The cradle to the grave: Reflections on race thinking

Posted in Africa, Articles, New Media, Philosophy, Social Science, South Africa on 2013-03-25 18:32Z by Steven

The cradle to the grave: Reflections on race thinking

thesis eleven: critical theory and historical sociology
Volume 115, Number 1 (April 2013)
pages 43-57
DOI: 10.1177/0725513612470533

Gerhard Maré, Professor of Sociology
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Despite a constitutional and oft-stated political commitment to an undefined notion of non-racialism, South Africans continue to operate in formal and informal ways with ‘race’ as the common-sense organizing principle of legal systems, ways of thinking, social identities, constructing arguments or closing debate, organizational and mobilizing strategies, policy development and execution, and interaction in daily life. This state of affairs is regrettable and dangerous, often questioned and rejected, but objections are waged and alternatives suggested against the tide of societal trends. What the organizing principle of race thinking does is to close the mind to alternative possibilities – of thought, social practice and ways of living. Here I explore an overview of racialism as it permeates and shapes the life cycles of citizens from birth to death. I make an argument for a way of thinking that is necessarily utopian, as one of few options of escaping a social world made in the image of apartheid.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Indigo: Shelly Jyoti and Laura Kina

Posted in Arts, New Media, United States on 2013-03-23 22:38Z by Steven

Indigo: Shelly Jyoti and Laura Kina

Curated by Greg Lunceford and Lanny Silverman
2013-01-26 through 2013-04-27

Opening Reception: Friday, 2013-01-25, 17:30-19:30 CST (Local Time)
Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Rooms
78 E. Washington Street
Chicago, Illinois 60638

Shelly Jyoti, Visual Artist, Fashion Designer, Poet, Researcher and Independent Curator

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design
DePaul University

Employing fair trade artisans from women’s collectives in India and executing their works in indigo blue, Indian artist Shelly Jyoti and US artist Laura Kina’s works draw upon India’s history, narratives of immigration and transnational economic interchanges.

Artist talk with Shelly Jyoti, Laura Kina, and Pushipika Frietas, President of MarketPlace: Handwork of India
The Chicago Rooms
Thursday, 2013-01-31 12:15 CST (Local Time)

  • View the exhibition catalog online.
  • Download a PDF of the brochure Indigo: Shelly Jyoti and Laura Kina Chicago Cultural Center.
  • Watch the 2010 video on youtube Indigo: New works by Shelly Jyoti and Laura Kina.
  • View opening night and installation photographs.
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DNA unlocks family secrets of the Chinese juggler, the enigmatic sea-captain and more

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, History, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media on 2013-03-23 19:12Z by Steven

DNA unlocks family secrets of the Chinese juggler, the enigmatic sea-captain and more

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Canada

Carolyn Abraham, Special to The Globe and Mail

The birth of my first child made me see the past through a new lens: how it’s never lost, not completely; we carry it with us, in us, and we look for it in our parents and in our children, to give us our bearings and ground us in the continuity of life. And the past accommodates. It shows off in dazzling, unpredictable ways – a familiar gait, a gesture, the timbre of a voice, a blot of colour along the tailbone. The body has a long memory indeed.

The mysteries of the past lure many to the maw of genealogy – hours, years and small fortunes devoured tracing the branches of family trees. I had never been one of those people, but now a tempting shortcut had appeared: genetic tests that promised to reveal histories never told or recorded anywhere else.

Written in the quirky tongue of DNA and wound into the nucleus of nearly every human cell are biological mementos of the family who came before us.

And science is finding ways to dig them out, rummaging through our genetic code as if it were a trunk in the attic.

When questions of identity had been with me for so long; when my children might grow up with the same questions; and my parents, with everything they know and all the secrets hiding in their living cells, could vanish in a breath – why would I wait? I imagined the cool blade of science cutting to the truth of us, after more than a century of speculation and denial.

I started asking questions about my family in the late 1970s, after people started asking them of me. I had just turned 7 and we had moved from the Toronto area to the Southern Ontario town of St. Catharines.

