Social representations of ‘mixed-race’ in early twenty-first-century Britain: content, limitations, and counter-narratives

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2015-01-23 21:24Z by Steven

Social representations of ‘mixed-race’ in early twenty-first-century Britain: content, limitations, and counter-narratives

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Published online: 2015-01-23
19 pages
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.992924

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader in Public Health
Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS)
University of Kent, United Kingdom

Over the last two decades, lay and professional interest in Britain’s ‘mixed-race’ population has markedly increased, following dramatic growth in mixing and mixedness. As is often the case with new phenomena, agencies in the sphere of popular culture have stepped in to offer the wider public interpretative representations of this ‘new’ group. Drawing on challenging concepts, like demographic growth rates and projections, the family ‘norm’, the ostensible benefits of heterozygosity, and the drawbacks of claimed ‘in-betweenness’, they have offered us a picture of the ‘mixed-race’ population that is sometimes at variance with lived experiences or the harder image of statistical reality. Social representation theory is used to explore the limitations of these representations and to offer a number of counter-narratives that are grounded in the evidence base.

Read or purchase the article here.

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More Than a Knapsack: The White Supremacy Flower as a New Model for Teaching Racism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, Teaching Resources, United States on 2015-01-23 18:55Z by Steven

More Than a Knapsack: The White Supremacy Flower as a New Model for Teaching Racism

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Volume 1, Number 1
pages 192-197
DOI: 10.1177/2332649214561660

Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina

This article suggests that White supremacy versus White privilege provides a clearer and more accurate conceptual understanding of how racism operates, evolves, and sustains itself. This article suggests a specific model for teaching White supremacy, the White supremacy flower, and describes the application and benefits of the model.

Teaching race and racism, particularly to undergraduate students who are often learning this type of information for the first time, can be especially trying for professors (Jakubowski 2001; Lucal 1996; Moulder 1997). This difficulty has spawned many teaching articles that address race but relatively few that provide instruction on teaching racism (Khanna and Harris 2009; Kwenda 2012; Sharp and Wade 2011). Furthermore, while the articles that do suggest strategies for teaching racism are insightful, most center on the concepts of “White privilege” or “advantage” as the guides for conversation (Gillespie, Ashbaugh, and Defiore 2010; Pence and Fields 1999; Wooddell and Henry 2005). Thus, some scholarship is attentive to teaching race but neglects racism while others focus on White privilege at the expense of White supremacy. This article addresses both of these concerns by teaching racism using a particular model of White supremacy.

In this article, I first review how and why White privilege and White supremacy should not be conflated. Second, I argue that White supremacy should replace White privilege as the primary concept to teach racism. Third, I propose a specific model for teaching White supremacy, the White supremacy flower model…


Figure 1. The White supremacy flower model.

Read the entire article here.

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From an Intimate Distance: A Mixed Perspective on Embracing Gratitude

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2015-01-23 02:24Z by Steven

From an Intimate Distance: A Mixed Perspective on Embracing Gratitude

Mixed Roots Stories
2015-01-08

Kaily Heitz, Guest Blog Coordinator

“The problem is not that we all have these different view of things, it is that we each consider our views the only reality. We forget that life is truly a matter of perspective.” –angel Williams, Being Black [: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace]

I was on the phone with my friend, Lily, the other night, delving into one of our many uniquely personal and academic discussions, when she says, “Forget hallucinogens. If you want to go on a real trip, try becoming a woman.” As a biracial cis-woman, I am unable to comprehend what this transition must be like, but I laugh, recognizing that at the root of her comment is a shared an experience of mixed marginality—of being able to see the ugly truth about race and sex in this country from both sides of the binary.

