Direct-to-Consumer Racial Admixture Tests and Beliefs About Essential Racial Differences

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-08-29 18:46Z by Steven

Direct-to-Consumer Racial Admixture Tests and Beliefs About Essential Racial Differences

Social Psychology Quarterly
Volume 77, Number 3 (September 2014)
pages 296-318
DOI: 10.1177/0190272514529439

Jo C. Phelan, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University, New York, New York

Bruce G. Link, Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University, New York, New York; New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York

Sarah Zelner
Department of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Lawrence H. Yang, Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Columbia University, New York, New York

Although at first relatively disinterested in race, modern genomic research has increasingly turned attention to racial variations. We examine a prominent example of this focus—direct-to-consumer racial admixture tests—and ask how information about the methods and results of these tests in news media may affect beliefs in racial differences. The reification hypothesis proposes that by emphasizing a genetic basis for race, thereby reifying race as a biological reality, the tests increase beliefs that whites and blacks are essentially different. The challenge hypothesis suggests that by describing differences between racial groups as continua rather than sharp demarcations, the results produced by admixture tests break down racial categories and reduce beliefs in racial differences. A nationally representative survey experiment (N = 526) provided clear support for the reification hypothesis. The results suggest that an unintended consequence of the genomic revolution may be to reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-08-28 20:37Z by Steven

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1989-1991
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.920094

Andrés Villarreal, Professor of Sociology
University of Maryland, College Park

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue, New York, Oxford University Press, 2013, xi + 234 pp., £15.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-19-992550-6

A powerful official ideology promoted by the Mexican Government since the early twentieth century glorifies the mestizo, defined as the descendant of both indigenous and Spanish peoples, as a symbol of national identity. This same ideology holds racism to be inexistent in contemporary Mexico, and negates the contribution of individuals of African descent to Mexican history and to the racial make-up of the nation. Despite the importation of many thousands of slaves during the colonial period, blacks have been essentially erased from the national consciousness. Christina Sue’s outstanding ethnographic study uncovers how Mexican men and women work to reconcile this official national ideology which they vehemently espouse, with their own lived experiences in which individuals with a darker skin tone are routinely discriminated in everyday life, and in which African ancestry is clearly evident in some regions of the country.

Research on racial attitudes in Indo-Latin American countries such as Mexico has focused mostly on the mestizo–indigenous dichotomy. However, Sue convincingly argues that distinctions along a colour continuum within the mestizo population have an important effect on individuals’ life chances. Framing discussions in terms of colour rather than race allows many Mexicans to make comparisons without violating the national ideology according to which racial classifications are no longer relevant.

In contrast to the official ideology of non-racism, Sue finds evidence of tremendous racial prejudice among her subjects in the coastal city of Veracruz. Veracruzanos with a lighter skin tone enjoy preferential treatment socially and in work settings. Employers often code their preference for workers with lighter skin tones by soliciting candidates with ‘good presentation’, a term whose meaning is fully known by job applicants. Racial prejudice is also evident within family units. Family members use a variety of gatekeeping techniques to prevent the entry of dark-skinned individuals into their families through marriage. A woman interviewed by Sue reports that her mother-in-law refuses to speak to her because she is darker than her husband (94). Veracruzanos also agonize over children inheriting the phenotype of a darker parent. Reflecting the disappointment that his daughter inherited his darker skin tone, one father notes: ‘I wouldn’t have cared if she was ugly like me, but I wanted her to have green eyes … like her mother or be light like her mother. But she came out ugly like me’ (74). As in other parts of Latin America, Sue finds that Veracruzanos systematically equate whiteness with beauty and higher social standing. Darker family members are routinely insulted and devalued, while lighter members receive more resources and attention…

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 biopolitics of mixing: Thai multiracialities and haunted ascendancies [England Review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2014-08-28 19:00Z by Steven

The biopolitics of mixing: Thai multiracialities and haunted ascendancies [England Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1923-1926
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.925129

