When Meghan weds Harry, Britain’s relationship with race will change for ever

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-11-27 21:28Z by Steven

When Meghan weds Harry, Britain’s relationship with race will change for ever

The Guardian
2017-11-27

Afua Hirsch

Don’t underestimate the symbolism of a royal marriage. From now on, it will be impossible to argue that being black is somehow incompatible with being British

Almost two decades ago, during the heady first months of the new millennium, an unruly baroness named Kate Gavron made a shocking suggestion. Prince Charles, she said, should have married someone black. It would be, she imagined, a powerful symbol of the monarchy’s commitment to racial integration and multiculturalism.

Gavron’s comments were not well received at the time. As is so often the case with race and the royals, far more interesting than these remarks themselves, were the media reactions to them. Some suspected this was merely a clandestine attempt at “getting rid” of the monarchy, erasing their heritage through interracial marriages. Not so much revolution, as racial dilution.

Others assumed that for the Prince of Wales to marry a “black girl” – as the hypothetical person was described – would be to return to the loveless, strategic marriages the royals were once so famous for. It was obvious to commentators at the time that marrying a black girl, and marrying someone you actually loved, were both antithetical and mutually exclusive. After all, you couldn’t expect an heir to the throne to actually be attracted to such a person…

Read the entire article here.

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Celeste Ng: ‘It’s a novel about race, and class and privilege’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-05 05:11Z by Steven

Celeste Ng: ‘It’s a novel about race, and class and privilege’

The Guardian
2017-11-04

Paul Laity


Celeste Ng … ‘I have an interest in the outsider.’ Photograph: Robert Gumpert for the Guardian

The books interview: the bestselling US author on family, fitting in and giving a voice to those without power in her new book, Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng’s first novel Everything I Never Told You opens with 16-year-old Lydia Lee found drowned in a lake. She was her parents’ favourite, the opposite of a troublemaker, an innocent. How did it happen, who was responsible for her death? And can the family survive?

The mystery of Lydia’s fate propels the narrative, which is tightly focused on one couple and their mixed-race children in 1970s suburban America – the secrets that have been kept, the hopes dashed, the sense of not fitting in. A page-turning literary thriller that is also a thought-provoking exploration of parenthood and family life, the novel enjoyed huge success – critics’ accolades, big sales and selection by Amazon editors as their 2014 book of the year.

Ng’s follow-up, Little Fires Everywhere, also begins memorably, with a large, elegant house on an affluent street in flames. It belongs to Elena and Bill Richardson, a picture-perfect married couple with four teenage kids. “The firemen said there were little fires everywhere,” one of the children reports: “Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident.” Another mystery: who did it and why? On the same day, bohemian Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, who have become closely entangled with the Richardsons, pack up and leave town…

…Ng’s husband is white; they have a biracial son, and her first novel is interested too in the idea of feeling “other” even within one’s own family – how two parents can view the same events in contrasting ways. There are occasions when Ng and her husband are still brought up short by the realisation they have “lived in two different worlds”. At moments of tension – one incident at airport security, for instance, or another while getting their son a passport – he assumes he’ll be given the benefit of the doubt, she says, whereas “my understanding is that you have to toe the line or you’ll be in trouble”…

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Black Tudors review – hidden lives revealed

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-11-04 21:40Z by Steven

Black Tudors review – hidden lives revealed

The Guardian
2017-10-15

Anita Sethi


Miranda Kaufmann: black Tudor lives matter. Photograph: Rosie Collins

Miranda Kaufmann’s account of the lives of 10 black people who made their homes in Tudor England sheds new light on our island’s story

Why and how did they come to England? How were they treated? What were their lives like? These are the questions that Miranda Kaufmann perceptively probes in Black Tudors. This account of people of African descent in Renaissance England overturns misconceptions, showing that “it is vital to understand that the British Isles have always been peopled with immigrants”. She concentrates on 10 individuals, ranging widely in social class and location, from cities to the countryside, including a royal trumpeter, a porter, a silk weaver, and an independent single woman. Meticulous research draws on sources from letters to legal papers, and Kaufmann also reflects on the challenges: “Fleshing out these biographies from the meagre documentation that remains is not easy, but it is a mission that must be undertaken if we are to reclaim their stories”. The detail she unearths brings to life those absent from the pages of history…

Read the entire article here.

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We should have seen Trump coming

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-10-08 04:18Z by Steven

We should have seen Trump coming

The Guardian
2017-09-29

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Obama’s rise felt like a new chapter in American history. But the original sin of white supremacy was not so easily erased.

I have often wondered how I missed the coming tragedy. It is not so much that I should have predicted that Americans would elect Donald Trump. It’s just that I shouldn’t have put it past us. It was tough to keep track of the currents of politics and pageantry swirling at once. All my life I had seen myself, and my people, backed into a corner. Had I been wrong? Watching the crowds at county fairs cheer for Michelle Obama in 2008, or flipping through the enchanting photo spreads of the glamorous incoming administration, it was easy to believe that I had been.

