Race & Its Categories in Historical Perspective

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-07-27 09:36Z by Steven

Race & Its Categories in Historical Perspective

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generatons
Brooklyn Historical Society
June 2014

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

A native New Yorker, Ann Morning is an associate professor of sociology at New York University and the author of The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference (University of California Press, 2011). In this essay she explores race and its categories in historical perspective.

What Is “Race”? Academics Disagree

“Race” is a familiar, everyday word for Americans, one that we routinely come across when we open a newspaper or fill out a form. Yet there is no scientific consensus about what exactly the term denotes. As I report in The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference, even academics within the same discipline, like biology or anthropology, disagree on how best to define the concept of race.

The scholarly debate hinges on whether races are groupings that we human beings invent, influenced by our subjective cultural prejudices and hierarchies, or whether they are groups of people who objectively share certain physical characteristics, whether visible or invisible (e.g. genetic). Members of the former camp are often referred to as “constructivists” because of their insistence that racial categories are built or put together by human hands, while proponents of the latter perspective are often labelled “essentialists” due to their conviction that racial groupings reflect traits naturally embedded within individuals’ bodies (i.e. “essences”). To illustrate this scientific conflict with a concrete example, take the standard U.S. racial category “black.” To a constructivist, this classification has all the makings of a social construct: Over the nation’s history, there have been changing beliefs about who falls into this category (e.g. anybody with a black mother during colonial times, or anybody with any known African ancestry after the Civil War) and conflicting beliefs by region (e.g. Louisiana versus Virginia). Moreover, if we compare the United States to other countries, it is quickly apparent that someone who is considered “black” here might not be classified the same way in Latin America, Western Europe, the Middle East, or Africa. In other words, racial categorization depends a lot on the society that is doing the categorizing—which is exactly the point that constructivists wish to make. To an essentialist however, the biological sciences demonstrate that there are distinct subgroups—races—within the human species. In the past, biologists thought the telltale markers of racial type lay in such disparate physical features as skull size and shape, blood type, skin color, hair texture, eye shape, and so on. Today however the academic debate about race and biology takes place almost entirely on the terrain of genetics, where scholars argue whether DNA patterns do or do not map onto racial groupings…

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Maybe You’re Just An Asshole: The Mixed Race Persecution Complex

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-26 19:49Z by Steven

Maybe You’re Just An Asshole: The Mixed Race Persecution Complex

Musings of a Mixed Race Feminist: Random diatribes from a mixed race feminist scholar.
2014-07-25

Donna J. Nicol, Associate Professor Women & Gender Studies
California State University, Fullerton

“Black girls are always hatin’ on me. I can’t help it if their man prefers light-skinned pretty women.”

“You have no idea how hard it is to be mixed race.”

I get it. Being mixed race in a mono-racial society is tough. There still isn’t much room for multiplicity in our society. From race categories on forms, to Barack Obama being called the first “Black” president even as he was raised by his white grandparents, to people asking a mixed race person “what are you?” as if being mixed means you are freak, it is undoubtedly hard where it seems people want to force you into a box just to make their lives easier. I get it….I live that same reality on a daily basis but I have also noticed another phenomenon that either few mixed race people acknowledge, understand or are willing to talk about and that is what I call “the mixed race persecution” complex…

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At last, a home for black history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-07-26 02:34Z by Steven

At last, a home for black history

The Guardian
2014-07-23

Paul Reid, Director
Black Cultural Archives

The launch of the Black Cultural Archives will show that our presence in the UK is measured in millennia, not decades

I remember the time I got caned at school. It was the 1970s, and during a history lesson I put my hand up and asked: “Sir, were there people in America before Christopher Columbus?” I wasn’t trying to be difficult, just trying to engage with some complicated questions. But my teacher saw it as some kind of act of subversion.

Like many black males at the time, I was trying to work out my place in British society. And there were no teachers to guide us through our journey of self-discovery. Through my later work as a community youth worker, I realise that today’s young people are still working through these identity issues.

