A young playwright’s quest to ask difficult questions about race, class and gender

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-03 03:07Z by Steven

A young playwright’s quest to ask difficult questions about race, class and gender

The Los Angeles Times
2016-12-02

Margaret Gray

Leah Nanako Winkler’s new play “Kentucky” is a comedy about a Japanese American woman raised in the South. Like her protagonist Hiro, Winkler is half-Japanese and grew up in Kentucky. Like Hiro, she left  for New York and didn’t return for years. And like Hiro, Winkler found her sister’s embrace of evangelical Christianity puzzling and alarming.

“It was like she’d joined a cult,” recalls Winkler, who clarifies that she wasn’t entirely like the Hiro of her play.

“I didn’t actually try to stop my sister’s wedding,” she says with a laugh.

Speaking from the dressing room at East West Players’ theater in downtown L.A., where the West Coast premiere of “Kentucky” runs through Dec. 11, Winkler says the new work is “circumstantially autobiographical.”…

…Born in Japan, Winkler spent some of her childhood there before moving to Kentucky. She won’t say how old she was at the time. “I don’t like to answer that question because there’s a lot of judgment placed on that,” she says. “There’s a big difference if I say 2 or if I say 12. People like to peg you on how Japanese or how American you are, when you’re mixed race.”

She will say that she was old enough to experience “a double identity crisis.”

“In Japan I was a child model because of my Western looks,” she says. “I was considered gaijin, which means foreigner. But in America I was the girl from Japan.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Picture of Her ‘Kentucky’ Home

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-03 02:58Z by Steven

A Picture of Her ‘Kentucky’ Home

The Rafu Shimpo: Los Angeles Japanese Daily News
2016-11-27

Mikey Hirano Culross


Leah Nanako Winkler was born in Japan, raised in Lexington, Kentucky, and now lives in New York City.

Leah Nanako Winkler arrived more than flustered, bounding into a dressing room at East West Players after having endured what should have been a 20-minute trek from Universal City to Little Tokyo.

Ms. Winkler, meet the 101.

The evening’s performance of her new play, “Kentucky,” was barely 90 minutes from curtain, and Winkler had plenty of tasks beforehand, including a quick chat with The Rafu.

Now a hard-studying MFA student in Brooklyn, Winkler has composed an honest look at family, with all its glory as well as warts, drawing on her experiences growing up in Lexington, Kentucky.

Her play follows Hiro, a woman on the verge of big-city career success whose homecoming is driven by the desire to dissuade her born-again sister from entering into a marriage that Hiro finds unsavory. Dealing with her family’s southern leanings, her own misgivings and a talking cat, Hiro’s mission is derailed into a completely unplanned direction.

“For me it was important to see a mixed-race family on stage and not seen through rose-colored glasses, that they have their faults, that they’re not perfect,” Winkler explained…

Read the entire article here.

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Colorism and interracial dating bring the “ish” in Black-ish into focus

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-12-03 02:04Z by Steven

Colorism and interracial dating bring the “ish” in Black-ish into focus

A.V. Club
2016-12-01

Ashley Ray-Harris, Contributor


Marcus Scribner (left) and Annelise Grace

“A black woman would know”

This Black-ish review is late. It’s incredibly late because this was a complex episode to approach. As soon as the cold open ended with Bow’s disdainful expression as she saw Junior’s white girlfriend, my phone started going off. My mom texted, “Wow, they’re really gonna do this?” From a distance, “Being Bow-racial” may seem like a problematic, racist, weird episode of Black-ish. Why would Bow—an educated, wealthy, tolerant doctor—care that her son is dating a white girl? But, in reality, the episode addresses some of the most guarded, internal secrets within the black community—colorism, interracial dating, the black man’s fear of white women, and everyone’s fear of black women. “Being Bow-racial” is Black-ish finally addressing the “ish” that looms heavily over its title and the results are stellar.

