Parents’ Nightmare: Futile Race to Stop Killings

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2014-05-26 05:31Z by Steven

Parents’ Nightmare: Futile Race to Stop Killings

The New York Times

Adam Nagourney

It was Friday evening when the parents of Elliot O. Rodger clicked open the 140-page manifesto emailed to them from their son and learned of his plans for mass murder and suicide. Frightened and alarmed, they called 911 and then raced to Isla Vista, Calif., in separate cars from Los Angeles, desperate to stop him.

It was too late.

By the time they arrived, Mr. Rodger had killed six people, the police said, and had died of a self-inflicted gunshot — a display of violence that stunned the quiet ocean-side college town.

In truth, Mr. Rodger had been planning his “Day of Retribution,” as he called it in that manifesto, for three years, from the summer day that he moved into a small apartment with two roommates, the first time he lived away from home. He had arrived hoping to escape the sexual rejections that he had raged against through adolescence, but as he simmered at the happy couples walking down the streets, his thoughts turned from starting a new life to exacting revenge.

“I couldn’t believe how wrong everything was turning out,” Mr. Rodger, 22, wrote in the manifesto he sent shortly before stabbing to death three people in his apartment, including his two roommates, whom he described as “repulsive.”…

From the Manifesto titled “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger” Page 1:

…On the morning of July 24th, 1991, in a London hospital, I was born. I breathed in the first breath of life as I entered this world, weighing only 5.4 pounds. My parents must have been filled with happiness and pride that day. They had just witnessed the birth of their first child, and they named me Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger.

I was born to young parents. My father, Peter Rodger, was only 26 when he impregnated my mother, Chin, who was 30. Peter is of British descent, hailing from the prestigious Rodger family; a family that was once part of the wealthy upper classes before they lost all of their fortune during the Great Depression. My father’s father, George Rodger, was a renowned photojournalist who had taken very famous photographs during the Second World War, though he failed to reacquire the family’s lost fortune. My mother is of Chinese descent. She was born in Malaysia, and moved to England at a young age to work as a nurse on several film sets, where she became friends with very important individuals in the film industry, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. She even dated George Lucas for a short time.

My mother and father had been married for a couple of years before my mother became pregnant with me. In fact, her pregnancy was an accident. She had been taking pills to prevent pregnancy, but when she visited my father on one of his film sets, she fell ill and the medication she took for that illness thwarted the effect of the anti-pregnancy pills, and so their lovemaking during this period resulted in my life.

Only a couple of months after my birth, I went on my first vacation. My parents took me on a boat to France. I was already a traveler! Of course, I have no memories of this trip. My mother said that I cried a lot…

From pages 17-18:

…When I became aware of this common social structure at my school, I also started to examine myself and compare myself to these “cool kids”. I realized, with some horror, that I wasn’t “cool” at all. I had a dorky hairstyle, I wore plain and uncool clothing, and I was shy and unpopular. I was always described as the shy boy in the past, but I never really thought my shyness would affect me in a negative way, until this point.

This revelation about the world, and about myself, really decreased my self-esteem. On top of this was the feeling that I was different because I am of mixed race. I am half White, half Asian, and this made me different from the normal fully-white kids that I was trying to fit in with.

I envied the cool kids, and I wanted to be one of them. I was a bit frustrated at my parents for not shaping me into one of these kids in the past. They never made an effort to dress me in stylish clothing or get me a good-looking haircut. I had to make every effort to rectify this. I had to adapt.

My first act was to ask my parents to allow me to bleach my hair blonde. I always envied and admired blonde-haired people, they always seemed so much more beautiful. My parents agreed to let me do it, and father took me to a hair salon on Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills. Choosing that hair salon was a bad decision, for they only bleached the top of my head blonde. When I indignantly questioned why they didn’t make all of my hair blonde, they said that I was too young for a full bleaching. I was furious. I thought I looked so silly with blonde hair at the top of my head and black hair at the sides and back. I dreaded going to school the next day with this weird new hair.

