Bill: New Yorkers could identify as multiracial

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-25 22:20Z by Steven

Bill: New Yorkers could identify as multiracial

The Associated Press
2014-11-25

Jonathan Lemire, City Hall and Political Reporter

NEW YORK (AP) — New Yorkers may soon be able to identify themselves as more than one race under legislation introduced in the City Council on Tuesday.

The measure would change dozens of official documents, including applications for public housing, registration with the Department of Small Business Services and complaint forms with the city’s Commission on Human Rights. Documents required of more than 300,000 city employees would also need to be changed.

Currently, city forms that ask for ethnicity or race have five options: “black, not of Hispanic origin,” ”white, not of Hispanic origin,” ”Hispanic,” ”Asian or Pacific Islander,” and “American Indian or Alaskan native.”

Advocates of the bill believe the measure would provide a clearer picture of demographics and allow New Yorkers to better recognize their heritage.

“I am 50 percent Irish, 25 percent Korean and 25 percent unknown,” said Corey Johnson, a city councilman from Manhattan, who drew upon his own heritage to champion the bill during a rally on the City Council steps. Johnson, a Democrat, was one of the co-sponsors of the bill, along with Councilman Ben Kallos, another Manhattan Democrat.

New York City has the highest multiracial population in the country. More than 325,000 city residents identified as more than one race on the 2010 census…

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Confederate officer’s wartime diary decoded

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-21 17:30Z by Steven

Confederate officer’s wartime diary decoded

The Associated Press
2014-10-13

Chris Carola

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — A century and a half after Confederate officer James Malbone wrote his Civil War diary partly in code, a couple of Yankees have figured out why he took the precaution: He liked to gossip.

Sprinkled amid entries on camp recipes and casualties are encrypted passages in which Malbone dishes on such juicy topics as a fellow soldier who got caught in bed with another man’s wife.

Malbone also writes about meeting the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and describes her looks in an apparent echo of rumors at the time that she may have been of mixed race.

“That’s pretty shocking,” said Kent D. Boklan, the Queens College computer science professor and former National Security Agency cryptographer who deciphered Malbone’s code with little difficulty. “It’s a military diary and you expect military information, but you don’t expect the first lady of the Confederacy to make an appearance in this diary.”

According to Boklan, Malbone’s encrypted entry about Varina Howell Davis describes her as “dark complected” with “very very brown skin dark eyes” and “high cheek bones wide mouth.”.

Davis’ wife was a well-educated woman for her time, and as a result, was the target of “all kind of gossipy innuendos from the ladies” in Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, according to Sam Craghead of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond

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Color Lines Are Blurred in ABC Comedy ‘Black-Ish’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-19 18:29Z by Steven

Color Lines Are Blurred in ABC Comedy ‘Black-Ish’

The Associated Press
2014-09-19

Frazier Moore, Television Writer

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Tracee Ellis Ross delivers perhaps the funniest line you’ll hear on a sitcom this fall.

The character she plays on ABC’s comedy “black-ish” is, like Ross, an appealing mix of beauty, smarts and zaniness. She is totally plausible as a savvy mother of four and the loving wife of an up-and-coming ad exec (co-star Anthony Anderson), not to mention a busy anesthesiologist.

In this upscale African-American family, Dr. Rainbow Johnson also happens to be biracial. This occasionally spurs Andre, her hubby, who’s forever fretting about the family’s black cred, to question whether she is certifiably “black.”

He does this in the series’ premiere, to which, unfazed, Rainbow fires back, “If I’m not really black, then could someone please tell my hair and my ass!”

Reminded of that line during a recent interview, Ross cracks up.

“That’s what I love about our show,” she says. “With that line, my character sums it all up: ‘Are you STILL coming from the world that believes all black people are the same and all black people should think the same? C’mon, Dre!'”

With remarkable humor and finesse, “black-ish” (which debuts Sept. 24 at 9:30 p.m. EDT) addresses race, culture, socio-economics and other weighty matters…

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White mayor, black wife: Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray shatter an image in New York City

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-11-17 03:35Z by Steven

White mayor, black wife: Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray shatter an image in New York City

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
2013-11-16

Jesse Washington, National Writer/Race and Ethnicity
The Associated Press

Another milestone is passing in America’s racial journey: The next mayor of New York City is a white man with a black wife.

Even in a nation with a biracial president, where interracial marriage is more accepted and common than ever, Bill de Blasio’s marriage to Chirlane McCray is remarkable: He is apparently the first white politician in U.S. history elected to a major office with a black spouse by his side.

