“I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-04-24 03:19Z by Steven

“What are you trying to do to me? You have caused a lot of problems in my family. I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night. Today, I don’t identify as mixed. I reject my white privilege in a racist America. There is no way that I or my kids will identify as anything other than black” —Bernard

Anita Foeman, “DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results,” The New York Times, April 20, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/23/us/dna-ancestry-race-identity.html.

Tags: , ,

DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-04-23 20:21Z by Steven

DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

The New York Times
2017-04-20

Anita Foeman, Professor of Communication Studies
West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania


Students at West Chester University in Pennsylvania have volunteered to take part in ancestry DNA testing. Anita Foeman, a communications professor, says she has found that conversations around race are “complicated and jagged.”
Credit West Chester University

Race and identity in many ways define who we think we are, while modern genetics can challenge those notions. To delve into these issues, I am involved with a communications studies project at West Chester University in Pennsylvania that explores narratives at the intersection of race and identity.

For the last decade, I have invited hundreds of people to be part of ancestry DNA tests. But first I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.

Biologically, our ancestral differences reflect only a 0.1 percent difference in DNA. Yet we often cling to those differences — both in unity with our fellow people of origin and, at times, in divisiveness.

Over all, the experiment has provided a special opportunity to explore the lines of race. I found that as human beings, our strategies for survival are the same, and our similarities far outweigh our differences…

Bernard: Identifies as: Black; father is black and mother is white

Credit Erica C. Thompson/West Chester University

His prediction: 50% European, 50% African

His comments before the test: My mother said, “I know you are me, but no cop is going to take the time to find out your mother is white.” She was very specific about raising me as a black man.

Results: 91% European, 5% Middle Eastern, 2% Hispanic; less than 1% African and Asian

Thoughts about his ancestry results: What are you trying to do to me? You have caused a lot of problems in my family. I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night. Today, I don’t identify as mixed. I reject my white privilege in a racist America. There is no way that I or my kids will identify as anything other than black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Review: In ‘Little Boxes,’ a Biracial Family Meets a White Town

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-23 18:14Z by Steven

Review: In ‘Little Boxes,’ a Biracial Family Meets a White Town

The New York Times
2017-04-13

Neil Genzlinger, Television Critic


From left, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson and Melanie Lynskey in “Little Boxes,” about a biracial family’s move from Brooklyn to small-town America.
Credit Mark Doyle/Gunpowder & Sky Distribution

Little Boxes,” a mildly comic story about a biracial family that relocates to an exceedingly white town, feels a bit out of phase, but it’s delicately observed and does a nice job of staying within itself. It avoids the big confrontation or grand statement; doing so allows it to be an effective, if somewhat uneventful, study of the Brooklyn bubble effect.

Gina (Melanie Lynskey), who is white, and Mack (Nelsan Ellis), who is black, move from trendy and comfortably diverse Brooklyn so that she can take a new job in a small town in Washington State. Their son, Clark (Armani Jackson), is getting ready to start sixth grade…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , ,

“If my parents had instilled any Italian culture in me, I might want to share that with my son. But if you’re talking about general whiteness, there’s nothing there to pass down.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-04-03 02:48Z by Steven

When my son first started to black identify at about 5 or 6 years old, an acquaintance of ours asked my husband, in my presence, if he felt like we were “depriving” our son of his “white side.” My husband, a sociology professor and the author of two books on the failure of housing and school desegregation in the United States, said: “If my parents had instilled any Italian culture in me, I might want to share that with my son. But if you’re talking about general whiteness, there’s nothing there to pass down.”

Rebecca Carroll, “Black and Proud. Even if Strangers Can’t Tell.The New York Times, April 1, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/black-and-proud-even-if-strangers-cant-tell.html.

Tags: , ,

Black and Proud. Even if Strangers Can’t Tell.

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-02 16:20Z by Steven

Black and Proud. Even if Strangers Can’t Tell.

The New York Times
2017-04-01

Rebecca Carroll, Editor of Special Projects
WNYC, New York, New York


Rachel Levit

My 11-year-old is understated, but not shy. He likes to bake, loves video games, is loyal to his friends and, biased as I may be, is a pretty good-looking kid. He gets mad sometimes, though, that people don’t immediately register him as black. “You’re so lucky,” he said to me a few months ago. “People look at you and know that you are black.”