When I met Lily, she was still coming to terms with her gender identity and has only recently come out as a trans-woman. In our discussions about her transition and some of the challenges she now faces, we found in one another a new commonality of perspective unique to those who find themselves an outlier, a categorical anomaly, within the strictures of our black/white, male/female binary system. “Sometimes I’m read as male, sometimes female, “ or, often, she describes simply being stared at as people try to figure out what she is. While I understand that there are quite a few significant differences between trans and mixed people’s experiences, there are also a striking number of similarities that exist as a result of being cast into a liminal identity. Being stared at, fetishized or ostracized for being something outside the realm of puritanical gender categories is something that I, as a mixed black/white woman, can certainly relate to. Often, we mixed folk bemoan the weight of expectation people unfamiliar with our unusual, unidentifiable looks place upon us. Certainly we have every right to complain about being asked again and again what we are instead of being recognized for the people we know ourselves to be. This is part of our experience. But with our liminal perspectives, also comes a grace and maturity of wisdom that deserves equal attention and celebration. What Lily expressed to me that night as she discussed her experiences of living once as a man and now sometimes read as a woman, was her unique ability to really see and understand how being a man or woman in this society affects your quality of life. And isn’t this similar to many interracial families and mixed people’s understanding of how deeply one’s perceived race truly affects one’s life?

As incredibly difficult a journey Lily is on, I deeply respect her ability to find cause to celebrate, or at least appreciate, her unique perspective on gender. This, I think, is something that we in the mixed community can also draw from. The “Tragic Mulatto” trope has been used to dissuade people from entering interracial relationships by conveying mixed children as perpetually lonely and confused outsiders. To be mixed, then, is seen as a weakness. But after having attended the Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) Conference in Chicago, I, along with the 600+ other attendees, would probably have to disagree. We are clearly not alone and if we are outsiders, we are only outsiders to a structure that has historically been used to perpetrate structural inequity and oppression….

Read the entire article here.

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The Passing of Passing: A Peculiarly American Racial Tradition Approaches Irrelevance

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-01-22 20:40Z by Steven

The Passing of Passing: A Peculiarly American Racial Tradition Approaches Irrelevance

BlackPast.org: Remembered & Reclaimed
2014-12-14

Robert Fikes Jr., Reference Librarian
San Diego State University, San Diego, California


Three Harlem Women, ca. 1925

In the article below, independent scholar Robert Fikes Jr., explores a centuries-old process in the United States where African Americans with no visible African ancestry “pass” into the Caucasian race or other races to avoid the stigma associated with anti-black racial discrimination and social marginalization. As he notes below, the process finally began to lose its appeal in the second half of the 20th Century. He outlines a brief history of that process and suggests reasons for its decline.

Routinely shocking and sometimes lurid in detail, reports abound over three centuries of mixed-race persons lacking discernible African heritage masquerading as white: a Vassar student who proceeded toward graduation as informed school officials looked the other way; the man who abandoned his family in Atlanta and became a leading voice for fascism in the United States; a syndicated cartoonist who took his secret to the grave; an attorney who also changed his name and did not return home until retiring from a prosperous career on Wall Street; the Vaudeville actor-singer whose success vaporized when he was discovered to be “a Negro”; an assumed to be white New York Times editor and literary critic who also rose to captain in the segregated white Army of World War II; and the guilt-ridden New England doctor and his wife who journeyed to the extreme in withholding the fact of being “Colored” from even their four children.

The opportunity for passing during the colonial and pre-Civil War eras most often resulted from the mating of slaveowner and slave followed by additional whitening and inbreeding of mulatto offspring who were then able to slip virtually unnoticed into the dominant society. In the post-Reconstruction South politicians schemed to legally segregate the races which necessitated defining who was not white using a combination of percentages and the infamous “one drop rule,” condemning those with observable Negroid features to a life of greater hardship. Unlike Brazil, a nation that had a larger 18th and 19th century black slave population than the United States, there was not a “mulatto escape hatch,” as historian Carl Degler termed it, that permitted those with the taint of slavery in their background to be more easily accepted across the spectrum of society. A cause for anxiety for white Americans fearing racial contamination and degradation, but seen by many African Americans as a way of outwitting the system of oppression and making laughable fools of those who countenanced notions of white racial purity and supremacy, the extent of passing has never been reliably quantified by social scientists, hence estimates up to 1950 ranged from hundreds of thousands to several million blacks vanishing into the ranks of unsuspecting whites.

