Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-03-14 16:57Z by Steven

Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow

University of Illinois Press
March 2018
296 pages
6 x 9 in.
11 black & white photographs
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-04158-7
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-08323-5
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-252-05024-4

Edited by:

Mollie Godfrey, Assistant Professor of English
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Vershawn Ashanti Young, Associate Professor of Drama and Speech Communication
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Crossing old boundaries to create new identities

African Americans once passed as whites to escape the pains of racism. Today’s neo-passing has pushed the old idea of passing in extraordinary new directions. A white author uses an Asian pen name; heterosexuals live “out” as gay; and, irony of ironies, whites try to pass as black.

Mollie Godfrey and Vershawn Ashanti Young present essays that explore practices, performances, and texts of neo-passing in our supposedly postracial moment. The authors move from the postracial imagery of Angry Black White Boy and the issues of sexual orientation and race in ZZ Packer’s short fiction to the politics of Dave Chappelle’s skits as a black President George W. Bush. Together, the works reveal that the questions raised by neo-passing—questions about performing and contesting identity in relation to social norms—remain as relevant today as in the past.

Gale Wald offers a foreword and Michele Elam an afterword.

Contributors: Derek Adams, Christopher M. Brown, Martha J. Cutter, Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Alisha Gaines, Jennifer Glaser, Allyson Hobbs, Brandon J. Manning, Loran Marsan, Lara Narcisi, Eden Osucha, and Deborah Elizabeth Whaley

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The First Great Movie of the Trump Era

Posted in Articles, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-23 05:05Z by Steven

The First Great Movie of the Trump Era


Jada Yuan and Hunter Harris

Daniel Kaluuya and Jordan Peele filming the game-room scene of Get Out.
Justin Lubin/courtesy of Universal Pictures

How Get Out began as a rebuke to Obama-inspired dreams of racial harmony and became a conduit for fears reignited by the rise of the new president.

Get Out was shot in just 23 days on a budget of $4.5 million, but when it opened one year ago, it quickly became clear it was not just another low-budget horror movie. There were monstrous grosses and rapturous reviews, but most important, the film instantly became a cultural phenomenon — the subject of political commentary and social-media memes. The bizarre story of a young black man lured by his white girlfriend to her family home in the country, where they plan to replace his brain with an older white person’s, it immediately introduced into the lexicon terms like “the sunken place” — as in “We’ve lost Kanye to the sunken place,” used to suggest the rapper has lost touch with his black identity. Racial inequity, and the failure of white liberals to adequately address it, proved powerful fodder for a horror narrative. A year later, as one of the most unlikely Oscar Best Picture nominees in years, Get Out is being taught in courses on racism and Afro­futurism. It began as an insight in the brain of creator Jordan Peele during the 2008 primary fight between Obama and Hillary Clinton and premiered at Sundance within a week of Donald Trump’s inauguration. This is the story of how Get Out got out…

Read the entire article here.

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Inside the Biracial Advertising Boom

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-12 02:34Z by Steven

Inside the Biracial Advertising Boom

The Daily Beast

Hallie Golden
Salt Lake City, Utah

State Farm

Biracial couples and families are becoming increasingly common. Companies are using them in advertisements to reflect that reality, and to sell to those who value diversity.

Infiniti USA recently released an advertisement featuring a dad repeatedly heading out to grab more food for a holiday meal with his wife and two daughters.

First it’s sweet potatoes, then shrimp, and finally the wife takes over to get a pecan pie. It’s a fairly straightforward 30-second advertisement riffing off of the idea that the husband and wife love to drive their cars so much they look forward to these types of trivial errands.

The unique part has to do with the actors who play this adoring family: The father is white, the mother is black, and their teenage daughters are biracial.

By casting the ad in such a way, Infiniti has joined a growing list of companies selling everything from breakfast cereal to cars to clothing that portray the American family in TV advertisements as more than a single race.

But why are all these companies jumping on the diversity bandwagon?…

Read the entire article here.

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When It Comes To Diversity, The Fashion and Beauty Industry Are The Absolute Worst

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-11 04:32Z by Steven

When It Comes To Diversity, The Fashion and Beauty Industry Are The Absolute Worst


Ezinne Ukoha

These are some of the top fashion magazine covers of 2017

Including the sexy magazines that can’t stand dark-skinned models with puffy hair

As a child — I endured the casual comments from family friends who couldn’t help expressing how much I looked like my mother with the exception of her lighter skin — which I unfortunately didn’t inherit. This practice of exaggerating how my dark-skin didn’t measure up continued with my boarding school mates — who once compared my looks to one of the popular girls — and concluded that even though we looked alike — she was prettier.

We did sort of resemble each other — but she wasn’t prettier. She was just light-skinned. That same rhetoric was responsible for the infatuation and fascination assigned to the biracial students who almost always won beauty competitions and anything else that required the adulation of their prized features.

Interestingly enough — I never pressured myself into sourcing ways to solve the issue of my dark skin — the way other Nigerian women have resolved to do — at the risk of their health. Skin bleaching was a dirty secret when I was growing up — because even though it was glaringly obvious that Mrs. Kalu was indulging in potent solutions that couldn’t quite penetrate her knuckles, elbows or feet — we had to act as if her new complexion wasn’t weird as fuck.