This simple fact is striking a deep chord in many people as de Blasio prepares to take office on Jan. 1, with McCray playing a major role in his administration…

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Artists, Educators Laud Black Heritage In Dominican Republic

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Economics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-10-13 22:24Z by Steven

Artists, Educators Laud Black Heritage In Dominican Republic

The Associated Press
2013-10-11

Ezequiel Abiú López, Foreign Correspondent
The Associated Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — In a school auditorium filled with laughing students, actresses Luz Bautista Matos and Clara Morel threw themselves into acting out a fairy tale complete with a princess, a hero and acts of derring-do.

Morel had wrapped a white plastic sheet around her multi-colored blouse, while Bautista donned a brown paper bag over her blue tights. The two black actresses wore their hair free and natural, decorated only with single pink flowers.

“Yes, you’re a princess,” said Bautista to Morel, who fretted that she didn’t look like a traditional princess with her dark complexion and hair. Bautista then turned to a young girl sitting in the front row, who shared the same African-descended features as both actresses. “And you too,” Morel said as the child smiled back at her.

The theater group Wonderful Tree has visited schools all over Santo Domingo and some in the countryside to spread the word among black children that their features and heritage should be a source of pride. That message, though simple, has been nothing less than startling in this Caribbean country, where 80 percent of people are classified as mulattos, meaning they have mixed black-white ancestry, but where many still consider being labeled black an offense.

Wonderful Tree represents a larger cultural movement that’s working to combat the country’s historic bias through arts and education. The Dominican choreographer Awilda Polanco runs a contemporary dance company that’s trying to rescue Afro-Caribbean traditions, while the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo has been training primary school teachers to respect and celebrate their students’ African heritage, including through skits that young children can more easily understand.

It’s a bid to transform a color-obsessed society where a majority of the country’s 10 million people choose to identify themselves as “Indio” — or “Indian” — on government documents despite their black roots, and many reject afros in favor of closely cropped hair or sleek blowouts. Public schools for decades even prohibited students from attending classes with their hair loose or in a natural frizz.

Such hair, in fact, is called “bad hair” in the local Spanish lexicon while straightened hair is “good hair.”…

…Women in the Dominican Republic spend an estimated 12 percent of their household budgets on hair salons and treatments, according to “Good Hair, Bad Hair,” which included an economic and anthropological study of Dominican beauty salons.

Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who oversaw the killing of some 17,000 Haitians in 1937 in an effort to expel them from the Dominican Republic, was himself a mulatto who used makeup to make his face lighter.

Trujillo was the first to include the term “Indio” in official documents, said historian Emilio Cordero Michel

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Obama bares his ‘blackness’ in Trayvon speech

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-23 19:51Z by Steven

Obama bares his ‘blackness’ in Trayvon speech

The Buffalo News
2013-07-20

Sonya Ross
The Associated Press

In a move unparalleled among presidents, Barack Obama reflects on being black in America.

WASHINGTON – Something in President Obama’s voice caught Gregory C. Ellison’s ear. It was fleeting, subtle, and easy to miss — unless you’re a black man, too.

“In between his personal reflections on what it feels like to be an African-American man, and the history of pain and his strategic plan, there was what I call a very pregnant pause,” says Ellison, a theology professor in Atlanta.

“If I ever have an opportunity to talk to President Obama, I would ask him what was he searching in his soul during that pregnant pause?”

Obama was wrapped in presidential authority Friday as he talked to a nation rubbed emotionally raw in the week since the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was acquitted in a Florida courtroom.

Then, in a move hardly anyone saw coming, Obama unwrapped himself, and put his own young, black face on Trayvon’s dead, young, black body.

This first black president, the guy accused by some of running from his blackness, of trying to address black folks’ needs on the down low, suddenly lifted the veil off his black male identity and showed it to the world. It was something no American president before him could have done.

He had to do it, Obama said, because “Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.”…

Greg Carr, chairman of the Afro-American Studies department at Howard University in Washington, said the president “has an authenticity, because he does signal to the black community that he too has experienced what we experienced.”…

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Put a hoodie on him and have him walk down an alley, and see how biracial he is then…

Posted in Barack Obama, Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-07-14 16:51Z by Steven

Exhibit A is President Barack Obama. He declined to check the box for “white” on his census form, despite his mother’s well-known whiteness.

Obama offered no explanation, but Leila McDowell has an idea.

“Put a hoodie on him and have him walk down an alley, and see how biracial he is then,” said McDowell, vice president of communications for the NAACP.

Jesse Washington, “Black or biracial? Census forces a choice for some,” The Associated Press, April 14, 2010. http://www.jessewashington.com/im-not-biracial.html.

