What Are You, Anyway?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-13 22:16Z by Steven

What Are You, Anyway?

Brown Alumni Magazine
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
September/October 2014

Amy DuBois Barnett ’91

It was a muggy day in September 1987. Thanks to the dense New England humidity of a stubborn Indian summer, most of us pre-freshmen had hung our crisp new college outfits in the narrow dorm closets and had retreated into the baggy shorts and long tank tops that all high school students wore that year.

Brown shoulders abounded as we gathered nervously for our first group event of the Third World Transition Program, or TWTP, as it was commonly known. All non-white members of the incoming freshman class were invited for a four-day orientation that was meant to acclimate us to our Ivy League surroundings. We were supposed to commune together and develop bonds so that we would feel comfortable and at home when the “snowstorm” (our term for the arrival of the Caucasian students) hit.

Upon arriving at TWTP, my first question had been: What is up with the name? I’m from New York, not a third world country. Apparently, the program had been created to appease the mostly African American students who famously organized a walkout in 1968 to protest their lack of representation among the classes and faculty. Therefore, even though the majority of students who gathered under its banner had graduated at the top of their classes from some of the best high schools in the Western Hemisphere, the nomenclature was not to be trifled with.

Chastened by the explanation of TWTP’s genesis and shamed by my lack of knowledge about what it took to make the program a reality, I took my seat in Andrews Dining Hall next to a cool Indian girl in an all-black outfit, wearing one enormous earring. In typical teen girl fashion, we became fast friends in about fifteen minutes, but we were quickly parted when the program organizers announced that we would be gathering in ethnicity-based groups. She trotted off to join the Asian students, and I was left alone to face a difficult choice: Did I join the large fun-looking group of black students at the far end of the room who were already laughing, high-fiving, and forming cliques? Or should I join the small, sad group of biracial kids whose only unifying characteristic was parents of two different races?

Technically, I belonged with the biracial kids because my mother is African American, while my father is white and Jewish. But that characterization did not feel like home to me at all. I had been raised black, felt black, and had never once called my racial identity into question. There was no confusion or conflict in my home, either. My dad had always told me, “It’s simple. I am white and you are black.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Creoles and Melungeons: More Important Than Ever to America

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2014-09-12 19:42Z by Steven

Creoles and Melungeons: More Important Than Ever to America

Melungeon Heritage Association: One People, All Colors
2014-08-22

Nick Douglas

The unique origins of Creoles and Melungeons parallel and complement each other. Their genesis is a uniquely American phenomenon.

Creoles, like Melungeons, are a race of black, white and Native American people. Most Creoles and Melungeons have a long history of freedom. For Melungeons, freedom dated back to pre-colonial America. In my family, the first Creoles were free people born in Sante Domingue and Haiti, who emigrated to New Orleans in the 1700s and 1800s.

Both Creoles and Melungeons claimed Native American heritage in oral history but had little documented proof. Creole oral history is infused with Choctaw, Seminole and Natchez relationships and kinships. Melungeon oral history is infused with Cherokee, Tuscarora, Lumbee and Croatan relationships and kinships. DNA testing is now confirming Native American heritage for many Melungeons and Creoles.

Many of the first families classified as Melungeons were started by indentured white women who had children with black indentured servants, free men of color or slaves. This fact complements Creole stories of white fathers in New Orleans having children with free women of color or slaves.

Melungeon history directly contradicts a Southern taboo on relationships between white women and men of color. Among New Orleans and Louisiana Creoles, white men claimed to be black or free people of color to be able to leave wealth and property to their Creole of color children. These early examples of Melungeons and Creoles show how extensive and intertwined the relationships between blacks, white and Native Americans were, before racial designation became of paramount importance in the U.S…

Read the entire article here.

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Making mixed babies

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-09-12 15:08Z by Steven

Making mixed babies

Bump 2 Baby: Pregnancy & Mothering Blog
2014-09-11

Jody-Lan Castle, Linked Data Specialist
BBC News

As the world becomes increasingly more heterogeneous, having a mixed identity is increasingly common.

It’s really important to make children aware of their family background.

The memories of my own parents’ family histories had already begun to become diluted as they were passed down to me.

My Mother had voyaged to the shores of England by boat from the far lands of Malaysia. And my Father, born just round the corner in Essex, was the son of descendants of Irish and Roma travellers.

But specific details were never handed down to me, as they had started fading even from my Mother and Father’s recollections before I was born…

Read the entire article here.

