Michelle Cliff, Who Wrote of Colonialism and Racism, Dies at 69

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-06-20 20:33Z by Steven

Michelle Cliff, Who Wrote of Colonialism and Racism, Dies at 69

The New York Times

William Grimes

Michelle Cliff sometime in the 1980s. In 1975, she met the poet Adrienne Rich, who became her partner and died in 2012.

Michelle Cliff, a Jamaican-American writer whose novels, stories and nonfiction essays drew on her multicultural identity to probe the psychic disruptions and historical distortions wrought by colonialism and racism, died on June 12 at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was 69.

The cause was liver failure, according to the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust. Ms. Cliff and Ms. Rich, the poet, were longtime partners.

Ms. Cliff’s entire creative life was a quest to give voice to suppressed histories, starting with her own. Her first essay, “Notes on Speechlessness,” written for a women’s writing group in 1978, can be read as the keynote for her subsequent work, which navigated the complexities of her life situation — she was a light-skinned black lesbian raised partly in Jamaica and partly in New York, and educated in Britain — against the broader background of the Caribbean experience…

…In her first novel, “Abeng” (1984), she introduced Clare Savage, a light-skinned 12-year-old Jamaican girl who befriends the dark-skinned Zoe, whose family squats on Clare’s grandmother’s farm. It is an idyllic relationship that cannot survive the harsh realities of race and class.

“Emotionally, the book is an autobiography,” Ms. Cliff told the reference work Contemporary Authors in 1986. “I was a girl similar to Clare and have spent most of my life and most of my work exploring my identity as a light-skinned Jamaican, the privilege and the damage that comes from that identity.”

Clare returns to Jamaica as an adult in the novel “No Telephone to Heaven” (1987), which, in a series of flashbacks, tells of her life in New York and London and her struggles to come to terms with who she is…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Monographs, Social Science on 2016-06-19 02:33Z by Steven

Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities

Princeton University Press
September 2016
256 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Hardcover ISBN: 9780691172354
eBook ISBN: 9781400883233

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

In the summer of 2015, shortly after Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender, the NAACP official and political activist Rachel Dolezal was “outed” by her parents as white, touching off a heated debate in the media about the fluidity of gender and race. If Jenner could legitimately identify as a woman, could Dolezal legitimately identify as black?

Taking the controversial pairing of “transgender” and “transracial” as his starting point, Rogers Brubaker shows how gender and race, long understood as stable, inborn, and unambiguous, have in the past few decades opened up—in different ways and to different degrees—to the forces of change and choice. Transgender identities have moved from the margins to the mainstream with dizzying speed, and ethnoracial boundaries have blurred. Paradoxically, while sex has a much deeper biological basis than race, choosing or changing one’s sex or gender is more widely accepted than choosing or changing one’s race. Yet while few accepted Dolezal’s claim to be black, racial identities are becoming more fluid as ancestry—increasingly understood as mixed—loses its authority over identity, and as race and ethnicity, like gender, come to be understood as something we do, not just something we have. By rethinking race and ethnicity through the multifaceted lens of the transgender experience—encompassing not just a movement from one category to another but positions between and beyond existing categories—Brubaker underscores the malleability, contingency, and arbitrariness of racial categories.

At a critical time when gender and race are being reimagined and reconstructed, Trans explores fruitful new paths for thinking about identity.

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“[She] Passed Down Orleans Street, a Polished Dandy”: The Queer Race Romance of Ludwig von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-09 00:40Z by Steven

“[She] Passed Down Orleans Street, a Polished Dandy”: The Queer Race Romance of Ludwig von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans

Studies in American Fiction
Volume 43, Issue 1, Spring 2016
pages 27-50
DOI: 10.1353/saf.2016.0005

