‘I move back and forth between the racial divides': President Obama opens up on his mixed-race background and says it helps him recognize that most Americans have good intentions

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-22 16:31Z by Steven

‘I move back and forth between the racial divides': President Obama opens up on his mixed-race background and says it helps him recognize that most Americans have good intentions

The Daily Mail
London, United Kingdom
2014-12-21

Francesca Chambers, Political Reporter

  • ‘There’s no doubt that…I move back and forth between the racial divides,’ Obama told CNN host Candy Crowley. ‘I’ve got a lot of cultural influences’
  • Obama’s discussion with Crowley, taped on Friday, took a step further reflections he shared with reporters earlier that day at his year-end presser
  • The president argued ‘people are basically good and have good intentions’ and ‘the vast majority of people are just trying to do the right thing’
  • ‘If critics want to suggest that America is inherently and irreducibly racist, then why bother even working on it?’ he told Crowley

President Barack Obama is crediting his racial make up and exposure at a young age to an array of demographic groups with his ability to see the good in people.

‘There’s no doubt that…I move back and forth between the racial divides,’ Obama told CNN host Candy Crowley during a one-on-one interview that aired this morning on the news network.

‘Not just black-white, but Asian and Latino and, you know, I’ve got a lot of cultural influences,’ he added. ‘I think what it does do for me is to recognize that most Americans have good intentions.’

As he writes about in detail in his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama was born to a white woman from Kansas and black man from Kenya. The couple met while studying at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The young couple separated after days after Barack Obama was born and formally divorced a few years later. Obama’s mother soon remarried and she and her son moved to her husband’s home country of Indonesia.

Four years later Obama returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents and to finish his schooling. His mother and sister eventually relocated to Hawaii for several years, as well, before moving back to Indonesia again, but Obama remained in Hawaii with his mother’s parents.

After graduating high school Obama moved to the contiguous United States, where he has lived ever since with his wife Michelle, whom he met while in law school, and their two children, Sasha, and Malia.

Obama’s discussion with Crowley about his personal history, taped on Friday, took a step further the life reflections the first mixed-race president first shared with reporters at his year-end press conference earlier that day.

The president had argued that ‘people are basically good and have good intentions,’ even though ‘sometimes our institutions and our systems don’t work as well as they should…

Read the entire article here. Read the CNN transcript here.

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The Whiteness Project: Facing Race In A Changing America

Posted in Articles, Audio, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-22 02:52Z by Steven

The Whiteness Project: Facing Race In A Changing America

National Public Radio
All Things Considered
2014-12-21

Karen Grigsby Bates
Los Angeles Correspondent

Whitney Dow found participants in the Whiteness Project by putting out a call for interested white folks in Buffalo to talk about whiteness on tape.

The voices in the Whiteness Project vary by gender, age and income, but they all candidly express what it is like to be white in an increasingly diverse country.

“I don’t feel that personally I’ve benefited from being white. That’s because I grew up relatively poor,” a participant shared. “My father worked at a factory.” These are the kind of unfiltered comments that filmmaker Whitney Dow was hoping to hear when he started recording a group of white people, and hoped to turn their responses into provocative, interactive videos.

“I was essentially giving people permission to discuss this,” he says. “And I believe there’s a huge hunger in this country to engage this topic.”…

…”It is not typical for white people to think about their race,” says Catherine Orr, who teaches critical identity studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin. She says that many white people who don’t feel privileged struggle against the notion that race gives them an inherent advantage. “I think white folks are terribly invested in our own innocence,” she points out. “We don’t want to think about how what we have is related to what other people don’t have.”…

Listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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Obama’s message of hope and change is all but lost amid the chaos of Ferguson

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-21 22:14Z by Steven

Obama’s message of hope and change is all but lost amid the chaos of Ferguson

The Guardian
2014-08-22

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

The president is being pressed to take sides in a personal, political and structural tragedy in a divided nation

In 2008, the year that Barack Obama became president of the United States, the New York-based artist Carrie Mae Weems created a video installation in which Obama’s face melts from one thing to another: model citizen, communist infiltrator, immigrant, foreigner, friend, black Jesus, brown Hitler, American dream, chicken, monkey, zebra, joker, minstrel. As Weems’s voiceover describes it: “A reason to hope, a reason to change, a reason to reason …”

Of course, Obama has always been somewhat shape-shifting in his symbolism – it’s probably what got him elected to begin with. The “hope and change” that became his trademark was more than mere slogan; the very idea of a first black president became a mirror for whatever people wanted to see in him.