“Being Bow-racial” is an episode that feels incredibly personal to me, which might make it difficult to be objective, but it’s truly a story I’ve never seen given such attention on broadcast TV. The second Junior introduced Megan, I found myself making the same face as Bow for the same reasons—she’s white. This isn’t because Bow and I are racists, in fact, the episode does an amazing job of pointing out that Bow’s issue is an internal issue that stems from her own conflicting feelings and uncertainty around her blackness. Yet, If you’re not familiar with colorism in the black community or tropes like the tragic mulatto, you might not understand how deeply these factors actually affect black women…

Read the entire article here.

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Secrets and Lies

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-03 00:14Z by Steven

Secrets and Lies

Ms. Magazine blog
Ms. Magazine
2016-05-17

Gail Lukasik

The following is an excerpt from White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Identity.

In 1995 when I discovered my mother’s black heritage, she made me promise never to tell her secret until she died. I kept her secret for 17 years. Nine months after her death in 2015, I appeared on PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and revealed to 1.5 million people that my mother had passed for white. Three days later the family she never knew found me. “Secrets and Lies” recounts the stories my mother told me about her life in New Orleans before she came north to marry my father. After I uncovered her racial secret, I realized her stories held clues to her racial identity and the hardships she endured as a mixed race woman in Jim Crow south.

Parma, Ohio

When I was a young girl my mother would tell me about her life in New Orleans before she came north to Ohio to marry my father. Each story so carefully fashioned, so artfully told I never questioned their validity. It was one of the rare times I’d be allowed to sit on my parents’ double bed in the cramped downstairs bedroom that faced the street, its north window inches from the neighbor’s driveway where a dog barked sometimes into the night.

The room was pristine with its satiny floral bedspread, crisscrossed white lacy curtains and fringed shades. Area rugs surrounded the bed like islands of color over the amber shag carpet. A large dresser held my mother’s perfumes neatly arranged on a mirrored tray. An assortment of tiny prayer books rested on a side table beside a rosary. Over the bed was a painting of a street scene that could be Paris or New Orleans, colorful and dreamy. A similar painting hung in the living room.

It wasn’t until I married and left home that my father was banished to the other first floor smaller bedroom, even then he was an interloper in this feminine domain. His clothes were exiled to the front hall closet where he kept his rifle. On story days the room was a mother-daughter cove of confidences where my mother came as close as she ever would to telling me who she was, dropping clues like breadcrumbs that would take me decades to decipher. As I grew older, she confided intimacies of her marital life best shared with a mother or a sister. I was the substitute for the family left behind in New Orleans…

Read the entire excerpt here.

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Review: “Krazy” by Michael Tisserand

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-02 23:44Z by Steven

Review: “Krazy” by Michael Tisserand

Know Louisiana: The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana and Home of Louisiana Cultural Vistas
2016-12-02 (Winter 2016)

Lydia Nichols

There is nothing more American than passing, the act of projecting a racial identity other than that assigned. At no other time and place in American history have necessity and opportunity so dramatically conspired to create the possibility for passing as in late 19th century New Orleans. Reconstruction had failed to establish equitable institutions for those whom the Constitution had denied 2/5 of their personhood; and by 1877, the Southern Democrats (former Confederates) had reclaimed political and social dominion over the state. As W.E.B Du Bois writes in Black Reconstruction, Louisiana’s government was to be “a government of white people, made and to be perpetuated for the exclusive political benefit of the white race.” Though identifying as neither white nor black, New Orleans’ Afro-Creoles, who had enjoyed relative mobility prior to the Civil War, were kicked out of schools and churches, cut off from quality education, and pushed to “colored cars.” It became clear that hybridity was no longer acknowledged or welcome. Well-educated, multilingual and able to pass for white, unknown numbers of Creoles left to seek whatever security their ambiguity would allow. Among them was George Joseph Herriman, a ten-year old boy who in time would become a white man and a pioneering cartoonist.

Michael Tisserand provides a painstakingly well-researched analysis of Herriman’s life and work in Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White (HarperCollins, 2016). Herriman, a man of diverse interests and experiences, created comics laden with allusions to classical literature and philosophy; written in immigrant, black and southern vernaculars; and often incorporating foreign languages. The most famous and longest-running of his comics was Krazy Kat, a gender non-conforming, color-changing cat in the southwestern desert who regularly drops philosophical gems in his own dialect of English…

Read the entire review here.

