Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-19 22:12Z by Steven

Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

The Guardian
2014-10-19

Gary Younge

The virus is a metaphor for all that conservatives loathe, and sees the president’s policies under renewed attack

In a column ostensibly explaining why moderates struggle in the Republican party, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen last year wrote: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York – a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts – but not all – of America.”

If the thought of New York’s first family’s interracial marriage makes many Republicans (and apparently Cohen) gag, imagine how many sick bags they are filling over Ebola. The arrival of the virus in America has crystallised a range of Conservative anxieties: immigration, race, terrorism, science, big government, Barack Obama – you name it. For the right, Ebola is not just a disease, it is a metaphor for some of the things they don’t understand and many of the things they loathe…

…Finally, Ebola serves as a proxy for the many long-held Conservative prejudices about Obama – that he is an African-born interloper come to destroy America. A 2010 poll showed that just under a third of Republicans believed Obama was a “racist who hates white people”. Michael Savage, another rightwing radio host, calls him “Obola”. “Obama wants equality and he wants fairness, and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two … to really feel what it’s like to be in the third world. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Does Diversity Breed Intolerance?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-17 19:38Z by Steven

Does Diversity Breed Intolerance?

BU Today
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
2014-09-25

Rich Barlow, Staff Writer
Telephone: 617-358-3877

Some whites fear impending minority status, research says

“Diversity” is said to be the sun of our civic solar system, shining bright harmony everywhere from society at large to university campuses. Katherine Levine Einstein is certainly an apostle of this view. The College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of political science studies racially segregated areas and finds that separation polarizes and paralyzes those places’ politics.

But Boston’s commuter rail system shakes her faith.

Harvard colleague Ryan Enos surveyed white subjects about their views on Mexican immigration levels, asking, among other things, if they favored allowing noncriminal, employed illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Enos sought responses twice: once before exposing the whites to more Hispanic commuters on train platforms and once after. Support for immigration and allowing the undocumented to stay plunged in the “after” follow-up from what it had been in the “before” survey.

In addition to the Harvard research, two Northwestern University studies fuel Einstein’s pessimism. One found that as whites learned that they will become a minority, they grew more conservative and Republican-leaning. The other reported that whites who were aware of their future minority status became more negative towards nonwhites and preferred hanging out with their own race…

Marilyn Halter (GRS’86), a CAS history professor, sees a fundamental flaw in the Northwestern methodology. “I have found no evidence whatsoever of backsliding on racial tolerance in the marketplace, whether from the marketers or the consumer side of the equation,” says Halter, whose 2000 book Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity is about how American businesses have tailored their products to immigrant consumers in recent decades.

She also argues that the growth of mixed-race Americans—more than nine million checked two or more race categories on the 2010 US Census, up 32 percent from 2000, she says—means “it will be increasingly irrelevant to divide up the electorate into white, black, and brown.”

“Future projections about the impact of a minority white nation don’t take into account the changing meaning of whiteness,” she says. “I know that the research is attempting to measure how people react to the idea of a future white minority, but the very concept is so oversimplified and inaccurate, I think it invalidates the findings.…I do not think that greater diversity leads to more intolerance.”…

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Kaine pushes for Indian recognition

Posted in Articles, Law, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2014-10-12 23:01Z by Steven

Kaine pushes for Indian recognition

Sulfolk News-Herald
Suffolk, Virginia
2014-10-02

Tracy Agnew, News Editor

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is making another push to recognize six Virginia Indian tribes, including the Nansemond, through his support of a proposed rule that would bring more flexibility to the process.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs governs the process by which tribes in America can gain recognition from the federal government, and the benefits that come along with it…

…Its stringent criteria require, among many other things, documentation of the tribe’s existence and lineage from 1789 to the present, according to comments Kaine made in support of the rule change.

But at least six Virginia tribes — the Nansemond, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock and Monacan — have found the administrative process unavailable to them because of the historical destruction of records.

Five of the six courthouses that held the majority of the tribes’ records were burned during the Civil War, Kaine noted in a letter to Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn.

Beyond this accidental destruction, a eugenics movement and fear of interracial marriages prompted officials at the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics to systematically destroy the vital records of Virginia’s tribes beginning in 1912.

In 1924, Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act codified the existence of only two races: “white” or “colored.” The law remained intact for nearly 50 years, forcing Indians to choose one or the other.

Officials even went so far as to retroactively change records to list Native Americans as “colored,” Kaine noted in his letter. This phenomenon is known today as “Pleckerism,” after Walter Ashby Plecker, the first registrar of the bureau, who was among the main officials who pushed to eliminate the Indian race in Virginia, at least on paper…

Read the entire article here.

