The Social Construction of Race

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 20:55Z by Steven

The Social Construction of Race

Jacobin
2015-06-25

Brian Jones

Race is a social fiction imposed by the powerful on those they wish to control.

The first friend I ever had was a little boy named Matt. We were maybe four or five years old. Matt came to me one day with a very serious look on his face and gave me a little talking-to. He explained to me: “Brian, you’re brown. And I’m peach.”

I don’t remember saying anything back, but I think in my mind I was like “Okay. . . ? Well these Legos aren’t going to build themselves.”

Matt was trying to do me a favor. He was trying to introduce me to the very bizarre and peculiar rules that we all know as grownups — very important things to understand. If you didn’t understand them, you’d find American life and society very strange. You’d do things you shouldn’t do, go places you shouldn’t go. You’d mess up if you didn’t understand the particular rules that govern the ideology of race in the United States.

Sometimes when you go outside of the American context you begin to appreciate how particular and unique these rules are. I remember reading about a (probably apocryphal) interview with the former dictator of Haiti, Papa Doc Duvalier, who referred to the “white majority population” of Haiti. The American journalist interviewing him didn’t understand, so they had to define to each other what makes somebody white or black. The American journalist explained that in the US, one metaphorical drop of black blood designates someone as black. And Duvalier replied, “Well, that’s our definition of white.”

The whole idea of this talk — if you take away nothing else — is this: the whole thing is made up. That’s it. And you can make it up different ways; and people have and do. And it changes. And it has nothing to do with biology or genetics. There’s a study of several decades of census records that found that twice as many people who call themselves white have recent African ancestry as people who call themselves black.

This is not just a matter of folksy beliefs, or prejudice, or wrong ideas, though those things are all in the mix. This is a matter of law…

Read the entire article here.

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Race Policy and Multiracial Americans

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Campus Life, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 15:09Z by Steven

Race Policy and Multiracial Americans

Policy Press (Available in North America from University of Chicago Press)
2016-01-13
226 pages
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781447316459
Paperback ISBN: 9781447316503

Edited by:

Kathleen Odell Korgen, Professor of Sociology
William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey

Race Policy and Multiracial Americans is the first book to look at the impact of multiracial people on race policies—where they lag behind the growing numbers of multiracial people in the U.S. and how they can be used to promote racial justice for multiracial Americans. Using a critical mixed race perspective, it covers such questions as: Which policies aimed at combating racial discrimination should cover multiracial Americans? Should all (or some) multiracial Americans benefit from affirmative action programmes? How can we better understand the education and health needs of multiracial Americans? This much-needed book is essential reading for sociology, political science and public policy students, policy makers, and anyone interested in race relations and social justice.

Contents

  • Introduction ~ Kathleen Odell Korgen
  • Multiracial Americans throughout the History of the U.S. ~ Tyrone Nagai
  • National and Local Structures of Inequality: Multiracial Groups’ Profiles Across the United States ~ Mary E. Campbell and Jessica M. Barron
  • Latinos and Multiracial America ~ Raúl Quiñones Rosado
  • The Connections among Racial Identity, Social Class, and Public Policy? ~ Nikki Khanna
  • Multiracial Americans and Racial Discrimination ~ Tina Fernandes Botts
  • “Should All (or Some) Multiracial Americans Benefit from Affirmative Action Programs?”~ Daniel N. Lipson
  • Multiracial Students and Educational Policy ~ Rhina Fernandes Williams and E. Namisi Chilungu
  • Multiracial Americans in College ~ Marc P. Johnston and Kristen A. Renn
  • Multiracial Americans, Health Patterns, and Health Policy: Assessment and Recommendations for Ways Forward ~ Jenifer L. Bratter and Chirsta Mason
  • Racial Identity Among Multiracial Prisoners in the Color-Blind Era ~ Gennifer Furst and Kathleen Odell Korgen
  • “Multiraciality and the Racial Order: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”~ Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl and David L. Brunsma
  • Multiracial Identity and Monoracial Conflict: Toward a New Social Justice framework ~ Andrew Jolivette
  • Conclusion: Policies for a Racially Just Society ~ Kathleen Odell Korgen
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How a long-dead white supremacist still threatens the future of Virginia’s Indian tribes

