Art at Wing Luke Museum explores mixed-race heritage

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2013-08-20 02:50Z by Steven

Art at Wing Luke Museum explores mixed-race heritage

The Seattle Times

Robert Ayers, Special to The Seattle Times

The thought-provoking “War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian-American Art” exhibition is showing at the Wing Luke in Seattle through Jan. 19, 2014.

War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian-American Art,” currently at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, is a jewel of an exhibition that has been organized and curated by Laura Kina and Wei Ming Dariotis.

As their provocative title suggests, the curators — both scholars in the field of mixed-race studies — see their role not only to present a group of stimulating high-quality works (which they have done anyway,) but also to encourage a new understanding of what “mixed race” means. The last thing they intend is a celebration of multiculturalism, and instead, they stress that there is nothing new or exceptional about mixed-race heritage. These are issues that are more than political for them, and for the artists they have included in the show, because they are part of the fabric of their own experience…

Read the entire article here.

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Guest: The fury over a Cheerios ad and an interracial family

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2013-06-25 04:16Z by Steven

Guest: The fury over a Cheerios ad and an interracial family

The Seattle Times

Ralina Joseph, Associate Professor of Communication
University of Washington

The response to a Cheerios TV ad exposes American discomfort with interracial families, writes guest columnist Ralina Joseph

A RECENT Cheerios television ad has all of the elements that viewers usually glaze over because of their sheer ubiquity: a light-filled, eat-in kitchen with an attractive mother checking off tasks at the table, a button-down shirt and slacks-wearing father indulging in a quick after-work nap and a chubby-cheeked, curly-haired 6-year-old girl with a lisp.

But instead of disappearing into the ether, as TV spots tend to, this particular nuclear family advertisement has sparked such fury that Cheerios’ YouTube channel was forced to disable its comments section.

Why? Because the mother is white, the father is black, and the girl appears to be their biological, mixed-race child…

…Anti-miscegenation laws, on the books in some states in this country from 1661 to 1967, were justified by fear of such couplings and their result. In the 1930s, Washington state led the country in striking down attempts to ban interracial marriage…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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‘Yokohama Yankee’: a family’s lineage in both Japan and America

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2013-05-11 21:16Z by Steven

‘Yokohama Yankee’: a family’s lineage in both Japan and America

The Seattle Times Books

David Takami, Special to The Seattle Times

Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan’ by Leslie Helm Chin Music Press, 360 pp.

Leslie Helm’s remarkable family memoir begins at a point of personal distress. At a memorial for his father in 1991, he feels conflicted about his relationship with his father and memories of his childhood. A few weeks later, Helm and his wife decide to adopt a Japanese child. This momentous prospect triggers unease about his lifelong ambivalence toward Japan and prompts him to explore his family’s long history in the country.

Now a Seattle resident and editor of Seattle Business magazine, Leslie Helm is bilingual in Japanese and has worked as a journalist in Japan for Business Week and the Los Angeles Times.

Helm’s great grandfather, Julius Helm, traveled from his native Germany to Japan in 1869 near the start of the Meiji Restoration when the country was emerging from 200 years of feudalism and self-imposed isolation. Reformers were eager to modernize Japan and looked to Western Europe and America for guidance. Helm helped upgrade the Japanese military and subsequently built a successful stevedoring business that thrived for more than half a century in the port city of Yokohama

Read the entire review here.

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Mixed race in a world not yet post-racial

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-03-21 15:03Z by Steven

Mixed race in a world not yet post-racial

The Seattle Times

Jerry Large, Staff Columnist

Populations of humans have always been mixing genes, but we still have trouble with the concept.

Two recent books by University of Washington professors address what mixed means in America, particularly examining the period between the Census Bureau’s decision in the late 1990s to allow people, beginning in 2000, to choose more than one race, and the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Both books say something about how mixed race as a category is sometimes used to further marginalize African Americans.

Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism,” by Habiba Ibrahim, an assistant professor of English, is written largely for an academic audience.

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial,” is written by Ralina Joseph, associate professor in the Department of Communications.

Both are important works, but today I’m going to focus on Joseph’s book, which is also scholarly, but written with the general reader in mind.

We’re not post-racial yet, Joseph told me when we talked over coffee this week, and more mixing isn’t getting us there, because we haven’t shaken old ways of categorizing people. The combination of black and white, weighted with centuries of racism, raises the most issues.

Joseph noted the census change was most notably championed by Susan Graham, a white mother who wanted her son to be able to mark down multiracial, and, Joseph said, “had her young son testify before Congress, so that he did not have to identify as black.”…

…But seeing multiracial as a separate category, a way of transcending blackness, is not a step forward, and it isn’t racially neutral, Joseph said. It is, instead, a new use of old concepts, an affirmation that blackness is something to escape.