Our tidy subdivision must have sprung up in the space age of the 1960s: There was a Star Circle and Venus and Saturn Courts, and in our roundabout of mostly German families, we were the aliens at 43 Neptune Dr. Before we moved in, the Pontellos had been the most exotic clan.

The kids my age would pretend to be detectives investigating versions of crimes we’d seen on Charlie’s Angels. All the girls wanted to play the blond, bodacious Farrah Fawcett character, and when arguments broke out over whether my dark looks should exclude me from eligibility, an interrogation usually followed.

“So where you from, anyway?” one of the kids would ask.

Mississauga,” I’d say.

“No, really, where are you from?”

“Well, I was born in England – ”

“No, I mean, like, what are you?”

Kids can be mean, but my friends weren’t. Most of them were just curious about a brown girl with a Jewish last name who went to the Catholic school. I was curious too. I wanted to say Italian, like the Pontellos. I wanted freckles and hair that swung like Dorothy Hamill’s. But more than that, I wanted an answer.

“Just tell them you’re English,” Mum would say. “You were born in England.”

“But I don’t look English.”

“Tell them you’re Eurasian,” my father would offer.

“Where’s Eurasia?”…

Read the entire article here.

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New Latin American pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio not a person of color?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, New Media, Religion on 2013-03-21 19:47Z by Steven

New Latin American pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio not a person of color?

New York Amsterdam News
New York, New York

Courtenay Brown, Special to the AmNews

The installation of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I on March 13 caused a stir of questions regarding his race. Yes, he was the first pope from Latin America, but should he be considered the first pope of color?

By definition, a “person of color” is an all-encompassing, typically American term that categorizes non-whites, which include Asians, Indians, Native Americans, Blacks and Latinos.

This classification may work in the U.S., but it does not function so well in Latin America. According to a study by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 31.4 percent of immigrants to Argentina came from Spain, while 44.9 percent came from Italy from 1857 to 1940. This helps quantify just how many immigrants came from these specific countries as opposed to other places in Europe.

Pope Francis’ own parents were immigrants to Argentina. Since the children of two Italian citizens are legally regarded as Italian no matter where they are born, according to Italian legal tradition, Pope Francis is technically regarded as Italian.

According to Argentina native Martin Pereyra, a law student at the University of Buenos Aires, many Argentines would not identify as people of color because of the great deal of European influence in the country. The country is often even nicknamed the “Paris of South America.”

“I don’t think we have just one ‘color,’” Pereyra said. “But at the same time, we are considered Latinos.”…

…So while prescribing to a single “race” is far from a universal concept for the Latino community, Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, professor in the Chávez Department of Chicano/a Studies at the University of Central Los Angeles (UCLA), believes that Bergoglio should be considered Latino and thus a person of color—despite the pope’s Italian roots. According to Hinojosa-Ojeda, using lineage to determine who is Latino would “eliminate a large part of Latin America and a lot of Latinos,” he told LA Weekly last week.

“More important is the experience, not the genetic background,” he continued…

Read the entire article here.

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The Chowan Discovery Group: Documenting the Mixed-Race History of North Carolina’s “Winton Triangle”

Posted in Articles, History, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, United States on 2013-03-20 21:53Z by Steven

The Chowan Discovery Group: Documenting the Mixed-Race History of North Carolina’s “Winton Triangle”

Renegade South: Histories of Unconventional Southerners

Vikki Bynum, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History
Texas State University, San Marcos

Here’s another region of the South with a fascinating history of mixed-race ancestry. I discovered the Chowan Discovery Group after Steven Riley, creator and moderator of, introduced me via email to the Group’s Executive Director, Marvin T. Jones. The “Winton Triangle,” located in Hertford County, North Carolina, encompasses the three towns of Winton, Cofield, and Ahoskie. Here, people maintain a distinctive identity rooted in Native American, European, and African ancestry.

