Whither ‘non-racialism’: the ‘new’ South Africa turns twenty-one

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, South Africa on 2015-10-05 18:29Z by Steven

Whither ‘non-racialism’: the ‘new’ South Africa turns twenty-one

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 38, Issue 13, 2015
pages 2167-2174
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2015.1058511

Deborah Posel, Professor of Sociology
Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA)
University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

This brief essay reflects on the meaning and significance of ‘non-racialism’ in South Africa’s recent past and present. I consider the version of non-racialism that shaped the transition from apartheid to a constitutional democracy as having had dual dimensions, ethical and strategic. Ethically, non-racialism has signified a principle of human recognition that exceeds the mere tolerance of difference. Strategically, non-racialism has afforded ways of managing and disciplining the historical realities of racial differences. The politicization of race in recent years has rendered the project of non-racialism more precarious: both its ethical and strategic dimensions merit further scrutiny, if the project is to be revitalized.

Read the entire article here.

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The history of interracial sex: It’s much more than just rape or romance.

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2015-09-28 18:41Z by Steven

The history of interracial sex: It’s much more than just rape or romance.

The Los Angeles Times

Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and Afro- American Studies
Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

Carina Ray is associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University and the author of “Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana.”

When South African comedian Trevor Noah takes over as host of “The Daily Show” on Monday night, he’ll probably introduce his new audience to his family biography. Born in Johannesburg to a black South African mother and a white Swiss German father in 1984, when apartheid was still firmly in place and interracial marriage was illegal, Noah made his parents’ struggles the subject of his widely acclaimed stand-up routine “Born a Crime.”.

Their story represents an exception to one of apartheid’s harshest realities: White men sexually violated black women with impunity. But neither is it a romantic tale of racial transcendence. Noah has been frank about how his Xhosa mother paid the greater price for her relationship with a white man. Not only did she face social stigma and arrest, she was also left to raise Noah alone when his father exercised his white male privilege and left South Africa.

In my academic research, I grapple with stories like the one Noah tells, of interracial sexual relations that resist neat labels. They’re not uncommon. Yet when power dynamics are so profoundly unequal, there’s a strong incentive to deny the possibility of complexity or murkiness by falling back on binaries like rape or romance…

Read the entire article here.

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Trevor Noah Brings ‘A Different Perspective’ as Daily Show Host

Posted in Africa, Arts, Media Archive, South Africa, United States, Videos on 2015-09-24 15:28Z by Steven

Trevor Noah Brings ‘A Different Perspective’ as Daily Show Host

NBC News

Amber Payne, Managing Editor of @NBCBLK

Trevor Noah is poised to take The Daily Show throne next week and the South African comedian says his biracial and cultural background will impact and inform his perspective as host.

“It just gives me a different perspective. I feel everyone has their perspective because of where they’ve come from,” Noah told NBCBLK. “I’ve never been ashamed to say, nor do I shy away from that fact that I am black. I’ve grown up black, black is the only existence I’ve ever known. But it’s strange when you live in a world where people go ‘OK but biracial—then which piece of this, which piece of that?'”

Noah grew up under Apartheid in South Africa to a white Swiss father and a black South African mother. While his comedy is often unapologetically about race and racism, he is careful not to equate the racial tensions in the United States to the divisions and tensions in South Africa…

Read the entire article here.

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Race: An Introduction

Posted in Africa, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-09-21 20:56Z by Steven

Race: An Introduction

Cambridge University Press
August 2015
272 pages
13 b/w illus. 4 tables
245 x 190 x 12 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781107034112
Paperback ISBN: 9781107652286

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Taking a comparative approach, this textbook is a concise introduction to race. Illustrated with detailed examples from around the world, it is organised into two parts. Part One explores the historical changes in ideas about race from the ancient world to the present day, in different corners of the globe. Part Two outlines ways in which racial difference and inequality are perceived and enacted in selected regions of the world. Examining how humans have used ideas of physical appearance, heredity and behaviour as criteria for categorising others, the text guides students through provocative questions such as: what is race? Does studying race reinforce racism? Does a colour-blind approach dismantle, or merely mask, racism? How does biology feed into concepts of race? Numerous case studies, photos, figures and tables help students to appreciate the different meanings of race in varied contexts, and end-of-chapter research tasks provide further support for student learning.