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Virginia on 2015-07-01 14:45Z by Steven

How a long-dead white supremacist still threatens the future of Virginia’s Indian tribes

The Washington Post
2015-07-01

Joe Heim, Staff Writer


Walter A. Plecker’s goal as Virginia’s registrar of vital statistics was to ban race-mixing. He declared there were no true Indians left because of marriages with blacks. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia’s Indian tribes have faced numerous obstacles in their decades-old quest for federal recognition. But one person has long stood in their way — and he’s been dead for 68 years.

Walter Plecker — a physician, eugenicist and avowed white supremacist — ran Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics with single-minded resolve over 34 years in the first half of the 20th century.

Though he died in 1947, Plecker’s shadow still lingers over the state, a vestige of a vicious era when racist practices were an integral part of government policy and Virginia officials ruthlessly enforced laws created to protect what they considered a master white race.

For Virginia’s Indians, the policies championed by Plecker threatened their very existence, nearly wiping out the tribes who greeted the country’s first English settlers and who claim Pocahontas as an ancestor. This month, the legacy of those laws could again help sabotage an effort by the Pamunkey people to become the state’s first federally recognized tribe.

Obsessed with the idea of white superiority, Plecker championed legislation that would codify the idea that people with one drop of “Negro” blood could not be classified as white. His efforts led the Virginia legislature to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a law that criminalized interracial marriage and also required that every birth in the state be recorded by race with the only options being “White” and “Colored.”

Plecker was proud of the law and his role in creating it. It was, he said, “the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made in 4,000 years.

The act didn’t just make blacks in Virginia second-class citizens — it also erased any acknowledgment of Indians, whom Plecker claimed no longer truly existed in the commonwealth. With a stroke of a pen, Virginia was on a path to eliminating the identity of the Pamunkey, the Mattaponi, the Chickahominy, the Monacan, the Rappahannock, the Nansemond and the rest of Virginia’s tribes…

Read the entire article here.

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An open letter to President Obama: This is a moral emergency

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-06-21 03:17Z by Steven

An open letter to President Obama: This is a moral emergency

Jewish Journal
2015-06-19

Todd Samuel Presner, Professor and Director, Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Dear President Barack Obama,

I appreciate your comments on the “heartache and the sadness and the anger” that many Americans are feeling after the shooting of nine African-American congregants at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. You pointed out that “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” and you argued, as you have before, for stricter gun control laws. I agree. After the torture and death of Freddie Gray, you said that we – as a nation – have some soul-searching to do” and that race-based police violence was not something new. Indeed, it is not. After the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, you said that Trayvon could have been you “35 years ago,” and you pointed out the ways our criminal justice system disproportionately targets and imprisons African American men. You wondered: “But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do?”  After the strangulation of Eric Garner, you said that “this is not just a black problem or a brown problem. This is an American problem.” You are absolutely right. And after the death of Michael Brown, you said “we should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” You called for prayers, peace, and soul-searching. But with all due respect President Obama, none of this is enough. We – all Americans – have to call this violence out for what it really is: It is racism. And racism perpetuated and legitimized by the persistent failure of Americans to confront this most urgent, most pernicious, and most vile moral and existential catastrophe at the core of our nation…

Read the entire article here.

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From Ferguson to Charleston and Beyond, Anguish About Race Keeps Building

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-06-21 02:59Z by Steven

From Ferguson to Charleston and Beyond, Anguish About Race Keeps Building

The New York Times
2015-06-20

Lydia Polgreen, Johannesburg Bureau Chief

Ferguson. Baltimore. Staten Island. North Charleston. Cleveland.

Over the past year in each of these American cities, an unarmed black male has died at the hands of a police officer, unleashing a torrent of anguish and soul-searching about race in America. Despite video evidence in several of the killings, each has spurred more discord than unity.

