General Mills CEO: Doubling down on mixed-race commercial was ‘right thing’ to do

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-24 20:24Z by Steven

General Mills CEO: Doubling down on mixed-race commercial was ‘right thing’ to do

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
2014-04-22

Nick Halter, Staff Reporter

General Mills Inc. CEO Ken Powell told a crowd of minority business owners Tuesday that his company didn’t give into racist hate mail when it doubled down on a Cheerios commercial that featured a mixed-race family.

“Doing the right thing ended up being the right thing for the brand,” Powell said, noting that 90 percent of the response to the commercial was supportive.

Powell was speaking about the 2013 Cheerios commercial featuring Gracie, the daughter of a black man and white woman. After nasty online comments and emails, General Mills made a second commercial for this year’s Superbowl that got rave reviews…

Read the entire article here.

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Chinese Cubans: A transnational history by Kathleen Lopez (review) [Roopnarine]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2014-04-21 20:46Z by Steven

Chinese Cubans: A transnational history by Kathleen Lopez (review) [Roopnarine]

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2014
DOI: 10.1353/cch.2014.0018

Lomarsh Roopnarine, Associate Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History
Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi

López, Kathleen, Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013)

Without a doubt, the literature on Cuba since the mid-nineteenth century to contemporary times has primarily focused on Cuban wars of independence, the abolition of slavery, the United States of America’s involvement and domination and Fidel Castro’s revolution and socialism. Spanish Whites, Black Africans and Mulattos have been the main ethnic groups discussed. Cuban Chinese have largely been unexplored, save for the period 1847–74, when they were introduced as indentured “Coolies.” Kathleen López tries to rescue Cuban Chinese from their marginalization in Cuba’s national discourse by examining and expanding on their history. She takes a transnational approach and shows how Chinese in Cuba have maintained meaningful connections with their homeland and other Chinese in the United States and Peru. She also demonstrates how racial ideologies, class stratification, gender imbalance among the Chinese and Castro’s socialist doctrines converged to shape Chinese presence in Cuba. The end result is a rich narrative of Chinese struggle, participation, and contributions to Cuba.

López divides her book into three neat sections. The first section, “From Indentured to Free,” is really a journey of why and how the Chinese were brought to Cuba and their subsequent treatment on the sugar plantations. Lopez paints a sad picture of how Chinese were manipulated and deceived into leaving their homeland and worked as indentured laborers in Cuba. The Chinese were told that they would be wage-laborers, but in reality their employers treated them like African slaves. Some Chinese resisted their deplorable working and living conditions, but a majority of them served out their contracts, drifted into noncontractual plantation employment and became fruit and vegetable vendors. As they earned wages, they also “participated in the social and cultural life of the towns and helped to build the foundations for Chinese communities in Cuba” (81). However, the “planting of their roots” in Cuba was not without challenges. The Chinese were exposed to bouts of discrimination and cultural ridicule from the wider Cuban society and suffered from internal schisms within their own society, particularly between the second wave of business elites and the former indentured “coolies.” Yet, they persevered.

The second section, “Migrants between Empires and Nations,” is an analysis of how Chinese Cubans gradually practiced selective assimilation within a class- and race-conscious plantation society, while simultaneously maintaining their own culture and identity. They formed a series of international and national associations, which they used as a base to build solidarity and to participate in Cuban society. The result was impressive. Chinese Cubans were involved in the building of modern Cuba. They fought in many wars and sided with and supported the independence movement. Readers may be surprised at the magnitude of Chinese participation in Cuba from the 1890s to 1959. Their participation might have emanated from their desire to be Chinese Cuban, but anti-immigration laws and anti-Chinese sentiments in Cuba and the Western Hemisphere as well as political turbulence in their homeland might have also pushed them to be more proactive in their new homeland. Whatever the reasons for their participation might have been, Lopez provides an excellent narrative of Chinese Cubans as freedom fighters, rebels and nation-builders as never depicted before.