  • Combines a broad historical overview (from the ancient world to the present day) with wide geographical and comparative coverage to show that race means different things in different contexts
  • Detailed historical and ethnographic material in textboxes, figures, photos and tables demonstrates the operation of race in everyday life
  • Offers an up-to-date, critical overview of a fast-changing field


  • List of figures
  • List of tables
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • 1 Knowing ‘race’
    • 1.1 Chronology of race
    • 1.2 Is race defined by appearance, biology and nature?
    • 1.3 Culture, appearance and biology revisited
    • 1.4 Race, comparatively and historically
    • 1.5 Comparisons
    • 1.6 Race in the history of Western modernity
    • Conclusion: so what is race?
    • Further research
  • Part I race in time
    • 2 Early approaches to understanding human variation
      • 2.1 Nature and culture
      • 2.2 Ancient Greece and Rome
      • 2.3 Medieval and early modern Europe
      • 2.4 New World colonisation
      • Conclusion
      • Further research
    • 3 From Enlightenment to eugenics
      • 3.1 Transitions
      • 3.2 Changing racial theories
      • 3.3 The spread of racial theory: nation, class, gender and religion
      • 3.4 Nature, culture and race
      • 3.5 Black reaction
      • Conclusion
      • Further research
    • 4 Biology, culture and genomics
      • 4.1 Darwin (again), genetics and the concept of population
      • 4.2 Boas and the separation of biology and culture
      • 4.3 Nazism, World War II and decolonisation
      • 4.4 UNESCO and after
      • 4.5 The persistence of race in science
      • 4.6 Race and IQ
      • 4.7 Race and sport
      • 4.8 Race, genomics and medicine: does race have a genetic basis?
      • 4.9 Race, genomics and medicine: racialising populations
      • Conclusion
      • Further activities
    • 5 Race in the era of cultural racism: politics and the everyday
      • 5.1 Introduction
      • 5.2 The institutional presence of race
      • 5.3 Race, nature and biology in the everyday world of culture
      • Conclusion
      • Further research
  • Part II Race in practice
    • 6 Latin America: mixture and racism
      • 6.1 Introduction
      • 6.2 Latin America and mestizaje
      • 6.3 Colombia: racial discrimination and social movements
      • 6.4 Structural disadvantage, region and mestizaje: lessons from Colombia
      • 6.5 Brazil: variations on a theme
      • 6.6 Guatemala: racial ambivalence
      • 6.7 Performing and embodying race in the Andes
      • Conclusion
      • Further research
    • 7 The United States and South Africa: segregation and desegregation
      • 7.1 Changing US demographics
      • 7.2 Caste and class in segregated Southern towns
      • 7.3 Black reaction and ‘desegregation’
      • 7.4 Segregation in practice: ‘the ghetto’
      • 7.5 Latinos and brownness
      • 7.6 South Africa
      • Conclusion
      • Further activities
    • 8 Race in Europe: immigration and nation
      • 8.1 European histories of race
      • 8.2 Issues in post-colonial migration in Europe
      • 8.3 White Britons in Leicestershire
      • 8.4 Asian Leicester
      • 8.5 The Asian gang in London
      • 8.6 Geographies of race in black Liverpool
      • 8.7 Algerians in France
      • Conclusion
      • Further activities
    • 9 Conclusion
      • 9.1 Theorising race
      • 9.2 Globalising race
      • 9.3 The future of race
    • References
    • Index
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The “Coming White Minority”: Brazilianization or South-Africanization of U.S.?

Posted in Africa, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa, United States on 2015-09-07 02:07Z by Steven

The “Coming White Minority”: Brazilianization or South-Africanization of U.S.?