Lauren Heintz, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English Department
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Ludwig von Reizenstein’s sensational, serialized novel, The Mysteries of New Orleans (1854–1855), opens with the lament that in New Orleans, “the chains of a maligned race rattle day and night” because “no angels have yet appeared to our Negritians to announce the birth of a Toussaint L’Ouverture!” Foreshadowing what is to come at the end of Reizenstein’s five-volume text, the prologue provides the first and only glimpse of the prophetic child, the “sun-god” Toussaint. The reincarnated revolutionary leader will deliver the entire U.S. South from the “evils” of slavery, instigating a bloody race war at the future date of 1871. Shortly after this auguration, we meet the couple that is to give birth to the new Toussaint. Much of the novel hinges on the fact that Toussaint L’Ouverture is to be born of a light-skinned mulatto woman (Lucy) and an effeminate, white German aristocrat (Emil), both of whom are introduced as an eroticized, cross-dressing couple. Curiously, it is when they are masquerading in each other’s clothes that the text’s revolutionary design is announced: an anachronistic and anatopistic re-imagination of the Haitian revolution led by the now interracial Toussaint.

Reizenstein is somewhat of a self-professed rogue novelist. In a spat between the newspaper that Reizentein’s text was published in, Louisiana Staats Zeitung, and its rival newspaper, the Deutsche Zeitung, the editors of the latter denounce the “wanton wiles” of Reizenstein’s text as “betraying a lack of propriety that borders on moral decadence,” a decadence that “should not be brought into the family for a few cents” (Mysteries xxi). Reizenstein returns the stab to mock the kind of domestic, sentimental piety in fiction that “will only be read by shy, superannuated virgins” (Mysteries xx). Rejecting the genre of sentimentality, Reizenstein takes his rebuttal one step further as he, too, separates himself from the “disreputable novelist Ned Buntline,” who Reizenstein claims “launched the literature of mysteries on American soil and thereby utterly killed all their enchantment” (Mysteries 1). Whether or not Reizenstein was attempting to revamp the sensational “mysteries” genre or distance himself from it, and despite Reizenstein’s all out refusal of sentimentality, he still predominantly employs the trope of the “race romance” that remains typical to both sensational “mysteries of the city” novels as well as sentimental domestic fiction. Yet in Mysteries, the cross-dressing, extramarital race romance between Lucy and Emil is certainly bawdy enough for an illicit readership searching for something beyond the sentimental romance.

While the race romance in Mysteries between Lucy and Emil is caught up in gender-play, adultery, licentiousness, and scandal, the race romance as a predominant trope in nineteenth-century sensational and sentimental fiction most commonly dramatizes the scenario of a white man falling in love with a woman of color, who is often described as being tragically light skinned. The race romance seeks to advance the promise of incorporating the person of color into the imagined white republic of the United States. But also, the race romance most often hinges on the quintessential sensationalist promise of the mixed-raced child, one who is born of an interracial union that ushers in a type of racialized utopianism. The intent of the race romance is to instigate the dissolution of the races through the appropriation and incorporation of the interracial child into whiteness. Yet, while the above is the idealized scenario of the race romance introduced in nineteenth-century fiction, more often than not the race romance unravels as an all out doomed enterprise by the end of the novel. In Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon (1859), for example, in the U.S. version of the play, the story ends with the tragic death of the octoroon heroine Zoe in the arms of her white lover George; in Lydia Maria Child’s Hobomok (1824), the “noble savage” Hobomok leaves his white lover, Mary, and their son, Hobomok, for the sake of white domesticity as Mary nurtures her…

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Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

Posted in Books, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-06-03 02:16Z by Steven

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

University of Washington Press
June 2016
176 pages
1 bandw illus, 2 tables
6 x 9 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780295998503
Hardcover ISBN: 9780295998077

Andrew J. Jolivette, Professor and chair of American Indian studies
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California

The first book to examine the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, Indian Blood provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQtwo-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.

Prior to contact with European settlers, most Native American tribes held their two-spirit members in high esteem, even considering them spiritually advanced. However, after contact – and religious conversion – attitudes changed and social and cultural support networks were ruptured. This discrimination led to a breakdown in traditional values, beliefs, and practices, which in turn pushed many two-spirit members to participate in high-risk behaviors. The result is a disproportionate number of two-spirit members who currently test positive for HIV.

