Mixed Mondays Film Series at the Brooklyn Historical Society

Posted in Canada, Communications/Media Studies, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States, Videos, Women on 2014-08-18 02:25Z by Steven

Mixed Mondays Film Series at the Brooklyn Historical Society

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generatons
Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Mondays, 2014-08-04 through  2014-08-18, 18:30 EDT (Local Time)

Hosted by and post-screening discussion with:

Erica Chito Childs, Professor of Sociology (author of Navigating Interracial Borders and Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture)
City University of New York

This series is co-sponsored by MixedRaceStudies.org.

August 18: Toasted Marshmallows (2014)

Come watch the first public screening of the documentary Toasted Marshmallows in the U.S.! Follow filmmakers Marcelitte Failla and Anoushka Ratnarajah on a journey across Canada and the U.S. as they document the experiences of other mixed-race identified women, delve into their own cultural and ethnic histories, and tell stories about color, passing, privilege, ancestry, and belonging. An extended preview of the film will be followed by a dialogue with the filmmakers and Erica Chito-Childs.

August 11: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985):

British-born, half-Pakistani playwright and novelist Hanif Kureishi won an Oscar nomination for his 1985 screenplay for My Beautiful Laundrette, a richly layered film about Pakistani immigrant life in Thatcherite London.

Come watch the protagonist, Omar, navigate mixed-income and mixed-race arrangements in his family and develop an unlikely, yet beautiful, queer relationship with Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis). Set against the backdrop of anti-immigrant racism and fascism, the story of Omar’s laundrette presents an electrifying set of possibilities around class, race, sexuality, belonging, and love.

August 4: Imitation of Life (1959):

The Mixed Monday film series launches with a 1959 Lana Turner classic—Imitation of Lifewhich explores the story of an African-American woman and her light-skinned, mixed-race daughter who passes for white. Come munch on popcorn, watch the film and discuss the history and cultural context around mixed families, race relations and popular culture.

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Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 by Dagmar Schultz (review)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2014-05-05 17:30Z by Steven

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 by Dagmar Schultz (review)

African Studies Review
Volume 57, Number 1, April 2014
pages 237-238
DOI: 10.1353/arw.2014.0038

Patricia-Pia Célérier, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 is a 79-minute documentary in English and German, directed and produced by Dagmar Schultz. An academic and close friend of Lorde’s, Schultz also co-edited (with May Opitz and Katharina Oguntoye) the book Farbe Bekennen: Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (1986; translated as Showing our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out, University of Massachusetts Press, 1991), which marked the beginning of the “Afro-German movement.” Schultz contributed her own archival video and audio recordings and footage to the documentary, adding testimonies from Lorde’s colleagues, students, and friends. Released in 2012, twenty years after Lorde’s death, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 is an homage to the African American writer’s tremendous contributions as well as a useful complement to two other documentaries: A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde (1995) by Ada Gray Griffin and Michelle Parkerson, and The Edge of Each Other’s Battles: The Vision of Audre Lorde (2002) by Jennifer Abod. Schultz’s film has attracted significant attention and received the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Barcelona Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 focuses on an understudied period in the life of the prolific author and activist, the time when she traveled between the U.S. and Germany to lecture and visit friends. It features her relationship to the black diaspora and her mentoring role in the development of the antiracist struggle and the Afro-German movement before and after the German reunification. In true feminist fashion, the documentary links the personal and the political, representing Lorde’s ongoing fight against cancer, her inspiring presence at feminist consciousness-raising meetings, her carefree dancing at multiracial lesbian parties, and her partnership with the poet Gloria I. Joseph.

The film highlights Lorde’s part in building bridges among women of color, feminist, and LGBT social justice movements, in “hyphenating” black Germans. In doing so, it contextualizes the history of major cultural shifts in the late ’80s/early ’90s in Germany. It speaks to audiences both familiar and unfamiliar with Lorde’s work by articulating themes that are at the core of the writer’s production: for instance, the meaning of intimacy and sharing, and the radical role a creative understanding of difference plays in personal and intellectual growth.

Although valuable as a testimonial and politically committed film, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 unfortunately lacks a strong coherent form, its point of view neither sufficiently clear nor technically grounded. Because the filmmaker does not provide a theoretical or narrative perspective (apart from documenting Lorde’s life), the archival images and interviews overtake the film, which in turn seems dated, as if it had been produced twenty years ago. The viewer is not pulled into the story early enough, and the editing does not compensate imaginatively for the somewhat haphazard manner with which the documentary proceeds.