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I am not Pocahontas

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-09-09 20:44Z by Steven

I am not Pocahontas

The Weeklings (also in Salon)
2014-09-04

Elissa Washuta

AS A COWLITZ Indian child, white-skinned and New Jersey-born, I grew up fielding the question, “How much Indian are you?” without any sense of its meaning. Once I was old enough to know that my mother was Indian and my father wasn’t, I began responding “Half.” It wasn’t until my teenage years that I would ask my mother for the details of my ethnic breakdown. She pulled an index card out of her desk drawer. I knew that I was Cowlitz, Polish, Irish, and Ukrainian, but the card was full of surprising facts as well. What did it mean to be Welch? French?

The truly shocking information the card carried was my Indian blood quantum. I didn’t know that was the term for the sum of the fractions next to Cowlitz and Cascade. This was the “How much?” people had prodded me about, and it wasn’t the half I’d assumed. “What are you, a quarter?” people would toss out at times. It wasn’t that. The sum of the Cascade and Cowlitz fractions made an awkward hybrid. I decided it would be nobody’s business.

I grew up in the time of Native American proverb posters and mass-produced dream catchers. Disney’s Pocahontas was released in 1995, when I was ten. I had outgrown my Barbies then, but I still added a Pocahontas doll to my retired collection. I knew that she was a fullblood. She communicated with animals and never wore a jacket. She painted with all the colors of the wind. If someone had asked me to explain the difference between my plastic doll and me, I might have said that she was the real Indian and I was the fake one…

…Although my tribe doesn’t require me to demonstrate a minimum degree of ancestry, acquaintances’ innocent questions of “How much?” seem to gesture toward a desire to get at the truth about how far I am from ancestor plucked from Kevin Costner’s friendly and doomed band: a real Indian.

“How much Indian are you?”, however well-intentioned, implies that alive within me is only a tiny piece of the free, noble Indian that passed on long ago, a remnant from which I am far removed. The questions, individually, are borne from a place of curiosity, but the questions have embedded in a time when blood quantum was used to rob indigenous peoples of rights and, ultimately, lead to our being defined out of existence. Pocahontas, in the final scene of the Disney re-creation, sends John Smith back to England and tells him, “No matter what happens, I’ll always be with you. Forever.” What happens: the viewer is spared the discomfort of a mixed-race happy ending. What happens, historically: Pocahontas is captured by the English, marries John Rolfe, has a son, travels to England to serve as the Crown’s symbol of the civilization and Christianization of the “heathens,” and dies there from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-two. The Disney version, in which Pocahontas never fit her feet into heeled shoes and refused to leave the woods (until the afterthought of a straight-to-video sequel), persists…

Read the entire article here.

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Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-09-09 20:14Z by Steven

Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China
2014-09-08

Lijia Zhang, Writer, Journalist, Social Commentator

Lijia Zhang recounts her struggle to instill pride and love of all things Chinese in her daughters

May, my 17-year-old elder daughter, told me the results of her school exams by phone. When there was a pause, she asked: “Are you disappointed?” I shouldn’t have been. Three As and a B were good results.

But the problem was that she got the B in Chinese. And she is half Chinese.

I see it partly as my fault in failing to speak Chinese consistently at home, at least for the time May and her younger sister, Kirsty, spend at my house. The truth is that she’s really interested in the language and, indeed, the Chinese part of her cultural heritage.

A few years back, I took the girls to Bangladesh for a holiday. As soon as we were out of my friend’s guarded complex, we were surrounded by curious locals.

“Where are you from?” they asked the girls. May, the spokeswoman of the two, replied without hesitation: “We are from England.”

After we had settled down in a rickshaw, I said to May: “You were born in Beijing. Save for four years in London, you grew up in China. How does it qualify you as ‘English’?” May blinked her big round eyes. “Well, if I tell people I am Chinese, they wouldn’t believe me.”

True, May doesn’t look very Chinese, with her fair skin and brown hair, especially the way she carries herself. Kirsty, who has a darker complexion and more delicate facial features, looks a little more oriental.

Yet they both fundamentally identify themselves as British, even though they do sometimes describe themselves as “half Chinese and half British”…

Read the entire article here.

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In Korea, Adoptees Fight To Change Culture That Sent Them Overseas

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-09 19:53Z by Steven

In Korea, Adoptees Fight To Change Culture That Sent Them Overseas

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2014-09-09

Steve Haruch

In the Gwanak-gu neighborhood of Seoul, there is a box.