Using surveys, focus groups, and community discussions to examine the experiences of HIV-positive members of San Francisco’s two-spirit community, Indian Blood provides an innovative approach to understanding how colonization continues to affect American Indian communities and opens a series of crucial dialogues in the fields of Native American studies, public health, queer studies, and critical mixed-race studies.

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How street kids in the Bronx taught me it’s OK to be biracial and gay

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-05-18 21:06Z by Steven

How street kids in the Bronx taught me it’s OK to be biracial and gay


Terry Blas

As a “nerdy, Mexican, gay, Mormon child of the ’80s and ’90s,” cartoonist Terry Blas had trouble figuring out his identity… until an experience in New York taught him a valuable lesson.

Read the entire comic strip here.

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A Culture of Identity Choice: Assertions of Mixed Race, Transgender, and Other Identities and the Implications for Politics

Posted in Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-05-18 15:49Z by Steven

A Culture of Identity Choice: Assertions of Mixed Race, Transgender, and Other Identities and the Implications for Politics

Stanford University
Black Community Services Center
The Brandon Room
Wednesday, 2016-05-18, 12:00 PDT (Local Time)

Natalie Masuoka, Associate Professor of Political Science
Tufts University

While Americans have always connected with different social identities, today we find the assertions of identities such as “biracial,” “swirlies,” “boi,” and “transwomen” to be particularly significant. What is notable about these types of identities is that they communicate a person’s preferred self-identification relating to individual features historically understood as rigid and inherent. Masuoka argues that Americans today increasingly embrace a culture of, what she calls, identity choice in the United States. In today’s post-Civil Rights context, Americans increasingly believe and accept the idea that individuals can choose identities that were once seen as immutable. This presentation will trace the historical developments that have led to this new cultural perspective and offer a discussion about the possible political implications.

This talk is part of the 2015-16 RICSRE Seminar Series Spotlight on Race and Politics, co-sponsored by the Institute on the Politics of Inequality, Race, and Ethnicity at Stanford (InsPIRES). The event is also co-sponsored by the American Politics Workshop, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

For more information, click here.

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​black girls rule: celebrating brazilian women of colour

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Interviews, Media Archive, Women on 2016-03-08 14:44Z by Steven

​black girls rule: celebrating brazilian women of colour


Hattie Collins

Weudson Ribeiro’s new photobook Black Girl Power is shining a light on black female identity and LGBT women of colour in brazil.

Brasilia based photographer, journalist and political scientist Weudson Ribeiro is known for his images celebrating Brazilian queer culture. In his latest series, Superafro: BLACK GIRL POWER, Ribero documents Brazilian LGBT women who proudly express their sexuality and their blackness as a political statement…

Tell us about Black Girl Power and what you wanted to document, not only regarding black female identity, but that of LGBT women of colour.

With Superafro: BLACK GIRL POWER, I intend to document the huge diversity within the Afro-Brazilian spectrum, celebrate the beauty of women of colour and, hopefully, make a positive difference in the fight for freedom and equality by raising awareness of issues that affect the reality of black people in Brazil, since we live in a society moulded by racism, pigmentocracy, disenfranchisement and sexism. With the phenomenal rise of feminism amongst young women and a greater access to information provided by digital inclusion, I notice females feel more encouraged to wear their hair natural, or as they will, express their sexuality and reject euphemisms employed to address Afro features as though Negroid was a burden…

What do the women of your pictures represent?

Those women represent the stand against the odds of a judgemental society. Personally, meeting such beautiful and smart black women was a watershed. Being the only son of mixed-race parents, I had a hard time understanding and accepting my own blackness. It’s a problem that affects the vast majority of Brazilians as a result of our highly mixed ethnic backgrounds. So, as in the womb, this series marks to me a rebirth as a proud black LGBT man, after 24 years struggling with my racial identity…

Read the entire interview here.

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Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Workplace: Emerging Issues and Enduring Challenges

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-03-04 20:33Z by Steven

Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Workplace: Emerging Issues and Enduring Challenges

March 2016
415 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 9978-1-4408-3369-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-3370-0

Edited by:

Margaret Foegen Karsten, Professor of Human Resource Management; Internship Coordinator
School of Business
University of Wisconsin, Platteville

For America to prosper, organizations need to address disparate treatment of women and people of color in the workplace.

