I’m black, my brother’s white … and he’s a cop who shot a black man on duty

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-29 19:58Z by Steven

I’m black, my brother’s white … and he’s a cop who shot a black man on duty

The Guardian
204-08-25

Zach Stafford, Writer
Chicago, Illinois

I never thought that my brother would be one of those police officers. He was supposed to be different because of me

My white brother loved black people more than I did when we were growing up. As a black interracial child of the south – one who lived in a homogenous white town – I struggled with my own blackness. I struggled even more with loving that blackness. But my brother, Mitch, didn’t. He loved me unapologetically. He loved me loudly.

He also loved screwing with other people’s expectations. Whenever we met new people or I joined a social situation he was in, Mitch would make sure I was standing right next to him for introductions and say, “This is Zach, my brother” – and then go silent with a smirk.

These new acquaintances would then scan back and forth with such intensity – black, white, white, black – that our faces became a kind of tennis court, with strangers waiting for someone to fault. Eventually someone would awkwardly laugh and say something like: “Oh, adopted brother,” immediately looking relieved to have figured it out. My brother would deny that and push the line further, “No, like, my brother. We have the same mom. We are blood.”

That would lead to someone questioning me intensely, and, each time, my white brother would stand next to me, proud: prouder than me of my own skin. And over the years, as he continued playing this game, I became prouder … with his help.

And then, years later and far away in Chicago, I got the phone call: my brother, now a cop, had shot an unarmed black man back in Tennessee.

Hearing about black men dying is never exactly a surprise. Every day, you see the news stories: On the news, black men die while getting Skittles. On the news, black men die in choke-holds. On the news, black men die for playing their music too loud. It seems black men die on the news more than they do almost anything else on the news, even with a black president in office. Every 28 hours, a black man is killed by a police officer in America…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth and Culture [Hauskeller Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-08-28 20:26Z by Steven

Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth and Culture [Hauskeller Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1946-1948
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.870348

Christine Hauskeller, Senior Lecturer of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology
University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Race and the genetic revolution: science, myth and culture, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011, xiv + 296 pp., £22.66 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-231-15697-4

The similarities and differences among humankind have been a central theme in knowledge production, and modern biological and medical science has contributed much to the formation of race. Race and the Genetic Revolution takes its starting point from two current empirical facts: that ‘race is a scientific myth and a social reality. (2)’ DNA knowledge and genetic tests are promoted as indicating racial differences as biological differences, even though race has been unmasked in the twentieth century as a powerful social reality without a biological basis. Population genetics has shown that races are ideological constructs, yet today we find genetics widely used to re-inscribe nineteenth-century racial categories and prejudices into current social practices. To discuss these developments, Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan have brought together contributions by distinguished scholars with multidisciplinary expertise. The resulting anthology unfolds, with sharpness and clarity, the genealogy of the myth of race and how genetics is being misappropriated to revive it.

Following Krimsky’s programmatic foreword, the book is divided into six parts relating to the social realms in which genetic race is fabricated. The chapters deconstruct the amalgamation of ideology and pseudo-science and discuss in detail the flawed methods used to establish biological races. This folk genetics of race is problematic, however, not least because it is increasingly applied in institutions with social power and authority, such as health services and the police. In Part I, Michael Yuddell and Robert Pollack present a history of the ideology of race and an evolutionary perspective on why strict biological human races cannot exist. Part II analyses the politics and uses of the large forensic DNA databases in the USA and the UK. In both countries, ethnic minorities are over-represented in these databases and thus become prime suspects in police proceedings. Profiles of suspects are kept in the databases even when the individuals are never charged with any crime. Michael Risher argues that these DNA banking practices could be seen as unconstitutional and Helen Wallace points out the human rights aspects. Both observe no decided political will to counteract this re-racialization. In Part III on the logic of genetic ancestry testing, Troy Duster deconstructs the underlying idea of ‘pure’ races, the construction of reference data sets and the statistics used to produce percentages of racial origin. Testing products promising to identify the racial ancestry of an individual, he concludes, are flawed and buyers should beware that they buy nothing of any actual meaning or use. Duana Fullwiley looks at the uptake of ancestral informative DNA markers in the creation of search profiles in policing. Despite falling short of the scientific credibility that would be required for courtroom evidence, DNA-derived racial profiles inform investigative searches…

Read the entire review here.

