On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-21 17:22Z by Steven

On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe

The Guardian
2014-04-20

Gary Younge

Despite the legacy of civil rights, some doors remain firmly closed. And across the US, schools are resegregating

At the march on Washington in August 1963, where Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream speech”, the United States Information Agency, the nation’s propaganda wing devoted to “public diplomacy”, made a documentary. It wanted to make sure that the largest demonstration in the history of the US capital, demanding jobs and freedom and denouncing racism, was not misconstrued by the nation’s enemies or potential allies. Their aim was to show the newly independent former colonies that the US embraced peaceful protest. “Smile,” they called to demonstrators as the camera rolled. “This is going to Africa.”

“So it happened,” Michael Thelwell, a grassroots activist, told the author Charles Euchner, “that Negro students from the south, some of whom still had unhealed bruises from the electric cattle prods which southern police used to break up demonstrations, were recorded for the screens of the world portraying ‘American democracy at work’.”

The US’s capacity to fold the stories of resistance to its historic inequities into the broader narrative of its unrelenting journey towards social progress is both brazen and remarkable. (Arguably, this is preferable to the European tradition of burying such histories and hoping no one will ever find them.) Tales of the barriers that come down are woven neatly into the fabric of a nation, where each year is better than the last; the obstacles that remain are discarded as immaterial. What is left is a mythology cut from whole cloth

…The freedoms this legacy bequeathed should be neither denied nor denigrated. The signs came down, space was created, opinions evolved. Recent years have shown a big increase in minorities moving to suburbs and all groups entering mixed-race relationships. It is a different and better country because of them. But nor should those freedoms be exaggerated. It is not as different or as improved a country as some would have us believe. For as some doors opened, others remained firmly closed – providing two main lessons that challenge the mainstream framing of this era’s legacy.

First, racial integration sits quite easily alongside inequality and discrimination. The legal right of people to mix does not inevitably change the power relationship between them. The former confederacy was, in many ways, the most racially integrated part of the US. There were high rates of miscegenation (forced and voluntary); slaves and servants raised white children and often lived in close quarters with their owners. Strom Thurmond, who ran for the presidency in 1948 as a segregationist, fathered a black daughter by a maid in 1924. The issue was never whether people mixed but on what basis and to what end.

“The issue for black people was never integration or segregation but white supremacy,” explains the University of Chicago professor Charles Payne. “The paradigm of integration and segregation was a white concern … That was how they posed the issue of civil rights, given their own interests, and that was how the entire issue then became understood. But the central concerns of black people were not whether they should integrate with white people or not but how to challenge white people’s hold on the power structure.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:57Z by Steven

Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

University of Oklahoma Press
1996
292 pages
6 x 9 in.
Paperback ISBN: 9780806128139

Jennifer S.H. Brown, Professor of History
University of Winnipeg

For two centuries (1670-1870), English, Scottish, and Canadian fur traders voyaged the myriad waterways of Rupert’s Land, the vast territory charted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and later splintered among five Canadian provinces and four American states. The knowledge and support of northern Native peoples were critical to the newcomer’s survival and success. With acquaintance and alliance came intermarriage, and the unions of European traders and Native women generated thousands of descendants.

Jennifer Brown’s Strangers in Blood is the first work to look systematically at these parents and their children. Brown focuses on Hudson’s Bay Company officers and North West Company wintering partners and clerks-those whose relationships are best known from post journals, correspondence, accounts, and wills. The durability of such families varied greatly. Settlers, missionaries, European women, and sometimes the courts challenged fur trade marriages. Some officers’ Scottish and Canadian relatives dismissed Native wives and “Indian” progeny as illegitimate. Traders who took these ties seriously were obliged to defend them, to leave wills recognizing their wives and children, and to secure their legal and social status-to prove that they were kin, not “strangers in blood.”

Brown illustrates that the lives and identities of these children were shaped by factors far more complex than “blood.” Sons and daughters diverged along paths affected by gender. Some descendants became Métis and espoused Métis nationhood under Louis Riel. Others rejected or were never offered that course-they passed into white or Indian communities or, in some instances, identified themselves (without prejudice) as “half breeds.” The fur trade did not coalesce into a single society. Rather, like Rupert’s Land, it splintered, and the historical consequences have been with us ever since.

