Positioning of the Mixed Race Author and Mixed Race Protagonist in British Children’s Literature

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-07-24 07:30Z by Steven

Positioning of the Mixed Race Author and Mixed Race Protagonist in British Children’s Literature

Critical Pedagogies: Equality and Diversity in a Changing Institution
2014-07-23

Ludovic Foster, Ph.D. Candidate
Department Gender Studies
University of Sussex, United Kingdom

I would like to examine a few of the issues around the positioning of the mixed race child, and mixed race identified author in a literary context. Considering the mixed race child in this context is particularly important and necessary in a society where the marginalization of non- binary identities is embedded within foundational ideologies and power structures of the white supremacist heteropatriarchy in which historically binary ways of thinking have also often been used as a tool of Western colonial oppression. Such hierarchical ideologies have been driven by imperialist, global, capitalist economies for reasons such as nation building. Many of these aforementioned factors have contributed to some societies actively encouraging the perpetration and overwhelming dominance of normative mono sexual, racial and gender identities.

The mixed child as a character could be said to stand as a figure of resistance against such normative symbolism. When writing about the subject of multiracialism, I am conscious of the inherent historical global and cultural changeability and instability of language when it comes to describing mixed race people and it means to be mixed race; and the fact that the term mixed race can describe a wide range and intersections of racial, ethnic and cultural identities such multifold identities that are not dependant on whiteness for validity.

“The term ‘mixed race’ itself may not reflect the complexity of its own formation through historical entanglements and contemporary redefinitions. This may account for the gradual displacement of ‘mixed race’ by a notion of ‘multiraciality’ that points to multiplicity being the form of contemporary identity itself” (Parker, Song 2001: 8). There is a very complex and nuanced global cultural history of people defined as “mixed race,” and I am aware that even the term “mixed race” itself could be seen as upholding a system that gives credibility to the notion of a singular and “pure” mono race. Although I believe that all people are “mixed” to some degree there is a very particular political, cultural and racialized positioning inherent in being identified as first generation mixed race in certain national transnational and global social and economic contexts. I suggest that the global cultural influence of the American hierarchical racial ideology and classification system known as the “one drop rule”, a hypodescent system which is embedded in a history of white supremacy, and the economics of slavery and racial segregation, has had a particular global and cultural impact on the way we think about what it means to have a mix of African and European ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

‘Stunning Portraits of Mixed Race Families’?: Slate’s Human Zoo of Race Mongrelization

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-06-29 19:15Z by Steven

‘Stunning Portraits of Mixed Race Families’?: Slate’s Human Zoo of Race Mongrelization

We Are Respectable Negroes: Happy Non-Threatening Coloured Folks, Even in the Age of Obama
Wednesday, 2014-06-25

Chauncey DeVega, Editor and Founder

Am I the only person who found Slate.com’s photo essay “Stunning Portraits of Mixed Race Families” to be very problematic?

To my eyes, it contains and channels the echoes of race science and eugenics wrapped in a veneer of praise and curiosity for “unusual” and “fascinating” bodies.

Questions of race and representation were and remain central to the dynamics of the global color line. The ways in which certain types of people and bodies are visually represented through film, photographs, paintings, and other mediums reflect the dynamics of power.

Whose eyes are “we” seeing through? What assumptions are driving the Gaze? How are the bodies and people in visual images posed and positioned relative to one another? Who is included? What types of people and bodies are excluded?…

…The contemporary American fascination with “mixed race” and “biracial” identity is a reflection of changing demographics and globalization; it is also a surrender to and performance of a shallow type of faux cosmopolitanism.

Ironically, the race scientists of Nazi Germany and the United States, as well as the photographer Cyjo (whose work was featured in Slate’s essay) who fetishize and find something “stunning” or “interesting” about “mixed race” and/or “biracial” people (what are fictive identities, social constructs, as there is only one race, the human race) share some common assumptions.