The complex predicament of persons living double lives passing as whites, deliberately or not, permanently or as a temporary convenience, intrigued a surprising number of major authors whose writings gave rise to the by now familiar trope of the tragic mulatto and the unveiled pretender. Among the books that pursued this theme, The Slave (1836) by Richard Hildreth and Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter (1853) by William Wells Brown. Post-emancipation works that pursued this theme include Maria Lydia Child’s A Romance of the Republic (1867), Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), The House Behind the Cedars (1920) by Charles W. Chesnutt, Passing (1929) by Nella Larsen, the satirical Black No More (1931) by George Schuyler, Colcorton (1944) by Edith Pope. Late 20th century works on passing include Oxherding Tale (1982) by Charles Johnson, Caucasia (1998) by Danzy Senna, and The Human Stain (2000) by Philip Roth

…Long after the “passing” novels left the bookshelves scholars began their investigations on black-white passing.  The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey From Black to White (2011) by Daniel Sharfstein represents one of the best examples of this new academic interest.  These studies however have expanded the scope of passing to include those who have denied being gay and posed as heterosexuals, switched genders, claimed a different white identity (e.g., Jewish to Anglo-Saxon), feigned membership in a wealthier social class, mislead others about their age, and more.

In researching the experiences of blacks who passed as whites, in her new book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (2014) Stanford University professor Allyson Hobbs offered a different perspective.  Fully aware that past research gave prominence to the supposed advantages of passing as white, when interviewed about her project she affirmed: “I am not interested in what people gained by being white, but rather in what they lost by not being black . . . . by rejecting a black racial identity.”  Numerous personal narratives in the book—some wrenching and heartfelt, others humorous and bordering on the absurd—reinforce her stance that passing for African Americans was, and remains, “a deeply individualistic practice, but it is also a fundamentally social act with enormous social consequences.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Kevin Costner Hopes His New Movie Redefines How People Think About Race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-22 18:44Z by Steven

Kevin Costner Hopes His New Movie Redefines How People Think About Race

The Huffington Post
2015-01-22

Sasha Bronner, Los Angeles Editor

Kevin Costner, who just turned 60 earlier this week, can do a lot of things.

“I can make a love story. I can make the American baseball movie. I can make the political thriller, the Western, the romantic comedy. And sometimes you get to make a movie about the moments that you’re living,” he told The Huffington Post Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Costner’s newest film, “Black or White,” is a family drama centered around a custody battle, but the complexities of race are examined at every turn.

“We are living in this moment,” he continued, referring to heightened discussions and displays of racial tension in the country. “[The film] wasn’t timed for any of these things, it was made before some of these seminal moments that have seemed have caught our attention. But I have been very aware of race for a long time. And I never saw a movie that dealt with it the way that this did. That’s the hope. That it gets under your fingernails.”

Costner stars in the film as a grandfather who has raised his granddaughter along with his wife after their daughter died in childbirth. But the film begins with an additional loss. When Costner’s wife dies in a car accident, he is left to raise his granddaughter alone. A family custody battle soon erupts when the granddaughter’s black family, who live in South Los Angeles, petition to adopt her.

Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer plays opposite Costner as the paternal grandmother, and you would think that pairing these two on screen would open any door. But in fact, Costner ended up financing the film himself when all major studios turned it down…

…The film illuminates tensions that many mixed-race families struggle with today. Is the granddaughter black or white? Does she belong with one side of her family when the father is not in the picture? Or should she stay in the only home she has ever known, but with her grandfather who loves her but is now on his own and has shown more than a proclivity to crack into a cocktail at any hour of the day…

Read the entire article here.

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The Face of Skin, Inc.: An Interview with Chinyere Evelyn Uku by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive on 2015-01-22 15:48Z by Steven

The Face of Skin, Inc.: An Interview with Chinyere Evelyn Uku by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Graywolf Press
August 2013

The cover image of Thomas Sayers Ellis’s Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems features Ellis’s own black-and-white photograph of Chinyere Evelyn Uku, an African woman from Nigeria who has albinism. On the release of the paperback edition of Skin, Inc., Ellis conducted an interview with Uku about her life, identity, race, and image. This is an excerpt.

Thomas Sayers Ellis: Where were you born and raised? Tell us about your childhood and schooling. Did you grow up in a quiet household or a lively, loud one?

