Health Care, Research Failing to Adapt to U.S.’s Growing Multiracial Population

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2015-10-13 19:02Z by Steven

Health Care, Research Failing to Adapt to U.S.’s Growing Multiracial Population

School of Social Work
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Data collection methods in research and health care settings have lagged behind in adapting to the rapidly growing population of multiracials, according to studies led by social work professor Karen M. Tabb Dina

Multiracial people who change their racial identity from a single race to multiracial over time may be healthier than their minority peers who consistently identify as monoracial, new research suggests.

Despite the U.S.’s rapidly growing population of multiracial individuals, researchers and health care systems continue to use outdated approaches to racial categorization that force people to classify themselves as monoracial, which may be masking the incidence of health conditions and obscuring disparities in health care access and utilization among multiracial populations, a University of Illinois scholar said.

Social work professor Karen M. Tabb Dina is the lead author of two recent studies that explored issues of racial identity and its impact on health care access and utilization among nearly 8,000 U.S. young people.

The subjects in both of Tabb Dina’s studies were participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, one of the first surveys to allow respondents to identify themselves as multiracial using two or more racial categories, Tabb Dina said.

Participants in the Adolescent Health survey were asked about their racial background during the first wave of data collection in 1994 and again during the third wave, conducted in 2002.

Of the 7 percent of participants identified as multiracial at either wave, only 20 percent of these people selected the same racial categories both times, Tabb Dina found.

Read the entire article here.

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The Black, British Atlantic: Blackness in Victorian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-10-27 18:18Z by Steven

The Black, British Atlantic: Blackness in Victorian Literature

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Donghee Om

My dissertation is about transnational aspects of the Victorian era from the vantage point of what Paul Gilroy described more than two decades ago as the “black Atlantic.” Looking at various ways in which the black Atlantic was at times a British Atlantic, my dissertation aims to complicate a flow of discussion that Gilroy’s Americanist successors have interpreted largely in light of U.S. slavery and its discursive contexts. Specifically, I explore how some nineteenth-century British authors such as Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Seacole, and Wilkie Collins rejected popular notions of blackness as a racial marker of African slavery with its implied negative qualities. Instead, their works convey a different idea about blackness as a pliable marker of cultural agency that not only constitutes a part of English culture, but is performed by people regardless of racial affiliation. This notion of blackness as performative signifier goes beyond the slavery metaphor in Victorian literature to frame an interpretive paradigm that allows us to read blackness in broader socio-political contexts.

As I show how canonical and non-canonical nineteenth-century British literature used various kinds of black performativity to undo essentialist notions of blackness, race, and identity itself, I demonstrate the integral status of blackness in Victorian literature. This in turn points to nineteenth-century English culture not as an isolated entity that imposed itself on Africans and on slave-owning colonies of the British Empire, but as participant in a larger cultural network called the black Atlantic. The black Atlantic thus invites us to revise British literature and culture by questioning the assumed homogeneity of white-centrism and even the stability of whiteness itself as foundational for English identity.

In the first chapter, I look at how Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) and Persuasion (1818) engage blackness without featuring a single black or mixed-race character. Reading this absence as literary strategy, I argue that the two novels reject the popular view of blackness as too restrictively applied to oppression and marginalization, and associate it instead with women’s autonomy and social participation in an era of heightened debate over slavery following the 1807 Slave Trade Act. Here blackness comes to represent an ethically viable form of women’s autonomy that doesn’t necessarily unsettle the established social order even as it challenges the mercantile logic of sexual hierarchy represented by the corrupt marriage market. In fact, by validating women’s autonomy in the context of middle-class ethics, Austen suggests that such autonomy is a prerequisite of social stability.

Chapter two explores how Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s three antislavery poems—“The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” (1847/1848), “Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave” (1850), and “A Curse for a Nation” (1855/1866)—extend beyond the issue of American slavery to address British racism. Representing blackness as a signifier of artistic creativity, the poems aesthetically challenge essentialist notions of black inferiority in a mid-Victorian society troubled by post-abolition economic decline and colonial unrest in the British West Indies. EBB’s antislavery poems thus work to liberate blackness from the chains of racial essentialism and draw on black performativity to expand the language of the poet’s social criticism.

