Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘That Hurt Like the Bejesus’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-25 20:23Z by Steven

Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘That Hurt Like the Bejesus’

The New York Times
2015-01-22


Tracee Ellis Ross Credit Pej Behdarvand for The New York Times

The actress talks with Jenna Wortham about defining her own sense of beauty and humor.

It’s awards-show season. Do you like going to the shows? I didn’t actually go to the Golden Globes, but I do love awards-show season. It means lots of pretty dresses — and it’s even more fun when you are nominated.

The show you’re on, “black-ish,” has gotten a fair amount of critical praise. Do you know if the show has been picked up for a second season? No. Having been in the business for a while, I never like to look forward. You kind of enjoy what’s happening while it’s happening and leave the rest up to God, the angels, the trees, the stars — whatever you want to call it.

I love how women have responded to you in particular, especially the way you wear your hair out in this gorgeous storm cloud. A storm cloud? Is that what you said?

I may have said that, yes. That’s lovely. Women are asked to put forward, to a certain extent, a mask. And for black women, that has taken on greater significance, because the standard of beauty has not necessarily had the space for different definitions of beauty. I’m trying to find my own version of what makes me feel beautiful. On “black-ish,” there’s a lot that has to be done working around my hair, in terms of scheduling…

Read the entire interview here.

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Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru by Rachel Sarah O’Toole (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-01-25 17:53Z by Steven

Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru by Rachel Sarah O’Toole (review)

Journal of Social History
Volume 48, Number 2, Winter 2014
pages 465-466

Erick D. Langer, Professor of Latin American History
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

O’Toole, Rachel Sarah, Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

The presence of Africans and their descendants is much more important than often realized in Peru. During the colonial period, tens of thousands of Africans were forced to cross the isthmus at Panama City and be sold as slaves in Peru. Even today, the rhythms of chicha, a combination of African and indigenous sounds, resonate in popular Peruvian music. The famous Peruvian cuisine was forged with important ingredients of European, Andean and African food heritages (as well as the nineteenth-century Chinese influences). More than anywhere else in the Andean region, African culture has melded with that of the Andes.

Rachel O’Toole documents Andean and African contributions to colonial society in the northern Peruvian coast during the seventeenth century. She breaks new ground by reexamining the interactions between Andeans and Africans and also explores how Andean peoples became “Indians” and Africans became “blacks.” The supposition, based on Spanish sources, had been that Africans were the enemies of the Indians, since they had more in common with their masters and abused the Andeans when they entered indigenous villages. However, O’Toole shows that that was not necessarily the case; Andeans and Africans interacted in many ways, including helping each other, intermarrying, being godparents to each other, and maintaining intense commercial relations.

Most of all, O’Toole emphasizes the new legal environment in Peru, where Africans became a legal category, a type of casta, that made human beings from Africa into merchandise and flattened out as much as possible the slaves’ diverse origins on the African continent. The Indians in turn came into a different category, of people who, according to the Spanish, were vulnerable to black castas and who enjoyed greater protections and higher legal status than people of African descent. She uses the metaphor of location to position each group into its respective legal category and how that changed over time.

After dealing with African-Andean interactions and the creation of the legal positions of each group, the author takes the last three chapters to delineate not so much the interactions between the two, but rather the making of the “Indian” category (Chapter 3) and the slave category (Chapter 2) within the casta system, which reified racial categories and created the divisions between the races. In the case of the Indians, she focuses on land and water, while for slaves she zeroes in on labor conditions. As O’Toole notes, “casta did the work of race” (164). Within the colonial system, this permitted Spaniards to divide and rule based on the differing regulations each category of human being, whether Spaniard, Indian, or black casta, had to follow. O’Toole takes to task in the conclusion of her book the towering seventeenth-century work of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala and his negative perception of Africans. Guaman Poma, an indigenous nobleman, wrote a 1,189 page missive to the Spanish king, in which he complained about abuses against the indigenous population, especially that of the Africans. O’Toole asserts that this opinion is much too negative an assessment and that “Africans and their descendants were central to the making of the colonial Andes” (161).

This book is an important addition to the field because for the first time it focuses on the complex relationships between indigenous peoples and Africans in a central region of the Spanish empire. O’Toole also fruitfully used legal documents to “read along the grain” (66) to understand the construction of the Indian categories, centering on the judicial performances of Andeans, who consciously chose laws that favored their positions. This follows work done by many other scholars of the colonial Andes to further refine how the diverse indigenous peoples ended up in a flattened category of “Indian.” The creation of the Indian category paralleled what happened to the Africans through their experience of slavery, as the author makes clear.

