INTERVIEW: Martha S. Jones, University of Michigan Professor

Posted in Anthropology, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-12-14 23:25Z by Steven

INTERVIEW: Martha S. Jones, University of Michigan Professor

Impolite Conversations
2014-12-10

John L. Jackson Jr., Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Anthropology, and Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

Impolite Conversations is a fascinating collection of essay that captures a set of exchanges between journalist Cora Daniels and cultural anthropologist John L. Jackson, Jr. I make an appearance in Jackson’s chapter titled “All my best friends are light skinned women.” You’ll have to read the book to see how I fare. But check out my brief exchange with John about how I think about the question of skin color today here. This episode is part of their Impolite Conversations Web Series.

View the interview here. Download the interview here.

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UNPOPULAR OPINION: 6 Reasons Why Your Utopic Vision for a Mixed-Race Future is My Nightmare

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-10 17:54Z by Steven

UNPOPULAR OPINION: 6 Reasons Why Your Utopic Vision for a Mixed-Race Future is My Nightmare

xoJane
2014-12-10

Kristina Wong

Guess what? One day, when we’re all mixed race, racism won’t magically disappear.

Before you start trolling me (not that I don’t need the attention), let me tell you the specific sentiment that this whole essay addresses. It usually starts when someone chimes in with their wide-eyed vision for 2050, the year when people of color will outnumber white people in America:

“One day when all the races have mixed together, and we can’t tell what anyone is anymore, there won’t be racism! All our cultures will blend together! And…the babies will be beautiful!”

Ah yes! This magic mixed-race future, where everyone will have fucked the hate out of everyone and in the process, thousands of years of colonialism, violence, and systemic oppression disappear into the “interesting facial features” of mixed-race people!

I’m not indicting the lives of mixed-race people nor chastising interracial relationships. But let’s get real — the hypothetical “Future World of Mixed-Race Babies” being the end of racism suffers from frighteningly naive logic about how racism actually works.

Here are SIX reasons why racial utopia won’t suddenly appear once we pull our pants down and start boning across borders…

Read the entire article here.

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In Japan’s Okinawa, saving indigenous languages is about more than words

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2014-12-01 20:53Z by Steven

In Japan’s Okinawa, saving indigenous languages is about more than words

The Washington Post
2014-11-29

Anna Fifield, Tokyo Bureau Chief

NISHIHARA, Japan — Rising in turn at their wooden desks, the students giggled, squirmed or shuffled as they introduced themselves, some practically in a whisper.

“Waa naamee ya — yaibiin . . . (My name is . . . ).” One by one, the classmates at Okinawa Christian University managed to get out their names, a few confidently, but most of them sheepishly.

Teacher Byron Fija waved his arms around, laughed and tried to encourage the class, which looked like a college group anywhere — some in hoodies, others in baseball caps and one guy with green hair.

But it was clear that the language — Okinawan — didn’t come naturally to most of them.

It’s the biggest of the six main indigenous languages spoken in this subtropical Japanese island chain, once the independent Ryukyu kingdom but now best known for hosting most of the American military bases in Japan…

…Fija is almost evangelical in his promotion of Okinawan, poetically called “uchi-naa-guchi” here.

In addition to teaching, Fija, 45, plays the sanshin, a three-stringed Okinawan banjo, and sings. For five years he hosted a radio show in Okinawan.

He sees the language as intrinsic to his identity. A product of the military occupation, he is the son of an Okinawan mother and an American father, a man he has never heard from.

Fija cites two experiences that motivated him to embrace the local language and culture.

First, he learned to play the sanshin.

“Someone told me that my playing was fine but my Okinawan sounded American, even though I don’t speak any English. Maybe it was because I don’t look Japanese or Okinawan,” Fija said after class, wearing a traditional Japanese outfit with an Okinawan pattern. His Okinawan pronunciation, he said, was the equivalent of a Japanese person singing in English “I rub you” instead of “I love you.”.

Then, in the 1990s, he spent a year or so in Los Angeles, hoping to make it as a rock star. But as he discovered how hard that was, he had an epiphany. Because of his Caucasian looks, he said, he had never really been accepted as Japanese. But with no knowledge of his father and little proficiency in English, he clearly wasn’t American, either…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Pelo Malo’ Director Mariana Rondon: Why Her Movie Hits A Nerve

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive on 2014-12-01 18:56Z by Steven

‘Pelo Malo’ Director Mariana Rondon: Why Her Movie Hits A Nerve

NBC News
2014-11-19

Sandra Guzman

For Latinos born with Afro-textured, curly hair or kinky hair – referred to as pelo malo or “bad hair” in Latin America and the Caribbean – their experiences can be quite intense and in many cases negative, as an Afro-Honduran recently told NBC News Latino contributor Raul A. Reyes.