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Edit desk: Passing is a choice

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-02 23:24Z by Steven

Edit desk: Passing is a choice

The Brown and White: All The Lehigh news first since 1894
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
2016-11-29

Gaby Morera, Managing Editor

Once I was complaining about the challenges of being Hispanic in America to a friend of mine.

I can’t even remember what I was saying, but I remember the person’s response clearly. She said, “Do you think you make it harder on yourself because you call attention to the fact that you’re Hispanic?”

I find that question problematic for many reasons. But in that moment, I ignored it. I didn’t say anything, and when I got home I thought to myself, “How do I call attention to the fact that I’m Hispanic? And why would that be a bad thing?”…

Read the entire article here.

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We are not “belligerent,” “dark” or “bitter”

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-12-01 02:31Z by Steven

We are not “belligerent,” “dark” or “bitter”

Media Diversified
2016-11-29

Tele Ogunyemi, Co-founder
Diaspora Philes

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s recent article ‘Blend it like Britain’ is a masterpiece in how to simultaneously erase and fetishize people of colour. Published on 6th November 2016 in the Sunday Times Magazine to promote Amma Asante’s new film ‘A United Kingdom’, the article is littered with racist or otherwise problematic assertions about people of colour, and their role in creating a modern multicultural Britain. Alibhai-Brown’s article seeks to explore the role of white women in building a ‘multicultural’ Britain, but is laced with rhetoric that casually dehumanizes people of colour. [Chief amongst these lazy tropes are toxic portrayals of an exotic and dangerous black masculinity in contrast to a pristine, “middle class” white womanhood.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes that ‘miscegenation goes way back and deep down in Great Britain. Much of this integration is thanks to an unsung history of white British women who defied social norms to follow their hearts.’

We do not doubt that white women in relationships with men of colour played a part in this demographic change in society. However, by placing white British women at the centre of a narrative about multicultural nationhood, Alibhai-Brown erases the contributions of millions of immigrants who have come to the UK and done the difficult work of integrating into a new society whilst enriching Britain with the best elements of their cultures…

Read the entire article here.

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Guest Shot: Vancouver viaducts removal clears way to honour Hogan’s Alley

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-12-01 01:10Z by Steven

Guest Shot: Vancouver viaducts removal clears way to honour Hogan’s Alley

Vancouver Metro News
2016-11-10

Wayde Compton


Vancouver writer Wayde Compton (Ayelet Tsabari/Submitted)

Removal of the 1960s downtown infrastructure a chance to create a gathering space, an archive, for future black communities, argues Wayde Compton

Last year, Vancouver City Council voted to take the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts down.

This was the culmination of years of study, spearheaded by Coun. Geoff Meggs of Vision Vancouver. Before the vote, members of the public appeared before council to say a few words, to voice their hopes and concerns.

They were so numerous that two days were required to accommodate everyone. While a wide variety of opinions were aired, many of the people there insisted that in some way or other the new plans need to honour the history of Hogan’s Alley — the neighbourhood that existed for decades at the site where the viaducts were built in the late 1960s, and which included a sizeable population of black Vancouverites..

…The viaducts were part of an “urban renewal” scheme that fit a pattern of such plans all across North America during that era: freeways were slated to connect cities to their suburbs, and they were almost always run through black neighbourhoods — because black residents were considered expendable.

In the case of Vancouver, Chinatown was also targeted.

But as it turned out, Vancouver’s freeway plan was never realized, and the only portion built was the one that obliterated black centralization in the East End (or Strathcona, as it came to be called through this planning)…

Read the entire article here.

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Blend it like Britain

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-12-01 00:51Z by Steven

Blend it like Britain

The Sunday Times
The Times of London
2016-11-06

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown


United colours: one in 10 people in this country are in a mixed relationship
MORDECHAI MEIRI

An acclaimed new movie, A United Kingdom, is set to shine a spotlight on mixed-race relationships — and how British women changed society’s attitude towards them. The time to celebrate these unsung pioneers is long overdue

Brits have long been typecast as a nation of snobs and Little Englanders. Dull, cold, twitchy folk, as culturally unadventurous as they are sexually repressed. These “small islander” traits are a key part of the national story, but only a part. Dig beneath the surface of British history and society, and you find a culture that is curious and expansive. One in 10 people in this country are in a mixed relationship. Millions of us are bolder than the supposedly romantic and hot-blooded Italians or French, most of whom are conformist and tend not to break out of their cultural and ethnic boundaries.

