On passing, wishing for darker skin, and finding your people: A conversation between two mulattos

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-08-23 21:41Z by Steven

On passing, wishing for darker skin, and finding your people: A conversation between two mulattos


Collier Meyerson

In 10th grade, I auditioned for the role of Julie in the musical Show Boat, one of the most famous portrayals of the tragic mulatto trope. I was cast, instead, as Queenie, the mammy. I deserved the part of Julie. I had a good singing voice. But there were no black people in my school to play the part of Queenie.

My first personal tragic mulatto moment.

Playing the mammy in Show Boat made me realize something my black mother had always told me and I never believed: the world did not see me as Julie, trying to manage two different backgrounds. It saw me as black. Specifically, white people saw me as black.

On Wednesday, I spoke with Mat Johnson, the author of Loving Day, a new novel that explores the mulatto experience—one that Johnson sees as a subset of the black experience. And one that the United States didn’t recognize until 2000, the first year the Census collected data on people of more than one race…

CM: I don’t personally pass as white. And I’ve always wondered about others who can. Do you ever choose to intentionally pass as white?

MJ: Every single time I get pulled over by a cop. And I feel guilty as I’m doing it, but you have never met a whiter man than me pulled over by a police officer. I mean, I sound like Gomer Pyle.

When I moved to New York I wondered what would happen if I stopped playing up my black identity. And I basically just let that go. I didn’t cut my hair in a way to look blacker. Didn’t have facial hair in a way that made me look blacker. I wore clothes that were more ethnically generic, just generally bland preppy. And I went through this whole period. It was maybe like a month where I just let that disappear…

Read the entire interview here.

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Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-08-23 21:25Z by Steven

Episode 096: Nicholas Guyatt, The Origins of Racial Segregation in the United States

Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History

Liz Covart, Host and Historian
Boston, Massachusetts

Ever wonder how the United States’ problem with race developed and why early American reformers didn’t find a way to fix it during the earliest days of the republic?

Today, Nicholas Guyatt, author of Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation, leads us on an exploration of how and why the idea of separate but equal developed in the early United States.

During our investigation, Nick reveals the demographics of the United States after the War for Independence; The early American problem of racial integration; And how and why early American reformers invented the idea of racial segregation.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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The changing faces of Singapore: Mixed race families

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive on 2016-08-23 20:17Z by Steven

The changing faces of Singapore: Mixed race families


Karen Tee

This little red dot may be tiny, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in diversity. As a society traditionally made up of people of different cultures and backgrounds, coexistence and intermixing is a common theme in our daily experience – be it in the food we eat, or even how we speak.

And according to the numbers, this is also a growing trend in our marriages and families. Around 20 per cent of marriages in Singapore in 2014 were inter-ethnic, in other words, between individuals of different races. This is up from 13 per cent a decade ago.

Experts say this trend is unsurprising, given Singapore’s increasingly well-travelled population and changing social norms.

“The world is a smaller place. And what would have been totally unusual two generations ago is far more acceptable in this day and age,” Anita Fam, a Families for Life council member, told TODAY.

Meet three mixed race Singaporean families, and hear their stories of when different cultures and traditions meet, and how they celebrate their diverse backgrounds….

Read the entire article here.

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Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-08-23 19:52Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil

Vanity Fair
September 2016

Charles Bolden, Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Katherine Johnson, photographed at Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia.
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.


NASA chief Charles Bolden recalls the historic trajectory of the “human computer” who played a key role in the Apollo 11 moon landing, and as a female African-American in the 1960s, shattered stereotypes in the process.

When I was growing up, in segregated South Carolina, African-American role models in national life were few and far between. Later, when my fellow flight students and I, in training at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi, clustered around a small television watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, little did I know that one of the key figures responsible for its success was an unassuming black woman from West Virginia: Katherine Johnson. Hidden Figures is both an upcoming book and an upcoming movie about her incredible life, and, as the title suggests, Katherine worked behind the scenes but with incredible impact…

..“In math, you’re either right or you’re wrong,” she said. Her succinct words belie a deep curiosity about the world and dedication to her discipline, despite the prejudices of her time against both women and African-Americans. It was her duty to calculate orbital trajectories and flight times relative to the position of the moon—you know, simple things. In this day and age, when we increasingly rely on technology, it’s hard to believe that John Glenn himself tasked Katherine to double-check the results of the computer calculations before his historic orbital flight, the first by an American. The numbers of the human computer and the machine matched.

