Brazil’s colour bind

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, Videos on 2015-08-03 01:46Z by Steven

Brazil’s colour bind

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil is combating many kinds of inequality. But one of the world’s most diverse nations is still just beginning to talk about race

When Daniele de Araújo found out six years ago that she was pregnant, she set out from her small house on a dirt lane in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and climbed a mountain. It is not a big mountain, the green slope that rises near her home, but the area is controlled by drug dealers, so she was anxious, hiking up. But she had something really important to ask of God, and she wanted to be somewhere she felt that the magnitude of her request would be clear.

She told God she wanted a girl, and she wanted her to be healthy, but one thing mattered above all: “The baby has to be white.”

Ms. de Araújo knows about the quixotic outcomes of genetics: She has a white mother and a black father, sisters who can pass for white, and a brother nearly as dark-skinned as she is – “I’m really black,” she says. Her husband, Jonatas dos Praseres, also has one black and one white parent, but he is light-skinned – when he reported for his compulsory military service, an officer wrote “white” as his race on the forms.

And so, when their baby arrived, the sight of her filled Ms. de Araújo with relief: Tiny Sarah Ashley was as pink as the sheets she was wrapped in. Best of all, as she grew, it became clear that she had straight hair, not cabelo ruim – “bad hair” – as tightly curled black hair is universally known in Brazil. These days, Sarah Ashley has tawny curls that tumble to the small of her back; they are her mother’s great joy in life. The little girl’s skin tone falls somewhere between those of her parents – but she was light enough for them to register her as “white,” just as they had hoped. (Many official documents in Brazil ask for “race and/or colour” alongside other basic identifying information.)

Ms. de Araújo and Mr. dos Praseres keep the photos from their 2005 wedding in a red velvet album on the lone shelf in their living room. The glossy pictures show family members of a dozen different skin colours, arm in arm, faces crinkled in stiff grins for the posed portraits. There are albums with similar pictures in living rooms all over this country: A full one-third of marriages in Brazil are interracial, said to be the highest rate in the world. (In Canada, despite hugely diverse cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the rate is under five per cent.) That statistic is the most obvious evidence of how race and colour in Brazil are lived differently than they are in other parts of the world.

But a range of colours cannot disguise a fundamental truth, says Ms. de Araújo: There is a hierarchy, and white is at the top.

Many things are changing in this country. Ms. de Araújo left school as a teenager to work as a maid – about the only option open to a woman with skin as dark as hers – but now she has a professional job in health care and a house of her own, things she could not have imagined 15 years ago. Still, she says, “This is Brazil.” And there is no point being precious about it. Black is beautiful, but white – white is just easier. Even middle-class life can still be a struggle here. And Sarah Ashley’s parents want her life to be easy.

Brazil’s history of colonialism, slavery and dictatorship, followed by tumultuous social change, has produced a country that is at once culturally homogenous and chromatically wildly diverse. It is a cornerstone of national identity that Brazil is racially mixed – more than any country on Earth, Brazilians say. Much less discussed, but equally visible – in every restaurant full of white patrons and black waiters, in every high rise where the black doorman points a black visitor toward the service elevator – is the pervasive racial inequality…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

Tags: , , , ,

President Obama’s Racial Renaissance

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-08-03 01:09Z by Steven

President Obama’s Racial Renaissance

The New York Times

Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Sociology
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Toyin Odutola

We finally have the president we thought we elected: one who talks directly and forcefully about race and human rights.

When President Obama took the podium at the annual convention of the N.A.A.C.P. in Philadelphia last month, he sounded like the leader I’ve been waiting to hear since his first inauguration in 2009. It was almost as if Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow,” and the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. had hacked his computer and collaborated on his speech.

Many of Mr. Obama’s admirers and critics have hungered for straight talk on race since he his election. But since taking office, the president had been skittish on the subject and had mostly let it lapse into disturbing silence.

As we prepare to mark the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., this country continues to grapple with what feels like an onslaught of black death.

But now we are doing it with a president — our first African-American president — who has found a confident voice on race…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Pocahontas’ tribe, the Pamunkey of Virginia, finally recognized by U.S.