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Paint the White House black: Barack Obama and the meaning of race in America [Haltinner Review]

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-28 19:21Z by Steven

Paint the White House black: Barack Obama and the meaning of race in America [Haltinner Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1938-1941
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.871314

Kristin Haltinner, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Idaho

Paint the White House black: Barack Obama and the meaning of race in America, by Michael P. Jeffries, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2013, 210 pp., $22.95 (soft cover), ISBN 978-08-047-8096-4

In his song ‘Paint the White House Black’ (1993), after which Jeffries’ book is named, George Clinton raps:

Colors don’t clash, people just do

Color me happy next to you

Aww, just like it should, there goes the Neighborhood

That is what they’d have us believe

Paint the White House black, brown

Paint the White House…

Paint the White House black, brown

Paint the White House, black…

Like Clinton, Jeffries calls on all people to interrogate the ‘metalanguage’ of race (15). In his song, George Clinton highlights the hypocrisy of Bill Clinton’s presidency, expresses the need for race- and class-critical politics and calls for black or brown representation in the White House. In contrast, Jeffries’ book argues that having a president of colour does little to challenge institutional racism or the ‘language’ of race and that Americans must explore how race functions as a dynamic and powerful force in society.

Jeffries’ book begins with the paradox of Obama’s presidency: the question of whether race relations have improved or disintegrated since 2008. Rather than falling into the tempting trap of simply providing resolution to this dichotomy, Jeffries implores readers to investigate the underlying processes that contribute to current racial discourse and the birth of the question itself.

To do this, Jeffries expands previous understandings of race and racial formation by calling on scholars and citizens to explore ‘race in action’ (3), that is, to use the case study of Obama to examine the creation of racial meanings and knowledge. Jeffries builds on the work of Hall and Higginbotham to launch his analysis, arguing first that ‘race operates as a language’ in that it creates and hides deeper implications and significance while concurrently holding distinct, context-dependent meanings (7) and, second, that race defines and produces other socially constructed categories such as class or gender. Jeffries argues that the best way to examine current racial knowledge and its operation is through engaging with theories of intersectionality to ‘search for and highlight all the social forces that give cultural events racial meaning’ (14).

The book consists of four substantive chapters that provide evidence and analysis for Jeffries’ claims. Chapter two engages with intersectionality to examine how current racial knowledge is simultaneously constructed by and produces the concept of nation. Jeffries successfully argues that much of the vitriol targeted at Obama is due to the continued connection between Americanism, whiteness and the ‘politics of inheritance’ (15). Obama struggles with this in his memoir where he describes both wanting to be, like his father, an honourable black man – one who chases the American dream, but also witness to and halted by broader social inequality and black marginalization. Jeffries uses Obama’s experiences to argue for a novel construction of national identity built on a new collective culture that challenges supremacy in all forms and encourages connections between ‘ethnoracial communities’ (45).

Chapter three explores the politics of multiracial identity and the social objectification of multiracial bodies as symbols of a post-racial society. Jeffries uses the experience of multiracial young adults to demonstrate how race operates as a ‘metalanguage’ by either hiding its relation to other social forces or racializing phenomena that may not be racially based. Through these interviews, the malleable nature of race and multiraciality is identified and white supremacy accurately cited as the lynchpin of racism. Multiracial identity is, in turn, presented as one possible weapon in the war to fight racial oppression. Continuing his critique of post-racial ideology, in chapter four Jeffries more deeply discusses the ways in which multiracial people are falsely used as evidence of a post-racial America or ‘the end of black politics’ (16). Through an intersectional analysis, Jeffries demonstrates how class informs and defeats this assumption: recognizing the persistent operation of a ‘black counterpublic’ and the ways in which black political institutions have been undermined (93). He ultimately calls on citizens to demand change to the institutions that create inadequate leadership and host political power, rather than solely critiquing leaders of colour…

Read the entire review here.