If my teacher had told my class that the black presence in Britain could be measured in millennia, and that we were not just passing through or tagged on to the end of the colonial story, we might have had a different sense of belonging; I might have had a different idea of what was possible; I might have seen something to aspire to…

…In 1981, after the first of these, a group of concerned black people got together seeking a place where the presence and history of black people could be told positively and accurately. Not just the history of enslavement and of Windrush, but a history that goes as far back as the African Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who is buried in York, and tells the story of the continued presence of black people in the United Kingdom ever since. The idea of the Black Cultural Archives was born…

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Study: Interracial marriages involving Asian-Americans still can leave racial barriers

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-07-25 08:17Z by Steven

Study: Interracial marriages involving Asian-Americans still can leave racial barriers

University of Kansas News
Lawrence, Kansas
2014-07-15

George Diepenbrock, Contact
KU News Service

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas researcher says the high rate of interracial marriages among Asian-Americans should not simply be interpreted as a litmus test of assimilation for the minority group.

Second-generation Asian-Americans who marry white Americans are not always able to transcend racial barriers without problems, and their biracial children face the same obstacles, said Kelly H. Chong, an associate professor of sociology who authored the study “Relevance of Race: Children and the Shifting Engagement with Racial/Ethnic Identity among Second-Generation Interracially Married Asian Americans,” published recently [June 2013] in The Journal of Asian American Studies.

“With the multicultural environment that has emerged in the last few decades that has made it easier and made it more fashionable to be different, we now celebrate diversity, so that makes a difference,” Chong said. “But even for Asian-Americans who believe in the general multicultural framework, they find that within their actual lives it’s very difficult for them to just blend in through intermarriage and sometimes even for their children who are biracial.”…

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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…

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Are Americans Really in Favor of Interracial Marriage? A Closer Look at When They Are Asked About Black-White Marriage for Their Relatives

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-07-24 07:05Z by Steven

Are Americans Really in Favor of Interracial Marriage? A Closer Look at When They Are Asked About Black-White Marriage for Their Relatives

Journal of Black Studies
Published online before print: 2014-07-10
DOI: 10.1177/0021934714541840

Yanyi K. Djamba, Director, Center for Demographic Research; Professor of Sociology
Auburn University, Montgomery, Alabama

Sitawa R. Kimuna, Associate Professor of Sociology
East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

This study transcends general opinion reports and uses data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to examine responses on attitudinal questions about how Black and White Americans actually feel about their close relative marrying outside their own race. The results show that more than half (54%) of Black Americans are in favor of their close relative marrying a White person compared with nearly one-in-four (26%) White Americans who said they were in favor of their close relative marrying a Black person. Such results suggest that questions about how individuals feel when close relatives engage into Black-White marriage provide better measures of attitude toward racial exogamy. Logistic regression models are analyzed to determine how socio-demographic factors influence Black and White Americans’ views on interracial marriage of their close relatives.

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The sweetness of forbidden fruit: Interracial daters are more attractive than intraracial daters

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2014-07-24 06:49Z by Steven

The sweetness of forbidden fruit: Interracial daters are more attractive than intraracial daters

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Published online: 2014-07-09
DOI: 10.1177/0265407514541074

Karen Wu
Department of Psychology and Social Behavior
University of California, Irvine

Chuansheng Chen, Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior and Education
University of California, Irvine

Ellen Greenberger, Research Professor and Professor Emerita of Psychology & Social Behavior
University of California, Irvine

Past research on interracial dating has focused on demographic and adjustment factors while ignoring the traits most valued in romantic partners. We examined whether interracial and intraracial daters differ in the extent to which they possess various desirable attributes. In Study 1, undergraduates estimated their partners’ ratings of them on 27 attributes. A factor analysis yielded attractiveness (e.g., physically attractive), cerebral (e.g., intelligent), relational (e.g., compassionate), and vibrancy (e.g., confident) attributes. Compared with intraracial daters, interracial daters reported that their partners saw them more positively on attractiveness, cerebral, and relational attributes (Study 1), rated their partners more positively on attractiveness and cerebral attributes (Study 2), and were rated by independent coders as more physically attractive (Study 3). Implications are discussed.

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Attorney General Holder is right: Racial animus plays role in Obama opposition

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-07-24 06:33Z by Steven

Attorney General Holder is right: Racial animus plays role in Obama opposition

Southern Poverty Law Center
2014-07-16

Morris Dees, Founder, Chief Trial Attorney

Right-wing pundits are jumping all over Attorney General Eric Holder for daring to suggest on Sunday that “racial animus” plays a role in the “level of vehemence” that’s been directed at President Obama. They’re denouncing him for “playing the race card” and “stoking racial divisions.”

