Mixed Messages: The Role of the Multiracial Character in Children’s Literature

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-09-01 19:47Z by Steven

Mixed Messages: The Role of the Multiracial Character in Children’s Literature

theracetoread: Children’s Literature and Issues of Race
2015-08-20

Karen Sands-O’Connor, Professor
English Department
Buffalo State, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York

In 19th and early 20th century children’s literature, the multiracial character generally evoked one of two responses: fear, or pity. Tom Sawyer’s Injun Joe, for example, was much feared by Tom and his gang, Tom even having nightmares about the character coming to get him. In Caddie Woodlawn, the children of an Indian mother and white father are “half savage” and the recipient of Caddie’s attempts to “civilize” them by paying for new clothes. Other examples can be found in British Empire literature—the “ugly mulatto” being a stock character of fear in books by G.A. Henty, H. Rider Haggard, and others; and the pitiable female “half-breed” or “mulatto” who cannot ultimately be saved by the white hero also figures in the works of these authors.

After World War II, as civil rights in the US and changing immigration patterns in Britain meant increasing, often hostile, interaction between racial groups, the multiracial character in children’s literature nearly disappeared for a time. But a generation later, many things had changed. More and more children were born who had parents of different races, but it was unclear where they would fit in to a post-civil rights society. Both American and British authors produced books dealing with this issue, but for this blog, I’m just going to look at two from Britain: Anthony Masters’ Streetwise (London: Methuen, 1987), and Jacqueline Roy’s Soul Daddy (London: Collins, 1990)…

Read the entire article here.

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“Beyond the Binary: Obama’s Hybridity and Post-Racialization.”

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-09-01 17:57Z by Steven

“Beyond the Binary: Obama’s Hybridity and Post-Racialization.”

Revue de Recherche en Civilisation Américaine
Number 3 (March 2012): Post-racial America?

Kirin Wachter-Grene, Acting Instructor of Literature
New York University

According to many in the American and international press, the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama has heralded a possible era of “postracialism” in the United States. The election, and Obama himself, has given this term social capital worthy of deep consideration. If we understand “postracialism” to be congealing into a “color-blind” ideology that ruptures the historic hegemony of the bichromatic (black-white) American binary (as some journalists posit) we have to look at media discourses that position Obama as “postracialism’s subjective signifier” to understand postracialism’s failure to function as it’s imagined to do so.

Far from accomplishing a simplistic and idealistic end to discourses of race and practices of racialization in America, postracialism has served to reify public racial obsession, and Obama has been made the locus of attention on which these discourses circulate. Obama is consistently conscripted in racialized projects from those individuals and groups attempting to use him to advance their political cause. Obama is also actively engaging in a discourse of universalized nationalism that uses color-blindness to articulate itself.

This article will seek to complicate mass media articulations of the postracial, to help broaden it from what appears to be its limited lines of inquiry. Perhaps the salient question to ask is whose “postracialism” are we referring to, and what might this term signify if we imagine it to mean more than what it clearly is not? Might we read postracialism as an articulation of “post-black,” if we consider “black,” in an American context to be historically understood and legitimized as African American? In other words, might “postracial” have salience as a means to invite a larger cultural conversation of different articulations of blackness in America, one in which immigrant blacks are considered and given voice? This is a particularly relevant question in relation to Obama due to his second-generation immigrant identity, and due to the fact that his “blackness” comes not from African American ancestors, but from his African father.

This article aims toward a meditation of the potential for immigrant blackness to offer a more inclusive, and more accurate representation of a progressively variegated, “post-racialized” American culture in need of social legitimacy for its potential to disrupt bichromatic racialization and coterminous universalized nationalism.

Contents

  • Barack Obama: Postracialism’s “Subjective Signifier”
  • Universalized Nationalism/Neoliberal Colorblindness
  • Obama and Internal Racialization
  • Obama’s External Hyper-Racialization
  • Beyond the Binary
  • Toward a Discourse of Post-Bichromatic Racialization

Read the entire article here.

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The Politics of Race and Class in the Age of Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-09-01 14:35Z by Steven

The Politics of Race and Class in the Age of Obama

Revue de Recherche en Civilisation Américaine
Number 3 (March 2012): Post-racial America?

Myra Mendible, Professor of English and Department Chair for Language and Literature
Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida

This essay explores the revival and misappropriation of identity politics in the age of Obama. I argue that Obama’s presidency has exposed the fault lines of American society, evoking deep-seated apprehensions about race, immigration, and America’s role in a post-9/11 world. As a result, it has generated a range of discursive strategies intended to both disguise and deploy racialist ideology. In particular, my analysis focuses attention on three developments in the wake of Obama’s election: the emergence of “whiteness” as an endangered identity; the prevalence of “class” as a code word for “race”; and the reconfiguration of “passing” and miscegenation tropes in political discourse. I consider the ways that these rhetorical sleights-of-hand exploit post-racial discourse in order to dismantle decades of progressive civil rights legislation in the United States.