Attached to the side of a building, the box resembles a book drop at a public library, only larger, and when nights are cold, the interior is heated. The Korean lettering on its front represents a phoneticized rendering of the English words “baby box.” It was installed by Pastor Lee Jon-rak to accept abandoned infants. When its door opens, an alarm sounds, alerting staff to the presence of a new orphan.

The box, and the anonymity it provides, has become a central symbol in a pitched debate over Korean adoption policy. Two years ago last month, South Korea’s Special Adoption Law was amended to add accountability and oversight to the adoption process. The new law requires mothers to wait seven days before relinquishing a child, to get approval from a family court, and to register the birth with the government. The SAL also officially enshrines a new attitude toward adoption: “The Government shall endeavor to reduce the number of Korean children adopted abroad,” the law states, “as part of its duties and responsibilities to protect children.”

In the years after the Korean War, more than 160,000 Korean children — the population of a midsize American city — were sent to adoptive homes in the West. What began as a way to quietly remove mixed-race children who had been fathered by American servicemen soon gained momentum as children crowded the country’s orphanages amid grinding postwar poverty. Between 1980 and 1989 alone, more than 65,000 Korean children were sent overseas.

For the first time in South Korean history, the country’s adoption law has been rewritten by some of the very people who have lived its consequences. A law alone can’t undo deeply held cultural beliefs, and even among adoptees, opinion is divided over how well the SAL’s effects match its aims. The question of how to reckon with this fraught legacy remains unsettled and raw…

Read the entire article here.

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“No Rainbow Families” and the Problem with Race-Based Reproduction Policies

Posted in Articles, Canada, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-08 21:14Z by Steven

“No Rainbow Families” and the Problem with Race-Based Reproduction Policies

Impact Ethics: Making a Difference in Bioethics
2014-09-08

Catherine Clune-Taylor, Doctoral Candidate
Department of Philosophy
University of Alberta, Canada

Catherine Clune-Taylor suggests that we should target institutional and interpersonal racism rather than restrict individual reproductive choice

A July 2014 Calgary Herald article revealed that Calgary’s lone fertility clinic, Regional Fertility Program, restricts patients’ use of sperm donors to those of the same race. This “no rainbow families” policy received both national and international coverage. The media attention prompted the clinic to release a statement on its website, claiming that the policy was discarded a year ago (though the clinic had failed to update its website to that effect). Furthermore, the clinic maintained that the views represented in the article were solely those of the physician interviewed, Dr. Cal Greene, who apparently was unaware of the clinic’s change in practice. This is a dubious claim, given Dr. Greene’s position as the clinic’s administrative director and the full transcripts of his interviews with the article’s author, Jessica Barrett.

This news highlights the need for improved oversight of, and regulation for, fertility clinics. In addition, news of this clinic’s policy has given rise to complex, sometimes heated discussions among many about race, racism and good parenting.

As someone who is mixed-race, I was surprised to hear support for Dr. Greene’s arguments in social media from non-white and mixed-race persons. They sympathized with Dr. Greene’s arguments that parents and children should have an ethnic or cultural connection (presumably secured via shared race). They specifically cited the many experiences of interpersonal and institutional racism they had experienced growing up as non-white or mixed-race. They reasoned that a same-race parent would be better able to prepare their children for, and support them through, such experiences, and that it was better to not bring a mixed-race child into a racist society if it could be avoided…

Read the entire article here.

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Marina Silva: The political dynamo who has electrified the election season and wants to be Brazil’s first black woman president

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-08 20:57Z by Steven

Marina Silva: The political dynamo who has electrified the election season and wants to be Brazil’s first black woman president

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
2014-09-05

Marina Silva: a pioneer in politics

By Primeiros Negros, José Eustáquio Diniz Alves, and Luciana Lima

The first black woman candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, Maria Osmarina Silva, known as Marina Silva, comes from an unusual trajectory that began in February 8, 1958, in a place called Breu Velho in the seringais (rubber plantations) of the state of Acre, seventy miles from downtown Rio Branco, the capital of Acre. She remained there until at age 16, still illiterate, to earning international recognition in defense of the environment, becoming minister and postulated becoming president of Brazil.