Insights from professionals in the fields of organizational development and diversity provide practical tools to help employees and managers—regardless of race or gender—collaborate in reaching their workplace potential.

The contributions of more than 30 experts reframe the discussion on gender, race, and ethnicity in the U.S. workforce, examining the complex identity concerns facing workers who fall within minority groups and recommending practical solutions for dealing with workplace inequities. Through focused essays, experts explore new perspectives to persistent challenges and discuss progress made in addressing unequal treatment based on race and gender in the past eight years. This detailed reference explores every aspect of the issue, including mentoring, family leaves, pay inequity, multiracial and transgender identities, community involvement, and illegal harassment.

The first part of the book identifies employment discrimination based on multiracial identity, appearance, and transgender status. The second section unveils the psychology behind harassment on the job; the third section provides strategies for overcoming traditional obstacles for the disenfranchised. The final section discusses updates on laws dealing with the Family and Medical Leave Act. The book closes with success stories of women of color in U.S. leadership roles as well as others achieving success in their professions outside of the country. Accompanying tables, charts, and graphs illustrate the field’s most poignant research, such as the relationship between organizational effectiveness and diversity and the characteristics of those taking family and medical leave.


  • Presents new research on the many forms of employment discrimination based on multiracial identity, appearance, and transgender status
  • Includes contributions from professionals in the fields of social psychology, law, gender studies, and ethics, among others
  • Reveals effective ways for promoting inclusion of women and people of color in today’s global workforce
  • Covers the workforce in the public sector, private sector, and military
  • Considers the role of social media in helping break through workplace barriers
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That moment you look in the mirror and realize you’re black

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-03-01 02:58Z by Steven

That moment you look in the mirror and realize you’re black


Tim Rogers, Senior Editor

Brazil’s Black Awakening

SAO PAULO, Brazil— Jessica Moreira was 21 years old when she realized she’s black. Natalia Paiva had turned 20 before she made the discovery. And Cleyton Vilarino dos Santos is sneaking up on his 26th birthday and says he’s still not sure if he’s black, white or what.

Welcome to Brazil, one of the most racially intermixed countries in the world. Racial identity is a complex issue anywhere, but perhaps nowhere more so than here, where the difference between black and white is not so black-and-white.

Generations of interracial marriages have led to a rich tapestry of phenotypes and skin tones in every conceivable hue. But it can make racial identity an evolving or fluid situation that can change as a person gets older, learns more about the world, and their relationship to it.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for young people to spend the first 20 years of their lives looking in the mirror without fully understanding the race of the person staring back at them…

Read the entire article here.

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Staceyann Chin Worries About Money, and Selling Out

Posted in Articles, Arts, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-01-18 00:54Z by Steven

Staceyann Chin Worries About Money, and Selling Out

The New York Times

Laura Collins-Hughes

The day she traded in her little two-door convertible for a crossover S.U.V. — “a mom car,” she calls it — the performance poet Staceyann Chin went home and cried. It wasn’t enough that pregnancy had forever altered her body. Now, as she saw it, motherhood was taking away her sex appeal, too.

“But those are the ways it changes your life,” said Ms. Chin, 43, who has a curly, deep-red mohawk, a Jamaican lilt to her speech and, at her throat, a pair of silver necklaces, one of which is emblazoned with a single word: BadAss.

“And then you meet a whole bunch of other people who think moms are sexy,” she added cheerfully over dinner on Lafayette Street before a performance of her latest solo show, “MotherStruck!,” at the Culture Project. “Very strange, but true. They’re everywhere.”

The play tells the story of Ms. Chin’s determined quest to have a child in the face of considerable obstacles, such as being a cash-strapped, single, lesbian artist-activist with paltry health insurance. (In vitro fertilization? Definitely not included.) When at last she does get pregnant, it’s a victory, but a fragile one. At 14 weeks, she begins to bleed. And bleed…

Read the entire article here.

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