Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni on Growing Up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Race, and What It Takes to Do a One-Woman Show

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-31 01:49Z by Steven

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni on Growing Up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Race, and What It Takes to Do a One-Woman Show

Phoenix New Times

Zaida Dedolph

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni stars in a one-woman show written by her and produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni wants to talk about race in America — and she’s got an idea of where she wants to start. The writer-actor-director-producer extraordinaire will bring her one-woman show, One Drop of Love, to Mesa Arts Center on Saturday, November 1.

Inspired by her own experiences with race, family, and reconciliation, One Drop of Love endeavors to explore these concepts in a funny, relatable way. In addition to giving two performances, Cox DiGiovanni will be hosting a panel discussion and community dialogue on Thursday, October 31, at the Arizona Opera Center. We spoke with the creative about her performance, her history, and her first-ever visit to Arizona.

Zaida Dedolph: Fanshen, you seem to wear a lot of hats. Where did you learn to do all of these things?

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: I mostly see myself as an actor — that’s why I moved to Los Angeles and what I’ve been pursuing for the longest time in a creative capacity. I’ve known I wanted to be an actor since I was very young, but at the mean time I had all these other interests. So I joined the Peace Corps in West Africa and that got me into teaching, so I balanced teaching and acting.

As an actor, especially in LA, I started to notice that I wasn’t booking but I also was auditioning for things that I didn’t feel good about or proud of, so it was hard to bring my all to an audition when I felt like the roles were demeaning or just not me. As much as I think it’s good to stretch as an actor, it’s also good to know that you’ve got at least a base that you can work from. So I started to learn about writing.

It helps that I grew up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and was incredibly fortunate to watch them take a story that they believed in, then write that story, and write themselves into lead roles in that story, and then turn it into Good Will Hunting. So I had some people close to me to model the fact that I could write characters that I could feel good about and be proud of.

I started learning about writing, did some stand-up, wrote a couple feature-length screenplays, so now I had this writing and some characters I was proud of, but then I asked “what’s next, how do I get these characters out there?” and realized I needed to learn how to produce as well. I joined a program in Los Angeles called Project Involve [a faction of Film Independent that works to support filmmakers from backgrounds that are not frequently represented in the film industry] and learned a little more about producing.

My husband was researching MFA schools and found the most affordable one in the country was at California State University [at] Los Angeles, so I followed him into the program. That’s where I really learned hands on producing. One Drop of Love was my thesis for the MFA program, so I got to put all the things that I learned together. That’s how I ended up producing and performing and writing…

..ZD: When it comes to the American discussion of race, what issues do you think we are focusing too much attention on? Which ones do you think we should be paying more mind to?

FCD: I hope people walk away from the show [understanding] that we tend to focus too much on our differences when it comes to race. In the show I try to make it clear that race doesn’t exist genetically, and yes, we’ve all kind of come to a place where we believe in it culturally and politically, but genetically there is zero difference, as was proven by Human Genome Project.

In the show, I take the racial categories from the first U.S. Census in the 1790s. It had three racial categories and has been changed 24 times since then, now there are so many racial categories on the census. Anything that can change that easily can’t have any real, strong bearing on anything! Unfortunately, we’ve let it become so important.

I hope people will focus less on what our differences in race are and focus on what we all have in common, which is that none of us want racism. We created race to oppress people, so let’s not focus on these differences and instead focus on where we can unify…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , , ,

ArtsBlast: One resonating drop of Fanshen

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-31 00:48Z by Steven

ArtsBlast: One resonating drop of Fanshen

Jennifer Haaland

One conversation with Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni was all it took. After her Examiner interview yesterday, filled with embracing words and vibrant kindness, it was clear that a whole lot more than One Drop of Love is coming to the Phoenix Valley and gracing the Mesa Arts Center stage this weekend.

