The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2018-03-16 02:49Z by Steven

The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil

University of Minnesota Press
320 pages
9 b&w photos
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 978-1-5179-0156-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-5179-0155-4

Jaime Amparo Alves, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
College of Staten Island of the City University of New York
also: Associate Researcher
Centro de Estudios Afrodiaspóricos of Universidad Icesi/Colombia

An important new ethnographic study of São Paulo’s favelas reveals the widespread use of race-based police repression in Brazil

While Black Lives Matter still resonates in the United States, the movement has also become a potent rallying call worldwide, with harsh police tactics and repressive state policies often breaking racial lines. In The Anti-Black City, Jaime Amparo Alves delves into the dynamics of racial violence in Brazil, where poverty, unemployment, residential segregation, and a biased criminal justice system create urban conditions of racial precarity.

The Anti-Black City provocatively offers race as a vital new lens through which to view violence and marginalization in the supposedly “raceless” São Paulo. Ironically, in a context in which racial ambiguity makes it difficult to identify who is black and who is white, racialized access to opportunities and violent police tactics establish hard racial boundaries through subjugation and death. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in prisons and neighborhoods on the periphery of this mega-city, Alves documents the brutality of police tactics and the complexity of responses deployed by black residents, including self-help initiatives, public campaigns against police violence, ruthless gangs, and self-policing of communities.

The Anti-Black City reveals the violent and racist ideologies that underlie state fantasies of order and urban peace in modern Brazil. Illustrating how “governing through death” has become the dominant means for managing and controlling ethnic populations in the neoliberal state, Alves shows that these tactics only lead to more marginalization, criminality, and violence. Ultimately, Alves’s work points to a need for a new approach to an intractable problem: how to govern populations and territories historically seen as “ungovernable.”

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: On Our Own Terms
  • 1. Macabre Spatialities
  • 2. “Police, Get off My Back!”
  • 3. The Favela-Prison Pipeline
  • 4. Sticking Up!
  • 5. Bringing Back the Dead
  • Conclusion: Blackpolis
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
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Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawaii

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-16 02:47Z by Steven

Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawaii

University of Hawai’i Press
March 2018
288 pages
1 b&w illustration
Cloth ISBN: 9780824869885

Edited by:

Camilla Fojas, Associate Professor in the Departments of Media Studies and American Studies
University of Virginia

Rudy P. Guevarra, Associate Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies
Arizona State University

Nitasha Tamar Sharma, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies and African American Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Written by scholars of various disciplines, the essays in this volume dig beneath the veneer of Hawai‘i’s myth as a melting pot paradise to uncover historical and complicated cross-racial dynamics. Race is not the primary paradigm through which Hawai‘i is understood. Instead, ethnic difference is celebrated as a sign of multicultural globalism that designates Hawai‘i as the crossroads of the Pacific. Racial inequality is disruptive to the tourist image of the islands. It ruptures the image of tolerance, diversity, and happiness upon which tourism, business, and so many other vested transnational interests in the islands are based. The contributors of this interdisciplinary volume reconsider Hawai‘i as a model of ethnic and multiracial harmony through the lens of race in their analysis of historical events, group relations and individual experiences, and humor, for instance. Beyond Ethnicity examines the dynamics between race, ethnicity, and indigeneity to challenge the primacy of ethnicity and cultural practices for examining difference in the islands while recognizing the significant role of settler colonialism in the islands. This original and thought-provoking volume reveals what a racial analysis illuminates about the current political configuration of the islands and in so doing, challenges how we conceptualize race on the continent.

Recognizing the ways that Native Hawaiians or Kānaka Maoli are impacted by shifting, violent, and hierarchical colonial structures that include racial inequalities, the editors and contributors explore questions of personhood and citizenship through language, land, labor, and embodiment. By admitting to these tensions and ambivalences, the editors set the pace and tempo of powerfully argued essays that engage with the various ways that Kānaka Maoli and the influx of differentially racialized settlers continue to shift the social, political, and cultural terrains of the Hawaiian Islands over time.