One, that those types of “racial” identities are somehow new or novel. In fact, human history is a story of “miscegenation” and “interracial” intimacy. Two, that those types of bodies and individuals merit study and analysis because there is some connection, either implied or explicitly stated, between genes, color, culture, destiny, and personal, as well as national “character”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Elective Race: Recognizing Race Discrimination in the Era of Racial Self-Identification

Posted in Articles, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism on 2014-06-23 02:53Z by Steven

Elective Race: Recognizing Race Discrimination in the Era of Racial Self-Identification

Georgetown Law Journal
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Volume 102, Issue 5 (2014)
pages 1501-1572

Camille Gear Rich, Associate Professor of Law
University of Southern California, Gould School of Law

This Article posits that we are in a key moment of discursive and ideological transition, an era in which the model of elective race is ascending, poised to become one of the dominant frameworks for understanding race in the United States. Because we are in a period of transition, many Americans still are wedded to fairly traditional attitudes about race. For these Americans, race is still an objective, easily ascertainable fact determined by the process of involuntary racial ascription—how one’s physical traits are racially categorized by third parties. The elective-race framework will challenge these Americans to recognize other ways in which people experience race, including acts of voluntary affiliation as well as selective and conditional affiliations. Importantly, even if one concludes that most Americans still hold traditional, ascriptive-based understandings of race, there is evidence that elective race is steadily gaining influence in certain quarters, shaping government institutions’ formal procedures as well as certain Americans’ racial understandings.

To improve the clarity and precision of discussions about elective race, this Article outlines the key premises and norms associated with this ideological framework. My primary goal is to help courts and scholars understand the basic tenets and tensions that are likely to be present in plaintiffs’ elective-race claims. Although some scholars have trivialized racial self-identification interests or represented them as a threat to antidiscrimination law, my project is to show that racial self-identification decisions matter in concrete ways because they can trigger serious race-based social sanctions that are a core antidiscrimination law concern. Indeed, as we will see, voluntary racial-affiliation decisions can and do trigger race-based resentment, rejection, and social sanction when race-based resentment, rejection, and social sanction when they do not match certain expected or established American understandings about the boundaries of racial categories. Moreover, I predict that, though the number of cases that sound in the nature of elective race may be small at present, we should expect to see more cases of this kind given both the increased focus Americans place on the interest in racial self-identification and the shift toward institutional protocols that are intended to accommodate this interest. The elective-race cases will challenge courts, forcing them to decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) should recognize the autonomy claims of individuals who are injured in the workplace by the social and formal processes of involuntary racialization. Courts will be asked to rule on cases that suggest that an employee’s dignity interests are unjustly frustrated when other fail to respect the employee’s right to racial self-definition.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Radical Love: A Transatlantic Dialogue about Race and Mixed Race

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-06-23 01:54Z by Steven

Radical Love: A Transatlantic Dialogue about Race and Mixed Race

Asian American Literary Review
Volume 4, Issue 2, Pandora’s Box (2013)
pages 15-26

Daniel McNeil, Ida B. Wells-Barnett Professor of African and Black Diaspora Studies
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Leanne Taylor, Assistant Professor of Education
Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Boy meets girl. Boy makes the girl laugh with some playful jibes about his English accent and her “cynical Canadian” response to a talk about radical love in America. Girl gives boy a lingering, flirtatious handshake. Boy resists the urge to say, “this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

This is a transatlantic love story informed by the neurotic heroes of the Facebook era as much as the stoic men of 1940s Hollywood or the stubborn women of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The boy displays similar levels of social awkwardness and ambition to the character of Marc Zuckerberg, one of the founders of Facebook, in The Social Network. Yet he has a modicum of charm and is able to craft some touching emails to the girl when he returns to England. The girl is far more interesting than any of the female characters in The Social Network and sparks back some funny Facebook messages from Canada. After reconnecting in Toronto in January 2011, they start to communicate via Blackberry instant messenger and send each other letters, books and poetry. Their conversations provide a revealing glimpse into the politics and poetics of mixed race relationships. For whereas the transracial, transdisciplinary and transnational field of mixed race studies tends to focus on the love between “interracial couples” and their children, their romantic back and forth offers a revealing glimpse into the love between two people defined as mixed race.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century. Colleen C. O’Brien. [Orihuela]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-06-09 02:25Z by Steven

Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century. Colleen C. O’Brien. [Orihuela]

MELUS: Multi-Ethnic LIterature of the United States
Published Online: 2014-06-05
DOI: 10.1093/melus/mlu027

Sharada Balachandran Orihuela, Assistant Professor of English
University of Maryland

Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century. Colleen C. O’Brien. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013. 224 pages. $65.00 cloth; $24.50 paper; $65.00 electronic.