“The crowd can’t just sit back and watch. Everyone is involved in this story,” said Cox DiGiovanni of the inclusive environment the show exudes. “I’ll be playing lots of characters, sometimes coming out into the house, talking to and asking questions of the audience.”

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are notable among the show’s past participants. As producers of Cox DiGiovanni’s One Drop of Love, a dynamic multimedia live, solo performance that explores how race has been constructed in the United States, they too were deeply affected by the message conveyed…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, by Allyson Hobbs

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-10-30 20:23Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, by Allyson Hobbs

Times Higher Education
London, United Kingdom

Catherine Clinton, Denman Endowed Professor in American History (University of Texas); International Professor in U.S. History (Queen’s University, Belfast)

Those who masqueraded as white scarred more than just themselves, finds Catherine Clinton

Questions of diversity and colour, race and status are central to studies of modern society, especially in 21st-century America, where the election of Barack Obama – born of a white mother and a black African father – as president has made the consideration of all things African American both urgent and fashionable. These pursuits have spurred an ambitious generation of academics to reconsider scholarly convention and to embrace rather than evade complex issues of racial politics and practice – not least those highlighted in the histories of light-skinned black Americans who abandoned birth families, kin networks and communities to cross the colour line and “pass” into the world of white privilege.

While literary scholars have long mined the “tragic mulatto” theme, until recently US historians have rarely explored and barely acknowledged the clandestine world of the tens of thousands of black people, across many generations, who masqueraded as white. Here, Allyson Hobbs provides fresh analysis of an oft-ignored phenomenon, and the result is as fascinating as it is innovative. She foregrounds the sense of loss that passing inflicted, and argues that many of those who were left behind were just as wounded and traumatised as those who departed. Those who passed may have had much to gain, but what were the hidden costs, the invisible scars of enforced patterns of subversion and suppression? She suggests that the core issue of passing is not what an individual becomes, but rather “losing what you pass away from”…

A Chosen Exile is given depth and resonance by Hobbs’ excavation of a wide range of sources, and she is as adept at tracking nuance in antebellum “runaway slave” advertisements as she is at spotting the modern trend for advertising to address Generation E. A. – ethnically ambiguous – consumers. She is also insightful at capturing the tone and texture of life for those who saw masquerading as white as the road not taken. In the 1930s, the black writer Charles Chesnutt told an interviewer who asked why he had not passed: “I married a woman darker than myself, and I will never go where she is not welcome, too.”…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , ,

Parsing Race and Blackness in Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-10-30 16:02Z by Steven

Parsing Race and Blackness in Mexico

Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews
Volume 43, Number 6 (November 2014)
pages 816-820
DOI: 10.1177/0094306114553216a

Enid Logan, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Minnesota

Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue  Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013. 234pp. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 9780199925506.

In Land of the Cosmic Race, Christina Sue offers an ambitious, data-rich ethnography set in the “blackest” area of Mexico: the port city of Veracruz. She asks how the local population understands and negotiates racial and national identity, and in particular, how they make sense of the tricky issue of blackness in Mexico. Sue is one of a comparatively small number of sociologists who study race relations in Latin America, as most scholarship in this area has come from the fields of anthropology and history. Though the study is grounded in Veracruz, Sue’s larger intent is to analyze racial dynamics in contemporary Mexico writ large.

Sue “centralizes the racial common sense” of Mexican mestizos, a population that she estimates to comprise up to 90 percent of the total (p. 6). Mestizo is a broad category including anyone of “mixed-race” ancestry: Spanish, indigenous, or African. And in large part because Mexico defines itself as a mestizo nation, almost everyone in Mexico identifies as mestizo as well. Within the broad racial category of mestizo, Sue states, there are crucial distinctions of color, which are too often ignored. She sets out to analyze these distinctions in her study.