Precisely because Afro-textured hair holds such a complex, racial history in our home countries, it can be tricky to explore as a topic. But in the skillful hands of Venezuelan director/writer Mariana Rondón, black hair is a window into Latin America’s soul.

The Venezuelan movie Pelo Malo, which opens Wednesday in selected theaters across the country, has generated controversy in Venezuela and grabbed audiences and juries alike. It has already won several awards, including top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

The plot of the film seems simple enough: a nine-year old boy wants to straighten his afro-like hair to look like his favorite pop singer—a Justin Bieber type – for his school picture. His unemployed single mom, who is light skinned, will have none of it; she also worries he might be gay. As the battle between mother and son unfolds, with the backdrop of chaotic modern day Caracas and the child’s paternal black abuela, this brilliant film exposes every layer of modern day Venezuelan society—its negated racism, its beauty queen culture, its urban violence, poverty, its polarized politics, and its deeply rooted homophobia.

NBC News spoke to the Ms. Rondón who is visiting New York for today’s film’s premiere…

…Why black hair?

Black hair serves as a portal. In the beginning, the boy goes to the mirror; the mirror is a window into the most profound part of our identity. We all have that thing we don’t like about us, a nose, a body part. It’s where we begin to recognize ourselves.

In that sense, we all have pelo malo

Read the entire interview here.

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Glenn Chavis: Inquiry helps shed light on mixed-race heritage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2014-11-26 21:05Z by Steven

Glenn Chavis: Inquiry helps shed light on mixed-race heritage

The News & Record
Greensboro, North Carolina
2014-11-25

Glenn Chavis, Community Columnist

I recently received a call from a professor emeritus at Jackson State University who is working on a project dealing with a Tri-Racial Isolate group called Turks, who once made Sumter County, S.C., their home.

One day these Turks just disappeared from Sumter, he said, and he is trying to find out if any were buried in a graveyard at Bethesda Baptist Church in Sumter.

Even though I had nothing to offer, he did share plenty of information with me regarding Tri-Racial Isolates, which include Chavises.

This topic has always been of interest to me because the Shepherd/Chavis family started with black blood, then mixed with white blood and, after that, Indian blood. They were located mainly in the Franklin area.

Like most Tri-Isolates, some looked white, some black and others Indian. As a youngster visiting family in Franklin, I recall my ancestors living in their own little community. Denied by the Indian side, they were recognized by the white Shepherds…

…After visiting numerous websites dealing with Tri-Isolates, I found many definitions, interpretations and histories of these people. Regardless of slight differences, Tri-Isolates and Biracials existed hundreds of years ago, as well as today.

They usually stayed among themselves and worked the land as farmers.

Suddenly, I remembered that more than 30 years ago, a friend sent me a paper done by Edward Price of Los Angeles State College titled “A Geographic Analysis of White-Negro-Indian Racial Mixtures in Eastern United States.” It was published in the June 1953 edition of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Read the entire article here.

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bell hooks, Rethinking Everything, and Colorism – Hidden Power of Words Series, #13

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-11-23 20:50Z by Steven

bell hooks, Rethinking Everything, and Colorism – Hidden Power of Words Series, #13

Andrew Joseph Pegoda, A.B.D.
2014-11-22

Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Department of History
University of Houston, Houston, Texas

bell hooks continues to transform my thinking and understanding of all things related to critical theory and History. I have completely fallen in love with her conceptualization of the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.

Yesterday I was listening to this talk (which is excellent!) between hooks and Gloria Steinem, and the word “colorism” caught my attention. “Colorism” is not a word I had heard before, but it sounded intriguing. One of the things I love about learning is that you are always learning something new, and in this case, something that “makes so much sense.”

A search on Google does not reveal any substantial results, but the basic idea that colorism is discrimination based on the hue of a person’s skin (similar to but different than phenotype) was clear and is, potentially, a revolutionary concept for my thinking, writing, and teaching.

Given how much scholars in the Liberal Arts preach that race is a social construction, not a biological reality; that race does not exist but racism does exist, students frequently say, with full sincerity, how can we have racism if race does not exist. Or, they will say, “clearly we all have different skin colors, how do you “explain” that away.” For a while, I learned to frame this with the following explanation: No one is white or black, but they can be and are racialized as White or Black…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Did Somebody Say “Mulatto”?’ Speaking Critically on Mixed Heritage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-23 19:51Z by Steven

‘Did Somebody Say “Mulatto”?’ Speaking Critically on Mixed Heritage

The Huffington Post
The Blog
2014-11-21

A. B. Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Photograph: Ken Tanabe

One of the main characters in the award-winning film Dear White People is a mixed “black and white” college student who works to make sense of her life and relationships. The movie addresses several thought-provoking subjects, and the storyline around this character raises the question: Should people of mixed heritage have to choose one part of their ancestry over another?