Chapter three investigates Mary Seacole’s performative identity in her travel narrative, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). Knowing her Victorian readers will be predisposed to read her mixed-race body as a marker of otherness, Seacole plays with their belief in ways that de-essentialize race: first, she disrupts whiteness as a racial signifier ontologically grounded in skin color by portraying her successful performance of the idealized English mother in the Crimea. Seacole then represents her physical “blackness” as a marker of life-saving hybrid medicine, a cultural signifier that revises racist notions of identity. In the process, she exposes Englishness as an unstable marker of identity that can be performed by people of different races.

Chapter four considers how Wilkie Collins problematizes binaristic notions of race in Armadale (1866), Miss or Mrs? (1873), and The Guilty River (1886). Collins’s radical reevaluations of racial others vis-à-vis Englishness and Britishness come at a time when a series of colonial uprisings like the Indian “Mutiny” and the Morant Bay rebellion exacerbated the growing acceptance of permanent racial hierarchies (as opposed to the older notion of eventual human universality). Armadale emphasizes blackness as a marker of sympathy—the essential element of English morality seldom seen in the author’s time. Affirming blackness as the moral essence of Englishness, Miss or Mrs? and The Guilty River reflect Collins’s growing frustration with the way a kind of binaristic thinking he challenged in Armadale continued to thrive in English society. These texts ultimately call for understanding English identity as an ongoing expression of inter-racial, inter-cultural reciprocity.

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Interview with PhD Student Karla Lucht: Children’s Literature about Mixed-Race Asian Americans/Canadians

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2013-02-20 04:40Z by Steven

Interview with PhD Student Karla Lucht: Children’s Literature about Mixed-Race Asian Americans/Canadians

The Center for Children’s Books
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
February 2013

Tad Andracki, CCB Outreach Coordinator

“Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in a book. And a good book at that.”

GSLIS doctoral student Karla Lucht visited the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia as part of the iSchool Doctoral Student Exchange Program in November 2012. The CCB decided to meet with Karla to discuss her trip and her research. Lucht describes her research as looking at the representations of mixed-race Asian Americans and Canadians in youth literature with a critical race theory lens.

Why do you see your research as important to the field of youth services and children’s literature? Why is it important?

To start with, there’s a gap in this research with lots of underrepresented groups, but with mixed-race people especially. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in a book… and a good book at that. In the past, we’ve seen some books about mixed-race people, but a lot of them weren’t good. I’m trying to fill in those gaps.

What are some challenges you see in your particular field of research? What are some opportunities?

One primary challenge is just finding titles, especially using subject headings. The Library of Congress Subject Heading that’s closest to my work is Racially Mixed People–Fiction, which isn’t very descriptive. I’ve been sifting through books with that heading. I’m also trying other keywords—adoption, immigration, multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural–and then looking at the books to see if they have the content I’m interested in.

Another problem is that, especially in the late 1980s and the 90s, a lot of the YA books on this topic are a bit problematic and poorly written. You find books that really invest in Othering a character’s Asian side and putting whiteness on a pedestal. In those books, the character vists the Asian side of the family, and it’s always a big problem–the Asianness is “too weird” or something…

Read the entire interview here.

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Mining the garrison of racial prejudice: The fiction of Charles W. Chesnutt and turn-of-the-century White racial discourse

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-07-09 01:22Z by Steven

Mining the garrison of racial prejudice: The fiction of Charles W. Chesnutt and turn-of-the-century White racial discourse

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Robert Carl Nowatzki

This dissertation analyzes the fiction of Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858-1932), the first black fiction writer published by a major American firm and widely reviewed and read by white critics and readers. My analysis focuses on the conflict between Chesnutt’s anti-racism and his attempt to make his critiques less threatening to his white publishers, critics, and readers. In order to demonstrate the ideological and discursive forces that Chesnutt resisted, I juxtapose his works with fiction and nonfiction prose by popular white authors and reviews of his work by white critics.

