Zadie Smith’s Rhythmic Play in Shadow and Light

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, New Media on 2016-11-23 02:21Z by Steven

Zadie Smith’s Rhythmic Play in Shadow and Light

Los Angeles Review of Books

Walton Muyumba, Associate Professor Assistant Director of Creative Writing
Indiana University

Zadie Smith, Swing Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016).

I FINISHED READING SWING TIME, Zadie Smith’s new novel, her fifth, around the time the Swedish Academy announced that Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Among my initial reactions to this confluence was to think of Marcus Carl Franklin, the young African-American actor who portrayed one version of Dylan in Todd Haynes’s 2007 biographical film, I’m Not There. Franklin plays Woody, an imagined Dylan in his Woody Guthrie stage, a role Dylan himself constructed as a cross between the hoboing white troubadour and a wandering black blues man; on-screen, then, Franklin performs a performance of a performance. Haynes’s casting choice is cinematic legerdemain: blackface minstrelsy has had a central role in American entertainment from Thomas D. Rice to Bert Williams to Al Jolson to Fred Astaire to Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, so at the very least, Franklin’s performance points to the blues-idiom roots of Dylan’s musical archive and to the kinds of masking (even behind Negro performance and Welsh poetic traditions) that he has put on to “get over.” American culture, like America’s gene pool, is definitely mixed, but Franklin’s performance both represents Dylan’s musical core and disappears from our memory in the matrix of the other actors’ performances in Haynes’s film.

Smith knows about these kinds of erasures and disappearances. In the middle of Swing Time, the narrator/protagonist recalls watching, as a child, Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) with her best friend, Tracey. Growing up in 1980s London, the girls share a love of dance, Michael Jackson, and Hollywood musicals. They are both biracial and live across the street from each other in mirroring council estates in northwest London. As they enter puberty, their early closeness begins to tear as Tracey’s dance talent opens opportunities for a future on stage, and the narrator begins a kind of extended period of wandering. The narrator’s mother, with her urgent need to shove her daughter toward the middle class, also works to disrupt their connection and let Tracey fade back to her lower class beginnings…

Roth is an interesting forerunner here: The Human Stain is about blackness, racial passing, and the private self, while Swing Time is about blackness, class passing, biracial identity, and the unknown self. Swing Time could be the narrator’s straightforward realist memoir about growing up biracial in a council flat with a compliant, Anglo father and an ambitious, Jamaican mother; about a long, strange friendship and rivalry with Tracey; about a middle class striving and the vagaries of ethnically mixed life in NW London; about the enabling fictions and intellectual freedoms of British university life in the late 1990s; or about experiences with pop celebrity as a member of an entourage, including building a school for girls in Gambia. Instead, Smith offers a narrator who goes sideways…

Read the entire review here.

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The Myth of a Post-Racial America

Posted in New Media on 2016-11-20 01:48Z by Steven

The Myth of a Post-Racial America

Literary Hub

Pamela Newkirk, Professor of Journalism
New York University

Pamela Newkirk Wonders How Much Further Back We Can Go…

For the past eight years, many African-Americans instinctively presumed that the venom spewed at President Obama was on account of his race. More recently, we endured a steady stream of chilling videotaped killings of unarmed blacks by police, and the harsh realization that despite all our protests and all our tears, for much of white America, Black Lives Don’t Much Matter. In case after case, the police went unpunished and most whites, when polled, supported impunity.

By the time Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, he vowed to ban Muslims, build a wall to keep out Mexicans, and had scapegoated blacks. We who are black, unlike many of our fellow Americans, were hardly surprised.

For years, Trump attempted to illegitimize Obama’s presidency by stoking the Birther movement and yet still managed to win the support of a cross-section of Republican leaders, including US senators and governors, from North and South. We hoped in vain for a chorus of condemnation, and instead watched a shameful parade of Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, pledge their support or remain silent. Rather than an aberration, Trump’s rise seems the inevitable undraping of a sizable portion of white America that has always lurked in the shadows, stubbornly refusing to sync their customs with national ideals…

…Trump’s nomination and strong appeal in the general election recalls a more candid period at the turn-of the 20th century when many of the nation’s most esteemed leaders proudly flaunted their anti-immigration and anti-Black rhetoric. It behooves us to recall that, in 1916, Madison Grant’s wildly popular book The Passing of the Great Race advocated the cleansing of America from “inferior races” through birth control, racial segregation, and anti-miscegenation and anti-immigration laws. Grant, a New York high-society lawyer and co-founder of the Bronx Zoo, infamously warned:

Whether we like to admit it or not, the result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting to the more ancient, generalized and lower type. The cross between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross between a white man and a negro is a negro; the cross between a white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.

The book was hailed by President Roosevelt as “a capital book—in purpose, in vision, in grasp of the facts,” and was later praised by Hitler

Read the entire article here.