When I arrived at school the next day, I was intensely nervous. Before class started, I stood in a corner franticly trying to figure out how I would go about revealing this to everyone. Trevor was the first one to notice it, and he came up to me and patted my head, saying that it was very “cool”. Well, that was exactly what I wanted. My new hair turned out to be quite a spectacle, and for a few days I got a hint of the attention and admiration I so craved…

From page 84:

…My first week turned out to be very unpleasant, leaving a horrific first impression of my new life in Santa Barbara. My two housemates were nice, but they kept inviting over this friend of theirs named Chance. He was black boy who came over all the time, and I hated his cocksure attitude. Inevitably, a vile incident occurred between me and him. I was eating a meal in the kitchen when he came over and started bragging to my housemates about his success with girls. I couldn’t stand it, so I proceeded to ask them all if they were virgins. They all looked at me weirdly and said that they had lost their virginity long ago. I felt so inferior, as it reminded me of how much I have missed out in life. And then this black boy named Chance said that he lost his virginity when he was only thirteen! In addition, he said that the girl he lost his virginity to was a blonde white girl! I was so enraged that I almost splashed him with my orange juice. I indignantly told him that I did not believe him, and then I went to my room to cry. I cried and cried and cried, and then I called my mother and cried to her on the phone.

How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more. I tried not to believe his foul words, but they were already said, and it was hard to erase from my mind. If this is actually true, if this ugly black filth was able to have sex with a blonde white girl at the age of thirteen while I’ve had to suffer virginity all my life, then this just proves how ridiculous the female gender is. They would give themselves to this filthy scum, but they reject ME? The injustice!…

…His parents’ frantic trip to Isla Vista was just one missed chance to avert the tragedy. In this case, the parents’ emergency call to the police and their arrival came well after the killing spree was over.

Only weeks earlier, in late April, deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office had stopped by Mr. Rodger’s apartment at the request of state mental health officials, acting on an expression of concern by his mother. They left after a calm and polite Mr. Rodger assured them that there was nothing to worry about. The officers reported that Mr. Rodger was shy and had told them that he was having difficulties in his social life.

That gave them little ground on which to act, under California law. Because Mr. Rodger was never institutionalized because of his emotional problems, he was able to legally purchase the weaponry he used in the shooting…

Read the entire article here. Read Rodgers’s manifesto here.

Tags: , , , , ,

San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2014-02-12 08:00Z by Steven

San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown

University of Oklahoma Press
264 pages
8.5″ x 11″
Illustrations: 20 b&w and 125 color illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806144108

Robert J. Chandler, Retired Senior Research Historian
Wells Fargo Bank

A lavishly illustrated biography of an often overlooked artist and his work

Grafton Tyler Brown—whose heritage was likely one-eighth African American—finessed his way through San Francisco society by passing for white. Working in an environment hostile to African American achievement, Brown became a successful commercial artist and businessman in the rough-and-tumble gold rush era and the years after the Civil War. Best known for his bird’s-eye cityscapes, he also produced and published maps, charts, and business documents, and he illustrated books, sheet music, advertisements, and labels for cans and other packaging.

This biography by a distinguished California historian gives an underappreciated artist and his work recognition long overdue. Focusing on Grafton Tyler Brown’s lithography and his life in nineteenth-century San Francisco, Robert J. Chandler offers a study equally fascinating as a business and cultural history and as an introduction to Brown the artist.

Chandler’s contextualization of Brown’s career goes beyond the issue of race. Showing how Brown survived and flourished as a businessman, Chandler offers unique insight into the growth of printing and publishing in California and the West. He examines the rise of lithography, its commercial and cultural importance, and the competition among lithographic companies. He also analyzes Brown’s work and style, comparing it to the products of rival firms.

Brown was not respected as a fine artist until after his death. Collectors of western art and Americana now recognize the importance of Californiana and of Brown’s work, some of which depicts Portland and the Pacific Northwest, and they will find Chandler’s checklist, descriptions, and reproductions of Brown’s ephemera—including billheads and maps—as uniquely valuable as Chandler’s contribution to the cultural and commercial history of California. In an afterword, historian Shirley Ann Wilson Moore discusses the circumstances and significance of passing in nineteenth-century America.

Tags: , , , , , ,

How I Learned To Feel Undesirable

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-11 04:16Z by Steven

How I Learned To Feel Undesirable

Code Switch: Fronter of Race, Culure and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Noah Cho

For the past few weeks, we’ve convened a conversation about romance across racial and cultural lines. Some of the most eloquent accounts we encountered came from a Bay Area junior high school teacher named Noah Cho. We asked him to expand on some of his experiences in this essay.