Chapter One provides the biographical, historical, ideological, and literary contexts of Chesnutt’s work. Each of the following five chapters examines one of Chesnutt’s books of fiction alongside literature by whites which deals with similar subjects and often expresses popular racist assumptions that Chesnutt’s fiction contests. Each chapter also demonstrates how white reviewers of his work often reiterated the racism that he resisted and dismissed him as a biased “Negro” author. Chapter Two interprets Chesnutt’s collection of plantation tales The Conjure Woman (1899) along with plantation fiction by Thomas Nelson Page and Joel Chandler Harris and pro-slavery nonfiction essays by Page and Philip Alexander Bruce. Chapter Three examines the treatment of miscegenation and depiction of mulattoes in Chesnutt’s collection of stories The Wife of His Youth (1899) in conjunction with anti-miscegenation literature by Page, Thomas Dixon, Jr., William Smith, and William Calhoun. Chapter Four focuses on the issue of passing and the “tragic octoroon” convention in Chesnutt’s novel The House Behind the Cedars (1900) and in novels by William Dean Howells, Gertrude Atherton, and Albion Tourgée. Chapter Five analyzes how Chesnutt’s 1901 novel The Marrow of Tradition critiques the black disfranchisement, segregation, and racial violence defended by Page, Dixon, Calhoun, Smith, and Bruce. Chapter Six interprets Chesnutt’s critique of sectional conflict and the “New South Creed” in his 1905 novel The Colonel’s Dream along with Henry Grady’s 1886 “New South” speech and literature by Tourgee, Harris, Page, Dixon, and Bruce. Chapter Seven briefly surveys the neglect and subsequent recovery of Chesnutt’s fiction since his death, and emphasizes the importance of studying his work in its historical, ideological, and literary contexts.

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Branding Blasians: Mixed Race Black/Asian Americans in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Dissertations, Media Archive, United States on 2012-07-08 14:46Z by Steven

Branding Blasians: Mixed Race Black/Asian Americans in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
May 2012
235 pages

Myra Washington, Assistant Professor of Communication & Journalism
University of New Mexico

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Communications in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Contemporary multiracial discourses rely on two overarching frames of mixed-race: mixed-race as uniquely new phenomenon and mixed race as resistant to dominant paradigms of race and racism. Both have been necessary for multiracial activists and the mixed race movement, and have served as the foundation for much of the current research in mixed race studies. This dissertation posits that a third frame exists, one that neither sees mixed-race as new or unique, nor as a racial salve to move the United States past the problem of the color line. This third paradigm is pluralistic, fluid in its ambiguity, and allows for the potential of ambivalence and contradictions within mixed-race.

This paradigmatic shifting view of race rearticulates what it means to be Black, Asian, Other, and results in the creation of multiracial/other subjectivities which can become a formidable obstacle to the racial order of the United States. Importantly, this dissertation argues Blasians trouble the logic of existing U.S. racial classifications, without establishing their own. Blasians (mixed-race Black and Asian people) are challenging the hegemony of race constructed around the lives of not just Blacks and Asians, but all members of U.S. society, as we are all embroiled in the illogical (and contradictory) discourses framing our identities.

I do not offer Blasians as a racial salve, as resistant to or prescription for either race or racism through virtue of their mixed-race bodies. Instead, I have used this dissertation to describe the emergence of Blasians, not to add to the research that divides monoracials from multiracials, but to muddle the lines between them. The analyses of these celebrities acknowledge that to understand what is a Blasian, means to first understand, and then complicate, hegemonic notions of race as it applies to both Blacks and Asians. Contextualized against those dominant discourses, Blasians explode the narrow boundaries of authenticity around racialized categories. Blasians, as I discuss them in this dissertation do not escape race, or erase race, but they do force the reconstruction of normative instantiations of identity.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Parading Respectability: An Ethnography of the Christmas Bands movement in the Western Cape, South Africa

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa on 2012-07-08 14:31Z by Steven

Parading Respectability: An Ethnography of the Christmas Bands movement in the Western Cape, South Africa

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
May 2012
238 pages

Sylvia R. Bruinders

The Christmas Bands march through Adderley Street late at night during the “festive season” in Cape Town, 2001.
Picture by Henry Trotter. The author releases it to the public domain.