Using the northern Peruvian coast as the case study for understanding the interaction between Andeans and Africans has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, this was the Andean region where the majority of Africans were imported and so there is enough evidence to document the relations between the two groups. On the other hand, the…

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‘Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye,’ by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews on 2015-01-25 02:56Z by Steven

‘Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye,’ by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2015-01-23

Richard Lloyd Parry

Mockett, Marie Mutsuki, Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015), 316 pp.

Among the many shocking things about tsunamis — along with their suddenness, violence and indiscriminate destruction of life and community — is how little there is to say about them. Man-made catastrophes, like wars or nuclear accidents, provide infinite opportunities for blame, recrimination and lessons learned. But natural disasters have no politics. One can quibble about the height of sea walls, the promptness of warnings and the quality of aid given to survivors. But such events have always occurred in countries like Japan, and always will. When the wave has receded, the dead have been counted and the slow work of recovery has begun, the pundits sheepishly quit the field and abandon it to the theologians, the spiritualists and the priests.

These are the people at the core of Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s book, which opens with the tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in 2011 and closes with a ghost. The act of God and the haunting frame an intriguing, but often awkward, travelogue through a landscape of Japanese spiritual belief, with forays into history, folklore and memoir. But the book’s central subject, deferred and evaded for much of its length, is the stubborn anguish of personal grief — the experience, as Mockett puts it, of being “kidnapped against one’s will and forced to go to some foreign country, all the while just longing to go back home.”

Mockett’s country is the United States, but she is a complicated, troubled American, and like many such journeys, hers is also a quest for identity. As the child of an American father, raised in California, she regards herself as fully of the West. From her Japanese mother she has acquired fluency in the language, although no sense of belonging in her maternal country. But she has the ability, fully available only to those on the margins, “to see through more than one set of eyes, if one learns to pay attention to one’s environment.” It is this gift of double-sightedness, of bringing to bear both the “dry” rationality of the West and the “sticky” sensibilities professed by the Japanese, that makes this the most interesting book so far to have come out of the disaster…

Read the entire review here.

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U.Va. Poetry Professor Rita Dove’s ‘Sonata Mulattica’ to be Adapted for Film

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2015-01-25 02:44Z by Steven

U.Va. Poetry Professor Rita Dove’s ‘Sonata Mulattica’ to be Adapted for Film

UVA Today
Charlottesville, Virginia
2013-05-07

Anne E. Bromley, Associate

Little did poet Rita Dove know when she published her book, “Sonata Mulattica,” that it would go beyond rescuing from obscurity a 19th-century, Afro-European violin virtuoso named George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower.

Now that book of poems and a play-in-verse penned by Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, is becoming the subject of a documentary not only about Dove writing about Bridgetower, but also featuring the contemporary story of African-American violin virtuoso and composer Joshua Coyne.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded nonprofit Stone Soup Productions an Art Works grant to help the film company, Spark Media, produce the feature-length documentary, also to be named “Sonata Mulattica.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2015-01-25 02:11Z by Steven

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
January 2015
336 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-06301-1
6.6 × 9.6 in

Marie Mutsuki Mockett

How does one cope with overwhelming grief?

Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather’s bones. As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.

Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colorful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt, and finally uplift her. Her journey leads her into the radiation zone in an intricate white hazmat suit; to Eiheiji, a school for Zen Buddhist monks; on a visit to a Crab Lady and Fuzzy-Headed Priest’s temple on Mount Doom; and into the “thick dark” of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns. From the ecstasy of a cherry blossom festival in the radiation zone to the ghosts inhabiting chopsticks, Mockett writes of both the earthly and the sublime with extraordinary sensitivity. Her unpretentious and engaging voice makes her the kind of companion a reader wants to stay with wherever she goes, even into the heart of grief itself.

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Aboriginal Identity: Who is ‘Aboriginal’?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2015-01-25 01:45Z by Steven

Aboriginal Identity: Who is ‘Aboriginal’?

Creative Spirits
2014-12-23

Jens Korff

  • People who identify themselves as ‘Aboriginal’ range from dark-skinned, broad-nosed to blonde-haired, blue-eyed people.
  • Aboriginal people define Aboriginality not by skin colour but by relationships.
  • Light-skinned Aboriginal people often face challenges on their Aboriginal identity because of stereotyping.

