What is the Black German Experience? A Review of the Black German Cultural Society of New Jersey 2nd Annual Convention

Posted in Articles, Europe, Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-08-18 00:35Z by Steven

What is the Black German Experience? A Review of the Black German Cultural Society of New Jersey 2nd Annual Convention

MixedRaceStudies.org
2012-08-17

Steven F. Riley

All photographs ©2012, Steven F. Riley

I received more than a few raised eyebrows after describing the recent trip my wife and I took to attend the Black German Cultural Society of New Jersey’s Second Annual Convention at Barnard College in New York. If you are tempted to believe that being both Black and German is an oxymoron; think again. African and German interactions go back as far as at least 1600. A fact that is unknown to most, Germany played a significant role during the American Civil Rights Movement as described in Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke’s book Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany. Although Black Germans, or rather Afro-Germans, consist of less than 1% of the German population (exact numbers are difficult to determine because German demographics do not track race), they are a growing and vocal segment within Germany and beyond.

Panel Session I: Teaching the Black German Experience – Roundtable Discussion, (Professor Priscilla Layne, Professor Peggy Piesche, Noah Sow and Professor Sara Lennox.) (2012-08-10)

I had the opportunity to experience a bit of this Afro-German experience at the screening of Mo Asumang’s autobiographical film Roots Germania at the BGCSNJ inaugural convention last year here in Washington, D.C. What I saw made me want to learn more.

BGCSNJ President, Rosemarie Peña (2012-08-10) Professor and BGCSNJ Trustee Leroy T. Hopkins (2012-08-11)

This year’s convention ran from August 10 to August 11, 2012 in Barnard’s Diana Center with the exception of the spoken word performances held at the Geothe-Institut’s Wyoming Building in lower Manhattan. I attended most of the sessions which consisted of five panels; a keynote address by Yara Colette Lemke Muniz de Faria; live readings by authors Olumide Popoola and Philipp Kabo Köpsell; a movie screening of the films “Hope in My Heart: The May Ayim Story” and “Audre Lorde—The Berlin Years 1984-1992;” a dinner banquet; and finally a live performance by author, artist, media personality, musician, playwright, actress, scholar and human rights activist Noah Sow’s band, Noiseaux at the Blue Note.

Olumide Popoola and Professor Peggy Piesche pay close attention during Panel Session II: Historical and Popular Cultures of Blacks in Germany. (2012-08-11)

It is very important to note that the term “Afro-German” is a socio-political term that includes all Germans (or German identified) individuals of African descent. Although most Afro-Germans are what we in the United States might refer to as, “of mixed-parentage” (usually a “white” mother and “black” father), no distinction is made within the Afro-German diaspora between individuals of so-called “mixed” and “non-mixed” parentage. I heard the term “biracial/multiracial” no more than five times during the entire conference. I theorize that this social taxonomy is derived from the desire not to fragment an already tiny group within German society and also create internalized marginalization within an already marginalized group. A further defining of this group identity was made by Noah Sow, near the end of the first panel, “Teaching the Black German Experience,” when she emphasized that the most appropriate terminology, should be the German term, Afrodeutsche, rather than Afro- or Black- German. During her introduction of the keynote speaker, BGCSNJ president Rosemarie Peña obliged, by referring to herself as Afrodeutsche. Time will tell if this label will stick.

Witnessing Our Histories–Reclaiming the Black German Experience. From presentation by Professor Tina Campt. (2012-08-11)

The highlight of the conference was Yara Colette Lemke Muniz de Faria’s keynote address, “In their Best Interest… Afro-German Children in Postwar German Children’s Homes” which explored the plight of so-called “War/Brown/Occupation Babies”—the children born of the union between white German women and Black American GIs after World War II. She described the systematic removal of Afro-German children from their birth families into substandard orphanages or foster homes, where many faced emotional and physical abuse. Her keynote touched on the story of Ika Hügel-Marshall, who describes her saga in her autobiography, Invisible Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany.