A Dissertation Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology

In this dissertation I investigate the Christmas Bands Movement of the Western Cape of South Africa. I document this centuries-old expressive practice of ushering in the joy of Christmas through music by way of a social history of the colored communities. The term colored is a local racialized designation for people of mixed descent–often perceived as of mixed-race by the segregationist and apartheid ideologues. In the complexity of race relations in South Africa these communities have emerged largely within the black/white interstices and remained marginal to the socio-cultural and political landscape. Their ancestral area is the Western Cape where most still live and where several of their expressive practices can be witnessed over the festive season in the summer months from December through March. The Christmas Bands Movement is one of three parading practices that are active during this period.

Drawing on Foucault’s notion of “embodied subjectivity” and Butler’s work on gender and performativity, I explore three main themes, two of which are overlapping, throughout this dissertation. First, I investigate how the bands constitute themselves as respectable members of society through disciplinary routines, uniform dress, and military gestures. Second, I show how the band members constitute their subjectivity both individually as a member and collectively as a band; each has a mutual impact on the other. Even though the notion of subjectivity is more concerned with the inner thoughts and experiences and their concern with respectability is an outward manifestation of a social ideal, these two themes overlap as both relate to how the members constitute themselves. Third, I explore how the emergent gender politics, given renewed emphasis in the new South African constitution (1995) has played out in local expressive practices through the women’s insistence on being an integral part of the performance activities of the Christmas Bands Movement. Their acceptance into the Christmas Bands has transformed the historically gendered perception of the bands as male-only expressive forms. Furthermore, I will illustrate how this cultural practice has gained in popularity during the last seventeen years of democratic rule in South Africa, which may suggest that the historical marginality of the communities is still very present.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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EPSY 203: Exploring Biracial/multiracial Identity Course Description

Posted in Course Offerings, Media Archive, United States on 2012-05-28 23:48Z by Steven

EPSY 203: Exploring Biracial/multiracial Identity Course Description

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
(Part of the EPSY 203: Social Issues Group Dialogue Courses)

EPSY 203 provides students with opportunities to converse on diversity and social justice topic areas. Each section uses a structured dialogue format to explore intergroup and intragroup differences and similarities within historical and contemporary contexts. Each section uses active learning exercises, in addition to weekly readings, reflective writing assignments, and topic-based dialogues. EPSY 203 may be repeated in separate terms to a maximum of 6 hours.

This course explores biracial/multiracial identities offers a dialogue opportunity for students to explore the different concepts, perspectives and experiences of individuals identifying as having a biracial and/or a multiracial identity within the United States. Students will have an opportunity to personally explore, understand, and describe their understandings of biracial and multiracial identities and how those identities have changed over time. The course will focus on the implications for group definitions, personal and community identities, relationships and culture.


From exile to transcendence: racial mixture and the journey of revision in the works of Lydia Maria Child, Hannah Crafts, Kate Chopin, James Weldon Johnson, and Jean Toomer

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2011-06-26 19:50Z by Steven

From exile to transcendence: racial mixture and the journey of revision in the works of Lydia Maria Child, Hannah Crafts, Kate Chopin, James Weldon Johnson, and Jean Toomer

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
May 2010

Suzanne M. Lynch

My study, entitled From Exiles to Transcendences focuses on five authors: Lydia Maria Child, Hannah Crafts, Kate Chopin, James Weldon Johnson, and Jean Toomer. It examines each author’s effort to represent the mixed-race character as a constant “process of becoming” (Hall, Questions of Identity 4). This study aims to convey the distinctiveness of the American mixed-race character in American literature and to provide a thorough reading of how this distinctiveness is portrayed and sustained throughout the scope of the selected texts. My dissertation identifies the mixed-race voice as experientially distinct from other American raced voices while acknowledging the mixed-race character as one who demonstrates a connectedness to a plurality of racial cultures. The following chapters span a period of approximately 100 years and illustrate a common concern among them, albeit from differing perspectives and influences, regarding how home and family function as fluid spaces of racial subjectivity. My study maintains a position that the above authors questioned the presumed irreversibility of an entrenched understanding of family ties; that they challenged and rescripted the historically defined self with a self that privileges experience and discovery over pre-given identities; and that they depicted their characters as evolving subjects who created themselves with name and identity as they moved toward their “process of becoming.”

Read the dissertation here (may require log-in).

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