All Mixed Up: What Do We Call People Of Multiple Backgrounds?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-29 18:18Z by Steven

All Mixed Up: What Do We Call People Of Multiple Backgrounds?

Code Switch: Race And Identity, Remixed
National Public Radio
2016-08-25

Leah Donnella


In a country where the share of multiracial children has multiplied tenfold in the past 50 years, it’s a good time to take stock of our shared vocabulary when it comes to describing Americans like me.
Jeannie Phan for NPR

It’s the summer of 1998 and I’m at the mall with my mom and my sister Anna, who has just turned 5. I’m 7. Anna and I are cranky from being too hot, then too cold, then too bored. We keep touching things we are not supposed to touch, and by the time Mom drags us to the register, the cashier seems a little on edge.

“They’re mixed, aren’t they?” she says. “I can tell by the hair.”

Mom doesn’t smile, and Mom always smiles. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” she says.

Later, in the kitchen, there is a conversation…

‘Multiracial’ or ‘mixed’?

In light of Hall’s paper, “multiracial” was adopted by several advocacy groups springing up around the country, some of which felt the term neutralized the uncomfortable connotations of a competing term in use at that point: “mixed.”

In English, people have been using the word “mixed” to describe racial identity for at least 200 years, like this 1864 British study claiming that “no mixed races can subsist in humanity,” or this 1812 “Monthly Retrospect of Politics” that tallies the number of slaves — “either Africans or of a mixed race” — in a particular neighborhood.

Steven Riley, the curator of a multiracial research website, cites the year 1661 as the first “mixed-race milestone” in North America, when the Maryland colony forbade “racial admixture” between English women and Negro slaves.

But while “mixed” had an established pedigree by the mid-20th century, it wasn’t uncontroversial. To many, “mixed” invited associations like “mixed up,” “mixed company” and “mixed signals,” all of which reinforced existing stereotypes of “mixed” people as confused, untrustworthy or defective. It also had ties to animal breeding — “mixed” dogs and horses were the foil to pure-breeds and thoroughbreds.

Mixed “evokes identity crisis” to some, says Teresa Willams-León, author of The Sum of Our Parts: Mixed Heritage Asian Americans and a professor of Asian American Studies at California State University. “It becomes the antithesis to pure.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Our Diversity Isn’t Looking Very Diverse

Posted in Articles, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-20 23:29Z by Steven

Our Diversity Isn’t Looking Very Diverse

Affinity Magazine
2016-08-20

Etienne Rodriguez
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Look alive, True Believers, if the rumors are to be believed, then Zendaya is playing the role of Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man movie. This is the latest in a series of black women being cast in traditionally white comic book roles. First it was Candice Patton being cast as Iris West in CW’s The Flash, then Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, followed by Kiersey Clemons being cast in Warner Brother’s The Flash, and now Zendaya. While they’re all great actresses and I can’t wait to see them in action, it’s hard not to notice that only a certain type of black girl is being cast.

We all want to celebrate the fact that black women are getting more roles, but we need to address the colorism in these casting. Zendaya, Kiersey, Tessa, and Candice are all lightskin black women. These aren’t coincidences; these are products of our society’s devaluing of darkskin black women, especially those that don’t meet Eurocentric beauty standards. These actresses received/continue to receive a lot of hate, doused in racism no doubt, but nothing in comparison to what Leslie Jones went through just last month.

Leslie is a darkskin black women with Afrocentric features, and the internet sure as hell wanted her to know it. Through comparison to gorillas, various racial slurs, and general bigotry, she was forced to retreat from Twitter and thus interacting with her fans. Women like her are rarely given the chance to shine and when they are, they’re met with harassment and abuse…

Read the entire article here.

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Barack Obama and Immigrant Blackness: A Catalyst for Structural Change

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-15 20:18Z by Steven

Barack Obama and Immigrant Blackness: A Catalyst for Structural Change

The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review
Volume 12 (2012)
pages 33-42

Kirin Wachter-Grene, Acting Instructor of Literature
New York University

This essay builds upon an argument I make in my article “Beyond the Binary: Obama’s Hybridity and Post-Racialization” to read Barack Obama through post-colonial scholar Homi Bhabha’s theory of “hybridity” to advance “post-bichromatic racialization.” Obama’s cultural identity is more complex than the limited bichromatic (black/white) ways—such as “multiracial” or “African American”—it is imagined to be. He can be read as a hybrid individual, understood in a multiplicity of ways including as non-bichromaticly multiracial in which his blackness is derivative of African, not African-American heritage, and as a second-generation immigrant. Hybridity values difference without trying to systematize it into hierarchical classifications, thus it suggests potential for structural change to the concept of black racialization. Some may regard the complexity of Obama’s cultural identity to be a moot point due to a consideration that in 2013 his public persona is no longer capable of being discursively manipulated regarding race. However it is crucial to remember that cultural understandings of powerful public figures are never static concepts. All subjects remain full of discursively transformative possibilities. This article therefore seeks to advance a discourse that may eventually complicate the predominant manner in which subjects are categorized as black in the United States.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Maria on Bhowani Junction

