Meritocracy in Obama’s Gilded Age

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Campus Life, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-10-07 19:46Z by Steven

Meritocracy in Obama’s Gilded Age

The Chronicle of Higher Education
2016-09-25

Aziz Rana, Professor of Law
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

The Obama administration’s vision of social mobility in America is bound up with a story about higher education. According to this story, elite colleges and universities are engines of American opportunity. They select the most talented and hardworking people, from across all backgrounds, and provide them with the training to achieve even the most “impossibly big dreams,” as Michelle Obama would say. There is truth to this account. Indeed, Barack Obama’s lived experience speaks to the possibility of meritocratic achievement. He is the multiracial child of a single mother from a middle-class background, who through skill and determination made it to top universities and eventually rose to the highest echelon of political power.

But this familiar story of higher education as a spur to social mobility blinds us to both what is pernicious and what is worth defending about the modern American university…

Read the entire article here.

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But I am saying, in this novel, as in other works, the lessons I have learned from my life as a mother, now a grandmother, as a teacher of African American literature and a writer about race: that so-called mixedness means little in American history.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-03-30 02:09Z by Steven

“But I am saying, in this novel, as in other works, the lessons I have learned from my life as a mother, now a grandmother, as a teacher of African American literature and a writer about race: that so-called mixedness means little in American history. As I said above, many enslaved Americans, including the great Frederick Douglass, were “mixed” due to rape or forced sexual unions, and nevertheless remained enslaved.” —Jane Lazarre

Claire Potter, “Rejoining the Parts: A Conversation with Jane Lazarre About Race, Fiction, American History and Her New Novel, Inheritance,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 15, 2011. http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/tenuredradical/2011/11/1432/.

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Dearth of Faculty Diversity Leaves King Award Recipient ‘Neither Thrilled Nor Honored’

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-21 16:17Z by Steven

Dearth of Faculty Diversity Leaves King Award Recipient ‘Neither Thrilled Nor Honored’

The Chronicle of Higher Education
2016-01-20

Eric Kelderman

Naomi Zack is one of just six people scheduled to receive a University of Oregon award on Wednesday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

But the philosophy professor expressed mixed feelings about what the award means at a university where so few of her colleagues are minorities.

Ms. Zack, who describes herself as multiracial, said there are no women who identify as black in the College of Arts and Sciences and only two women of color, including herself, who qualify as full professors in the entire university. The other woman, she said, is the university’s vice president for equity and inclusion, Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh.

“I am neither thrilled nor honored to receive” the award, Ms. Zack plans to say, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “I am embarrassed.”

“The absence of African-American senior faculty in what presents itself as a world-class research institution is an embarrassment for all members of our community,” the text reads…

Read the entire article here.

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What the 1920s Tell Us About Dolezal and Racial Illogic

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-22 21:02Z by Steven

What the 1920s Tell Us About Dolezal and Racial Illogic

The Chronicle of Higher Education
2015-06-19

Carla Kaplan, Stanton W. and Elisabeth K. Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature
Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts

Carla Kaplan is author of Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (Harper, 2013).

What does it mean to identify across race lines and to claim a racial identity disconnected from background or biology? Why does so-called reverse passing (white to black) generate such extraordinary attention and controversy? The Rachel Dolezal case reveals a conundrum in race debates that remains unresolved.

Dolezal, who evidently has been passing for black for years as an activist and Africana-studies instructor, maintains that she is black because she feels black. She says that she “certainly can’t be seen as white” and be the mother of a black son. She asserts that her choices are “misunderstood” because “race as a construct has a fluid understanding.” Her defense of what some dub deception is consistent with social constructionism, which maintains that there is no biological or essential basis to race and that all notions of racial difference are rooted in culture. And this makes her case especially troubling.

While the bulk of commentary on Dolezal has been condemnatory, some observers have described her as a “Voluntary Negro” to indicate that they “admire,” as the black female journalist Camille Gear Rich put it, Dolezal’s “choice to live her life as a black person.”