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2015-08-03 00:47Z by Steven

Pocahontas’ tribe, the Pamunkey of Virginia, finally recognized by U.S.

The Los Angeles Times

Noah Bierman

Mikayla Deacy, 4, swims with her dog Dakota in the Pamunkey River. As a member of the tribe, Mikayla will be eligible for scholarships and other benefits now that the Pamunkey have received federal recognition. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The tidal river that surrounds this spit of scrubby land has long functioned like a moat that rises and falls through the day..

A single road connects the reservation’s sycamore, poplars and modest houses with miles of cornfields that separate the tribe from large retail stores and suburban office parks of eastern Virginia.

The Pamunkey have lived on and around these 1,200 acres for centuries, since before their most famous ancestor, Pocahontas, made contact with English colonists in 1607.

“We call this downtown Pamunkey,” said Kim Cook, the 50-year-old granddaughter of Chief Tecumseh Deerfoot Cook.

She smiled. The only noise came from birds chirping among the pines by the old fishing shanties. The only action came when a cousin stopped by to relieve Cook’s 8-year-old son, River Ottigney Cook, of his boredom by taking him on a boat ride…

…Despite that, the tribe long had laws discouraging intermarriage. Marrying anyone who was not white or Indian was forbidden. Women who married whites could not live on the reservation, though men who had white wives could.

It was not until 2012 that tribal leaders fully reversed those laws and allowed women to vote and serve on the tribal council for the first time. (There had been female chiefs into the 18th century.)

The issue threatened the tribe’s federal acknowledgment, drawing opposition from members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Tribal leaders said the laws pertaining to African Americans were a reflection of Virginia’s racist past that included a ban on interracial marriages — context also noted in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ acknowledgment report — and were in part a defense against losing their status as a state tribe and being stripped of their land amid racial purity laws

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Walter White, 61, Dies in Home Here

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-31 20:36Z by Steven

Walter White, 61, Dies in Home Here

The New York Times

Walter White, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, died last night of a heart attack at his home at his home, 242 East Sixty-eighth Street. He was 61 years old.

Last October he twice entered the New York Hospital for treatment for a heart ailment that had caused him to take a leave of absence from his duties.

Recently he had returned from a month’s leisurely visit in Haiti and Puerto Rico. Yesterday he spent two hours at his office.

Mr. White, the nearest approach to a national leader of American Negroes since Booker T. Washington, was a Negro by choice.

Only five-thirty-seconds of his ancestry was Negro. His skin was fair, his hair blond, his eyes blue and his features Caucasian. He could easily have joined the 12,000 Negroes who pass the color-line and disappear into the white majority every year in this country.

But he deliberately sacrificed his comfort to publicize himself as a Negro and to devote his entire adult life to completing the emancipation of his people…

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Layers of Meaning in Mr. Obama’s Kenya Trip

Posted in Africa, Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-25 01:44Z by Steven

Layers of Meaning in Mr. Obama’s Kenya Trip

The New York Times

The Editorial Board

Nairobi, Kenya (Credit: Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

There often comes a time in the lives of Americans when they feel drawn to explore their roots, a quest that might take them on a pilgrimage to the “old country,” whether County Limerick, or Guangzhou, or a West African country from which their ancestors were abducted as slaves.

Roots are an integral part of one’s identity, especially in a time of mass migrations. So it is no surprise that Barack Obama’s first visit to Kenya as president should be enormously poignant, complex and absorbing. This is no typical presidential visit — and this is no typical descendant of immigrants.

The mix of narratives behind Mr. Obama’s trip is extraordinary. It is the ultimate American dream: the step-grandson of an illiterate African rising to the most powerful office on earth. There is Mr. Obama’s own story so movingly told in his first book, “Dreams From My Father,” about a youth raised by a white mother in Hawaii trying to build an identity out of his complex background, and the central role played in this search by the Kenyan father he meets only once…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Meet this year’s outstanding contributors at The Globies!

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-20 01:51Z by Steven

Meet this year’s outstanding contributors at The Globies!

The Seattle Globalist

Christina Twu, Editor/Contributor

The Seattle Globalist is proud to recognize three brilliant Globalist writers that have made outstanding contributions to our publication this year, helping to grow our coverage and make 2015 a phenomenal year for us.