Contents

  • Post-Racial America: New Myth for a New Age?
  • “Passing” for “Black”?
  • Is White the New Black?
  • Exploiting the “Obama Effect”

Read the entire article here.

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Dr. Seuss and Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-09-01 02:15Z by Steven

Dr. Seuss and Racial Passing

theracetoread: Children’s Literature and Issues of Race
2015-02-11

Karen Sands-O’Connor, Professor
English Department
Buffalo State, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York


A Star-Belly Sneetch’s worst fear: that we might not be able to tell “them” from “us”.

Dr. Seuss is one of the most beloved children’s authors in America. He also has a rather mixed record on issues of race and diversity. As a young man, Dr. Seuss wrote and drew for various magazines and college publications. In these, Seuss portrayed Africans and Asians in stereotypical fashion. During World War II, Seuss drew some political cartoons which sympathized with African-Americans and Jewish people and others that accused Japanese-Americans of perpetrating acts of sabotage.

After the war, Seuss’s attitudes changed. These changes in attitude came about, in part, because of his writing commissions. He visited Japan on assignment for Life magazine, and saw the devastation caused by the atomic bombs his country dropped. His writing for children also began to take off. Both of these things resulted in a measurable difference in his public attitudes toward racism…

Read the entire article here.

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In Conversation: Quentin Tarantino

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-09-01 02:03Z by Steven

In Conversation: Quentin Tarantino

Vulture
2015-08-23

Lane Brown, Culture Editor

Midway through postproduction on his eighth movie, the Western THE HATEFUL EIGHT — about a band of outlaws trapped in a saloon during a blizzard — the director discusses the country’s legacy of white supremacy, Obama, and why he doesn’t worry about a Transformers future.

We’re five months from the release of The Hateful Eight. How close to finishing are you?

We’ve got a little bit more than an hour finished right now. I just got back from seeing an hour of the movie cut together…

Hateful Eight uses the Civil War as a backdrop, sort of like how The Good, the Bad and the Ugly does.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly doesn’t get into the racial conflicts of the Civil War; it’s just a thing that’s happening. My movie is about the country being torn apart by it, and the racial aftermath, six, seven, eight, ten years later.

That’s going to make this movie feel contemporary. Everybody’s talking about race right now.

I know. I’m very excited by that.

Excited?

Finally, the issue of white supremacy is being talked about and dealt with. And it’s what the movie’s about.

How did what’s happening in Baltimore and Ferguson find its way into The Hateful Eight?

It was already in the script. It was already in the footage we shot. It just happens to be timely right now. We’re not trying to make it timely. It is timely. I love the fact that people are talking and dealing with the institutional racism that has existed in this country and been ignored. I feel like it’s another ’60s moment, where the people themselves had to expose how ugly they were before things could change. I’m hopeful that that’s happening now.

You supported Obama. How do you think he’s done?

I think he’s fantastic. He’s my favorite president, hands down, of my lifetime. He’s been awesome this past year. Especially the rapid, one-after-another-after-another-after-another aspect of it. It’s almost like take no prisoners. His he-doesn’t-give-a-shit attitude has just been so cool. Everyone always talks about these lame-duck presidents. I’ve never seen anybody end with this kind of ending. All the people who supported him along the way that questioned this or that and the other? All of their questions are being answered now…

Read the entire interview here.

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My baby will be mixed race. So why did I automatically think of him as ‘black’?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-01 01:38Z by Steven

My baby will be mixed race. So why did I automatically think of him as ‘black’?

The Guardian
2014-10-14

Victoria Bond

I picked a black baby to represent my unborn child on a cake because of my own adherence to the ‘one-drop rule

My 87-year-old grandmother has a very specific way of saying the word black: she drags out the a and makes the k extra hard for an effect that drowns the c. “Blaaaak” out of my grandmother’s mouth is an admonishment, not a color. “Blaaaak” out of my grandmother’s mouth travels a step beyond being a pejorative to having the hair-raising resonance of a word that damns as well as describes damnation itself.

“Blaaaak” out of my grandmother’s mouth is a curse.

But the freckled, fair-skinned black woman who helped raise me doesn’t use “Blaaaak” to refer to people’s skin tones. Though such attitudes are often mistaken for a bias against darker skinned people of our race, the assumed colorism of older African Americans is more often a reaction to the humiliating and degrading representation of dark skin in images used to depict and reinforce black people’s sub-human status in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century.

But it wasn’t until a month ago, and seven months pregnant, that her own granddaughter came to understand that distinction…

Read the entire article here.