Should we consider, nevertheless, that the historical and political value of such a film overrides issues of filmic quality and narrative coherence, especially because it was made on a tight budget and is a labor of love? A documentary cannot be considered as merely reproducing cultural (feminist, Afro-German, LGBT) meaning, but also as creating (new) meaning. Unfortunately, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 does not sufficiently demonstrate an awareness of the different ways of understanding and theorizing women’s lives that are available today. As a recording of social life and a travelogue, it does accomplish the two goals of the documentary genre: it informs and educates. Like feminist films of the 1970s, it celebrates the clamor of women’s voices and the rising up of women of color and gay women. It sheds light on the diversity of women’s lifestyles and choices and the issues in gay politics. But how do these images of Lorde inform our current understanding of feminism and feminist practices? What spaces does Lorde’s legacy occupy today? These questions are not answered by the film. In addition, because it does not suggest an awareness of the discursive and technical changes that have advanced the…

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Zines from the Borderlands: Storytelling about Mixed-Heritage

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, United States on 2014-03-26 17:20Z by Steven

Zines from the Borderlands: Storytelling about Mixed-Heritage

Brooklyn Historical Society
Great Hall
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, New York
2014-04-24, 19:00-21:00 EST (Local Time)

How can zines create new narratives and representations for mixed-heritage people, LGBTQ communities, and people of color who are stereotyped or ignored in mainstream media?

What is the role of zines, DIY and self-publishing within marginalized communities?

How can zine culture open up space for intersectional conversations about identity and cultural hybridity?

Come participate in a vibrant conversation about race, gender, sexuality and media with four zinesters, activists and media-makers. Multimedia panel presentations will touch on themes such as: telling inclusive and intersectional stories; DIY and self-publishing; zine creation, production, and distribution; leveraging zine culture for racial and LGBTQ justice and movement building, and more.

Panelists include:

For more information, click here.

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Diversity reaches new levels in Honey Maid ads

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-11 22:48Z by Steven

Diversity reaches new levels in Honey Maid ads

USA Today

Bruce Horovitz, Marketing Reporter

Honey Maid is the latest brand to launch an ad campaign featuring interracial, gay families.  USA TODAY

America’s biggest brands are at an advertising crossroads, and the new diversity that their ads project has suddenly emerged as one of society’s most visual — if not incendiary — flash points.

And it’s about to explode.

It began with several recent, high-profile diverse TV spots from two multibillion-dollar brands: a Cheerios spot staring a biracial girl with white mom and black dad; and a Coca-Cola spot featuring minorities singing America the Beautiful in their native languages. Both went viral and left trails of social media venom in their wake.

On Monday, Honey Maid will jump on the diversity bandwagon with a far-reaching campaign by the 90-year-old graham cracker brand that raises the use of diversity in mainstream ads to a whole new level.

In one 30-second Honey Maid ad, viewers will see everything from a same-sex couple bottle-feeding their son to an interracial couple and their three kids holding hands. The ad also features a Hispanic mother and an African-American father with their three mixed-race children. And there’s even a father covered in body tattoos. This is not some shockvertisement for Benetton. It’s an ad for one of America’s oldest and most familiar brands. The people in it are not actors, but real families. The message of the ad: These are wholesome families enjoying wholesome snacks…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Chinese, on the Inside’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-03-05 01:44Z by Steven

‘Chinese, on the Inside’

The New York Times

Liz Mak, writer and multimedia producer
Oakland, California

Catie and Kimberly were adopted from China by a couple from Maine, who attempt to pass on a culture they’ve never known firsthand.

About a decade ago, Barbara Cough adopted two girls from China, Kimberly and Catie. Barbara and her partner, Marilyn Thomas, are raising the children in Portland, Me. I filmed the family last year when the girls (who are not biological sisters) were ages 9 and 11.

More than 80,000 girls have been adopted from China by Americans since 1991. In recent years, China has made adoptions by same-sex couples, already difficult, nearly impossible.

But at the time the girls were adopted, in 2003 and 2004, Barbara and Marilyn felt that adopting girls from China afforded them more protections as parents than domestic adoptions would have, given the complex rules around birth parents’ rights in America.

For Barbara, it was also a way to reconnect with her own history: her great-grandfather Daniel Cough was the first Chinese man in Maine to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Though Barbara’s generation is only one-eighth Chinese, the family members proudly identify with their cultural heritage…

Read the opinion piece and watch the video here.

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The Trouble with Transcendence: Is Defying the Gender Binary the New Racial Passing?

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-01-25 09:54Z by Steven

The Trouble with Transcendence: Is Defying the Gender Binary the New Racial Passing?

