Ancestry isn’t the issue in Warren race

Posted in Articles, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-06-04 21:32Z by Steven

Ancestry isn’t the issue in Warren race

Concord Monitor
Concord, New Hampshire

Monitor staff

The flap over Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren’s claim of Native American ancestry would be a tempest in a teepee if, that is, the Cherokee she claimed to be on some college forms lived in teepees, which they didn’t. The Cherokee didn’t have princesses either, which hasn’t stopped plenty of people over the years from claiming to be descendants of one.

Warren is in a close race with Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown for Teddy Kennedy’s old seat. The Brown campaign, as any campaign could be expected to do, is using her claim of Native American ancestry to question her honesty. But nothing suggests that the fiery consumer advocate ever sought any advantage from her claim. Whether Warren is or isn’t Native American is irrelevant in the context of a run for the Senate. It’s distracting voters from the economic issues voters care about, but it has focused attention on questions about race and identity that society hasn’t resolved…

…Since Warren’s roots are in Oklahoma, a state with 310,000 Cherokee residents, it’s quite likely that she does have a Native American ancestor. So do millions of other people. But there’s a difference between ancestry and ethnicity, culture and identity. One can do nothing about one’s ancestry, but ethnicity and identity require some degree of participation in a group culture and tradition. By that standard, Warren and countless others with a Native American ancestor are not Native American.

The United States has come a long way since states had laws specifying, for example, what proportion of African American ancestry a person could have and be considered legally white – one-quarter to one-half in some states, not one drop of black blood in Tennessee

…In 2000, the Census Bureau recognized that by allowing people to check more than one box when asked to identify their race. Though collecting reliable demographic information about race is important to measure the fairness of elections, the targeting of government programs, for medical research and other reasons, it’s debatable how valuable the census information is when millions of people can legitimately check maybe a half dozen or more boxes. Some of the boxes don’t even indicate race but ethnicity. The bureau specifies, for example, that people who think of themselves as Hispanic, Spanish or Latino can be of any race.

By one expert’s estimate, about one-third of America’s population is multi-racial and that percentage is increasing. Intermarriage has made for some amusing family histories. President Obama considers himself black, but according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society he’s related to Warren’s opponent, Scott Brown, and according to other genealogists, to former vice president Dick Cheney, both of whom are white…

Read the entire editorial here.

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Germany gets first ever black mayor

Posted in Articles, Europe, New Media, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-06-04 20:39Z by Steven

Germany gets first ever black mayor

The Local: Germany’s News in English
Berlin, Germany

John Ehret, a black German who used to work for the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany’s equivalent of the FBI, is Germany’s first black mayor.

The 40-year-old Ehret, whose father was an African-American soldier and mother a native German, took over running the village of Mauer near Heidelberg, southern Germany on Friday, Der Spiegel reported on his inauguration.
Despite almost no campaigning, he picked up slightly more than 58 percent of the vote, beating out a civil servant in the village of about 4,000 residents. Observers said Ehret profited from a so-called “Obama” effect, though the trained police inspector didn’t seek the comparison…

…At six he was adopted by the Ehret family from Mauer. John became a star in the village and was the village’s only black resident. He was known as Pelé, after the Brazilian legend, at the club where he played football. John’s new dad was a respected Social Democratic Party member on the local council…

…Ehret, who insists he’s never experienced discrimination in Germany, is now in an odd position in which black Germans want him to be an example to others. But he’s not interested in that role.
“For that I feel I’m too German,” he said.

Read the entire article here.

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The Myth of Native American Blood

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-06-04 19:26Z by Steven

The Myth of Native American Blood

The Hyphenated Life
The Boston Globe

Francie Latour

The African-American grandmother of a friend of mine once summed up the laws that govern black identity in this country. “If you ever want to know if someone’s black or not,” she would say, “go ask their white neighbor.”

That succinct, small-town Georgia wisdom essentially outlines the rule of hypodescent, also known as the one-drop rule. The one-drop rule emerged during slavery and hardened in Reconstruction, automatically classifying as black anyone with any trace of African ancestry. It is the reason why, in the 1800s, the extremely light-skinned offspring of white fathers and black mothers were deemed slaves. It’s also the reason why, in 2011, the actress Halle Berry, who is biracial but identifies as black, became a lightning rod of controversy for maintaining that her own daughter, with white Canadian actor Gabriel Aubry, is also black.

The fact that Americans with vastly different complexions know they are black by the number of cab drivers who don’t stop for them as much as by any internal measure is a dilemma on many levels. But for Kim Tallbear, an enrolled member of South Dakota’s Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe and a UC Berkeley professor who studies race, genomics and Native American identity, the tyranny of the one-drop rule poses a specific problem in the ongoing controversy surrounding US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and her shifting, dubious claims of Native American identity…

…“If you want to understand Native American identity,” Tallbear said, “you need to get outside of that binary, one-drop framework. Native Americans do not fit in that binary. We have been racialized very differently in relationship to whites.”

How do we know Native Americans are racialized differently, Tallbear said? Because a white person—say, Elizabeth Warren, for example—can absorb a Native American ancestor and still maintain an identity as white. If Warren had a black ancestor, that fact would threaten her white identity…

Read the entire essay here.