She writes that Mexican mestizos negotiate the dynamics of race and color in “an ideological terrain littered with contradiction” (p. 18). While elite ideology asserts that racism in Mexico is non-existent, implies that there are no blacks in Mexico, and is officially celebratory of race-mixing (or mestizaje), the lived experiences of most Mexicans, Sue claims, are “replete” with contradictory attitudes and events (p. 5). Sue uncovers in her research a general distaste for intercolor relationships from the point of view of those whose racial capital they would degrade, a clear aesthetic preference for whiteness, and a wealth of strongly-held negative beliefs about blacks and…

Read or purchase the review here.

Tags: , , , ,

‘Global Mixed Race’ conference welcomes scholars, filmmakers to Chicago

Posted in Articles, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-29 19:51Z by Steven

‘Global Mixed Race’ conference welcomes scholars, filmmakers to Chicago

DePaul University
News Release

Rebecca King-O’Riain, senior lecturer at the National University Ireland Maynooth, will give a keynote speech at the “Global Mixed Race” conference at DePaul University. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca King-O’Riain)

Zélie Asava of the Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland will discuss mixed race representations in Irish cinema at the “Global Mixed Race” conference at DePaul University. (Photo courtesy of Zélie Asava)

DePaul University to host free gathering Nov. 13-15

CHICAGO — Critical mixed race studies, a growing academic field that crosses national, disciplinary and racial boundaries, will be the focus of discussion by scholars, filmmakers and performers at an international conference Nov. 13-15 in Chicago. “Global Mixed Race” will be held at DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. In addition to presentations of scholarly research, there will be live performances and film screenings, including the Chicago premiere of “Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China” by director Paula Williams Madison.

Nearly 200 presenters from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan and Australia will participate in 45 panels during this third biennial conference, which was founded at DePaul in 2010.

“We wanted to create a dynamic space for ongoing scholarly antiracist conversations, debates, and creative processes around multiraciality that also is open and inclusive for the general public, community organizations, and those involved in the arts,” said Laura Kina, cofounder of the conference and professor of art, media and design at DePaul University. Kina is coauthor of “War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art” and an artist whose solo exhibitions include “Blue Hawai’I” and “Sugar.”

Camilla Fojas, conference cofounder and professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul, will deliver the welcoming address with Kina.

Critical mixed race studies is comparative and interdisciplinary. It engages colonial and imperial histories, giving it a transnational and global focus,” Fojas said. Her research focuses on transnational American media and cultural studies in a comparative imperial context. Her newest work, “Islands of Empire: Pop Culture and U.S. Power,” examines how the United States has narrated its relationship with island territories, including Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

The conference will feature two keynote speakers from Ireland: Rebecca King-O’Riain and Zélie Asava

Read the entire press release here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Conceptualizing, and Re-conceptualizing, Mixed Race Identity Development Theories and Canada’s Multicultural Framework in Historical Context

Posted in Articles, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2014-10-29 17:51Z by Steven

Conceptualizing, and Re-conceptualizing, Mixed Race Identity Development Theories and Canada’s Multicultural Framework in Historical Context

SFU Educational Review
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014)
ISSN: 1916-050X
18 pages

Samantha Fischer
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

“Racism is like a fleet-footed bedbug that runs for cover under a sweet-smelling duvet stuffed with politeness and tolerance for multiculturalism” (Hill, 2001, p. 155).”

Scope of the topic, and paper organization

This paper will examine the most prominent theories of identity development of mixed race people in Canada from the late 1800s to the present day in the emergent multicultural context. It will examine the theories and contexts related to all mixed race people rather than focusing on a specific group.

