What’s Radical About “Mixed Race?”

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-04-20 14:22Z by Steven

What’s Radical About “Mixed Race?”

Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU
8 Washington Mews
New York, New York 10003
Phone: (212) 998-3700
Monday, 2015-04-20, 18:00-20:00 EDT (Local Time) | Free

Since the 1990s, mainstream media has heralded the growing population of self-identified “mixed race” people in the US and Canada as material proof of a post-racial era (a recent example: National Geographic‘s 2013 feature “The Changing Face of America,” whose title paraphrases a Time feature [at right] from two decades prior). Meanwhile, foundational multiracial activists and scholars like Maria Root claim a doubled oppression—racism via white supremacy and ostracizing from so-called “monoracial” people of color. A growing body of Critical Mixed Race Studies literature is challenging both positions, questioning the assumption that multiracial activism and scholarship is necessarily anti-racist.

Minelle Mahtani critically locates how an apolitical and ahistorical Canadian “model multiracial” upholds the multicultural claims of the Canadian settler state. Jared Sexton calls to task multiracial activists who leverage a mixed race identity in opposition to those who are “all black, all the time.”

Eschewing an apolitical “celebration” of mixed race, this panel examines the movement’s implications for multiracial coalition and the future of race in the US and Canada, asking: does the multiracial movement challenge—or actually reinforce—the logics of structural racism?…

For more information and to regisiter, click here.

Tags: , , , ,

Reading Racist Literature

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2015-04-18 21:48Z by Steven

Reading Racist Literature

New Yorker
2015-04-13

Elif Batuman, Staff Writer

Of the many passages that gave me pause when I first read “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” in high school, the one I remember the most clearly is this conversation between Connie, Clifford, and the Irish writer Michaelis:

“I find I can’t marry an Englishwoman, not even an Irishwoman…”
“Try an American,” said Clifford.
“Oh, American!” He laughed a hollow laugh. “No, I’ve asked my man if he will find me a Turk or something…something nearer to the Oriental.”
Connie really wondered at this queer, melancholy specimen.

For many readers, this exchange might have slipped by unnoticed. But, as a Turkish American, I couldn’t prevent myself from registering all the slights against Turkish people that I encountered in European books. In “Heidi,” the meanest goat is called “the Great Turk.”…

…A few weeks later, I saw “An Octoroon,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s refashioning of the Irish playwright Dion Boucicault’s 1859 melodrama of almost the same title (“The Octoroon”). (Jacobs-Jenkins was formerly on the staff of this magazine.) In an opening monologue, B. J. J., “a black playwright,” recounts a conversation with his therapist, about his lack of joy in theatre. When asked to name a playwright he admires, he can think of only one: Dion Boucicault. The therapist has never heard of Boucicault, or “The Octoroon.”

“What’s an octoroon?” she asks. He tells her. “Ah. And you like this play?” she says.

“Yes.”

This is the basic dramatic situation: a black playwright, in 2014, is somehow unable to move beyond a likeable 1859 work, named after a forgotten word once used to describe nonwhite people in the same terms as breeds of livestock. What do you do with your mixed feelings toward a text that treats as stage furniture the most grievous and unhealed insult in American history—especially when you belong to the insulted group?

Boucicault’s original script is set on a plantation, Terrebonne, shortly after the death of its owner, Judge Peyton. Peyton’s nephew, George, has just returned from Paris to take control of the property; he falls in love with Zoe, the judge’s illegitimate octoroon daughter, who has been raised as a member of the family. The villain M’Closkey, who has designs on both Terrebonne and Zoe, manages to have both put under the auctioneer’s hammer. The estate is eventually saved, by complex means involving an exploding steamship—but not before Zoe has poisoned herself in despair.

B. J. J., following his therapist’s advice, decides to restage “The Octoroon,” but white actors refuse to work with him: nobody wants to play slave owners. In the play within a play, B. J. J. puts on whiteface and acts both the hero George and the villain M’Closkey himself…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Jennifer Lisa Vest to explore ‘post-racial present’ at Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium

Posted in Articles, Arts, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-16 23:09Z by Steven

Jennifer Lisa Vest to explore ‘post-racial present’ at Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium

Report: Faculty/Staff Newsletter
Illinois State University
2015-04-02

Rachel Hatch, Editor

Performing artist and scholar Jennifer Lisa Vest will be the keynote speaker for the 20th annual Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Symposium.

