Americans Say Obama’s Not Black? How Pew Got This Wrong

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 21:25Z by Steven

Americans Say Obama’s Not Black? How Pew Got This Wrong

The Root
2014-04-14

Jenée Desmond-Harris, Senior Staff Writer and White House Correspondent

Saying “Yes, Obama is mixed race” is not the same as saying “No, he’s not black.” Racial Identity 101: You can be both.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans say President Barack Obama is black, while 52 percent say he’s mixed race.

That’s part of a newly published Pew Research Center report that has inspired jarring headlines like these about perceptions of the man commonly (formerly?) known as the first African-American president:

Is Barack Obama ‘Black’? A Majority of Americans Say No

Poll: Majority of Americans Say Obama Is Mixed-Race, Not Black

The Washington Post calls the data “fascinating.”

But it’s actually not. The only thing fascinating (read: frustrating) is why Pew would force people to choose between these two options. By setting up “black” and “mixed race” as mutually exclusive, as it appears to have done in the “Obama: Black or Mixed Race” (emphasis mine) portion of its poll, it offered Americans a misleading choice that doesn’t reflect their social reality, and certainly doesn’t tell us anything new about how they see their president.

If participants were, in fact, forced to choose between the two options, knowing that Obama self-identifies as black and knowing, too, that he has a white parent and a black parent, it makes sense to assume that many people simply picked the most specific option: “mixed race.”

That does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean they say “no” to his being black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Forget Policy—Americans Can’t Even Agree on Whether Obama Is Black

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 19:54Z by Steven

Forget Policy—Americans Can’t Even Agree on Whether Obama Is Black

TakePart
2014-04-15

Liz Dwyer, Staff Writer

A Pew Research Center study finds that whites and Latinos identify the commander-in-chief as ‘mixed race.’

If you thought the United States had achieved the significant historic milestone of electing its first African American president, think again. According to Next America, a just-released Pew Research Center report, only a little over one-fourth of Americans believe Obama is black.

Obama self-identifies as black—he checked the “black, negro, African American” box on the 2010 U.S. Census—and has jokingly identified himself as a mutt too. But when asked if Obama is black or mixed race, 27 percent of Americans say that he’s black, and 52 percent say he’s mixed race.

When the data is broken out according to racial groups, whites and Hispanics respond similarly. Of whites, 24 percent say Obama is black, and 53 percent say he is mixed race. As for Hispanics, 23 percent say he’s black, and 61 percent say he’s mixed race. Asians weren’t asked what they thought. (What’s up with that, Pew?)

The question—Is Obama black or mixed race?—is phrased oddly. A person can be both. And where is Pew’s “Is Obama black or mixed race or white” option? But this study is simply the latest example of America’s mass confusion over Obama’s identity…

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, writer and star of One Drop of Love (Ben Affleck, Chay Carter, and Matt Damon are co-producers), a multimedia show that explores how a father and a daughter develop their racial identities, says she finds it “problematic to allow anyone other than self to identify people as a ‘race.’ ”

Now we get boxes on the U.S. Census survey, but, says Cox DiGiovanni, “until 1970 the race question on the Census was answered through observation by the Census taker.” That means if you looked “black,” you were identified by the Census taker as black—or “negro,” as African Americans were called then…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

The Next America

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 19:43Z by Steven

The Next America

Pew Research Center
2014-04-10

Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President of Special Projects

Demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. America is in the midst of two right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Each of these shifts would by itself be the defining demographic story of its era. The fact that both are unfolding simultaneously has generated big generation gaps that will put stress on our politics, families, pocketbooks, entitlement programs and social cohesion.

The Pew Research Center tracks these transformations with public opinion surveys and demographic and economic analyses. Our new book, The Next America, draws on this research to paint a data-rich portrait of the many ways our nation is changing and the challenges we face in the decades ahead.

Let’s start with what demographers call an “age pyramid.” Each bar represents a five year age cohort; with those ages 0-4 on the bottom and those ages 85 and older on the top. In every society since the start of history, whenever you broke down any population this way, you’d always get a pyramid.

But from 1960 to 2060, our pyramid will turn into a rectangle. We’ll have almost as many Americans over age 85 as under age 5. This is the result of longer life spans and lower birthrates. It’s uncharted territory, not just for us, but for all of humanity. And while it’s certainly good news over the long haul for the sustainability of the earth’s resources, it will create political and economic stress in the shorter term, as smaller cohorts of working age adults will be hard-pressed to finance the retirements of larger cohorts of older ones.

America’s Racial Tapestry Is Changing

At the same time our population is going gray, we’re also becoming multi-colored. In 1960, the population of the United States was 85% white; by 2060, it will be only 43% white. We were once a black and white country. Now, we’re a rainbow.