The third section, “Transnational and National Belonging,” describes a dramatic turn in the general welfare of Chinese in Cuba, precipitated by the overthrow of the nationalist government in China (1949) and the introduction of socialism in Cuba (1959). Both events affected the Chinese community in Cuba. Many Chinese fled the new communist government in China, and relations between China and Cuban Chinese broke down. Ten years later, Fidel Castro toppled the US-backed regime in Cuba and embarked on a socialist journey for Cuba. However, communist China and socialist Cuba were at odds with each other since Cuba leaned towards the Soviet Union. These complex international events had an enormous impact on the Chinese in Cuba. Castro nationalized and disallowed private businesses, and as a consequence, almost all aspects of Chinese life deteriorated and declined, including their businesses, their associations, and their numbers—the latter through mass migration. However, efforts have been made to restore Chinatown and other Chinese communities in Cuba.

The strength of this book lies…

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On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-21 17:22Z by Steven

On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe

The Guardian
2014-04-20

Gary Younge

Despite the legacy of civil rights, some doors remain firmly closed. And across the US, schools are resegregating

At the march on Washington in August 1963, where Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream speech”, the United States Information Agency, the nation’s propaganda wing devoted to “public diplomacy”, made a documentary. It wanted to make sure that the largest demonstration in the history of the US capital, demanding jobs and freedom and denouncing racism, was not misconstrued by the nation’s enemies or potential allies. Their aim was to show the newly independent former colonies that the US embraced peaceful protest. “Smile,” they called to demonstrators as the camera rolled. “This is going to Africa.”

“So it happened,” Michael Thelwell, a grassroots activist, told the author Charles Euchner, “that Negro students from the south, some of whom still had unhealed bruises from the electric cattle prods which southern police used to break up demonstrations, were recorded for the screens of the world portraying ‘American democracy at work’.”

The US’s capacity to fold the stories of resistance to its historic inequities into the broader narrative of its unrelenting journey towards social progress is both brazen and remarkable. (Arguably, this is preferable to the European tradition of burying such histories and hoping no one will ever find them.) Tales of the barriers that come down are woven neatly into the fabric of a nation, where each year is better than the last; the obstacles that remain are discarded as immaterial. What is left is a mythology cut from whole cloth

…The freedoms this legacy bequeathed should be neither denied nor denigrated. The signs came down, space was created, opinions evolved. Recent years have shown a big increase in minorities moving to suburbs and all groups entering mixed-race relationships. It is a different and better country because of them. But nor should those freedoms be exaggerated. It is not as different or as improved a country as some would have us believe. For as some doors opened, others remained firmly closed – providing two main lessons that challenge the mainstream framing of this era’s legacy.

First, racial integration sits quite easily alongside inequality and discrimination. The legal right of people to mix does not inevitably change the power relationship between them. The former confederacy was, in many ways, the most racially integrated part of the US. There were high rates of miscegenation (forced and voluntary); slaves and servants raised white children and often lived in close quarters with their owners. Strom Thurmond, who ran for the presidency in 1948 as a segregationist, fathered a black daughter by a maid in 1924. The issue was never whether people mixed but on what basis and to what end.

“The issue for black people was never integration or segregation but white supremacy,” explains the University of Chicago professor Charles Payne. “The paradigm of integration and segregation was a white concern … That was how they posed the issue of civil rights, given their own interests, and that was how the entire issue then became understood. But the central concerns of black people were not whether they should integrate with white people or not but how to challenge white people’s hold on the power structure.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Women on 2014-04-21 01:46Z by Steven

Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

Slate
2014-04-18

Rebecca Onion

To prove that racial harmony was possible, the dancer adopted 12 children from around the globe—and charged admission to watch them coexist.

Beginning in 1953, almost 30 years after her first successful performances on the Paris stage, the singer and dancer Josephine Baker adopted 12 children from different countries, ranging from Finland to Venezuela. She installed what she called her “Rainbow Tribe” in a 15th-century chateau in the South of France and charged admission to tourists who came to hear them sing, to tour their home, or to watch them play leapfrog in their garden.

This little-known chapter in Baker’s life is an uncomfortable one. “I would begin to tell the story of Josephine Baker, and people would start to laugh,” says Matthew Pratt Guterl, the author of a new book on Baker’s later life, Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe. “And I would start to wonder what that laughter signified.” Guterl, a professor of Africana studies and American studies at Brown University, has in essence written two books in one: the story of Baker’s family, and a meditation on the meaning of that laughter…

Read the entire review here.