Nursing Clio: Because the Personal is Historical

Mallory Nicole Davis
University of Oregon

In 2010, Thomas Araguz III, a Texas firefighter died on the job, leaving behind his two children and transgender wife, Nikki.[1] The couple was legally married because although the state of Texas only recognizes heterosexual marriages, the state will validate a transgender union if the trans partner’s identification documents dictate that s/he is the opposite legal sex of the spouse.[2] However, when Nikki sought survivor benefits after her husband’s unexpected death, Thomas’ family launched a case against Nikki, stating that Thomas did not know his wife was transgender. The suit argued that Nikki wrongfully deceived her husband, while lobbying for the nullification of their marriage and subsequently, Nikki’s request for spousal benefits. The case was complicated further by the prosecuting attorney’s interrogation of a deposition taken from Thomas in a separate court case—a battle over custody of his two sons with his ex-wife—in which he stated that he did not know that Nikki was transgender.[3] In response to the scrutinizing of her late husband’s statement, Nikki insisted that Thomas lied during his deposition and pretended to be unaware of her transgender status in order maintain custody of his two small children. Nikki stated, “At the time, Thomas and I thought it was in the best interest of our children to lie. They were the center of (our) lives”.[4] Whether Nikki neglected to disclose her trans identity to her husband or that the couple collectively decided to lie to the court during their custody case for the sake of their children, deception surrounding Nikki’s trans status is at the center of this legal case; and undoubtedly, her credibility will be diminished regardless of how the court decides…

Passing is a term typically used to denote a person’s ability to move imperceptibly across racial lines, though the word is equally fitting to describe a trans* person’s ability to transgress the gender binary. Nikki’s perceived deceptions echoes the case of Alice and Leonard Rhinelander, an interracial couple who were married in 1924 who made national headlines because Alice, a light-skinned African-American woman, passed for white and married into the affluent Rhinelander family.[5] When negative press threatened to tarnish the Rhinelander family name, Leonard disappeared without warning and filed for an annulment, claiming that Alice misled him by presenting herself as a white woman. Ultimately, it was proved that Leonard had, in fact, known that Alice was African-American, and Alice counter-sued Leonard for abandonment. Although the Rhinelander family ended up offering Alice a monetary settlement upon her agreement to a divorce, the character attacks launched on Alice and her family, based upon her alleged racial deception were devastating. And like Nikki, Alice’s identity came under fire in a torrential court case only after the transcendent nature of her identity proved threatening to the family of her husband…

Read the entire article here.

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The trouble with ‘passing’ for another race/sexuality/religion…

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Passing, Religion on 2014-01-02 21:50Z by Steven

The trouble with ‘passing’ for another race/sexuality/religion…

The Guardian

Koa Beck
Brooklyn, New York

The broadening of the definition historically used for those of mixed-race who ‘passed’ as white exposes the power of privilege

Racial passing“, or “passing”, was originally coined to define the experience of mixed raced individuals, particularly in America, who were accepted as a member of a different racial group, namely white. Although passing dates all the way back to the 18th century, the term didn’t prominently surface in the American lexicon until around the 19th century, specifically with a slew of literature. Mark Twain and Charles Chesnutt were among the early American novelists to explore this phenomenon, but Nella Larson’s 1929 novel Passing was the first English language book to explicitly brand itself with the term.

Many years and an entire civil rights movement later, passing still carries a largely racially charged definition – especially for me. As an American biracial woman who passes as white, I live daily with a pronounced array of privileges that are coupled with the assumption that I am white. But my passing isn’t just limited to my racial identity. I’ve also spent several chapters of my young adulthood unwillingly passing as something else: straight. A fairly conventional femininity has imbued me – at least at first glance – with heterosexual privilege, even though I’m partnered to a woman.

And I’m not alone. As LGBTQ rights continue to become more visible, complications within identity continue to overlap with the collective and individual experience of passing. The result is that passing has greatly expanded over the last century from its original racial roots to include many marginalised identities, underscoring intersectionality within American identity…

Read the entire article here.

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Melissa Harris-Perry: LGBT Advocates Need Public Progressive Faith

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-01-02 20:21Z by Steven

Melissa Harris-Perry: LGBT Advocates Need Public Progressive Faith

Religion Dispatches
University of Southern California


Peter Montgomery, Associate Editor

Political scientist Melissa Harris-Perry has developed a devoted following with her appearances on Bill Moyers Journal and Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, and her insightful commentaries on race, history, politics and culture in The Nation and elsewhere. Less well known among progressive activists may be that the self-described social-scientific data geek also makes a compelling case for a more powerful progressive religious voice in the public arena.