It’s an odd feeling, as an adult, to look at a photo of your parents and feel perplexed by it. As a young child, I believed that most sets of parents looked like mine — a Korean man, a white woman — and it never registered to me that other parents looked different, or that their love could be something culturally undesirable.

But as I have moved through 32 years of looking at myself in the mirror, a time in which the vast majority of interracial couples I have known have looked nothing like my parents, I have come to see their love as something rare. Most men in interracial couples I have encountered do not look like my dad. They do not have his skin tone, or his combination of dark hair and dark eyes. My mom often tells me stories about when she began dating my father in suburban New Jersey in the 1970s, and I could only infer from her stories that her predominantly white community felt confused and unsure why a white woman would find an Asian man attractive.

I learned, slowly, painfully, over the course of my life that most people shared the opinion of my mother’s community. I know this, because I look like my father.

When I look in the mirror, I do not see someone that I understand to be handsome by Western standards. I look mostly Asian, and like so many other heterosexual Asian males before me, I have internalized a lifetime of believing that my features, my face, my skin tone, in tandem, make me unattractive and undesirable…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego [Floyd Review]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2013-12-26 18:42Z by Steven

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego [Floyd Review]

The Journal of San Diego History
Volume 59, Number 4 (Fall 2013)
pages 291-292

Carlton Floyd, Associate Professor of English
University of San Diego

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego. By Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012. Maps, photographs, tables, notes, and index. 256 pp. $25.95 paper.

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego by Rudy P. Guevarra Jr. deftly explores his Filipino and Mexican familial history from its origins in Spanish colonialism to its current Mexipino configurations in San Diego. Addressing a subject that has received little extended critical attention, Guevarra argues that Spain’s sixteenth-century colonial enterprises brought Mexicans and Filipinos together in ways that facilitated their intimate interaction. First, they shared or, more aptly, endured enslavement and indentured servitude as well as the interest in surviving these perilous conditions. Second, Mexicans and Filipinos took on a common language and religion: Spanish and Catholicism. Third, they discovered themselves in possession of a similar sense of familial arrangements—in the notions of godparents and in the practice of coming-of-age ceremonies for young women, to cite two examples. These various conditions facilitated intimate interethnic relationships then, and foreshadowed similar intimate interactions centuries later, particularly in the western parts of the United States…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

American Sons & Daughters: Mixed Race, Identity in Southern California

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2013-12-05 18:32Z by Steven

American Sons & Daughters: Mixed Race, Identity in Southern California

KCET Television
Burbank, California

Susan Straight, Professor of Creative Writing
University of California, Riverside

This is how we began. I looked out at the 300 faces before me and said, “How many of you in this classroom are often asked, in a bar or a store or at a party, What are you?” Maybe a hundred young people raised their hands, and they couldn’t believe that’s what we would spend ten weeks talking about.

“People will guess, all the time, and they’re never right,” one young woman said.

“People think I’m black because of my hair. But I’m Ashkenazi Jewish,” a young man said.

“People think I’m Asian because of my eyes,” someone else said.

“My son is really light, because he’s Mexican-Irish,” said Arely, who is Mexican-American, standing in front of the class and showing her children from a cell phone photo onto the screens. “But my daughter is darker, since she’s Mexican-Colombian, and everyone talks about that. I already know how hard that’s going to be for her.”

The class is “The Mixed Race Novel and the American Experience.” But of course we didn’t talk only about books — we talked about who we are, how America sees us, how our families see us, and most importantly, how we see ourselves. We talked about America’s ongoing obsession with hair and melanin, about what it means to be undocumented, what it means to be a mother, what it means to witness a murder or to lose a dog. But all those discussions began with what it means to be of mixed racial and cultural heritage, and many students in this class at UC Riverside say this was their first time ever talking about these very personal things in an open forum…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte proud of biracial heritage

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2013-12-02 18:34Z by Steven

UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte proud of biracial heritage

Los Angeles Daily News

Jack Wang, Staff Reporter

The smell hits him three or four blocks away.

Thomas Duarte is coming back from a run around his Orange County neighborhood, and the day is hot enough that the windows of his house have been cracked open.

What that smell actually was, though, depended on the day.

“We always had tamales around,” said the UCLA receiver. “That was probably my favorite. Coming around wintertime, that’s pretty much what I think about when it comes to food around the house.”