Also of note were the two touching presentations by Vera Ingrid Grant, “Ruby Road: An Excerpt from Paper Girl,” and Debra Abell, “Sauerkraut and Black-Eyed Peas” within the panel “Telling Our Stories – Black German Life Writing” which both explored the life experiences of growing up in the United States as children of a white German mother and black American soldier. Lastly, Jamele Watkins’s, “Performing Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park in Germany” within the panel “ Historical and Popular Cultures of Blacks in Germany” explored the representation of blacks within theatrical presentations in Germany and discussed the controversial continued use of blackface by white German actors to represent black people.

Vera Ingrid Grant, “Ruby Road: An Excerpt from Paper Girl” (2012-08-11) Debra Abell, “Sauerkraut and Black-Eyed Peas” (2012-08-11)

One slight disappointment was the poor sound, poor ventilation, poor visibility and poor lighting of the Goethe Institut’s Wyoming Building that was used as a venue for the artist performances (who traveled all the way from Europe). Were they trying to recreate a German U-boat aesthetic? Barnard’s Diana Center Event Oval on Lower Level 1—which was used for all of the panels—would have sufficed nicely. If a smaller venue was needed, the Glicker-Milstein Black Box Theatre on Lower Level 2 would have fit the bill also. I looked forward to what appeared to be an excellent documentary, “Audre Lorde—The Berlin Years 1984-1992,” on the life of American feminist scholar and poet Audre Lorde (1934-1992), who allegedly was the inspiration encouraging Black-German women to “call themselves ‘Afro-German’ and to record ‘their-story’.” Like Lorde, who’s life was sadly cut short due to cancer, the film screening was also sadly cut short about a third of the way in due to a defective DVD.

Philipp Kabo Köpsell ponders his forthcoming anthology while waiting for a turkey burger. (2012-08-11)

Like any excellent conference, the personal interactions can be as fulfilling as the sessions. The BGCSNJ Second Annual Convention was no exception. My Friday and Saturday morning chats at our hotel with Millersville University Professor of German Literature, Leroy T. Hopkins provided me with an insight into the joys and challenges of teaching German literature as a person of color and to students of color. With a declining interest in the German language by students nationwide (largely due to an increased interest in Chinese and Arabic languages), Hopkins is hopeful that Afro-German authors like Köpsell, Popoola and others will publish their works in German to provide more contemporary reading materials for university classrooms.

On an ironic note, I had the pleasure of having a one-on-one conversation over lunch on Saturday with author and spoken word author Philipp Kabo Köpsell about the necessity to write about the Afro-German experience in English. He and others are working on a book project tentatively titled, “Witnessed.”

This conference would not have been possible without the dedicated work of BGCSNJ president Rosemarie Peña and her fellow staff. Rosemarie is a woman who found out—through documentation in 1994 that she “wasn’t who she thought she was” and discovered that her biological father was black, possibly an African American soldier, and her mother was white and a German national. On Wednesday, she reported to me by phone that they are planning for the third annual convention next August.

If you are the least bit interested in the Afrodeutsche experience, I would highly encourage anyone to make plans to attend next year.

©2012, Steven F. Riley

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Acknowledgment (Part 2)

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, My Articles/Point of View/Activities on 2014-07-26 02:43Z by Steven

The journalistic survey, and monographic studies of Obama have been joined by some important anthologies. One of the first notable anthologies written about race and Obama was edited by historian and political scientist Manning Marable and civil rights attorney Kristen Clarke. This volume, entitled Barack Obama and African American Empowerment: The Rise of Black Americas New Leadership (2009), traces the evolution of black leadership and black politics since the civil rights movement, including essays that specifically interrogate the intersection of race and gender. The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s A More Perfect Union Speech (2009), edited by Denean Sharpley-Whiting, includes key chapters on the Obama speech by Bakari Kitwana and William Julius Wilson. Social scientists Matthew Hughey and Gregory S. Parks compiled an edited volume entitled The Obama’s and a (Post) Racial America? (2011), which examines the unconscious anti-black bias harbored by whites in US society, including commentaries by some noted race scholars. These are but a few of the torrent of scholarly publications on race and the Obama phenomenon. For an extensive list of over 400 publications on Obama see Steven F. Riley’s Mixed Race Studies website: http://www.mixedracestudies.org?cat=63.