This paper will commence with a discussion of the relevance of the topic, and an overview of multiculturalism policies in Canada. In the second part of the paper, the history of concepts relating to mixed race identity development in Canada will be analyzed in historical context and, when possible, related to the Multiculturalism Policy. In the third section of this paper, the current theories of mixed race identity development and multiculturalism will be addressed. Finally, the need to re-conceptualize race and/or mixed race identity, and current proposals for re-conceptualization will be outlined. When selecting this topic, it was assumed that identity development theories would need to be adapted to suit multiculturalism; however, it was found that the current theories addressing mixed race individuals were comprehensive, and enough empirical and theoretical evidence existed to suggest that they meet the needs of mixed race people. Thus, to address the incongruence between mixed race identity development models and multiculturalism, the focus will be placed on the latter, but a few ideas that are in accord with existing theories on Mixed Race Identity development and the empirical research to address the discrepancies will be suggested. Then, a theory of reconceptualization will be argued as the most appropriate, and the implications for research, the challenges/disadvantages, and the remaining challenges will be addressed.

This paper will be somewhat limited in its ability to discuss identity theories in an exclusively Canadian context, and it cannot accurately reflect the unique situation of the Metis peoples of Canada, or other multi-racial First Nations Peoples. This is not because this topic is unimportant. However, given the remarkably unique socio-cultural position of the First Nations Peoples in Canada, while some of the content of this paper may apply to multi-racial First Nations Peoples, it is beyond the scope of this paper to explore in a manner that would be both appropriate and comprehensive (this remains a critical direction for future work). Although the body of work on Mixed Race identity development in a Canadian context is growing, most of the research on this subject has largely been done in the United States (Taylor, 2008). When possible, exclusively Canadian sources are used, but they are supplemented with American sources interpreted for a Canadian context. Furthermore, due to space constraints, not every development model could be included; however, the most commonly cited, influential and representative ones have been added…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

The Electoral Consequences of Skin Color: The “Hidden” Side of Race in Politics

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-10-29 16:57Z by Steven

The Electoral Consequences of Skin Color: The “Hidden” Side of Race in Politics

Political Behavior
Volume 34, Issue 1 (March 2012)
pages 159-192
DOI: 10.1007/s11109-010-9152-7

Vesla M. Weaver, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Political Science
Yale University

Despite the significant role that skin color plays in material well-being and social perceptions, scholars know little if anything about whether skin color and afrocentric features influence political cognition and behavior and specifically, if intraracial variation in addition to categorical difference affects the choices of voters. Do more phenotypically black minorities suffer an electoral penalty as they do in most aspects of life? This study investigates the impact of color and phenotypically black facial features on candidate evaluation, using a nationally representative survey experiment of over 2000 whites. Subjects were randomly assigned to campaign literature of two opposing candidates, in which the race, skin color and features, and issue stance of candidates was varied. I find that afrocentric phenotype is an important, albeit hidden, form of bias in racial attitudes and that the importance of race on candidate evaluation depends largely on skin color and afrocentric features. However, like other racial cues, color and black phenotype don’t influence voters’ evaluations uniformly but vary in magnitude and direction across the gender and partisan makeup of the electorate in theoretically explicable ways. Ultimately, I argue, scholars of race politics, implicit racial bias, and minority candidates are missing an important aspect of racial bias.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Should “Latino” be a Race on the Census?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-10-29 16:08Z by Steven

Should “Latino” be a Race on the Census?

National Institute for Latino Policy
Guest Commentary

Thomas Lopez, President
Multiracial Americans of Southern California

Few questions cause as much existential angst among Latino intellectuals as this one. The Latino origin question was added to the Census in such a hurry back in 1970, that little thought was likely given to how it would fold into the existing racial categories at the time. It has remained a separate question ever since; thus was born the ubiquitous phrase “Latino (or Hispanic) can be of any race.”  It has been stated so often that it has become more of a platitude than a validated scientific fact.  Kudos should be given to the Census Bureau for finally addressing this issue.  Even if nothing changes in the Census, just considering the question forces us into a deeper conversation about identity in general. Because in order to answer the question of whether or not Latino should be a race, one must first answer a more fundamental question: what is race?