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Hapa Japan Fest 2017

Posted in New Media on 2016-11-10 19:17Z by Steven

Hapa Japan Fest 2017

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
2017-02-22 through 2017-02-26

The Hapa Japan Festival celebrates mixed-race and mixed roots Japanese people and culture. Come join us at the Japanese American National Museum and the USC campus for film screenings documenting the story of mixed race Japanese people, rich conversations with Hapa cultural icons, jam sessions, and a gastoronomic experience to remember. Please also join us as we hear from lead thinkers of Hapa Japan (and critical mixed race) scholarship at the 3-day Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) Conference which will be held in conjunction with the festival. This year’s conference explores issues in trans (gender, gressions, migrations, racial). For a full background on festival and conference participants, see our bios sections.

For more information, click here. Celebrates Its Fifth Year!

Posted in Articles, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, New Media on 2014-05-29 13:12Z by Steven Celebrates Its Fifth Year!


Steven F. Riley

This month, celebrates its fifth year. The purpose of the site, to provide a non-commercial gateway to interdisciplinary English language scholarship about multiraciality, has held steady for the last five years. Since then, the amount of content has mushroomed to over 7,000 posts and I continue to maintain the site today.

At this five-year mark, a collection of nearly 4,000 articles, over 1,100 books, and thousands of other items from various media sources are available to peruse. The site design provides links for users to follow, with excerpted remarks and passages to educate, illuminate, and pique a reader’s curiosity. Since early 2014, the site now has an active bibliography of books!

Part of the enjoyment of maintaining the site is that I have to continually update categories to keep pace with the ever-evolving field of mixed race studies.

Users from all over the world have corresponded with me, often commending the richness and usefulness of the material. One Ph.D. student wrote to say, “It’s probably the single most valuable tool in my work.”

Five years into its existence, the site now welcomes over 2,500 visitors per day; logging over 750,000 page views per month.

Thank you for your support!

the road weeps, the well runs dry

Posted in Arts, History, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2013-10-26 02:19Z by Steven

the road weeps, the well runs dry

Los Angeles Theater Center
514 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90013
Telephone: 213.489.0994

2013-10-24 through 2013-11-17
Thursday-Saturday: 20:00 PT (Local Time)
Sunday: 15:00 PT (Local Time)

Written by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Shirley Jo Finney

Rolling World Premiere

Surviving centuries of slavery, revolts, and The Trail of Tears, a community of self-proclaimed Freedmen creates the first all-black U.S. town in Wewoka, Oklahoma. The Freedmen (Black Seminoles and people of mixed origins) are rocked when the new religion and the old way come head to head and their former enslavers arrive to return them to the chains of bondage.  Written in gorgeously cadenced language, utilizing elements of African American folklore and daring humor, the road weeps, the well runs dry merges the myth, legends and history of the Seminole people.

Previews: October 24 & 25

For more information, click here.

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Research Project on “Mixed Race” Identity: Call for Participants

Posted in Canada, New Media, Social Science, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2013-08-23 22:32Z by Steven

Research Project on “Mixed Race” Identity: Call for Participants

University of Alberta

Jillian Paragg, Ph.D. Student
Department of Sociology

Are you of mixed racial background? Do you/have you identified as “mixed race”, “multiracial”, or with other “mixed” self-identifications (i.e. biracial, mulatto, eurasian, happa, creole etc.)? Do other people identify you as “mixed”?

I am looking for residents in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) to participate in life story interviews who:

  • are 40-60 years of age
  • are of mixed racial parentage
  • have been in Canada since the 1970s

I am conducting a project on mixed race identity for my doctoral dissertation in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. The purpose of the project is to explore respondents’ experiences growing up and living as “mixed race” during the multicultural era in Canada.

Interviews will involve a minimum of two sittings, each taking at least 1 to 1.5 hours – for a total time commitment of 2 to 4 hours.

If you would like to be part of this study or have questions, please contact Jillian Paragg ( by early November 2013 (will be in the GTA until end of November). This project is supervised by Dr. Sara Dorow, who can be contacted at

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Multiracial Experiences Survey

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2013-08-22 23:55Z by Steven

Multiracial Experiences Survey

Self in Social Context Lab
Psychology Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Lisa S. Giamo, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate
Experimental Social Psychology

I am conducting research as part of my dissertation at Simon Fraser University. As part of research being conducted on behalf of the Self in the Social Context Lab at Simon Fraser University, we are currently working on a study examining the experiences of multiracial people in today’s society. Psychology is just starting to study multiracial people more in depth, and we think it is important to understand more about the experiences of multiracial people and how they see themselves. We are specifically interested in people with one White and one Asian parent, as this population is the fastest growing of all of the multiracial combinations.  Since multiracial people are found all across the globe, it is difficult to do this type of research without assistance with online recruiting.