Ordinary by itself, but consider some of the other Duarte household favorites: teriyaki chicken, fried rice, sushi. The platter tends to be diverse when you’re the son of a Mexican-American father and a Japanese-American mother.

When Duarte was about five years old, his father Tim brought home a whole, freshly caught albacore that a friend had just fished from the pier. As he cut thin slices on the kitchen counter, Thomas approached eagerly. He ate a piece and loved it.

“If that’s not in the blood, I don’t know what is,” Tim said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Prematurity and Low Birth Weight as Potential Mediators of Higher Stillbirth Risk in Mixed Black/White Race Couples

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2013-10-13 18:42Z by Steven

Prematurity and Low Birth Weight as Potential Mediators of Higher Stillbirth Risk in Mixed Black/White Race Couples

Journal of Women’s Health
Volume 19, Issue 4 (2010-04-26)
pages 767–773.
DOI:  10.1089/jwh.2009.1561

Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Sonya M. DeMonner, M.P.H.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Paula M. Lantz, Ph.D.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Rodney A. Hayward, M.D.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Objective: Although births of multiracial and multiethnic infants are becoming more common in the United States, little is known about birth outcomes and risks for adverse events. We evaluated risk of fetal death for mixed race couples compared with same race couples and examined the role of prematurity and low birth weight as potential mediating risk factors.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort analysis using data from the 1998–2002 California Birth Cohort to evaluate the odds of fetal death, low birth weight, and prematurity for couples with a mother and father who were categorized as either being of same or different racial groups. Risk of prematurity (birth prior to 37 weeks gestation) and low birth weight (<2500 g) were also tested to see if the model could explain variations among groups.

Results: The analysis included approximately 1.6 million live births and 1749 stillbirths. In the unadjusted model, compared with two white parents, black/black and black/white couples had a significantly higher risk of fetal death. When all demographic, social, biological, genetic, congenital, and procedural risk factors except gestational age and birth weight were included, the odds ratios (OR) were all still significant. Black/black couples had the highest level of risk (OR 2.11, CI 1.77-2.51), followed by black mother/white father couples (OR 2.01, CI 1.16-3.48), and white mother/black father couples (OR 1.84, CI 1.33-2.54). Virtually all of the higher risk of fetal death was explainable by higher rates of low birth weight and prematurity.

Conclusions: Mixed race black and white couples face higher odds of prematurity and low birth weight, which appear to contribute to the substantially higher demonstrated risk for stillbirth. There are likely additional unmeasured factors that influence birth outcomes for mixed race couples.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Garcetti, New Los Angeles Mayor, Reflects Changing City

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-10-08 18:50Z by Steven

Garcetti, New Los Angeles Mayor, Reflects Changing City

The New York Times

Jennifer Medina

LOS ANGELES — He is Jewish. He is Latino. He can break dance and play jazz piano. He speaks nearly impeccable Spanish. He has talked longingly about growing his own vegetables and maybe even raising his own chickens. He lives on this city’s hip east side.

Three months into office, Mayor Eric Garcetti seems to embody a host of ethnic, ideological and cultural strains that are transforming Los Angeles. At the same time, he is avoiding any temptation of red carpet glamour here, a striking change from his predecessor, Antonio Villaraigosa, who came in as mayor riding a powerful wave of popularity but left with decidedly less regard.

“In some ways everything I have done has prepared me for this job,” Mr. Garcetti said recently in his still mostly barren City Hall office, which he plans to decorate with local historical memorabilia. “Governing Los Angeles is all about cultural literacy — nobody can be completely literate across the board here, but if you don’t have some understanding of many of those cultures, you will be left behind.”…

…But while many of the city’s most powerful Latino politicians, including Mr. Villaraigosa, were raised in such immigrant enclaves, Mr. Garcetti grew up in the well-heeled San Fernando Valley. Early in the campaign, he faced pointed comments from other elected officials, including the speaker of the State Assembly, that questioned his Latino credentials. Even now, without the pressure of campaigning, he is not given to wax philosophical about his identity. “There was all this craziness about, ‘What are you?’ ” he said. “I am what I am, as Popeye would say. I think we are all tired of that conversation.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Making a Non-White America: Californians Coloring outside Ethnic Lines, 1925-1955

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-09-23 01:28Z by Steven

Making a Non-White America: Californians Coloring outside Ethnic Lines, 1925-1955

