grown to more than 950 members and almost 3,000 Facebook followers, she said. Its tag line: “Because Jews come in all colors.”

The increase in diversity is difficult to quantify. The Chicago Jewish Population Study, conducted every decade by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, first asked about race in 2010. It found that 4 percent (or 5,600 Jewish households) are multiracial, including black, Hispanic, Asian and biracial members…

Read the entire article here or here.

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Lawsuit: Wrong sperm delivered to lesbian couple

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, United States on 2014-10-01 16:44Z by Steven

Lawsuit: Wrong sperm delivered to lesbian couple

The Chicago Tribune

Meredith Rodriguez, Tribune reporter

A white Ohio woman is suing a Downers Grove-based sperm bank, alleging that the company mistakenly gave her vials from an African-American donor, a fact that she said has made it difficult for her and her same-sex partner to raise their now 2-year-old daughter in an all-white community.

Jennifer Cramblett, of Uniontown, Ohio, alleges in the lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court that Midwest Sperm Bank sent her the vials of an African-American donor’s sperm in September 2011 instead of those of a white donor that she and her white partner had ordered.

After searching through pages of comprehensive histories for their top three donors, the lawsuit claims, Cramblett and her domestic partner, Amanda Zinkon, chose donor No. 380, who was also white. Their doctor in Ohio received vials from donor No. 330, who is African-American, the lawsuit said.

Cramblett, 36, learned of the mistake in April 2012, when she was pregnant and ordering more vials so that the couple could have another child with sperm from the same donor, according to the lawsuit. The sperm bank delivered vials from the correct donor in August 2011, but Cramblett later requested more vials, according to the suit…

…”On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” the lawsuit states. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Raising a mixed-race daughter has been stressful in Cramblett and Zinkon’s small, all-white community, according to the suit. Cramblett was raised around people with stereotypical attitudes about nonwhites, the lawsuit states, and did not know African-Americans until she attended college at the University of Akron…

Read the entire article here.

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Interracial couples now part of mainstream

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-10-23 13:59Z by Steven

Interracial couples now part of mainstream

The Chicago Tribune

Dawn Turner Trice, Reporter

Mixed-race relationships becoming more common in Chicago — and everywhere else

Stephen Blessman and Patricia Jones Blessman met in the mid-1990s and fell in love. It didn’t matter to either of them that he’s white and she’s African-American.

They have a lot in common. They are both Roman Catholic and deeply involved in the church. They came of age in the 1960s and are socially conscious.

“But we didn’t get married to prove a point,” said Blessman, 57, who lives with his wife of 14 years and their 5-year-old son in Chicago’s South Loop. “I fell in love with her because she’s funny, beautiful, smart and principled and we’re of the same generation and have the same values.”

As an interracial couple in America, the Blessmans are a relatively rare pairing — but such couples are not nearly as rare as they used to be. A study by the Pew Research Center found that in 2010 about 15 percent of all new marriages in the U.S. were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity — more than double the 6.7 percent in 1980.

The surge has brought the percentage of all current U.S. marriages that are interracial to 8.4 percent. In Chicago, about 7.4 percent of marriages in 2011 involved mixed-race couples, according to data compiled by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University…

…Even in politics, where for many years it was considered a drawback to be in an interracial relationship, there’s been a shift. In New York City, Bill de Blasio, a white man married to a black woman, is the front-runner in the mayoral race. In Illinois, two prominent white political figures, Gov. Pat Quinn and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, are dating black women. And of course, President Barack Obama is the product of an interracial marriage.

Even so, experts say modern mixed-race relationships, like the country’s racial past, can be complicated.

“When I research in white communities across the class division and the country, people say they’re fine with interracial relationships,” said Erica Chito Childs, an associate professor of sociology at Hunter College/CUNY Graduate Center.

“But they also say, ‘Why do it? Marriage is difficult enough. Why make it more difficult?’ You hear about young people growing up in a more multiracial world and being so much more accepting, but the majority says dating is fine, marriage is not.

She said that many young people still live in racially homogenous neighborhoods and their first pool of partners tends to reflect that. In addition, first marriages are often more closely tied to the expectations of family and community members…

…The Pew Research Center study released last year, using 2010 data, is the most recent major look at interracial relationships. It found that among new marriages in 2010, Asians were the group most likely to intermarry, at 27.7 percent. Hispanics were next at 25.7 percent, then blacks at 17.1 percent and whites at 9.4 percent. For the Pew study, marriages between two people who are mixed-race weren’t considered interracial.

In Chicago, the most common interracial marriages in 2011 were between Asians and whites. Those types of pairings were about four times more likely than black-white marriages, according to data compiled by the Center for Governmental Studies, using the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.

Laura Kina, 40, is Japanese-American and white. For the past 16 years she has been married to Mitch Aronson, 54, who’s white and Jewish. She grew up as an evangelical Christian in a small Seattle suburb of Norwegian immigrants, and converted to Judaism after marrying. She said she’s always identified as a person of color…

…Online dating has made it easier for people who want to date interracially but don’t work together or hang out in racially diverse circles.