Who do they think they’re fooling?…

…And, we’ve seen an explosive growth of radical-right groups, including armed militias, since Obama was elected, and repeated threats that violence is needed to “take our country back” from the “tyranny” of Obama. This is part of a backlash to the growing diversity in our country, as symbolized by the presence of a black man in the White House…

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CA+T Interview with Laura Kina

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-24 06:19Z by Steven

CA+T Interview with Laura Kina

Center for Art and Thought
2014-09-07

Rachel Ishikawa, CA+T Interviewer

Laura Kina, Vincent de Paul Professor Art, Media, & Design
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Rachel Ishikawa: When did art begin for you?

Laura Kina: My mom. She had been a double major in art and sociology in undergrad and worked for a time as a technical illustrator for Boeing’s aerospace division. I was born in Riverside, CA, in 1973, and when I was just two years old she turned our enclosed sun porch into an art studio for me, gave me a big paintbrush, a pile of red paint and rolls of butcher paper to go crazy on. I was painting before I could really talk or write. Making art became my initial way of processing the world around me. In 1976 my little sister Alison was born with Down’s Syndrome, so we moved to a little Norwegian town in the Pacific Northwest called Poulsbo, WA to be near my mom’s parents but also so my dad could set up a private practice as a family practitioner and OGBYN [OBGYN] [obstetrician-gynecologist]. I learned how to sew from my great grandma, Ethel “Nanny” Smiley. She was a professional seamstress. I spent a lot of time playing in the woods, building forts, drawing, and using my imagination and also doing manual chores (yard work, gardening, canning) that one has to do living in the country. I think that really influenced my inclination toward making things with my hands. This was the late 1970s, and one of my house chores was to rake our ochre yellow shag carpet into this Zen like perfection. That was probably my first contemporary artwork!…

RI: Many of your pieces have a connection to your identity as a “hapa, yonsei, Uchinanchu.” At the same time they are historically rooted. How does the personal, political, and historical function within your work?

LK: Being multiracial (my mother is “white” –Spanish-Basque on her mother’s side and French, English, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch on her father’s side) has been a fundamental experience for me both in terms of how I’m perceived and treated but also in terms of how I understand myself and the world around me. I grew up in a predominantly White and Native American community, and there were not too many other Asians or other mixed kids around so I was hyper aware of being different. On one hand, being multiracial was celebrated as a sign of racial progress and being the “best of both worlds.” We were accepted, but then people would ask, “What are you?” or “Where are you really from?” or say things like “You look so exotic,” which would imply that maybe I didn’t belong. The fact of the matter is that I could be a member of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution. Our relatives were French mercenaries in the American Revolutionary War. I’m related to James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the US, and to the Confederate Major General George Pickett, who lost the Battle of Gettysburg

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Black American Indians seek to honor their mixed ancestry

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-07-23 21:49Z by Steven

Black American Indians seek to honor their mixed ancestry

Al Jazeera America
2014-07-22

Naureen Khan

WASHINGTON — The soaring sound of “Wade in the Water,” a Negro spiritual once said to be used on the Underground Railroad, filled Plymouth Congressional United Church of Christ Saturday morning.

But on this particular Saturday, church-goers offered their respects to the Great Spirit, in addition to the Holy Spirit, looked on as a Native American drum processional wound its way through the aisle, and took part in a ceremonial tobacco offering.

At the first gathering of the newly created National Congress of Black American Indians, organizers and attendees came to unite and celebrate individuals of both African and Native American ancestry — a subject often fraught with complicated questions of race, identity and citizenship.

Although Native Americans and African-Americans have crossed paths, intermarried and formed alliances since pre-colonial times, often uniting in their common fight against slavery and dispossession, their shared history has been slow to be unearthed and brought into the light.

The formation and the first meeting of the NCBAI sought to remove the taboo of mixed ancestry and bring together those who could trace their ancestry to both communities. The gathering received endorsement and letters of support from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, D.C. mayor Vincent Gray and Prince George County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.

“This has been a conversation that has been avoided and pushed aside, and folks who have wanted to have this conversation have been marginalized, subjugated, separated, downtrodden, stepped on,” said Jay Gola Waya Sunoyi, one of the founders of the National Congress. “But still we’re here.”…

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