According to Marvin Jones, the Triangle traces its origins to before the 1584 arrival of the English to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where Chowanoke (Choanoac) Indian settlements were prominent along the Chowan River. After the English invasion, diseases (to which Native Americans lacked immunity) and territorial disputes decimated and disrupted the Chowanoke settlements of present-day Hertford County…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival® is Moving On and Making Room

Posted in Articles, New Media on 2013-03-18 20:16Z by Steven

Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival® is Moving On and Making Room


Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Playwright, Producer, Actress, Educator

Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival® lives on, but only in our own hearts, voices and its original mission.

The Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival® celebrated its final event in June 2012. I hope that you will honor its original mission, and all of the ways in which it touched the Mixed community and beyond by celebrating its accomplishments and continuing its mission through your own vital organizations and activities. If you are looking for ways to continue to celebrate the Mixed experience, here are just a few of the wonderful places to turn to:

I am doing anti-racist and racial identity work with my solo show and documentary:, and Heidi Durrow has applied for a number of trademarks associated with continued work in the Mixed community; however, she may not use our registered trademark Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival® in connection with any of her activities (this includes on the @mxroots twitter account and the website). If you have any questions whatsoever or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me: fanshenmc(at)gmail(dot)com.

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US stopping use of term ‘Negro’ for census surveys

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, New Media, United States on 2013-02-26 02:26Z by Steven

US stopping use of term ‘Negro’ for census surveys

The Associated Press

Hope Yen

WASHINGTON (AP) — After more than a century, the Census Bureau is dropping its use of the word “Negro” to describe black Americans in surveys.
Instead of the term that came into use during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, census forms will use the more modern labels “black” or “African-American”.
The change will take effect next year when the Census Bureau distributes its annual American Community Survey to more than 3.5 million U.S. households, Nicholas Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch, said in an interview…

Read the entire article here.

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Critical Mixed Race Studies Website is Launched

Posted in New Media on 2013-02-20 16:05Z by Steven

Critical Mixed Race Studies Website is Launched

Critical Mixed Race Studies Website

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design
DePaul University

The new Critical Mixed Race Studies website has been launched!

Critical Mixed Race Studies is the transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions of race. CMRS emphasizes the mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. CMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.

Visit the site here.


Still Too Good, Too Bad or Invisible

Posted in Articles, Arts, New Media, United States on 2013-02-15 20:41Z by Steven

Still Too Good, Too Bad or Invisible

The New York Times

Nelson George

A black slave is torn apart by dogs as a crowd of white overseers savors the sight and a black bounty hunter watches passively behind shades. A black father makes his little girl crack open a crab with her bare hands then flex her tiny muscles like a pint-size N.F.L. linebacker. A black pilot snorts a line of cocaine after a night of debauchery and, just a few minutes before liftoff, knocks back several miniature bottles of alcohol. A black woman tells President Lincoln that God will guide him as he pushes legislation that will end slavery but not dent notions of white supremacy.

The four films noted here are contenders for a slew of major Oscars: “Django Unchained,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Flight” and “Lincoln.” In the year America gave its first black president a second term, some of Hollywood’s most celebrated films, all by white directors, dealt with black-white race relations or revolved around black characters, which is rare. For the first time in recent memory race is central to several Oscar conversations. But the black characters’ humanity is hit or miss. These films raise the age-old question of whether white filmmakers are ready to grant black characters agency in their own screen lives.

Looking at these Oscar-nominated films, we should ask: Are black characters given a real back story and real-world motivations? Are they agents of their own destiny or just foils for white characters? Are they too noble to be real? Are they too ghetto to be flesh and blood? Do any of these characters point to a way forward…

…A more sophisticated standard for judging a character’s merits has emerged as the most obvious stereotypes have, for the most part, faded and as filmmakers, for better and sometimes worse, have attempted to normalize the black image. In the age of Obama, when a black man is the protagonist in our national narrative, are Hollywood’s fictional characters allowed the same agency in the stories built around them? That’s a fair question to ask of these Oscar contenders…

Read the entire article here.

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A new mixed-raced generation is transforming the city: Will Toronto be the world’s first post-racial metropolis?

