The Trouble with Post-Blackness

Posted in Anthologies, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-25 21:25Z by Steven

The Trouble with Post-Blackness

Columbia University Press
February 2015
288 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780231169356
Hardcover ISBN: 9780231169349
E-book ISBN: 9780231538503

Edited by:

Houston A. Baker, Distinguished University Professor
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

K. Merinda Simmons, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University of Alabama

An America in which the color of one’s skin no longer matters would be unprecedented. With the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, that future suddenly seemed possible. Obama’s rise reflects a nation of fluid populations and fortunes, a society in which a biracial individual could be embraced as a leader by all. Yet complicating this vision are shifting demographics, rapid redefinitions of race, and the instant invention of brands, trends, and identities that determine how we think about ourselves and the place of others.

This collection of original essays confronts the premise, advanced by black intellectuals, that the Obama administration marked the start of a “post-racial” era in the United States. While the “transcendent” and post-racial black elite declare victory over America’s longstanding codes of racial exclusion and racist violence, their evidence relies largely on their own salaries and celebrity. These essays strike at the certainty of those who insist life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are now independent of skin color and race in America. They argue, signify, and testify that “post-blackness” is a problematic mythology masquerading as fact—a dangerous new “race science” motivated by black transcendentalist individualism. Through rigorous analysis, these essays expose the idea of a post-racial nation as a pleasurable entitlement for a black elite, enabling them to reject the ethics and urgency of improving the well-being of the black majority.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Dubious Stage of Post-Blackness—Performing Otherness, Conserving Dominance, by K. Merinda Simmons
  • 1. What Was Is: The Time and Space of Entanglement Erased by Post-Blackness, by Margo Natalie Crawford
  • 2. Black Literary Writers and Post-Blackness, by Stephanie Li
  • 3. African Diasporic Blackness Out of Line: Trouble for “Post-Black” African Americanism, by Greg Thomas
  • 4. Fear of a Performative Planet: Troubling the Concept of “Post-Blackness”, by Rone Shavers
  • 5. E-Raced: #Touré, Twitter, and Trayvon, by Riché Richardson
  • 6. Post-Blackness and All of the Black Americas, by Heather D. Russell
  • 7. Embodying Africa: Roots-Seekers and the Politics of Blackness, by Bayo Holsey
  • 8. “The world is a ghetto”: Post-Racial America(s) and the Apocalypse, by Patrice Rankine
  • 9. The Long Road Home, by Erin Aubry Kaplan
  • 10. Half as Good, by John L. Jackson Jr.
  • 11. “Whither Now and Why”: Content Mastery and Pedagogy—a Critique and a Challenge, by Dana A. Williams
  • 12. Fallacies of the Post-Race Presidency, by Ishmael Reed
  • 13. Thirteen Ways of Looking at Post-Blackness (after Wallace Stevens), by Emily Raboteau
  • Conclusion: Why the Lega Mask Has Many Mouths and Multiple Eyes, by Houston A. Baker Jr.
  • List of Contributors
  • Index
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Your Nationalism Can’t Contain Me

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-08-25 15:53Z by Steven

Your Nationalism Can’t Contain Me

The Nation

Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna. Photo and Illustration by Jonathan Ring.

I’ve held three passports and claimed many identities, all at once. I am the future of citizenship.

Those of us who call ourselves British and were of age in 1990 will remember the Conservative politician Norman Tebbit and his so-called “cricket test.” Immigrants from India, Pakistan, and the West Indies, said Tebbit, should support teams from Britain and not from their countries of origin or ancestry. Anyone who didn’t shouldn’t consider themselves British. “Which side do they cheer for?” Tebbit asked. “It’s an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?”

I was reminded of Tebbit’s test on a recent visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The hotel bartender, hearing my accent, told me his favorite soccer team was Manchester United. I know little about soccer, but enough to know that Manchester United is a Premier League club, possibly the Premier League club, and attracts a global following—659 million fans, according to data provided by a market-research company hired by the team. The company reckoned there were 108 million Man U fans in China, 35 million in India, 33 million in Nigeria. Many treated the overall figure with skepticism, but nobody doubted that a soccer club based in a northern English city had achieved a massive international fan base. The young bartender was from Mexico, an immigrant to the United States, and had never been to Britain. I asked him why he supported the team, and he said he was a big fan of Wayne Rooney. He admitted, though, that a friend had recently been talking to him about another British team, Aston Villa, and he was thinking that he might switch allegiance…

…Way back, tribes were key to survival. Humans joined into groups, pooled labor, shared care of their offspring, protected each other from wild animals and from rival tribes. Tribes were about resources—maximizing, protecting, sharing. You were a member of your tribe by birthright, typically by being born to other members of the tribe and in the tribal lands. But when it was beneficial, the tribe welcomed more people in; at other times, it might decide that limiting membership was in its best interests. The Jim Crow “one drop” rule, by which a person’s race (in this case, read “tribe”) was determined according to whether they possessed a single drop of African blood, is a case in point…

…Anxieties about shared loyalties continue to vex, even concerning those not suspected of international terrorism. Writing in The Week in January 2015, the columnist and Reason Foundation researcher Shikha Dalmia said: “Today, a new twist on this old worry has emerged. It concerns so-called transnational immigrants like me who like to maintain what Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose parents are Indian émigrés, last week derisively called ‘hyphenated identities.’ If you want to be Indian, stay in India, advised Jindal, who himself gave up Hinduism, the religion of his birth, and embraced Christianity.”

