On blackness and autism, identity and essence

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-29 00:54Z by Steven

On blackness and autism, identity and essence

Ray Hemachandra @ Golden Moon Publishing: Autism, spirit, beauty. Compassion. Love. Kindness. Sparks of light.

Ray Hemachandra

Often I’m asked “What are you?”

Racial and ethnic identity still inform so much in our culture. The question asked really is a question of identity. “What are you?” masks the underlying question, “Who are you?”

When I was young I was black. My father, Neal Hemachandra, was black. His mother, Leathe Wade Colvert, was black. Her mother, Martha Pleasant, came from Virginia and slave plantations. She was black.

I was black even as I carried an Asian Indian name and just as much ethnic heritage: my father’s father, Balatunga Hemachandra, emigrated from Sri Lanka. I was black even as I was Jewish: my blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jewish mother’s family were immigrants from eastern Europe, and much of their family died in the Holocaust. I was black even as American Indian and black Dutch genes contributed to my father’s ancestral lines…

American history and family history confirmed this identity. One drop. My parent’s mixed marriage: they were married in New York City, where they both were born, by a prominent NYC African American judge, Hubert Delany, brother of the Delany sisters who became famous decades later. My parents’ marriage was reported in the black press in several papers up and down the East Coast

Read the entire article here.

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Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial by Ralina L. Joseph (review) [Ardizzone]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-10-29 00:25Z by Steven

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial by Ralina L. Joseph (review) [Ardizzone]

African American Review
Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2013
pages 787-790
DOI: 10.1353/afa.2013.0105

Heidi Ardizzone, Assistant Professor of American Studies
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

Joseph, Ralina L., Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012)

Ralina Joseph begins Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial with a personal story. Her own engagement with ongoing debates over identity, ancestry, authenticity, and race mirrored political and cultural shifts in perceptions of people of mixed ancestry at the time. As a college student in the 1990s, Joseph quickly embraced the term multiracial to describe her own “race story,” becoming a leader of Brown (University’s) Organization of Multi- and Biracial Students (BOMBS). Being multiracial became, she says, a “full blown preoccupation” (xv), resulting in her undergraduate thesis on cultural depictions of black-white women. Transcending Blackness continues this project, identifying two related images, the millennial mulatta, and the exceptional multiracial, which operate in a dialectic cultural relationship as a “two-sided stereotype” (5). Joseph defines both representations in relationship to blackness: Millennials are punished for their attempts to identify as black; exceptionals are rewarded for transcending blackness or even race itself. Rather than demonstrating that blackness might be embraced “in messy, hybridized, multiracial forms” in the cultural texts Joseph examines, blackness is the thing that “must be risen above, surpassed, or truly transcended” (4). However, Joseph also introduces a third potential option: multiracial blackness, identifying positively and simultaneously as mixed and as black or African American. While she embraces this option for herself and claims it as a dominant identity, the authors whose works she analyzes never display it in their fictional depictions of this black-unite figure. So multiracial blackness forms a third point in a now triangulated relationship that crosses the line between social experience and cultural representation.

Transcending Blackness follows a familiar literary and media studies format: The Preface, Introduction, and Conclusion bracket four chapters, each focusing on a particular genre, work, and multiracial or black-white female character. Joseph’s Introduction lays out her terms and framework, while providing a clear and concise history of people of mixed ancestry, of their treatment and categorization, and of the attitudes toward and circumstances of interracial unions. She also provides a selective trajectory of literary and media depictions of the black-white figure covering roughly a century prior to her target years of 1998-2008. This decade spans the first inclusion of the “pick one or more” option under the federal census’ racial categories, and the election of the first U.S. president who could have—but publically didn’t—exercise that option. Like the twenty years that preceded it, the 1998-2008 decade falls squarely in the overlapping postracial and postfeminist eras that Joseph identifies as key to understanding the shifting meaning of the representations of black-white women. However, her decade is a static one: Her chapters are not chronological, but organized around her analytic positioning of each text and character within her framework.

