Preview: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni questions race and identity in “One Drop of Love”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-22 18:37Z by Steven

Preview: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni questions race and identity in “One Drop of Love”

ArtsATL: Atlanta’s source for arts news and reviews

Kelundra Smith

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

As an MFA candidate in the Television, Film and Theatre program at California State University, Los Angeles, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni originally set out to make a documentary about identity and race, using her Jamaican and white ancestry as the core of the story, as her thesis project. But since her concentration was on performance, a professor advised her to do a theater piece to showcase her acting chops. So she took her footage and research and transformed the documentary into a multimedia one-woman show called One Drop of Love. She is performing that show in the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom tonight at 7 p.m.

The title derives from the U.S. Census “one drop rule,” which states that a person who has at least one parent of African descent is automatically considered black. The daughter of a Jamaican father (Winston Barrington Cox) and white mother (Trudy Cox), DiGiovanni spent her early years in Washington, D.C., until her parents divorced and she moved to Cambridge with her mom and brother Winston. She spent much of her life questioning and aligning herself with a strong black identity, but falling in love with a European man caused her to ponder that choice more intensely.

The blue-eyed, blonde-haired actor, writer and producer married her husband, Diego, in July 2006, and her father did not attend the wedding. His absence from her nuptials caused them not to speak for seven years. But One Drop of Love needed an ending, just as her relationship with her father needed reconciliation. Here DiGiovanni talks about her ethnic identity, the role race has played in her family and a chance encounter with one of the show’s producers, actor Ben Affleck.

ArtsATL: How do you ethnically identify?

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: I am a culturally mixed woman searching for racial answers. That’s the best I can say, and I explore this in the show. I talk about how my ethnic identity has changed over the years, based on geography and relationships with my family. It is constantly changing. However, I got to the point politically where I had to educate myself about the way black people are treated in this country. As someone who may not look black or identify as black, I have a lot of privileges that people who don’t look like me — who aren’t light-skinned or have blue eyes — can’t take advantage of. Sometimes I think that calling myself black and aligning myself with that struggle does a disservice to people who are actively living that struggle, because they don’t have the same privileges…

…ArtsATL: In identifying as black, did that affect your relationship with your white mother?

DiGiovanni: Momma Trudy is a free spirit who loves everybody and cares deeply about justice and equality, and she was all for it. She encouraged my brother and me to attend historically black colleges. She encouraged us to identify as black. She was never hurt by my identity choices. She encouraged us to know her family, but she also shared stories about how her mother disinherited her after she married my father. She did us a great service, because she shared it all with us, including her understanding of justice and equality, especially knowing that my brother was going to move through life as an identifiable black man…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Privilege of White Hispanic: Leaving Out the Rest

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-21 17:32Z by Steven

The Privilege of White Hispanic: Leaving Out the Rest

Latino Voices
The Huffington Post

César Vargas, Writer, director, activist

People talk so much about Latinos denying their Blackness, but bring up the term “white Latino” and you will see an extreme reaction, visceral attack from white Latinos themselves. Tactics such as (and I’m pretty sure you’ve read this a lot from racist Americans): Stop talking about race, Latinos aren’t racist, white and Black Latinos are still treated the same, your language is divisive. They love to pretend they don’t enjoy privileges afforded to them when they identify as Latino or Hispanic.

Embracing Latino or Hispanic has not benefitted Indigenous folks, Chicanos or Afro-Latinos because it has been robbed from the rest of us by white Latinos for their own agenda: money and political powers with brands, sponsors, the government, publications, grants, you name it.

We are here to demand to be included in Latinoness and not just with a label so we can be targeted for political and monetary gain: with positions in the government, with positions as brand ambassadors, with positions in both the film industry and TV networks. With jobs…

Read the entire article here.

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GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 21:36Z by Steven

GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Larry Clayton, Professor of History Emeritus
University of Alabama

I had a friend from the Dominican Republic who came to the University of Alabama and Stillman College on a joint Fulbright appointment years ago. He was a well-known and respected poet and writer in his own land and, after a few months, he remarked to me, “Larry, I didn’t realize I was a black until I came to this country!”

The question of race, such a painful and rancorous illness in American society, has not played out the same in other countries with similar historical backgrounds.

A few years ago, Carl Degler wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning study titled “Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States.” His theme was summarized in the phrase the “mulatto escape hatch.” Degler compared the role of race in the histories of Brazil and the U.S.

