Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman)

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2017-05-25 01:25Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman)

Chinyere Osuji
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2017-05-24

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers University, Camden


Rachel Dolezal

Race is a social construction. We have heard that phrase over and over again to the point that it has become a bit hackneyed. When I teach my sociology students, I tell them, “Sociologists study what people do together: we create families, schools, economic systems.” All of these things are social constructions that are produced, reproduced, and even demolished because people together make it so.

And then Rachel Dolezal comes along…

Read the entire article here.

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The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-18 19:53Z by Steven

The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

The New York Times
2017-05-18

Rogers Brubaker, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles


Rachel Dolezal in 2015. The controversy over her choice to identify as black has lingered.
Credit Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

Rogers Brubaker is a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities.”

The world of academic philosophy is ordinarily a rather esoteric one. But Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defense of Transracialism,” published in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia this spring, has generated a broad public discussion.

Dr. Tuvel was prompted to write her article by the controversy that erupted when Rachel Dolezal, the former local N.A.A.C.P. official who had long presented herself as black, was revealed to have grown up white. The Dolezal story broke just 10 days after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut, and the two discussions merged. If Ms. Jenner could identify as a woman, could Ms. Dolezal identify as black? If transgender was a legitimate social identity, might transracial be as well? Dr. Tuvel’s article subjected these public debates to philosophical scrutiny.

The idea of transracialism had been rejected out of hand by the cultural left. Some worried — as many cultural conservatives indeed hoped — that this seemingly absurd idea might undermine the legitimacy of transgender claims. Others argued that if self-identification were to replace ancestry or phenotype as the touchstone of racial identity, this would encourage “racial fraud” and cultural appropriation. Because race has always been first and foremost an externally imposed classification, it is understandable that the idea of people declaring themselves transracial struck many as offensively dismissive of the social realities of race…

Read the entire article here.

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Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-05-15 00:05Z by Steven

Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy

University of North Carolina Press
May 2017
230 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3283-4
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3282-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3284-1

Alisha Gaines, Assistant Professor of English
Florida State University

In 1948, journalist Ray Sprigle traded his whiteness to live as a black man for four weeks. A little over a decade later, John Howard Griffin famously “became” black as well, traveling the American South in search of a certain kind of racial understanding. Contemporary history is littered with the surprisingly complex stories of white people passing as black, and here Alisha Gaines constructs a unique genealogy of “empathetic racial impersonation”–white liberals walking in the fantasy of black skin under the alibi of cross-racial empathy. At the end of their experiments in “blackness,” Gaines argues, these debatably well-meaning white impersonators arrived at little more than false consciousness.

Complicating the histories of black-to-white passing and blackface minstrelsy, Gaines uses an interdisciplinary approach rooted in literary studies, race theory, and cultural studies to reveal these sometimes maddening, and often absurd, experiments of racial impersonation. By examining this history of modern racial impersonation, Gaines shows that there was, and still is, a faulty cultural logic that places enormous faith in the idea that empathy is all that white Americans need to make a significant difference in how to racially navigate our society.

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SAS Researchers Probe Racial Passing, Identity Based on Two Novels

Posted in Africa, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-05-11 01:18Z by Steven

SAS Researchers Probe Racial Passing, Identity Based on Two Novels

American University of Nigeria
2017-05-01

Nelly Ating

The modern-day issues of “racial passing” and “identity,” dominated the April 20 SAS research seminar presented by Dr. Agatha Ukata and Dr. Brian Reed of the English & Literature department.

The duo’s research probes the phenomenon in “Being and Not Being:  How Society Negotiates Humanity.”  This is a study based on Nella Larsen, and Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, and on Isidore Okpewho’s Call Me by My Rightful Name.

This work will be presented at the African Literature Association conference at Yale University in June.

Leading the discussion, Dr Ukata said that despite disparity in the years of publication of the novels, it is astonishing to see the recurrence of “racial passing” in this era…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race Cinemas Multiracial Dynamics in America and France

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2017-05-10 17:50Z by Steven

Mixed Race Cinemas Multiracial Dynamics in America and France

Bloomsbury
2017-09-07
224 pages
10 bw illus
6″ x 9″
Hardback ISBN: 9781501312458
EPUB eBook ISBN: 9781501312489
PDF eBook ISBN: 9781501312465

Zélie Asava, Lecturer and Programme Director of Video and Film
Dundalk Institute of Technology, Louth, Ireland