Posted in Articles, Canada, New Media, Social Science on 2013-02-12 23:13Z by Steven

A new mixed-raced generation is transforming the city: Will Toronto be the world’s first post-racial metropolis?

Toronto Life

Nicholas Hune-Brown, Author

Kourosh Keshiri, Photography

Interviews by Jasmine Budak

I used to be the only biracial kid in the room. Now, my exponentially expanding cohort promises a future where everyone is mixed.

Last fall, I was in Amsterdam with my parents and sister on a family trip, our first in more than a decade. Because travelling with your family as an adult can be taxing on everyone involved, we had agreed we would split up in galleries, culturally enrich ourselves independently, and then reconvene later to resume fighting about how to read the map. I was in a dimly lit hall looking at a painting of yet another apple-cheeked peasant when my younger sister, Julia, tugged at my sleeve. “Mixie,” she whispered, gesturing down the hall.
“Mixie” is a sibling word, a term my sister and I adopted to describe people like ourselves—those indeterminately ethnic people whom, if you have an expert eye and a particular interest in these things, you can spot from across a crowded room. We used the word because as kids we didn’t know another one. By high school, it was a badge of honour, a term we would insist on when asked the unavoidable “Where are you from?” question that every mixed-race person is subjected to the moment a conversation with a new acquaintance reaches the very minimum level of familiarity. For the record, my current answer, at 30 years old, is: “My mom’s Chinese, but born in Canada, and my dad’s a white guy from England.” If I’m peeved for some reason—if the question comes too early or with too much “I have to ask” eagerness—the answer is “Toronto” followed by a dull stare…

…For today’s mixies, growing up multiracial has meant inner debates about which parent to identify with, how to explain one’s back­ground, and coping with the urge to blend in. Rema Tavares, a half-Jamaican 30-year-old with curly hair and light brown skin, says her looks have provoked strange responses in people. “I’ve had someone say to me, ‘Don’t say you’re black because you don’t have to be. You can get away with it!’ ” She was raised in a small town outside Ottawa and gradually moved to bigger and bigger cities. “I hated being the only person of colour on the bus in my hometown,” she told me. Another mixed-race woman, Alia Ziesman, grew up in Oakville and was so ashamed of her mother, an ethnically Indian woman from Trinidad, that she refused to walk on the same side of the street as her. Ziesman and Tavares and everyone else I spoke to agree that it is a pleasure to be in a city like Toronto today—a place where you’re guaranteed not to be the only coloured face on a city bus…

Minelle Mahtani, a U of T associate professor, is one of the pre-eminent Canadian authorities in the field, and has just written a book on multiraciality in Canada. Mahtani has long, dark hair, a toothy smile and a collection of features that are impossible to place on a map. When she was growing up in Thornhill, people would guess at her background without ever hitting on the actual mix, Iranian and Indian. “As a kid, I was one of the few minorities in my neighbourhood, and there was pressure to acclimatize to whiteness” she says. When I met her in a café near U of T in December, she had recently come back from the second Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference at DePaul University in Chicago, a four-day exploration of race and racial boundaries that also acts as a place for mixed-race academics from across North America to hang out and share nerdy in-jokes about the successful 1967 challenge to Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws

…The reality of being mixed is far more complicated. The Pew study didn’t reveal a world where skin colour is irrelevant: a newlywed Hispanic-white couple will earn more than the average Hispanic couple, yes, but less than the average white couple. The same is true of black-white pairings. What’s also clear is that mixing doesn’t happen evenly. The success of Asian-white couples like my parents can be attributed to a number of things, but the fact that immigration laws often hand-pick the wealthiest, most educated, most outward-looking Asians is surely part of it. It’s easy to imagine a future in which upwardly mobile Asians and whites mix more frequently, while other minorities are left out of a trendy mixed-race future. Marriage across racial lines is increasingly possible, but mixing across class has always been tricky. And class, it goes without saying, remains stubbornly tied to skin colour…

Read the entire article here. View the photo-essay here.

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