‘Who We Be,’ by Jeff Chang

Posted in Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-13 21:18Z by Steven

‘Who We Be,’ by Jeff Chang

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2014-12-12

Tricia Rose, Director
Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America
Brown ­University, Providence, Rhode Island

Who We Be: The Colorization of America. By Jeff Chang. Illustrated. 403 pp. St. Martin’s Press. $32.99.

The dramatic changes spurred by the civil rights ­movement and other 1960s social upheavals are often chronicled as a time line of catalytic legal victories that ended anti-black segregation. Jeff Chang’sWho We Be: The Colorization of America” claims that cultural changes were equally important in transforming American society, and that both the legal and cultural forms of desegregation faced a sustained hostile response that continues today.

According to Chang, the author of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation,” multiculturalism challenged who and what defined America, going straight to the heart of who “we” thought we were and who “we” aspired to be. Attacks on exclusions by multicultural scholars and artists were taking place everywhere. University battles raged over whether the Western literature canon should continue to be elevated, or imagined ­outside the politics of racial hierarchies. Artists confronted the nearly all-white and all-male elite art world. Chang even ­describes Coca-Cola’s influential 1971 “I’d like to teach the world to sing” advertisement as a signal of how profitable a “harmonious” multicultural marketing plan could be. But over the next several decades, all the way through Obama’s elections, powerful counterattacks were launched, increasingly in racially oblique language. “Both sides understood that battles over culture were high-stakes,” Chang writes. “The struggle between restoration and transformation, retrenchment and change, began in culture.”…

…Surely our national fabric is more racially diverse than ever before, and a few more people of color have access to powerful cultural institutions. At the same time, “Who We Be” left me wondering about the resilience of power. It is possible but not inevitable that multiculturalism will fuel the creation of an anti-racist and fully inclusive society. But it is also possible that we could ­become the kind of multiracial society that keeps its darker-skinned people at the bottom to provide cultural raw material to a powerful white elite that celebrates the diversity on which it depends…

Read the entire review here.

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Who We Be: The Colorization of America

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Monographs, United States on 2014-12-13 02:48Z by Steven

Who We Be: The Colorization of America

St. Martin’s Press (an imprint of Macmillan)
October 2014
416 pages
7.81 x 9.33 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780312571290; ISBN10: 0312571291

Jeff Chang, Executive Director
Institute for Diversity in the Arts
Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Race. A four-letter word. The greatest social divide in American life, a half-century ago and today.During that time, the U.S. has seen the most dramatic demographic and cultural shifts in its history, what can be called the colorization of America. But the same nation that elected its first Black president on a wave of hope—another four-letter word—is still plunged into endless culture wars. How do Americans see race now? How has that changed—and not changed—over the half-century? After eras framed by words like “multicultural” and “post-racial,” do we see each other any more clearly? Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. In this follow-up to the award-winning classic Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.

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Dr. Rainbow Johnson: Tracee Ellis Ross and Mixed Race on Black-ish

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-11-18 20:13Z by Steven

Dr. Rainbow Johnson: Tracee Ellis Ross and Mixed Race on Black-ish

Kaleido[scopes]: Diaspora Re-imagined
Williams College Student Research Journal
2014-10-27

Michelle May-Curry, Contributing Writer

Mixed race women. The tragic mulatta, the jezebel, the code-switcher, the new millennium mulatta, and the exceptional multiracial are terms and ideas that audiences subconsciously pull from to index mixed race identity. Some of these tropes are centuries old – the tragic mulatta calls to mind a woman who cannot find a home in either of her identities and as such meets her downfall through racelessness. Other terms like the “new millenium mulatta” are new, and describe a woman who constantly seeks to transcend her blackness and climb the racial hierarchy. But these terms do not quite begin to describe who Dr. Rainbow Johnson is on ABC’s new show Black-ish. What role Rainbow plays within the black experience, however, is a question that Black-ish might not know the answer to just yet.

Tracee Ellis Ross, the mixed race actress of Girlfriends fame, plays Rainbow (Bow for short), a 21st century working mother of four. As the show might imply, Ross’ character is black…ish. Bow is a self identified mixed race woman and the matriarch to an upper class black family in the suburbs. The product of hippie parents, as her rather eccentric name might suggest, Bow’s upbringing was progressive and far less “traditionally” black compared to her husband’s, who grew up in Compton. As for Ross, the actress is a self-identified black woman who simultaneously acknowledges both her black and white identities. Ross’ identity is rather abnormal for a mixed woman of her generation- most mixed race people born before the 1980′s recount stories of how black was the natural and only identity choice they had to make. The most famous example we can look to today who shares this opinion is our president, Barack Obama

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2014-11-09 23:40Z by Steven

Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture

Rutgers University Press
May 2015
256 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-7070-9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-7069-3
Web PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-7071-6
epub ISBN: 978-0-8135-7537-7

Jennifer Ann Ho, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The sheer diversity of the Asian American populace makes them an ambiguous racial category. Indeed, the 2010 U.S. Census lists twenty-four Asian-ethnic groups, lumping together under one heading people with dramatically different historical backgrounds and cultures. In Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture, Jennifer Ann Ho shines a light on the hybrid and indeterminate aspects of race, revealing ambiguity to be paramount to a more nuanced understanding both of race and of what it means to be Asian American.

