Too pretty to play? Stephen Curry and the light-skinned black athlete

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-05-17 02:16Z by Steven

Too pretty to play? Stephen Curry and the light-skinned black athlete

The Conversation
2017-04-30

Ronald Hall, Professor of Social Work
Michigan State University


Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry walks off the court after a game against the Denver Nuggets in February. USA Today Sports/Reuters

During a recent interview, Golden State Warriors Draymond Green discussed why players around the league have long doubted or dismissed the talents of his superstar teammate, Stephen Curry. But it was Green’s last point, mentioned almost as an aside – “And of course, Steph is light-skinned so [players] want to make him out to be soft” – that got the most attention.

To white Americans, the relationship between skin color and toughness or masculinity might not be obvious. They might associate skin color with race or with attractiveness. But toughness? Not so much.

My first book, published in 1992, referred to skin color as “The Last Taboo Among African Americans.” It explored how African-Americans, within their community, grapple with prejudices that stem from their various shades of skin colors. If you’re black, depending on the shade of your skin, other black people might think of you as “high yella” or “red-boned,” a “white wanna-be” or just not “black enough.”…

..After the first African slaves arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, a population of mixed-race blacks emerged. Their masters and fellow slaves celebrated their exotic features – not quite African, but not exactly white. The women were called “fancy girls” and paraded at quadroon balls, events for wealthy white men to meet and mingle with them. Lighter-skinned black men, meanwhile, were dubbed “run ‘round men” because, with their fairer skin, they could supposedly have their pick of any woman in the black community…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal: why ignoring the painful past of “passing” is indefensible

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Passing, South Africa, United States on 2017-05-05 13:05Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: why ignoring the painful past of “passing” is indefensible

The Conversation
2017-05-04

Londiwe H. Gamedze, Tutor, MA student
University of Cape Town


Civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal has been accused of falsely claiming she is African-American. Stephanie Keith/Reuters

In 2015, American Rachel Dolezal captured the public imagination when the media discovered that she was white and had been passing as black for nearly a decade.

Dolezal, who has had white ancestors for over three centuries, checked boxes like “black” and “African-American” on application forms, darkened her skin, and began to wear her hair in African-American styles. She lied about her past and family, and attempted to sue her alma mater, historically black Howard University for reverse racism.

“Black” Dolezal was a lecturer in Africana studies and president of her local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP.

She recently visited South Africa to discuss non-racialism, but received resistance against her self-identification as “trans-black” and her claim to an authentic, internal black identity. This isn’t surprising given the brutality of the country’s racial past.

Read the entire article here.

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The contradiction at the heart of Rachel Dolezal’s ‘transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-04-12 02:16Z by Steven

The contradiction at the heart of Rachel Dolezal’s ‘transracialism’

The Conversation
2017-04-11

Victoria Anderson, Researcher/Teacher in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies
Cardiff University


Rachel Dolezal speaking at Spokane rally, May 2015. Arkathman/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Rachel Dolezal, the former branch president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who gained global notoriety in 2015 after being “outed” as a white woman pretending to be black, is back with a new book on race. Dolezal, who is ethnically German, now claims that she is “transracial”, a condition she compares to transgenderism. By this she means that although she was born white, she identifies with being black, arguing that race is a social construct.

Dolezal complains of further victimisation because “transracialism” is not recognised in the same way as transgenderism. And Dolezal sees herself as triply stigmatised; because of her race, because of her trans status and also because of the perceived illegitimacy of this status.

For someone like me, concerned both with race and with the role of narrative in culture, the narrative spun by Dolezal is both confounding and uniquely fascinating. In an interview with BBC Newsnight, she announced – not incorrectly, in my view – that “race is a lie”. At the same time, she laid claim to the transracialism that she demands to be accepted as a truth…

…Blanket categories of “black” and “white” are an entirely modern phenomenon. In the 17th and 18th centuries, those Europeans who were actively involved in the slave trade made a point of distinguishing between different African ethnic groups; some were considered to be better house slaves, others better field slaves. The Igbo people, for instance, were considered prone to suicidal ideation, which posed problems for the incipient slaver. In the early days of “race” as we know it, there really was no sense of the generic catch-all blackness to which Dolezal lays claim.