Racism Review: scholarship and activism towards racial justice

Joe Feagin, Ella C. McFadden and Distinguished Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M University

To understand the so-called “browning of America” and “coming white minority,” we should accent the larger societal context, the big-picture context including systemic racism. “Browning of America” issues have become important in the West mainly because whites are very worried about this demographic trend. Black-British scholar, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, has noted that whites are fearful

because for such a long time the world has been their own. . . . There is an underlying assumption that says white is right. . . . There is a white panic every time one part of their world seems to be passing over to anyone else. . . . There was this extraordinary assumption that white people could go and destroy peoples and it would have no consequence.

Let us consider a few reasonable, albeit speculative, extrapolations of current social science data to social changes from now to the 2050s:

(1) Dramatic demographic changes are coming: According to US Census projections this country will become much less white, with the greatest relative growth in the Latino, Asian, and multiracial populations. By 2050 it will be about 439 million people, with a majority of people of color (53 percent), the largest group being Latino (30 percent). Long before, a majority of students and younger workers will be of color. Over coming decades immigrant workers of color and their descendants will keep more cities from economic decline. Census data for 2050 indicate the oldest population cohort will be disproportionately white and younger cohorts will be disproportionately people of color–thereby overlaying a racial divide with a generational divide, probably generating racial-generational conflicts (See William Frey, The Diversity Explosion)…

A Panoramic View: Brazilianization or South-Africanization?

In recent years numerous scholars and media analysts have suggested the idea of significantly greater racial intermediation coming as the U.S. becomes much less white. Taking a panoramic view, they suggest a future that involves a “Brazilianization” or “Latinization’ of the United States.

Brazil’s racialization process has distinguished large mixed-race, mostly lighter-skinned groups and placed them in a middling status between Brazilians of mostly African ancestry and those of heavily European ancestry. Middle groups are relatively more affluent, politically powerful, and acceptable to dominant white Brazilians, who still mostly rule powerfully at the top of the economy and politics. About half the population, darker-skinned Afro-Brazilians and indigenous Brazilians, remains very powerless economically and politically. Possibly, in the U.S. case by 2050, a developed tripartite Brazilian pattern—with increasing and large but white-positioned intermediate racial groups, such as lighter-skinned middle class groups among Asian Americans and Latinos, moving up with greater economic and socio-political power and providing a racial buffer between powerful “whites” and powerless “blacks” and other darker-skinned people of color. Even then, it seems likely that many in U.S. middle groups will find their white-framed immigration, citizenship positions, or other inferiorized status still negatively affecting additional mobility opportunities…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race Stereotypes in South African and American Literature by Diana Adesola Mafe (review)

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2015-05-26 01:30Z by Steven

Mixed Race Stereotypes in South African and American Literature by Diana Adesola Mafe (review)

Research in African Literatures
Volume 46, Number 2, Summer 2015
pages 166-168

Tru Leverette, Associate Professor of English
University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida

Mafe, Diana Adesola, Mixed Race Stereotypes in South African and American Literature: Coloring Outside the (Black and White) Lines (New York, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

In her recently published study, Diana Adesola Mafe explores the literary trope of the tragic mulatto through a comparative analysis of American and South African novels. Her work is both useful and timely, filling a gap in the literary study of colouredness and the transnational study of mixed race literature. Through this transnational lens, Mafe argues that the advent of the “age of Obama” and the renewed celebration of race mixture in the United States coincide with South Africa’s post-apartheid efforts to imagine itself as a Rainbow Nation. This celebration in both nations, however, overlooks important historical realities that are often explored through the literary figure of the tragic mulatto. Acknowledging that mulattos have often been “called upon to embody historic national moments” (1), Mafe asserts “a reading of South African fictions alongside American counterparts reveals the ongoing relevance of the tragic mulatto, which functions not only as a dated cliché and cautionary tale but also as a radical embodiment of possibility and a vehicle for social critique” (2). Indeed, Mafe illustrates through her analysis that the tragic mulatto has long functioned as a trope through which American and South African writers have critiqued race, identity, national belonging, and state-sanctioned racism.