Colleen C. O’Brien’s Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century examines American rebel-romances written in the era of reform (1835-70) that engage with concepts as broad and contentious as race, gender, and rights in nineteenth-century America. In part, this project is indebted to the close relationship O’Brien sees between romanticism, with its ideals of freedom and emancipation, and rebellion, the necessary political outcome of a quest for freedom. Such rebellion is transfigured into the romances O’Brien studies, since a number of novels she examines center on transcendent affective relationships with liberatory outcomes. New world romances, she suggests, envision the expansion of rights and freedom to a range of different populations and respond to the changing geopolitical climate ushered in by colonial expansion. O’Brien thus directs her attention to cross-racial romances as existing in dialogic relation to the “myths of revolutionary origin in the United States and Haiti and the definitions of freedom each created” (xi).

For O’Brien, these myths of revolutionary origin or rebellion allude to the revolutionary fights for freedom in the American and Haitian contexts, as well as to the rejection of patriarchal authority. However, as demonstrated in her first chapter, American rebellion is also used to justify the white supremacist backlash that resulted from increasing demands for rights across the Americas. Rebellion thus addresses possibility as much as anxiety about national expansion and possible incorporation. O’Brien examines amalgamation—taken to mean both literary and geographical expansion—as well as the literary representations of cross-racial love and “the amalgamation of abolition and suffrage interests through the expansion of citizenship rights.”…

Tags: , , , ,

Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-06-06 22:59Z by Steven

Race, Romance, and Rebellion: Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century

University of Virginia Press
October 2013
224 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 9780813934884
Paper ISBN: 9780813934891
Ebook ISBN: 9780813934907

Colleen C. O’Brien, Associate Professor of English
University of South Carolina, Upstate

As in many literatures of the New World grappling with issues of slavery and freedom, stories of racial insurrection frequently coincided with stories of cross-racial romance in nineteenth-century U.S. print culture. Colleen O’Brien explores how authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Livermore, and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda imagined the expansion of race and gender-based rights as a hemispheric affair, drawing together the United States with Africa, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Placing less familiar women writers in conversation with their more famous contemporaries—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child—O’Brien traces the transnational progress of freedom through the antebellum cultural fascination with cross-racial relationships and insurrections. Her book mines a variety of sources—fiction, political rhetoric, popular journalism, race science, and biblical treatises—to reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-06-04 18:53Z by Steven

Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination

Children’s Literature
Volume 42, 2014
pages 71-98
DOI: 10.1353/chl.2014.0019

Philip Nel, Distinguished Professor of English
Kansas State University

In 1955, Dr. Seuss and William Spaulding—director of Houghton Mifflin’s educational division—stepped into the publisher’s elevator at 2 Park Street in Boston. As Seuss’s biographers tell us, the elevator operator was an elegant, petite woman who wore white gloves and a secret smile (Morgan and Morgan 154). They don’t mention that she was Annie Williams, nor do they say that she was African American (Silvey). Seuss was on that elevator because Spaulding thought he could solve the Why Johnny Can’t Read crisis by writing a better reading primer. When Seuss sketched this book’s feline protagonist, he gave him Mrs. Williams’s white gloves, her sly smile, and her color. However, she is but one African American influence on Seuss’s most famous character. One source for that red bow tie is Krazy Kat, the black, ambiguously gendered creation of biracial cartoonist George Herriman (Cohen 325). Seuss, who admired what he called “the beautifully insane sanities” of Krazy Kat (qtd. in Nel, Dr. Seuss 70), also draws upon the traditions of minstrelsy—an influence that emerges first in a minstrel show he wrote for his high school. The Cat in the Hat is racially complicated, inspired by blackface performance, racist images in popular culture, and actual African Americans. The Cat’s influences help us to track the evolution of the African American cultural imaginary in Seuss’s work, but also, more importantly, to exemplify how children’s literature conceals its own racialized origins. Considering the Cat’s racial complexity both serves as an act of desegregation, acknowledging the “mixed bloodlines” (to borrow Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s phrase) of canonical children’s literature, and highlights how during the 1950s—a turning point for African Americans in children’s literature—picture books were a site where race, representation, and power were actively being contested.