Vest will present Black Lives Matter: [Trans]Gender Violence, Disability, and Women in a ‘Post-racial,’ ‘Post-Sexist’ Present at 1 p.m. Friday, April 17, in the Bone Student Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

In celebration of the event, there will be a poetry reading at 7 p.m. Thursday April 16, at the University Galleries, 11 Uptown Circle, Normal.

Vest is a self-described “mixed-race queer feminist philosopher, poet, and artivist whose philopoetic works combine philosophy, poetry and feminist theories to provide intersectional analyses of social justice issues by explicating raced, gendered, and sexualized components of privilege, ablelism, and oppression.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2015-04-16 19:29Z by Steven

Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Harvard University Press
February 2014
240 pages
4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674724914

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Law and Philosophy
New York University

W. E. B. Du Bois never felt so at home as when he was a student at the University of Berlin. But Du Bois was also American to his core, scarred but not crippled by the racial humiliations of his homeland. In Lines of Descent, Kwame Anthony Appiah traces the twin lineages of Du Bois’ American experience and German apprenticeship, showing how they shaped the great African-American scholar’s ideas of race and social identity.

At Harvard, Du Bois studied with such luminaries as William James and George Santayana, scholars whose contributions were largely intellectual. But arriving in Berlin in 1892, Du Bois came under the tutelage of academics who were also public men. The economist Adolf Wagner had been an advisor to Otto von Bismarck. Heinrich von Treitschke, the historian, served in the Reichstag, and the economist Gustav von Schmoller was a member of the Prussian state council. These scholars united the rigorous study of history with political activism and represented a model of real-world engagement that would strongly influence Du Bois in the years to come.

With its romantic notions of human brotherhood and self-realization, German culture held a potent allure for Du Bois. Germany, he said, was the first place white people had treated him as an equal. But the prevalence of anti-Semitism allowed Du Bois no illusions that the Kaiserreich was free of racism. His challenge, says Appiah, was to take the best of German intellectual life without its parochialism—to steal the fire without getting burned.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Awakening
  • 2. Culture and Cosmopolitanism
  • 3. The Concept of the Negro
  • 4. The Mystic Spell
  • 5. The One and the Many
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Tags: , , , , ,

Harlem and After: African American Literature 1925-present (EAS3241)

Posted in Course Offerings, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-04-12 01:15Z by Steven

Harlem and After: African American Literature 1925-present (EAS3241)

University of Exeter
Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom
2015-02-08

Taking as its point of departure the landmark special issue of Survey Graphic that announced the arrival on the artistic scene of the “New Negro” (1925), this module provides a historical survey of African American writing, 1925 to present. Through close readings of works by both canonical and emerging writers, it encourages students to situate these texts within their historical, social, political and literary contexts. Emphasising key literary and political movements and moments (the Harlem Renaissance; the Civil Rights Movement; Black Power; Hurricane Katrina) and recurring themes and motifs (lynching and racial violence; racial passing and mixed race subjectivity; the legacies of the Great Migration; the significance of music in African American culture; minstrelsy and the commodification of blackness), it invites students to consider the range and diversity of African American literature (poetry; short stories; essays; fiction; graphic novel) published from 1925 to today.

For more information, click here.