Degler was curious: Why was Brazil thought to be a “racial democracy” of sorts, while the United States was fighting its way out of segregation? Both countries had had large African slave populations — Brazil’s much larger than America’s — both had emancipated the slaves in the 19th century, both were functioning republics and both were colonized by European settlers. So, why such different racial trajectories?

The difference was the “mulatto escape hatch,” or the ability of people of mixed races in Brazil to rise up and integrate across Brazilian society without their color or background being held against them…

Read the entire article here.

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Monica Pearson Show with Fanshen Cox

Posted in Arts, Audio, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 15:31Z by Steven

Monica Pearson Show with Fanshen Cox

Monica Pearson Show
KISS 104FM, Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia

Monica Pearson, Host

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Award-Winning Actress, Producer and Educator
One Drop of Love

Listen Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni’s radio interview with Emmy Winner Monica Pearson on KISS 104 FM in Atlanta here (00:34:47). Download the interview here.

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One-Woman Multimedia Show ONE DROP OF LOVE Comes to The Fox Theatre, 9/21

Posted in Arts, Census/Demographics, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 14:19Z by Steven

One-Woman Multimedia Show ONE DROP OF LOVE Comes to The Fox Theatre, 9/21 Atlanta

The Fox Theatre is presenting One Drop of Love on Sunday, September 21 at 3 PM and 7 PM in the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom. The show is a multimedia solo performance exploring family, race, love, pain and a path towards reconciliation. Monica Pearson, an active community leader and influencer, will moderate the discussion following both shows. Tickets are $25 and are available for purchase now at, by calling 855-285-8499 or at The Fox Theatre Ticket Office.

LIMITED OFFER: ½ price tickets available on Goldstar!

One Drop of Love is a multimedia one woman show written and performed by the show’s writer/performer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni and is produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It incorporates film, photographs and animation to examine how “race” has been constructed in the United States and how it can influence our most intimate relationships. The show will take you on a journey from the 1700s to the present spanning locations through the world as 16 characters facilitate reconciliation between a daughter and her father. Immediately following each performance, Fanshen facilitates a Q&A segment.

“Amazing performance, staging, autobiography, artistry and an amazing meditation on race and examination of America,” stated Ben Affleck, show producer and 2013 Academy Award winning actor. “I am in awe.” For more information on One Drop of Love, visit

About Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR as a spokesperson on using the arts to explore racial identity. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and has designed curricula for and taught English as a Second Language to students from all over the world. She has been honored with the Peace Corps’ Franklin H. Williams Award, and with Peace Corps Fellows and Hollywood Foreign Press Association scholarships. She holds a BA in Spanish and Education, an MA in TESOL, and an MFA in Acting and Performance in Film, TV and Theater. Fanshen is also a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theater/LA Playwrights Unit, and a co-curator of

For more information, click here. Purchase tickets here ($5.00 discount with promotional access code “LOVE”).

What Audiences Are Saying:

Fanshen Cox’s “One Drop of Love” interweaves the intimacy of personal experience with the larger social and political changes redefining race, gender and the kinship in America. As  important as the performance itself is Fanshen’s sincere interest in, and ability to, connect with her audiences, to link her extremely personal story to other people’s experiences, to be open to their voices even as she is telling her own story. Fanshen offers an insightful, smart, informed, clear-eyed investigation into the complexity of being “mixed” that makes her private journey of keen interest to anyone who crosses cultural or racial boundaries.

- Michele Elam, professor of English, Stanford University

Fanshen’s story is quite incredible, but it is her retelling of it that captures an audience.  I have rarely seen a group of teenagers so rapt with attention to hear the next word.  Her ability to use the personal to build a story about race, family and bridging painful rifts among loved ones and strangers was so potent for these young men and women who grapple with these issues daily.  She is the kind of performer who will inspire people to embrace what makes them different and see it as a strength.

- Randall Arney, Artistic Director, Geffen Playhouse

Wow. “One Drop of Love” is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your story and opening up so much thoughtful reflection and discussion about mixed heritage and race — my mind is still buzzing and the audience was so energized.

- Sady Sullivan, Director of Oral History, Brooklyn Historical Society

“One Drop of Love” is beautiful and brave. Cox DiGiovanni’s honesty, insight, dedication, and love are an inspiration. She takes us into the intimate places where family, race, love, and pain intertwine. In this sometimes searing, sometimes funny, and always smart play she shows us both the terrible things we do to those we love and a way forward to a better future.

- Paul Spickard, professor of history at University of California, Santa Barbara

The performance was hands-down the best Choate performance I have ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of white struggle stories, and a lot of black struggle stories, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mixed struggle story.