Decades before the birth of his Cat in the Hat, racial caricature was an accepted part of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s childhood. D. W. Griffith’s acclaimed Birth of a Nation (1915), released the month Geisel turned eleven, offered a popular and racist depiction of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The Jazz Singer (1927), the first feature-length “talking picture,” starred Al Jolson in blackface. One of Geisel’s favorite childhood books, Peter Newell’s The Hole Book (1908), follows a bullet’s comically disruptive journey through its pages, including one where a black mammy points to the hole in the watermelon, and addresses, in dialect, a group of wide-eyed black children: “‘Who plugged dat melon?’ mammy cried, / As through the door she came. / ‘I’d spank de chile dat done dat trick / Ef I could learn his name’” (fig. 1). Seuss remembered this book so well that sixty years after reading it, he could still quote its opening verse by heart (Nel, Dr. Seuss 18). If, as Tony Watkins has argued, “books tells stories that contribute to children’s unconscious sense of the ‘homeland’” (193), then these stories may have embedded racist caricature in Geisel’s unconscious, as an ordinary part of his visual imagination…

Tags: , , ,

New Man in the Tropics: The Nietzschean Roots of Gilberto Freyre’s Multiracial Identity Concept

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-06-04 18:10Z by Steven

New Man in the Tropics: The Nietzschean Roots of Gilberto Freyre’s Multiracial Identity Concept

Luso-Brazilian Review
Volume 51, Number 1, 2014
pages 93-111
DOI: 10.1353/lbr.2014.0005

Jeroen Dewulf, Associate Professor of German
University of California, Berkeley

Casa-grande & Senzala (1933), a obra secular de Gilberto Freyre, foi traditionalmente interpretado de um ponto de vista sociólogo e histórico. Esta interpretação deixou duas questões essenciais em aberto: 1) Como se pode explicar que Freyre interpretou a noção de miscegenação de uma forma (muito) mais positiva do que sociólogos anteriores e 2) Como se pode explicar as tendências elitistas e aristocráticas na sua obra? Este artigo explore estas duas perguntas analisando a influência em Freyre da filosofia de Friedrich Nietzsche através da interpretação de Henry L. Mencken. Argumenta que a influência de Mencken foi maior do que tradicionalmente tem sido admitido e que na obra de Mencken sobre Nietzsche se pode encontrar a mesma interpretação de miscigenação que Freyre mais tarde explorou em Casa-grande & Senzala. Argumenta também que Mencken profundamente influenciou Freyre com as suas ideias aristocráticas e elitistas.

The Masters & Slaves (1933), the secular work of Gilberto Freyre, has been traditionally interpreted from the point of view of history and sociologist. This interpretation left two key questions unanswered: 1) How can one explain that Freyre interpreted the notion of miscegenation in a way (much) more positive than previous sociologists and 2) How was the elitist and aristocratic tendencies in his work? This article explores these questions by analyzing the influence Freyre in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche by interpreting Henry L. Mencken. I Argue that the influence of Mencken was greater than has traditionally been accepted and that the work of Mencken on Nietzsche can find the same interpretation of miscegenation that Freyre later explored in The Masters & Slaves. Mencken also argues that profoundly influenced Freyre with their aristocratic and elitist ideas.