As generations passed, ideas of “black” and “white” were further complicated by the complex striations of racial coding that were implemented both during and after slavery, across the Americas, as a consequence of voluntary and involuntary coupling between Europeans and Africans.

This led to a dizzying taxonomy of racial mixes, including (but not confined to) so-called mulattoes, quadroons, octoroons, tercerons, quintroons and beyond, depending on how many generations back a person’s African ancestry was traced. A person might be able to pass as white if their direct African ancestry was three or four generations removed – although if their relative “blackness” was discovered, it was a source not only of shame but was a precondition of legal slavery…

Read the entire article here.

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Who counts as black?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-23 23:41Z by Steven

Who counts as black?

The Conversation
2017-02-16

Ronald Hall, Professor of Social Work
Michigan State University

(THE CONVERSATION) For generations, intimacy between black men and white women was taboo. A mere accusation of impropriety could lead to a lynching, and interracial marriage was illegal in a number of states.

Everything changed with the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which ruled that blacks and whites have a legal right to intermarry. Spurred by the court’s decision, the number of interracial marriages – and, with it, the population of multiracial people – has exploded. According to the 2000 Census, 6.8 million Americans identified as multiracial. By 2010, that number grew to 9 million people. And this leaves out all of the people who might be a product of mixed ancestry but chose to still identify as either white or black.

With these demographic changes, traditional notions of black identity – once limited to the confines of dark skin or kinky hair – are no longer so.

Mixed-race African-Americans can have naturally green eyes (like the singer Rihanna) or naturally blue eyes (like actor Jessie Williams). Their hair can be styled long and wavy (Alicia Keys) or into a bob-cut (Halle Berry).

And unlike in the past – when many mixed-race people would try to do what they could to pass as white – many multiracial Americans today unabashedly embrace and celebrate their blackness.

However, these expressions of black pride have been met with grumbles by some in the black community. These mixed-race people, some argue, are not “black enough” – their skin isn’t dark enough, their hair not kinky enough. And thus they do not “count” as black. African-American presidential candidate Ben Carson even claimed President Obama couldn’t understand “the experience of black Americans” because he was “raised white.”

This debate over “who counts” has created somewhat of an identity crisis in the black community, exposing a divide between those who think being black should be based on physical looks, and those who think being black is more than looks…

Read the entire article here.

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The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-12-26 22:22Z by Steven

The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races.

Darren Curnoe, “The biggest mistake in the history of science,” The Conversation, December 19, 2016. http://theconversation.com/the-biggest-mistake-in-the-history-of-science-70575.

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The biggest mistake in the history of science

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-12-26 21:32Z by Steven

The biggest mistake in the history of science

The Conversation
Walking on two feet: Reflections on science and human origins
2016-12-19

Darren Curnoe, Chief Investigator and Co-Leader of Education and Engagement Program ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW Australia


The human faces of Asia. First published in the first edition (1876–1899) of Nordisk familjebok. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Science is one of the most remarkable inventions of humankind. It has been a source of inspiration and understanding, lifted the veil of ignorance and superstition, been a catalyst for social change and economic growth, and saved countless lives.

Yet, history also shows us that its been a mixed blessing. Some discoveries have done far more harm than good. And there’s one mistake you will never read about in those internet lists of the all-time biggest blunders of science.

The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races…

Read the entire article here.

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“We see race in shades: light-skinned, dark skin, café con leche.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-12-21 22:38Z by Steven

Apart from the mixed messages of Hollywood and the census, another source of uncertainty lies in the different racial schemes prevalent in the U.S. and Brazil. While Americans often perceive people of mixed ancestry as nonwhite, Brazilians tend to understand race in a continuum and consider not only appearance or descent but also social and economic status.

As Luciano Gomes, a Brazilian immigrant who lives in Florida and works as a driver, observes, “We see race in shades: light-skinned, dark skin, café con leche.”

Frances Negrón-Muntaner, “Are Brazilians Latinos? What their identity struggle tells us about race in America,” The Conversation, December 20, 2016. https://theconversation.com/are-brazilians-latinos-what-their-identity-struggle-tells-us-about-race-in-america-64792.

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Are Brazilians Latinos? What their identity struggle tells us about race in America

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-12-21 19:03Z by Steven

Are Brazilians Latinos? What their identity struggle tells us about race in America

The Conversation
2016-12-20

Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University, New York, New York

Bikini waxes, keratin hair blowouts and all-you-can-eat steakhouses.

