Dealing with Everyday Racism as a Black Mom with a White-Passing Son

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-03-18 01:28Z by Steven

Dealing with Everyday Racism as a Black Mom with a White-Passing Son


Ndéla Faye
London, United Kingdom

Illustration by Erin Aniker

Do they live far?” the woman asks me in the swimming pool changing rooms, nodding her head towards my son. “We live across the river, not far from here,” I reply, not quite understanding the wording of her question. On my way home I realize that her choice of pronoun referred to my son’s family—which she assumed I was not a part of. She did not think my child was mine. I bite my lip and wipe the tears from my eyes.

When white professor Robert E. Kelly’s children interrupted his live interview on the BBC last year, many thought his Korean wife, visible in the background, was the nanny. The incident sparked a much-needed debate on stereotypes and racism, but the truth is this is part and parcel of many non-white mum’s life. Having lived in London for more than a decade, where less than half the population identify as white and British, I have – perhaps naively – been lulled into the idea that people don’t judge me based on the color of my skin. But since the birth of my child, I’ve been proven wrong time and time again.

I notice a shop security guard staring at my son, examining his features and trying to answer the big red question mark blinking in his head. “Are you looking after him for someone?” he blurts out. This time I’m unable to hide my anger. “No, I pushed him out myself,” I reply curtly. I make a swift exit, accompanied by the awkward laughs and raised eyebrows of those who witnessed this unfortunate exchange. Swatting away microaggressions with an invisible bat has become part of my everyday survival.

Part of motherhood is being thrown into a whole new world, but as the mother of a “white-passing” child, I’ve been thrown head first into a place where a playgroup leader asks if I am my child’s guardian—but immediately refers to my white friend and her white baby as “mom and baby.” A place where an Irish woman corrects me on the pronunciation of my own child’s Irish name. A place where I see people flinch with surprise as I nurse my son in public, and I wonder whether they think I’m a hired wet nurse, and keep smiling even though I feel like crying…

Read the entire article here.

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Race, or The Last Colonial Struggle in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2018-03-18 01:10Z by Steven

Race, or The Last Colonial Struggle in Latin America

Age of Revolutions

Jason McGraw, Associate Professor of History
Indiana University, Bloomington

Simón Bolívar emancipa los esclavos de Colombia [Simón Bolívar Frees the Slaves of Colombia], Luis Cancino Fernández, Venezuela, 19th century.

Latin America has long captivated outsiders for its seeming absence of a black-white racial binary, fluidity in racial self-ascriptions, and racially-mixed populations. Latin American elites, for their part, willingly adopted this sense of exceptionalism, and for much of the twentieth century the region gained a reputation as home to so-called racial democracies.1 Yet over the last 30 years, scholars and activists have documented the region’s pervasive anti-black and anti-Indian sentiments and its lack of social mobility for people of African or indigenous descent. Societies once heralded as racially democratic are now exposed for their rampant racist exclusions and inequality, which are often accompanied by fervent disavowals of racism.2

Even as challenges to the myth of racial democracy deserve plaudits, they have arrived with some of their own blinkered assumptions. Like earlier pro-racial democracy polemics, recent critical antiracist scholarship often relies on static notions of culture and ahistorical understandings of Latin America. But what would happen if we pushed back the timeline and examined politics, as well as culture? How would our understanding of Latin America’s racial orders change if we looked at its nineteenth-century revolutionary upheavals?3

Because I can’t cover the entire region or the last two centuries in this blog post, I’ll focus on Colombia, the country I have studied most closely, and on important turning points in the nineteenth-century politics of race. What I hope becomes clear is that both the older myth of racial democracy and increasingly acknowledged racial inequality, each perceived in its own way as an unchanging truth, owe something of their existence to nineteenth-century revolutionary struggles…

Read the entire article here.

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A Brutal Heritage Finally Revealed

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-18 01:00Z by Steven

A Brutal Heritage Finally Revealed

Book Review
The New York Times

Sheila A. Kohler

Krystal A. Sital
Elwira Katarzyna Maciejewski

SECRETS WE KEPT: Three Women of Trinidad
By Krystal A. Sital
337 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $25.95.

When Krystal Sital’s grandfather Shiva Singh suffers a cerebral hemorrhage, her grandmother Rebecca, after 53 years of marriage, reacts with calm indifference. Sital, who reveres her tall, strong and generous grandfather, with his white hair and “skin the color of a sapphire sky,” spends much of her suspenseful memoir, “Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad,” elucidating this response.