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Trayvon Martin, my son, and the Black Male Code

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-14 16:20Z by Steven

Trayvon Martin, my son, and the Black Male Code

The Associated Press
2012-03-24

Jesse Washington, National Writer/Race and Ethnicity

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — I thought my son would be much older before I had to tell him about the Black Male Code. He’s only 12, still sleeping with stuffed animals, still afraid of the dark. But after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I needed to explain to my child that soon people might be afraid of him.

We were in the car on the way to school when a story about Martin came on the radio. “The guy who killed him should get arrested. The dead guy was unarmed!” my son said after hearing that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman had claimed self-defense in the shooting in Sanford, Fla.

We listened to the rest of the story, describing how Zimmerman had spotted Martin, who was 17, walking home from the store on a rainy night, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. When it was over, I turned off the radio and told my son about the rules he needs to follow to avoid becoming another Trayvon Martin – a black male who Zimmerman assumed was “suspicious” and “up to no good.”…

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Mississippi rebel’s descendants seek family facts

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2013-07-07 01:33Z by Steven

Mississippi rebel’s descendants seek family facts

The Jackson Sun
2013-07-04

Laura Tillman, Associated Press

SOSO, MISS. — One hundred and fifty years have passed since the Civil War, but in Mississippi, the descendants of a legendary rebel are still separating the facts of his life from fiction.

Newton Knight, a white farmer from central Mississippi’s Jones County, rebelled against the Confederate Army. He spent years evading capture, living in swamps and the Piney Woods. He married a white woman named Serena and later moved in with a former slave named Rachel. She was owned by Knight’s family and carried their surname, and she had helped him during his days dodging the Confederate Army.

He shared his life with both women.

Today, Florence Knight Blaylock, 81, and her sister, Dorothy Knight Marsh, 69, are among those fascinated with the family legend. The sisters — who live in Soso — consider Newton and Rachel Knight their great-grandparents…

…According to historian Victoria Bynum, the county first acquired a reputation as the “Free State of Jones” because of the plentiful land that could be claimed by squatters. The title gained new significance after Knight’s rebellion against the Confederate Army.

Some say Rachel was of African descent, while others say she was an American Indian. Still others say she had a mixture of African, American Indian and white ancestry. Confusion is increased by the existence of several photographs purporting to show Rachel — all of different women.

The popular narrative holds that Serena, Newton’s wife, was white, but others say she also had American Indian ancestry…

…Davis Knight, a great-grandson of Newton Knight, Serena Knight and Rachel Knight, was tried in court on charges of illegal interracial marriage in 1948. Edgar and Randy Williamson, Newton Knight’s great-great-grandchildren, went to court in the 1960s after they were banned from a white school.

Blaylock recalls her family being called names such as “half-breed” and “white negro,” or worse, in the 1930s or ’40s. She remembers being stared at and whispered about as a child, and watching a band of rowdy white men pull her father and brother out of the house to beat them…

…Bynum, whose family also descends from Jones County, has written about the complicated social and legal terrain Knight’s descendants were forced to negotiate. Her work has been made more challenging by conflicting stories passed down by different branches of the Knight family…

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Cheerios stands by TV ad showing mixed-race family

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-06-06 19:46Z by Steven

Cheerios stands by TV ad showing mixed-race family

Associated Press
2013-06-05

Leanne Italie, Entertainment and Lifestyles Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — A mom sits at her kitchen table when her grade schooler saunters up with a big box of Cheerios.

“Mom,” says the girl. “Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?”

Cut to dad waking from a nap on the living room couch with a pile of Cheerios on his chest (where his heart is) crunchily cascading to the floor.

The message is in line with the company’s Heart Healthy campaign, except this 30-second ad features a black dad, white mom and biracial child and produced enough vitriol on YouTube last week that Cheerios requested the comments section be turned off.

This week, the company is standing by the fictitious family, which reflects a black-white racial mix uncommon in commercials today, especially in ads on TV, at a time when interracial and interethnic couples are on the rise in real life, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, brand strategists and marketing consultants.

“The reality is that in general most big companies don’t want to take a lot of risks,” said Laura Ries, who has written five books on marketing and brand strategy and consults for companies large, small and in between.

“The ability for nameless, faceless people to get on the Internet is out there, and companies don’t like it when people yell at them,” she said.

Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, said it’s the first time the ad campaign that focuses on family moments has featured an interracial couple, with General Mills Inc. casting the actors to reflect the changing U.S. population.

“We felt like we were reflecting an American family,” Gibson said…

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