Our intricate new racial tapestry is being woven by the more than 40 million immigrants who have arrived since 1965, about half of them Hispanics and nearly three-in-ten Asians.

Because these tranformations happen tick by tock, without anyone announcing them with a drum roll or press conference, they are sometimes hard to perceive…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Book Release of Prof. Lundy Braun’s Breathing Race into the Machine

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-04-15 19:20Z by Steven

Book Release of Prof. Lundy Braun’s Breathing Race into the Machine

Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island
Program in Science and Technology Studies
2014-03-26

This February, Royce Family Professor in Teaching Excellence, professor of medical science and Africana studies, and a member of the Science and Technology Studies Program, Lundy Braun released her new book Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics.

In her book, Lundy Braun traces the little-known history of the spirometer to reveal the ways medical instruments have worked to naturalize racial and ethnic differences, from Victorian Britain to today. An unsettling account of the pernicious effects of racial thinking that divides people along genetic lines, this book helps us understand how race enters into science and shapes medical research and practice.

In the antebellum South, plantation physicians used a new medical device—the spirometer—to show that lung volume and therefore vital capacity were supposedly less in black slaves than in white citizens. At the end of the Civil War, a large study of racial difference employing the spirometer appeared to confirm the finding, which was then applied to argue that slaves were unfit for freedom. What is astonishing is that this example of racial thinking is anything but a historical relic…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

“Only the News They Want to Print”: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 17:06Z by Steven

“Only the News They Want to Print”: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014-01-30)
pages 162-182
ISSN: 2325-4521

Rainier Spencer, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Professor of Afro-American Studies
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This essay lauds the publication of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, then turns immediately to argue that the journal must focus itself on actively becoming the authoritative voice on mixed-race matters, while also speaking out against naive colorblindness and premature declarations of postraciality. This is crucial because the public receives its information on mixed-race identity from the mainstream media, which has a long historical record of inaccurate and damaging reporting on mixed race. Using the recent “Race Remixed” series in the New York Times as a contemporary example of this problem, the essay argues that it is imperative that mainstream media writers seek out and use scholarly input in the publication of their articles.

With the publication of this inaugural issue of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, the field of study demarcated by the journal’s title takes a major leap forward both materially and symbolically. The material leap has to do with the fact that there is now an academic publication devoted expressly to the field of critical mixed-race studies, a single source to go to for the latest in mixed-race research. Even though the journal certainly cannot publish everything in this field, and scholars will still find themselves combing through libraries and the Internet for newly published work, my hope is that this journal will nonetheless become the unquestioned touchstone of mixed-race scholarship. The symbolic leap, on the other hand, while related to the material one, has to do with the intangible satisfaction that attends to having “made it,” so to speak. While there is no difference between the good scholarly work done immediately prior to the launching of the journal and the good scholarly work we find in the pages of this issue, there is nevertheless a gratifying sense that “we”—those of us who work and publish in this area—now have a journal to call home. The importance of this should not be minimized…

…One crucial observation to make about mixed-race identity work over the past twenty years is that even though there has been phenomenal growth and change in the work itself, non-scholarly reporting on mixed race has not kept pace with those advancements. While scholarly studies of mixed race have proliferated, creating both the academic field and now this journal, and while mixed-race identity work has become more and more sophisticated, the quality of media coverage has remained ossified. In fact, mainstream media analysis of mixed-race identity in the United States is generally no different whether one reads an article from 1994, 2000, 2006, or 2012. Given its outsize impact on the general public, the dominant media in the United States is in fact a hegemonic entity. Its coverage of mixed-race identity has crucial effects on attitudes, opinions, and even public policy; therefore, the accuracy of its reporting is critical. For this reason, dominant media representation of multiraciality will be my main focus in this article as I consider the challenges it presents to critical mixed-race studies…

…The specific details being reported aside, the deeper structural problem with mainstream media stories on the alleged postracial power of mixed-race identity or the supposed significance of changing racial demographics is that the information presented is often one-sided, simplistic, geared to a tabloid sensibility, and does not reflect the multiform ways that edifices of power have race embedded within them, whether visible or not. It is a matter of sensationalism taking precedence over serious analysis. David Roediger identifies this tendency of providing sensationalism without substance, noting that “often multiracial identities and immigration take center stage as examples of factors making race obsolete” and that “we are often told popularly that race and racism are on predictable tracks to extinction. But we are seldom told clear or consistent stories about why white supremacy will give way and how race will become a ‘social virus’ of the past.” Roediger’s words highlight the importance of unmasking this postracial aspiration for what it is: an effort to provide comfort to a nation that is unwilling to do the hard work required to deal effectively with centuries of entrenched racism and the resultant consequences…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Mixed or Not, Why Are We Still Taking Pictures of “Race”?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-15 15:29Z by Steven

Mixed or Not, Why Are We Still Taking Pictures of “Race”?