Tags: , , ,

The Politics of Race in Panama: Afro-Hispanic and West Indian Literary Discourses of Contention

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2014-05-29 02:52Z by Steven

The Politics of Race in Panama: Afro-Hispanic and West Indian Literary Discourses of Contention

University Press of Florida
2014-04-15
200 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-4986-1

Sonja Stephenson Watson, Associate Professor of Spanish
University of Texas, Arlington

This volume tells the story of two cultural groups: Afro-Hispanics, whose ancestors came to Panama as African slaves, and West Indians from the English-speaking countries of Jamaica and Barbados who arrived during the mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries to build the railroad and the Panama Canal.

While Afro-Hispanics assimilated after centuries of mestizaje (race mixing) and now identify with their Spanish heritage, West Indians hold to their British Caribbean roots and identify more closely with Africa and the Caribbean.

By examining the writing of black Panamanian authors, Sonja Watson highlights how race is defined, contested, and inscribed in Panama. She discusses the cultural, racial, and national tensions that prevent these two groups from forging a shared Afro-Panamanian identity, ultimately revealing why ethnically diverse Afro-descendant populations continue to struggle to create racial unity in nations across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Tags: , , , ,

‘Black Atlantic’ Cultural Politics as Reflected in Panamanian Literature

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-05-28 15:47Z by Steven

‘Black Atlantic’ Cultural Politics as Reflected in Panamanian Literature

University of Tennesee, Knoxville
August 2005
256 pages

Sonja Stephenson Watson

A Dissertation Presented for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The diaspora experience is characterized by hybridity, diversity and above all, difference. The nature of the diaspora experience therefore precludes an exclusive articulation of identity. Black identity in Panama is one characterized by this same multiplicity. My dissertation examines race, culture, and ethnicity in the development of Panamanian national identity and is informed by the critical theories of Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, and Frantz Fanon. The articulation of Afro-Panamanian identity is both intriguing and complex because there are two groups of blacks on the Isthmus: Spanish speaking blacks who arrived as a result of slavery (15th -18th centuries) and English speaking blacks who migrated from the West Indies to construct the Trans-isthmian Railroad (1850-1855) and Panama Canal (1904-1914).

The country’s cultural and linguistic heterogeneity not only enriches the study of Panama and illustrates that it is a nation characterized by multiplicity, but it also captures the complexity of the African Diaspora in the Americas. This plurality is evidenced in Afro-Panamanian literary discourse from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the present. This study analyzes the representation of Afro-Hispanics and Afro-Antilleans during different time periods in Panamanian literature, the literature written by Afro-Hispanics, and the literature written by Afro-Antilleans which emerged during the latter half of the twentieth century. Finally, I address how the discourse of both groups of blacks converge and diverge.

Panamanian literature has been grossly understudied. While its history, geography, and political ties to the United States have been examined extensively by intellectuals from the United States and Latin America, with the exception of a few studies, its literature has been virtually ignored by the Hispanic literary canon. Within the field of Afro-Hispanic literature, black Panamanian literature has also been understudied. With the exception of works published about Gaspar Octavio Hernández, Carlos Guillermo Wilson, and Gerardo Maloney, Afro-Panamanian literature has not been examined comprehensively. My dissertation seeks to fill this void in the field of Afro-Hispanic literature and, hopefully, it will enrich the field of Latin and Central American literature and literary criticism.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter one: The Rhetoric of Nation and the Invisibility of Blackness in the New Republic of Panama
  • Chapter two: The Black Image in Early Twentieth-Century Panamanian Literature
  • Chapter three: The Social Protest Novels of Joaquín Beleño Cedeño: A Study of the Inherent Conflicts and Contradictions of Anti-imperialism and Negritude in the Canal Zone
  • Chapter four: The Afro-Caribbean Works of Carlos “Cubena” Guillermo Wilson and his (Re) Vision of Panamanian History
  • Chapter five: Race, Language, and Nation in the Works of Three Contemporary Panamanian West Indian Writers: Gerardo Maloney, Melva Lowe de Goodin, and Carlos E. Russell
  • Conclusion: Afro-Panamanian Discourse: From Invisibility to Visibility
  • List of References
  • Vita

Read the entire dissertation here.

Tags: , , , , , ,