Ever since white people mixed with Aboriginal people they have struggled to define who is ‘Aboriginal’.

Racist definitions of Aboriginal identity

  • ‘full-blood’ as a person who had no white blood,
  • ‘half-caste’ as someone with one white parent,
  • ‘quadroon’ or ‘quarter-caste’ as someone with an Aboriginal grandfather or grandmother,
  • ‘octoroon’ as someone whose great-grandfather or great-grandmother was Aboriginal.


Caste categories in an identity card used in the 1940s [4].

These “one-dimensional models of Aboriginality” [41] pervaded literature of that time. Today these words are considered offensive and racist. In fact, racism lies just beneath the surface and it “bubbles out” when Aboriginal identity is discussed [40]…

…Is there genetic proof of Aboriginality?

Proposals of genetic testing as a means of proving one’s Aboriginality have been dismissed on the grounds that ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ are social, cultural and political constructs [2] which cannot be tested objectively.

Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian has a story to tell about genetic proof [48]: “I have a brother (by association, and my own recognition), who has sought ‘recognition’ of his Torres Strait/Aboriginal heritage for the last five years. “This dear man comes and sits with me to tell me of the joys of his discoveries and the sorrows of hearing, ‘This is not enough.’

“His last attempt [was] back to an Aboriginal organisation in the town of his birth was met with, ‘You might have to get DNA proof’ DNA proof! I rang the Chairperson, and asked what this DNA stuff was about. I heard the phone being placed back and the line go dead.

“This man lived in this town all of his life, is known by the Chairperson, and the organisation… and only moved later in life. He is in his fifties now, and he, his wife and I have been trawling through historical documents, court documents, government documents for this ‘proof’.”…

…Most people still believe that Aboriginal people are poor, uneducated and live in the desert. But only 25% of Aboriginal people live in remote areas.

While the vibrant life of urban Aboriginal communities goes mostly unnoticed, the national eyes turn willingly to reports of violence, criminal activities or antisocial behaviour (such as drinking) which then shape the perception of urban Aboriginal identity.

Aboriginal writer Anita Heiss, author of “Am I Black Enough For You?”, describes herself as “a concrete Koori with Westfield dreaming” [43]. She is urban, educated, glamorous and cheeky, hates camping and cannot tell the time by the sun [44]…

Read the entire article here.

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Adopting The Asian in ‘Caucasian': Korean Adoptees and White Privilege

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-25 01:19Z by Steven

Adopting The Asian in ‘Caucasian': Korean Adoptees and White Privilege

Hyphen: Asian America Unabridged
2015-01-20

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut

My father remembers that when I first arrived, he’d wake up to me calling out “Abojee! Abojee!” in the middle of the night, the Korean word for father. As a little girl, those nights in my new home in America were filled with angst that if I fell asleep at night, I might wake up utterly alone. I fought against the tide of sleep until I was secure in the knowledge that one of my parents was still at my side. I remember my mother would often sing me to sleep with Christmas carols, after running out of lullabies.

I was around two years old when I was adopted. I say ‘around’ because my date of birth and name on my official adoption documents were most likely fabricated by social workers at the White Lily orphanage in Daegu, South Korea in 1979. On those papers, it says that I was “abandoned,” without explanation nor names of my biological parents; for many Korean adoptees, this is the norm. Many of us will never know our real stories because those early erasures of our original families were not only commonplace but were created to make us into social orphans, a profitable industry. Many of us were the children of unwed mothers who faced the stigma of raising us alone and unsupported by the state. Caught in precarious social and economic circumstances, their only option was to relinquish their children to wealthy, white and European parents who could provide “a better life” with the promise of a home, education, and cultural capital.

I feel compelled to return to this giant chimera of adoption because it continues to haunt me. Equivalent to the giant elephant in the room, the chimera represents everything that is unspeakable and messy and ambivalent. Like many Korean adoptees, I grew up in a liberal, white family, in a predominantly white town, and came of age during the years of neoliberal multiculturalism in the 1980s to 1990s. I didn’t realize it then, but my discomfort as a hypervisible minority in my family was the direct result of being raised in a climate of colorblind attitudes when international adoption was part of a continuing trend of the white American savior complex. I was taught to believe race wasn’t important, when the real reason was that nobody knew how to discuss racism and micro aggressions, especially the social workers at adoption agencies…

Read the entire article here.