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Why Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to take a DNA test to prove Native American ancestry was probably a smart move

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-16 01:05Z by Steven

Why Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to take a DNA test to prove Native American ancestry was probably a smart move

The Washington Post

Tara Bahrampour

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rejected a call this week by a Massachusetts newspaper to take a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage, saying it is a cherished piece of family lore and noting that she has never used it to get ahead.

She might also add that such a test may not prove anything — or at least it couldn’t establish the absence of Native American ancestry her critics might be hoping to find.

If Warren were to take one of the widely available commercial “spit tests” and DNA related to a Native American tribe showed up, she would have positive proof that her family stories are true.

But if no such DNA were evident, that would not mean she didn’t have Native American ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination

Posted in Books, Census/Demographics, Forthcoming Media, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2018-03-03 02:47Z by Steven

Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination

New York University Press
224 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781479830329

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York

Narratives of mixed-race people bringing claims of racial discrimination in court, illuminating traditional understandings of civil rights law

As the mixed-race population in the United States grows, public fascination with multiracial identity has promoted the belief that racial mixture will destroy racism. However, multiracial people still face discrimination. Many legal scholars hold that this is distinct from the discrimination faced by people of other races, and traditional civil rights laws built on a strict black/white binary need to be reformed to account for cases of discrimination against those identifying as mixed-race.

In Multiracials and Civil Rights, Tanya Katerí Hernández debunks this idea, and draws on a plethora of court cases to demonstrate that multiracials face the same types of discrimination as other racial groups. Hernández argues that multiracial people are primarily targeted for discrimination due to their non-whiteness, and shows how the cases highlight the need to support the existing legal structures instead of a new understanding of civil rights law.

Coming at a time when explicit racism is resurfacing, Hernández’s look at multiracial discrimination cases is essential for fortifying the focus of civil rights law on racial privilege and the lingering legacy of bias against non-whites, and has much to teach us about how to move towards a more egalitarian society.

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Are you racially fluid?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2018-03-03 02:33Z by Steven

Are you racially fluid?

Cable News Network (CNN)

Story by John Blake, CNN
Video by Tawanda Scott Sambou, CNN

The blurring of racial lines won’t save America. Why ‘racial fluidity’ is a con

(CNN) He was a snappy dresser with slicked back hair and a pencil mustache. A crack bandleader, musician and legendary talent scout, he was dubbed the “Godfather of R&B.”

But Johnny Otis’ greatest performance was an audacious act of defiance he orchestrated offstage.

Most people who saw Otis perform during his heyday in the 1950s thought he was a light-skinned black man. He used “we” when talking about black people, married his black high school sweetheart and stayed in substandard “for colored only” hotels with his black bandmates when they toured the South.

Johnny Otis, though, wasn’t his real name. He was born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes to Greek immigrants in Northern California. He grew up in a black neighborhood where he developed such a kinship with black culture that he walked away from his whiteness and became black by choice.

“As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black,” he wrote in his 1968 book, “Listen to the Lambs.”

“No number of objections such as ‘You were born white … you can never be black’ on the part of the whites, or ‘You sure are a fool to be colored when you could be white’ from Negroes, can alter the fact that I cannot think of myself as white.

“I do not expect everybody to understand it, but it is a fact. I am black environmentally, psychologically, culturally, emotionally, and intellectually.”…

…What if racial fluidity leads not to less racism, but to more?

That’s the warning being issued by many who study racial fluidity — including some who are racially fluid themselves. They say people are naïve if they believe expanding the menu of racial choices will lead to more tolerance; that racism is deeper and more adaptable than people realize.

A brown-skinned man with a white mother can gush all he wants about his DNA mix, but that won’t stop him from being racially profiled, says Rainier Spencer, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has written extensively about mixed-race identity, including his own.