With the family patriarch debilitated, Sital’s grandmother and her mother are safe for the first time, able to share their secrets with Sital, who listens, her blood pumping to a “chant I cannot forget.” These vivid memories attack us as they do her, “in waves.”…

…The Trinidad depicted here is rife with prejudice and hate. Hostility persists between the Africans, brought as slaves, and the Indians, who arrived as indentured servants. Those of mixed race are called “mulatto,” “dougla” and “cocopanyol” — “the words are hissed and spat at my family: My grandmother is mixed, my Indian grandfather is not.”…

Read the entire review here.

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The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2018-03-18 00:40Z by Steven

The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship

University of North Carolina Press
August 2014
344 pages
6.125 x 9.25
6 halftones, 1 map, 4 tables, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1786-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1787-9

Jason McGraw, Associate Professor of History
Indiana University, Bloomington

2015 Michael Jiménez Prize, Colombia Section, Latin American Studies Association

This book tells the compelling story of postemancipation Colombia, from the liberation of the slaves in the 1850s through the country’s first general labor strikes in the 1910s. As Jason McGraw demonstrates, ending slavery fostered a new sense of citizenship, one shaped both by a model of universal rights and by the particular freedom struggles of African-descended people. Colombia’s Caribbean coast was at the center of these transformations, in which women and men of color, the region’s majority population, increasingly asserted the freedom to control their working conditions, fight in civil wars, and express their religious beliefs.

The history of Afro-Colombians as principal social actors after emancipation, McGraw argues, opens up a new view on the practice and meaning of citizenship. Crucial to this conception of citizenship was the right of recognition. Indeed, attempts to deny the role of people of color in the republic occurred at key turning points exactly because they demanded public recognition as citizens. In connecting Afro-Colombians to national development, The Work of Recognition also places the story within the broader contexts of Latin American popular politics, culture, and the African diaspora.

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Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Monographs, United States, Women on 2018-03-18 00:23Z by Steven

Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

W. W. Norton & Company
February 2018
352 pages
5.9 × 8.6 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60926-4

Krystal A. Sital

An eloquent new Caribbean literary voice reveals the hidden trauma and fierce resilience of one Trinidadian family.

There, in a lush landscape of fire-petaled immortelle trees and vast plantations of coffee and cocoa, where the three hills along the southern coast act as guardians against hurricanes, Krystal A. Sital grew up idolizing her grandfather, a wealthy Hindu landowner. Years later, to escape crime and economic stagnation on the island, the family resettled in New Jersey, where Krystal’s mother works as a nanny, and the warmth of Trinidad seems a pretty yet distant memory. But when her grandfather lapses into a coma after a fall at home, the women he has terrorized for decades begin to speak, and a brutal past comes to light.

In the lyrical patois of her mother and grandmother, Krystal learns the long-held secrets of their family’s past, and what it took for her foremothers to survive and find strength in themselves. The relief of sharing their stories draws the three women closer, the music of their voices and care for one another easing the pain of memory.

Violence, a rigid ethnic and racial caste system, and a tolerance of domestic abuse—the harsh legacies of plantation slavery—permeate the history of Trinidad. On the island’s plantations, in its growing cities, and in the family’s new home in America, Secrets We Kept tells a story of ambition and cruelty, endurance and love, and most of all, the bonds among women and between generations that help them find peace with the past.

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The Recursive Outcomes of the Multiracial Movement and the End of American Racial Categories

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-18 00:08Z by Steven

The Recursive Outcomes of the Multiracial Movement and the End of American Racial Categories

Studies in American Political Development
Volume 31, Issue 1 (April 2017)
pages 88-107
DOI: 10.1017/S0898588X17000074

Kim M. Williams, Associate Professor of Political Science
Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

After a protracted national discussion about racial mixture in the early 1990s, the Office of Management and Budget made the unprecedented decision in 1997 to allow Americans to “mark one or more” racial categories on the 2000 census. A small “multiracial movement” provoked this fundamental change in the way the government collects racial data. This case study shows that even very small and modest social movements can have profound effects on public policy through their unintended consequences. In winning a redefinition of how the U.S. government defines and counts by race, the multiracial movement of the 1990s set in motion a process that has both amplified and been amplified by broader structural and cultural changes in how Americans perceive race. The modest impact of a small social movement can ultimately produce very big consequences.

Read or purchase the article here.