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Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:43Z by Steven

Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History

University of Oklahoma Press
2012
520 pages
Illustrations: 12 B&W Illus., 8 Maps, 16 Tables
6.125 x 9.25 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780806144870

Edited by:

Nicole St-Onge, Professor of History
University of Ottawa

Carolyn Podruchny, Associate Professor of History
York University, Toronto

Brenda Macdougall, Associate Professor of History and Geography
University of Ottawa

Foreword by: Maria Campbell

Offers new perspectives on Metis identity

What does it mean to be Metis? How do the Metis understand their world, and how do family, community, and location shape their consciousness? Such questions inform this collection of essays on the northwestern North American people of mixed European and Native ancestry who emerged in the seventeenth century as a distinct culture. Volume editors Nicole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny, and Brenda Macdougall go beyond the concern with race and ethnicity that takes center stage in most discussions of Metis culture to offer new ways of thinking about Metis identity.

Geography, mobility, and family have always defined Metis culture and society. The Metis world spanned the better part of a continent, and a major theme of Contours of a People is the Metis conception of geography—not only how Metis people used their environments but how they gave meaning to place and developed connections to multiple landscapes. Their geographic familiarity, physical and social mobility, and maintenance of family ties across time and space appear to have evolved in connection with the fur trade and other commercial endeavors. These efforts, and the cultural practices that emerged from them, have contributed to a sense of community and the nationalist sentiment felt by many Metis today.

Writing about a wide geographic area, the contributors consider issues ranging from Metis rights under Canadian law and how the Library of Congress categorizes Metis scholarship to the role of women in maintaining economic and social networks. The authors’ emphasis on geography and its power in shaping identity will influence and enlighten Canadian and American scholars across a variety of disciplines.

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My Bondage and My Freedom

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2014-04-20 16:52Z by Steven

My Bondage and My Freedom

Yale University Press
2014 (originally published in 1855 by Miller, Orton & Mulligan)
432 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780300190595

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

Introduction and Notes by David W. Blight

Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom and became a passionate advocate for abolition and social change and the foremost spokesperson for the nation’s enslaved African American population in the years preceding the Civil War. My Bondage and My Freedom is Douglass’s masterful recounting of his remarkable life and a fiery condemnation of a political and social system that would reduce people to property and keep an entire race in chains.

This classic is revisited with a new introduction and annotations by celebrated Douglass scholar David W. Blight. Blight situates the book within the politics of the 1850s and illuminates how My Bondage represents Douglass as a mature, confident, powerful writer who crafted some of the most unforgettable metaphors of slavery and freedom—indeed of basic human universal aspirations for freedom—anywhere in the English language.

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The Future of Multiracial Identity with Sylvia Targ (Palo Alto High School ’16)

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-04-20 15:11Z by Steven

The Future of Multiracial Identity with Sylvia Targ (Palo Alto High School ’16)

TEDxYouth
2014-04-19

Sylvia Targ (Palo Alto High School ’16) discusses biracial identity and revolutionary ideas regarding how we view ourselves and others. Sylvia is an avid intern at Stanford Behavioral Sciences & Psychology.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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The Influences Affecting and the Influential Effects of Multiracials: Multiracialism and Stratification

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-17 22:27Z by Steven

The Influences Affecting and the Influential Effects of Multiracials: Multiracialism and Stratification

Sociology Compass
Volume 8, Issue 1 (January 2014)
pages 63-77
DOI: 10.1111/soc4.12100

Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina

Early research on multiracials documents the existence of a newly emergent population, those who identify with more than one race or what is commonly now known as multiracials. Contemporary research on multiracialism has a new focus on the stratification that multiracials experience and how multiracials may be influencing a new racial hierarchy. This paper discusses some of the primary issues of multiracialism and stratification including colorism, the racial hierarchy, social class, gender and sexual orientation, and multiracial as a celebrity-like status. As the multiracial population grows, so must the field of multiracialism grows to include critical issues and questions regarding stratification.

Read the entire article here.