Embracing all parts of a mixed heritage is a more positive act than migrating to a new category. Joseph calls herself a mixed-race African American. “One can’t think about one’s own identity choices without thinking about power realities.”…

The African-American community has long been multiracial, ranging from milky skin and green eyes to deep chocolate, but to be counted as white still requires “purity.” It’s a protected status…

Read the entire article here.

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‘The Black Count:’ the epic true story behind ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive on 2012-11-16 23:06Z by Steven

‘The Black Count:’ the epic true story behind ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’

The Seattle Times

Tyrone Beason

Tom Reiss’ swashbuckling new book, “The Black Count,” tells the true story of Alex Dumas, son of a French nobleman and an African slave, the father of author Alexandre Dumas and the inspiration for the younger Dumas’ classic novel “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss Crown, 414 pp.

There are no statues in monument-laden France commemorating the legendary 18th century swordsman and general Alex Dumas, whose son Alexandre based literary classics like “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” on scenes from the elder’s epic life story.

It’s a sad civic oversight, but nothing compared to the tragic decline suffered by the novelist’s heroic father as laid out in Tom Reiss’ fascinating, and dare to say, swashbuckling new biography, “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.”

It turns out that the heroes in those classics are modeled on a black man who was born in 1762 in the French colony of Haiti. Alex Dumas was the son of a wayward French nobleman and an African slave, and it is his biracial identity that adds such rich complexity to his rise through the ranks of the French military to become one of the most beloved generals of his time, arguably even more admired than Napoleon, a fact that probably didn’t sit well with the megalomaniacal future ruler.

It was Napoleon who tapped Dumas to command the cavalry that invaded Egypt, an enormous, and as it turns out, fateful honor.

“The Black Count” meticulously evokes the spirit of Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, but it also explains the exasperating paradox of a nation that was simultaneously a huge slaveholding empire and the pioneering exponent of the concept of “liberté, egalité, fraternité.”

Let’s not forget the context. By the 1750s, black slaves taken to France were able to sue their masters for freedom. After the French Revolution in 1793, special schools were set up in France to educate the children of “revolutionaries of color” from the colonies. Black and mixed-race politicians were allowed to serve in the national government…

Read the entire review here.

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Latinos may get own race category on census form

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2012-09-05 02:23Z by Steven

Latinos may get own race category on census form

The Seattle Times

Lornet Turnbull, Staff Reporter

Under proposed changes under consideration by the Census Bureau in its once-a-decade census forms, Latino and Hispanic would be added to the list of government-defined races, rather than being listed separately as an ethnicity. And people from the Middle East and North Africa, now counted as white, would be allowed to write in their country of origin.

U.S. residents of Spanish origin typically have no trouble checking the box on their census form that asks whether they are Latino, Hispanic or Spanish.

It’s a different question — the one that asks their race — that apparently gives some of them pause.

In the 2010 census, well over one-third — perhaps unsure how to answer that question — either checked “some other race” or skipped the question entirely.

Now, in advance of the 2020 count and as part of its ongoing effort to allow Americans to better reflect how they see themselves, the U.S. Census Bureau is researching ways to clear up the confusion by adding Latino or Hispanic to a list of government-defined race categories that includes White, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black and American Indian, along with a “two or more races” option…

Luis Fraga, a political-science professor at the University of Washington who directs its Diversity Research Institute, said, “identifying ourselves by racial grouping is at the very core of who we are as a nation and how we understand political power.”

Results from the decennial survey not only help direct more than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed each year, but they also help evaluate how well government policies are responding to historical disparities among various racial and ethnic groups.

“As much as we hope we become a country where these racial distinctions don’t matter — and that’s a worthy goal — it is central to how we understand ourselves as a people and how we decide who has opportunity, rights, privileges and protection under the law,” Fraga said…

Read the entire article here.

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Before state’s high court: role of race in identifying a face

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-04 03:45Z by Steven

Before state’s high court: role of race in identifying a face

Seattle Times

Ken Armstrong, Staff Reporter

In a case out of Seattle’s University District, the Washington State Supreme Court is being asked to determine whether jurors should be told that eyewitnesses who identify strangers across racial lines — for example, a white man identifying a black man — are more likely to be mistaken.

In State of Washington v. Bryan Edward Allen, two issues intersect that could hardly be of greater importance to the functioning of the criminal-justice system: the role of race, and the reliability of eyewitnesses.

The case, argued Thursday before the state Supreme Court, is also about sunglasses. We’ll get to that later.

On an August evening in 2009, in Seattle’s University District, Gerald Marcus Kovacs called 911 and said a stranger on the street had just threatened to kill him. Within minutes, police picked up Bryan Allen at a nearby bus stop. Officers took Kovacs to Allen and asked: Is this the guy? “Yeah, definitely, that is 100 percent him,” Kovacs told police.

Two months later, Allen was convicted of felony harassment. He received a sentence of 14 months.

Kovacs is white. Allen is black.

Allen’s appeal argues that when the case was tried in King County Superior Court, the judge should have instructed jurors that when someone from one race identifies a stranger from another race, the chances of a mistake go up.