Sara England, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, California

The biopolitics of mixing: Thai multiracialities and haunted ascendancies, by Jinthana Haritaworn, Surrey, UK, Ashgate, 2012, vii + 187 pp., £49.50 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-7546-7680-5

The Biopolitics of Mixing falls within a large and growing literature that questions the claim that many nations in the world are now post-racial. This claim is often backed up by the observation that there are a growing number of multiracial subjects who are accepted and celebrated as beautiful, desirable and maybe even genetically superior members of society. It is further bolstered by the claim that race itself has been discredited as a category that has any biological meaning, that through mixing racial categories are blending and creatively transgressed and that multiracial subjects are the products of the ultimate sign of racial tolerance: love, marriage and family-making. Through interviews with peoples of Thai multiracial heritage and analysis of public narratives of multiraciality in England and Germany, Haritaworn argues that this new discourse that celebrates multiracial subjects may appear to be more progressive, having done away with prior narratives of the degenerate hybrid and the marginal man; however, there are also ways that this celebratory discourse ignores what she calls the ghosts of eugenics, the Thai prostitute and other less positive images of multiraciality. She also argues that the celebration of multiraciality marginalizes other subjects who do not fit the narrative of the happy multiracial subject and the love story that produced them, and that it celebrates certain kinds of mixing and multiculturalism over others. In the end, despite its seemingly progressive nature, new discourses of multiraciality still draw on conceptions of biopolitics and biological citizenship that continue to silence certain subjects and reinforce heteronormative, liberal, white subjectivity.

In chapter 2, Haritiworn enters into the debate about the ‘what are you’ question. She notes that, like researchers before her, she designed her interviews with this question in mind. However, she came to the conclusion that the question itself is problematic, both as encountered in the daily lives of multiracial people and as posed by researchers because in both cases it assumes in advance that the multiracial body is ‘naturally’ or ‘obviously’ ambiguous and in need of ‘dissection’ and explanation. Through her interviews she shows that often the ambiguity is created in the encounter itself as the subject is misrecognized as some other ‘monoracial’ category and only through the interrogation is the multiraciality revealed and its ‘signs’ searched for in the body of the interrogated. She further argues that though her interviewees did not see these questions as particularly offensive, they did come to assume an almost ritualistic character in which the interviewee knew in advance how the interrogation was going to proceed and what assumptions underlie it. Some therefore compliantly responded to what the interrogator wanted to hear, others delighted in shocking them, while others played along with their racial assumptions and misrecognitions. While none of these strategies serve to dismantle the racial assumptions behind the interrogation, they could sometimes turn the power of ‘surveillance’ back onto the interrogator whose racial assumptions were revealed.

Unlike their varied strategies of resistance to the ‘what are you’ question, Haritaworn’s interviewees were more consistent in their celebration of the ‘beautiful Eurasian’, a discourse that she argues appears to turn the tables on the bioracial logic of eugenics in which mixes were assumed to produce degenerations of the ‘pure’ racial stocks, but that upon inspection actually shares some of its logic. For example, interviewees talked of themselves as superior breeds that are more beautiful and healthy than monoracial individuals, a belief grounded in the long-standing racial logic that equates phenotype with other ‘non-racial’ characteristics. But even within this celebration of mixing as producing bodies with ‘the best of both worlds’, some mixes were seen as more beautiful or seamless, than others, particularly Asian plus white which produces a browned white body or a diluted Thai body, in contrast to those who are a ‘dually minoritized mix’ whose bodies were seen as a more problematic clashing of disparate racialized body parts (Arab nose with Thai eyes, etc.). Haritaworn further shows that this ‘ghost of eugenics’ in the celebration of the biological superiority of the multiracial body is not simply a discourse among multiracial peoples themselves but is also present in the public sphere and given the legitimization of scientific ‘truth’ through research that seeks to locate race at the genetic level and has made the argument that multiracial peoples exhibit more ‘heterozygosity’ and are therefore physically and mentally superior to those who do not mix. She demonstrates this in chapter 4 through an analysis of the British documentary Is it Better to be Mixed Race? which aired on Channel 4 in 2009. The documentary follows Araathi Prasad, a British South Asian scientist, as she interviews largely white male scientists and happy heterosexual multiracial families with their beautiful children. Haritaworn argues that ‘While superficially reversing the old racial purity doctrine on national reproduction, the new bioracial knowledge repeats its heteronormativity and preserves and diversifies its ableism’ (89). In contrast to the racial logic of eugenics, ‘Interraciality is foregrounded as the transgressive, cutting-edge practice of the future’; however, like eugenics ‘heterosexuality remains its unspoken, taken for granted backdrop’ (90). Thus, rather than dismantling the idea of race as a biological fiction, this new line of research reifies it into the body at the genetic level and reproduces ideas of superior and inferior ‘biological citizens.’…