Exploring a variety of subjects and cultural artifacts, Ho reveals how Asian American subjects evince a deep racial ambiguity that unmoors the concept of race from any fixed or finite understanding. For example, the book examines the racial ambiguity of Japanese American Nisei Yoshiko Nakamura deLeon, who during World War II underwent an abrupt transition from being an enemy alien to an assimilating American, via the Mixed Marriage Policy of 1942. It looks at the blogs of Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese Americans who were adopted as children by white American families and have conflicted feelings about their “honorary white” status. And it discusses Tiger Woods, the most famous mixed-race Asian American, whose description of himself as “Cablinasian”—reflecting his background as Black, Asian, Caucasian, and Native American—perfectly captures the ambiguity of racial classifications.

Race is an abstraction that we treat as concrete, a construct that reflects only our desires, fears, and anxieties. Jennifer Ho demonstrates in Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture that seeing race as ambiguous puts us one step closer to a potential antidote to racism.

Table Of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Ambiguous Americans: Race and the State of Asian America
  • 1. From Enemy Alien to Assimilating American: Yoshiko deLeon and the Mixed-Marriage Policy of the Japanese American Incarceration
  • 2. Anti-Sentimental Loss: Stories of Transracial/Transnational Asian American Adult Adoptees in the Blogosphere
  • 3. Cablinasian Dreams, Amerasian Realities: Transcending Race in the Twenty-first Century and Other Myths Broken by Tiger Woods
  • 4. Ambiguous Movements and Mobile Subjectivity: Passing in between Autobiography and Fiction with Paisley Rekdal and Ruth Ozeki
  • 5. Transgressive Texts and Ambiguous Authors: Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Literature
  • Coda: Ending with Origins: My Own Racial Ambiguity
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Review: Leilani Nishime’s Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-09 23:22Z by Steven

Review: Leilani Nishime’s Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture

Slant
2014-02-03

Clayton Dillard, Staff Critic

In 2003, The New York Times published an article entitled “Generation E.A.” which discussed the emergent role of multiracial people in advertising campaigns and concluded by suggesting that they’re an emerging racial category and a stepping-stone key to a race-free future. According to Leilani Nishime, such a notion has become dominant among popular media outlets, which awaits an “inevitable end to race.” For Nishime, these inclinations aren’t only misguided, but a constituent for racial oppression, since “color blindness is not the opposite of racial hierarchies; it is its enabling fiction.” These concerns form the bulk of Nishime’s focus in Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture, an exciting new addition to the canon of critical race studies, which marks the first book-length examination of media images of multiracial Asian Americans.

Nishime’s scope extends across cinema, reality TV, episodic TV drama, advertising campaigns, sports figures, and art installations to offer a comprehensive sense of the representational landscape. Thus, she devotes two chapters to Keanu Reeves, both as a celebrity persona in the 1990s and for his role as Neo in The Matrix trilogy. Within media discussions of both Reeves’s ethnicity and sexuality, Nishime finds that “writers often revert to the queer rhetoric of closeting instead of summoning the racially inflected language of passing to describe Reeves racially.”…

Read the entire review here.

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More Than “Black-ish”: Examining Representations of Biracial People

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-09 19:12Z by Steven

More Than “Black-ish”: Examining Representations of Biracial People

For Harriet
2014-11-08

Aphrodite Kocieda

Being biracial can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, especially because it highlights a sensitive history of colorism, racism, and favoritism within the Black community. The unapologetic presence of biracial people in contemporary media culture is beginning to spark questions about what it means to be black, and if biracial people “count” as black. We often speak about biracial people through a black apocalyptic narrative; meaning that the increase of biracial individuals represented in the media seemingly comes at a cost of erasing darker-skinned black people from the screen. This narrative is unproductive and anti-intersectional.