Using critical race theory and film studies to explore the interconnectedness between cinema and society, Zélie Asava traces the history of mixed-race representations in American and French filmmaking from early and silent cinema to the present day. Mixed Race Cinemas covers over a hundred years of filmmaking to chart the development of (black/white) mixed representations onscreen. With the 21st century being labelled the Mulatto Millennium, mixed bodies are more prevalent than ever in the public sphere, yet all too often they continue to be positioned as exotic, strange and otherworldly, according to ‘tragic mulatto‘ tropes. This book evaluates the potential for moving beyond fixed racial binaries both onscreen and off by exploring actors and characters who embody the in-between. Through analyses of over 40 movies, and case studies of key films from the 1910s on, Mixed Race Cinemas illuminates landmark shifts in local and global cinema, exploring discourses of subjectivity, race, gender, sexuality and class. In doing so, it reveals the similarities and contrasts between American and French cinema in relation to recognising, visualising and constructing mixedness. Mixed Race Cinemas contextualizes and critiques raced and ‘post-race’ visual culture, using cinematic representations to illustrate changing definitions of mixed identity across different historical and geographical contexts.

Contents

  • Introduction
    • 1. Race and Ideology
    • 2. Mixed-Race Cinema Histories
    • 3. Interrogating Terminology
    • 4. Methodology and Frameworks
    • 5. Mixed-Race Spaces in French and American Cinema
    • 6. Franco-American Narratives and Beur Cinema
    • 7. Summary of Chapters
  • Chapter One: the Mixed Question
    • 1. Language, Representation and Casting
    • 2. The Historical Mulatta Screen Stereotype in America
    • 3. The Historical Mulatta Screen Stereotype in France
  • Chapter Two: Hollywood’s ‘Passing‘ Narratives
    • 1. ‘Passing’ Representations as Ideological Construct
    • 2. The Dichotomies of Post-War Mixed-Race Women Onscreen
    • 3. Gender, ‘Passing’ and Love
  • Chapter Three: The Limits of the Classic Hollywood ‘Tragic Mulatta’
    • 1. Imitation of Life (1934): Interrogating Mixed Identities
    • 2. Casting and Representation
    • 3. Shadows and the Interracial Family
    • 4. Imitation of Life, 1959: Gender, Difference and Voiced Rebellion
    • 5. Performative Identities: Sara Jane, Dandridge and Monroe
  • Chapter Four: Cultural Shifts: New Waves in Racial Representation
    • 1. Representing ‘Mixed-Race France’
    • 2. Reimagining the Nation: Mixed Families
    • 3. Questioning Mixed Masculinity: Les Trois frères
    • 4. Melodrama, Motherhood and Masks: Métisse
    • 5. Racial-Sexual Mythology and the Interracial Family
  • Chapter Five: Transnational Families in Drôle de Félix
    • 1. A Search for Identity on the Road
    • 2. Citizenship, Violence and Scopophilia
    • 3. Trauma and Redemption
    • 4. Destabilising the Primary Authority of the Father
    • 5. Reuniting Transnational Families
  • Conclusion
    • 1. ‘Post-Race’ Politics in America and France
    • 2. Enduring Stereotypes
    • 3. Mixed-Race Sci-Fi
    • 4. Mixed Representational Potentials
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Manner of Blackness in Nella Larsen’s Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-05-06 02:06Z by Steven

The Manner of Blackness in Nella Larsen’s Passing

Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 100, Number 2, 2017
pages 112-142

Michael A. Istvan Jr., Lecturer in Philosophy
Texas State University

Commentators have suggested that Nella Larsen’s Passing rejects the view that there is some sort of black essence. This article challenges this reading. Since Irene is the most vocal advocate of an essence in respect to which all blacks are homogenous, much of the evidence for thinking that Passing is skeptical about such an essence amounts to evidence for not trusting Irene’s judgment in general, and for not trusting her judgment on this matter in particular. My arguments, then, will often involve explaining why Passing is not leading the reader to mistrust Irene’s judgment on this matter. Now, what exactly is meant by a black essence is, explicitly in this book, mysterious. Nevertheless, this article intends to shed some light on how Passing understands the nature of this something, this je ne sais quoi, peculiar to blacks. My tentative interpretation is that this something is an intangible and indefinite manner of being that is neither a conscious choice nor an inborn fact of biology, but rather a given of culture. This article takes this, in effect, blackness manner to be, so Passing seems to indicate, a function of one’s belief that one is black in a milieu of pervasive anti-black prejudice. Passing thus has something to offer those today who struggle to adjudicate between a pull towards essentialism and a pull towards constructionism. What Passing emphasizes in this discussion is the possibility that, in addition to biological and societal influences, one’s mind state is a crucial ingredient to one’s racial identity.