Now we come to a situation all too familiar in America with the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Obama is being pressed to take one of two sides in a layered personal, political, and structural tragedy for which carelessly drawn lines in the sand could not be more unhelpful. The last two weeks of anguish in Ferguson cap a difficult season for Obama. Already besieged by the situations in Ukraine, Iraq, Gaza, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, he has had to manoeuvre his way through attacks at home from every side. From Congressional Republicans threatening to sue him for trying to implement healthcare reform to the snarkily undermining comments of Hillary Clinton – this summer has been a season of confrontation. Is Obama too aggressive in his exercise of executive power? Or too chicken to invade? Is he passive on immigration? Too intemperate with Congress? Rarely has a president been so buffeted by such a variety of inconsistently projected personality traits…

…With a nation so divided, Obama wades into the debate not so much as president or as constitutional law professor or as chief executive of the Justice Department. In many people’s minds, he is fixed as exclusively African American rather than “really” American. That symbolism puts him in something of a no-win situation: anything he says or does will be heard as siding. While the crowds of protesters in Ferguson and other cities around the country are actually quite diverse, they have become singularly monolithic in many media representations. Except for the journalists who have been assaulted and a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who was arrested, protesters have been portrayed as representing all African Americans everywhere – noisy “agitators” who make police and honest white citizens “fear for their lives” and who “reflect badly” on the greatness of our republic…

Read the entire article here.

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Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-12-21 21:57Z by Steven

Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US

The Guardian
2012-05-18

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself

Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” and/or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.

In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare’s The Tempest received the hatchet.

Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. “I chose not to go to any of their classes,” he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. “Why even go?” In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as “Rosa Clark.”

The situation in Arizona is not an isolated phenomenon. There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers’ unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan’s Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin’s family. Working at a charter school, Harris was an at-will employee, and so the superintendent needed little justification for sacking her. According to Harris, “I was told… that I’m being paid to teach, not to be an activist.” (It is perhaps not accidental that Harris worked in the schools of Pontiac, a city in which nearly every public institution has been taken over by cost-cutting executives working under “emergency manager” contracts. There the value of education is measured in purely econometric terms, reduced to a “product,” calculated in “opportunity costs.”)…

Read the entire article here.

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Multiracial Identity Program – Panel Discussion

Posted in Campus Life, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, United States on 2014-12-21 21:36Z by Steven

Multiracial Identity Program – Panel Discussion

Multiracial Identity Program
Portland State University
2015-01-13 through 2015-01-15

Multicultural Center
1825 SW Broadway
Smith Memorial Student Union, Suite 228
Portland, Oregon 97201
Tuesday, 2015-01-13, 16:00-18:00 PST (Local Time)

Kickstarting the Multiracial Identity Program, this panel will consist of individuals who identity as multiracial and/or multiethnic. Come together for an insightful discussion of the experiences and implications of identifying along a spectrum of racial and ethnic backgrounds. For more information please contact the Cultural Centers at cultures@pdx.edu or (503) 725-5342.

For more information, click here.

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My family has always been mixed race. But it has never been post-racial

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-21 21:01Z by Steven

My family has always been mixed race. But it has never been post-racial

The Guardian
2014-12-17

Ramou Sarr
Boston, Massachusetts

I was always terrified that my white nephew would grow up to be a racist. The events in Ferguson tested our relationship to its breaking point

It was almost 10 years ago, and my little blond nephew couldn’t have been older than five when, during a game of making funny faces, I pulled my ears out from under my hair – which always smelled burned from the flat iron I used to tame my kinky curls – and puffed my cheeks out.

“You look like a monkey,” he whispered. I asked my nephew to repeat himself. “You look like a monkey,” he said.

He couldn’t have known why I caught my breath, I told myself – he couldn’t have possibly understood that calling a black person like me “a monkey” was an old racist insult. I tried to feel confident in knowing that much, but a part of me still worried and panicked that the little boy I loved so much might grow up to be one of those men I hated.