University of California Press
April 2008
318 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780520253452
E-Book ISBN: 9780520941274

Allison Varzally, Associate Professor of History
California State University, Fullerton

On the cover: Future R&B singer Sugar Pie DeSanto in San Francisco’s Fillmore District (circa 1940s)

Winner of the 2009 Theodore Saloutos Memorial Award, Immigration and Ethnic History Society

What happens in a society so diverse that no ethnic group can call itself the majority? Exploring a question that has profound relevance for the nation as a whole, this study looks closely at eclectic neighborhoods in California where multiple minorities constituted the majority during formative years of the twentieth century. In a lively account, woven throughout with vivid voices and experiences drawn from interviews, ethnic newspapers, and memoirs, Allison Varzally examines everyday interactions among the Asian, Mexican, African, Native, and Jewish Americans, and others who lived side by side. What she finds is that in shared city spaces across California, these diverse groups mixed and mingled as students, lovers, worshippers, workers, and family members and, along the way, expanded and reconfigured ethnic and racial categories in new directions.


  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. California Crossroads
  • 2. Young Travelers
  • 3. Guess Who’s Joining Us for Dinner?
  • 4. Banding Together in Crisis
  • 5. Minority Brothers in Arms
  • 6. Panethnic Politics Arising from the Everyday
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Tags: , ,

Where in the World Is Juan—and What Color Is He?: The Geography of Latina/o Racial Identity in Southern California

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-02 01:03Z by Steven

Where in the World Is Juan—and What Color Is He?: The Geography of Latina/o Racial Identity in Southern California

American Quarterly
Volume 65, Number 2, June 2013
pages 309-341
DOI: 10.1353/aq.2013.0020

Laura Pulido, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California

Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California

Recently there Recently there has been a robust discussion on the question of Latina/o racial subjectivity, particularly whether Latinas/os are more apt to identify as “white” or as people of color. Scholars focused on contemporary identification patterns have examined key variables, including age, education, income, and nativity in an effort to understand Latinas/os’ racial choices. However, dimensions of time and space are frequently unanalyzed. Focusing on the seven-county region of Southern California—home to the United States’ largest concentration of Latinas/os—we use the American Community Survey (2008-10) to consider a range of variables, including spatial and temporal characteristics, to better understand Latina/o, especially Mexican American, racial subjectivity. Focusing on Latinas/os who identify as either “white” or “some other race” and utilizing a regression analysis to isolate the relative impact of each variable, we find that Latinas/os who live in more segregated neighborhoods as well as those who live among a high proportion of Latinas/os, are more likely to identify as “some other race.”

In 1980. for the first time, the US Census Bureau broadly allowed respondents to identity themselves as Latinas/os or Hispanics, in addition to designating their “race.” To the surprise of some, 38 percent of the newly minted Latinas/os rejected the usual race categories, marking “some other race” (SOR) rather than white, black. Asian, or Native American. Thinking that matters might change as respondents became accustomed to the forms. Census authorities grew more concerned when in 1990 43 percent of Latinas/os marked SOR. Believing that the issue might be related to question sequencing—respondents were asked to identify race first, then Hispanicity—the sequence of the questions was reversed in 2000. The logic of the Census Bureau: perhaps once respondents were able to mark the Latina/o identification, they would then be more willing to mark a standard racial category as requested. That year, the percentage of Latinas/os marking SOR stayed relatively steady at 42 percent, with an additional 6 percent choosing a new multirace category. Looked at another way. the share marking “white” fell from 52 percent to 48 percent between 1990 and 2000.

The popularity of the SOR designation should not have been a surprise to Census bureaucrats: Latinas/os, especially ethnic Mexicans, have long been seen as nonwhite in the popular and political imagination, and since the Chicana/o movement many have embraced a nonwhite identity. At the same time, Latinas/os racial subjectivity has attracted considerable scholarly attention over the last decade, including examinations of how “whiteness” may be open to peoples who were previously considered nonwhite (including Asians and Latinas/os), how the multiracial experience affects racial and color identification, and how racial subjectivity is contested within families and communities that seem, at first glance, to be racially similar.  While obviously a matter of academic interest, racial subjectivity also has significant political consequences. Since Latinas/os became the largest “racial minority” in 2000. scholars and activists alike are grappling with how Latinas/os will intersect with the existing…

Tags: , , , ,