Read the entire review 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 2014-08-28 14:55Z by Steven

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

BroadwayWorld.com Atlanta
2014-07-10

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 www.FoxTheatre.org, by calling 855-285-8499 or at The Fox Theatre Ticket Office.

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 www.onedropoflove.org.

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 www.MixedRootsStories.org

For more information, click 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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“What Are You?”: Racial Ambiguity, Stigma, and the Racial Formation Project

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-27 16:09Z by Steven

“What Are You?”: Racial Ambiguity, Stigma, and the Racial Formation Project

Deviant Behavior
Volume 35, Issue 12, 2014
pages 1006-1022
DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2014.901081

Tiffanie Grier, Career Placement Director & Garden to Groceries Project Director
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, Memphis Tennessee

Carol Rambo, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Memphis, Memphis Tennessee

Marshall A. Taylor
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

Using interview data from individuals who were frequently asked some version of the question “What are you?” in regards to their race, we apply a deviance perspective to frame these encounters as micro level racial formation projects. Racial formation projects are problematized when one’s race is not readily classifiable. These data suggest that when race is perceptibly ambiguous, stigma is assigned and normativity is enforced through discursive constraint and other means. Racially ambiguous individuals use many forms of resistance to navigate these encounters and make identity claims that either affirm or endanger the normative racial formation order.

Read or purchase the article here.

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And you thought we had moved beyond all that: biological race returns to the social sciences

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-08-27 15:45Z by Steven

And you thought we had moved beyond all that: biological race returns to the social sciences

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1676-1685
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.931992

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Recently, sociologists have argued in high-profile journals that racial categories are linked to genetically distinct clusters within the human population. They propose theorizing race as a socially constructed categorization system that is related to biological groupings within our species. This work overlooks, however, the extent to which statistically inferred genetic clusters are themselves socially constructed, making it impossible to juxtapose ‘subjective’ social categories with ‘objective’ biological ones. This editorial urges social scientists to take a critical look at claims about the genetic underpinnings of race, and to contribute their insights to ongoing debates about the nature of race.

Read the entire article here.

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“Everyone Knows It’s a Social Construct”: Contemporary Science and the Nature of Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-08-27 15:32Z by Steven

“Everyone Knows It’s a Social Construct”: Contemporary Science and the Nature of Race

Sociological Focus
Volume 40, Issue 4, 2007
pages 436-454
DOI: 10.1080/00380237.2007.10571319

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Sociological literature frequently claims that scientists across the disciplinary spectrum have arrived at the common conclusion that race is socially constructed, not biologically anchored. I investigate contemporary scientific thinking about race by interviewing more than 40 biologists and anthropologists at four northeastern universities. Contrary to sociologists’ expectations, racial constructionism is revealed to be a minority viewpoint. Moreover, this research shows that the usual “constructionist” versus “essentialist” dichotomy a blunt tool for characterizing the debate about race; a third platform—“antiessentialism”—must be taken into account. Recognizing antiessentialist discourse calls for a reevaluation of prior research that emphasizes socioeconomic status and professional affiliation as influences on interviewees’ concepts of race; this project demonstrates that such tectors do little to distinguish essentialist from antiessentialist veiwpoints.

Read or purchase the article 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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