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Miranda Kaufmann Lecture ‘Africans in Port Towns – 1500-1640′

Posted in History, Live Events, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United Kingdom on 2014-10-10 21:21Z by Steven

Miranda Kaufmann Lecture ‘Africans in Port Towns – 1500-1640′

University of Greenwich
Queen Anne 180 – Greenwich Campus
Greenwich, England
Wednesday, 2014-10-15, 18:00-19:00 BST (Local Time)

Dr. Miranda Kaufmann will explore the lives of Africans in 16th and 17th century England and Scotland’s port towns, explaining how they arrived in Britain and how they were treated by the church, the law courts and the other inhabitants.

Dr. Miranda Kaufmann will explore the lives of Africans in 16th and 17th century England and Scotland’s port towns, explaining how they arrived in Britain, what occupations and relationships they found in the ports and how they were treated by the church, the law courts and the other inhabitants.

For more information, click here.

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Special report: Why Brazil’s would-be first black president trails among blacks

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-10-03 20:10Z by Steven

Special report: Why Brazil’s would-be first black president trails among blacks

Reuters
2014-10-03

Brian Winter, Chief Correspondent

SAO PAULO – Brazilians could make history this month by electing Marina Silva, the daughter of impoverished rubber tappers from the Amazon, as their first black president.

Yet Silva is trailing incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, who is white, among the half of voters who are of African descent.

That disadvantage, which contrasts with U.S. President Barack Obama’s overwhelming support from African-Americans in the 2008 and 2012 elections, could cost Silva victory in this extremely close election.

The reasons behind Silva’s struggles speak volumes about Brazil’s history, its complex relationship with race, and the recent social progress that has made Rousseff a slight favorite to win a second term despite a stagnant economy.

In recent weeks, Reuters interviewed two dozen Brazilians of color in three different cities. Many said they would be proud to see Silva win – especially in a country where people of color have historically been underrepresented in government, universities and elsewhere.

Yet they also said they were more focused on the economy than any other factor. Since taking power in 2003, Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party has made enormous strides in reducing poverty – especially among blacks.

“No one wants to go back to the past,” said Gustavo Leira, 71, a retired public servant in Brasilia. Silva’s race is important, he said, “but it’s not the most important thing.”…

…In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of the African-American vote. That advantage, plus his support from two-thirds of Hispanic voters, helped him overcome a 12 percentage point deficit among white voters. The margins were broadly similar when Obama won re-election in 2012.

While Obama did not make race a theme of his campaigns, he did address it at key moments – including a famous speech in March 2008 in which he discussed the anger felt by many in the black community, and what it was like to be the son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya.

Silva also comes from a mixed racial background – just like many, if not most, Brazilians…

Read the entire article here.

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Meditation on President Obama’s Portrait

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-09-25 01:11Z by Steven

Meditation on President Obama’s Portrait

Lens Blog: Photography, Video and Visual Journalism
The New York Times
2014-07-25

Maurice Berger, Research Professor and Chief Curator
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Dawoud Bey’s photograph of the man who would soon be president was taken on a Sunday afternoon in early 2007, at Barack and Michelle Obama’s Hyde Park home in Chicago. The portrait is at once stately and informal. Mr. Obama’s hands are folded gracefully in his lap. He wears an elegant suit and white shirt, but no tie. He stares intensely into the camera.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography had commissioned Mr. Bey the year before to take a portrait of a notable Chicagoan. He had known the Obamas for several years and saw them periodically at social gatherings. Impressed with Mr. Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, Mr. Bey sensed a “growing air of expectancy” about him.

“When I was asked who I wanted to photograph,” Mr. Bey said, “it took me but a second to decide that I wanted to photograph him.”

Mr. Bey posed Mr. Obama at the head of the dining room table, light reflecting off its polished surface, and photographed him from an angle. “I wanted an interesting animation of the body, and finally through camera positioning and having him turn himself slightly I figured it out,” Mr. Bey said…

…Mr. Obama’s race has rendered him particularly vulnerable to this kind of mythmaking. Right-wing extremists see him as an exemplar of what is wrong with America. He has become a symbol of a dark and foreign otherness, a threat to white supremacy and racial purity. To some, he is a Muslim conspirator, bent on dismantling American mores and traditions. To others, he is an angry black man covertly intent on avenging slavery and other historic injustices.

This mythmaking has not been limited to conservatives. A year after Mr. Bey photographed Mr. Obama, the candidate was rousing messianic fantasies on the left, stoked by the election’s most memorable image: Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster.

Distributed independently by the artist and later adopted by the Obama campaign, the poster was visually dynamic and politically effective. It radiated an aura of confidence and optimism. But Mr. Fairey’s schematic rendering of Mr. Obama — branded by a single, amorphous word — reduced the candidate to a cartoonlike, racially ambiguous cipher.