With a slide rule and a pencil, Katherine advanced the cause of human rights and the frontier of human achievement at the same time. Having graduated from high school at 14 and college at 18 at a time when African-Americans often did not go beyond the eighth grade, she used her amazing facility with geometry to calculate Alan Shepard’s flight path and took the Apollo 11 crew to the moon to orbit it, land on it, and return safely to Earth…

Read the entire article here.

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Nicholas Guyatt’s ‘Bind Us Apart’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-08-23 19:28Z by Steven

Nicholas Guyatt’s ‘Bind Us Apart’

Book Reviews
The New York Times

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History
Columbia University, New York, New York

How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation
By Nicholas Guyatt
Illustrated. 403 pp. Basic Books. $29.99.

Half a century ago, inspired by the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, historians embarked on an effort to identify the origins of racial segregation. C. Vann Woodward insisted that rather than existing from time immemorial, as the ruling’s opponents claimed, segregation emerged in the 1890s. Others located its genesis in Reconstruction or the pre-Civil War North.

Eventually, the debate faded. Now, Nicholas Guyatt offers a new interpretation. Segregation and its ideological justification “separate but equal,” he argues, originated in the early Republic in the efforts of “enlightened Americans” to uplift and protect Indians and African-­Americans. After trying and abandoning other policies, these reformers and policy makers concluded that only separation from whites — removal of Indians to the trans-Mississippi West and blacks to Africa — would enable these groups to enjoy their natural rights and achieve economic and cultural advancement. Thus, almost from the outset, the idea of separating the races was built into the DNA of the United States.

Guyatt, who teaches at the University of Cambridge, is the author of a well-­regarded book on the history of the idea (still very much alive today) that God has chosen this country for a special mission. In “Bind Us Apart” he addresses another theme central to our national identity: Who is an American? To find an answer he offers a detailed account of early national policies toward Indians and blacks…

…One of Guyatt’s surprising findings is how many liberals believed that the Indian population should be assimilated through intermarriage. “You will mix with us by marriage,” [Thomas] Jefferson told an Indian delegation in 1808. “We shall all be Americans.” Not all whites agreed, of course. In the 1820s “all hell broke loose” in Cornwall, Conn., when two young Indian men who arrived to study at a religious school ended up marrying local white women…

Read the entire review here.

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Anti-Blackness And The Myths Of “Monoracial Privilege” & The “White/Black Binary”

Posted in Articles, Media Archive on 2016-08-23 19:04Z by Steven

Anti-Blackness And The Myths Of “Monoracial Privilege” & The “White/Black Binary”

Gradient Lair: Black women + art, media, social media, socio-politics & culture

Trudy Hamilton

In the last few days in social media I have seen conversations about the experiences of multiracial/mixed people of colour and these conversations have often been framed by anti-Blackness including notions of “monoracial privilege” and the “White/Black binary.” At times, these conversations have been so incredibly cruel that perhaps I should have done more to avoid them (somewhat hard to on Twitter as these conversations have occurred even among “anti-racism activists” and “feminists”) because it does not really help for someone like me who deals with anxiety and deals with anti-Blackness daily where I live. On the one hand, many non-Black people of colour demand solidarity with Black people–often to the point where Black people’s deaths become rhetorical devices about “generic” “people of colour” being extrajudicially killed (when this is overwhelmingly a Black experience) and Black women are expected to just be mules to drag their signs written with concepts that Black women created–but on the other hand, they use anti-Black framing to articulate their identities and experiences, while also not holding White supremacy accountable for why these differences even matter in a way that creates hierarchical and intersecting oppressions…

Read the entire article here.

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What Is Monoracial Privilege? (Hint: If You Are One Race Only You’ve Got It…)

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-08-23 18:44Z by Steven

What Is Monoracial Privilege? (Hint: If You Are One Race Only You’ve Got It…)

Mixed Race Feminist Blog

Nicola Codner
Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

The definition of the word monoracial is to be ‘composed of or involving members of one race only’. Monoracial privilege therefore refers to the advantages and benefits that come with being a person who is one race only. A person of any race can have this privilege if they are of only one race.