And it was more than symbolic. Barack Obama’s victory meant not just a black president but also that Democrats, the party supported by most black people, enjoyed majorities in Congress. Prominent intellectuals were predicting that modern conservatism – a movement steeped in white resentment – was at its end and that a demographic wave of Asians, Latinos and blacks would sink the Republican party.

Back in the summer of 2008, as Obama closed out the primary and closed in on history, vendors in Harlem hawked T-shirts emblazoned with his face and posters placing him in the black Valhalla where Martin, Malcolm and Harriet were throned. It is hard to remember the excitement of that time, because I now know that the sense we had that summer, the sense that we were approaching an end-of-history moment, proved to be wrong.

It is not so much that I logically reasoned out that Obama’s election would author a post-racist age. But it now seemed possible that white supremacy, the scourge of American history, might well be banished in my lifetime. In those days I imagined racism as a tumour that could be isolated and removed from the body of America, not as a pervasive system both native and essential to that body. From that perspective, it seemed possible that the success of one man really could alter history, or even end it…

Read the entire article here.

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Shedding my whiteness is a work in progress

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-09-17 02:58Z by Steven

Shedding my whiteness is a work in progress

The Guardian
2017-09-16

Georgina Lawton


Georgina Lawton … ‘In my family, whiteness has been assumed as default.’ Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

A white identity was constructed for me 25 years ago and unravelling it feels like a Sisyphean task

My black side and my Irish side compete for recognition within me, like two separate flames of a fire, dancing around each other, fighting to shine the brightest. Take the other night in London; I was out for a drink with a friend from school when we heard the melody of Irish accents from a group of guys close by, and chimed in to chat. Later, a British-African guy overheard part of the exchange and bemusedly declared that “the Irish men love black women!” Looking decidedly sheepish, the Irish lads asserted that I was Irish, to which the black guy replied, “No – she’s black.” I pretended not to hear and went to the toilet, leaving the projected shadows of who I am and who others think I am, dancing on the walls behind me.

Outside my immediate family, my blackness has been obvious and non-negotiable, but among some of my Irish family, it is up for debate or ignored entirely. A white identity was constructed for me 25 years ago and now unravelling this construct – and asking some of my Irish family to unravel it with me – feels like a Sisyphean task. Shedding my own psychology of whiteness is a work in progress, but when I am back in Ireland it’s easy to revert to default because that’s all we know…

Read the entire article here.

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Living on the borderline: how I embraced my mixed-race status after years of denial

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-08-26 18:38Z by Steven

Living on the borderline: how I embraced my mixed-race status after years of denial

The Guardian
2017-08-26

Georgina Lawton


Solomon Glave as Heathcliff in Andrea Arnold’s 2011 adaptation of Wuthering Heights Photograph: Artificial Eye

I still have yet to uncover the full truth behind my heritage, but now feel that living in a racial no man’s land can actually be fun

Wuthering Heights has been one of my favourite books since I studied it for A-level seven years ago. I was fascinated by the tumultuous (and oddly asexual) relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff, but mostly with the theme of liminality that runs through the book, and many other works of gothic literature. Liminality refers to something – or someone – that sits on the boundary between two things; it’s a middle ground between polar opposites. Kind of like being mixed race.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but I identified with Heathcliff (he’s a dark-skinned Gypsy anti-hero) because I have been straddling the borders of race liminality my whole life. Growing up brown-skinned in a white family and facing questions as to why that was, I have had to navigate many different racial identities depending on who I was with, never quite owning one…

Read the entire article here.

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A moment that changed me: realising I was black

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2017-08-24 01:22Z by Steven

A moment that changed me: realising I was black

The Guardian
2017-08-18

Micha Frazer-Carroll, Founder and editor-in-chief
Blueprint


‘Mixedness feels rich, full, and multifaceted.’ Photograph: Micha Frazer-Carroll

I always thought I was mixed race until someone at school called me black. That started me thinking about racial identity

“A ‘black girl’. How weird is that?” I laughed. I’m met with silence from my mum’s side of the dinner table.

“It’s not weird. It’s what you are.”

Like one million other people in the UK, I’m mixed race. Up until I was a teenager, I’d never considered I could be anything else.

It’s year 8 – I’m probably about 12 or 13. The day hasn’t been hugely out of the ordinary, but something had happened earlier that made me feel a bit odd. For the first time in my life, I’ve been referred to as “black”.