Like Dalmia, I self-identify as belonging to more than one culture. I have fought for at least a decade with newspapers about how my national and ethnic origins should be described. I reject the hyphen (the term “hyphenated identity” was first struck by Horace Kallen in his 1915 essay “Democracy Versus the Melting Pot”), which looks far too much like a minus sign to me: black minus British, Irish minus American. Always, I ask to be described as British and Sierra Leonean. I did this after many years of being described in various ways: British-born Sierra Leonean, British of Sierra Leonean origin, or—erasing my Scots mother from the picture altogether—simply as Sierra Leonean. (Notably, never have I been described by British papers as Scottish.) But I am both. I belong to both worlds; not just culturally but physically, I move between them. I have family in both, own property in both, have paid taxes in both. I now live in the United States, where I also pay taxes. As a so-called transnational, I belong to a growing class of people…

Read the entire article here.

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Skin Color Still Plays Big Role In Ethnically Diverse Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-22 21:49Z by Steven

Skin Color Still Plays Big Role In Ethnically Diverse Brazil

All Things Considered
National Public Radio

Audie Cornish, Host

Melissa Block visits a historic section of Rio de Janeiro that pays homage to Afro-Brazilian history and the many slaves that came ashore there. She talks with Brazilian filmmaker Joel Zito Araujo about what it means to be black or mixed race in Brazil, and how skin color still dictates many aspects of life.

Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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The National Bureau of Economic Research

Posted in Campus Life, Economics, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-08-22 19:44Z by Steven

The Effects of School Desegregation on Mixed-Race Births

The National Bureau of Economic Research
NBER Working Paper No. 22480
Issued in August 2016
47 pages
DOI: 10.3386/w22480

Nora Gordon, Associate Professor
McCourt School of Public Policy
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Sarah Reber, Associate Professor of Public Policy
Luskin School of Public Affairs
University of California, Los Angeles

We find a strong positive correlation between black exposure to whites in their school district and the prevalence of later mixed-race (black-white) births, consistent with the literature on residential segregation and endogamy. However, that relationship is significantly attenuated by the addition of a few control variables, suggesting that individuals with higher propensities to have mixed-race births are more likely to live in desegregated school districts. We exploit quasi-random variation to estimate causal effects of school desegregation on mixed-race childbearing, finding small to moderate statistically insignificant effects. Because the upward trend across cohorts in mixed-race childbearing was substantial, separating the effects of desegregation plans from secular cohort trends is difficult; results are sensitive to how we specify the cohort trends and to the inclusion of Chicago/Cook County in the sample. Taken together, the analyses suggest that while lower levels of school segregation are associated with higher rates of mixed-race childbearing, a substantial portion of that relationship is likely due to who chooses to live in places with desegregated schools. This suggests that researchers should be cautious about interpreting the relationship between segregation—whether residential or school—and other outcomes as causal.

Purchase the paper here.

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The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America’s First Black Dynasty

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-08-16 16:58Z by Steven

The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America’s First Black Dynasty

512 pages
5.313 in (w) x 8 in (h) x 0.821 in (d)
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0060184124
Paperback ISBN: 9780060985134
eBook ISBN: 9780061873911

Lawrence Otis Graham

Blanche Kelso Bruce was born a slave in 1841, yet, remarkably, amassed a real-estate fortune and became the first black man to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate. He married Josephine Willson—the daughter of a wealthy black Philadelphia doctor—and together they broke down racial barriers in 1880s Washington, D.C., numbering President Ulysses S. Grant among their influential friends. The Bruce family achieved a level of wealth and power unheard of for people of color in nineteenth-century America. Yet later generations would stray from the proud Bruce legacy, stumbling into scandal and tragedy.

Drawing on Senate records, historical documents, and personal letters, author Lawrence Otis Graham weaves a riveting social history that offers a fascinating look at race, politics, and class in America.

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JUSTIN WEBB: The tragic irony is, that under Barack Obama’s policy of not being black, America has become MORE divided by race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-08-16 00:45Z by Steven

JUSTIN WEBB: The tragic irony is, that under Barack Obama’s policy of not being black, America has become MORE divided by race

The Daily Mail

Justin Webb

Like many of the most persuasive public speakers, Barack Obama has always had a neat line in self-deprecation.

Shortly before being elected President in 2008 he told an audience: ‘Contrary to the rumours you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth.’

In other words, he was saying, he was Superman, not Jesus.

Sometimes I used to wonder if he was completely joking. Be in no doubt that this man, when he arrived on political Earth, was not coming among us to make up the numbers.