Please join us in recognizing these dynamos at our Third Annual Globie Awards on Saturday, Sept. 26, along with Globalist of the Year Rita Meher:…

Sharon H. Chang

Social Justice Commentator of the Year

Sharon H. Chang, a mom, mixed-race parenting expert and activist, was the writer who really launched the Globalist into intentionally covering racial justice issues.

Sharon’s stories reflect deep reporting enriched by her personal experiences and analysis, further pushing our publication and city to engage in important dialogue.

She has sparked critical conversation on race, education, housing access and gentrification. In fact, her first published story with us went viral and started conversations on race across Seattle for months after it was published.

“Looking back over the past year I realized Sharon’s piece on Seattle’s ‘Progressive Mystique’ symbolized a turning point for The Seattle Globalist,” says Stuteville, “one where we completely embraced our role as a publication poised to explore some of the most critical social justice issues in our region.”

Read Sharon’s stories and more about her here. Read the entire Globalist profile here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Mr. President, on behalf of an ungrateful nation, thank you

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-20 01:10Z by Steven

Mr. President, on behalf of an ungrateful nation, thank you

WFTS: ABC Action News
Tampa Bay, Florida

Dick Meyer, Chief Washington Correspondent
Scripps News

Some points to ponder about Obama’s record

WASHINGTON, D.C. – I’ve never written a column like this. Readers rarely believe it, but I am not on any political team. Generosity toward the high and mighty isn’t among my few virtues. But this needs to be said: Americans are lucky to have Barack Obama as president and we should wake up and appreciate it while we can.

President Obama will go down in history as an extraordinary president, probably a great one. He will have done this in era that doesn’t aggrandize leaders and presidents, but shrinks them. All presidents have had profound opposition, vicious enemies and colossal failures. A few were beloved and others deeply respected in their day, but none in the modern era and certainly not Obama.

Why? Marcus Aurelius said, “Man is puny in the face of destiny.” If the stoic king were writing about modern, democratic sovereigns, he might say, “Kings are puny in a world blind to destiny, a world seen through the sacred screens of televisions and computers that can view only the puny.”

Many presidents fared better in history than in office. But it would be a morale booster and a sign of civic maturity if more Americans appreciated what an exceptional president they have right now. It could be a long wait for the next one.

One can hate Democrats, disagree with Obama on big issues, dislike his style or be disappointed the excitement of his election didn’t last. But his accomplishments, ambitious goals, dignity and honesty under tough circumstances demand admiration and appreciation.

This is, of course, perverse liberal-media propaganda to conservative Obama-haters. It’s wobbly centrism to a left-flank frustrated Obama hasn’t done more for them. And it’s naïve hot air to Washington’s political clans that think Obama doesn’t play the game well.

Changing minds with a keypad is a fool’s errand; I’m surely a fool, but not on that count. I simply offer some points for the open-minded to ponder…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

The black president some worried about has arrived

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-17 16:30Z by Steven

The black president some worried about has arrived

The Washington Post

Janell Ross, Reporter

There’s this thing people sometimes say down South.

So-and-so is “acting brand new.” Sometimes that’s a reference to people behaving like they don’t know old friends and family — that they have evolved past their old crowd. Sometimes that’s Southern-speak for the emboldened, people behaving like they either don’t know the rules or have outright decided to disregard them.

In the past four weeks, we’ve seen President Obama take up residence in a place that sits somewhere in-between.

He’s spoken off the cuff about race relations on a widely circulated podcast (even using the n-word) and then eloquently followed that with what can only be described as a sermon on race relations in America before breaking into song. He’s challenged America to go deeper in its support of equality than retiring symbols of slavery (such as the Confederate flag) and impolitic words (such as the n-word).

While eulogizing a slain minister and state lawmaker allegedly killed by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C., he outlined a whole raft of ways in which discrimination remains and inequality continues to grow. And now, in the span of two weeks, he has announced two major reform packages — housing last week and criminal justice on Tuesday — that could, if ultimately implemented, be of particular benefit to people of color in the United States.