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Witnesses to History: Children’s Views of Race and the 2008 United States Presidential Election

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-04-17 22:11Z by Steven

Witnesses to History: Children’s Views of Race and the 2008 United States Presidential Election

Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume 13, Issue 1 (December 2013)
pages 186–210
DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2012.01303.x

Meagan M. Patterson, Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Kansas

Erin Pahlke, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Rebecca S. Bigler, Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies
University of Texas, Austin

The 2008 presidential election presented a unique opportunity to examine children’s attention to racial issues in politics. We conducted interviews with 6- to 11-year-old children (70 boys, 60 girls; 29 African Americans, 58 European Americans, 43 Latinos) within 3 weeks prior to and after the election. Interview questions concerned knowledge, preferences, and perceptions of others’ attitudes concerning the election, views of the implications of the election for race relations, and personal aspirations to become president. Results indicated that children were highly knowledgeable about Obama’s status as the first African American president. Most children felt positively about the presence of an African American candidate for president, although a few children showed clear racial prejudice. Overall, children expected others to show racial ingroup preferences but simultaneously endorsed the optimistic view that Obama’s race was a slight asset in his bid for the presidency. Older children were somewhat more likely to view Obama’s race as negatively impacting his chances of being elected than younger children. African American and Latino children were more interested in becoming president than European American children; aspiration rates did not change from pre- to post-election.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Validity of Infant Race/Ethnicity from Birth Certificates in the Context of U.S. Demographic Change

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2014-04-17 21:45Z by Steven

Validity of Infant Race/Ethnicity from Birth Certificates in the Context of U.S. Demographic Change

Health Services Research
Volume 49, Issue 1 (February 2014)
pages 249–267
DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.12083

Lisa Reyes Mason, Assistant Professor of Social Work
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Yunju Nam, Associate Professor of Social Work
State University of New York, Buffalo

Youngmi Kim, Assistant Professor of Social Work
Virginia Commonwealth University

Objective

To compare infant race/ethnicity based on birth certificates with parent report of infant race/ethnicity in a survey.

Data Sources

The 2007 Oklahoma birth certificates and SEED for Oklahoma Kids baseline survey.

Study Design

Using sensitivity scores and positive predictive values, we examined consistency of infant race/ethnicity across two data sources (N = 2,663).

Data Collection/Extraction Methods

We compared conventional measures of infant race/ethnicity from birth certificate and survey data. We also tested alternative measures that allow biracial classification, determined from parental information on the infant’s birth certificate or parental survey report.

Principal Findings

Sensitivity of conventional measures is highest for whites and African Americans and lowest for Hispanics; positive predictive value is highest for Hispanics and African Americans and lowest for American Indians. Alternative measures improve values among whites but yield mostly low values among minority and biracial groups.

Conclusions

Health disparities research should consider the source and validity of infant race/ethnicity data when creating sampling frames or designing studies that target infants by race/ethnicity. The common practice of assigning the maternal race/ethnicity as infant race/ethnicity should continue to be challenged.

Read or purchase the article here.

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A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2014-04-17 02:14Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Harvard University Press
October 2014
350 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
26 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674368101

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.

As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.

Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

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Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-04-17 01:53Z by Steven

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-04-13

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This is an excerpt from a paper (currently being revised) that I presented last month at the 2014 MELUS Conference in Oklahoma City.]

[…] Heidi Durrow is also the latest member of the mixed-experience generation to achieve widespread recognition following the publication of her deeply autobiographical first novel. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was published in 2010 after winning the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for a first novel that addresses social justice issues. It became a national bestseller in 2011, and is now available in French, Dutch, Danish, and Portuguese. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a book that was repeatedly rejected by the traditional publishing industry.

For those who are unfamiliar, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky recounts the racialization, alienation, coming of age, and coming to multiracial consciousness of Durrow’s fictional intermediary, Rachel Morse. Rachel is the sole survivor of a heartbreaking tragedy: her Danish mother Nella jumps from a rooftop in Chicago with all her biracial children. After recovering, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother who lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Her alcoholic father, an airman stationed overseas, has disappeared from her life. The year is 1982. Rachel is seen as a light-skinned black girl by her new family and by the surrounding community. From the 5th grade onward, she identifies herself as black, but is still ridiculed for talking white; she is both resented and desired for her good hair and blue eyes. In short, Durrow’s novel recounts from multiple perspectives how Rachel comes to understand the tragedy that claimed her mother and siblings, and in the process reclaim her Danish cultural memory, becoming Afro-Viking like Durrow…

Read the entire article here.

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