Tags:

Natasha Trethewey Reactions

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-11 23:50Z by Steven

Natasha Trethewey Reactions

The Arc of the Universe Bends Towards Justice
The College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio
2015-04-02

Caitlin Ziegert Mccombs

Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer prize winner and past Poet Laureate of the United States, came to visit and read some of her poetry for an audience much too large for Severance 09. After listening to some of her works read aloud, it seems she seamlessly weaves the topics of history, race, and personal narratives in the style of free verse. Before beginning each poem, Trethewey would provide some background of their origins. The first few poems she read were about her parents, in which she lingers on the issue of anti-miscegenation laws during the 1900’s as her mother and father were an interracial couple (her mother was African American and her father, white). This was a nice precursor to her readings of her new poetry collection, Thrall. Trethewey explained that ‘thrall’ was a name for someone born into servitude, which is quite fitting for a collection investigating the oppression of people of color and racial tensions over the past few hundred years. In her poem, Taxonomy, she deconstructs 18th century Casta paintings from colonial Mexico. She describes how race at this time was seen as an equation. There are whites and Mexicans, but more complexly: a white and an Amerindian mix equals a Mestizo, a Mestizo and an Amerindian mix equals a Cholo, a white and a Spaniard/African mix equals a Mulato, and so forth. These castas, or race/breed/lineage constructions dictated the lives of those so labeled. Trethewey describes the “weight of blood” as getting “heavier every year”, and the paintings of castas as “a last brush stroke [that] fixed him in his place”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

LAURA KINA Blue Hawai’i

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-07 00:46Z by Steven

LAURA KINA Blue Hawai’i

The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics, and Culture
Brooklyn, New York
2015-04-02

Jonathan Goodman

HAROLD B. LEMMERMAN GALLERY, NEW JERSEY CITY UNIVERSITY JANUARY 27 – MARCH 3, 2015

As an Asian-American painter of mixed background, Laura Kina creates work that is as culturally relevant as it is emotionally resonant. Her father, who is of Japanese descent, grew up in Hawai’i, where he worked on sugarcane plantations before moving to the American mainland to become a doctor. In the compelling paintings shown in Blue Hawai’i, Kina addresses the persistence of Japanese culture among the sugarcane workers, many of whom, like the artist’s father, had family ties to the Japanese island Okinawa. In 2009, Kina and her father traveled to his plantation community in Hawai’i to gain a sense of his past; then, in 2012, Kina and her father traveled to Okinawa itself, again to research the immigration of poor Japanese who came to Hawai’i to harvest cane. The paintings on view in Blue Hawai’i allude to her discoveries, which entail both the remnants of Japanese habits among the Hawaiian workers—the word “blue” in the title of the show refers to the blue kimonos refashioned for plantation work—and the gradual, often troubled and troubling acculturation process. The exhibition consequently bridges inevitable feelings of displacement and loss with the desire to document Kina’s father’s past…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Mixed-race Migration and Adoption in Gish Jen’s The Love Wife

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2015-04-03 20:39Z by Steven

Mixed-race Migration and Adoption in Gish Jen’s The Love Wife

Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée
Volume 42, Issue 1, Mars 2015
pages 45-56

Jenny Wen-chuan Chu
National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan

Migration is a way of geographic movement. It involves a sense of belonging, nostalgia and diaspora issues. Besides, adoption in the migrated family illustrates the fluidity and tenacity of racial boundaries in different national and racial origins. In Gish Jen’s The Love Wife, the question of Mama Wong’s motives haunts Blondie and Carnegie. Is Lan a nanny who teaches their two Asian daughters to be more Chinese, or is she a love wife who drives Blondie out? In contemporary America, an interracial marriage like Carnegie and Blondie’s is increasingly common. We might expect Carnegie to naturally speak Chinese and know his culture, but it is Blondie who speaks Chinese and instructs their adopted children on Asian heritage. It is not natural. However, when Carnegie discovers that he is adopted, and adoption is a natural occurrence in China, he finally realizes that nothing is unnatural. His home is based on mutual love and sharing multiple cultures, not blood or skin colour.

In the dimension of mixed-race migration, home is a discourse of locality, and place of feelings and rootedness. According to Henri Lefebvre, home belongs to a differential space, i.e., a spiritual and imaginary space. Our memories and souls are closely related to such differential space. Gaston Bachelard, too, argues that our home is a privileged entity of the intimate values that we take it as our differential space: “Our [home] is our corner of the world” (4). Home is no longer fixed, but fluid and mobile. Nostalgia is inevitable. But loving homes provide more stability than do memories of good old days. In the dimension of mixed-race adoption, the American dream is internalized as the way of the mixed-race family’s lifestyle. In America, Chinese culture is also highly strengthened in the diversity of Chinese American families. However, how can the second generation of Chinese immigrants enjoy their individual American dreams, but still have to cope with the demands and expectations of their familial Chinese parents?