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I’m Raising A Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2018-03-17 23:56Z by Steven

I’m Raising A Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface

The Huffington Post

Tracy Jones, Guest Writer

Tracy Jones
Me, my wife, Haruki, and daughter, Kantra.

I live in Tokyo, in a homogenous society where 98.5 percent of the population is Japanese. My wife Haruki is Japanese, and my 4-year-old daughter Kantra is the only black girl in her preschool class. I remember when the Japanese delivery nurse called her Halle Berry immediately after my wife gave birth to her.

They were the first words my daughter ever heard. When the nurse sensed my confusion, she tried to improve her comment: “Naomi Campbell?”

Kantra was born in the summer of 2013. As a stay-at-home dad, I used online compilations of Sesame Street to teach her the alphabet, colors, shapes and numbers in English. I thought about getting a TV, but my wife explained to me that Japanese television programs regularly use blackface. Minus watching Japanese TV when visiting my in-laws, I never paid it much attention.

I moved to Japan in 2011 and for the first two years, I couldn’t figure out if I was insane or if Japan was like America where, as a black person, I was accustomed to sensing white fear and the possible danger of it harming my body…

Read the entire article here.

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It’s quite racist to call your mixed race friends black if they don’t identify as such

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-03-17 23:37Z by Steven

It’s quite racist to call your mixed race friends black if they don’t identify as such

Thursday, 2017-10-05

Miranda Larbi

(Picture: Ella Byworth for

‘My cousin will be so shocked when I tell him I’m dating a black girl!’ my ex said shortly after we started dating.

There I was, wondering whether I’d accidentally taken up with a polyamorous hippy when I realised to my surprise, that he was actually talking about me.

Me – the most beige of people. The person with skin the colour of korma. As close to a Simpson as you could get.

I mean…I am a bit black but that’s not immediately obvious. It was a confusing moment.

Being ascribed an identity that doesn’t belong to you is an odd experience. It makes you doubt how you act and whether you see yourself vastly differently to the way others see you.

And it’s especially tricky when it comes to race…

Read the entire article here.

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The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2018-03-16 02:49Z by Steven

The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil

University of Minnesota Press
320 pages
9 b&w photos
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 978-1-5179-0156-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-5179-0155-4

Jaime Amparo Alves, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
College of Staten Island of the City University of New York
also: Associate Researcher
Centro de Estudios Afrodiaspóricos of Universidad Icesi/Colombia

An important new ethnographic study of São Paulo’s favelas reveals the widespread use of race-based police repression in Brazil

While Black Lives Matter still resonates in the United States, the movement has also become a potent rallying call worldwide, with harsh police tactics and repressive state policies often breaking racial lines. In The Anti-Black City, Jaime Amparo Alves delves into the dynamics of racial violence in Brazil, where poverty, unemployment, residential segregation, and a biased criminal justice system create urban conditions of racial precarity.

The Anti-Black City provocatively offers race as a vital new lens through which to view violence and marginalization in the supposedly “raceless” São Paulo. Ironically, in a context in which racial ambiguity makes it difficult to identify who is black and who is white, racialized access to opportunities and violent police tactics establish hard racial boundaries through subjugation and death. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in prisons and neighborhoods on the periphery of this mega-city, Alves documents the brutality of police tactics and the complexity of responses deployed by black residents, including self-help initiatives, public campaigns against police violence, ruthless gangs, and self-policing of communities.

The Anti-Black City reveals the violent and racist ideologies that underlie state fantasies of order and urban peace in modern Brazil. Illustrating how “governing through death” has become the dominant means for managing and controlling ethnic populations in the neoliberal state, Alves shows that these tactics only lead to more marginalization, criminality, and violence. Ultimately, Alves’s work points to a need for a new approach to an intractable problem: how to govern populations and territories historically seen as “ungovernable.”

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: On Our Own Terms
  • 1. Macabre Spatialities
  • 2. “Police, Get off My Back!”
  • 3. The Favela-Prison Pipeline
  • 4. Sticking Up!
  • 5. Bringing Back the Dead
  • Conclusion: Blackpolis
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
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Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2018-03-16 02:47Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
August 2018
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503605046
Paper ISBN: 9781503606012

Ana Paulina Lee, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies
Columbia University, New York, New York

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor—an era when black slavery shifted to “yellow labor” and racial anxieties surged. Lee asks how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil’s nation-building project, which prioritized “whitening,” a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, Lee interrogates how Chinese and Japanese imperial ambitions and Asian ethnic supremacy reinforced Brazil’s whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

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