Salon writer Morgan Jerkins recently wrote a critique of the film “Dear White People” demonstrating how it was problematic that their most complex character was Sam, a biracial woman. Yes, folks, we live in a white supremacy; however, I am suspicious of people who want to end colorism with surface-level critiques. They call every representation of a light-skinned person a giant step backwards and offer no solutions for moving forward that honors the complexity and diversity of blackness. Jerkins’ sentiments were as trite and obvious as natural hair nazis who think every black woman with straight hair is a dupe. It’s much more complex than that. Sam’s authenticity as a black woman was questioned and it was assumed that the film may have been more dynamic if a darker-skinned (i.e. “fully” black) woman was cast instead. As a biracial woman myself, I thought the critique was quite dull and lacked any real depth…

..The show “Black-ish” picks up on this uneasiness surrounding biracial identity and ideas of blackness. The lead black character Dre (played by Anthony Anderson) struggles with his own blackness because he is wealthy, however he seems comfortable insisting that his mixed-race wife Rainbow (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) isn’t black. In the pilot episode, she tries to comfort him after a bad day at work and he teases her by stating that since she’s biracial—thus, she’s not really black.

In response, she states, “Okay, well, if I’m not really black, then could somebody please tell my hair and my ass?”

I celebrated this moment. She wasn’t asking for permission to be black. She claimed it, which is powerful when people interrogate our (meaning, biracial women) need to take up space in black narratives…

Read the entire article here.

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241F Performances of Passing, Performances of Resistance

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Course Offerings, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-11-09 17:54Z by Steven

241F Performances of Passing, Performances of Resistance

Hamilton College, Clinton, New York
Spring 2014

Yumi Pak, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

An examination of the historical practice of passing in the United States. While the practice has most commonly referred to the history of racial passing for light-skinned African Americans in the early 20th century, this course will situate acts of passing as acts of resistance through close readings of literature, film and performance studies. Scholars and authors include Soyica Diggs Colbert, Fred Moten, Dael Orlandersmith and Suzan-Lori Parks. We will consider how performances of passing have the potential to challenge institutional power. (Same as English and Creative Writing 241.)

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The Post-Racial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-09 17:41Z by Steven

The Post-Racial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

New York University Press
April 2014
256 pages
9 halftones and 7 tables
Cloth ISBN: 9780814762899
Paper ISBN: 9780814770603

Catherine R. Squires, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
University of Minnesota

Despite claims from pundits and politicians that we now live in a post-racial America, people seem to keep finding ways to talk about race—from celebrations of the inauguration of the first Black president to resurgent debates about police profiling, race and racism remain salient features of our world. When faced with fervent anti-immigration sentiments, record incarceration rates of Blacks and Latinos, and deepening socio-economic disparities, a new question has erupted in the last decade: What does being post-racial mean?

The Post-Racial Mystique explores how a variety of media—the news, network television, and online, independent media—debate, define and deploy the term “post-racial” in their representations of American politics and society. Using examples from both mainstream and niche media—from prime-time television series to specialty Christian media and audience interactions on social media—Catherine Squires draws upon a variety of disciplines including communication studies, sociology, political science, and cultural studies in order to understand emergent strategies for framing post-racial America. She reveals the ways in which media texts cast U.S. history, re-imagine interpersonal relationships, employ statistics, and inventively redeploy other identity categories in a quest to formulate different ways of responding to race.

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Seahawks’ Russell Wilson Controversy Shows Dangers of Racial Authenticity Tests

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-03 21:58Z by Steven

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson Controversy Shows Dangers of Racial Authenticity Tests

The American Prospect
2014-11-01

Kevin Cokley, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology; Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

The ‘are you black enough?’ question is perilously close to the racist one-drop rule of yore—whether called by blacks or whites.

Whether Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is “black enough” is beside the point. The real issue is why we are still talking about racial authenticity at all.

“My feeling on this—and it’s backed up by several interviews with Seahawks players—is that some of the black players think Wilson isn’t black enough,” Mike Freeman writes at Bleacher Report, reporting on tensions between just-traded teammate Percy Harvin and Wilson, including a locker room reportedly divided into pro/con camps.

“This is an issue that extends outside of football, into African-American society—though it’s gotten better recently,” Freeman writes. “Well-spoken blacks are seen by some other blacks as not completely black. Some of this is at play.”

The “Am I Black Enough?” racial authenticity card is a recurring theme in the lives of black athletes in particular, and black people in general. Concerns about racial authenticity are always present, especially for those who are biracial or somewhat more racially ambiguous as Wilson, with his light skin tone and curly hair, is believed to be…

Read the entire article here.

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BSt 335U The Multi-Racial Experience

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Course Offerings, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-29 21:04Z by Steven

BSt 335U The Multi-Racial Experience

Portland State University
Portland, Oregon
2014-2015

Explores what it means to identify oneself or be identified as multiracial/ethnic. Considers how social class, gender, race and other factors shape the multiracial experience. In addition, explores interracial relationship and the representation of multiracials in the media.

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