Revisiting Middlebury’s Racial History

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2014-10-23 19:55Z by Steven

Revisiting Middlebury’s Racial History

The Middlebury Campus
Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont
2014-03-19

Conor Grant, Managing Editor


Alexander Twilight Hall, a building named in honor of Alexander Twilight of the class of 1823, is just one part of the complicated legacy of America’s first black college graduate. (Courtesy/Middlebury)

Alexander Twilight Hall — the austere brick building separating the town from Middlebury College — is named for Alexander Twilight, the 1823 Middlebury College graduate who is known today as the first American black college graduate.

Today, Twilight is widely touted as an example of Middlebury’s rich legacy of inclusivity and racial diversity.

But who exactly was Alexander Twilight? Was he really the first black man at Middlebury?

The answer to that question is more complicated than it might first appear…

Read the entire article here.

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Skin tone, biracial stratification and tri-racial stratification among sperm donors

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-23 18:41Z by Steven

Skin tone, biracial stratification and tri-racial stratification among sperm donors

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37,  Issue 3, 2014 (Special Issue: Race, Migration and Identity: Shifting Boundaries in the USA)
pages 517-536
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.696666

Carol S. Walther, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Northern Illinois University

Conception through donor insemination is an attractive option for many couples and single women in the USA, being a relatively simple and inexpensive way of having a baby by a biological birth. Sperm banks provide online catalogues in which sperm donors can be selected according to their physical and social characteristics. One sperm bank’s catalogue was analysed based on the pregnancy of selected donors. Three hypotheses were tested related to colourism, biracial stratification and tri-racialism. Specifically, the selection of donors did not reflect: (1) any general preference for a lighter skin tone; (2) a black–white polarity; or (3) any trend towards tri-racialism. Donors who could be identified as Jewish or Muslim were more likely to be selected. Donors whose major was law were less likely to be selected.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Whiteness as Property

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-10-23 15:36Z by Steven

Whiteness as Property

Harvard Law Review
Volume 106, Number 8 (June 1993)
pages 1707-1791

Cheryl I. Harris, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
School of Law
University of California, Los Angeles

Issues regarding race and racial identity as well as questions pertaining to property rights and ownership have been prominent in much public discourse in the United States. In this article, Professor Harris contributes to this discussion by positing that racial identity and property are deeply interrelated concepts. Professor Harris examines how whiteness, initially constructed as a form of racial identity, evolved into a form of property, historically and presently acknowledged and protected in American law. Professor Harris traces the origins of whiteness as property in the parallel systems of domination of Black and Native American peoples out of which were created racially contingent forms of property and property rights. Following the period of slavery and conquest, whiteness became the basis of racialized privilege—a type of status in which white racial identity provided the basis for allocating societal benefits both private and public in character. These arrangements were ratified and legitimated in law as a type of status property. Even as legal segregation was overturned, whiteness as property continued to serve as a barrier to effective change as the system of racial classification operated to protect entrenched power.

