Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 19:25Z by Steven

Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Qualitative Sociology
March 2014, Volume 37, Issue 1
pages 93-115
DOI: 10.1007/s11133-013-9268-2

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Different approaches to race mixture in the U.S. and Brazil have led to the notion that they are polar opposites in terms of race relations. However, the end of de jure segregation in the U.S., the acknowledgement of racial inequality, and subsequent implementation of affirmative action in Brazil have called into question the extent to which these societies are vastly different. By examining race mixture as a lived reality, this study offers a novel approach to understanding racial boundaries in these two contexts. I analyze 87 interviews with individuals in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to examine the cultural repertoires and discursive traditions they draw on to understand white families’ reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ “color-blindness” to understand opposition to Blacks marrying into the family. Brazilian couples perceive overt racism and the use of humor from white family members. Nevertheless, couples with black males experienced more hostility in both sites. In addition, white male autonomy was related to the lower hostility that black female-white male couples experienced in both societies. By examining contemporary race mixture as a lived reality, this study complicates simplistic understandings of race relations as similar or different in these two societies. Furthermore, with the increase of multiracial families in both societies, it reveals the family as an important site for redrawing and policing racial boundaries.

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Student Org Spotlight: Mixed Race Student Union (MIXED)

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-16 19:17Z by Steven

Student Org Spotlight: Mixed Race Student Union (MIXED)

Threads
Multicultural Student Center
University of Wisconsin, Madison
2014-09-26

Jamie Sheskey

Jamie Sheskey is a second-year student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and is the founder and co-President of the Mixed Race Student Union (MIXED).

One year ago, I remember walking through the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s packed student organization fair, hoping that there’d be a home somewhere for my half-Taiwanese, half-White self. Among the hundreds of cultural and ethnic groups, however, I wasn’t able to find one.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has approximately 240 registered student organizations listed under the “cultural/ethnic” category, including groups such as the Wisconsin Black Student Union and Asian American Student Union, but before this fall, none had specifically addressed the mixed-race community on campus…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 18:15Z by Steven

Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Volume 10 / Issue 01 / Spring 2013
pages 179-203
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X13000118

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

As people who cross racial boundaries in the family formation process, the experiences of interracial couples can actually reveal the nature of racial boundaries within and across societies. I draw on in-depth qualitative interviews with eighty-seven respondents in interracial Black and White couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to compare perceptions of public stigmatization by outsiders, a term I call “boundary-policing.” I find that couples in Los Angeles perceive gendered, Black individuals as perpetrators of this boundary-policing. In Rio de Janeiro, couples perceive regionalized and classed, White perpetrators. These findings suggest that in the United States and Brazil, racial boundaries are intertwined with class and gender boundaries to shape negotiation of boundary-policing in the two contexts. This analysis builds on previous studies of ethnoracial boundaries by showing how individuals reinforce and negotiate them through interpersonal relations. It demonstrates the similarities and differences in the negotiation and reinforcement of racial boundaries in the two sites.

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Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-15 19:39Z by Steven

Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, Issue 10, 2013
Special Issue: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
pages 1490-1506
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.783926

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

In Latin America, whitening is understood as a goal of darker-skinned individuals who marry whites to gain access to white social circles, increase their social status, and produce lighter offspring. However, in Brazil, increasing black consciousness and race-based policies are seemingly at odds with contemporary attempts to whiten. Drawing on qualitative interviews with forty-nine individuals in black–white couples, I examine how they make sense of whitening in their lives. I find that unlike in the past, respondents do not describe themselves engaged in whitening and either find it offensive or recognize admissions of whitening as stigmatized. Nevertheless, whitening is how friends, families and other outsiders give meaning to their relationships, depending on the gender of the respondent. In addition, I find evidence of some white women understanding their relationships as a way of darkening themselves. This study reveals a transformation in the meanings associated with whitening ideology in contemporary Brazil.

Read or purchase the article here.

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What’s Your Mix?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2014-10-15 19:21Z by Steven

What’s Your Mix?

Mixed Roots Stories
2014-10-07

Lill Salole
Oslo, Norway

”Where are you from”? That feeling. When you don´t easily fit into any clean, closed categories. When your looks don´t match people´s expectations and definitions, and the answer is messy. Confusing. Ambiguous. Sometimes even deemed as politically incorrect and provoking. Like being part black, part white. Or having an upbringing influenced by Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Atheist, as well as Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu principles.

When this question is posed, I often have to deliberate. I must quickly decide whether to give whoever is asking the long or the short version. I always have to consider my relationship to them, and evaluate how interested he or she really is in this story. I have to think about what my mood and level of patience is, as well a how much time we have.

The trouble is, even the short version quickly becomes very complicated…

Read the entire article here.