“If I stand on a corner holding a sign saying, ‘I’m racially fluid,'” says Spencer, “that still doesn’t mean I’m going to get a cab.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Learning to Transgress: Law 10.639 and Teacher-Training Classrooms in São Paulo, Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Politics/Public Policy on 2018-02-22 02:01Z by Steven

Learning to Transgress: Law 10.639 and Teacher-Training Classrooms in São Paulo, Brazil

Transforming Anthropology
Volume 24, Issue 1, April 2016
Pages 70–79
DOI: 10.1111/traa.12058

Reighan Gillam, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Southern California

Signed in 2003, Law 10.639 makes teaching Afro-Brazilian history and culture compulsory in primary school lessons. Training programs to educate teachers on this material have proliferated in the state of São Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil. This paper illuminates non-elite Brazilians’ lived, personal engagements with ideas of racial inequality by way of these training programs. Participants in these classrooms did not express direct rejection or acceptance of these ideas but rather relied on personal experiences to negotiate their conceptions of racial identity and racial inequality that deviate from traditional ideas of racial democracy. As Brazil takes further steps to consider race when facilitating access to resources and confronting racial inequality directly, it is imperative that the everyday iterations of this shift are understood.

As part of a series of training sessions1 to instruct teachers on how to integrate Afro-Brazilian history and culture into their curricula, trainer Flávia Gomes2 screened clips from the film Everyone’s Heroes (Heróis de Todo Mundo). This movie features prominent Afro-Brazilians and explains their role in national history. Flávia told the teachers that they could show this movie in their classrooms, or they could integrate the information from the movie into their lessons. Five female educators and I sat at our desks and quietly watched the clips that briefly recounted the lives and accomplishments of figures like Auta da Souza, an Afro-Brazilian writer, and Milton Santos, an Afro-Brazilian geographer. After showing the video, Flávia said a few words: “Violence is to whiten Black heroes. This silences the place of Blackness in the classroom. Machado de Assis, Lima Barreto. There is no way to silence this. (Não da para silenciar).” One of the participants raised her hand; Flávia called on her. She was a principal at an elementary school and participating in these classes to oversee the curricular changes at her school. Before saying anything, she began to sob, taking the entire class by surprise. “I feel so troubled because I didn’t know these people had been left out. I have heard of them but didn’t know they were Black. I liked reading the poems of Auta da Souza, but I always pictured her as White. The lack of information that we have…” Her comments trailed off as she wiped her tears. This response occurred toward the end of class, leaving Flávia with little time to initiate a conversation. Instead, she concluded class by adding a few words about using this video to educate children about the people presented in the movie before dismissing everyone for the day.

This scene played out in a teacher-training program in its first year in Flor do Campo, Brazil, in the state of São Paulo. These teacher-training programs resulted from the passage of Law 10.639, which made Afro-Brazilian history and culture compulsory material for all Brazilian public primary schools. Since its passage, teacher-training programs have proliferated throughout the country to provide teachers with classroom material about Afro-Brazilian history and culture to satisfy the legal mandate of Law 10.639. The teacher-training classrooms in which I participated were dynamic spaces of conversation, interaction, and engagement where Brazilians, like the principal above, could encounter new ways of thinking about race2 that run contrary to the common belief that racism cannot naturally exist in a mixed-race society. This article aims to examine changing understandings of race in Brazil, not as it transforms larger social and political structures, but as it is continuously reframed on the micro-social or everyday level. I argue that the critical practice of learning about and responding to subjugated knowledge and alternative experiences have the potential to transgress boundaries of belonging and recognition of racial difference in Brazil.