Europeans are (very slowly) becoming more ethnically mixed, but they will never catch up with the UK’s demographic melange. Between 2001 and 2011, there has been a rise of more than 50% in British black/white partnerships. Today, around half of black and 20% of British-Asian men have wedded or cohabit with white women. This is no new trend. Miscegenation goes way back and deep down in Great Britain. Much of this integration is thanks to an unsung history of white British women who defied social norms to follow their hearts.

In the 16th century, the first black people arrived on these shores. The majority were men: slaves, freed slaves and servants. Poor, working-class women in London and the port cities paired up with them, had children too. They were the first to set the trend that grew during the days of empire and the two world wars. A report written in Liverpool in the early 1930s depicted these women as feckless and promiscuous. In the late 1940s, ships arrived carrying Caribbeans, again mostly men. They, too, found Englishwomen who were enraptured by darker-skinned partners. The women were often reviled, but many of them refused to bow to prejudice. These women began the social revolution that changed Britain for ever…

Read the entire article here.

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A Mixed Race Feminist Blog Interview with Jamal Langley

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-12-01 00:30Z by Steven

A Mixed Race Feminist Blog Interview with Jamal Langley

Mixed Race Feminist Blog
2016-11-29

Nicola Codner
Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom


Jamal Langley

Interviewee Bio

Hey. My name is Jamal Langley and I’m 22 years old. I aspire to be a public academic, which is an academic that creates knowledge that is of practical use in order to mobilise the public democratically. I think that the idea of public academia will become increasingly important in the years to come due to Trump’s presidential victory and Brexit. I see these events as resulting from the failure of the elitist experts that guide our politicians to create fair societies that work for everyone.

Next year I hope to continue my education at the University of Leeds with my PhD research on ‘Black British and Mixed Race identity: The Intersectionality between Race, Class and Political affiliation’. I wish to explore this area by trying to understand why we have simultaneously seen a rise in the activity of black liberationist groups in the UK, and the largest number of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) people voting for the Conservative party in the 2015 election. I have been unable to attract funding for my project, however I hope with your help I can crowd fund my tuition fees. I believe that my research is of real value to the black and left wing community. By gaining a better understanding of black & mixed race identity in contemporary Britain, this research hopes to foster better community mobilisation against racism. Projects such as mine are where we should invest our support if we wish to create material changes and narratives that support the world we envisage.

What was your experience of school like as a mixed race boy?

In primary school, I remember thinking I was different from the majority of the students that were white. I didn’t like this difference until we got Sky TV and I started to watch MTV Base and Channel U which depicted black culture as cool. I had Ludacris’ album “Chicken and Beer” and Dizzee Rascal’sBoy in the Corner”. I would listen to them when I got home from school. In year 4 I wrote a short story about an alien that abducted small children to eat. My teacher thought it was a really good story and praised me for it at parents evening, however when my dad read it he took away all my rap albums. He believed that they were indoctrinating me with violent ideas. I will say myself that towards the end of primary school and at the beginning of secondary school, I do believe that the culture glorified in rap music did affect my behaviour in a mischievous way…

How has your relationship with your parents and family influenced your racial identity?

My Mum is white British and my Dad was born in Britain, but my grandparents emigrated here from Jamaica. My parents have been split up since I was conceived, yet I have spent a lot of time with both of them. Both of my parents went on to meet new partners, who they had children with.

In a way I would say not only am I mixed race but I am also mixed class. My mum has always been working class, living in council accommodation and working in low skilled jobs when she could. My father on the other hand lives in a large house with a mortgage paid for by his partner who is a successful businesswoman. Her support has allowed my dad to go to university, work odd jobs and move onto his latest and most successful venture of selling vinyl…

Read the entire interview here.

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