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Identity In Pieces: When You Don’t Know Where You Count

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-15 19:09Z by Steven

Identity In Pieces: When You Don’t Know Where You Count

The Aerogram: A curated take on South Asian art, literature, life and news
2014-10-01

Jaya Saxena
Queens, New York

Last summer, I wore a pink and yellow sari to my cousin’s wedding. As my Indian family lingered in the hotel lobby, dressed up and waiting for our shuttle, we received a few looks from other hotel patrons. Even in New York, it’s not every day you see a group of formally-dressed Indian people, so we didn’t pay the reaction much mind. To them, we looked like we belonged together, and if they noticed me I was just the lightest of the crowd.

A few months later, I went to another Indian wedding in Boston. This time, my then-fiance (a tall white guy with a red beard) and I traveled alone on the T, dressed in Indian finery as we’d been asked. The stares we got were different this time–they were wondering what these two white people were doing dressed up as Indians.

A common refrain when talking about racism is that it’s not about race. Or that it is and it isn’t. It is in that hundreds of years of built up context have given people of color the short end of the stick, but obviously there is nothing inherent about whiteness that means it deserves more (and if you think there is, kindly stop reading and find yourself a bog to suffocate in). What makes racism is power and lived experience. It’s that a white kid who shoots up a school is taken alive, while a black kid walking down the street is shot dead. It’s that resumes with “white” names are accepted over identical ones with “ethnic” names. And it’s why I really have no clue if I can call myself biracial…

Read the entire article here.

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When Racism Was a Science

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-15 17:46Z by Steven

When Racism Was a Science

The New York Times
2014-10-13

Joshua A. Krisch

‘Haunted Files: The Eugenics Record Office’ Recreates a Dark Time in a Laboratory’s Past

An old stucco house stands atop a grassy hill overlooking the Long Island Sound. Less than a mile down the road, the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory bustles with more than 600 researchers and technicians, regularly producing breakthroughs in genetics, cancer and neuroscience.

But that old house, now a private residence on the outskirts of town, once held a facility whose very name evokes dark memories: the Eugenics Record Office.

In its heyday, the office was the premier scientific enterprise at Cold Spring Harbor. There, bigoted scientists applied rudimentary genetics to singling out supposedly superior races and degrading minorities. By the mid-1920s, the office had become the center of the eugenics movement in America.

Today, all that remains of it are files and photographs — reams of discredited research that once shaped anti-immigration laws, spurred forced-sterilization campaigns and barred refugees from entering Ellis Island. Now, historians and artists at New York University are bringing the eugenics office back into the public eye.

Haunted Files: The Eugenics Record Office,” a new exhibit at the university’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute, transports visitors to 1924, the height of the eugenics movement in the United States. Inside a dimly lit room, the sounds of an old typewriter click and clack, a teakettle whistles and papers shuffle. The office’s original file cabinets loom over reproduced desks and period knickknacks. Creaky cabinets slide open, and visitors are encouraged to thumb through copies of pseudoscientific papers.

“There’s a haunted quality, that’s the nature of the files,” said John Kuo Wei Tchen, a historian at N.Y.U. and co-curator of the exhibit. (This reporter is a student at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, a separate branch of the university.) “We hoped we could evoke a visceral feeling of what it was like to be in a detention center, where people were presumed to be ineligible unless proven otherwise.”

When the Eugenics Record Office opened its doors in 1910, the founding scientists were considered progressives, intent on applying classic genetics to breeding better citizens. Funding poured in from the Rockefeller family and the Carnegie Institution. Charles Davenport, a prolific Harvard biologist, and his colleague, Harry H. Laughlin, led the charge…

Read the entire article here.

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Legacy of the President’s Mother

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-10-15 16:21Z by Steven

Legacy of the President’s Mother

Mālamalama, The Magazine of the University of Hawaiʻi System
January 2009 (2009-01-14)

Paula Bender
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi


Stanley Ann Dunham

The candidacy and election of President Barack Obama drew international eyes to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where his parents met. But among some at the university, it is Obama’s late mother who stirs strong emotions of memory and hope.

Stanley Ann Dunham took an unconventional approach to life on both personal and professional levels. Her son’s book portrays her as an innocent, kind and generous; academics who knew her and reporters who have discovered her describe the idealism and optimism of her worldview and work ethic.

In her work, she was not a romantic, rather appreciating the artistic while dealing with the realistic, one contemporary observes.

Dunham was born in Kansas and attended high school in Washington State. Moving to Hawaiʻi with her parents, she entered UH in 1960. In Russian class, she met the first African student to attend UH, charismatic Barack Obama Sr., who moved in politically liberal, intellectual student circles that included future Congressman Neil Abercrombie. They married and had Barack Obama Jr. in 1961.