Chinyere Evelyn Uku: I was born in one of the most vibrant yet monumentally confusing places in the world: Lagos, Nigeria. I was born to parents who were very middle class, and we lived in an apartment building in bustling Victoria Island. I was very unaware of my condition, having no real understanding of albinism or any awareness of it. It did not prevent me from watching Muppet Babies so there was no cause for concern. My parents did not put any signs or signals in our home to alert me to the situation, so one can say I was exonerated at that age. I would wake up in the morning, see a cream-colored character, and proceed with my day of larking about and pretending to be productive and doing whatever I had to do to secure my parents’ approval. Life was good. School was also fair, starting with an elementary school of mixed-race children—Indians, Caucasians, Blacks—so then my lack of understanding of the implication of race was further de-emphasized…

TSE: Has anyone, unfamiliar with your condition, ever mistaken you for white? Have you ever been forced to use “A Color” to refer to yourself or your identity?

CEU: On my childhood passport, my eyes and hair are listed as brown, and I remember thinking that they should take into consideration the fact that some people do not quite fit this description of black, brown, or blonde. I have been mistaken for white before. Typically at metro entrances or crowded places depending on the demographic. Most blacks or African Americans can typically identify that I am black or mixed race and feel drawn to me, and the twisted hair and braiding hairstyles I sport from time to time also helps them out. White people in general are initially perplexed and will not stare for more than a few minutes lest they are accused of staring and called rude or politically incorrect or something else they don’t like. They prefer to keep all comments to themselves and avert their eyes to avoid confrontation. You can imagine how shocked I was when someone came out and asked what the hell I was. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but are you Asian, biracial, or some kind of albino?” I laughed and told him what the hell I was, then he laughed too, and we went for ice cream and to see a foreign movie. He paid. I prefer the direct approach, but don’t make it a habit, or I might pop someone in the face. A couple of guys, rather loudly, were trying to determine what I was and yelled out, “No, that’s just a white girl with dreads!” Well, I have no intention of fixing the situation! Blame it all on Mother Nature…

Read the entire interview here.

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Black Cubans: Restoring US Ties Is Cool, but America, Keep Your Hang-Ups About Race at Bay

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2015-01-21 22:57Z by Steven

Black Cubans: Restoring US Ties Is Cool, but America, Keep Your Hang-Ups About Race at Bay

The Root
2015-01-21

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele, Staff Writer

Will the current racial tensions in America seep into Cuba and awaken a sleeping giant? Black Cubans say probably not.

It doesn’t matter how much Cuba’s culture changes now that the U.S. has restored diplomatic relations; if you’re waiting for black Cubans to set off some sort of racial revolution, don’t hold your breath.

That’s according to some black Cubans who shared their thoughts on race with The Root in the edited Q&A below.

Omar Diaz is a 28-year-old black Cuban actor living in Miami who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 4 years old. He said that while he’s rooting for a democratic Cuba, he hopes that black Cubans will continue to benefit from the Castro revolution’s decree that Cubans prioritize nationalism over race.

Ruben* is a 52-year-old black photographer and book publisher. He is the only interviewee still living in Cuba. Even though he spoke passionately about racial inequality in Cuba, he explained why he and most black Cubans don’t quite see themselves as Afro-Cuban or black Cuban—just Cuban.

First cousins Elia E. Espuet and Sira Perez, on the other hand, both strongly identify as Afro-Cubans. Both women, ages 63 and 62 respectively, immigrated to the U.S. when they were teenagers in the late 1960s, Fidel Castro having assumed power in 1959. They could easily pass as African Americans, though they vividly remember how they were advised not to, in order to escape the brutality facing black Americans fighting for civil rights. That distinction—Cuba’s kind of racism versus America’s kind of racism—stuck with them. They maintain that black Cubans have it better in some ways on that front.

Georgina Rodriguez, 53—their mulatto, as she describes herself, cousin (who was categorized as “white” in Cuba when she was born)—doesn’t want Americans spewing their “racial framework” and “neoconservatism” all over Cuba. She argues that the former doesn’t account for all of Cuba’s ethnicities, and the latter will only widen the inequality gap…

Read the entire article here.

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Where are all the interracial children’s books?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-21 21:15Z by Steven

Where are all the interracial children’s books?

