How to become an ex-black man

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2019-10-16 01:25Z by Steven

How to become an ex-black man

The Washington Post
2019-10-11

Carlos Lozada, Book Critic

Protesters march in the street in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 20, 2014. (Jeff Roberson, File)
Protesters march in the street in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 20, 2014. (Jeff Roberson, File)

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race
By Thomas Chatterton Williams. Norton. 174 pp. $25.95

Thomas Chatterton Williams has seen the future, and he is it.

The son of a mother who is “unambiguously white” and a father whom none has described as “anything other than black,” Williams grew up in middle-class New Jersey suburbia, where he sought to assert his black identity through hip-hop, basketball and BET. Blackness, and America’s racial binary, became “so fundamental to my self-conception that I’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations,” he writes.

But now Williams has reflected, and he finds blackness lacking. Not just blackness but whiteness, too, and any divisions and hierarchies based on race or color, those resilient constructs to which Americans attach such weight. Williams, a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, has come to see himself as an “ex-black man,” a transformation he contemplates in a thoughtful yet frustrating memoir, “Self-Portrait in Black and White.” The precipitating force was the birth of his daughter, Marlow, who entered the world with blond hair, light skin and “a pair of inky-blue irises that I knew even then would lighten considerably but never turn brown.”

Upon seeing her, Williams realizes that “whatever personal identity I had previously inhabited, I had now crossed into something new and different.” It is for Marlow, and because of her, that Williams comes to embrace the “fluidity of racial borders.” To that end, he painstakingly reconsiders just about every potentially relevant aspect of his life — his relationships, his distant relatives, his DNA test (39.9 percent sub-Saharan, 58.7 percent European), his elementary school days, the shape of his face, even a single strand of light hair emanating from his clavicle — as part of his attempt at “outgrowing the bounds and divisions of identity, of touching the universal.”…

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Judge strikes down Virginia race requirement for marriage license as unconstitutional

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-10-15 18:56Z by Steven

Judge strikes down Virginia race requirement for marriage license as unconstitutional

The Washington Post
2019-10-11

Rachel Weiner

Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. struck down a Virginia law mandating that marriage license applicants state their race. (Bob Brown/AP)
Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. struck down a Virginia law mandating that marriage license applicants state their race. (Bob Brown/AP)

A federal judge on Friday struck down as unconstitutional a Virginia law requiring people to state their race when applying for a marriage license.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is naturally rich in its greatest traditions,” Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. wrote in his opinion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. “But like other institutions, the stain of past mistakes, misgivings and discredited legislative mandates must always survive the scrutiny of our nation’s most important institution . . . The Constitution of the United States of America.”

The law, Alston found, violates the 14th Amendment right to due process. It is one of his first opinions; he was sworn in as a federal judge in August.

“We’re very pleased, of course,” plaintiffs’ attorney Victor M. Glasberg said. “The only unfortunate part is that it took a United States district judge to strike a Jim Crow provision that the state of Virginia insisted on defending in court.”

…He also disputed the contention that there is no “straight line” between a 1924 state law prohibiting interracial marriage and the requirement to choose a race when getting married. On the contrary, in his order he agreed with Glasberg that the law reflected a racist and segregationist past embodied in the first state registrar of vital statistics, a white supremacist named Walter Plecker

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Kamala Harris gets personal

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-09-26 02:00Z by Steven

Kamala Harris gets personal

The Washington Post
2019-09-23

Jennifer Rubin, Opinion Writer


Democratic presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) stands ahead of her address to an NAACP banquet on Saturday in Charleston, S.C. (Meg Kinnard/AP)

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has built her career on a model of inclusive, progressive change. She tells voters she became a prosecutor so she could change the system from the inside. However, she has rarely described herself as an insider on behalf of the African American community. But her address at the Charleston, S.C. NAACP Fund Banquet on Saturday shows that’s changing.

At the onset of her campaign, Harris was criticized as not sharing enough of herself. While she has touted her education at Howard University and raised her experience being bused to school as a young girl, her presidential campaign has stressed universality and inclusion. Her “3 a.m. agenda” has stressed that what keeps us up at night — medical bills, housing, our kids’ education — does not depend on whether one is a Republican or Democrat. She routinely states that “we have so much more in common than what separates us.”