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The collection of race-based data in the USA: a call for radical change

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-27 20:27Z by Steven

The collection of race-based data in the USA: a call for radical change

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1839-1846
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.932407

Peter Aspinall, Emeritus Reader in Population Health
University of Kent, United Kingdom

Two important new books by Greg Carter and Kenneth Prewitt provide detailed historical perspectives on how understandings of race and race categories have evolved since the founding of the republic. Prewitt focuses on an analysis of racial classification in the US census – the so-called ‘statistical races’ –and its changing role in US policy, culminating in recommendations for radical change. Carter takes as his theme population mixing across the races, offering a positive, even celebratory, but little known account of the moments and movements that have praised mixing. As pressures mount on the ‘statistical races’ in the late twentieth century, Prewitt uses the political space opened up by these debates to offer fundamental changes to US methods of ethno-racial data collection, including the removal of these questions from the census. The jury is in recess for further deliberations.

Read the review of both books here.

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Mixed-Race Youth and Schooling: The Fifth Minority

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Teaching Resources, United States on 2014-08-27 14:27Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Youth and Schooling: The Fifth Minority

Routledge
2015-07-31
224 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-13-802191-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-13-802193-8

Sandra Winn Tutwiler, Professor of Education
Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas

This timely, in-depth examination of the educational experiences and needs of mixed-race children (“the fifth minority”) focuses on the four contexts that primarily influence learning and development: the family, school, community, and society-at-large.

The book provides foundational historical, social, political, and psychological information about mixed-race children and looks closely at their experiences in schools, their identity formation, and how schools can be made more supportive of their development and learning needs. Moving away from an essentialist discussion of mixed-race children, a wide variety of research is included. Life and schooling experiences of mixed-raced individuals are profiled throughout the text. Rather than pigeonholing children into a neat box of descriptions or providing ready made prescriptions for educators, Mixed-Race Youth and Schooling offers information and encourages teachers to critically reflect on how it is relevant to and helpful in their teaching/learning contexts.

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Calling for Calm in Ferguson, Obama Cites Need for Improved Race Relations

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-19 15:23Z by Steven

Calling for Calm in Ferguson, Obama Cites Need for Improved Race Relations

The New York Times
2014-08-18

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House Reporter

WASHINGTON — President Obama called for calm and healing in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday even as he acknowledged the deep racial divisions that continue to plague not only that St. Louis suburb but cities across the United States.

“In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement,” Mr. Obama said at the White House. “In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear.”

“We’ve made extraordinary progress” in race relations, he said, “but we have not made enough progress.”

Mr. Obama’s comments were a notable moment for the first African-American president during the most racially fraught crisis of his time in office, set off by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by the police. Mr. Obama and his administration are working to restore peace in Ferguson and ensure an evenhanded investigation into the shooting all while responding to anger — in Missouri and elsewhere — among blacks about what they say is systemic discrimination by law enforcement officials…

Read the entire article here.

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Are There Really Just Five Racial Groups?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-17 22:47Z by Steven

Are There Really Just Five Racial Groups?

Slate
2012-05-17

Brian Palmer, Chief Explainer

How the government developed its racial-classification system.

For the first time in history, more than half of American children under the age of 1 are members of a minority group, according to figures released Wednesday by the Census Bureau. Everyone is familiar with the federal government’s classification of race and ethnicity—white, black or African-American, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. Why did we settle on these particular groupings?

Because they track discrimination. Officials from the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s racial-classification system, have always admitted that the categories have no scientific or anthropological basis. They were designed in the 1970s to help track compliance with civil rights laws, and are meant to identify groups that are vulnerable to discrimination. There are other considerations, as well. The geographic nature of the categories—aside from Hispanic, which has always been the most nebulous because of its linguistic basis—are supposed to make it reasonably easy for Americans to identify their own backgrounds. Individual federal agencies may choose to split up the OMB categories for more detailed data. The Census Bureau, for example, breaks “Asian” into several subgroups, such as Asian Indian, Chinese, and Filipino.