From Nov. 13 to Nov. 15, over 600 people came together at DePaul University in Chicago to explore this question and other issues surrounding ideas of race, perceptions of racial mixture, and the experiences of mixed-heritage people. The goal of the 2014 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, titled “Global Mixed Race,” was to “bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines around the world to facilitate a conversation about the transnational, transdisciplinary, and transracial field of Critical Mixed Race Studies.”

As the number of people who identify as “mixed” increases, discussions around various topics concerning people of mixed ancestry are also expanding and challenging our perceptions of race and racism. Both critical mixed-race studies and films like Dear White People accomplish the same goal of furthering conversations regarding race — dialogues that we can engage in with friends, family, and those in our communities at large…

…CMRS Asks: Is There a “Global Mixed Race”?

Activists, artists, and scholars who compose critical mixed-race studies (CMRS) are complicating questions beyond “What are you?” and combating the myth of the “tragic mulatta/o.” In past decades, CMRS has expanded over a number of academic fields spanning several disciplines.

While CMRS has fought over the years to gain legitimacy within scholarly circles, one of its greatest attributes is that the coalition is not made up of solely academics but includes community activists, students, educators, families, visual artists, independent filmmakers, and others interested in the varied experiences of mixed-heritage peoples. Of course, not all these categories are mutually exclusive, as many of the activists, artists, etc., are also scholars.

Laura Kina and Camilla Fojas of DuPaul University organized the third CMRS conference, “Global Mixed Race,” which featured a variety of people telling their own stories, sharing the stories of others, and dissecting theories that surround notions of ethnoracial mixture.* In the opening keynote address, sociologist Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, co-editor of the book Global Mixed Race, explored the idea of a “mixed experience,” where she discussed the commonalities that people of mixed descent share widely across the globe.

King-O’Riain noted that people of mixed heritage have had to learn how to live and operate within their respective societies, often finding themselves ostracized by individuals within their local communities and battling exclusive national definitions of citizenship. King-O’Riain explained that people of mixed ancestry therefore have often had to skillfully create a flexible hybrid identity, one where they develop a keen ability to operate among several groups…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial divide: It’s a social concept, not a scientific one

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-11-23 17:43Z by Steven

Racial divide: It’s a social concept, not a scientific one

The Washington Post
2014-11-03

Nancy Szokan

Most scientists agree that race is not a biological concept.

As Wikipedia defines it, in an extremely lengthy and extravagantly footnoted entry that surely has been edited and re-edited many times, “Race is a social concept used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”

Yet race undoubtedly affects government policies, pervades our social interactions, creates alliances and sets off wars.

We are asked to specify our race (or races) on census forms, medical questionnaires, job applications, college applications, opinion surveys and so on — and the very act of asking the question, sometimes to be answered by just checking a box, can seem to imply that there is a clearly definable, provable answer.

As Robert Wald Sussman puts it in “The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea,” many if not most people would be surprised to learn that race is a social rather than a scientific construct. In his new book, Sussman, a professor of physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, explores how race emerged as a modern social construct, tracing its origins to the Spanish Inquisition and its legacy as a justification for Western imperialism and slavery…

Read the entire review here.

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Hispanic Or Latino? That Is The Question

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-19 17:08Z by Steven

Hispanic Or Latino? That Is The Question

Tell Me More
National Public Radio
2009-09-25

Michel Martin, Host

Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is being celebrated as Hispanic Heritage Month, but the some say the word “Hispanic” should be retired, and would rather be referred to as Latino. Host Michel Martin speaks to four Latinos with varying opinions on the subject — syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, Afro-Latino Activist Roland Roebuck, “Ask a Mexican” columnist Gustavo Arellano and Tell Me More Planning Editor Luis Clemens.

I’m Michel Martin, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. It’s time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop, where the guys talk about what’s in the news and what’s on their minds. And this week, we’re going for a different kind of shape-up than we usually do, you know, switching it up a little bit.

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and to mark the occasion, we’ve decided to represent right here in the Barbershop. So sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, who writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune and CNN.com, Gustavo Arellano, who writes the syndicated column “Ask a Mexican,” community activist Roland Roebuck, and NPR editor Luis Clemens, our own. Welcome to you, and dare I say it? Hola…

…MARTIN: All right. And before we jump into other topics, I have to ask, this being Heritage Month, let’s start with the title itself. Whenever, you know, I have to choose, I always have this little moment, you know, why Hispanic versus Latino Heritage Month? Does it matter? Gustavo, I’m going to start with you because this is actually something you’ve written about and thought about a lot. So Hispanic versus Latino, why? Which?