- Zemia Edmondson, student at Choate Rosemary Hall

“One Drop of Love” is an hour of pure magic. Cox DiGiovanni is able to shift through time and space and different characters to explain the racial paradigm in America, and the relationship between her and her father in ways that anyone can understand. I highly recommend this show.

- Steven F. Riley, Owner/Curator

Wow. Hollywood spends millions on movies and they couldn’t bring me from folded over laughter to tears as easily as Fanshen did. She’s engaging with the audience and honest. One Drop conquers racial issues with honesty and an open heart. Anyone who has ever felt out of place…or had a really crazy (but loving) family will really enjoy this.

- Angela Nissel, co-producer Scrubs; author: Broke DiariesMixed; writer on The Boondocks

In “One Drop of Love,” Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni offers a thought-provoking, informative, and moving exploration of race, racism, and what it means to identify as “culturally mixed.”  Her authenticity and humor, as she recounts her complex relationships with her parents and the evolution of her thinking, are deeply engaging. This piece not only educates and prompts discussion about important issues, but also inspires audience members to examine and honor their own struggles with identity.

- Jennifer Zakkai, Education Projects Leader, Geffen Playhouse

One Drop of Love is funny, entertaining and moving.

- Kim Wayans, Actress: PariahIn Living Color; Writer/Performer: A Handsome Woman Retreats

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Join the Greatest Minds Society of GSU for a Discussion on Racial Identity with Playwright Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-18 01:21Z by Steven

Join the Greatest Minds Society of Georgia State University for a Discussion on Racial Identity with Playwright Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni of “One Drop of Love

Georgia State University Speaker’s Auditorium
44 Courtland Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Thursday, 2014-09-18, 13:30-15:30 EDT (Local Time)

Who are you? What’s your identity? Where do you come from? What’s your story? What’s your history?

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Award-Winning Actress, Producer and Educator
“One Drop of Love”

Ashley Uzamere, Undergraduate Student, EVP
Student Goverment Association

George R. Greenidge, Jr., Ph.D. Student
Department of Sociology
President, Greatest Minds Society

Lauren Sudeall Lucas, J.D., Assistant Professor of Law
Georgia State University College of Law

Kyael Moss, Undergraduate Student, Student Senator
Student Goverment Association

Laschonda Pituk, Undergraduate Student
Member, Greatest Minds Society

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One drop or two: Mixed-race identity and politics in America with Sharon H. Chang

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-10 18:10Z by Steven

One drop or two: Mixed-race identity and politics in America with Sharon H. Chang

Rabble Podcast Network

Charlene Sayo, Co-host

Andrew Sayo, Co-host

Eirene Cloma, Co-host

When Seattle-based researcher and writer Sharon H. Chang wrote an essay that detailed why she tells her mixed-race son that he’s Asian and not white, many readers were surprised —some were downright offended—that she would deny him his “whiteness.” These reactions led Sharon—who herself is mixed-race—to write a follow-up essay aptly titled “Why Mixed with White isn’t White.” Naturally, I had to feature her on MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman. For this episode, Sharon tackles race, racism, mixed-race identity and the dangers of assuming white privilege when you look anything but.

Listen to interview (00:31:07) here. Download the interview here.

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Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-10 16:23Z by Steven

Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World

Paradigm Publishers
June 2015
192 pages
Trim size: 6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61205-848-1

Sharon H. Chang

Research continues to uncover early childhood as a crucial time when we set the stage for who we will become. In the last decade, we have also seen a sudden massive shift in America’s racial makeup with the majority of the current under-5 age population being children of color. Asian and multiracial are the fastest growing self-identified groups in the United States. More than 2 million people indicated being mixed race Asian on the 2010 Census. Yet, young multiracial Asian children are vastly underrepresented in the literature on racial identity. Why? And what are these children learning about themselves in an era that tries to be ahistorical, believes the race problem has been “solved,” and that mixed race people are proof of it? This book is drawn from extensive research and interviews with sixty-eight parents of multiracial children. It is the first to examine the complex task of supporting our youngest around being “two or more races” and Asian while living amongst “post-racial” ideologies.

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Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-09-09 20:14Z by Steven

Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China

Lijia Zhang, Writer, Journalist, Social Commentator

Lijia Zhang recounts her struggle to instill pride and love of all things Chinese in her daughters

May, my 17-year-old elder daughter, told me the results of her school exams by phone. When there was a pause, she asked: “Are you disappointed?” I shouldn’t have been. Three As and a B were good results.