Raking across Mr. Obama’s face, in a picture devoid of the color brown, was a broad swath of off-white paint, a metaphoric blank screen onto which voters were invited to project their dreams and aspirations. The “Hope” poster visually transformed a man who unambiguously defined himself as black into an icon of the unthreatening “postracial” politician…

Read the entire article here.

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The Mixed-Race Marriage of Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-09-24 21:57Z by Steven

The Mixed-Race Marriage of Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray

Georgetown Law Journal of Modern Critical Race Perspectives
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
2013-12-08

Harris Davidson

On November 5, Bill de Blasio, New York City’s public advocate, was elected Mayor of New York City. De Blasio’s victory had been all but assured since he prevailed in the highly contested Democratic August primary. New York City voters, dissatisfied with the perceived shortcomings of the Bloomberg administration, voted into office the city’s first Democratic mayor in over 20 years.

From the time de Blasio won the hotly contested primary race up until his win on November 5, he held a commanding lead over his Republican opponent, Joseph Lhota. He defeated Lhota by an astounding margin of 49 percentage points. Though de Blasio cruised to an easy and expected victory, his rise to prominence has been unexpected and far from conventional…

…De Blasio and McCray, who has kept her maiden name, style themselves as a newer, more liberal, version of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their mixed-race marriage and their two mixed race children add to their image as an urban, new-age, “this-is-what-the future-of-America-looks-like” family. Surprisingly, the campaign coverage of their relationship and family was almost entirely positive, and rather than being forced to defend themselves, de Blasio and McCray used their mixed-race marriage to their political advantage.

The most prominent example of how de Blasio’s mixed race marriage helped his campaign was with the television ad that is credited with helping secure his primary win: “Dante.” In the ad, a light skinned Black teenager with a large afro discusses de Blasio’s agenda and extols the candidate. The ad seems at first to be a normal campaign ad. The kicker comes at the end when the teenager tells the viewers he would be supporting de Blasio even if the candidate wasn’t his father. The viewer, realizing the teenager isn’t a paid actor, then sees the de Blasio walking down the road with the teenager, who turns out to be de Blasio’s son, Dante.

What does the effectiveness of the ad and lack of criticism about de Blasio’s marriage and family say about Americans’ changing attitudes towards mixed race families? For one, it shows that the doors to higher office are now fully open to politicians in mixed race marriages. More importantly, it signifies how much Americans’ racial tolerance has progressed since 1967 when, in Loving v. Virginia, 338 U.S. 1 (U.S. 1967), Virginia fought to uphold as constitutional its anti-miscegenation laws…

Read the entire article here.

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Articulate While Black. Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.: H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman, Oxford University Press, New York, 2012, 224 pp., ISBN: 9780199812967, $ 99.00 (hardcover)

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-09-24 19:54Z by Steven

Articulate While Black. Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.: H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman, Oxford University Press, New York, 2012, 224 pp., ISBN: 9780199812967, $ 99.00 (hardcover)

Journal of Pragmatics
Volume 71, September 2014
pages 148-150
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2014.08.010

Marta Degani, Assistant Professor
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
University of Verona, Verona, Italy

Alim and Smitherman’s Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. is an engaging new book that sheds light on the intricacies of race relations in present-day America while highlighting how intertwined the politics of race and that of language are. The scale, however, is tipped in favor of language to show “how ‘language matters’ to the national conversation on race” (p. 4). Obama’s rhetoric is at the core of the investigation, and it is analyzed with great accuracy and a keen ability for uncovering peculiarities of its “Blackness”. In particular, the book emphasizes Obama’s ability to successfully communicate with different types of audiences and establish rapport with them. On a larger scale, it also shows how Obama’s shifting communicative styles and strategies in using both verbal and non-verbal communication have had an impact on the politics of language and race in the US. Overall, the analyses of Obama’s different usages of political language offer a good example of how audience-centered style-shifting can be skillfully used as a pragmatic tool to convince the audience of one’s political persona. From a pragma-sociolinguistic perspective, Obama’s ability to adjust his speech and gestures to his different audiences falls in line with the postulates of Communication Accommodation Theory (Giles et al., 1991).

What is also remarkable about the book is that the authors mirror Obama’s strategy of style-shifting to engage a large readership and communicate an authentic message. In the book, they alternate academic prose with a style of writing that mirrors African American English (AAE). The nature of this successful linguistic alternation is already evident in the table of contents, which includes chapter titles such as “‘Nah, We Straight”: Black Language and America’s First Black President’ or ‘Making a Way Outta No Way: the “Race Speech” and Obama’s Rhetorical Remix’. Apart from the table of contents, the reader will also find instances of “non-standard” English (e.g. “to be sure, hittin that small sweet spot ain’t easy” p. 23) scattered throughout the main text.