One result of this is that the four main chapters operate in some ways more as related essays than as an integrated argument. But there is a consistent analytical thread. In the first two chapters Joseph presents two examples of the new millennium mulatta to show “how blackness is cause and effect of sadness and pain for the multiracial African American figure.” The last two chapters then argue that for the exceptional multiracial “blackness is an irrelevant entity” (6). And the first chapter sets up Joseph’s argument, not just for the new millennium mulatta, but also for the absence of the multiracial blackness that Joseph is looking for but doesn’t find—at least not in the form in which she desires it to be…

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‘I Hope My Son Stays White’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-28 21:06Z by Steven

‘I Hope My Son Stays White’

News & Views

Calvin Hennick

A White father of a biracial son admits his fears for what happens when his child gets older and can no longer ‘pass

I am a white man, and part of the privilege that comes along with that fact is this: I know, with something bordering on 100 percent certainty, how my death will not be portrayed if I am shot and killed while walking down the street unarmed.

No one will scour my social media accounts for photos of me wearing a hooded sweatshirt or flipping off the camera. No one will ignore my lack of a criminal record and decide that I’m a “thug” for unnamed reasons. It won’t matter whether I’ve smoked pot, or shoplifted, or if I was ever suspended from school.

And, especially if my hypothetical assailant turns out to be black, I can be confident that there will be no rallies to support him. His identity will not be hidden from the public for days, and no crowdfunding campaign will raise a six-figure sum to support his family through “their” difficult time.

There will be no national effort to blame me for my own death…

Read the entire article here.

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Why Latinos won’t become white

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Economics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-28 17:22Z by Steven

Why Latinos won’t become white

Al Jazeera America

Gabriel Arana

Assuming Latinos will join the white majority ignores the stark divisions in a racially diverse group

In the lead-up to the midterms, President Barack Obama has been parroting the conventional wisdom about the GOP’s future: Republicans are doomed if they keep up their opposition to immigration reform and continue the inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric. “It’s anybody’s guess how Republicans are thinking about this,” he said during a town hall event in Santa Monica, California. “If they were thinking long term politically, it is suicide for them not to do this.”

Latinos make up 14 percent of the population, and their share is projected to grow to 29 percent by 2050. This demographic traditionally identifies with the Democratic Party; the toxic immigration debate in Washington, fueled by xenophobes in the GOP, will only increase that tendency. In 2006, 49 percent of Latino eligible voters identified as or leaned Democratic. By 2011, that number jumped to 67 percent. With the United States projected to become a majority-minority country by 2043, Republicans’ chances of winning the White House on the backs of white voters will grow ever slimmer.

But a counternarrative, one that would put Latino votes back in contention for the GOP, has begun to emerge. In the coming decades, Latinos could become “white” — a process in which cultural assimilation would presumably be followed by political realignment — opening them up to affiliation with the Republican Party. It’s a theory espoused most prominently by Slate political writer Jamelle Bouie, who argues in the winter issue of Democracy that “the future won’t be majority-minority; it will be a white majority, where Spanish last names are common.” But this vision of complete assimilation ignores the stark racial divisions in Latin American societies, in which socioeconomic status and skin color, as in the U.S., tend to fall along parallel lines.

Ethnic attrition

The idea of Latinos becoming white in the American sense — a vision of racial and cultural assimilation independent of self-identified race — isn’t a new one. Economists Brian Duncan at the University of Colorado and Stephen Trejo at the University of Texas at Austin call it ethnic attrition. As Latinos intermarry and climb the socioeconomic ladder, the theory goes, they are less likely to self-identify as Hispanic. Duncan and Trejo’s research shows (PDF) that while virtually all first- and second-generation Hispanic immigrants identify as Hispanic, in the third generation, those of mixed heritage start to self-select out of this group. Among third-generation immigrants with only two Hispanic grandparents, 79 percent identify as Hispanic. Among those with only one Hispanic grandparent, the number falls to 58 percent. Think of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father is Cuban and whose mother is white, or comedian Louis C.K., whose grandmother is Mexican and whose other grandparents are Irish and Hungarian…

Read the entire article here.

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Today’s Irish Dancers Step Away From Stereotype

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-28 12:53Z by Steven

Today’s Irish Dancers Step Away From Stereotype

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

S. J. Velasquez

When Riverdance debuted 20 years ago, Irish step dancers — whether citizens of Ireland or any other country — looked, well, stereotypically Irish. The red-haired, freckle-faced lass doing a jumpy jig still comes to mind for many. But the All Ireland Dancing Championships, currently underway in Dublin, will show how that image no longer reflects the reality.

Take the current Irish dance “it” girl, Julia O’Rourke. She was born in New York, and has Filipino and Irish ancestry. At age 15, she is a two-time world champion and star of the Irish dance documentary Jig. That film follows dancers from around the world who are training for and traveling to the 2010 World Irish Dancing Championships.