This article takes as a point of departure the issue of the personal in an era of changing conceptions of Brazilian race relations. This shift involves not only the macro changes of law and policy but also the personal, lived, everyday interactions of particular people as well. It uses the personal anecdotes, stories, and conversations of Brazilians offered during teacher-training sessions to examine how social change is a personal matter and how it plays out within everyday interactions. The “personal” broadly references the lived experiences of human beings. In several instances, the personal becomes the prism through which people perceive or react to macro-structural events and changing environments. I suggest that many Brazilians offer more personal responses to the shift from racial democracy based on their local and particular experiences as a way to account for the changes they are confronting in classroom education. While I would not say that these conversations were always successful at producing a shared understanding of the ways in which inequality can be tracked along racial lines, these teacher-training classrooms became sites and spaces of struggle over the limits and meanings of racial democracy and racial recognition, informed by the participants’ personal experiences of race that they frequently voiced….

Read the entire article here.

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Book Talk: The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-02-22 01:08Z by Steven

Book Talk: The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil

Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean
University of South Florida
IBL Conference Room (FAO 296)
4202 E. Fowler Avenue
Tampa, Florida
Thursday, 2018-03-01, 14:00 EDT


Gladys L. Mitchell-Walthour, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Economy
Department of Africology (African Diaspora Studies)
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Profess Mitchell-Walthour is the author of The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil.

For more information, click here.

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The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2018-02-22 00:46Z by Steven

The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil

Cambridge University Press
December 2017
260 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781107186101
Paperback ISBN: 9781316637043

Gladys L. Mitchell-Walthour, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Economy
Department of Africology (African Diaspora Studies)
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

This book uses an intersectional approach to analyze the impact of the experience of race on Afro-Brazilian political behavior in the cities of Salvador, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Using a theoretical framework that takes into account racial group attachment and the experience of racial discrimination, it seeks to explain Afro-Brazilian political behavior with a focus on affirmative action policy and Law 10.639 (requiring that African and Afro-Brazilian history be taught in schools). It fills an important gap in studies of Afro-Brazilian underrepresentation by using an intersectional framework to examine the perspectives of everyday citizens. The book will be an important reference for scholars and students interested in the issue of racial politics in Latin America and beyond.

  • Uses an intersectional approach that allows readers to understand how race, class, gender, and aesthetics shape Afro-Brazilian political behavior
  • Appeals to social scientists using quantitative and qualitative methods to study race, gender, group behavior, and politics
  • Develops a theory of racial spatiality that gives readers a bottom-up understanding of political representation and its reliance on everyday Afro-Brazilian citizens

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Afro-Brazilian political underrepresentation
  • 2. Blackness and racial identification in contemporary Brazil
  • 3. Negro group attachment in Brazil
  • 4. Negro linked fate and racial policies
  • 5. Afro-descendant perceptions of discrimination and support for affirmative action
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Frederick Douglass, Refugee

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery on 2018-02-20 03:42Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass, Refugee

The Atlantic

David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

J.C. Buttre / Wikimedia

Throughout modern history, the millions forced to flee as refugees and beg for asylum have felt Douglass’s agony, and thought his thoughts.

Frederick Douglass, author, orator, editor, and most important African American leader of the 19th century, was a dangerous illegal immigrant. Well, in 1838 he escaped a thoroughly legal system of enslavement to the tenuous condition of fugitive resident of a northern state that had outlawed slavery, but could only protect his “freedom” outside of the law.

Douglass’s life and work serve as a striking symbol of one of the first major refugee crises in our history. From the 1830s through the 1850s, the many thousands of runaway slaves, like Douglass, who escaped into the North, into Canada, or Mexico put enormous pressure on those places’ political systems. The presence and contested status of fugitive slaves polarized voters in elections; they were the primary subject of major legislation such as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as well as Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1857. They were at the heart of a politics of fear in the 1850s that led to disunion. Among the many legacies of Douglass’s life and writings alive today, one of the most potent is his role as an illegal migrant and very public abolitionist orator and journalist posing as a free black citizen in slaveholding America.