Racism Review: scholarship and activism towards racial justice
2014-04-13

Sharon Chang

Just days ago PolicyMic put up a piece entitled “National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It’s Beautiful.” In it writer Zak Cheney-Rice attempts to address the so-called rise of multiracial peoples which has captured/enchanted the public eye and with which the media has become deeply enamored. He spotlights a retrospective and admiring look at National Geographic’sThe Changing Face of America” project of last year featuring a series of multiracial portraits by well-known German photographer Martin Schoeller, and also peripherally cites some statistics/graphs that demonstrate the explosion of the mixed-race population.

“In a matter of years,” Cheney-Rice writes, “We’ll have Tindered, OKCupid-ed and otherwise sexed ourselves into one giant amalgamated mega-race.” Despite admitting racial inequity persists, he still flirts with the idea of an “end” approaching (presumably to race and by association racism), and suggests while we’re waiting for things to get better, we might “…applaud these growing rates of intermixing for what they are: An encouraging symbol of a rapidly changing America. 2050 remains decades away, but if these images are any preview, it’s definitely a year worth waiting for.” We are then perhaps left with this rather unfortunate centerpiece of his statement, “Here’s how the ‘average American’ will look by the year 2050”:…

…What I think is incredibly important here (and doesn’t seem to have come up in the ensuing disputes) is why portraits designed to quantify/quality racialized appearance were taken with such intent in the first place? Photography which captures a person’s image for the sole and express purpose of measuring then discussing their supposed race is not new and frankly, like pretty much everything race-related, has a long and insidious history. It’s known as racial-type photography and it was popularized in the late 19th century by white pseudo-scientists to “prove” the superiority of some races, and the inferiority of others. Anthropologists used photography to make anatomical comparisons, then racially classify and rank human subjects on an evolutionary scale “seeming to confirm that some peoples were less evolved than others and would therefore benefit from imperial control” (Picture Imperfect: Photography and Eugenics, 1879-1940 by Anne Maxwell, p.21)…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It’s Beautiful

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 14:45Z by Steven

National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It’s Beautiful

PolicyMic
2014-04-10

Zak Cheney-Rice, Writer covering race, hip-hop, sports and pop culture

It’s no secret that interracial relationships are trending upward, and in a matter of years we’ll have Tindered, OKCupid-ed and otherwise sexed ourselves into one giant amalgamated mega-race.

But what will we look like? National Geographic built its 125th anniversary issue around this very question last October, commissioning Martin Schoeller, a renowned photographer and portrait artist, to capture the lovely faces of our nation’s multiracial future.

Here’s how the “average American” will look by the year 2050:…

So is an end approaching? Will increased racial mixing finally and permanently redefine how we imagine our racial identities? The latest figures suggest we’re getting more comfortable with the idea, or perhaps that we simply give fewer shits than ever before. Either would be a step in the right direction…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Approaching race as a social rather than biological construct

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-13 11:59Z by Steven

Approaching race as a social rather than biological construct

The Daily Pennsylvanian
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2014-04-08

Laura Anthony

The Program on Race, Science and Society will examine the role of race in scientific research at upcoming symposium

In 1851, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine graduate Samuel Cartwright delivered a report to the Medical Association of Louisiana claiming that blacks’ health was improved by slavery.

He theorized that forced physical labor improved blacks’ inferior lung capacity, so slavery was actually a necessity to bettering their health.

Penn Law School professor Dorothy Roberts first heard this anecdote from a talk by Brown University professor Lundy Braun detailing the history of the spirometer, a medical device used to measure lung capacity.

Some spirometers historically, and even in modern medicine, adjust the measurements according to the race of the patient. Cartwright used the device to justify the need for continued slavery to protect blacks’ health. Braun’s presentation included a picture of a modern spirometer with a button labeled “race,” and through numerous conversations with medical students, Roberts has found that some medical students are still trained to use spirometers based on patients’ race.

For Roberts, this is a major problem. “My definition of race is that it is a political system to govern people based on invented biological demarcation, and it is not a natural division of human beings,” she said. “So it is much more plausible that inequities in health that fall along racial lines are caused by social determinants.”