That reticence, by necessity, has receded. Voters demand a level of candor and intimacy from their presidential candidates. To both define her message and defend her record, she has had to explain her tenure as a prosecutor and rebutted claims that she was a cog in the machine of mass incarceration. She’s been obliged to share stories of her experience as a prosecutor comforting mothers whose children have been shot and killed and in instituting anti-bias training for police officers.

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When people challenge her blackness, I always say, ‘If she went to Howard, it means she’s one of us.’

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-19 22:41Z by Steven

“When people challenge her [Kamala Harris’] blackness, I always say, ‘If she went to Howard [University], it means she’s one of us,’ ” says Howard grad and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong. “She comes from there. No one should challenge her blackness.”

Robin Givhan, “Kamala Harris grew up in a mostly white world. Then she went to a black university in a black city.The Washington Post, September 16, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/16/kamala-harris-grew-up-mostly-white-world-then-she-went-black-university-black-city/.

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Kamala Harris grew up in a mostly white world. Then she went to a black university in a black city.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-09-17 17:04Z by Steven

Kamala Harris grew up in a mostly white world. Then she went to a black university in a black city.

The Washington Post
2019-09-16

Robin Givhan, Fashion critic


From left: Karen Gibbs, Kamala Harris and Valerie Pippen at Homecoming in 1986-1987. (Courtesy of Karen Gibbs)

When anyone challenges her racial identity, the presidential candidate points to her four years at Howard University.

Kamala Harris wanted to go to a black school. That’s what black folks called Howard University in the early 1980s when Harris was a teenager considering her future.

Harris, she would say later, was seeking an experience wholly different from what she had long known. She’d attended majority-white schools her entire life — from elementary school in Berkeley, Calif., to high school in Montreal. Her parents’ professional lives and their personal story were bound up in majority-white institutions. Her father, an economist from Jamaica, was teaching at Stanford University. Her mother, a cancer researcher from India, had done her graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, where the couple had met and fallen in love. And Harris’s younger sister would eventually enroll at Stanford.

Harris wanted to be surrounded by black students, black culture and black traditions at the crown jewel of historically black colleges and universities

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Virginia couples no longer have to disclose race on marriage license applications, state attorney general says

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-09-16 19:22Z by Steven

Virginia couples no longer have to disclose race on marriage license applications, state attorney general says

The Washington Post
2019-09-14

Hannah Natanson


Sophie Rogers and Brandyn Churchill, who are getting married on Oct. 19, are shown in this engagement photograph in the Napa Valley. (Christophe Genty/Christophe Genty Photography)

Virginia will no longer require couples to identify by race on their marriage licenses, the state’s attorney general announced this week.

Under a new policy — which Attorney General Mark Herring detailed in emails to court clerks and members of the media late Friday — people getting married will be able to select “Declined to Answer” in a box asking about race. Herring also told clerks they must issue a marriage license “regardless of an applicant’s answer or non-answer to that inquiry.”

The new guidance comes about a week after three couples filed a federal lawsuit alleging the required disclosure of race is unconstitutional because it violates the First, 13th and 14th amendments.

“We were happy to help quickly resolve this issue and get these couples what they asked for,” Herring said in his statement. “These changes will ensure that no Virginian will be forced to label themselves to get married.”…

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‘Aryan’ and ‘Octoroon’: Couples challenge racial labels to get married in Virginia

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-09-06 22:15Z by Steven

‘Aryan’ and ‘Octoroon’: Couples challenge racial labels to get married in Virginia

The Washington Post
2019-09-06

Rachel Weiner


Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers are challenging a Virginia requrement to list race when applying for a marriage license. (Christophe Genty/Christophe Genty Photography)

When they applied for a marriage license in Rockbridge County, Va., Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers were told they could not have one unless they each chose a race, from a list that included “Aryan” and “Octoroon.”

The Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage over half a century ago. Yet the mechanism by which that prohibition was enforced remains on the books: a requirement that all would-be newlyweds identify by race. To fill out the form falsely is a felony.