Next, Professor Harris examines how the concept of whiteness as property persists in current perceptions of racial identity, in the law’s misperception of group identity and in the Court’s reasoning and decisions in the arena of affirmative action. Professor Harris concludes by arguing that distortions in affirmative action doctrine can only be addressed by confronting and exposing the property interest in whiteness and by acknowledging the distributive justification and function of affirmative action as central to that task.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • I. INTRODUCTION
  • II. THE CONSTRUCTION OF RACE AND THE EMERGENCE OF WHITENESS AS PROPERTY
    • A. Forms of Racialized Property: Relationships Between Slavery, Race, and Property
      • 1. The Convergence of Racial and Legal Status
      • 2. Implications for Property
    • B. Forms of Racialized Property: Relationships Between Native American Land Seizure, Race, and Property
    • C. Critical Characteristics of Property and Whiteness
      • 1. Whiteness as a Traditional Form of Property
      • 2. Modern Views of Property as Defining Social Relations
      • 3. Property and Expectations
      • 4. The Property Functions of Whiteness
        • (a) Rights of Disposition
        • (b) Right to Use and Enjoyment
        • (c) Reputation and Status Property
        • (d) The Absolute Right to Exclude
    • D. White Legal Identity: The Law’s Acceptance and Legitimation of Whiteness as Property
      • 1. Whiteness as Racialized Privilege
      • 2. Whiteness, Rights, and National Identity
  • III. BOUND BY LAW: THE PROPERTY INTEREST IN WHITENESS AS LEGAL DOCTRINE IN PLESSY AND BROWN
    • A. Plessy
    • B. Brown I
    • C. Brown II
    • D. Brown’s Mixed Legacy
  • IV. THE PERSISTENCE OF WHITENESS AS PROPERTY
    • A. The Persistence of Whiteness as Valued Social Identity
    • B. Subordination Through Denial of Group Identity
    • C. Subjugation Through Affirmative Action Doctrine
      • 1. Bakke
      • 2. Croson
      • 3. Wygant
  • V. DE-LEGITIMATING THE PROPERTY INTEREST IN WHITENESS THROUGH AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
    • A. Corrective Justice, Sin, and Whiteness as Property
    • B. Affirmative Action: A New Form of Status Property?
    • C. What Affirmative Action Has Been; What Affirmative Action Might Become
  • VI. CONCLUSION

…Because the “presumption of freedom [arose] from color [white]” and the “black color of the race [raised] the presumption of slavery,” whiteness became a shield from slavery, a highly volatile and unstable form of property. In the form adopted in the United States, slavery made human beings market-alienable and in so doing, subjected human life and personhood—that which is most valuable—to the ultimate devaluation. Because whites could not be enslaved or held as slaves, the racial line between white and Black was extremely critical; it became a line of protection and demarcation from the potential threat of commodification, and it determined the allocation of the benefits and burdens of this form of property. White identity and whiteness were sources of privilege and protection; their absence meant being the object of property.

Slavery as a system of property facilitated the merger of white identity and property. Because the system of slavery was contingent on and conflated with racial identity, it became crucial to be “white,” to be identified as white, to have the property of being white. Whiteness was the characteristic, the attribute, the property of free human beings…

Read the entire article here.

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One Drop of Love: A Guide for Educators

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Teaching Resources, United States on 2014-10-22 21:03Z by Steven

One Drop of Love: A Guide for Educators

One Drop of Love: A Daughter’s Search for her Father’s Racial Approval
2014-10-21

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Playwright, Peformer and Producer

One Drop of Love is an hour-long one woman show exploring history, family, race, class, justice and love. It is produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and the writer/performer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.

The overarching themes in One Drop are: racial construction and identity, reconciling family relationships, and overcoming racial and economic oppression.

Other themes include: immigration, the lengths to which people go to find community, exploring how race was constructed historically in the U.S. – including the influence of the one-drop rule, and using historical context to better understand our present lives.

Read the one-sheet guide for educators here. Read the full guide here.

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Snap! Space presents Zun Lee

Posted in Arts, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, United States on 2014-10-22 19:10Z by Steven

Snap! Space presents Zun Lee

Snap! Orlando
1013 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando, Florida 32803
Saturday, October 25, 2014 14:00-16:00 EDT (Local Time)

Join us for an afternoon artist talk and book signing with photographer Zun Lee.

Zun will be joining us from Toronto and discuss his series ‘Father Figure’ and sign copies of his newly released book Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood (September 19, 2014.) Zun’s book release party at the Bronx Documentary Center was so highly anticipated that crowds lined the street surrounding the building around the block to get in. This afternoon at Snap! Space is not to be missed.

Over the course of three years photographer Zun Lee has masterfully attempted to change the perception of the African American father through the lens of his camera. This collection of photographs in the new book is an immersive approach to his remarkable photo documentary project. “Scenes that can stand on their own and humanize the black experience without demanding perfection or respectability,” says Lee were filmed with so much care—vivid images of loving parental relationships that are able to engross any spectator into a family story that is tough to believe. An added revelation: the photographer himself grew up feeling a sense of loss due to his own father’s choice to abandon his family.