Hettie V. Williams and G. Reginald Daniel, “Preface,” in Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union, eds. G. Reginald Daniel and Hettie V. Williams (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2014). xvii.

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MixedRaceStudies.org Celebrates Its Fifth Year!

Posted in Articles, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, New Media on 2014-05-29 13:12Z by Steven

MixedRaceStudies.org Celebrates Its Fifth Year!

2014-05-29

Steven F. Riley

This month, MixedRaceStudies.org celebrates its fifth year. The purpose of the site, to provide a non-commercial gateway to interdisciplinary English language scholarship about multiraciality, has held steady for the last five years. Since then, the amount of content has mushroomed to over 7,000 posts and I continue to maintain the site today.

At this five-year mark, a collection of nearly 4,000 articles, over 1,100 books, and thousands of other items from various media sources are available to peruse. The site design provides links for users to follow, with excerpted remarks and passages to educate, illuminate, and pique a reader’s curiosity. Since early 2014, the site now has an active bibliography of books!

Part of the enjoyment of maintaining the site is that I have to continually update categories to keep pace with the ever-evolving field of mixed race studies.

Users from all over the world have corresponded with me, often commending the richness and usefulness of the material. One Ph.D. student wrote to say, “It’s probably the single most valuable tool in my work.”

Five years into its existence, the site now welcomes over 2,500 visitors per day; logging over 750,000 page views per month.

Thank you for your support!

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-04-17 01:53Z by Steven

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-04-13

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This is an excerpt from a paper (currently being revised) that I presented last month at the 2014 MELUS Conference in Oklahoma City.]

[…] Heidi Durrow is also the latest member of the mixed-experience generation to achieve widespread recognition following the publication of her deeply autobiographical first novel. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was published in 2010 after winning the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for a first novel that addresses social justice issues. It became a national bestseller in 2011, and is now available in French, Dutch, Danish, and Portuguese. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a book that was repeatedly rejected by the traditional publishing industry.

For those who are unfamiliar, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky recounts the racialization, alienation, coming of age, and coming to multiracial consciousness of Durrow’s fictional intermediary, Rachel Morse. Rachel is the sole survivor of a heartbreaking tragedy: her Danish mother Nella jumps from a rooftop in Chicago with all her biracial children. After recovering, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother who lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Her alcoholic father, an airman stationed overseas, has disappeared from her life. The year is 1982. Rachel is seen as a light-skinned black girl by her new family and by the surrounding community. From the 5th grade onward, she identifies herself as black, but is still ridiculed for talking white; she is both resented and desired for her good hair and blue eyes. In short, Durrow’s novel recounts from multiple perspectives how Rachel comes to understand the tragedy that claimed her mother and siblings, and in the process reclaim her Danish cultural memory, becoming Afro-Viking like Durrow…

Read the entire article here.

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The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Philosophy, Social Science, United States on 2014-03-11 22:18Z by Steven

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014-01-30)
ISSN: 2325-4521

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California at Santa Barbaral


Saya Woolfalk, video still from “The Emphathics,” 2012.

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available. Volume 1, No. 1, 2014 “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies” It has been a long journey from the publication of Maria Root’s groundbreaking and award-winning anthology Mixed People in America (1992) to the inauguration of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. We would like to thank all of our contributors, volunteers, and editorial review board for their hard work and patience. We hope you enjoy this issue of the journal and find it an informative resource on the topic of mixed race identities and experiences.

G. Reginald Daniel, Editor in Chief

Laura Kina, Managing Editor

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS). Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies. Sponsored by UC Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library.

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
  • Cover Art
  • Table of Contents
  • Editor’s Note / Daniel, G. Reginald
  • Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies / Daniel, G. Reginald; Kina, Laura; Dariotis, Wei Ming; Fojas, Camilla
  • Appendix A: Publications from 1989 to 2004 / Riley, Steven F.
  • Appendix B: Publications from 2005 to 2013 / Riley, Steven F.