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An Afropean Journey

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-04-21 01:35Z by Steven

An Afropean Journey

Africa is a Country
2014-03-21

Johny Pitts

A few years ago, on a snowy January evening, a stranger mistook me for someone he had seen the previous week, aboard an evening train heading to Frankfurt. The moment lasted seconds, but our brief encounter would serve as a catalyst for what became a lifelong journey of (self-)discovery.

As a mixed race teenager growing up on a council estate in the north of England, it was the first time I contemplated a self-image tied with any sort of elegance. Who knows what this other mixed race guy with an afro was like, or why he was going to Frankfurt, or where he came from. For me it was the notion that a stranger stopped me on the street that day, because he thought it was plausible I was a black European traveller. One minute racing through the wintry German evening on a train, the next walking down a street in Sheffield. It seemed to offer a glimmer of a new, positive identity, and ever since I’ve been searching for that person on the 7.30 train to Frankfurt, within and without.

Until that moment I’d spent much of my teenage years divided, existing in the strange liminal terrain between the parochial white, working class north of England, and ghettoised African American Hip-Hop culture.

Growing up in Sheffield, England’s third largest district, I got the sense that Britain had just about come to terms with calling black people British, and a lot of the racism I witnessed was now being directed towards Asian communities. Inevitably though, I knew I was always on the fringes of British national identity. If there was an argument or a fight in the school playground, words like nigger or wog would rear their ugly heads again. I sensed that prejudice still lurked in the white British subconscious.

Things became more subtle: I was sort of English, almost British, kind of European and because of this, I started to seek out answers about my European identity in relation to my black experience. The problem was that nothing around me resonated, really. Black Britain was still largely seen as Caribbean, despite the fact that the mixed race community was the fastest growing ethnic group in the country, and African migrants began their steady rise to becoming the predominant black presence in Britain by 2011. More than that though, where I grew up it seemed the black community used the aesthetics of gangsta rap as a way of glamorising the destitution, the alienation, and the ugliness of their reality…

Read the entire article here.

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Abuse of Modernity: Japanese Biological Determinism and Identity Management in Colonial Korea

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2014-04-21 01:24Z by Steven

Abuse of Modernity: Japanese Biological Determinism and Identity Management in Colonial Korea

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review
Number 10, March 2014
26 pages

Mark Caprio
Rikkyo University, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

Medical researcher Kubo Takeshi’s contributions to professional publications, such as Chōsen igakkai zasshi (The Korean medical journal), and more popular magazines, such as Chōsen oyobi Manshū (Korea and Manchuria), reflected many of the prejudicial attitudes that Japanese held toward Koreans during the first decade of colonial rule. His scholarship was based on biological determinist thinking, an approach developed by eighteenth-century European medical researchers to establish race, class, and gender hierarchies. For Kubo this approach provided a means for exploiting scientific inquiry to establish and manage Japanese superiority over Korean subjects in a more stable manner than one based on more malleable cultural differences. A people could adjust its customs or mannerisms to amalgamate with a suzerain culture but could not do so with hereditarily determined features, such as blood type or cranium size, shape, or weight. Practitioners, however, often linked the physical with the cultural by arguing that a people’s physical structure was a product of its cultural heritage. The subjectivity injected into this seemingly objective research methodology abused the lay community’s blind trust in modern science in two ways. First, it employed this inquiry to verify biased observations, rather than to uncover new truths; second, it altered the approach, rather than the conclusions, when this inquiry demonstrated the desired truths to be inaccurate. Biological determinism proved useful in substantiating a Japanese-Korean colonial relationship that acknowledged historically similar origins while arguing for the historically different evolutions of the two peoples.

Read the entire article here.

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Race

Posted in Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-04-21 01:12Z by Steven

Race

Radiolab
Season 5, Episode 3, April 2014


Shea Walsh

This hour of Radiolab, a look at race.

When the human genome was first fully mapped in 2000, Bill Clinton, Craig Venter, and Francis Collins took the stage and pronounced that “The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.” Great words spoken with great intentions. But what do they really mean, and where do they leave us? Our genes are nearly all the same, but that hasn’t made race meaningless, or wiped out our evolving conversation about it.