On May 23 (in the midst of a very public debate with her former Princeton colleague Cornel West) Harris-Perry gave the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign’s Clergy Call, which drew hundreds of LGBT-equality-supporting clergy to Washington, D.C. for inspiration, mutual support, training, and lobbying visits on Capitol Hill.

The Civil Rights Agenda of Our Time

“My work is based in the empirical, not in the spiritual… I like data points. I like survey analysis. So what in the world am I doing here, an empirical social scientist straight girl at a clergy call around LGBT issues?” she asked. Her answer: “I believe that the struggle for equal human and civil rights for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, same-sex-loving, gender-nonconforming and queer persons is the civil rights agenda of our time.” And, she said, “faith must be part of the work we’re doing.”   

The religious history of Harris-Perry’s own family has the sweep of an American saga. Her mother, whose Mormon ancestors pushed handcarts across the country to their promised land in Utah, graduated from Brigham Young University in 1964, having spent most of her time there, Harris-Perry says, writing articles about Mormon womanhood. Meanwhile, her father, whose great-great-grandmother was sold as a slave on a street corner in Richmond, Virginia, attended Howard University where he was “converted to Black nationalism” and shared a room with Stokely Carmichael. By the time her mother and father met in Seattle in the early 1970s, each had become a parent and had been divorced. After they had Melissa, they moved their blended family and children—white, black, and mixed-race—to Virginia in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement. “In that context you had to be Unitarian Universalist,” she said to knowing laughter…

Read the entire article here.

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Telling Multiracial Tales: An Autoethnography of Coming Out Home

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States on 2013-12-16 20:29Z by Steven

Telling Multiracial Tales: An Autoethnography of Coming Out Home

Qualitative Inquiry
Volume 20, Number 1 (January 2014)
pages 51-60
DOI: 10.1177/1077800413508532

Benny LeMaster
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

What follows are experimental autoethnographic tales of ambiguous embodiment. The tales weave in and out of the text and work to articulate gender in unsuspecting spaces. Together, we reconsider gender through multiple locations at once. I offer an autoethnography of multiracial tales: a simultaneous telling of embodiment as it manifests in my multiracial body. Rather than privileging one “side” of the family over another, I experiment with a concurrent telling. That is, multivocality in one body. To help anchor the telling, I use the academy as an assemblage of meaning. In the end, I find that my White family resists and rejects my queer masculinity because of my pursuit of higher education while my Asian family embraces my queer masculinity because of the same pursuit. These stories can only be known when told and processed concurrently; never alone, and never separate.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Passing for white and straight: How my looks hide my identity

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2013-12-09 18:27Z by Steven

Passing for white and straight: How my looks hide my identity


Koa Beck
Brooklyn, New York

I’m neither straight nor white, but I’m frequently mistaken for both — and it’s taught me a lot about privilege

I first became aware of my passing as a young child confronted with standardized testing. My second grade teacher had walked us through where to write our names in capital letters and what bubbles to fill in for our sex, our birth date and ethnicity. But in the days before “biracial” or “multiracial” or “choose two or more of the following,” I was confronted with rigid boxes of “white” or “black” – a space that my white father and black-Italian mother had navigated for some time.

But even at 8 years old, I knew I could mark “white” on the form without a teacher’s assistant telling me to do the form over with my No. 2 pencil. I could sometimes be “exotic” on the playground to the grown-ups who watched us for skinned knees and bad words. But with hair that had yet to curl and a white-sounding last name, I was at first glance – and many after – a dark-haired white girl with a white father who collected her after school…

…Because with my invisibility has come her privilege, an experience that has undeniably marked most of my life.  Due to my passing, I have the W.E.B. Du Bois-patented “double consciousness” for the opportunities that have been placed before me, scholastic and professional, from generally white and hetero establishments that look at me and always see their own. Is it the presumed commonality that garnered me those interviews? Those smiles? Those callbacks? Those firm handshakes?

When I read statistics about how employers are more likely to hire white people than people of color, I know that I can count myself in the former, despite the fact that I identify as the latter. I’m hyper-aware that when a bank, a company or any public office hears the sound of my voice and reads my legal first name (under which this article does not appear), they assume that they’re talking to a white woman, and therefore give me better service…

…My privilege in passing reflects a racism and heterosexism that continues to flourish, despite romantic notions that racial mixing and gay marriage will create a utopian future free of prejudices…

Read the entire article here.

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