Articles

  • “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States” / Jordan, Winthrop D. (Edited by Spickard, Paul)
  • “Reconsidering the Relationship Between New Mestizaje and New Multiraciality as Mixed-Race Identity Models / Turner, Jessie D.
  • “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation / Jolivétte, Andrew J.
  • “‘Only the News They Want to Print’: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies” / Spencer, Rainier
  • “The Current State of Multiracial Discourse” / McKibbin, Molly Littlewood
  • “Slimy Subjects and Neoliberal Goods: Obama and the Children of Fanon” / McNeil, Daniel

Book Reviews

  • Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, When Half Is Whole: Multiethnic Asian Americans Identities / Crawford, Miki Ward
  • Ralina Joseph, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial / Elam, Michele
  • Greg Carter, The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing / Mount, Guy Emerson
  • Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr., Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego / Schlund-Vials, Cathy J.

About the Contributors

  • About the Contributors
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A Breakdown & Discussion of Upcoming Events with Our Very Own, Steve Riley

Posted in Audio, Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-02-12 16:58Z by Steven

A Breakdown & Discussion of Upcoming Events with Our Very Own, Steve Riley

Mixed Race Radio
Blog Talk Radio
2014-02-12, 17:00Z (12:00 EDT)

Tiffany Rae Reid, Host

On Wednesday’s episode of Mixed Race Radio, Steve Riley (mixedracestudies. org) will join me to discuss some upcoming events and performances occurring all over the world. Whether you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Philadelphia, PA, there are things to do, places to go and people to meet.

If you are hosting an event or need someone to “go-with”, join us and share, share, share.

We’ve got updates from Laura Kina, Lisa Jones (Topaz Club), and Steve Riley. Oh yeah……If you reside in the Republic of Georgia, we’ll let you know where to go to get a mulatto spray tan….Yes, I said it!!!

You see we have a lot to discuss so please feel free to join us by dialing in or joining our chat room.

And don’t forget to tell a friend.

Also, we want to use this time to say “Thank You” to everyone who continues to follow us. You may have noticed that our site is missing a few episodes from the past few weeks. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’ve been broadcasting live from Northeastern Ohio since early January and Mother Nature continues to express her authority over all things by sending -35 degree temps and record snowfalls our way. Needless to say, when pipes burst, fire alarms begin to sound and therefore radio shows cannot be recorded. So, thank you for your continued support.

As long as Mother Nature allows, we will continue to bring you episodes that showcase some amazing people and even more amazing movements.

Keep the emails and phone calls coming.

WON’T YOU JOIN US?

PHOTOS: 3rd Annual What Are You?

Posted in Articles, Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Social Science, United States on 2014-01-24 03:49Z by Steven

PHOTOS: 3rd Annual What Are You?

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations
Brooklyn Historical Society
Fall 2013

Nayantara Sen, CBBG Project Associate

All photos by Willie Davis for Brooklyn Historical Society, 2013

Steven Riley, Founder of MixedRaceStudies.org gives a few remarks before introducing one of the panels. A participant in the packed the house in Brooklyn Historical Society’s newly renovated Great Hall asks a question.

The 3rd Annual What Are You? event packed the house in Brooklyn Historical Society’s newly renovated Great Hall!

This year’s discussion about mixed heritage had a thematic focus on art, media, and performance as avenues for engaging mixed-heritage identity and politics.

Artist Chris Johnson explained the genesis of Question Bridge: Black Males: what would it be like to listen in like a fly on the wall to conversations Black men are having with their peers? What conversations across age, class, and experience are not happening that we wish would happen? What questions do Black men have for other Black men?

Natasha Logan, a producer for Question Bridge: Black Males shared some incredible photographs from an exhibition she curated titled White Boys, highlighting the ways in which white male identity is neutralized or made invisible…

…Many thanks to all of you who came and participated in conversations and shared your stories and questions with Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations! And special thanks to Steven Riley, Founder of MixedRaceStudies.org, and Kenda Danowski from SWIRL and founder of NAMSO (National Association for Mixed Student Organizations) for MC’ing!