“I really hope that I helped change that stereotype,” O’Rourke says. “[Ethnicity] really doesn’t matter anymore. It’s how you dance.” She points to the success of her friend and dance classmate Melanie Valdes, whose father is Cuban-American. “There have been so many dancers to join the community who are only part Irish or not Irish at all,” O’Rourke says, “and they’ve really made an impact.”

“I don’t think the judges even react to it anymore,” says Valdes, who has also swept titles at major competitions, capturing gold at the world championships twice. “It’s all about the dancing.”

For the most part, O’Rourke agrees, insisting that she has never been treated badly because of what she looks like. If anything, it has helped. “Because my look is different, my face doesn’t look like a typical Irish girl, it might pop out a little more to the judges,” she explains.

But diversity wasn’t always so welcome…

…Brown Skin, Spray Tans And Hot Pink Shorts

Now, some members of the Irish dance community see a distinctive look as an advantage. Drew Lovejoy, a now retired two-time world champion, is biracial and identifies as African-American. Nineteen-year-old Lovejoy, known for sporting hot pink shirts in competition, says his unique appearance gave him confidence on stage because it set him apart. He jokes that his skin tone allows him to pull off a different color palette completely…

Read the entire article here.

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Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-27 20:48Z by Steven

Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Issue 1 (2014)
pages 98-132

Winthrop D. Jordan (1931-2007), Emeritus Professor of History and African-American Studies
University of Mississippi

Edited by:

Paul Spickard, Professor of History; Professor of Asian American Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Winthrop Jordan, one of the most honored of US historians, wrote about racial mixing a generation before there was a field of mixed race studies. At the time of his death, he left an unfinished manuscript: “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States.” For this inaugural issue of the JCMRS, Jordan’s former student Paul Spickard, himself a foundational scholar of multiracial studies from the first wave of scholarship in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has edited Jordan’s final article.

The One-Drop Rule: The US Anomaly and Its Fateful Consequences

Historians and scholars in other disciplines have generated a huge corpus of studies about the concept of race while ignoring, for the most part, one of the most important features of race relations in the United States. In this country, the social standard for individuals is superficially simple: if a person of whatever age or gender is believed to have any African ancestry, that person is regarded as black. Basically, by this social rule, a person was, and is, either black or not. Any person of racially or ethnically mixed descent who has some “Negro blood” has been or still is regarded as “colored,” or “African,” or “Negro,” or “black,” or “Afro-American,” or “African American”—whatever designation has prevailed by convention at the time. This social rule has been easy to overlook because it is so close to home, often in a personal way, and because it involves self-identification as well as identification of others. Almost all people in the United States tend to operate perceptually and conceptually according to this simple social rule concerning race without stopping to question its logic. Why question the way the world works when that way is so obvious? And far from questioning the rule, many Americans seem almost resistant to acknowledging its existence, and some of those who have thought about the rule angrily assign blame to some nefarious group for promoting it.

When it comes to race, Americans see themselves, and many overseas people as well, in a bicolored fashion—either/or—black or white. Surely this is an interesting chromometric assessment of skin complexion. We should ask ourselves why nearly all the people playing on basketball courts are said to be one of the same two colors as piano keys. For one thing, no human being has a complexion that is fully black or completely white. And all these players, whether white or black, have a light and dark side of their hands. In addition, bifurcating these or any people subtly negates the underlying unity of humankind and its common genetic and historical roots.

In the United States some medical geneticists have blithely ignored the one-drop rule while urging genetic profiles of different races as they relate to susceptibility to different diseases. These proposals have been strongly denounced by some geneticists and by scholars in other disciplines who point to the obvious fact that a great many socially defined African Americans have a genetic background that is far less than even fifty percent African. Historians have been less prone to disagreement among themselves, but they have simply been neglectful about asking how and why this social rule developed. The focus in this inquiry is on the social aspects of the rule, and thus the definition of the rule used here is somewhat broader than is necessary when discussing the genetics of its operation.