I am the sole daughter between an older, white half-brother from my mother’s first marriage and a younger brother who looks like me – and I was 15 years old when my nephew, my older brother’s son, came into my life. The love I felt for him shocked me, despite the some 900 miles that separated us for most of his life: he was smarter and funnier and had more personality than all the other kids in the sandbox.

But around the time my nephew was born, I went to live in Massachusetts with my father, leaving most of my maternal relatives behind in the midwest. I felt isolated so far away from the family I’d grown up with – but it was preferable to living with my mother and her third, white husband who didn’t like (let alone love) his new wife’s two black children…

Read the entire article here.

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Getting in Touch with Our “Identity”

Posted in Campus Life, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, United States on 2014-12-21 18:38Z by Steven

Getting in Touch with Our “Identity”

Multiracial Identity Program
Portland State University
2015-01-13 through 2015-01-15

Multicultural Center
1825 SW Broadway
Smith Memorial Student Union, Suite 228
Portland, Oregon 97201
Wednesday, 2015-01-14, 12:00-13:30 PST (Local Time)

The multiple types of racial identities on campus varies. Let’s come together and discuss our identities to break barriers and create a better knitted community amongst ourselves. For more information please contact the Cultural Centers at cultures@pdx.edu or (503) 725-5342.

For more information, click here.

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Mixed-race males wanted to take part in research project

Posted in Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2014-12-21 17:54Z by Steven

Mixed-race males wanted to take part in research project

Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies
University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
2014-12-21

Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Doctoral Researcher
R.Salisbury@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone: 07817 636 144

  • Are you a mixed-race male of black and white parentage?
  • Are you aged between 16 and 18 and educated in the USA?
  • Would you like to take part in an interview or discussion group considering the educational experiences of black/white mixed-race males?

To take part or for an informal chat about the project, please contact me, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, by e-mail or phone. I look forward in hearing from you.

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Making and Unmaking Whiteness in Early New South Fiction After the Civil War

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-12-21 01:40Z by Steven

Making and Unmaking Whiteness in Early New South Fiction After the Civil War

Smashwords
2012-06-06
77 pages (21,670 words)
eBook ISBN: 9781476497068

Peter Schmidt, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English Literature
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

This essay—a work of literary criticism and critical race studies written to be accessible to non-specialists—examines how popular fiction contributed to and contested new forms of white racial dominance, collectively known as Jim Crow or the “color-line,” in the U.S. in the 1880s and after. I focus in particular on the cultural work undertaken by the “command performance” scene in these texts, in which a black person was asked to tell a story or otherwise give a performance that was supposed to affirm the affection and respect “good” blacks held for whites. Yet what begins to emerge again and again in such “command performance” scenes, even sometimes against the author’s efforts to downplay them, are suggestions of coercion, duplicity, and instability in power hierarchies and racial identities. White supremacy is demonstrably not a given here; it is imperfectly produced, or at least reaffirmed under stress, in a way that locally conditions any power that whiteness may claim. And if a white person’s sense of entitlement was so dependent upon the performance of another, to what degree could such a sense of self be threatened or even unmade in such encounters?

Making and Unmaking Whiteness surveys a broad range of black and white authors but gives special attention to the fictions of four—Joel Chandler Harris, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Kate Chopin, and Pauline Hopkins—who in the early Jim Crow era both dissected the contradictions in white supremacy and imagined alternatives.

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English 49, “Whiteness” and Racial Difference

Posted in Course Offerings, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-12-21 01:28Z by Steven

English 49, “Whiteness” and Racial Difference

Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Spring 1997

Peter Schmidt, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English Literature

A look at the conflicted ways in which “racial” identities and differences have been constructed in past and contemporary cultures, especially in the U.S. Topics given emphasis in the syllabus include why saying “race doesn’t matter” is not enough; how a new debates about the history of race have changed American Studies and feminist studies; how European immigrants to the U.S. became “white” and with what benefits and what costs; how popular culture can both resist and perpetuate racist culture; and an introduction to issues of “passing,” multi-racial identity, and recovering a multiracial past. The format of the class will include both lecture and student-led discussion.

For more information, click here.

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