In the United States, all three are closely associated with the word “Brazilian.” Yet, although none of these things are linked to Latino identity, one of the questions that journalists frequently ask me is, “Are Brazilians Latinos?” Surprisingly, many Brazilian-Americans also ask me the same question. As one of my students put it, “Because ‘Brazilian’ is not an option in any census, job or college form, you get older and wonder, where do I fit in?”

The confusion is warranted.

It illuminates how U.S. public discourse and policy classifies 57 million people from very different ethnic, racial and national backgrounds into the categories of “Latino” and “Hispanic.” That Brazilians do not quite fit the box enables us to probe the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” and their implications. This is important at a time when Latinos are reaching 18 percent of the U.S. population…

Read the entire article here.

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Tall, pale and handsome: why more Asian men are using skin-whitening products

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2016-11-25 22:50Z by Steven

Tall, pale and handsome: why more Asian men are using skin-whitening products

The Conversation
2016-11-24

Gideon Lasco, Ph.D. Candidate in Medical Anthropology
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
University of Amsterdam

Jose, 19, is a college student in Puerto Princesa City, Philippines.

On a regular school day, after he wakes up, he takes a shower, scrubbing his body using soap made of papaya (Carica papaya), a fruit that’s said to have skin-whitening properties. Afterwards, he applies a facial whitening lotion, and before finally going to school he uses SPF 30 sunscreen, again with whitening properties, on his face and arms.

Jose was one of many young people I met in my ethnographic work as part of the Chemical Youth Project, a research programme that sought to document and make sense of the different chemicals that young people use in their everyday lives, from cosmetics to cigarettes.

Skin whitening among women has long been commonplace in the Philippines and other parts of Asia and the world but, while working on this project, I was struck by the fact that young men too, are using a plethora of whitening products. And that these products have proliferated in various retail outlets, from shopping malls to small sari-sari, or neighbourhood, stores.

But this development is not unique to the Philippines either. A 2015 study found that the prevalence of skin-whitening product use among male university students in 26 low and middle-income countries was 16.7%. The figure was higher in many Asian countries: 17.4% in India, 25.4% in the Philippines, and 69.5% in Thailand.

In the Asia-Pacific region alone, the male cosmetics industry was estimated at $2.1 billion in 2016. Whiteners are likely to be a significant component of this figure; a 2010 study reported that 61% of all cosmetics in India had a whitening effect…

Read the entire article here.

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Impeachment, culture wars and the politics of identity in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-06-07 01:24Z by Steven

Impeachment, culture wars and the politics of identity in Brazil

The Conversation
2016-05-26

Marshall Eakin, Professor of History
Vanderbilt University

Brazil is in the midst of its worst political crisis since the 1960s and possibly its most severe economic downturn in the last 100 years.

The economy will not – and cannot – improve until the country emerges from the political chaos of the moment and puts into place strong and legitimate leadership.

Most of the commentary on Brazil’s current crisis has focused on politics and economics. I believe that a more profound threat generated by this crisis will be to Brazilians’ sense of self – to their very identity as Brazilians.

In my 40 years studying Brazilian history and culture, I have never seen the country more polarized. Over the past decade, I have spent extended periods in Brazil researching and writing “Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil,” which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. More so than many countries, Brazil has had a powerful and dominant narrative of national identity for decades…

Race and national identity

For much of the 20th century Brazilians of all social groups collectively forged a rich and vibrant cultural nationalism around the notion of mestiçagem — racial and cultural mixing.

The iconic intellectual Gilberto Freyre (1900-1987) produced the most influential version of this narrative. According to Freyre,

Every Brazilian, even the light-skinned fair-haired one, carries with him in his soul, when not in body and soul … the shadow, or at least the birthmark, of the Indian or the Negro.

Many diverse political regimes from the 1930s to the 1980s placed an official seal of government approval on this narrative of mestiçagem. They hoped to publicize Brazil’s supposed “racial democracy” to the world. As I argue in my book, the lived realities of the great masses of Brazilians seemed to provide abundant evidence of the creative power of mestiçagem. Carnaval and Brazilian music like samba and bossa nova arose out of this dynamic mixing. The jazz on the playing pitch of Pelé and other great players produced the world’s most beautiful soccer…

Read the entire article here.

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