Guests: Ali Abbas, Dr. Jay Cohn, Richard Cooper, Troy Duster, Tony Frudakis, Malcolm Gladwell, Nell Greenfieldboyce, Wayne Joseph and David Sherrin

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Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:57Z by Steven

Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

University of Oklahoma Press
1996
292 pages
6 x 9 in.
Paperback ISBN: 9780806128139

Jennifer S.H. Brown, Professor of History
University of Winnipeg

For two centuries (1670-1870), English, Scottish, and Canadian fur traders voyaged the myriad waterways of Rupert’s Land, the vast territory charted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and later splintered among five Canadian provinces and four American states. The knowledge and support of northern Native peoples were critical to the newcomer’s survival and success. With acquaintance and alliance came intermarriage, and the unions of European traders and Native women generated thousands of descendants.

Jennifer Brown’s Strangers in Blood is the first work to look systematically at these parents and their children. Brown focuses on Hudson’s Bay Company officers and North West Company wintering partners and clerks-those whose relationships are best known from post journals, correspondence, accounts, and wills. The durability of such families varied greatly. Settlers, missionaries, European women, and sometimes the courts challenged fur trade marriages. Some officers’ Scottish and Canadian relatives dismissed Native wives and “Indian” progeny as illegitimate. Traders who took these ties seriously were obliged to defend them, to leave wills recognizing their wives and children, and to secure their legal and social status-to prove that they were kin, not “strangers in blood.”

Brown illustrates that the lives and identities of these children were shaped by factors far more complex than “blood.” Sons and daughters diverged along paths affected by gender. Some descendants became Métis and espoused Métis nationhood under Louis Riel. Others rejected or were never offered that course-they passed into white or Indian communities or, in some instances, identified themselves (without prejudice) as “half breeds.” The fur trade did not coalesce into a single society. Rather, like Rupert’s Land, it splintered, and the historical consequences have been with us ever since.

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Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:43Z by Steven

Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History

University of Oklahoma Press
2012
520 pages
Illustrations: 12 B&W Illus., 8 Maps, 16 Tables
6.125 x 9.25 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780806144870

Edited by:

Nicole St-Onge, Professor of History
University of Ottawa

Carolyn Podruchny, Associate Professor of History
York University, Toronto

Brenda Macdougall, Associate Professor of History and Geography
University of Ottawa

Foreword by: Maria Campbell

Offers new perspectives on Metis identity

What does it mean to be Metis? How do the Metis understand their world, and how do family, community, and location shape their consciousness? Such questions inform this collection of essays on the northwestern North American people of mixed European and Native ancestry who emerged in the seventeenth century as a distinct culture. Volume editors Nicole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny, and Brenda Macdougall go beyond the concern with race and ethnicity that takes center stage in most discussions of Metis culture to offer new ways of thinking about Metis identity.

Geography, mobility, and family have always defined Metis culture and society. The Metis world spanned the better part of a continent, and a major theme of Contours of a People is the Metis conception of geography—not only how Metis people used their environments but how they gave meaning to place and developed connections to multiple landscapes. Their geographic familiarity, physical and social mobility, and maintenance of family ties across time and space appear to have evolved in connection with the fur trade and other commercial endeavors. These efforts, and the cultural practices that emerged from them, have contributed to a sense of community and the nationalist sentiment felt by many Metis today.

Writing about a wide geographic area, the contributors consider issues ranging from Metis rights under Canadian law and how the Library of Congress categorizes Metis scholarship to the role of women in maintaining economic and social networks. The authors’ emphasis on geography and its power in shaping identity will influence and enlighten Canadian and American scholars across a variety of disciplines.

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My Bondage and My Freedom

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2014-04-20 16:52Z by Steven

My Bondage and My Freedom

Yale University Press
2014 (originally published in 1855 by Miller, Orton & Mulligan)
432 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780300190595

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

Introduction and Notes by David W. Blight

Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom and became a passionate advocate for abolition and social change and the foremost spokesperson for the nation’s enslaved African American population in the years preceding the Civil War. My Bondage and My Freedom is Douglass’s masterful recounting of his remarkable life and a fiery condemnation of a political and social system that would reduce people to property and keep an entire race in chains.

This classic is revisited with a new introduction and annotations by celebrated Douglass scholar David W. Blight. Blight situates the book within the politics of the 1850s and illuminates how My Bondage represents Douglass as a mature, confident, powerful writer who crafted some of the most unforgettable metaphors of slavery and freedom—indeed of basic human universal aspirations for freedom—anywhere in the English language.

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