Mafe begins her study with the introduction “Tainted Blood: The ‘Tragic Mulatto’ Tradition,” wherein she introduces the celebration of mixture within the contemporary sociopolitical contexts of the United States and South Africa. She also begins to address the tragic mulatto as a historical type. Acknowledging that, in the United States, the tragic mulatto trope developed as an abolitionist tool, Mafe briefly explores its origins in antebellum and postbellum literature. Additionally, she presents a justification for her comparative study, arguing “the tragic mulatto is a provocative keystone for analyzing these American and South African texts, which might otherwise have little else in common. When read alongside each other, these fictions expose mutual histories of stigmatization and marginalization for the mulatto figure” (14).

In chapter one, “God’s Stepchildren: The ‘Tragedy of Being a Halfbreed’ in South African Literature,” Mafe offers a history of miscegenation in South Africa and the United States, allowing her to trace the origins of the coloured and mulatto populations, respectively, in each nation. Having delineated this history, Mafe then turns her attention to the use of colouredness in South African fiction, which, she asserts, was not offered in-depth characterization until the twentieth century: “This development is inextricable from the emergence of colouredness as a ‘new’ social identity, mounting national interest in race categorization, and a literary shift from exploring Anglo-Boer relations to exploring black-white relations” (34). Through analyses of Sarah Gertrude Millin’s eugenicist novel God’s Step-Children and Peter Abrahams’s The Path of Thunder, Mafe establishes the literary origins and original uses of the tragic mulatto trope in South African literature. Throughout, she draws parallels with and highlights divergences from the use of the trope in American literature, in particular Nella Larsen’s Quicksand and Passing and James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.

In her next chapter, “‘An Unlovely Woman’: Bessie Head’s Mulatta (Re) Vision,” Mafe turns her analysis to the life and work of South African writer Bessie Head, specifically her novel A Question of Power, arguing “this text is a startling conceptualization of the mulatta that parallels but also challenges the efforts of earlier American writers” (59). Mafe explores the stereotype of the beautiful tragic mulatta and Head’s inversion of it through the presentation of an ugly protagonist, simultaneously exploring the novel’s ironic use of madness and its presentation of female sexuality. Since depictions of the tragic mulatta typically position her between the demands of white female respectability and the stereotype of black female passion, Head’s protagonist “destabilizes the exotic and erotic iconography of the mulatta, which is remarkably consistent in the American tradition” (63).

Turning from the tragic mulatta, in chapter three Mafe analyzes presentations of the mulatto man’s sexuality, again torn between “‘white’ propriety and ‘black’ passion” (86) and his filial relationship to his white father. In “‘A Little Yellow Bastard Boy’: Arthur Nortje’s Mulatto Manhood,” Mafe reads the father-son dynamic in…

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Lopsided Afro

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, South Africa on 2015-05-04 18:17Z by Steven

Lopsided Afro

Mixed Humans ~ Reflections on occupying a space of inbetweenness. Persistently grappling with identity.

Brian Kamanzi
Cape Town, South Africa

Self Determination.

I never realised how practical those words would become for my life until I started to explore the world beyond the safety of my University. Work spaces where the politics of what is considered respectable are carried out with almost total compliance without anyone mentioning a word, without anyone signing a single suggestion to law.

It was and is suffocating.

I must admit though, this moment revived memories of my childhood.
Being a child of the “colonies” our British style schools and accompanying rules really struggled to accommodate students who just didn’t quite fit the profile.

My hair was just a disaster unless kept short.
In fact, my Dad’s distate for men with anything like long hair rang in stark synchornisation with a reality and imagination that reinforced in my mind that the very hair that came out of my head was essentially…..

Read the entire article here.

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Trevor Noah’s World

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, South Africa on 2015-04-27 22:17Z by Steven

Trevor Noah’s World

The Atlantic

Douglas Foster, Associate Professor of Journalism
Medill School of Journalism
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

What makes The Daily Show’s new host unique—according to South African comics

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—When word circulated on Monday that standup comic Trevor Noah had been chosen to succeed Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, South Africans hailed Noah in hyper-caffeinated terms as the country’s “next great export” after Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Charlize Theron. On that day, I happened to be in Johannesburg shepherding students through the newsroom of The Star, where the lineup of stories at the morning editorial conference included a series of firefights between gangsters and police on public highways, allegations of corruption at every level of government, and the teetering condition of the state-run utility company, which regularly plunges the country into rolling blackouts. It was no wonder that news of a major U.S. television show hiring a 31-year-old mixed-race South African phenom as anchor had proven so welcome.