Grand juries have tended to give the benefit of the doubt to police officers. National polls revealed deep divisions in how whites and blacks viewed the facts in each case. Whites were more likely to believe officers’ accounts justifying the use of force. Blacks tended to see deeper forces at work: longstanding police bias against black men and a presumption that they are criminals.

Then, on Wednesday night, a young white man walked into a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., and joined a group of worshipers as they bowed their heads over their Bibles. He shot and killed nine of them. In his Facebook profile picture, the suspect, Dylann Roof, wore the flags of racist regimes in South Africa and the former Rhodesia.

The massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston was something else entirely from the police killings. But it, too, has become a racial flash point and swept aside whatever ambiguity seemed to muddle those earlier cases, baldly posing questions about race in America: Was the gunman a crazed loner motivated by nothing more than his own madness? Or was he an extreme product of the same legacy of racism that many black Americans believe sent Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Tamir Rice to their graves?

The debate has already begun…

…America is living through a moment of racial paradox. Never in its history have black people been more fully represented in the public sphere. The United States has a black president and a glamorous first lady who is a descendant of slaves. African-Americans lead the country’s pop culture in many ways, from sports to music to television, where show-runners like Shonda Rhimes and Lee Daniels have created new black icons, including the political fixer Olivia Pope on “Scandal” and the music mogul Cookie Lyon on “Empire.”

It has become commonplace to refer to the generation of young people known as millennials as “post-racial.” Black culture has become so mainstream that a woman born to white parents who had claimed to be black almost broke the Internet last week by saying that she was “transracial.”

Yet in many ways, the situation of black America is dire…

Read the entire article here.

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Emil Guillermo: Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof, and Father’s Day

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-21 02:38Z by Steven

Emil Guillermo: Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof, and Father’s Day

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
2015-06-20

Emil Guillermo

Rachel Dolezal nearly wrecked everyone’s Father’s Day.

You don’t often see a daughter outed so publicly by her white father for passing as an African American, but I guess post-racial filial love isn’t necessarily unconditional.

I admit to being somewhat sympathetic of Rachel D., at first. The Census, our demographic standard, is, after all, a “you are what you say you are” proposition. You can self-identify to your heart’s content. No one is going to enforce a “one drop rule,” like they did in Virginia for hundreds of years to keep marriage a segregated institution.

But Dolezal’s “no drop” rule can also be problematic. And when her family’s outing her became like a reality show audition, leave it to the black man whom she called dad, Albert Wilkerson, to bring things back to earth. “There are bigger issues in this country to be discussing,” he told People magazine. “[But] I’m not going to throw her under the bus.”

Now that’s the kind of love you’ll only find from a real, though fake, “Dad.”…

Read the entire article here.

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How Fluid Is Racial Identity?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-17 15:33Z by Steven

How Fluid Is Racial Identity?

Room for Debate
The New York Times
2015-06-17

Heidi W. Durrow, Novelist

Amanda Kay Erekson, President
MAVIN

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Charles M. and Marion J. Kierscht Professor of Law
University of Iowa

Nancy Leong, Associate Professor of Law
University of Denver

Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research
Pew Research Center

Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law
Syracuse University

It’s been a busy month for exploring boundaries of identity. Should Emma Stone play an Asian character in the movie “Hawaii?” Is Caitlyn Jenner a “real” woman? Did Rachel Dolezal commit racial fraud? The chatter accompanying these examples underscores a fundamental suspicion of personal ambiguity.

Meanwhile, multiracial couplings and births are at an all time high. People may view themselves as multiracial, monoracial or they change their identity over time. How fluid is racial identity, and where will we be in 50 years?

Read the discussion here.

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Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-16 20:17Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade

The New York Times
2015-06-16

Tamara Winfrey Harris

Rachel A. Dolezal, who stepped down Monday as president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., could have been a powerful ally to African-Americans. The participation of white allies has always been important to anti-racism work. By most accounts, she is educated about black cultures and an advocate for black causes. But empathy evolved into impersonation. And Ms. Dolezal’s subterfuge, made easier by the legacy of racism in America, undermines the very people she claims to support.

