The Original Rachel Dolezal Was a Jew Named Mezz Mezzrow

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-07-28 20:40Z by Steven

The Original Rachel Dolezal Was a Jew Named Mezz Mezzrow

Forward
2015-06-16

Seth Rogovoy

As we all know, Rachel Dolezal was by no means the first white American to take on aspects of African-Americanness in her persona — calling Elvis, is anybody home? — although she will go down in history as one of the all-time champions of the syndrome based on the sheer chutzpahdik of her transformation. But blackness has always been an integral part of American identity, and has only grown more so with the passage of time (think of white-rap pop star Eminem and black President of the United States Barack Obama for two recent mirror-image examples), so that for any American, it’s nearly impossible not to take on some degree of Afritude without even trying.

But for all her efforts at “crossing the line,” including attending Howard University, changing her name, and becoming an official of the NAACP, Dolezal might not merit the crown from the all-time champion of race-crossing. That honor still and forever may belong to jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow, born Milton Mesirow to Russian-Jewish immigrants in Chicago in 1899. We have yet to hear the full story from Dolezal herself, and to understand just what her motivations were in creating a new African-American identity for herself to such an extreme that her parents felt impelled to out her as a liar. But Mezzrow’s story may at least provide help in understanding or at least contextualizing the Dolezal phenomenon…

Read the entire article here.

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“Fake Black?”

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-07-28 20:30Z by Steven

“Fake Black?”

brian bantum: theology, culture, and life in-between
2015-06-12

Brian Bantum, Associate Professor of Theology
Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington

Theorist Stuart Hall suggests identity is better understood as identification. That is, our identities are not fixed as essential realities whether gender, or race or nationality. We are always living into or out of the ideas and representations of what these things are.

Rachael Dolezal apparent presentation of herself as black shows this to an extent. She is living into a people with whom she has seemed to identify with. But this process requires point of departure and a point of entry. You identify from a particular place and a particular body, and this is part of the process of negotiating your identity.

To act as if you have no point of departure is to persist in a delusion and re-enact Americas fundamental racial sin – to pretend there was no history before you arrived, then co-opt the resources of the land for your benefit. Perhaps her life had deep resonances with aspects of the African American community. But to really understand that community, to understand their history also has to be an acknowledgement of what her white body signifies in that history. To even say that one is mixed must be to confess the complicated realities of mulatto identity and colorism in American racial history…

Read the entire article here.

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It’s My Party and I’ll Be Biracial if I Want to

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-28 20:18Z by Steven

It’s My Party and I’ll Be Biracial if I Want to

College Magazine
2015-07-23

Emanuel Griffin
University of Florida

The fact that I am half black and half Asian is the coolest thing about me. It’s like being a one-man Wu-Tang Clan. It’s like being the handsome result of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker having a baby. It means having the freshest Jordan’s but knowing to take them off when step in the house. Being mixed does have awkward drawbacks, I’ll admit. I’ve been asked what my ethnicity is at least 9001 more times than I’ve been asked my name. Folks joke about what race I am “down there,” and they always want to touch my hair.

I thought I had placed the same amount of importance on my two cultures until my grandma came to visit me from the Philippines. To prove how wrong I was, she went on one of her longwinded, heavily accented lectures. She pointed out that I didn’t have a Filipino flag, couldn’t cook basic Filipino food and couldn’t speak Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. I felt like an uncultured douche for neglecting my Asian half. Right in the middle of my downward spiral of contemplating life and drinking vanilla milkshakes, my fully Filipino friend Al invited me to the University of Florida’s annual Go Fest. By the time he finished the question, my bags were already packed.

Read the entire article here.

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Black, Jewish and challenging ideas about the face of federation

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-07-28 17:33Z by Steven

Black, Jewish and challenging ideas about the face of federation

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
New York, New York
2014-12-01

Rebecca Spence

(JTA) — When Ilana Kaufman, a program officer at the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, arrived at San Quentin State Prison for a meeting with the Jewish chaplain at California’s oldest correctional facility, the chaplain couldn’t seem to find her — even though Kaufman was standing in plain sight.

As Kaufman waited in the receiving area, a security officer by her side, the spiritual leader of the prison community — largely composed of men of color — turned her head left and right trying to locate the federation representative whose name she knew but whose face she had never seen.