On February 1, 2017, President Donald J. Trump made some brief remarks on Black History Month. “Frederick Douglass,” he said, “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job, that is being recognized more and more, I notice.” That afternoon in one of the discussion sections of my lecture course at Yale on “The Civil War and Reconstruction Era,” my teaching fellow, Michael Hattem, reports that he read that quotation to the class. Students had just been assigned to read Douglass’s classic first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Michael says the class let out an audible collective groan, and one student declared: “My God, he doesn’t know who he was!”

…Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, his father likely his owner and his mother, Harriet, likely the owner’s slave, Douglass lived twenty years in bondage on Maryland’s eastern shore and in Baltimore. At age 18 he organized an escape plot with a small “band of brothers” among the slaves on a farm near St. Michaels, Maryland. Foiled and betrayed, he and his comrades were arrested, put in chains and marched several miles to the jail in Easton, the Talbot County seat. As great luck, Douglass’s owner, Thomas Auld, sent his slave back to Baltimore rather than selling him into obscurity in the deep South. Two years later, in a cunning and brave plot hatched with a few friends and with his intrepid fiancée, Anna Murray, Douglass escaped from slavery by train, steamer, and ferryboat to New York City, disguised as a sailor. His story is one of great drama and risk in the face of what he called a sense of “hopelessness” and “loneliness.” But in recollecting these events Douglass left the world an illegal refugee-immigrant’s language of fear and courage. His greatest power always resided in the written and spoken word…

Read the entire article here.

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White Supremacy and the Dangerous Discourse of Liberal Tolerance

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2018-02-15 02:06Z by Steven

White Supremacy and the Dangerous Discourse of Liberal Tolerance

The Paris Review

Ismail Muhammad
Oakland, California

A scene at the race disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina. Originally published in Colliers Weekly, November 26, 1898.

Watching Donald Trump speak about the violent white-supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville last summer was a surreal experience. Not the first press conference where he referred to neo-Nazi protestors as “very fine people.” I mean the second time, when he repudiated those fine people. “Racism,” he intoned, clearly reading from a teleprompter, “is evil … white supremacists and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Nobody could mistake his droning boredom for actual investment in the words he was speaking: his attempt to embrace the decorous discourse of liberal tolerance was baldly hypocritical.

As the summer ended and the fall semester began at U.C. Berkeley, where I study literature, far-right agitators descended along with the cool weather. A succession of activists and pundits—Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, and their ilk—made their way to campus. They brought the far-right protestors and threats of violence along with them, all the while invoking the language of tolerance and free speech. Berkeley’s former chancellor Nicholas Dirks even cited the campus community’s “values of tolerance” in defending Yiannopoulos’s appearance. The myriad ways in which people were deploying the word tolerance managed to drain the already-insufficient term of its content. All that was left was am empty concept that could accommodate any agenda. It was more clear than ever that the language of tolerance had become ineffective, just a mask behind which antipluralist demagogues could hide.

Admitting that Trump and the far right are capable of surprising me makes me feel unforgivably naive. At this point, to be surprised feels like a luxury, and I find myself bored with the chorus of outraged liberal critics who sound the alarm every time Trump breaks another democratic norm. But it’s worth inquiring why white supremacy continues to surprise us when white-race hatred is such an intractable aspect of American society. And how our shock perpetuates that violence.

In Charlottesville’s aftermath, I turned to Charles Chesnutt’s 1901 novel, The Marrow of Tradition. In his novel, Chesnutt—an impossibly industrious author, activist, lawyer, and educator—looks back at the wreckage of post-Reconstruction racial politics and attempts to answer these questions via historical fiction. Marrow is, among other things, an examination of how the genteel language of tolerance obscures and enables antiblack violence. In his focus on historical calamity—the Wilmington massacre narrowly and the collapse of Reconstruction more broadly—Chesnutt uses the form of the novel to examine how our shared language reinforces white supremacy’s grip on American society…

Read the entire article here.

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