Perhaps it would be easier to start with what race isn’t. There is no biological or genetic basis for race. The full argument supporting this assertion is beyond the scope of this commentary so we will just have to accept that as truth for now.  So what is race? Race is a social construct, which is fancy academic speak for simply being made up. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have meaning just because it is made up. We infuse numerous social constructs with meaning. However, it does create a challenge for demographers to determine what society considers a race and what it doesn’t. The key is looking at the context in which it is used…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

One of Us

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-29 01:17Z by Steven

One of Us

Boston Magazine
November 2014 (published 2014-10-28)

Jennifer J. Roberts

Portrait of the author by Jason Grow

I was a typical Southie kid, one of six, born to a single mother, raised in a triple-decker, surrounded by Whitey Bulger’s violence and fierce Irish pride. There was only one thing that kept me on the outside: Despite my mother’s claims to the contrary, we were black.

When I was six years old, I was bused to school at John Winthrop Elementary on the Dorchester/Roxbury line. The school was in a mostly black neighborhood, about 3 miles from the South Boston neighborhood where I lived, but even then I understood it as enemy territory.

My mother had made that clear: She was ­aggressive about her stance against busing, and “those blacks.” By which she didn’t mean us. I was the youngest of six kids, and the darkest, but if you asked my mother, she’d tell you we were Irish. Virginia Roberts was a proud supporter of Jim Kelly and Billy Bulger, hugged them flamboyantly at every St. Paddy’s Day Parade. They would give her a kiss on the cheek. I would cringe. Tall, thin, and attractive, she wore a shamrock brooch on her housecoat. Her kinky hair was usually covered by a kerchief or a wig. Her skin, like mine, was a warm beige in the winter and a deep red-brown in the summer. But we were Irish, she insisted, and nothing else.

Sitting in a neighbor’s kitchen, racial slurs would buzz around like hungry mosquitoes waiting to suck my blood out and leave me cold. Inevitably one would land on my mother. “Why can’t they just stay in their neighborhood? No offense, Ginny,” waving a cigarette at my mother. “You know we don’t mean you!” My mother would swat away their words with indifference; of course they didn’t mean her! She’d scoff right along with them.

When I was a child, the origin of our shared skin tone and hair texture was a mystery. Out on the street, though, kids had theories: “I heard your grandmother was raped by a black man,” they’d say to me, or, “I heard your mother was found on a doorstep and your grandmother took her in.” What was clear to me, even as a little girl, was that my mother wanted no part of our shared racial heritage. The bubble of denial she created for herself was solid Teflon. Everything rolled right off of her and onto me. At home, I was Irish. On the street, I was something different: “jigaboo,” “nigger,” “Oreo,” “Jenny the spook.” These names were spoken to me almost as if they were endearments, nicknames. Nearly everyone in Southie had a nickname.

I was from Southie; I was one of them. I was their black girl…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

On blackness and autism, identity and essence

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-29 00:54Z by Steven

On blackness and autism, identity and essence

Ray Hemachandra @ Golden Moon Publishing: Autism, spirit, beauty. Compassion. Love. Kindness. Sparks of light.

Ray Hemachandra

Often I’m asked “What are you?”

Racial and ethnic identity still inform so much in our culture. The question asked really is a question of identity. “What are you?” masks the underlying question, “Who are you?”

When I was young I was black. My father, Neal Hemachandra, was black. His mother, Leathe Wade Colvert, was black. Her mother, Martha Pleasant, came from Virginia and slave plantations. She was black.

I was black even as I carried an Asian Indian name and just as much ethnic heritage: my father’s father, Balatunga Hemachandra, emigrated from Sri Lanka. I was black even as I was Jewish: my blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jewish mother’s family were immigrants from eastern Europe, and much of their family died in the Holocaust. I was black even as American Indian and black Dutch genes contributed to my father’s ancestral lines…

American history and family history confirmed this identity. One drop. My parent’s mixed marriage: they were married in New York City, where they both were born, by a prominent NYC African American judge, Hubert Delany, brother of the Delany sisters who became famous decades later. My parents’ marriage was reported in the black press in several papers up and down the East Coast

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,