I raised my sons to be racially neutral

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-19 22:47Z by Steven

I raised my sons to be racially neutral


Terry Baker Mulligan

Two mixed-race boys, one lighter skinned than the other. Did I make a mistake telling them they were the same?

One Saturday night in St. Louis about decade ago my younger son, then a teen, was driving around town with two white friends. I’m black and my husband is white, so our two sons are biracial. This particular son has his father’s straight hair and aquiline nose. His skin is brown like mine.

The friend in the back seat behind my son stuck a paint pellet gun out the back window and shot a stop sign. He didn’t see two police cars parked just ahead. The cops hustled out of their squad cars and did the “Whoa, what the ‘F’ are you doing?” routine. The kids were taken to the police station, the gun was confiscated, and eventually all the parents were called to come to the station.

Back up about eight years. As a young family, we usually didn’t talk about race or even acknowledge it, because at the time we didn’t see the need. Then one night at the dinner table I got my first reality check when our younger boy, who was 7 at the time, said, “Dad, I want white skin and braces. And a new first name, like Michael.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-19 22:12Z by Steven

Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

The Guardian

Gary Younge

The virus is a metaphor for all that conservatives loathe, and sees the president’s policies under renewed attack

In a column ostensibly explaining why moderates struggle in the Republican party, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen last year wrote: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York – a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts – but not all – of America.”

If the thought of New York’s first family’s interracial marriage makes many Republicans (and apparently Cohen) gag, imagine how many sick bags they are filling over Ebola. The arrival of the virus in America has crystallised a range of Conservative anxieties: immigration, race, terrorism, science, big government, Barack Obama – you name it. For the right, Ebola is not just a disease, it is a metaphor for some of the things they don’t understand and many of the things they loathe…

…Finally, Ebola serves as a proxy for the many long-held Conservative prejudices about Obama – that he is an African-born interloper come to destroy America. A 2010 poll showed that just under a third of Republicans believed Obama was a “racist who hates white people”. Michael Savage, another rightwing radio host, calls him “Obola”. “Obama wants equality and he wants fairness, and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two … to really feel what it’s like to be in the third world. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing For White

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-10-19 21:40Z by Steven

Passing For White

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

David Crary
The Associated Press

America is more diverse than ever and racial pride is strong, yet a new movie and book are highlighting a phenomenon that seems like a relic of the segregationist past — black people passing as white.

The film, The Human Stain, is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel about a classics professor, played by Anthony Hopkins, who conceals his racial background.

The book, Passing: When People Can’t Be Who They Are, by Brooke Kroeger, includes a sympathetic profile of a black man who passed as a white Jew during the 1980s and ’90s.

Kroeger, a New York University journalism professor who spent four years researching her book, said passing has a profound resonance for many black Americans.

“Over and over, I’d hear personal stories about members of their family who didn’t return for reunions, who led clandestine lives,” she said.

“Traditionally, the attitude toward passing was you accepted it, you never exposed a passer. Post-1960s, when people are so proud of their racial and ethnic identities, it seems more like cultural treason, yet still people don’t give passers up.”

Paul Johnston, a retired X-ray technician, knows of passing firsthand. His parents, Albert and Thyra Johnston, passed as white along with Paul and his three older siblings while the family lived in two New Hampshire towns during the 1930s and ’40s. Albert was a physician in the community.

The truth of the Johnstons’ background came out in 1941, when Albert was rejected as a Navy officer. But despite the family’s fears, townspeople in Keene, N.H., were generally receptive to them even after the news spread, and the Johnstons’ experience was movingly depicted in a 1949 film, Lost Boundaries.

Paul Johnston, 68, is now married to a woman of Irish descent who has nine children from a previous marriage.

“Some of the kids were pretty prejudiced, but they grew to like me,” he said in a telephone interview. “They thought it was quite fascinating that something like this [his family's passing] would happen.”

Johnston, who says some of his relatives continue to pass for white, lives in a predominantly white town on Cape Cod.

“Almost nobody knows of my background, not because I’ve kept it a secret, just because I haven’t talked about it much except to a few people in my church,” he said. “I don’t think it would make any difference to people, but you never can tell.”…

…In The Human Stain, Roth’s fictional protagonist, Coleman Silk, was loosely modeled on the late Anatole Broyard, for many years a prominent literary critic for The New York Times

Read the entire article here.