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Ireland and African-America

Posted in Europe, Media Archive, Reports, United States on 2012-06-04 03:18Z by Steven

Ireland and African-America

Clinton Institute for American Studies
University College Dublin, Ireland
2012-03-09 through 2012-03-11


On the 9 – 10 March 2012, The Clinton Institute for American Studies held a two day international conference entitled Ireland and African-America.  Unfortunately, the main keynote speaker Ishmael Reed had to withdraw from the conference on the 6 March due to the passing of his mother.  Reed passed along his sincere regrets and though he was much missed he was very much there in spirit.  However, other auspicious plenaries included Professor Luke Gibbons, Professor Eric Lott and Professor Diane Negra.  The conference drew together a community of international scholars and academics whose research interests speak towards the crossover between Ireland and African-America.

Friday afternoon kicked off with parallel sessions entitled ‘Identity and Belonging’ and ‘The Bod[ies] Politic’ respectively.  Papers included productive discussions on representations of Irish and Africa-American identity on film, stage and through the motif of music in literature, and on Isaac Nelson and Slavery, The African Blood Brotherhood and the Easter Rebellion and on Crosscurrents of the Green and Black Atlantics in New York City in 1920.  Friday afternoon was brought to a close with a rousing lecture by Professor Luke Gibbons on Slavish Representations in the work of controversial Cork artist James Barry.  Gibbons’ sweeping lecture drew together Barry’s largely eighteenth century body of work with twentieth century political theories regarding the power of the state and the rights of the citizen.

Saturday morning sessions began with panels on Irish national and ethnic attitudes on race and further papers on the Green and Black Atlantic (with a specific focus on black abolitionist Fredrick Douglass).  The latter panel was very kindly rounded out at the last minute by Ann Coughlan, a PhD student in University College Cork after the withdrawal of two planned speakers.  Following a catered lunch, Professor Diane Negra gave the conference’s second plenary on The Tragicomic Irish-America Personae of Denis Leary and Kathy Griffin which examined the manner in which Leary and Griffin access African-American tropes in order to communicate an analogous working class Irish identity which might otherwise be at odds with their celebrity status…

Read the entire report here.

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The Problem of Race in Medicine

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-06-04 03:04Z by Steven

The Problem of Race in Medicine

Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Volume 31, Number 1 (March 2001)
pages 20-39
DOI: 10.1177/004839310103100102

Michael Root, Professor of Philosophy
University of Minnesota

The biomedical sciences employ race as a descriptive and analytic category. They use race to describe differences in rates of morbidity and mortality and to explain variations in drug sensitivity and metabolism. But there are problems with the use of race in medicine. This article identifies a number of the problems and assesses some solutions. The first three sections consider how race is defined and whether the racial data used in biomedical research are reliable and valid. The next three sections explain why racial variation in disease, including genetic disease, is not evidence that race is biological. The final section explains how a proper understanding of the role of race in medicine bears on public policy.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Upfront (With Guests Mark Christian and Anna Rothery)

Posted in Audio, Live Events, New Media, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2012-06-04 02:34Z by Steven

Upfront (With Guests Mark Christian and Anna Rothery)

BBC Radio: Merseyside

Phina Oruche, Host


Mark Christian, Professor & Chair of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

Anna Rothery, Councillor
Liverpool City Council, Princes Park Ward

Host Phina Oruche discusses the current state of the African diaspora in the United States and Britain with Dr. Mark Christian and Liverpool Councilor Anna Rothery. Dr. Christian is author of the book Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective, the chapter “Mixing Up the Game: Social and Historical Contours of Black Mixed Heritage Players in British Football” in the anthology Race, Ethnicity and Football: Persisting Debates and Emergent Issues, and article “The Fletcher Report 1930: A Historical Case Study of Contested Black Mixed Heritage Britishness.”

Download the interview here (00:18:27/15.0 MB).

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Portland Chapter Member: Dmae Roberts

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-06-04 02:12Z by Steven

Portland Chapter Member: Dmae Roberts

Asian American Journalists Association

Doris Truong

Dmae Roberts is a two-time Peabody Award-winning radio artist/writer whose work airs regularly on NPR. Her work is often autobiographical and cross-cultural and is informed by her biracial identity. Her Peabody award-winning documentary, “Mei Mei: A Daughter’s Song,” is a harrowing account of her mother’s childhood in Taiwan during World War II.  Dmae won a second Peabody for the documentary “Crossing East,” the first Asian American history series on public radio. She received the Dr. Suzanne Ahn Civil Rights and Social Justice Award from the Asian American Journalists Association and was selected as a United States Artists (USA) Fellow. Dmae is a regular columnist for the Asian Reporter and hosts a weekly arts show in Portland, Ore., called “Stage & Studio.” Her essay “Finding the Poetry” was published in a book of essays called “Reality Radio.” She is working on her memoir, “Lady Buddha and the Temple of Ma.” Dmae is on Twitter: @dmaeroberts.


What’s your life’s motto?

I don’t know that I have one. I’ve worked since I was 14 years old during summers in farm fields and all through college in canneries and mills to support myself. My driving theme, though, has been to have work that means something and somehow make the world better in even a small way. … It was important to me have work I loved and not focus only on the financial aspects but find the passion

Why did you become a journalist? What inspired you?

I was a theater major in college and saved up money after the first two years of school to travel the world both to Asia and Europe. When I returned I decided to focus on my writing and get a degree in journalism at the University of Oregon so I could make a living doing something other than manual labor. That’s when I happened upon KLCC, a community radio station in Eugene. I fell in love with producing creative art pieces for public radio. I found that creating radio movies puts powerful images, emotions and scenes in your imagination in a way no other medium can do…

Read the entire interview here.

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