Our modern racial-classification system is far from the first in U.S. history. The federal government asked about race indirectly (are you a slave or a free man?) in the inaugural census from 1790—although more for the purposes of the “Three-Fifths Compromise” than to prevent discrimination. In addition, early American law limited citizenship to whites, so the census had to distinguish between whites and everyone else. (African-Americans became eligible for citizenship in 1868, Native Americans in 1924, and Asian-Americans in 1954.) As people of different backgrounds intermarried and interbred, the government’s attempts to delineate people by race became increasingly tortured. For example, the 1890 census categories were white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. (Census takers carried detailed instructions on how to explain the groupings.) Race categories continued to vary for most of the 20th century. The 1920 census listed the races as “White, Black, Mulatto, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu, Korean, and Other.” The 1960 census used different terminology, listing “White, Negro, American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Other.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Northern Ireland’s most (un)wanted

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United Kingdom on 2014-08-11 21:18Z by Steven

Northern Ireland’s most (un)wanted

Media Diversified
2014-07-28

Jayne Olorunda

Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast has had many songs written about it. The lyrics of one Belfast song resonates in my ear as I think of the reputation the city now has. The lyrics of the song always stood out to me, but now they are more ironic than ever. The song goes, ‘Belfast, Belfast a wonderful town it doesn’t matter if your skin is brown’ I wonder if this was ever true? It certainly wasn’t in my time or even in my parent’s time. The outside world knows Northern Ireland as a country dominated by sectarian strife where Catholic and Protestant people have for decades been at war. This is of course true, but within Northern Ireland other hate based dynamics exist, recently they have come to the fore. Today’s Northern Ireland has a serious problem with racism and it is fast becoming a problem that can no longer be brushed aside…

…I am Northern Irish, but I am also black and this is not a comfortable position to be in, at times it has felt like a disastrous combination. My story came to public attention when I wrote ‘Legacy’ a book about my families experiences in Northern Ireland. It documents the difficulties we faced with identity and of course the sometimes impossible realities of assimilation. I was born and bred in Northern Ireland and I imagine that I am among a small handful of people of colour who can say that. It is sad that even now in my thirties black faces in Northern Ireland still stand out in the crowd. As such we have become targets to those elements in our society determined to keep their society white, those intent on living in bitterness.

Growing Up

Growing up my sisters and I have became used to being the only blacks and being identified not on our merits but as ‘the black girls’. Northern Irish racism for us began in the womb, with comments such as ‘how dare you bring another black bastard into the world’ being levelled at our mother. Our story began when my father, originally from Nigeria, was offered a job in Belfast on his graduation. Like any student fresh from university he was delighted at the opportunity in his chosen field and seized it. Whilst here he met my Mum who is from Northern Ireland. As all romances go the pair fell in love and got married, they had a family consisting of three children, I was the youngest. Not everything was perfection and it goes without saying that my parents encountered racism, they met in the 1970’s after all. Yet they were a strong couple and as long as they were together they coped…

Read the entire article here.

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Checking new boxes

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2014-08-10 18:26Z by Steven

Checking new boxes

Gender News
The Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Stanford University
2014-07-23

Ashley Farmer, Postdoctoral Fellow
Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research

Political Scientist Lauren Davenport reveals the importance of gender in understanding multiracialism

Since 2000, the year the U.S. census first allowed respondents to identify as multiracial or multiethnic, the number of Americans who identify with multiple races has increased dramatically. Given that respondents are now allowed to check multiple boxes on the census, that’s not surprising. However, what is surprising is that gender appears to be the biggest predictor of mixed-race identification.

So says Professor Lauren Davenport, assistant professor of Political Science at Stanford. In her new book project, Politics Between Black and White, which examines how social and political processes shape the outlook of multiracial Americans, she finds that women identify as multiracial at higher rates than men. Professor Davenport also finds that gender-specific factors like physical appearance and feminist politics can influence mixed-race identification…

Read the entire article here.

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Obama has 44 cousins in the Senate. Now can’t we all just get along?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-09 21:49Z by Steven

Obama has 44 cousins in the Senate. Now can’t we all just get along?

The Guardian
204-08-07

A J Jacobs

Forget the president’s Tea Party cousin or Washington animosity. My research shows that we’re all part of one big family. A dysfunctional one, but still – come on, cousins!

It’s been a tough week for the Obama family.

On Tuesday night, Barack Obama’s second cousin – a radiologist named Milton Wolf – lost the closer-than-expected Republican primary for US Senate in Kansas. Wolf and Obama share a relatively recent ancestor, a 19th century farm laborer named Thomas McCurry. Barack leaned left, Milton leaned right – he was a Tea Party candidate who believed his second cousin was “destroying America”. But still, they are, officially, kin.

So now Barack Obama is deprived of having a cousin in the US Senate.

Or is he?…

Read the entire article here.

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