Braun’s talk sparked an idea for a future project in the new program she developed at Penn this year called the Program on Race, Science and Society…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

5 Nations That Imported Europeans to Whiten The Population

Posted in Africa, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, South Africa on 2014-04-11 21:10Z by Steven

5 Nations That Imported Europeans to Whiten The Population

Atlanta Black Star
2014-03-10

Andre Moore

After the trans-Atlantic slave trade was officially abolished toward the end of the 19th century, many whites felt threatened and feared free Blacks would become a menacing element in society. The elites spent a great dealing of time mulling over how best to solve the so-called Negro problem. A popular solution that emerged during this period was the ideology of racial whitening or “whitening.”

Supporters of the “whitening” ideology believed that if a “superior” white population was encouraged to mix with an “inferior” Black population, Blacks would advance culturally, genetically or even disappear totally, within several generations. Some also believed that an influx of immigrants from Europe would be necessary to successfully carry out the process.

Although both ideologies were driven by racism and White supremacy, whitening was in contrast to some countries that opted for segregation rather than miscegenation, ultimately outlawing the mixing of the races. This, however, was just a different means to the same end as these nations also imported more Europeans while slaughtering and oppressing the Black population.

Here are 5 of the several counties that adopted a whitening policy and what happened as a result…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Making Men: Enlightenment Ideas of Racial Engineering

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2014-04-10 20:49Z by Steven

Making Men: Enlightenment Ideas of Racial Engineering

The American Historical Review
Volume 115, Issue 5 (December 2010)
pages 1364-1394
DOI: 10.1086/ahr.115.5.1364

William Max Nelson, Assistant Professor of History
University of Toronto

A minor nobleman from Alsace, traveling in French colonial Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) on the eve of the French and Haitian revolutions, expressed  surprise that “it has not already occurred to some ingenious speculator to monopolize … the fabrication of all mulattoes.”1 Perhaps no one had embarked upon this endeavor, the Baron de Wimpffen speculated, for fear that the metropolitan government would “take advantage of this bright idea to incorporate even the manufacture of the human race into its exclusive privilege.”2 While Wimpffen was clearly satirizing the Exclusif—the much-hated metropolitan monopoly on the trade and manufacture of natural resources and goods from the colonies—his comments reveal something that is not widely recognized about the eighteenth century: there was an understanding that the “fabrication” or “manufacture” of human beings was possible, and even desirable to some.3 Wimpffen’s words are jarring, not only because they raise the possibility that human beings could be manufactured, but also because they do so in an offhand manner, presenting it as a whimsical observation or a delicate joke rather than as a ghastly vision of control and production in which human beings are merely another raw material to be transformed. The topic of sexual relations between people of African and European descent was not an uncommon one in eighteenth-century writing about Saint-Domingue, where it was generally agreed that such unions were more prevalent than in other French colonies; Wimpffen’s comments, however, pointed beyond the usual tropes invoked against the social and moral ramifications of colonial métissage and libertinage (miscegenation and the debased pursuit of sensual pleasure).

Although some masters seem to have profited from the sale of their own mulatto children, Wimpffen was presumably correct in believing that there were no actual businesses on Saint-Domingue that aimed to monopolize “the manufacture of the human race.”4 A decade earlier, however, two men with connections to the colonial administration—former governor-general Gabriel de Bory and a lawyer named Michel-René Hilliard d’Auberteuil—had published works calling for a similar kind of “manufacture.” In Essai sur la population des colonies à sucre (1776) and Considérations sur l’état présent de la colonie française de Saint-Domingue (1776–1777), respectively, Bory and Hilliard d’Auberteuil sketched out separate plans for the large-scale selective breeding of slaves, free people of color, and the white residents of the island.5 Neither viewed his project as a potential business venture; instead, each plan was envisioned as a solution to some of the colony’s most significant social, political, and military problems. Their proposals were not highly detailed; nor were they even the focus of the books in which they were included. Yet they remain of great historical importance because they appear to have been the first suggestions for large-scale selective breeding of humans that was meant to be carried out in a real time and place (rather than the fictional nowhere of utopias) and with the intention of creating a new racial hierarchy.

The existence of these plans raises new questions regarding the relationship between the development of ideas about the selective breeding of human beings and the development of ideas of race. Throughout the second half of the eighteenth century in Europe and the Atlantic world, a fundamental idea was emerging of race as a heritable and inescapable way of being that encompassed physical, moral, intellectual, and psychological characteristics and provided a basis for hierarchical differentiation.6 There was a considerable amount of fluidity and ambiguity within the new ideas and nomenclature, but people were gradually establishing and stabilizing many of the terms, concepts, and scientific questions that would lay the foundation for the more elaborate attempt to create a science of race in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.7 Yet even as modern ideas of race were being formed, some people apparently believed that human beings could be constructed to fit within narrowly defined categories based primarily on skin color and civil status. The possibility of a dynamic circularity in the eighteenth century between making men and making race seems not to have been previously recognized by scholars.8

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,