Being black in America has historically been determined by whether or not you look black to nonblack people. This keeps racism operational. Brown and black skin in this country can invite a broad and freewheeling range of bad behavior — from job discrimination to a child being shot dead in the street. For my son, though, being black in America is about more than his skin color. It’s about power, confidence, culture and belonging.

You inherit race, though. You don’t steal it. We’re reminded of this once again by Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who made national headlines in 2015 for claiming a black identity because she felt like it. She released a memoir last week…

…My son is not the only light-skinned, mixed or biracial person I know who identifies primarily as black. Increasingly, I have observed my adult peers and colleagues who fall into this category not merely identifying as black, but routinely pulling out the receipts to prove their blackness.

Some of this may have to do with what the brilliant Jordan Peele, who is also biracial and black, tapped into for the plot of his genre-redefining box office hit, “Get Out” — that it’s cool to be black right now, that we are trending…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Biracial and Jewish

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Letters, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-22 14:38Z by Steven

Biracial and Jewish

The New York Times
2017-03-20

Helen Kiyong Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Samuel Leavitt, Associate Dean of Students
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

To the Editor:

Re “What Biracial People Know” (Sunday Review, March 5):

Moises Velasquez-Manoff makes a number of vital points about the creative ways that biracial people navigate the world.

During 2011-14, we interviewed 39 young men and women who were the offspring of Jewish and Asian parents. Supporting Mr. Velasquez-

Manoff’s point that biracialism breaks down tribalism — and perhaps extending his assertions — our research found that these young people strongly identified both as multiracial as well as Jewish in a surprisingly traditional religious sense…

Read the entire letter here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Louise Erdrich, Matthew Desmond Among Winners of National Book Critics Circle Awards

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2017-03-20 02:21Z by Steven

Louise Erdrich, Matthew Desmond Among Winners of National Book Critics Circle Awards

The New York Times
2017-03-16

Alexandra Alter, Publishing Reporter


Louise Erdrich outside her bookstore, Birchbark Books, in Minneapolis.
Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Louise Erdrich’s novel “LaRose,” which centers on two Native American families in North Dakota whose lives are upended by a horrific hunting accident that kills a 5-year-old boy, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction on Thursday.

Ms. Erdrich, who has published 15 novels, won in an especially competitive year for high-profile literary fiction, with Michael Chabon, Ann Patchett, Zadie Smith and Adam Haslett among the finalists.

“I’m among such dramatically wonderful novels that it didn’t seem that this was possible,” Ms. Erdrich said in her acceptance speech, before making a passionate plea about the importance of free expression and the need for writers and journalists to challenge falsehoods.

“The truth is being assaulted not only in our country but all over the world,” she said. “More than ever, we have to look into the truth.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

The Horror of Smug Liberals

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-03-19 15:12Z by Steven

The Horror of Smug Liberals

The New York Times
2017-03-18

Frank Bruni


Ben Wiseman

Oh, those smooth-talking, self-congratulating white liberals. Listen to them moon over Barack Obama. Look at how widely they open their arms to a black visitor. Don’t be duped. They’re wolves in L. L. Bean clothing. There’s danger under the fleece.

That’s a principal theme in the most surprising movie hit of the year so far, “Get Out,” whose box office haul in America crossed the $100 million mark last weekend. Heck, that’s the premise.

The black protagonist heads with his white girlfriend from an apartment in the city to a house in the woods, where he’s gushingly welcomed by her parents. But their retreat is no colorblind Walden, not if you peek into the basement. I won’t say what’s down there. I don’t want to spoil the fun or sully the chill.