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2016-08-15 17:14Z by Steven

Maria on Bhowani Junction

Archive to Blockbuster
2016-08-11

Maria Kaladeen, Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies
University of London

The happiness I feel in encountering old movies about dual-heritage characters and communities is inevitably marred by the regurgitation of tired and offensive stereotypes about these individuals. The 1956 film Bhowani Junction, based on John Masters’ 1954 novel of the same title, is no exception. However the film is fascinating in spite of these stereotypes because it ultimately, and belatedly, makes a powerful statement about the rights of those of mixed heritage to self-identify…

Read the entire article here.

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Othering Obama: Racial Attitudes and Dubious Beliefs about the Nation’s First Black President

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-07 23:29Z by Steven

Othering Obama: Racial Attitudes and Dubious Beliefs about the Nation’s First Black President

Sociological Perspectives
Volume 57, Number 4 (December 2014)
pages 450-469
DOI: 10.1177/0731121414536140

Daniel Tope, Associate Professor of Sociology
Florida State University

Justin T. Pickett, Assistant Professor
School of Criminal Justice
State University of New York, Albany

Ryon J. Cobb, National Institute on Aging Postdoctoral Fellow
Davis School of Gerontology
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

Jonathan Dirlam
Department of Sociology
Ohio State University

The literature on descriptive representation indicates that the election of black political leaders may prompt white enmity. We assess this claim by examining the relationship between whites’ racial attitudes and their likelihood of othering Barack Obama by labeling him as a Muslim and/or a noncitizen interloper. The findings reveal that both symbolic racial resentment and traditional racial attitudes are associated with othering Obama. In addition, the results reveal that the relationship between racial resentment and othering is substantially mediated by the use of seemingly nonracist frames based on emotional reactions and negative expectations about an Obama presidency. Conversely, much of the effect of belief in traditional antiblack stereotypes was transmitted directly to othering Obama without the use of justificatory frames. Despite claims of racial progress, our findings suggest that racial sentiments—both overt and symbolic—continue to play a major role in politics.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Reality Of Imaginary Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2016-07-26 01:37Z by Steven

The Reality Of Imaginary Whiteness

African American Intellectual Historical Society (AAIHS)
2016-07-24

Jennifer Patrice Sims, Adjunct Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin, River Falls

In the 1993 satirical musical comedy Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Dave Chappelle plays Ahchoo, the show stealing side kick to Cary Elwes’ Robin Hood. At the end of the movie, when Robin appoints Ahchoo to be the new Sheriff of Rottingham, the all-white crowd exclaims, “A black sheriff?!” (and the blind family servant gasps, “He’s black?!”). They all eventually accept the appointment when Ahchoo responds, “And why not?! It worked in Blazing Saddles.

Since the release of Robin Hood, black Americans have continued to ask “And why not?!” when white Americans react with incredulity to racial minorities’ presence in movies. From outrage over a black storm trooper in a galaxy far, far away to the rejection of the mere idea of a black man playing James Bond, some white fans expect, and will apparently accept nothing other than, white characters.

This expectation of imaginary whiteness is even more pervasive in literature. In the Harry Potter series, for example, Harry is introduced as a “skinny” boy with “a thin face, knobby knees, black hair, and bright green eyes.” Nowhere in seven books does author J. K. Rowling say that he is white; yet readers knew it intuitively because white is the hegemonic racial group in the United Kingdom. Whiteness need not be specified. It is assumed…

Read the entire article here.

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The Myth of White Purity and Narratives That Fed Racism in South Africa

Posted in Africa, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, South Africa on 2016-07-16 15:25Z by Steven

The Myth of White Purity and Narratives That Fed Racism in South Africa

The Wire
2016-06-18

Nicky Falkof, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


An apartheid-era sign from South Africa. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The rhetoric of racial purity is full of suggestive terms like illness, weakening and dilution. These imply the medicalisation of the nation.

In this extract from her book The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa, Nicky Falkof explores how ideas about disease, risk and danger that the apartheid government applied to black people were transposed onto fears about Satanism during the 1980s.

The grand apartheid regime’s most pressing fear was gelykstelling, an Afrikaans word that means “equalisation”. It believed that this would bring on the “mishmash cohabitation” and eventual bloedvermenging – blood mixing – that threatened the purity of the white race.

During the run-up to the 1938 election, the National Party campaigned on the argument that the ruling United Party’s policy of allowing mixed marriages would cause mass miscegenation. This, in the words of Afrikaans intellectual N.J. van der Merwe, would lead to “mixing of the blood and the ruin of the white race”.