I identify as black,” Ms. Dolezal told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show this morning. That may be. But actual black people, like me, don’t have the option of choosing…

…Some people have pointed to this strange case as an illustration that race is malleable. I submit that Ms. Dolezal is a reminder that it is not. Racial identity cannot be fluid as long as the definition of whiteness is fixed. And historically, the path to whiteness has been extremely narrow.

The “one-drop rule,” which, for much of American history, legally defined as black anyone with a black ancestor, was used to keep black people from adopting whiteness. Ironically, it has made it easier for Ms. Dolezal to claim blackness without others questioning the assertion. If they are not themselves of a similar hue to Ms. Dolezal, many black people watching her story unfold can recognize in her features a cousin, parent or grandparent. African-Americans vary in appearance from light-skinned to coal black, straight- to curly-haired, keen- to broad-featured, and every possible combination in between.

This diversity is partly a result of this one-drop rule. The original intent of it was to protect racial privilege. Sometimes, if their appearance borrowed enough from white ancestors, black Americans could “pass” in white society. But that social sleight of hand came with many dangers, such as the chance that black lineage would be outed in the skin or hair of one’s progeny. Segregation simply would not work if society was fuzzy on who got the nice drinking fountain, the front seat on the bus and the right to vote…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal’s ‘Passing’ Isn’t So Unusual

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-16 19:07Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal’s ‘Passing’ Isn’t So Unusual

The New York Times Magazine
2015-06-15

Daniel J. Sharfstein, Professor of Law
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennesee

Daniel J. Sharfstein is the author of “The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America.”

Why do we care so much about Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. who apparently misrepresented herself as African-American when, according to her parents, she is Czech, Swedish and German, with some remote Native American ancestry?

In one sense, it’s not at all surprising. Stories of white Americans “passing” as members of other racial and ethnic groups have often captivated the American public — though the cases that have most fascinated us have usually turned on the malicious hypocrisy of the protagonists. In 1965, The Times famously reported that Dan Burros, the Ku Klux Klan’s Grand Dragon in New York State and the former national secretary of the American Nazi Party, was once a Jew who not only was a “star” bar mitzvah student at his shul in Queens but also brought knishes to white-supremacist gatherings. In 1991, an Emory University professor drew headlines by unmasking Forrest Carter, the author of a best-selling Native American “memoir,” as Asa Earl Carter, an Alabama Klansman and a speechwriter for George Wallace, the state’s segregationist governor.

But nowhere in the details that reporters and Internet sleuths have uncovered about Dolezal is there any inkling of personal commitment to white supremacy; her work with the N.A.A.C.P., now finished, and as a professor of Africana studies suggests quite the opposite. Her story spins at a far lower orbit of oddity than the trajectories of Burros and Carter, yet she is attracting a similar level of attention. More puzzling still, her case has gone viral at a moment when we are learning that Rachel Dolezals have been much more common in this country’s history than we once might have thought…

Read the entire article here.

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Mark Duggan’s family lead call for a public inquiry into UK policing

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2015-06-09 01:06Z by Steven

Mark Duggan’s family lead call for a public inquiry into UK policing

The Guardian
2015-06-07

Damien Gayle, Live Desk Reporter


Carole Duggan, Duggan’s aunt, said her family had ‘ample evidence’ that police had misled an inquest into his death. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/the Guardian

Campaigners say there are deep problems with Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime in London’s black communities

Mark Duggan’s family, relatives of other black men killed in custody, and one of the UK’s most senior black lawyers have called for a public inquiry into policing in Britain.

Duggan was shot twice on 4 August 2011 in Tottenham, north London, after 11 specialist firearms officers stopped the minicab he was in on suspicion that he had an illegal firearm. While no gun was found on him, a handgun in a sock was discovered on grassland about four metres (14ft) from his body.

Campaigners are calling for an investigation after it was reported that the man who passed a gun to Duggan before he was killed by police in Tottenham was not arrested weeks earlier, despite evidence he was known to officers and had used the same weapon in another attack.

Following a three-and-a-half-year investigation into the killing of Duggan, 29, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) cleared armed officers of any wrongdoing, saying it was likely that he was in the process of throwing away a handgun when he was shot…

Read the entire article here.

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