My mother did an excellent job boosting my ego — and as a result there was hardly a time when I stared at the mirror and imagined how much more desirable I would be if the gods had been a little more miserly with the strokes of deep chocolate.

However — when I moved to the States to pursue my college degree — I was greeted with hard truths of what it means to be a “regular Black girl” — during an era when such a disposition was guaranteed to get you nowhere — especially in industries that catered to fashion and entertainment…

Read the entire article here.

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Blasian Invasion: Racial Mixing in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-12-30 04:08Z by Steven

Blasian Invasion: Racial Mixing in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

University Press of Mississippi
192 pages (approx.)
6 x 9 inches, index
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496814227

Myra S. Washington, Assistant Professor
Department of Communication and Journalism
University of New Mexico

An exposition of a dynamic, multiracial-racial identity

Myra S. Washington probes the social construction of race through the mixed-race identity of Blasians, people of Black and Asian ancestry. She looks at the construction of the identifier Blasian and how this term went from being undefined to forming a significant role in popular media. Today Blasian has emerged as not just an identity Black/Asian mixedrace people can claim, but also a popular brand within the industry and a signifier in the culture at large. Washington tracks the transformation of Blasian from being an unmentioned category to a recognized status applied to other Blasian figures in media.

Blasians have been neglected as a meaningful category of people in research, despite an extensive history of Black and Asian interactions within the United States and abroad. Washington explains that even though Americans have mixed in every way possible, racial mixing is framed in certain ways, which almost always seem to involve Whiteness. Unsurprisingly, media discourses about Blasians mostly conform to usual scripts already created, reproduced, and familiar to audiences about monoracial Blacks and Asians.

In the first book on this subject, Washington regards Blasians as belonging to more than one community, given their multiple histories and experiences. Moving beyond dominant rhetoric, she does not harp on defining or categorizing mixed race, but instead recognizes the multiplicities of Blasians and the process by which they obtain meaning. Washington uses celebrities, including Kimora Lee, Dwayne Johnson, Hines Ward, and Tiger Woods, to highlight how they challenge and destabilize current racial debate, create spaces for themselves, and change the narratives that frame multiracial people. Finally, Washington asserts Blasians as not only evidence for the fluidity of identities, but also for the limitations of reductive racial binaries.


  • Acknowledgments
  • CHAPTER ONE: Theorizing Blasians
  • CHAPTER TWO: Birth of a Blasian
  • CHAPTER THREE: Modeling Race: Refashioning Blasianness
  • CHAPTER FOUR: “Because I’m Blasian” Tiger Woods, Scandal, and Protecting the Blasian Brand
  • CHAPTER FIVE: Sporting the Blasian Body
  • CONCLUSION: En-Blasianing the Future
  • Notes
  • Index
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The Pedagogy and Politics of Racial Passing: Examining Media Literacy in Turn-of-the-Century Activist Periodicals

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-12-29 19:16Z by Steven

The Pedagogy and Politics of Racial Passing: Examining Media Literacy in Turn-of-the-Century Activist Periodicals

Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy
Volume 4, Issue 1 (Winter 2017)

Tara Propper, Senior Lecturer
Department of Literature and Languages
University of Texas, Tyler

This article explores how we can use African American activist media to theorize the role of pedagogy in the public sphere. Focusing on how racial passing stories expose the limiting (and often tropic) binaries through which racial identity is deciphered, this analysis further highlights the extent to which these binary constructions of identity are learned through media narration.

Using the December, 1912, issue of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Crisis Magazine as a touchstone for investigation, this analysis considers how pedagogy is taken up as both a theme and project in the magazine. Foregrounding the degree to which Crisis critiques and counternarrates the demeaning and derogatory portrayals of African American identity in early twentieth-century media, this article suggests that Du Bois’s magazine not only indicts dominant visual systems of seeing and evaluating African American identity but also reveals the extent to which such systems of seeing and interpreting blackness are learned and can be remediated through media intervention.

The ultimate aim of this article is to derive an interpretive framework that understands pedagogy as not simply a method for inscribing pre-existent dominant norms but rather as a means for intervening, questioning, and challenging dominant systems of representation and public articulation. Moreover, this analysis intends to reveal the hidden pedagogies within dominant cultural paraphernalia for the purposes of advancing an approach to media literacy that recognizes and endeavors to transform the tropes and archetypes applied to marginal and minority communities.

Read the entire article in PDF or HTML format.

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Imitation of Life

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-12-26 23:30Z by Steven

Imitation of Life

Charisse L’Pree, Ph.D.: The Media Made Me Crazy

Charisse L’Pree, Assistant Professor of Communications
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Written during the dismal conditions of the Great Depression, Fannie Hurst’s novel, Imitation of Life, was adapted to film in 1934 and 1959. It tells the story of two widowed mothers, one white and one black, raising their daughters amidst a climate of capitalism and racism. Despite the drastic changes in the movie industry and culture, both versions met great success. Using the conventions of female melodrama, the story foregrounds the dilemmas of motherhood while commenting on capitalism, racism and image. In this paper, I will address how this story manages to transcend a generation and how the narrative was changed to accommodate a postwar audience. I will also discuss how the movie industry affected the production and marketing of Imitation of Life at the cusp of the tumultuous 1960s.