“It provides a safe space for people who are afraid of rejection and don’t feel comfortable walking up to someone of a different race and asking them out,” said Hunter College’s Childs, the author of “Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘War Baby’ is something to see, if you can let go

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2013-05-10 16:17Z by Steven

‘War Baby’ is something to see, if you can let go

The Chicago Tribune

Lori Waxman, Instructor of Art History, Theory and Criticism
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

It was the Hello Kitty tepee that did it for me.

Some exhibitions can be so challenging that it takes a particularly unexpected artwork for the viewer to finally let go and get into the swing of things. “War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art,” currently up at the DePaul Art Museum and featuring work by a dozen-and-a-half artists, is one such show. A riotously colored digital print by Debra Yepa-Pappan featuring a purple-haired Native American woman, lifted from an iconic Edward S. Curtis photograph and set against a background of space-age tepees, one of them marked with the equally iconic and silent face of everybody’s favorite Japanese cat, is one such artwork.

Hilarious and weird and crazily of its time — i.e., now — Yepa-Pappan’s collage lifted my thoughts up and over the various stumbling blocks that “War Baby/Love Child” presents. Curated by Laura Kina, an artist and DePaul professor, and Wei Ming Dariotis, a professor of Asian-American Studies at San Francisco State University, the cogitative but overdetermined exhibition sets up a Catch-22. It wants to recognize the complex realities of a fast-growing segment of the American population — the 2.6 million who identify as Asian plus one or more other races — and to prove how far beyond stereotype those people go. And yet, two gargantuan cliches give their name to the exhibition itself.

The term “war babies” generally refers to the children of Asian or Pacific Islander women and the U.S. soldiers who were stationed in their home countries during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. “Love children” were born of the free love of a post-civil rights and flower-child era, and, as listed in the extensive exhibition catalog, their makeup includes Eurasians and Hapas (Mixed White Asians), Mixed Bloods (Mixed Asian Native Americans), Blasians (Mixed Black Asians) and Mestizaje (Mixed Latino Asians).

“War Baby/Love Child” thus finds itself in the counterintuitive position of wanting to replace its own title with a dozen less-loaded ones. Wall labels are one tool, and the ones here list an astonishing array of mixed identities as well as direct quotes from most of the artists, many of whom speak about personal experiences growing up amid racial presumption…

Read the entire article here.

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How to update census’ race question

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-05-06 21:51Z by Steven

How to update census’ race question

The Chicago Tribune

Clarence Page

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page prefers an America where diversity and unique ethnicities are celebrated, not homogenized.

A notable example of how Americans fall through the cracks in census data-gathering caught my eye recently. It appeared on the black-oriented website under this intriguing headline: “I found one drop; can I be black now?”

The “one drop” is a reference to the old oddly American racial rule that one drop of “black blood” in your veins makes you black. As a full-fledged black American, I wondered who is so eager to join the club?

The answer turned out to be a white woman who had written to The Root’s “Race Manners” advice column. Through genealogical records she uncovered an African-American ancestor who long ago had passed for white. Now faced with census forms, among other documents that ask us Americans for our race, she was wondering which box to check.

“Do I check both, and come across as a liar to those who don’t know my history?” she asked. “Or do I check just white, and feel like a self-loathing racist?”

I sympathize with the woman’s confusion. In changing times, government forms are often the last to catch up.

It has only been since 2000, for example, that mixed-race people are allowed to check more than one racial box on the U.S. census. And that’s just one area of government forms not keeping up with America’s changing demographics…

…More extensive questions of ethnicity and ancestry have been asked since 2000 by another set of longer forms, the American Community Survey. Unlike the 10-year census, the survey is conducted among a sample of 250,000 people every month.

That’s a good model, some experts, say, for how the 10-year census could give a more complete and realistic picture of America’s changing demographic landscape.

“We shouldn’t be governing in the 21st century by a race classification given us by a German doctor in 1776,” former Census Director Kenneth Prewitt wrote to me in an email…

Read the entire article here.

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Time to drop racial categories in census

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-08-16 17:09Z by Steven

Time to drop racial categories in census

The Chicago Tribune

Arthur Caplan, Director of Division of Medical Ethics
Department of Population Health
New York University

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it wants to make a number of changes in how it counts membership in a race. The change is based on an experiment the bureau conducted during the last census in which nearly 500,000 households were given forms with the race and ethnicity questions worded differently from the traditional categories. The results showed that many people who filled out the traditional form did not feel they fit within the five government-defined categories of race: white, black, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. If Congress approves, the bureau says it plans to stop using the word “Negro” as part of a question asking if a person was “black, African-American or Negro.” There are a number of other changes planned for counting Hispanics and Arab-Americans.

These changes may seem like improvements. They are not. The bureau and Congress ought to be considering a more radical overhaul of the census — dropping questions about race entirely. There are a lot of reasons why.

First, the concept of “race” makes no biological sense. None. The classifications Americans use to divide people into groups and categories have nothing to do with genetics or biology…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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