But the problem was that she got the B in Chinese. And she is half Chinese.

I see it partly as my fault in failing to speak Chinese consistently at home, at least for the time May and her younger sister, Kirsty, spend at my house. The truth is that she’s really interested in the language and, indeed, the Chinese part of her cultural heritage.

A few years back, I took the girls to Bangladesh for a holiday. As soon as we were out of my friend’s guarded complex, we were surrounded by curious locals.

“Where are you from?” they asked the girls. May, the spokeswoman of the two, replied without hesitation: “We are from England.”

After we had settled down in a rickshaw, I said to May: “You were born in Beijing. Save for four years in London, you grew up in China. How does it qualify you as ‘English’?” May blinked her big round eyes. “Well, if I tell people I am Chinese, they wouldn’t believe me.”

True, May doesn’t look very Chinese, with her fair skin and brown hair, especially the way she carries herself. Kirsty, who has a darker complexion and more delicate facial features, looks a little more oriental.

Yet they both fundamentally identify themselves as British, even though they do sometimes describe themselves as “half Chinese and half British”…

Read the entire article here.

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Between two worlds

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2014-09-07 21:36Z by Steven

Between two worlds

The Guardian/The Observer

Geraldine Bedell

Britain has one of the fastest-growing mixed-race populations – but many people are still hostile towards interracial couples. We asked some of them how their lives have been affected

During the 1991 Gulf war, Richard Littlejohn wrote in the Sun that British women married to Iraqis ‘should be left to rot in their adopted country, with their hideous husbands and their unattractive children’.

Even making allowances for jingoism, this was vicious stuff – and typical of attitudes to interracial relationships for centuries. Today, the UK has one of the fastest-growing mixed-race populations in the world. According to a Policy Studies Institute report in 1997, half of all black men born here who are currently in a relationship have a white partner, and a third of black women (and one fifth of Asian men and 10 per cent of Asian women). One in 20 pre-school children in the country is thought to be mixed-race.

From Diana, Princess of Wales to Trevor McDonald, Michael Caine to Zeinab Badawi, countless celebrities have, or have had, lovers from different racial backgrounds. People of mixed race, from Zadie Smith to Halle Berry, Hanif Kureishi to Paul Boateng, are increasingly in the public eye; and in parts of our big cities, interracial relationships are so common that even to notice them is bad manners. When we set out to find couples for this article, some people thought that even taking an interest in the subject was racist.

Which it might be, if the relationships were untouched by other people’s assumptions. You don’t have to look far on the internet before you come across sites with quite vicious connotations: ‘A note to Asian (and white) men: who’s sleeping with your women?’ Then there are the offers of Thai brides and hot black chicks for people who like their flesh a particular, and preferably exotic, colour. (Since the eighteenth century, black people have been an icon for rampant, probably deviant sexuality).

Randall Kennedy, a professor of law at Yale University and author of a new book, Interracial Intimacies, (Pantheon) notes that African Americans take one of three views of such relationships: they see them as a positive good, decreasing segregation; they are agnostic, considering relationships a private matter – thus fending off the common assumption that successful black people want nothing more than a white partner; or they repudiate mixed relationships on politicised black-is-beautiful grounds.

The situation in Britain is less fervid than in the US, partly because of our different histories of slavery, partly because of the greater degree of residential integration here. Even so, the past couple of decades have seen a militant pro-black position that has led to mixed-race children being labelled black willy-nilly, especially for the purposes of adoption. Jill Olumide, interviewed below, has met white single mothers who have been told that they may not be suitable to raise their own children since they are unable to socialise them into ‘their’ ‘black culture’. As Paul Gilroy, the British-born Harvard academic has said, racism and this kind of anti-racism share precisely the same essentialist assumptions about totality, identity and exclusion.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown makes a powerful case in a recent book, Mixed Feelings, for awareness and acknowledgement of a new kind of Briton. People of mixed race are now 11 per cent of the ethnic-minority population, which implicates a lot of people if you include their parents and grandparents. Alibhai-Brown is wryly aware of the ‘unreal and unhelpful’ tendency of people like herself, in interracial marriages, to become ‘warriors for a cause’. It is possible, she reflects, that Britain is ‘good at’ certain types of diversity, such as food and sex; that doesn’t mean we’ve stamped out racism.

Even so, the final impression left by her analysis is pretty positive. Identity undoubtedly derives from being part of social groupings. But we also find and reinforce ourselves through our individual interactions. Interracial relationships have shown, time and time again, that no amount of social construct can kill human attractions…

Read the entire article and interview here.

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