“Finally the officer says, ‘Chaplain, this person standing right next to me,’” Kaufman recalled. “And the chaplain says, ‘You know, you are not who I expected.’”

It wasn’t the first time that Kaufman, 42, had heard such a comment…

Read the entire article here.

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“The Book of Colors”

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-07-28 02:49Z by Steven

“The Book of Colors”

Duke Divinity School News
Durham, North Carolina
Wednesday, 2015-05-13

Ray Barfield, associate professor of pediatrics and Christian philosophy at Duke Divinity School, has written his first novel, “The Book of Colors,” about a 19-year-old mixed race pregnant girl who faces poverty and finds redemption in an unlikely community of skid row houses near Memphis, Tenn.

Published by Unbridled Books in May, the book grew from Dr. Barfield’s experience of the importance of story-telling as a physician and teacher. He holds a joint appointment with the Divinity School and Duke University Medical School. At the Divinity School, he is one of the leaders of interdisciplinary initiatives that bring together students and faculty across the humanities, medicine, and theology. Barfield also practices pediatric oncology and leads the pediatric palliative care program at the medical school.

The novel’s central character Yslea was raised in a crack-house and struggles to express her thoughts, but learns to overcome the pain and suffering she sees around her in her own quiet way. While reeling from the death of her mother, she wanders into a local clapboard community, presided over by an aging, generous woman named Rose and charming young Jimmy, for whom ethics are often an impediment to worldly advancement…

Read the entire article here.

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Here’s what I did when racists complained about an interracial family in my magazine

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2015-07-28 02:32Z by Steven

Here’s what I did when racists complained about an interracial family in my magazine

The Washington Post
2015-07-27

Scott Vogel, Editor-in-Chief
Houstonia, a city magazine based in Houston, Texas


Offended by this image? Houstonia magazine doesn’t want your business. (Photo by Chris Skiles/Houstonia)

Don’t compare me to business owners who refuse to serve LGBT customers

As editor in chief of a lifestyle magazine, my job has been to balance two competing concerns of the journalism business: publishing stories that make a difference and selling ads that make money. This month, I discovered a third, hitherto unknown concern: ads that make a difference.

The full-page ad on the first page of Houstonia magazine’s June issue seemed innocuous. It showed a family of five in cozy domesticity, enjoying the warmly capacious living room they ostensibly found through the upscale real estate agency that created the ad. Mom stood barefoot in the living room, an arm around her 5-year-old daughter. Dad sat on an overstuffed sofa, struggling to keep the couple’s squirmy 2-year-old from leaving his lap. And at their feet was an unbearably cute baby boy perched atop an embroidered pillow on the family’s rug. Carefully composed and brightly lit, the scene, it seemed, could be described with just one word: adorable. But as it turned out, there was another word for it: disgusting.

That’s how a suburban Houston doctor described the image in an email to Ashton Martini Group, the real estate company responsible for the ad. “I will not put this magazine in my reception area!” he wrote. The source of his disgust? The mother in the ad was white; the father, black; and the couple’s three children, biracial. A second complaint reached me a week later, from a subscriber who confessed that, although he liked our magazine, “I just can’t go for racial mixing.” And so, lest his children “get it into their heads that this is okay,” he had taken our June issue straight from the mailbox to the trashcan.

I followed the two men’s impulsive actions with one of my own…

Read the entire article here.

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The Book of Colors: A Novel

Posted in Books, Novels, United States on 2015-07-27 18:23Z by Steven

The Book of Colors: A Novel

Unbridled Books
280 pages
May 2015
5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 978-1-60953-115-7
EISBN: 978-1-60953-116-4

Raymond Barfield, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Christian Philosophy
Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina

How can a 19-year-old, mixed-race girl who grew up in a crack house and is now pregnant be so innocent? Yslea is full of contradictions, though, seeming both young and old, innocent and wise. Her spirit is surprising, given all the pain she has endured, and that’s the counterpoint this story offers—while she sees pain and suffering all around her, Yslea overcomes in her own quiet way.

What Yslea struggles with is expressing her thoughts. And she wonders if she will have something of substance to say to her baby. It’s the baby growing inside her that begins to wake her up, that causes her to start thinking about things in a different way.