Besides, I’m less fascinated by the movie’s horrors than by its reception. The most ardent fans of “Get Out,” many of them millennials, don’t just recommend it. They urge it, framing it as a “woke” tribe’s message to the slumbering masses, a parable of the hypocrisy that white America harbors and the fear with which black Americans move through it…

…But the movie’s African-American writer and director, Jordan Peele, conceived and began developing it well before the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency came into focus. He wasn’t responding to stark examples of racism like that infamous tweet last week in which Representative Steve King, the Iowa Republican, warned against trying to “restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” …

…“Get Out” is being categorized as a horror movie, though Peele prefers the neologism “social thriller,” and it’s more eerie than violent, with superb pacing that critics are rightly praising. It’s also a reminder that the best horror movies are intensely topical, putting a fantastical, grotesque spin on the tensions of their times…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Derek Walcott, Poet and Nobel Laureate of the Caribbean, Dies at 87

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2017-03-17 17:19Z by Steven

Derek Walcott, Poet and Nobel Laureate of the Caribbean, Dies at 87

The New York Times
2017-03-17

William Grimes


Derek Walcott in 1986. Credit Jill Krementz, All Rights Reserved

Derek Walcott, whose intricately metaphorical poetry captured the physical beauty of the Caribbean, the harsh legacy of colonialism and the complexities of living and writing in two cultural worlds, bringing him a Nobel Prize in Literature, died early Friday morning at his home near Gros Islet in St. Lucia. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by his publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. No cause was given, but he had been in poor health for some time, the publisher said.

Mr. Walcott’s expansive universe revolved around a tiny sun, the island of St. Lucia. Its opulent vegetation, blinding white beaches and tangled multicultural heritage inspired, in its most famous literary son, an ambitious body of work that seemingly embraced every poetic form, from the short lyric to the epic…

…As a poet, Mr. Walcott plumbed the paradoxes of identity intrinsic to his situation. He was a mixed-race poet living on a British-ruled island whose people spoke French-based Creole or English.

In “A Far Cry From Africa,” included in “In a Green Night” — his first poetry collection to be published outside St. Lucia — he wrote:

Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?

Derek Alton Walcott was born on Jan. 23, 1930, in Castries, a port city on the island of St. Lucia. His father, Warwick, a schoolteacher and watercolorist, died when he was an infant, and he was raised by his schoolteacher mother, the former Alix Maarlin.

Both his parents, like many St. Lucians, were the products of racially mixed marriages. Derek was raised as a Methodist, which made him an exception on St. Lucia, a largely Roman Catholic island, and at his Catholic secondary school, St. Mary’s College…

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , , ,

In Los Angeles, a Festival of Love and Hapa-ness

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-11 20:52Z by Steven

In Los Angeles, a Festival of Love and Hapa-ness

The New York Times
2017-03-11

Lawrence Downes


Portraits from Hāfu2Hāfu, an ongoing photographic project which investigates what it means to be half Japanese and how this defines identity.
Credit Tetsuro Miyazaki

Los Angeles — The current political moment, with its upwelling of nationalism and xenophobia, has a repellent taste, like a mouthful of citrus pith, all bitter and white.

How bracing, then, to escape in late February to Los Angeles, city of the future, for something called the Hapa Japan Festival, a “celebration of mixed-race and mixed-roots Japanese people and culture.”

Hapa” means “half” in Hawaiian pidgin English, and can be used to denote a variety of mixed-race or ethnic combinations, but in this context it meant half Japanese and half something else. In Hawaii, where I grew up Okinawan-Irish, hapa status is unremarkable, a matter-of-fact part of life, like daily sunshine. In the mainland United States, the word is used more assertively, if not defiantly — as a declaration of an identity that many people overlook or dismiss.

The story of growing up hapa — or “hafu,” in Japan — has been told and retold, often as melodrama or tragedy, in tales of abandoned Amerasian orphans in former war zones, or of more contemporary misfits struggling with confusion and rejection…

But as Duncan Ryuken Williams, a professor of religion and East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Southern California, who organized the festival, explained, it’s more complicated than that, a subject worthy of deep — and optimistic — exploration. The festival coincided with a conference at the University of Southern California on critical mixed-race studies, and the publication of “Hapa Japan,” a two-part volume of essays that Professor Williams edited…

…But even so, as Mitzi Uehara Carter, who teaches at Florida International University and is the daughter of an Okinawan mother and an African-American father, explained, hāfus in Okinawa, like those anywhere, often balk at having their lives stuffed into narrative boxes. They don’t like being saddled with identity crises they don’t necessarily have.

A recent essay in The Times described the creativity and mental flexibility of biracial people; critics took issue with it, arguing that race-blending is not the antidote to white supremacy, that hapas won’t save the world…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,