Monoracial privilege is an extremely controversial topic. I am 100% certain this article would never be posted by a popular feminist blog for that very reason. Many black American people insist monoracial privilege is not real and some multiracial American people agree with this too. I’m less clear about perspectives on this in the UK, where I live, and where race is less discussed. In this article I will outline some of the privileges that come with being monoracial and you can decide for yourself where you stand on this. I think the only reason people can get away with saying monoracial privilege doesn’t exist is because multiracial perspectives have such a long history of being ignored or dismissed. There is a lack of research on the racial experiences of multiracial people and as a group we have really only just begun to join forces and to speak out about our experiences. All of this makes it very easy for monoracial people to insist that multiracial perspectives are invalid. Despite the fact that the impact of racism on multiracial people is relatively unexplored territory and most people know nothing about the lives of multiracial people, many monoracial people constantly tell us what our experiences are and are not. This has been the story of my life. Between white racism and horizontal hostility from the other minority ethnic group or groups we belong to, multiracial people are often expected to keep our mouths shut. Well, I’m here to say, no I don’t think so! I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not going to be silenced by monoracial people. I know that monoracial privilege is real from my own lived experience…

Read the entire article here.

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The Dougla Defect

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2016-08-23 18:07Z by Steven

The Dougla Defect

Without Wax

Sara Bharrat

Dougla Defect?
Indian speaks to a Dougla woman about her Dougla baby
Indian: The baby getting nice now.
Now he complexion comin’ lil clear.

—(Rochelle Etwaroo photo and testimony)

For Rochelle Etwaroo: the hybrid of two great people and a seed of hope.

The Dougla Defect is evidence of Guyana’s ongoing Black and Indian war. It is a source of shame to both the Black and Indian man who insists on remaining entrenched in fear. They have both condemned the hybrid of themselves to that cold, cruel no man’s land that separates them.

It is not the Black man or the Indian man who has suffered the most painful wounds in this war. It is the hybrid who suffers; the Dougla boy, the Dougla girl, whose only crime has been birth. The war has stolen home and identity from the Dougla and replaced it with hurt and displacement. How can a nation be so cruel to its children?…

Read the entire article here.

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Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-08-23 17:47Z by Steven

Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation

Basic Books
416 pages
Hardcover ISBN 13: 978-0-465-01841-3

Nicholas Guyatt, University Lecturer in American History
Cambridge University

The surprising and counterintuitive origins of America’s racial crisis

Why did the Founding Fathers fail to include blacks and Indians in their cherished proposition that “all men are created equal”? The usual answer is racism, but the reality is more complex and unsettling. In Bind Us Apart, historian Nicholas Guyatt argues that, from the Revolution through the Civil War, most white liberals believed in the unity of all human beings. But their philosophy faltered when it came to the practical work of forging a color-blind society. Unable to convince others—and themselves—that racial mixing was viable, white reformers began instead to claim that people of color could only thrive in separate republics: in Native states in the American West or in the West African colony of Liberia.

Herein lie the origins of “separate but equal.” Decades before Reconstruction, America’s liberal elite was unable to imagine how people of color could become citizens of the United States. Throughout the nineteenth century, Native Americans were pushed farther and farther westward, while four million slaves freed after the Civil War found themselves among a white population that had spent decades imagining that they would live somewhere else.

Essential reading for anyone disturbed by America’s ongoing failure to achieve true racial integration, Bind Us Apart shows conclusively that “separate but equal” represented far more than a southern backlash against emancipation—it was a founding principle of our nation.

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GONS-FA16.03 | Transcending Race

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Philosophy, United States on 2016-08-23 00:58Z by Steven

GONS-FA16.03 | Transcending Race

GONS – Gonson Society Lecture Series
The Cambridge Center for Adult Education
42 Brattle Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
2016-10-12, 11:00 EDT (Local Time)

Carlos Hoyt

Based on Carlos Hoyt’s recently published book, The Arc of a Bad Idea: Understanding and Transcending Race, will provide a penetrating, provocative, and promising analysis and alternative to the hegemonic racial world-view. How race came about, how it evolved into a natural-seeming aspect of human identity, and how racialization, as a habit of the mind, can be broken is presented through the unique and corrective framing of race as a time-bound (versus eternal) concept, the lifespan of which is traceable and the demise of which is predictable.

For more information, click here.

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