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TCK TALENT: Gene Bell-Villada, literary critic, Latin Americanist, novelist, translator and TCK memoirist

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-24 20:22Z by Steven

TCK TALENT: Gene Bell-Villada, literary critic, Latin Americanist, novelist, translator and TCK memoirist

The Displaced Nation: A home for international creatives
2015-01-21

Elizabeth (Lisa) Liang


Professor Gene Bell-Villada (own photo)

Elizabeth (Lisa) Liang is here with her first column of 2015. For those who haven’t been following: she is building up quite a collection of stories about Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs) who work in creative fields. Lisa herself is a prime example. A Guatemalan-American of Chinese-Spanish-Irish-French-German-English descent, she has developed her own one-woman show about growing up as a TCK, which is receiving rave reviews wherever it goes.

—ML Awanohara

Happy New Year, readers! Today I’m honored to be interviewing Gene Bell-Villada, author of the Third Culture Kid memoir Overseas American: Growing Up Gringo in the Tropics and co-editor of my first published essay in the TCK/global-nomad anthology: Writing Out of Limbo. Gene grew up in Latin America and “repatriated” to the USA for college and beyond; he is a Professor of Romance Languages (Spanish), Latin American Literature, and Modernism at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is also a published writer of fiction and nonfiction.

Welcome to The Displaced Nation, Gene. Like me, you’re an Adult Third Culture Kid of mixed heritage. Since you were born in Haiti and grew up in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela as the son of an Asian-Polynesian mother from Hawaii and a WASP father from Kansas, your identity development was complex and nuanced, as you make clear in your memoir. Can you tell us how you identify yourself these days?

Like the title of my memoir, I identify myself as an Overseas American, of mixed WASP and Chinese-Filipino-Hawaiian ethnicity, with a Caribbean-Hispanic upbringing. I wrote my memoir in great measure to disentangle and explain that background—for myself and others! More broadly, in my middle 20s, it dawned on me that, by default, I happened to be a cosmopolitan, and that I couldn’t feel “local” even if I wished to. And so, I set out to make the best of that cosmopolitanism and build on it…

Read the entire interview here.

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Md. Gov. Larry Hogan and his Korean-born wife, Yumi, are a historic first couple

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-01-24 19:45Z by Steven

Md. Gov. Larry Hogan and his Korean-born wife, Yumi, are a historic first couple

The Washington Post
2015-01-23

Michael S. Rosenwald, Staff Writer

She was a painter displaying her abstract landscapes, a single mother of three daughters who’d grown up on a chicken farm in South Korea. He was a wealthy bachelor with more interest in politics than art who had stopped by the show in suburban Maryland on a whim.

His eyes didn’t gravitate to the paintings.

“I was more interested in the artist than the art,” he said.

He gave her his phone number, but she never called. Still, he didn’t give up. They eventually met again, fell in love and married several years later, in 2004.

They made history this week, moving into the Maryland governor’s mansion as a mixed-race couple in an increasingly diverse state — and as novices in wielding political power. Larry Hogan, a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, had never held elected office before he won a stunning upset in November…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race Identities: Written by Peter J. Aspinall and Miri Song

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2015-01-24 02:49Z by Steven

Mixed Race Identities: Written by Peter J. Aspinall and Miri Song

The Kelvingrove Review
Issue 13: Dialogue Across Decades (2014-05-27)
5 pages

Mengxi Pang
Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity
University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Aspinall, Peter J. and Miri Song, Mixed Race Identities (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 218 pp.

As the fastest growing population in Britain, the mixed race group has received increasing attention from academics in social sciences disciplines. The book Mixed Race Identities is one of the latest sociological contributions to mixed race studies, engaging in the ongoing debate on ‘race’, ethnicity and identities. This book succeeds in bringing attention to the British context of mixed race studies, a field that has been long dominated by research in the US. The two authors, Peter Aspinall and Miri Song, are leading researchers of mixed race studies in the UK, who published extensively on identities and identity politics of mixed race populations. Based on their ESRC-funded project ‘The ethnic options of mixed race people in Britain’, this book presents the analytical results derived from questionnaire surveys and follow-up, in-depth interviews with over three hundred mixed race participants from higher education institutions in England. The results depict the unique identity dilemmas faced by mixed race youths. Findings specifically identify how different types of mixed race people understand and articulate their identifications, and eventually question the salience of ‘race’ in shaping individuals’ lived experiences…

Read the entire review here.

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