Obama Sr. left his family for Harvard [University] and then Kenya. Dunham returned to UH, earning a math degree. She pursued graduate work, married another international student, Lolo Soetoro, and returned with him to Indonesia. There she began extensive research and fieldwork and welcomed the birth of daughter Maya Kassandra Soetoro, nine years Barack’s junior.

Although eventually divorced a second time, Dunham is credited with encouraging her children’s appreciation of their ethnic heritages…

Read the entire article here.

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Is race genetic?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-10-15 15:28Z by Steven

Is race genetic?

Salon
2014-10-12

Laura Miller

Advances in genealogy and DNA analysis tell surprising and disturbing stories about the heritage we think we know

A bestselling European novelist, while on a recent American book tour, was approached by a woman clutching a manilla folder. “We’re related!” she told him, opening the folder to reveal old black and white photos, documents and a family tree. She pointed to a dour-looking 19th-century lady posing stiffly in a black dress and explained that this was her great-great-grandmother, the novelist’s great-great-great-aunt.

He was kind and patient, but clearly no more than mildly interested in the materials she treasured. Maybe he had more relatives than he knew what to do with back home. Maybe the whole thing was too reminiscent of the years when his homeland was occupied by a foreign power pathologically obsessed with establishing “pure” lineages. Or maybe he just believes in looking forward rather than back. He had, after all, books to sign, cities to visit and even more books to write once he got back, and perhaps defining himself by a future he can shape seems a lot more appealing than dwelling on the past he can’t.

Many Europeans see genealogy as a peculiarly American preoccupation — and of course billions of people in places like China view it merely as a human one, the way we make sense of our place in the world. Christine Kenneally, an Australian journalist and the author of “The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures,” has talked to adherents of both sides and has a lot of ideas about “what gets passed on,” as she puts it. Where Kenneally comes from, the “bad blood” of convicts transported from Britain to the antipodes was once regarded as a cause for shame, something best not talked about by their descendants. No longer: she recalls working on a school project in which her classmates happily dug up convict ancestors to boast about.

A good bit of “The Invisible History of the Human Race” is devoted to defending genealogy and the desire to know one’s lineage. Apparently, many historians look down on the amateur penchant for tracing family trees; it is not research but “mesearch,” too small-picture, too personal to constitute true scholarship. To the layperson, disproving this canard (which Kenneally does neatly) hardly seems a battle that demands to be fought, but when Kenneally takes up the subject of DNA and race, she enters more hotly contested territory. What does it mean to link the slippery concept of race to the scientific study of genetics and the historical facts that constitute an individual’s ancestry?…

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. himself serves as an excellent example. He’s “black,” that is, African-American (as well as a professor of African-American Studies), although the aforementioned DNA analysis revealed that 60 percent of his genetic material is of European origin. Does this make him less black? Not on that infamous evening in 2009, when Gates was arrested by a white police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts while attempting to enter his own house.

Yet what Gates learned about his genetic ancestry did change how he understood his identity, and he would later announce on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that he and the officer who arrested him share a common ancestor in the Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages. That’s the gist of much of the genealogy- and genetics-based programming that Gates has hosted for the Public Broadcasting Service, shows like “African American Lives” and “Finding Your Roots”: We are all more connected than we realize…

Read the entire article here.

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SANDS OF TIME: American Beach nears 80-year anniversary

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2014-10-15 01:24Z by Steven

SANDS OF TIME: American Beach nears 80-year anniversary

The Florida Times-Union
Jacksonville, Florida
2014-10-13

Alec Newell

The extended family of Zephaniah Kingsley, Anna Jai, and their descendants have been major players in shaping the history of Northeast Florida during three colonial periods, American territorial times, Florida statehood and on into the 20th century.

Between Lake George and the St. Marys River, the fingerprints they left seem to be everywhere.

Most of us are familiar with the story of how slave trader Zepheniah Kingsley bought a 13-year-old “African princess” — Anna Madgigine Jai — in Cuba and brought her back to his Laurel Grove Plantation in what is now Orange Park. The couple produced four children, and Zephaniah never wavered in his acknowledgement of Anna as his wife.

Anna, later as a freed woman of color, would own her own slaves, plantation property, and live at various other family residences along the lower St. Johns River. These properties included Mandarin (later owned by Harriet Beecher Stowe), Kingsley Plantation (Ft. George Island), Chesterfield (part of the Jacksonville University Campus), Floral Bluff (Arlington), and Strawberry Plantation (Arlington Bluff), where she was buried. Probably less well-known is the Kingsley connection to the Afro-American Life Insurance Company and American Beach

Read the entire article here.

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