Yslea drifts into the lives of four people who occupy three dilapidated row houses along the train tracks outside of Memphis: “The way their three little row houses sort of leaned in toward each other and the way the paint peeled and some of the windows were covered with cardboard, the row might as easily have been empty.”

She becomes an integral part of this little community, moving in with Rose who is old and dying. As her pregnancy progresses, everything changes within the three houses.

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As A White Mom, Helping My Multiracial Kids Feel At Home In Their Skin

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-27 03:00Z by Steven

As A White Mom, Helping My Multiracial Kids Feel At Home In Their Skin

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2015-07-24

Kristen Green

Last year, after months of watching — and re-watching — the movie Frozen, my daughter Selma, who is 6, announced she didn’t want to be brown. “I wish my skin was white,” she told me one day in our living room, where we were hanging out after school.

I knew she idolized the film’s alabaster-skinned heroines, and it made my heart ache. Our daughters started picking up on the differences in our family’s skin color at a very young age — I’m a white-skinned woman raised in the South, my husband, Jason, is part-white, part-American Indian, with medium-brown skin, and, depending on the season, both of our girls look more brown than white. There’s research showing that children can recognize differences in race as early as infancy, and can develop racial biases as early as 3.

Knowing all this, we’ve tried to raise our daughters to be comfortable in their skin, making sure they’re in schools with other black and brown children, searching out books and movies with black and brown main characters. I had even tried, unsuccessfully, to steer her away from the snowy princesses.

But our attempts clearly weren’t foolproof. “You’re beautiful the way you are,” I told Selma, stroking her long hair and trying to mask my sadness. “I love your brown skin.” She wasn’t convinced. “I wish it was like yours,” she told me…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal Has Hijacked what It Means To Be Mixed-Race In America

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-07-27 02:54Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal Has Hijacked what It Means To Be Mixed-Race In America

ARMED
2015-07-05

Sophia Softky

Since the Rachel Dolezal trainwreck began unfolding, each day has brought ever-weirder allegations to light. From her upbringing, days at Howard University, involvement in the NAACP, and position as an Africana Studies professor – along with the predictable flood of hot takes and twitter memes. This week’s interviews with Matt Lauer and Melissa Harris-Perry have only compounded the public outrage. Dolezal’s claims that she “identifies as black” and that presenting herself as a Black woman is a matter of “survival” are breathtakingly audacious, obtuse, and bizarre.

I spent the last several years studying, thinking, and publishing opinions about race in America–even writing a thesis about racial performance and the history of “passing”. So, for me, this scandal should have been low-hanging fruit. Dolezal has been roundly condemned and ridiculed by progressives, and rightly so, but the more I learn, the more I have felt a deeply personal sense of discomfort and anxiety.

Of course, whatever her self-justifications, a white woman deliberately misrepresenting her racial background for personal and professional gain is indefensible, and plenty of ink has already been spilled on dismantling the absurd notion of “transracial”. But I have not been able to avoid drawing uncomfortable parallels between Rachel’s situation and my own life. The Dolezal scandal erases experiences of those who actually experience not ‘feeling’ like the race people assume, and I worry that the public outcry threatens to drown out and delegitimize the voices of people like myself, who exist in complicated racial borderlands and who struggle with social scrutiny and suspicion of our identities…

Read the entire article here.

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An Intellectual History of Black Women

Posted in Africa, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, United States, Women on 2015-07-27 02:44Z by Steven

An Intellectual History of Black Women

Katharine Cornell Theater
54 Spring Street
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 02568
Sunday, 2015-08-02, 19:00-20:30 EDT (Local Time)

Moderator:

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Discussants:

Farah J. Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies
Columbia University

Mia Bay, Professor of History and Director of Center for Race and Ethnicity
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan School of Law

Barbara D. Savage, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania

The Vineyard Haven Public Library presents a panel discussion celebrating intellectuals previously neglected because of race and gender. Moderated by Evelyn Higginbotham, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African American Studies at Harvard. Featuring all 4 editors of the new book Toward and Intellectual History of Black Women.  Join us for what should be a lively and stimulating discussion.

For more information, click here.

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