Lee, a Toronto-based physician and now self-described street photographer, was born in Germany to what he thought was both a Korean mother and father. As a boy he learned the truth: his black father left his mother upon learning she was pregnant. Lee’s search for compassion led him to families in urban areas of Chicago, New York City, and home to Toronto. Says Lee: “There’s been considerable backlash and confusion regarding why black fatherhood stereotypes are a problem at all, why the special focus on only black fathers, and people who simply refuse to believe that black men can be capable, affectionate loving fathers, period. I appreciate both sides of the collective commentary, because it exemplifies why these images and a broader conversation are needed.

For more information, click here.

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Season 2, Episode 6: Stanford Prof. Allyson Hobbs Talks about A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-10-22 18:23Z by Steven

Season 2, Episode 6: Stanford Prof. Allyson Hobbs Talks about A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life

The Mixed Experience
2014-10-20

Heidi Durrow, Host

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, a most excellent book by Stanford Professor Allyson Hobbs. She recently did a TED Talk about the role of grief in these narratives of racial crossing. The book very aptly and eloquently “examines how passing became both a strategy for survival and an avenue to loss.” You will love this interview with Allyson Hobbs as she explains the inspiration for this book, a brief discussion on the idea of “passing as black” and much much more.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World

Posted in Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-10-22 15:21Z by Steven

Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World

University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Burney Center
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, North Carolina
Thursday, 2014-10-23, 19:30 EDT (Local Time)

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri

In the eighteenth-century world of slavery and the slave trade, racial prejudices were often stark and unfeeling. Emphasis on racial difference helped slave owners and the wider public justify the systematic abuse of millions of people. Yet, at the individual level, attitudes toward race were incredibly complex. This was especially true for Europeans who had relatives with some amount of African heritage. Throughout the Americas, white men slept with free and enslaved women of color. Typically, these were acts of violence, but in some cases long-term relationships could emerge, with a train of mixed-race children following. In places like the Caribbean, where individuals of color had few educational and professional opportunities, a number of white men sent mixed-race offspring to Britain to live with their families. Britons on the other side of the Atlantic had almost no interaction with individuals of African descent before they were tasked with taking care of family who were simultaneously the descendants of slaves. Subsequently, these families came to understand issues of race as subjects particularly related to kinship. By documenting the experiences of these migrants of color, more light can be shed on modern ideas of race, and the global dislocation of many families. This talk will show that the growing racial complexities at home and abroad can best be analyzed and understood through an historical examination of the family dimension of ideas about race. Notions of racial difference emerged out of debates around family composition and by taking such a perspective, we can deconstruct some of the most enduring and harmful legacies of race-based thinking.

For more information, click here.

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Children (but not adults) judge similarity in own- and other-race faces by the color of their skin

Posted in Articles, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-21 18:55Z by Steven

Children (but not adults) judge similarity in own- and other-race faces by the color of their skin

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume 130, February 2015
pages 56–66
DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.09.009

Benjamin Balas, Assistant Professor of Psychology
North Dakota State University

Jessie Peissig, Associate Professor of Psychology
California State University, Fullerton

Margaret Moulson, Assistant Professor & Director of Psychological Science Training
Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Highlights

  • We examined how children and adults use shape and skin tone to recognize faces.
  • Participants judged face similarity within multiple race categories.
  • We used graphics techniques to match face shape and color in test faces.
  • Use of face shape depends on age and stimulus race.