Read the entire article and view the photographs here.

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One Big Mixed Race Classroom: New Models for Digital, Transnational, and Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogy

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Teaching Resources, United States on 2013-11-21 05:03Z by Steven

One Big Mixed Race Classroom: New Models for Digital, Transnational, and Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogy

Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association
Beyond the Logic of Debt, Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent
2013-11-21 through 2013-11-24

Washington Hilton
1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.

Washington Hilton, Columbia Hall 9 (T)
Friday, 2013-11-22, 12:00-13:45 EST (Local Time)

CHAIR: Asha Nadkarni, Assistant Professor of English
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

PANELISTS:

Zelideth María Rivas, Assistant Professor of Japanese
Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia

Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of English and Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Stanford University

Lawrence-Minh B. Davis
University of Maryland, College Park

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Professor Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Steven F. Riley, Independent Scholar
MixedRaceStudies.org

In Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, the Mixed Race Initiative, a new digital pedagogy project, will stage a global conversation about mixed race, virtually connecting over 70 classrooms in 9 countries, exploring how notions of race vary—and remain constant—across regions and borders. Transnational and cross-disciplinary in character, the project will exist at once inside and outside of American studies, with numerous participating Americanists and American studies classrooms in dialogue with an even greater number of scholars and students in other fields.

This engages the hows and whys of the initiative, thinking through its guiding theoretical and ethical concerns, its challenges and opportunities. Roundtable participants, all of whom helped develop the project curriculum and/or took part in the teaching program, will discuss their particular points of entry, the cross-disciplinary and transnational work in which they engaged, and how that work has grown or could grow the humanities, American studies, and mixed race studies. How, we might consider, can mixed race pedagogy be a critical means of rethinking American studies—and vice versa?  How can a global initiative, extending beyond U.S. borders and the English language, explore mixed race as a necessarily inter- and transnational subject? What does it mean to teach—and craft curriculum—communally?

For more information, click here.

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The Impact of Internet Publishing and Online Communications on Mixed-Race Discourses

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-10-18 05:06Z by Steven

The Impact of Internet Publishing and Online Communications on Mixed-Race Discourses

The Asian American Literary Review
Special Issue on Mixed Race, Volume 4, Issue 2 (Fall 2013)
Mixed Race is an Inbox: pages 127-136

Steven F. Riley, Creator
MixedRaceStudies.org: Scholarly perspectives on the mixed race experience

Glenn C. Robinson, Creator
MixedAmericanLife.us: Mixed Culture | Mixed Heritage | Mixed Identity

Steven F. Riley, creator of MixedRaceStudies.org, and Glenn C. Robinson, creator of MixedAmericanLife.us first met (virtually) in the chat-room of the March 16, 2011 episode of Mixed Chicks Chat and have corresponded with each other ever since. They have met each other in person at the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival in Los Angeles in 2011 and 2012.

Riley has received many comments describing how his MixedRaceStudies.org has become an integral part of college courses. Robinson’s sites are an open forum for dialog and social sharing, and have a steady growth of followers. Here, they continue their conversations about mixed race and technology.

Purchase the issue here.

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Special Issue on Mixed Race [The Asian American Literary Review]

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-10-18 05:05Z by Steven

Special Issue on Mixed Race [The Asian American Literary Review]

The Asian American Literary Review
2013-08-06

AALR’s special issue on mixed race, coming in Fall 2013, is not simply a reexamination of race or a survey of mixed voices, important as both are. We envision our role as that of provocateur–inspiring new conversations and cross-pollinations, pushing into new corners.

All contributions to the issue are collaborative, “mixed” in nature, bringing together folks across racial and ethnic boundaries, across disciplines, genres, regions, and generations. We solicited work from artists and writers, historians and activists, race scholars and filmmakers, teachers and students, among others. The idea is a network of original projects that not only map out multiracialism past and present but also break new ground.

[My coauthored essay with Glenn C. Robinson, titled "The Impact of Internet Publishing and Online Communications on Mixed-Race Discourses" is part of the issue.]

For more information and the Table of Contents, click here.

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