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Playing in the Light: A Novel

Posted in Africa, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, South Africa on 2017-05-05 16:04Z by Steven

Playing in the Light: A Novel

The New Press
November 2007
224 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59558-221-8

Zoë Wicomb, Emeritus Professor
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Set in a beautifully rendered 1990s Cape Town, Zoë Wicomb’s celebrated novel revolves around Marion Campbell, who runs a travel agency but hates traveling, and who, in post-apartheid society, must negotiate the complexities of a knotty relationship with Brenda, her first black employee. As Alison McCulloch noted in the New York Times, “Wicomb deftly explores the ghastly soup of racism in all its unglory—denial, tradition, habit, stupidity, fear—and manages to do so without moralizing or becoming formulaic.”

Caught in the narrow world of private interests and self-advancement, Marion eschews national politics until the Truth and Reconciliation Commission throws up information that brings into question not only her family’s past but her identity and her rightful place in contemporary South African society. “Stylistically nuanced and psychologically astute” (Kirkus), Playing in the Light is as powerful in its depiction of Marion’s personal journey as it is in its depiction of South Africa’s bizarre, brutal history.

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Rachel Dolezal: why ignoring the painful past of “passing” is indefensible

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Passing, South Africa, United States on 2017-05-05 13:05Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: why ignoring the painful past of “passing” is indefensible

The Conversation
2017-05-04

Londiwe H. Gamedze, Tutor, MA student
University of Cape Town


Civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal has been accused of falsely claiming she is African-American. Stephanie Keith/Reuters

In 2015, American Rachel Dolezal captured the public imagination when the media discovered that she was white and had been passing as black for nearly a decade.

Dolezal, who has had white ancestors for over three centuries, checked boxes like “black” and “African-American” on application forms, darkened her skin, and began to wear her hair in African-American styles. She lied about her past and family, and attempted to sue her alma mater, historically black Howard University for reverse racism.

“Black” Dolezal was a lecturer in Africana studies and president of her local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP.

She recently visited South Africa to discuss non-racialism, but received resistance against her self-identification as “trans-black” and her claim to an authentic, internal black identity. This isn’t surprising given the brutality of the country’s racial past.

Read the entire article here.

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The long history and legacy of passing in America

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2017-05-04 22:30Z by Steven

The long history and legacy of passing in America

The Washington Post
2017-05-03

Alex Laughlin


(Illustration by Chris Kindred for The Washington Post)

Anita Hemmings was Vassar College’s first African American graduate. But no one was supposed to know that she was black.

A light-skinned mixed-race woman, Hemmings passed as white for most of her time at Vassar — until her roommate hired a private investigator to find out the truth.

Hemmings graduated college in 1897 and continued passing as white for the rest of her life. Her story fits in with a broader history of African Americans passing in this country for personal safety, economic and social reasons.

In this episode of “Other: Mixed Race in America,” we learn the story of Hemmings, and we also learn about the legacy of passing that is inherited through generations of mixed-race Americans…

Listen to the podcast (00:19:12) here.

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This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 01:53Z by Steven

This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

New York Magazine
Daily Intelligencer
2017-05-02

Jesse Singal


Rebecca Tuvel, a philosophy professor and the target of a protracted online pile-on.

In late March, Hypatia, a feminist-philosophy journal, published an article titled “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, as part of its spring 2017 issue. The point of the article, as the title suggests, is to toy around with the question of what it would mean if some people really were — as Rachel Dolezal claimed — “transracial,” meaning they identified as a race that didn’t line up with how society viewed them in light of their ancestry.

Tuvel structures her argument more or less as follows: (1) We accept the following premises about trans people and the rights and dignity to which they are entitled; (2) we also accept the following premises about identities and identity change in general; (3) therefore, the common arguments against transracialism fail, and we should accept that there’s little apparent logically coherent reason to deny the possibility of genuine transracialism.

Anyone who has read an academic philosophy paper will be familiar with this sort of argument. The goal, often, is to provoke a little — to probe what we think and why we think it, and to highlight logical inconsistencies that might help us better understand our values and thought processes. This sort of article is abstract and laden with hypotheticals — the idea is to pull up one level from the real world and force people to grapple with principles and claims on their own merits, rather than — in the case of Dolezal — baser instincts like disgust and outrage. This is what many philosophers do…

Read the entire article here.

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