Both face shape and pigmentation are diagnostic cues for face identification and categorization. In particular, both shape and pigmentation contribute to observers’ categorization of faces by race. Although many theoretical accounts of the behavioral other-race effect either explicitly or implicitly depend on differential use of visual information as a function of category expertise, there is little evidence that observers do in fact differentially rely on distinct visual cues for own- and other-race faces. In the current study, we examined how Asian and Caucasian children (4–6 years of age) and adults use three-dimensional shape and two-dimensional pigmentation to make similarity judgments of White, Black, and Asian faces. Children in this age range are capable of making category judgments about race but also are sufficiently plastic with regard to the behavioral other-race effect that it seems as though their representations of facial appearance across different categories are still emerging. Using a simple match-to-sample similarity task, we found that children tend to use pigmentation to judge facial similarity more than adults and also that own-group versus other-group category membership appears to influence how quickly children learn to use shape information more readily. Therefore, we suggest that children continue to adjust how different visual information is weighted during early and middle childhood and that experience with faces affects the speed at which adult-like weightings are established.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Confederate officer’s wartime diary decoded

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-21 17:30Z by Steven

Confederate officer’s wartime diary decoded

The Associated Press
2014-10-13

Chris Carola

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — A century and a half after Confederate officer James Malbone wrote his Civil War diary partly in code, a couple of Yankees have figured out why he took the precaution: He liked to gossip.

Sprinkled amid entries on camp recipes and casualties are encrypted passages in which Malbone dishes on such juicy topics as a fellow soldier who got caught in bed with another man’s wife.

Malbone also writes about meeting the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and describes her looks in an apparent echo of rumors at the time that she may have been of mixed race.

“That’s pretty shocking,” said Kent D. Boklan, the Queens College computer science professor and former National Security Agency cryptographer who deciphered Malbone’s code with little difficulty. “It’s a military diary and you expect military information, but you don’t expect the first lady of the Confederacy to make an appearance in this diary.”

According to Boklan, Malbone’s encrypted entry about Varina Howell Davis describes her as “dark complected” with “very very brown skin dark eyes” and “high cheek bones wide mouth.”.

Davis’ wife was a well-educated woman for her time, and as a result, was the target of “all kind of gossipy innuendos from the ladies” in Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, according to Sam Craghead of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond

Read the entire article here.

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Who Here Is A Negro?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-20 20:20Z by Steven

Who Here Is A Negro?

Michigan Quarterly Review
Volume 53, Issue 1 (Winter 2014)

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

Last fall I made a migration south. The promise of a year’s sabbatical and an escape from the demands of teaching and administration lured me from my Midwestern academic post. “North Carolina?” my friends queried, their pursed lips conveying disapproval. I understood. Recently, North Carolina had earned distinction as the state most reviled by the left (edging out Arizona.) Deservedly so. We decried the legislature as it eviscerated what remained of the state’s liberal policies. North Carolina was quick to act when the US Supreme Court green-lighted the gutting of voting rights protections. “For shame,” my friends chided. I did not disagree.

But that was not my North Carolina, I insisted. My North Carolina was the land of my forbears. The Joneses had called Alamance and Guilford counties home since at least the 1820s, nearly two centuries. My North Carolina was the bucolic lawns and magnolia trees of a black college campus. It was afternoons in the hammock with a new comic book. My North Carolina was a cool bowl of orange sherbet on the steps of the back porch. It was fireflies dancing across the lawn at dusk. It was friends and neighbors, black men and women, who raised me up. It was my grandmother—Musie to us—who loved me fiercely. My North Carolina was heart. It was home.

In late July, just weeks before making the trek down I-95, memories of my summers spent in Greensboro came tiptoeing back. Had I brushed off too easily my friends’ trepidations? North Carolina was home, but perhaps over time I had idealized the place. Summers in the South were not always easy. My mother and father never said why they’d shipped me off from New York each June as elementary school ended. I thought they were mostly eager for a respite. Off went their three high-spirited kids to grandmother for a spell. I imagined them breathing a sigh, raising a glass, and grabbing a nap just as soon as we were out the door. It was a holiday for everyone. But, it was also the occasion for lessons about how I, a mixed-race girl, fit into a world fractured into black and white. Instructions about race, its politics and its etiquette, awaited us at Musie’s house…

Read the entire essay here.

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