Sitting down to dinner that night, as a unit, my family look like a sort of Pantone colour chart of milky beige to deep brown; my mum’s black, my dad’s white, and me and my siblings are various shades of in-between – who’s darkest generally depends on who had been playing in the sun the longest. We exemplify the sort of image of modern Britain that was particularly prevalent during the run-up to the London Olympics. Despite the day’s confusion, early-adolescent me knows one thing for sure: while I am proud of my ethnicity, and being half black, I am not black, I am mixed race. Both parts are equally important to my identity. Mum is visibly getting a bit agitated now. “Most people don’t see that. Above all, you’re black.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Barack Obama’s $400,000 speaking fees reveal what few want to admit

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-05-03 02:37Z by Steven

Barack Obama’s $400,000 speaking fees reveal what few want to admit

The Guardian
2017-05-01

Steven W. Thrasher


‘It seems like Obama will spend his post-presidency hauling in money as the Clintons have.’ Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

His mission was never racial or economic justice. It’s time we stop pretending it was

The reason many of us have been critical of Barack Obama’s outrageous $400,000 speaking fee is that it robs us of a fantasy: that sooner or later, the first black president was going to use his considerable powers, in or out of office, to help the economic ravages of the poor, who are disproportionately black.

That Obama’s project was or ever would be racial and economic justice was always a dream – and the sooner we let go of this and recognize Obama for who he is and what he does, the better we’ll all be.

Some people who disagree with me believe I am racist for not lauding Obama’s right to cash in on the presidency the same way the Clinton and Bush dynasties have. I will never deny the representational and psychological value of having had Obama in the Oval Office and his beautiful black family living in the White House. I always liked the guy immensely, even as I’ve criticized the politician…

Read the entire article here.

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Chris Hughton: ‘I have a thirst for knowledge. I won’t always be a manager’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United Kingdom on 2017-04-29 02:08Z by Steven

Chris Hughton: ‘I have a thirst for knowledge. I won’t always be a manager’

The Guardian
2017-04-28

Donald McRae


Chris Hughton says he is hoping to ‘tweak the squad and make some improvements’ before starting life in the Premier League. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images

In an exclusive interview, the Brighton manager talks about the ‘shocking’ imbalance between white and BAME managers in England and his hopes for Brighton in the Premier League next season

“‘It is shocking and the more we speak about it, and reflect on it, the more it hits home that there’s an incredible imbalance,” Chris Hughton says as he addresses the grievous lack of black managers in English football. His only current managerial contemporary is Keith Curle, in charge of Carlisle United in League Two, and Hughton’s quietly spoken words carry even more impact now that he has led Brighton & Hove Albion into next season’s Premier League.

Brighton’s inspiring promotion, after decades of strife in which the club became homeless, bankrupt and on the brink of losing their place in the Football League, was guaranteed last week. Their 58-year-old manager has two games remaining of this Championship season, starting with Bristol City at home on Saturday. But first, on a cold evening at the Amex Stadium, before his players participate in their annual awards, it is striking how he sidesteps beaming celebrations or personal vindication. Hughton, instead, confronts more important issues with a social conscience that is often missing from English football.

The “incredible imbalance” has long been, as Hughton says, “between those of ethnic backgrounds playing football, often at very good clubs, having good careers, being captains of their teams, and an absence in senior management. There have been some changes and it has been encouraging at academy and grassroots level – but still not at the top level. The game has a responsibility to redress the balance.”…

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‘We’re the geeks, the prostitutes’: Asian American actors on Hollywood’s barriers

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-13 21:29Z by Steven

‘We’re the geeks, the prostitutes’: Asian American actors on Hollywood’s barriers

The Guardian
2017-04-11

Sam Levin


Clockwise from top left: Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell; Pun Bandhu; Matt Damon in Great Wall; Atsuko Okatsuka. Composite: Alamy / Universal Pictures / Courtesy of Pun Bandhu / Courtesy of Atsuko Okatsuka

Films like Ghost in the Shell have fueled debate over whitewashing, while roles are few for Asian Americans – and when they are wanted, it’s often to play offensive stereotypes

Pun Bandhu’s training at the prestigious Yale School of Drama didn’t help much with the skill he needed for so many auditions after graduation – the “Asian accent”.

The Thai American actor – who has appeared in a wide range of TV shows and films over the last 15 years – said he was once told that an accent he used for a Thai character, modeled after his parents, was not working for an “American ear”. Instead, the director went with a Chinese accent.

While much of the recent debate around Asian representation in Hollywood has centered on whitewashing – when white actors are cast to tell Asian stories – working actors said a lack of opportunity was only one part of the problem. Asian American actors said they rarely, if ever, got auditions for leading roles, and when they did get parts, they were frequently secondary to the plot or portrayed offensive tropes…

…“We’re so desperate for opportunities,” said Kanoa Goo, a mixed-race actor who is Chinese, Hawaiian and white. “Often it’s pretty one-dimensional. It’s the tech computer analyst who doesn’t have much to say. His role is really just in service of the leads.”…

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