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The Whiteness Project will make you wince. Because white people can be rather awful

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-19 21:23Z by Steven

The Whiteness Project will make you wince. Because white people can be rather awful

The Guardian

Steven W. Thrasher, Weekly Columnist

You’ve never seen privilege quite like this: ‘You can’t even talk about fried chicken or Kool-Aid without wondering if someone’s going to get offended’

White and black Americans see race from radically different perspectives, to the point that the white, world-saving New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has rung the alarm that “whites just don’t get it”. As someone who is half black and half white, I can certainly attest to the truth of that.

So I had misgivings about director Whitney Dow’s The Whiteness Project, the new interactive documentary launched over the weekend by POV. “I made this project for white people, not for people of color,” Dow told me on Tuesday, because “if white people are going to participate in changing the racial dynamic, we need to deal with our own shit first.

Dow, who is white, has been making smart films about race with his black filmmaking partner Marco Williams since 2002’s Two Towns of Jasper. But it was still hard to believe that white people talking about whiteness could do anything more than produce the gazing of blue eyes at pale navels.

After all, Dow’s project sounds a lot like “whiteness studies”, which is an actual field of academia I’ve recently encountered. The field is often credited with having its intellectual origins in a WEB Du Bois meditation, but more recently evolved to the point that it simply allowed white scholars to talk more about … well, white people…

Read the entire article here.

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Performance added for one-woman play at Willamette U.

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-17 21:30Z by Steven

Performance added for one-woman play at Willamette U.

The Salem Statesman-Journal
Salem, Oregon

Tom Mayhall Rastrelli, Fine Arts & Culture Writer

Damaris Webb will debut her one-woman play “The Box Marked Black: Tales from a Halfrican American growing up Mulatto. With sock puppets!” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25 at M. Lee Pelton Theatre, Willamette University, 900 State St. According to the box office, the performance Oct. 24 is sold out, but the recently-added performance Oct. 25 has many tickets available.

Using Jenny Willis from “The Jeffersons” as a guide, Webb will narrate her experience of living in an interracial family with storytelling, dance, song and puppetry. The play asks what it means to be black, but it’s themes of abandonment, belonging, fear and acceptance, are universal.

“Hopefully, telling my story will create space for others to unpack and breathe around their own varied identities,” Webb said…

Read the entire article here.

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“The Box Marked Black” is coming to Willamette University Oct. 24-25

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Forthcoming Media, United States on 2014-10-17 20:38Z by Steven

“The Box Marked Black” is coming to Willamette University Oct. 24-25

Willamette University News
Salem, Oregon

What does it mean to be black? Is it the shade of your skin or the kink in your hair? Is it learned?

These questions are explored in “The Box Marked Black: Tales from a Halfrican American growing up Mulatto. With sock puppets!” Written and performed by Damaris Webb and directed by Debra Disbrow, the play is debuting at Willamette University Oct. 24-25.

“In exploring the story of my blackness and unpacking my personal relationship to identity, race and culture, it quickly became clear that the best form for this exploration was as a solo piece,” Webb says. “Hopefully, telling my story will create space for others to unpack and breathe around their own varied identities.”

With only Jenny Willis from “The Jeffersons” as a guide, Webb’s narrative uses direct storytelling, modern dance, song and puppetry to share the perspectives of both sides of her interracial family…

For more information, click here.

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Does Diversity Breed Intolerance?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-17 19:38Z by Steven

Does Diversity Breed Intolerance?

BU Today
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

Rich Barlow, Staff Writer
Telephone: 617-358-3877

Some whites fear impending minority status, research says

“Diversity” is said to be the sun of our civic solar system, shining bright harmony everywhere from society at large to university campuses. Katherine Levine Einstein is certainly an apostle of this view. The College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of political science studies racially segregated areas and finds that separation polarizes and paralyzes those places’ politics.

But Boston’s commuter rail system shakes her faith.

Harvard colleague Ryan Enos surveyed white subjects about their views on Mexican immigration levels, asking, among other things, if they favored allowing noncriminal, employed illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Enos sought responses twice: once before exposing the whites to more Hispanic commuters on train platforms and once after. Support for immigration and allowing the undocumented to stay plunged in the “after” follow-up from what it had been in the “before” survey.