He was on a mission — a mission to bring change…

Read the entire article here.

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Othering Obama: Racial Attitudes and Dubious Beliefs about the Nation’s First Black President

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-07 23:29Z by Steven

Othering Obama: Racial Attitudes and Dubious Beliefs about the Nation’s First Black President

Sociological Perspectives
Volume 57, Number 4 (December 2014)
pages 450-469
DOI: 10.1177/0731121414536140

Daniel Tope, Associate Professor of Sociology
Florida State University

Justin T. Pickett, Assistant Professor
School of Criminal Justice
State University of New York, Albany

Ryon J. Cobb, National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral Fellow
Davis School of Gerontology
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

Jonathan Dirlam
Department of Sociology
Ohio State University

The literature on descriptive representation indicates that the election of black political leaders may prompt white enmity. We assess this claim by examining the relationship between whites’ racial attitudes and their likelihood of othering Barack Obama by labeling him as a Muslim and/or a noncitizen interloper. The findings reveal that both symbolic racial resentment and traditional racial attitudes are associated with othering Obama. In addition, the results reveal that the relationship between racial resentment and othering is substantially mediated by the use of seemingly nonracist frames based on emotional reactions and negative expectations about an Obama presidency. Conversely, much of the effect of belief in traditional antiblack stereotypes was transmitted directly to othering Obama without the use of justificatory frames. Despite claims of racial progress, our findings suggest that racial sentiments—both overt and symbolic—continue to play a major role in politics.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Genetics against race: Science, politics and affirmative action in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-07 20:21Z by Steven

Genetics against race: Science, politics and affirmative action in Brazil

Social Studies of Science
Volume 45, Number 6 (December 2015)
pages 816-838
DOI: 10.1177/0306312715610217

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Michael Kent, Honorary Research Fellow in Social Anthropology
School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester

This article analyses interrelations between genetic ancestry research, political conflict and social identity. It focuses on the debate on race-based affirmative action policies, which have been implemented in Brazil since the turn of the century. Genetic evidence of high levels of admixture in the Brazilian population has become a key element of arguments that question the validity of the category of race for the development of public policies. In response, members of Brazil’s black movement have dismissed the relevance of genetics by arguing, first, that in Brazil race functions as a social – rather than a biological – category, and, second, that racial classification and discrimination in this country are based on appearance, rather than on genotype. This article highlights the importance of power relations and political interests in shaping public engagements with genetic research and their social consequences.

Read the entire article here.

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Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-06 14:52Z by Steven

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

January 2017
310 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-3063-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-3064-8

Judith Ann Warner, Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

Do the commercial applications of the human genome in ancestry tracing, medicine, and forensics serve to further racialize and stereotype groups?

This book explores the ethical debates at the intersection of race, ethnicity, national origin, and DNA analysis, enabling readers to gain a better understanding of the human genome project and its impact on the biological sciences, medicine, and criminal justice.

Genome and genealogical research has become a subject of interest outside of science, as evidenced by the popularity of the genealogy research website that helps individuals discover their genetic past and television shows such as the celebrity-focused Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Applications of DNA analysis in the area of criminal justice and the law have major consequences for social control from birth to death. This book explores the role of DNA research and analysis within the framework of race, ethnicity, and national origin—and provides a warning about the potential dangers of a racialized America.

Synthesizing the work of sociologists, criminologists, anthropologists, and biologists, author Judith Ann Warner, PhD, examines how the human genome is being interpreted and commonly used to affirm—rather than dissolve—racial and ethnic boundaries. The individual, corporate, and government use of DNA is controversial, and international comparisons indicate that regulation of genome applications is a global concern. With analysis of ancestry mapping business practices, medical DNA applications, and forensic uses of DNA in the criminal justice system, the book sheds light on the sociological results of “remapping race on the human genome.”


  • Provides historical background on the human genome in the modern context of the social construction of race and ethnicity
  • Examines the use of overlapping racial-ethnic and geographical origin categories to situate ancestry, health risk, and criminal profiles in a stereotyped or discriminatory manner
  • Argues for a re-examination of genome research to avoid racialization
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Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like”

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2016-08-04 17:40Z by Steven

Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like”


Barack Obama, President of the United States
Washington, D.C.

The Perk of a “45-Second Commute” The President has spent “a lot more time” watching Sasha and Malia (here, meeting Mac the Turkey in 2014) grow into women.
Official White House Photos by Pete Souza

There are a lot of tough aspects to being President. But there are some perks too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.

But perhaps the greatest unexpected gift of this job has been living above the store. For many years my life was consumed by long commutes­—from my home in Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, as a state senator, and then to Washington, D.C., as a United States senator. It’s often meant I had to work even harder to be the kind of husband and father I want to be.

But for the past seven and a half years, that commute has been reduced to 45 seconds—the time it takes to walk from my living room to the Oval Office. As a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women. That isn’t always easy, either—watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist…

Read the entire article here.

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