The Washington Post
2015-01-20

Nevin Martell

Browsing the shelves of the children’s section at bookstores can be a depressing experience for the parent of an interracial youngster. I’m a mutt mixture Caucasian with roots going back to Western Europe and beyond, while my wife is from Ghana. We are constantly on the lookout for stories featuring characters with whom our interracial son can visually identify. It would just be nice for him to pick up a book and think to himself, “Hey, that little guy looks like me.” Sadly, he doesn’t get to do that very often.

Though there is a growing number of racially diverse characters popping up on picture book pages – and the passionate social media campaign #WeNeedDiverseBooks hopes to inspire even more of them – there is a depressing dearth of interracial ones. This is somewhat surprising given how many families are interracial these days. According to the United States Census Bureau, “interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010.” Additionally, there were 275,500 interracial marriages in 2010 out of a total of 2,096,000. Heck, there’s even a TV show about an interracial family and it’s on a major network – ABC’s “The Fosters.”

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any children’s books starring interracial characters. There are some wonderful options, including “Black, White, Just Right!” by Marguerite W. Davol and illustrated by Irene Trivas, “Black is Brown is Tan” by Arnold Adoff with illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully and Phil Mandelbaum’s “You Be Me, I’ll Be You.” A current favorite is “The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage,” which chronicles the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, in which a biracial couple successfully challenged the state’s law against interracial marriage…

Read the entire article here.

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Talking about Critical Mixed Race Studies in the Wake of Ferguson

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-21 20:38Z by Steven

Talking about Critical Mixed Race Studies in the Wake of Ferguson

University of Washington Press Blog
2015-01-21

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

In this guest post, Laura Kina, coeditor of War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art, discusses the emerging discipline of mixed race studies and what it can contribute to ongoing dialogues surrounding race, police brutality, and social justice in the wake of Ferguson.

Since the deaths this past summer of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York by white police officers, our nation has been embroiled in discussions of police brutality and racial profiling. The social unrest and racial tensions of our current moment are a stark contrast to the congratulatory “post-racial” moment in 2008 with the election of President Barack Obama–the first black “biracial” president. Recent racial tensions also present stark contrast to the celebration of the multiracial “melting pot” that America celebrated following the 2000 US Census, which allowed individuals to self-identify as more than one race for the first time.

Those earlier, problematic readings of race—as something to either get beyond or as something new and worthy of celebration—coupled with the dearth of history and representations of mixed race Asian American lives inspired my coauthor Wei Ming Dariotis and I to publish War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013). Along with my DePaul colleague Camilla Fojas, we also set out to challenge these myths and establish a scholarly field of Critical Mixed Race Studies

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the British Empire [Paterson Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2015-01-21 20:07Z by Steven

Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the British Empire [Paterson Review]

The British Scholar Society
Book of The Month
November 2014

Lachy Paterson
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Salesa, Damon Ieremia, Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 308 pp. $US 45 (paperback).

Race has always been an important preoccupation in New Zealand society. In the country’s popular imagination, its past is predicated on national myths that it had the best race relations in the world, and that its Māori citizens were the best treated of all indigenous peoples. Intermarriage between Māori and the Pākehā settlers, a practice encouraged even prior to formal colonisation, was often given as evidence for such claims. Damon Salesa’s Racial Crossings is an exciting investigation of the theories, discourses and policies that underpinned intermarriage, and the broader colonial project of racial amalgamation.

The volume’s subtitle, Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire, is a little misleading. The book is not a social history of intermarriage: indeed the story concerns itself more with the discourses of racial crossing, than the lives of the actual people doing the crossing. Its focus is on roughly four decades of New Zealand history, one preceding the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) and the three following. A reader will find little detail on the policies and practice of intermarriage of colonial India, Canada, Australia or South Africa, or even of New Zealand in the last three decades of Victoria’s reign. As Salesa notes, power was generally devolved to colonial governors, whose actions and policies were shaped by local conditions. Although conditions may have been localised, ideas flowed more freely around the Empire. New Zealand’s pertinence to “imperial” studies is that it was colonised when humanitarianism was flourishing. After earlier examples of destructive colonisation, Britain sought to protect New Zealand’s promising “aborigines” through civilisation and amalgamation. Although missionaries, officials both in Britain and New Zealand, intellectuals and settler politicians may have had differing (and sometimes competing) agenda, a general consensus prevailed that intermarriage would benefit both Māori and colonisation…

Read the entire review.

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