Here’s the thing: This Obama might look or sound “brand new” to some Americans. He might even sound a little something like the black president some white Americans across the political spectrum feared (or hoped for). But to people who watch the White House closely, this is the President Obama who has been developing for some time…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

The Unperformative President

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-13 20:31Z by Steven

The Unperformative President

TDR: The Drama Review
Volume 59, Number 2, Summer 2015 (T226)
pages 7-8

Richard Schechner, University Professor; Professor, Performance Studies
New York University

Who is President Barack Obama? What will his legacy be? Why is he so unpopular that his own Democratic Party shunned him during the 2014 elections? The Dems got whupped in those elections, losing the Senate, falling further behind in the House and in governorships. Paradoxically, the defeat roused Obama to action. Even before the elections, Obama — sensing that he could not depend on a flaccid Senate and a toxic House — governed increasingly by executive order rather than legislation. The trend is accelerating. By means of executive order, Obama is reforming immigration policy, raising the minimum wage for Federal contract workers, extending rights to same-sex couples, giving paid parental leave to Federal employees, making it harder to buy guns, instituting major new limitations on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as signing a long-term agreement on climate control with China.

And of course the big turn around, one that will have reverberations for years to come: normalizing relations with Cuba.

Add to this, Obamacare (if it is not trashed by the Supreme Court). And don’t forget the stinks of the Bush years that Obama at least partly cleaned up: atrocities, dead-end wars, and economic collapse. Obama has not done enough, granted, but by comparison the nation is much better off now than in 2008.

If even a substantial part of what I’ve just written is true, why does the Obama presidency feel inadequate, to say the least? Why do so many on the Left disparage him while those on the Right despise him? A big part of the answer is the endemic racism of American culture. I won’t analyze this here except to note that Obama embodies a gap that he cannot transcend: African father, Euro-American mother; “black” Chicago street activist, “white” Harvard Law School graduate; country club golfer, ’hood high-fiver. Somewhere deep down Obama knows he isn’t having it both ways, or either way, so he has “chosen” (in quotation marks because I do not think it’s a conscious choice) to have it no way. He really wants his actions to speak for, of, and about him. He does not, or maybe cannot, perform himself as President.

He can’t be General Washington crossing the Delaware, pious Biblical Lincoln bringing his grief to Gettysburg, Rough-Rider Teddy Roosevelt leading the charge, patrician FDR having a “fireside chat” with 125 million Americans, camera-savvy Reagan ordering Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, or beer buddy Dubya Bush landing on the flight deck of aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln decorated with a banner boasting, “Mission Accomplished.” Obama’s public image is of a man who dislikes putting on a show. He’s not larger than life, holier than thou, or one of the folks.

Obama is the Unperformative President.

Which is both his greatness and his undoing.

Nowhere was Obama’s unperformativity more (in)visible than on 11 January 2015 when in Paris 40 world leaders led more than one million people marching for “free speech” and against the murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo, an officer directing traffic, and four hostages at a Paris kosher grocery. The front row — carefully staged for media — featured French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and — on either end of the line — Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama and Vladimir Putin of Russia were conspicuously absent. Putin’s absence is explained by Russia’s behavior in the Ukraine and Putin’s former position with the KGB, the Soviet secret police. What was Obama’s excuse?

Clearly, he does not like to perform, if by perform one means playing the symbolic role assigned to him. Indeed, the US presidency has from its inception been a Great Figure in Jean Genet’s sense: in The Balcony the Great Figure is a necessary public performer representing one of the four quadrants of society: Queen, Police Chief, Judge, Bishop. Of course, other presidents have not wanted to play and some could not perform effectively. History also has its say. Crises have provided presidents with their best chances at performing well.

Obama took office at…

Tags: ,

Obama sharpens his message on race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-02 01:26Z by Steven

Obama sharpens his message on race

The Hill
Washington, D.C.

Mike Lillis

President Obama is taking a more aggressive approach to the issue of race, repeatedly offering sharp commentary as he confronts America’s oldest, deepest divide.

Black lawmakers, Obama’s strongest allies on Capitol Hill, have cheered the president’s newfound willingness to address race head-on.

But they also see a nation that’s still plagued by inequality, discrimination and, in some cases, overt racism — first black president or none…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,