The term “one-drop rule” has its own rather curious history. It was used repeatedly in scholarly works on race relations more than a generation ago. Today, it can be found in a wide variety of publications that deal with race relations in the United States. Yet the lexical community has been either negligent or resistant about the term, for as of a very few years ago, all the purportedly unabridged dictionaries of the English language and their updated collegiate versions did not include it. These dictionaries have begun to catch up as dictionaries and facsimiles like Wikipedia have become ubiquitous online. Even the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, which is supposedly based on historical principles, has an online version that now includes the term. The phrase currently appears in many books, magazines, and on the Internet, firmly supported by its conciseness in referring to a powerful social rule…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Is, Black Ain’t: Biracials, Middle-Class Blacks, and the Social Construction of Blackness

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-27 18:44Z by Steven

Black Is, Black Ain’t: Biracials, Middle-Class Blacks, and the Social Construction of Blackness

Sociological Spectrum
Volume 30,  Issue 6, 2010
pages 639-670
DOI: 10.1080/02732173.2010.510057

Cherise A. Harris, Associate Professor of Sociology
Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut

Nikki Khanna, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Vermont

Several scholars claim that group cohesion among black Americans is necessary for black advancement. Our research examines the extent to which group cohesion is possible given the increasing diversity of Black America, particularly with regard to race and class. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 33 middle-class blacks and 40 black-white biracials, we explore (1) the similarities and differences in the experiences of both groups, (2) their encounters with marginalization, (3) how they negotiate perceived marginalization, and (4) the extent to which all of the above are shaped by socially constructed ideas of blackness. We find that narrow notions of “authentic” blackness challenge group cohesion and threaten to splinter the black community along class and ethnic/racial lines. However, we find evidence of greater tolerance for the community’s racial diversity than its class diversity. Nevertheless, the data presented here suggest that the increasing heterogeneity of Black America poses significant challenges to group cohesion.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Are Biracial Children Damaged?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-27 15:15Z by Steven

Are Biracial Children Damaged?

HERS Magazine
November/December 2014
page 36

Cherrye S. Vasquez

Approximately seven years ago, I was engaged in what I thought was a friendly conversation with a group of ladies at my work. As mothers, we often talked about our daily activities our children were engaged in. Our conversations were personal, easy stress relievers, and generally ended with much laughter among the group.

When I ended my “story of the day” on the subject of my daughter’s latest activity, one of the ladies turned and said, “Well she’s going to have psychological problems anyway.”

I looked at her, startled, and asked what she meant by that. “Well, she’s biracial,” she continued, “and all biracial children end up with psychological problems.”

This woman was the first person who’d ever made such an asinine statement to me, but unfortunately not the last. What she claimed never crossed my mind. Why would it?

Read the entire article here.

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Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-10-26 17:33Z by Steven

Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans

The New York Times

Randal C. Archibold, Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

JOSÉ MARÍA MORELOS, Mexico — Hernán Reyes calls himself “negro” — black — plain and simple.

After some thought, Elda Mayren decides she is “Afromexicana,” or African-Mexican.

Candido Escuen, a 58-year-old papaya farmer, is not quite sure what word to use, but he knows he is not mestizo, or mixed white and native Indian, which is how most Mexicans describe themselves.

“Prieto,” or dark, “is what a lot of people call me,” he said.

This isolated village is named for an independence hero, thought to have had black ancestors, who helped abolish slavery in Mexico. It lies in the rugged hills of southwestern Mexico, among a smattering of towns and hamlets that have long embraced a heritage from African slaves who were brought here to work in mines and on sugar plantations in the 16th century.

Just how many people are willing to share that pride may soon be put to the test as Mexico moves to do something it has not attempted in decades and never on its modern census: ask people if they consider themselves black.

Or Afromexican. Or “moreno,” “mascogo,” “jarocho,” or “costeño” — some of the other terms sometimes used to describe black Mexicans.

What term or terms to use is not just a matter of personal and societal debate, but a longstanding dilemma that the government is hoping finally to resolve…

Read the entire article and view the slide show here.

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Portlander Damaris Webb explores racial gray areas in ‘The Box Marked Black’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-26 17:19Z by Steven

Portlander Damaris Webb explores racial gray areas in ‘The Box Marked Black’

The Oregonian
Portland, Oregon

Marty Hughley

When it came time for Damaris Webb to apply for college, her father encouraged her to check the box on application forms indicating “black” as her racial origin. For long enough in his family’s history, being black had made life difficult. But maybe in this circumstance, by the 1980s, it would be an advantage instead.

But she thought differently.

“I argued that I should mark ‘other,’ because that’s what I was,” Webb says in her solo theater piece “The Box Marked Black,” which opened last weekend at Ethos/IFCC. “Not that I was ashamed to be black. But I thought if I got into college for being black, when I showed up they’d be disappointed.”

Depending on what you believe about race and classifications thereof, Webb is black. Or white. Or both. Or either. Or other…

Read the entire article here.

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