An assemblage of professors and legal advocacy groups — including the Innocence Network, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation, and the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality — filed briefs in support, saying a wealth of research shows that people often struggle to distinguish faces outside their own racial group…

…Arguing the other side, Deborah Dwyer, a King County prosecutor, did not challenge the science on cross-racial identifications. Instead, she took issue with having a trial judge tackle the matter rather than having an expert witness testify.

The proposed instructions would not only violate the state’s constitution, Dwyer said, but invite all kinds of “practical difficulties.”

“Our society now is increasingly made up of mixed-race people. Well, what race are they? To take an example we could all relate to: President Obama. He is of mixed racial heritage. If he’s an eyewitness to a crime, is he presumed to be able to identify white people and black people? Or, perhaps, neither?”

Dwyer also asked: “Does race include ethnicity?” Some studies say Chinese people struggle to distinguish Japanese people, and vice versa. Would trial judges need to instruct jurors in cases like that? And if someone’s race isn’t entirely clear, how is a judge to figure that out?…

Read the entire article here.

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PRico sees increase in blacks, American Indians

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2011-04-05 21:14Z by Steven

PRico sees increase in blacks, American Indians

The Seattle Times

Danica Coto
Associated Press

The number of Puerto Ricans identifying themselves solely as black or American Indian jumped about 50 percent in the last decade, according to new census figures that have surprised experts and islanders alike.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The number of Puerto Ricans identifying themselves solely as black or American Indian jumped about 50 percent in the last decade, according to new census figures that have surprised experts and islanders alike.
The increase suggests a sense of racial identity may be growing among the various ethnic groups that have long been viewed as a blurred racial mosaic on the U.S. territory, although experts say it is too soon to say what caused the shift.
“It truly breaks with a historic pattern,” said Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at the University of Puerto Rico…

Experts said several factors could have influenced the rise in the number of people who identify themselves as black.

Duany said the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president might have influenced some to call themselves black as the high-profile leader dispelled negative stereotypes about their race.

The jump in numbers of blacks also coincided with a push to highlight Puerto Rico’s black population, with the Department of Education offering for the first time a high school book that deals solely with their history…

…In addition, there was a grassroots effort to target dark-skinned Puerto Ricans through social media websites including Facebook that urged them to identify themselves as “Afro-Puerto Rican” in the 2010 census.
It was an option that appealed to Barbara Abadia-Rexach, a 30-year-old sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Puerto Rico…

…The island’s population is a fusion of races where phrases such as “coffee with milk” abound to identify various varieties of skin color.
“There is no authentic or pure race,” Abadia-Rexach said. “We are all mixed.”
Puerto Ricans are known as “boricuas,” a name derived from the Taino Indian word for the island’s indigenous people who were colonized by the Spaniards.
One possible reason for the increase in Puerto Ricans who identify themselves as American Indian is that the U.S. Census Bureau allowed responders to write down their tribe…

Read the entire article here.

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This is who I am: Defining mixed-race identity

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2011-02-09 05:32Z by Steven

This is who I am: Defining mixed-race identity

The Seattle Times

Lornet Turnbull, Seattle Times staff

The story of race in the U.S. is changing, and so is the way many of us identify ourselves. That’s especially true in the Seattle area, which has a higher concentration of mixed-race people than any other metro area in the country.

Rachel Clad’s parents are a black woman from Detroit and a white man from California who met in the Peace Corps in Africa.

Clad, 26, was born in New Zealand and spent her early years in far-flung parts of the world before her family settled into a middle-class lifestyle in Washington, D.C.

She’ll tell you she’s multiracial.

“People look at me and see African American,” she said. “In my mind, that’s not who I am. I’m both and I’d like to be seen as both.”.

Aaron Hazard’s mother was a French-Canadian white woman who met his African-American father at a dance in Boston in the 1930s, at a time when such unions were forbidden.

When he signed up for service during the Vietnam era, the Army listed him as white, although Hazard has never referred to himself as anything other than black.

“It’s what my father was and that’s what I am,” the 62-year-old South Seattle resident said. “Back then there were too many white people to remind me of it.”

Barack Obama’s rise to prominence has broadened the dialogue around race in a country that has always done a poor job talking about it. And this new attention is prompting some people of mixed race to more closely examine how they define themselves.

That’s especially so in Greater Seattle, which has a higher concentration of mixed-race people — nearly 4 percent of the area’s population — than any other large metropolitan area in the country.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make in this discussion is assuming there’s only one correct way to be biracial,” said author Elliott Lewis, who grew up in Eastern Washington and has written about the biracial experience…

…”There were historical rules … that if you were mixed and had a parent who wasn’t white, then you checked the census box of the parent who wasn’t white,” said Maria P. P. Root, a Seattle clinical psychologist who has written extensively on mixed race in America.

“There was this gate-keeping around whiteness. The public still hasn’t gotten around to the fact that you can be blended.”…

Read the entire article here.

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