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Psychologists Welcome Analysis Casting Doubt on Their Work

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-01 00:42Z by Steven

Psychologists Welcome Analysis Casting Doubt on Their Work

The New York Times
2015-08-29

Benedict Carey, Science Reporter

The field of psychology sustained a damaging blow Thursday: A new analysis found that only 36 percent of findings from almost 100 studies in the top three psychology journals held up when the original experiments were rigorously redone.

After the report was published by the journal Science, commenters on Facebook wisecracked about how “social” and “science” did not belong in the same sentence.

Yet within the field, the reception was much different. Along with pockets of disgruntlement and outrage — no one likes the tired jokes, not to mention having doubt cast on their work — there was a sense of relief. One reason, many psychologists said, is that the authors of the new report were fellow researchers, not critics. It was an inside job.

“It’s like we’ve come clean,” said Alan Kraut, the executive director of the Association for Psychological Science, which publishes one of the journals analyzed in the new report. “This kind of correction is something that has to happen across science, and I’m proud that psychology is leading the charge on this.”…

Read the entire article here.

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From Okinawa to Hawaii and Back Again

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-31 17:42Z by Steven

From Okinawa to Hawaii and Back Again

What It Means to Be American: Hosted by The Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square
2015-08-31

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


Kibei Nisei, 30 x 45 inches Oil on canvas (2012)

A Painter Follows the Currents of Her Family History

I am a hapa, yonsei Uchinanchu (a mixed-race, 4th-generation Okinawan-American) who was born in Riverside, California, in 1973 and raised in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. My mom’s roots stem from Spanish-Basque migrants in California and white southerners in Tennessee. My father is Okinawan from Hawaii. Because I don’t look quite white, people frequently ask, “What are you?” From an early age, even though Hawaii and Japan were enigmas to me, I have had to explain my relationship to these “exotic” places.

Growing up, we lived by my mother’s family and visited her parents weekly at their road-side motel near a Puget Sound ferry landing, but I knew little about my father’s childhood, an ocean away, on a Piihonua sugarcane plantation near Hilo. I got a glimpse on occasional vacations to visit family on the Big Island of Hawaii or my aunties in Los Angeles. The only other traces were evident in the Spam in our sushi, the fact that we called instant ramen noodles saimin, and in the echoes of Pidgin English in Dad’s accent that refused to be erased.

I am a painter, and at the heart of my paintings is the journey I’ve been on to understand how these different currents have formed my American experience. I’ve followed their flow back in time to the canefields of Territorial Hawaii and early 20th-century Okinawa, Japan…

Read the entire article here.

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That’s What She Said: Red-face

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2015-08-31 17:17Z by Steven

That’s What She Said: Red-face

Eagle Feather News
Saskatchewan, Canada
2015-08-02

Dawn Dumont

Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who decided one day that she was African-American. This crazy white lady braided in some fake hair, darkened her skin with tanning sessions and then became the leader of Spokane’s NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People).

I had no idea that we could switch races whenever we felt like it. I’ve stupidly been Cree just because I emerged from a Cree v-jay-jay. So, for the rest of the month, I’m choosing to be Tibetan. Since this morning, I’ve already sherpa’d six people up Diefenbaker Hill. (I really should have chosen a less hardy race.)

When I look in the mirror, I see a round-cheeked First Nation female looking back at me, but the world begs to disagree. I’ve been mistaken for Vietnamese, Spanish, Hawaiian, and Mexican-Japanese (which seemed oddly specific.) But I don’t have any identity issues. Probably because I lived on a reserve for the first 18 years of my life where I consumed enough deer meat, bologna steak and KFC family meals to keep me real for a lifetime.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I discovered people struggling with their identity. In my first year, friends would point out First Nations people in the hallways who were passing as white. They would casually say: “That’s Jason, he’s from Kawacatoose but he’s white now,” as if he had just switched banks…

Read the entire article here.

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Does It Matter If Black + White Equals Black or Multiracial?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-08-31 01:24Z by Steven

Does It Matter If Black + White Equals Black or Multiracial?

Northwestern University News
Evanston, Illinois
2008-10-17

Pat Vaughan Tremmel, Associate Director and Social Sciences Editor

According to a new Northwestern study, racial characterizations do matter.

EVANSTON, Ill. — “Is Barack Obama Black or Biracial?” a recent CNN.com headline asks.

The question of whether Obama should be considered black or multiracial has been a concern of the media throughout the campaign.

Should such racial characterizations of people like Obama — who have one black parent and one white parent — really matter?

According to a new Northwestern University study, they do matter.

The findings suggest that the immediate response of non-black study participants is to categorize a racially ambiguous person as black when it was known that one of the person’s parents was black and one was white.

In other words, when study participants knew of the person’s black-white ancestry, in comparison to not knowing of the parentage, they quickly adhered to the simplistic characterization of biracial people as black, said Northwestern’s Destiny Peery

Read the entire article here.

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