By now, the basics about Trevor Noah are well-known. He’s the young, super-cool comedian with the cherubic face and itchy Twitter finger who, beginning in 2012, achieved global recognition by way of Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jon Stewart. In a series of solo performances around the world over the last three years, he has blown up in ways that cultural figures from South Africa haven’t since the 1960s and 1970s, when musicians like Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba packed music halls during the height of racial oppression back home…

…What makes Noah’s comedy unique? “He’s slick as fuck!” Evans replied. “But also super charming,” added the young comic sitting next to him. He was a slight, Afrikaans-speaking man named Schalk Bezuidenhout, who sometimes opens for Noah when he’s performing in town. Only 22 years old—the same age as Noah when he jump-started his career as a comedian—Bezuidenhout had just come off stage after a set about the hazards of dating a flight attendant (“a non-smoking fuck”) and the unintended consequences of imposing a non-racial ideal on young people from South Africa’s 11 different language groups (“There’s nothing more messed up than a bunch of Afrikaans kids singing an African song”).

Both men said Noah distinguished himself from other comics by resisting labels and “genre-based comedy.” Bezuidenhout noted that Noah always identified himself as a mixed-race South African raised in straitened circumstances in Soweto without “using it as a crutch.” Contemporaries who have shared the stage with him say he’s unusually attuned to the audience, shifting direction based on the feel in the room, and Bezuidenhout has seen Noah drop chunks of material based on the city he’s performing in. This was a quality that a number of immigrants in South Africa had already mentioned to me. Omega Chembhere, a waiter, told me that when he had arrived from Zimbabwe 10 years earlier, much of South African pop culture had seemed inaccessible. “Trevor’s different, so good at it,” he said. “His strength is that everything springs from his experience in life, but you understand his reality because he makes an effort to explain.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, and Japan’s Miss Universe Reveal Biracial Realities

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2015-04-16 15:08Z by Steven

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, and Japan’s Miss Universe Reveal Biracial Realities

Will Wright: Cinéma, Style, Race and Politics Permeate Our Lives. That Fascinates Me.

Will Wright

Thanks in part to the changing of the guard at The Daily Show, biracial experiences and related politics have made headlines, and snuck into our minds. South African, Trevor Noah, once a correspondent for The Daily Show, has been named to host it, succeeding Jon Stewart. His immediate family tree seems about as strange to Americans as Senator Obama’s did when he began running for president; Mr. Noah’s mom is a Xhosa South African and his father Swiss.

But his mixed heritage is not the only one being discussed. If you pay attention to headlines about mixed race folks (who doesn’t, right?) then you’ve felt shockwaves from Japan’s Miss Universe contestant…

Read the entire article here.

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The Trouble With Race

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, South Africa, United States on 2015-04-13 00:38Z by Steven

The Trouble With Race

Foreign Affairs
March/April 2015

Gideon Rose, Editor

Everybody knows that racial tensions have been at the center of American political debate in recent months, but the story of racial and ethnic division is actually a global one, with a long and tortured history. For the lead package in the March/April issue, therefore, we decided to do a deep dive into racial issues in comparative and historical perspective.

Kwame Anthony Appiah kicks it off with a sweeping review of the rise and fall of race as a concept, tracing how late-nineteenth-century scientists and intellectuals built up the idea that races were biologically determined and politically significant, only to have their late-twentieth-century counterparts tear it down. Unfortunately, he concludes, recognizing that racial categories are socially constructed rather than innate doesn’t make racial problems easier to solve.

Fredrick Harris and Robert Lieberman explore the paradox of a United States in which stark racial inequalities persist even as official and individual-level racism have dramatically declined: a country that might be postracist but is hardly postracial. They point to the influence of historical legacies that baked the racism of previous eras into the cake of contemporary institutions and practices, from housing to finance to criminal justice…

Read the entire article here.

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