Released in 1932, Hurst tells the story of Bea Pullman, a young widow looking to sell her deceased husband’s excess of maple syrup and take care of her daughter, Jessie. She hires Delilah Johnson as a sleep-in housemaid who brings her remarkably light skinned daughter, Peola, to complete the family. After eating Delilah’s pancakes, Bea decides to go into business selling pancakes on the boardwalk of Atlantic City. The story then follows as the business becomes successful, Bea falls in love with Steve and the daughters begin to grow up and begin to develop their own lives. Hurst was a close friend of acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston and Hurst’s descriptions of the black American experience are remarkably detailed and fitting for the time…

…The year before America’s famed sixties, Imitation of Life was released in theaters. Sirk’s story was different from Hurst’s or Stahl’s. Bea Pullman was renamed Lora Meredith, an aspiring actress struggling in New York City with her daughter, Susie. On the beach, they meet Annie Johnson and her daughter, Sarah Jane, who are currently between residences. In a moment of heartfelt sympathy, Lora invites the Johnsons to spend the night at her small apartment. The next morning, Annie tends to the housework while Lora sleeps in, securing the new family dynamic. With Annie’s domestic assistance, Lora becomes a famous Broadway actress. Meanwhile, Annie tries to raise her light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane, who desperately wants to be white. This version travels deeper into the issues of Sarah Jane’s internalized oppression; it takes the audience to the seedy nightclubs where she works after running away from home and inserts a scene where her white boyfriend beats her in an alley after learning that she is black. True to form, Imitation of Life (1959) still addresses issues of motherhood, capitalism and racism but does so through the eyes of an acclaimed, German-born, melodramatic director…

Read the entire review here.

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The case against ‘Latinx’

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-12-23 04:24Z by Steven

The case against ‘Latinx’

The Los Angeles Times

Daniel Hernandez

“Latinx,” is has been argued, is a less determinist and more inclusive term than “Latino” for males and “Latina” for females. (Illustration by Wes Bausmith / For The Times)

This year, Fusion and MiTú each posted videos earnestly explaining to their millennial viewers why “Latinx” is the new term everyone should use to refer to people of Latin American descent.

The argument is that “Latinx” is a less determinist, more inclusive form of the words it replaces — “Latino” for males and “Latina” for females. These gendered identifiers, the thinking goes, impose a binary, give preference to the male over the female, and leave out those who don’t consider themselves either.

Although the target audiences for the MiTú and Fusion videos were mainstream consumers in their 20s — a demographic thought to be on board with “Latinx” — the comment sections of both videos were flooded with negative reactions, with some calling the term “ridiculous,” “stupid” and “offensive” to the Spanish language. “Please stop trying to force feed some millennials hipster buzzword,” one commenter said.

Not everyone is on board with the term. And yet “Latinx” — pronounced “La-teen-ex” in English — continues its march into more news outlets and magazines amid our growing public awareness of transgender and non-binary gender identities. The term is even used officially at some UC campuses and is being considered for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Like many of its awkward predecessors, “Latinx” does not work. Its experimental “x” opens too many linguistic floodgates. And why is this kind of label necessary at all?…

Read the entire article here.

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“The Lost Apostrophe”?: Race, the roots journey and the “Rose of Tralee” pageant

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2017-12-22 20:12Z by Steven

“The Lost Apostrophe”?: Race, the roots journey and the “Rose of Tralee” pageant

Irish Studies Review
Published online: 2017-12-06
17 pages
DOI: 10.1080/09670882.2017.1412099

Sinéad Moynihan, Senior Lecturer of English
University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom

Building on recent scholarship on discourses of race in twentieth-century and contemporary Ireland, this article examines the racialised nature of the “roots journey”, in which subjects of Irish descent – typically white Irish Americans – travel back to Ireland to trace their roots. Outlining arguments that have emphasised both the reactionary and radical potential of the practices of genealogy and the search for roots, the article focuses on recent developments in the Rose of Tralee contest, an annual beauty pageant in which women of Irish descent compete for the title “Rose of Tralee”. Noting that three winners since 1998 (and several other competitors since 1994) have been of mixed race ancestry, and emphasising the subsequent roots journeys undertaken by two of these winners to the Philippines and India, respectively, the article questions whether these roots journey, taking non-white subjects of Irish descent out of Ireland rather than into it, may offer the potential of decoupling “Irishness” and “whiteness” in radical new ways.

Read or purchase the entire article here.

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The Mutating Immutable: Black, Mixed, Bi-Racial

Posted in Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2017-12-20 17:31Z by Steven

The Mutating Immutable: Black, Mixed, Bi-Racial

iMiXWHATiLiKE!: Emancipatory Journalism and Broadcasting

Jared Ball, Host and Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Panama Jackson of Very Smart Brothas joined us to discuss the shifting dynamics and politics around being “mixed” and “Black.”

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