Her parents Pedro Augusto and Maria Augusta had eleven children, of whom only eight survived. She hunted, fished, worked as a maid and became literate only after 16 years of age. She graduated in History from the Federal University of Acre. She is married to Fábio Vaz de Lima and has four children, Shalom, Danilo, Moara and Mayara.

In four years, Marina went from illiteracy to the vestibular (college entrance exam). She graduated with a degree in History and postgraduate in Psychoanalysis…

…Marina Silva is a mestiça (person of mixed race) and brings in her blood the three colors/”races” that form the Brazilian people: índios (Indians), brancos (whites) and pretos (blacks). By definition of the IBGE, Marina can be classified as a person of parda (brown) color. The grouping of parda and preta color is defined as the população negra (black population), according to the methodology adopted by most Brazilian researchers. The negro is the sum of people who self-declare themselves “pardas” and “pretas”. So in terms of “race”, the “indiazinha” (little Indian) Marina can be defined as cabocla (of mixed indigenous decent), mulata or negra

Read the entire article here.

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The Penumbral Spaces of Nella Larsen’s Passing: Undecidable bodies, mobile identities, and the deconstruction of racial boundaries

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2014-09-08 20:07Z by Steven

The Penumbral Spaces of Nella Larsen’s Passing: Undecidable bodies, mobile identities, and the deconstruction of racial boundaries

Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography
Volume 13, Issue 3, 2006
pages 227-246
DOI: 10.1080/09663690600700972

Perry L. Carter, Assistant Professor of Human Geography
Texas Tech University

Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing, is a psychological drama centering around two fair-skinned women. One, Clare Kendry, passes as the White wife of a financially successful racist; the other, Irene Redfield, is a ‘race woman’ living in upper Manhattan during the era of the Renaissance Harlem. Clare and Irene are undecidables, neither White nor Black, fluid subjects traversing the boundaries of race—passing. Passing is an act of insinuating oneself into forbidden spaces by jettisoning former identities. It is as much a transgression of spatial boundaries as it is of racial boundaries. In the novel Clare passes by merely crossing from Black space into White space, and along the way shedding a Black identity for a White one. This paper examines the mobility of identities across racial geographies and how this movement destabilizes notions of race and of raced spaces.

We encounter the world in our bodies, and through our bodies’ most exquisitely sensitive sense, our skins, we take the world into ourselves. We have made and remade a world where nearly every experience is shaded and shaped by the color of those bodies, the tones of those skins. (Jane Lazarre, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: memoir of a White mother of Black sons, 1997, p. 94)…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Black Dox: Father Figure

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Media Archive on 2014-09-07 22:39Z by Steven

Black Dox: Father Figure

By Blacks: Canadian Black owned everything
2014-09-04

Nicole Franklin


Zun Lee

Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood

Photographer: Zun Lee www.zunlee.com
IG, Facebook: zunleephoto
Twitter: @zunleephoto
Project Timeframe: September 2011 – present
Publisher/Contact/Pre-order: Ceibafoto LLC
Book Release: September 19, 2014.
Awards: Named on “PDN 30 2014,” Photo District News’ annual global list of 30 new and emerging photographers to watch.
Book Trailer: Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood

Over the course of three years, photographer Zun Lee built trusted relationships with Black fathers from different walks of life. He witnessed intimate parenting scenarios that are often missing from the public realm and that he himself did not experience as a child. Deeply autobiographical, the book of photographs titled Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood connotes Mr. Lee’s attempt to deal with his own resentment toward his absent Black father.

Reportage photography has been one of our most valuable resources when it comes to examining the human race from the 19th century through today. Throughout history many have been intrigued by the story behind a single photograph—a captured frame of hope, despair, conflict or exhilaration. The instinct of many professional and amateur photographers to snap that split second of humanity has been a gift to all who seek a glimpse of the past. There is a stillness and an indelible command of focus that leaves an observer transfixed when a documentary image is the epitome of the perfect shot. Self-taught photographer Zun Lee has been on a lifelong quest looking for that perfect image—that loving father.

Lee, a Toronto-based physician and now self-described street photographer, was born in Germany but knew as a boy that his personal story was incomplete. He discovered early on that his upbringing to a Korean mother and father was not his true background. The real story: Lee’s Black father left his mother upon learning she was pregnant. The disclosure of this truth left Lee with a sense of loss and abandonment that stayed with him as an adult. In a search for the compassion of which he felt robbed, Lee and his camera sought out images of strong, involved and devoted fathers—Black fathers—who society has deemed nonexistent…

Read the entire article here.

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