At the beginning of the book, in chapter 1, the authors briefly introduce their work and its aim. As they suggest, the novelty of their approach consists in looking at race from the perspective of language, a practice they call “languaging race”. This concept is applied to Obama’s use of language and the authors claim that it was crucial for his victory. In this chapter, Alim and Smitherman present interesting findings from their sociolinguistic research on Obama’s Black language use and its perception. Data from conversations with young people (mostly aged between 18 and 24) reveal how Obama is unanimously considered an excellent and gifted communicator. Most significantly, findings show that Black respondents are more sensitive than White respondents to Obama’s ability in style-shifting, which is characterized by the use of different lexical variants (e.g. nah and no), shifting pronunciations (e.g. wit mah Bahble for with my Bible) and variance in grammatical constructions (opting at times for zero copula construction) to connect to a multiracial audience. Obama is also praised for his ability to master the Black cultural mode of discourse known as “signifying”. Obama’s recourse to a “Baptist preacher style” is yet another feature that chiefly strikes Black American participants in the survey. The Black preacher style is detected in the cadence, rhythm, pausing, use of repetition, metaphors and storytelling that characterize some of Obama’s speeches. The President is also charged with using a deep Black communicative style of “call and response” that breaks down barriers between addresser and addressee when engaging with a predominantly Black audience. His capacity to shift from White “standard” English to Black modes of communication is presented by Alim and Smitherman as the key for understanding his success. This linguistic flexibility is seen by the authors not only as a reflection of his multicultural and multilingual upbringing but also as a conscious rhetorical strategy.

Chapter 2 starts out with a metalinguistic analysis. The focus is on semantically loaded use of language. The authors refer to “exceptionalizing” racist discourses and provide the example of White politicians who employ terms like “articulate” to describe Obama’s eloquence. According to the authors, exceptionalizing discourse means that what on a surface level might appear as a praise is indeed a racist judgment based on the covert assumption that non-White people are unintelligent and illiterate. The label “articulate” makes Obama ‘exceptional’ in the sense that he sticks out qua Black…

Read or purchase the article here.

 

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For the first time, Marina Silva makes reference to the race factor in her campaign

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-23 15:27Z by Steven

For the first time, Marina Silva makes reference to the race factor in her campaign

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Courtesy of Brasil 247, “Pela primeira vez, Marina usa fator racial na campanha” (2014-09-19)

“Let’s elect the first black woman president of Brazil,” said the PSB candidate on Friday, September 19, during a rally in São Bernardo do Campo, the birthplace of unionism and the city where the ex-president Lula da Silva began his political life.

For the first time in this presidential campaign, the PSB candidate, Marina Silva, used the racial factor to garner support from voters. “Let’s elect the first black woman president of Brazil,” said the presidential hopeful, during a rally in São Bernardo do Campo, in the São Paulo ABC metropolitan region.

The candidate spoke for a few minutes under a strong drizzle in the main square, downtown, the same place where, two weeks ago, former President Lula met with President Dilma Rousseff in a PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores/Workers’ Party) rally. On the occasion, PT militants filled the square. Today, the event attracted about 200 people, a good part of militants paid by candidates for deputy…

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Light-Skinned Latinos Tend To Vote More Republican. Be Careful How You Interpret That.

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-09-19 18:14Z by Steven

Light-Skinned Latinos Tend To Vote More Republican. Be Careful How You Interpret That.

Latino Voices
The Huffington Post
2014-09-18

Roque Planas, Editor

Lighter-skinned Latinos are more likely to vote Republican, according to polling data analyzed by the Washington Post.

The data highlights rarely recognized racial divisions within the Latino community that have perplexed the U.S. Census Bureau and tripped up mass media. But don’t expect it to change too much about the way you understand the Latino vote.

Writing for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog on Wednesday, professor Spencer Piston analyzed a sample of Latino citizens interviewed for the 2012 American National Election Studies. Interviewers measured the respondents’ skin color.

…The predictions Piston makes based on the data, however, are questionable. He writes that the analysis should make us rethink projections suggesting that the growth of the Latino electorate will dilute the Republican vote, which are based on the premise that Latinos tend to vote Democrat. …

…As a multiracial ethnicity, Latinos view race differently than non-Latinos because so many Hispanics come from a mixed-race background. While racial division and discrimination are undoubtedly part of the Latino experience, Latinos have less fixed ideas about race than non-Latino Americans. Our communities, our social groups and our families are racially mixed in a way that doesn’t exist to the same degree among non-Hispanic white and black Americans. …

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