Mr. ARELLANO: Which one? Honestly for me, it’s whatever people want to call themselves, whatever makes them more comfortable. Some people don’t like either of the labels. They want to call themselves Chicano or Boricua, or whatever their particular labels may be.

The reason why it’s called Hispanic Heritage Month is because it comes from the federal government deciding that hey, guess what? We’re all Hispanics, and this happened – the urban myth is that Richard Nixon was the godfather of Hispanics. That’s what Richard Rodriguez, the noted author said, but it was actually done during the Ford administration. And literally, it was done in the back room of some government hall where they took a poll. Should we call these people Latinos or Hispanic?

So Hispanic won. So in that case, that’s why I don’t like the term Hispanic. I don’t like the government telling me what I should call myself. I’d prefer Latino. But again, if you want to call yourself Hispanic, then God bless you. Or Dios bless you, right?

MARTIN: Okay, why do you prefer Latino?

Ms. ARELLANO: Just because it’s more out of, you know, out of eliminating the other part that I don’t like. So I don’t – I mean, I don’t like Hispanic only for that term, so I’ll use Latino. But me personally, I call myself Naranjedal(ph), a child of, you know, an orange-picker because I come from Orange County, California, and my grandparents were orange-pickers. So that’s what I would call myself, and that’s where – whenever I go across the country, that’s what I tell people I call myself. But, of course, only a very limited amount of people can call themselves that. So if I’m going to express brotherhood with the fellow people that were colonized by the Spaniards or the Portuguese, then I’ll just – I decide to call myself Latino.

MARTIN: Okay. Roland, what about you?

Mr. ROEBUCK: Well, this month should be called White Hispanic Heritage Month, because it allows an opportunity for white Hispanic to display their wares, and it also heightens the invisibility of Afro-Latinos that are seldom given a chance to participate in these national holidays. So we are invisible during the year, more so during White Hispanic Heritage Month.

MARTIN: Why do you say that? And for those who can’t – you consider yourself Afro-Latino.

Mr. ROEBUCK: Yes, yes. But just look at the events. Ever since Celia Cruz died, Roberto Clemente is not around, people are scrambling to find Afro-Latinos to be recognized because they concentrate on two areas.

MARTIN: Now, you prefer Latino, as opposed to – you don’t say Afro-Hispanic.

Mr. ROEBUCK: No. I say – if I’m going to use the Latino, it would be Afro-Latino because I want to acknowledge my Africanness, and I also want to recognize my cultural background, which is Puerto Rican. But I have to use both.

For me, Hispanic refers to white, Spanish-speaking individuals. So the whiter you are, the more inclined you will be to identify yourself as Hispanic. And this is prevalent throughout the Southern region of the United States. If you ask the average person on Columbia Road, do you consider yourself Hispanic? No. They will use a geographic identification…

Read the transcript here. Listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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On The Cusp of Dual Identities #Dispatch: Afropean

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, United Kingdom on 2014-11-11 15:53Z by Steven

On The Cusp of Dual Identities #Dispatch: Afropean

Everywhere All The Time
2014-11-10

Bani Amor

Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer, and broadcast journalist interested in issues of Afro-European identity. He won a Decibel Penguin Prize for a short story included in the ‘The Map of Me'; a Penguin books anthology about mixed-race identity. He recently collaborated with author Caryl Phillips on a photographic essay for the BBC and Arts Council England dealing with London and immigration, and curates the online journal Afropean.com, for which he received the 2013 ENAR foundation (European Network Against Racism) award for a contribution to a racism free Europe. He currently hosts a youth travel show for the BBC and recently finished the first draft of a travel narrative about a five month trip through ‘Black Europe’, due to be released in 2015.

Bani Amor: Tell us about yourself. How would you describe your work and the impetus behind it?

John: Well, I hold American and British passports, I was raised between London and Sheffield, in the UK. My Father is black, my mother is white, and I was born on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius, so even my star sign dual! So I identify with W.E.B DuBois’ double consciousness stuff. I feel as though I kind of grew up in that liminal terrain between cultures, races and spaces, and I suppose my work is all about trying to find some kind of coherence in that liminal space. Instead of seeing myself as half-this or mixed-that, I try to solidify the cultural ground I walk on as something whole. And that is where this term ‘Afropean’ comes in.

It is a platform to engage with-and acknowledge the duality of- my influences, whilst bringing them together as something new. I didn’t create the term Afropean, so in a way I’m working off the backs of a Generation X who came of age in the 90’s. People like Neneh Cherry, Zap Mama, Stephen Simmonds, Les Nubians… artists and musicians who brought forth new aesthetics that were a mix of African and European influences. The word was being used, but it hadn’t really entered the popular lexicon, so I snapped up afropean.com and tried to create a community around that. See if there was a way for Afro-Europeans to get a sense of themselves in the same way I feel African Americans did…

Read the entire interview here.

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