In addition to the Harvard research, two Northwestern University studies fuel Einstein’s pessimism. One found that as whites learned that they will become a minority, they grew more conservative and Republican-leaning. The other reported that whites who were aware of their future minority status became more negative towards nonwhites and preferred hanging out with their own race…

Marilyn Halter (GRS’86), a CAS history professor, sees a fundamental flaw in the Northwestern methodology. “I have found no evidence whatsoever of backsliding on racial tolerance in the marketplace, whether from the marketers or the consumer side of the equation,” says Halter, whose 2000 book Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity is about how American businesses have tailored their products to immigrant consumers in recent decades.

She also argues that the growth of mixed-race Americans—more than nine million checked two or more race categories on the 2010 US Census, up 32 percent from 2000, she says—means “it will be increasingly irrelevant to divide up the electorate into white, black, and brown.”

“Future projections about the impact of a minority white nation don’t take into account the changing meaning of whiteness,” she says. “I know that the research is attempting to measure how people react to the idea of a future white minority, but the very concept is so oversimplified and inaccurate, I think it invalidates the findings.…I do not think that greater diversity leads to more intolerance.”…

Read the entire article here.

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I’m more than someone who’s of mixed race

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-17 19:01Z by Steven

I’m more than someone who’s of mixed race

The Appleton Post-Crescent
Appleton, Wisconsin

Mia Sato, Post-Crescent Community Columnist

Identity can be tough to sort out sometimes, but it doesn’t change some things about me

My life is defined by numerical classifications. I’m 19 years old, a second-year college student, the eldest of four children. I have a zip code, a GPA, 16 credits on my fall semester schedule, with 60 more to complete before I graduate. Each of these numbers reflects some aspect of my existence, and each number is grounds for people to make a judgment.

For as long as I can remember, I have been identified as “half” Japanese and “half” white American. On government forms, my pen would meander, hovering over the White and Asian boxes equally, unsure of which to check. Sometimes, I’d check both and was asked to pick one. Sometimes, I’d check one or the other and consider if it was the correct choice. Sometimes, I’d check neither and let my mother complete the rest for me.

I’ve learned that racial identity is more than a choice between clear-cut, straightforward options for children with parents of mixed heritage. It’s at times alienating, divisive and difficult to make sense of…

Read the entire article here.

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Drury professor honored for research on mixed-race families

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-10-16 21:34Z by Steven

Drury professor honored for research on mixed-race families

Springfield News-Leader
Springfield, Missouri

Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer
Drury University

Dan Livesay, assistant history professor at Drury University, has been named the Sherman Emerging Scholar for 2014. Livesay will travel to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington next week to deliver a public lecture about his research, speak in a graduate class and share his expertise with other scholars.

The Sherman Emerging Scholar award is a national award presented by UNC-Wilmington annually to a promising young scholar. It gives the winner a platform to discuss perspectives, research and approaches to modern issues and theories in history, politics and international affairs.

Livesay’s lecture, titled “Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World,” will relate his research about mixed-race families in the 18th century to modern-day debates about race and family in the United States. Growing racial complexities and family belonging were important issues then as now.

“Because I was selected by a committee of historians working on lots of different periods of time and topics, it was very encouraging to discover that my particular research had something of a broad appeal,” Livesay says. “As academics, we can sometimes feel that we are only talking to a very narrow group of people about our research, and so I’m thrilled that I can present it to people from all different walks of life and intellectual interests.”

In total, Livesay spent 10 years researching, writing and revising his work, which is now in the process of being published in book form by UNC Press

Read the entire article here.

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Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 19:25Z by Steven

Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Qualitative Sociology
March 2014, Volume 37, Issue 1
pages 93-115
DOI: 10.1007/s11133-013-9268-2

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Different approaches to race mixture in the U.S. and Brazil have led to the notion that they are polar opposites in terms of race relations. However, the end of de jure segregation in the U.S., the acknowledgement of racial inequality, and subsequent implementation of affirmative action in Brazil have called into question the extent to which these societies are vastly different. By examining race mixture as a lived reality, this study offers a novel approach to understanding racial boundaries in these two contexts. I analyze 87 interviews with individuals in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to examine the cultural repertoires and discursive traditions they draw on to understand white families’ reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ “color-blindness” to understand opposition to Blacks marrying into the family. Brazilian couples perceive overt racism and the use of humor from white family members. Nevertheless, couples with black males experienced more hostility in both sites. In addition, white male autonomy was related to the lower hostility that black female-white male couples experienced in both societies. By examining contemporary race mixture as a lived reality, this study complicates simplistic understandings of race relations as similar or different in these two societies. Furthermore, with the increase of multiracial families in both societies, it reveals the family as an important site for redrawing and policing racial boundaries.

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