So, weeks away from their planned Oct. 19 wedding at a barn in Fincastle, Va., the couple is challenging the law in Virginia federal court. Joined by two other engaged couples, they argue the law is a racist holdover that has no place in modern marriage.

The suit is part of both efforts to scrape away vestiges of segregation in Virginia and to move away from institutional categorization in both race and gender. The plaintiffs say people should be free in their personal lives to identify by race but shouldn’t be forced to, under the First, 13th and 14th amendments. But the lawsuit raises a more challenging question: Can the government address discrimination without labels created from it?…

Kevin Maillard, a law professor at Syracuse University who has studied interracial marriage, said that while researchers might use the data, “I don’t know what the compelling reason that the state would have in retaining tracking of those categories would be.”

But he was skeptical of an effort to move away from race altogether.

“I think with the deep history of racial strife we have in the United States, these categories are going to remain incredibly important,” Maillard said. “My mother is racially mixed, but she considers herself a black person.”

Civil rights groups rely on government data to investigate inequality in schools and the criminal justice system and challenge voting restrictions.

“We need data on who people are to see if there are patterns,” said Myrna Pérez of the Brennan Center for Justice…

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Plecker claimed that when the English, Dutch and Scottish landed on the shores of North America, they came “to found a civilization of the highest type, not to mix their blood with the savages of the land, not to originate a mongrel population.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-01 03:01Z by Steven

[Walter] Plecker was obsessed with white racial purity, a cause he clearly connected to his belief that the United States was a white man’s country. In a 1924 speech before the American Public Health Association, Plecker claimed that when the English, Dutch and Scottish landed on the shores of North America, they came “to found a civilization of the highest type, not to mix their blood with the savages of the land, not to originate a mongrel population.” The fatal error, he believed, was made in 1619 when the Dutch introduced African slaves to North America. “The problem was not slavery,” he told his audience, “but the presence of the negro in what should be a white man’s land.”

Susan Pearson, Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists, The Washington Post, September 11, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/11/birth-certificates-have-always-been-weapon-white-supremacists/.

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Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-08-31 20:23Z by Steven

Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

The Washington Post
2018-09-11

Susan Pearson, Associate Professor of History
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois


(Bigstock) (ziimmytws/Bigstock)

Policing the color line through vital documents.

The Trump administration’s decision to revive and expand the Bush and Obama-era practice of denying U.S. passports to Latinos born in South Texas should come as no surprise. From his assault on Barack Obama’s citizenship to his allegations that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists to his promise to institute a Muslim ban, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he believes the only true Americans are white.

But long before Trump rode to prominence promoting birtherism, birth certificates were an important instrument for policing the racial boundaries of citizenship. In the Jim Crow era, states used these seemingly innocuous public records to ensure that the rights of citizenship were accessible to white Americans — and no one else.

The best example of this comes from the career of Walter Plecker. Plecker, the state registrar of vital statistics in Virginia from 1912 to 1946, worked with the white-supremacist Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America to persuade the state legislature to pass the 1924 Racial Integrity Act

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Aaron Burr — villain of ‘Hamilton’ — had a secret family of color, new research shows

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing on 2019-08-26 00:51Z by Steven

Aaron Burr — villain of ‘Hamilton’ — had a secret family of color, new research shows

Retropolis
The Washington Post
2019-08-24

Hannah Natanson


A depiction of the duel between then-Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton at Weehawken, N.J., in 1804. The fight would end Hamilton’s life and forever soil Burr’s reputation. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The vice president is best known for killing rival Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel. But he was also a notorious rake, historians say.

Within a week of her arrival at Princeton University, Sherri Burr received a puzzling phone call.

The caller, another student, said Sherri was invited to a Burr family meeting — “Burr” as in Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the United States and villain of “Hamilton,” the astronomically popular musical. Aaron Burr’s father co-founded Princeton, the caller told her, so all descendants who attend the school are summoned to regular gatherings.

“I took a look down at my brown skin and thought, ‘Well, that doesn’t apply to me,’ ” said Sherri Burr, who was getting her graduate degree from Princeton. “So I never went.”…

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