The anonymity and confidentiality of all participants are guaranteed.  If you are interested in being a part of this research, please use the following link to our survey:

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This Is The Mixed-Race Cheerios Ad All The Idiots Are Complaining About

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, New Media, United States, Videos on 2013-05-31 03:50Z by Steven

This Is The Mixed-Race Cheerios Ad All The Idiots Are Complaining About

Business Insider

Judith Grey

A new commercial for Cheerios featuring a mixed-race family has become a target for idiots on the internet.

The anodyne spot features a Caucasian mother, an African-American father and their biracial daughter, but contains no overt messaging, politically correct or otherwise (except that Cheerios are good for you).

Nonetheless, Adweek noted the spot had been propelled onto the front page of Reddit, where it received a plethora of racists remarks. noted a YouTube commentator who allegedly called the spot an “abomination.”…

Read the entire article here.

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In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-04-30 02:56Z by Steven

In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites

Associated Press

Hope Yen

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

The analysis also used population projections to estimate the shares of eligible voters by race group through 2030. The numbers are supplemented with material from the Pew Research Center and George Mason University associate professor Michael McDonald, a leader in the field of voter turnout who separately reviewed aggregate turnout levels across states, as well as AP interviews with the Census Bureau and other experts. The bureau is scheduled to release data on voter turnout in May.

Overall, the findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of America’s history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

But the numbers also offer a cautionary note to both Democrats and Republicans after Obama won in November with a historically low percentage of white supporters. While Latinos are now the biggest driver of U.S. population growth, they still trail whites and blacks in turnout and electoral share, because many of the Hispanics in the country are children or noncitizens…

Read the entire article here.

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Race, Policy, and Culture: An Identity Crisis for Sickle Cell Disease in Brazil

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Health/Medicine/Genetics, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2013-04-24 03:45Z by Steven

Race, Policy, and Culture: An Identity Crisis for Sickle Cell Disease in Brazil

Melissa S. Creary, MPH, Doctoral Candidate
Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts
Emory University

Professor Howard Kushner, Chair
Professor Jeffrey Lesser, Co-Chair

Abstract of Dissertation Prospectus

In 2001, Cândida and Altair, a married couple, started a national organization to increase the rights of sickle cell patients, and thereby gave birth to the sickle cell disease (SCD) movement in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Cândida, the wife, who carries sickle cell trait, now heads the municipal SCD unit for Salvador. She, with light skin and wavy brown hair, might be considered white in the United States, but when I asked her why she had created the organization she responded: “Eu sou negra!” (I am black). Her darker-skinned husband, who considers himself a black activist, coordinates the national SCD association and helped craft policy for SCD. As a family, Cândida and Altair shift between multiple roles: genetic carrier, parent, government official, and SCD advocate. Together these two activists have helped shape the racial discourse on SCD by associating the disease with “blackness” on the individual, organizational, and national level.

Sickle cell disease is the most common hereditary hematologic disorder in Brazil and throughout the world. In Brazil, the estimated prevalence is between 2% and 8% of the population. My research explores how patients, non-governmental organizations, and the Brazilian government, at state and federal levels, have contributed to the discourse of SCD as a “black” disease, despite a prevailing cultural ideology of racial mixture. Specifically, this project analyzes how the Brazilian state, advocacy, and patient communities within the nation have, at times, branded SCD an Afro-Brazilian disease. At the state level, I’ll describe the reigning racial ideology and how the development of racialized health policy contests their own viewpoint. On the organizational level, I’ll investigate the alignment of the SCD movement with the black movement of Brazil and the decisions made by some of these organizations to influence health policy using anti-racist motives. Lastly, I will explore the actual embodiment of SCD in the patient population and the “identity crisis” many may experience upon being diagnosed with a “black” disease.

With this framework in mind, I aim to answer the question—How are different actors (re)defining race and health through culture, biology, policy and politics in contemporary Brazil? This multi-level identity crisis is in constant contestation of competing racial frameworks at the micro, meso, and macro level. I will manage these complexities with a flexible notion of biological citizenship that considers frameworks of biology, social determinants, and policy in ways that is uniquely responsive to the cultural and historical specifics of how race, identity, health, and legitimacy operate in Brazil.

To do this, I will spend ten months in Brasília, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro investigating the construction of sickle cell disease on three different levels: advocacy organization around patient rights, individual patient and family experience, and governmental policy development and implementation. To assess the social, geographical, and political context of my subjects, I will use a series of historical and qualitative methodologies.

My work will deepen and re-think narratives of Brazil’s racial history through the lens of SCD. It also stands to generate a better understanding of the historical genealogy as it informs the current implementation of SCD policy. This analysis can provide lessons to both Brazil and the US on how future policy can be designed. Specifically, whether policy developed around populations (or sub-set of populations) can be measured against and be as effective as policy developed around disease.

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