During the 1970s Afrikaans genealogist J.A. Heese uncovered records of more than 1,200 European men in South Africa who married non-white women between 1652 and 1800. Through this he determined that approximately 7.2% of Afrikaner heritage was non-white. This complicated history was not admissible within the apartheid imaginary…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-07-16 15:06Z by Steven

Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness

Routledge
2016
224 pages
1 B/W Illus.

Helen Young, Honorary Associate
Department of English
University of Sydney

This book illuminates the racialized nature of twenty-first century Western popular culture by exploring how discourses of race circulate in the Fantasy genre. It examines not only major texts in the genre, but also the impact of franchises, industry, editorial and authorial practices, and fan engagements on race and representation. Approaching Fantasy as a significant element of popular culture, it visits the struggles over race, racism, and white privilege that are enacted within creative works across media and the communities which revolve around them. While scholars of Science Fiction have explored the genre’s racialized constructs of possible futures, this book is the first examination of Fantasy to take up the topic of race in depth. The book’s interdisciplinary approach, drawing on Literary, Cultural, Fan, and Whiteness Studies, offers a cultural history of the anxieties which haunt Western popular culture in a century eager to declare itself post-race. The beginnings of the Fantasy genre’s habits of whiteness in the twentieth century are examined, with an exploration of the continuing impact of older problematic works through franchising, adaptation, and imitation. Young also discusses the major twenty-first century sub-genres which both re-use and subvert Fantasy conventions. The final chapter explores debates and anti-racist praxis in authorial and fan communities. With its multi-pronged approach and innovative methodology, this book is an important and original contribution to studies of race, Fantasy, and twenty-first century popular culture.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Re-thinking Genre, Thinking About Race
  • 1. Founding Fantasy: J. R. R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard
  • 2. Forming Habits: Derivation, Imitation, and Adaptation
  • 3. The Real Middle Ages: Gritty Fantasy
  • 4. Orcs and Otherness: Monsters on Page and Screen
  • 5. Popular Culture Postcolonialism
  • 6. Relocating Roots: Urban Fantasy
  • 7. Breaking Habits and Digital Communication
  • Afterword
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End of Whiteness: Satanism & Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa

Posted in Africa, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, South Africa on 2016-07-16 02:11Z by Steven

End of Whiteness: Satanism & Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa

Jacana Media
March 2016
240 pages
235x155mm
Paperback ISBN: 9781431423279

Nicky Falkof, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Satanism and family murder – bizarre responses to fear of change. This book examines the effects that apartheid may have had on those who benefitted from it the most.

The End of Whiteness aims to reveal the pathological, paranoid and bizarre consequences that the looming end of apartheid had on white culture in South Africa, and overall to show that whiteness is a deeply problematic category that needs to be deconstructed and thoughtfully considered.

This book uses contemporary media material to investigate two symptoms of this late apartheid cultural hysteria that appeared throughout the contemporary media and in popular literature during the 1980s and 1990s, showing their relation to white anxieties about social change, the potential loss of privilege and the destabilisation of the country that were imagined to be an inevitable consequence of majority rule.

The ‘Satanic panic’ revolved around the apparent threat posed by a cult of white Satanists that was never proven to exist but was nonetheless repeatedly accused of conspiracy, murder, rape, drug-dealing, cannibalism and bestiality, and blamed for the imminent destruction of white Christian civilisation in South Africa.

During the same period an unusually high number of domestic murder-suicides occurred, with parents killing themselves and their children or other family members by gunshot, fire, poison, gas, even crossbows and drownings. This so-called epidemic of family murder was treated by police, press and social scientists as a plague that specifically affected white Afrikaans families. These double monsters, both fantastic and real, helped to disembowel the clarities of whiteness even as they were born out of threats to it. Deep within its self-regarding modernity and renegotiation of identity, contemporary white South Africa still wears those scars of cultural pathology.

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Can Biracial Activists Speak To Black Issues?

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-09 17:59Z by Steven

Can Biracial Activists Speak To Black Issues?

The Establishment
2016-07-06

Shannon Luders-Manuel

While my first instinct was to celebrate Jesse Williams’ recent Humanitarian Award from BET, my second instinct, which came just seconds later, was to brace myself for the backlash.

The Grey’s Anatomy actor and former teacher has been a highly visible activist within the Black Lives Matter movement, recently executive producing the documentary Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement. Yet those born of racial admixture are often viewed as half-as, half-ass appropriators of blackness. We’re often seen as deceitful, dangerous, and damaging to black solidarity.

In his BET acceptance speech, Williams called out police brutality and the racial injustices black people have faced throughout history: “There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t levied against us.” He added that, “We want [freedom] now.”

While fallout from his speech continues to reverberate—dueling petitions are now raging, calling for him to be fired from/kept on Grey’s Anatomy, respectivelyhis words were largely well-received in both black and white spheres. But, like anyone of mixed parentage who publicly rails against racial injustice, some questioned his right to speak at all…

Read the entire article here.

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