In The Love Wife, we observe that the adopted children perceive and negotiate their ethnic/racial identities and sense of esteem as well as their acceptance and ease with such an adopted status. Wendy and Lizzy are both Asian Americans. Blondie, who has a WASP background, has always been at the mercy of Carnegie’s Chinese mother, the imperious Mama Wong. When Mama Wong dies, her will requires a “relative” of hers from China to stay with the family. The new arrival is Lan, middle-aged but still attractive. She is Carnegie’s mainland Chinese “relative,” a tough, surprisingly lovely survivor of the Cultural Revolution. Blondie is convinced that Mama Wong is sending Carnegie a new wife, Lan, from the grave. Nevertheless, through identifying the sweet home with multiple cultures, Carnegie and Blondie’s mixed-race family opens the room for the practices of migration and adoption.

The author, Gish Jen, is a second generation Chinese-American. Her parents emigrated from China in the 1940s, her mother from Shanghai and her father from Yixing. She grew up in Queens, New York, moved to Yonkers, and then settled in Scarsdale. Different from those prominent Chinese-American writers who look back at Chinese-American history for their subject matter and focus on the conflicts between Chinese parents and American children, such as Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, etc., Jen is developing her distinctive voice. She aims at full participation in American life and reveals in her writings a strong desire to be a real American. The Love Wife, her third novel, portrays an Asian-American family with interracial parents, a biological son, and adopted daughters as “the new American family.” Jen turns to the story of transnational adoption, addressing that kinship plays a crucial role in an interracial family.

Jen’s The Love Wife has been discussed critically in several articles. Fu-jen Chen and Su-lin Yu’s paper explores the imaginary binary relationship between Blondie and Lan, as well as Žižek’s “parallax gap,” through the gaze of the (m)Other in The Love Wife. It argues:

The polarized differences between Blondie and Lan are sustained on the grounds of a safe distance at which they…

Tags: , , ,

Yes, the new ‘Daily Show’ host is black. And he’s spent his career making fun of African Americans.

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-01 18:05Z by Steven

Yes, the new ‘Daily Show’ host is black. And he’s spent his career making fun of African Americans.

The Washington Post
2015-03-31

Wendy Todd, Social Media Coordinator
St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis, Missouri

So much for that “fresh perspective” on race.

News that Trevor Noah would replace Jon Stewart as the new host of “The Daily Show” brought a collective round of applause for the South African comedian and his “fresh” perspective and “fresh takes on race.” Critics have long lamented the lack of color among late-night TV hosts, and now a black man has gotten one of the plum hosting gigs.

Noah might look like an enlightened choice, but his routines show he isn’t — his jokes often hinge on insulting African Americans.

Back in 2012, Noah made his first American appearance, on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The bulk of his routine was composed of jokes about black Americans. The United States, he said, was not “the America he was promised,” and “America has the credit of a black man.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890-1940

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-03-29 20:12Z by Steven

Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890-1940

Louisiana State University Press
January 2015
240 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807157848

Shawn Salvant, Assistant Professor of English and African American
University of Connecticut

The invocation of blood—as both an image and a concept—has long been critical in the formation of American racism. In Blood Work, Shawn Salvant mines works from the American literary canon to explore the multitude of associations that race and blood held in the consciousness of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americans.

Drawing upon race and metaphor theory, Salvant provides readings of four classic novels featuring themes of racial identity: Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894); Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (1902); Frances Harper’s Iola Leroy (1892); and William Faulkner’s Light in August (1932). His expansive analysis of blood imagery uncovers far more than the merely biological connotations that dominate many studies of blood rhetoric: the racial discourses of blood in these novels encompass the anthropological and the legal, the violent and the religious. Penetrating and insightful, Blood Work illuminates the broad-ranging power of the blood metaphor to script distinctly American plots—real and literary—of racial identity.

Tags: , , , , , ,