The category “Voluntary Negro,” however, was never intended for whites. The term was coined in the 1920s to describe — and honor — light-skinned blacks, like the NAACP official Walter White, who looked white but insisted on being identified as black (and had the black ancestry to back that up). Blacks who might have passed for white, but didn’t, were lionized by their community. Voluntary Negroes were those who expressed loyalty to their “own” race, not those who cross-identified. They became exemplars of what was seen as a proper ethical relation to race, an embodiment of the “race pride” that was the heart of “New Negro” sensibilities. They were celebrated as part of a broader cultural argument for affirming blackness in the face of white prejudice, and as part of the larger energies of black self-determination and self-definition that fueled cultural renaissances in Harlem, Chicago, and elsewhere. Voluntary Negroes became icons of what Alain Locke, often considered the “midwife” of the Harlem Renaissance, called “the admirable principle of loyalty.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A History of Loss

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-02-10 21:08Z by Steven

A History of Loss

The Chronicle Review
The Chronicle of Higher Education
2015-02-09

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Alexander L. Manly could have been the first victim of the bloody race riot that exploded in Wilmington, N.C., in early November 1898. Manly, publisher of the Daily Record, North Carolina’s only African-American newspaper, was the target of the rioters after he wrote an inflammatory editorial about white supremacists’ charges that black men were assaulting white women. Manly fired back that the white women who claimed that black men had raped them had, in fact, engaged in consensual sex. His press was burned to the ground. He narrowly escaped to Philadelphia, but upon arrival, discovered that work was hard for a black man to find. Employers summarily rejected his applications for employment as a painter, insisting that no union would accept a black member.

“So I tried being white,” Manly later explained to the journalist Ray Stannard Baker, “that is, I did not reveal the fact that I had coloured blood, and I immediately got work in some of the best shops in Philadelphia. I joined the union and had no trouble at all.”

But Manly soon tired of the charade. Passing only during the work day—”9-to-5 passing,” it was called—meant that he had to leave his house early in the morning and could not return until after nightfall. He feared discovery. “The thing became unbearable,” he lamented. “I preferred to be a Negro and hold up my head rather than to be a sneak.” So he became a janitor and lived openly with his recognizably black wife and children.

Manly could have reaped all of the benefits that accrued to whiteness: economic opportunity and security, political agency, and countless social privileges. Indeed, by some accounts, his light skin had eased his escape from Wilmington, protected him from the racial violence that had engulfed the city, and very likely saved his life. But for Manly, those gains were far outweighed by all that there was to lose…

Read the entire article here.

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How Race-Studies Scholars Can Respond to Their Haters

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2014-06-29 19:39Z by Steven

How Race-Studies Scholars Can Respond to Their Haters

Vitae
A service of The Chronicle of Higher Education
2014-06-27

Stacey Patton, Senior Enterprise Reporter

Graduate school prepares students for a range of intellectual and professional endeavors. Unfortunately, responding to scholarly insults and academic shade-throwing isn’t one of them.

But for scholars in the fields of race and ethnic studies—including those who work outside the ivory tower—dealing with snide questions, nasty comments, and occasional name-calling is just part of the job description. Over the years, these academics have repeatedly told me that their work is uniquely misunderstood and dismissed by students, fellow faculty, and the general public. The election of Barack Obama, some say, has only made it tougher to defend ethnic studies: Amid declarations of a “post-racial” America, how do you explain why you study and write about racism?

Nearly every race-studies scholar—white professors included—can identify a phrase that drives them uniquely nuts: “Stop playing the race card.” “What about white studies?” “Racism is no longer an issue. Why are you beating a dead horse?”…

…“We were hoping for a black candidate.” —Matthew Pratt Guterl, Professor of Africana studies and American studies,  Brown University

…“Ethnic studies isn’t a real discipline.” —David J. Leonard, Associate professor of critical culture, gender, and race studies, Washington State University at Pullman

…“Do you have a Ph.D.?”  —Kerry Ann Rockquemore, CEO and president, National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity

Read the entire article here.

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What Does the Education Dept. Know About Race?

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-29 00:29Z by Steven

What Does the Education Dept. Know About Race?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
2014-04-28

Johnah Newman, Database Reporter

Our post last week on minority enrollment and diversity at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor sparked a lively debate in the comments section about demographic data and diversity.

“I must admit that I am scratching my head,” one reader, Candis Best, wrote in response to the post. “Minority enrollment is down, but the school isn’t less diverse?,” she asked. “Diversity isn’t about statistics. It is about relationships.”

Ms. Best is, of course, correct that diversity is more than percentages and bar charts. “Diversity” includes identities that cross genders, cultures, and other ways people define themselves. A diverse campus involves interactions among students and faculty and staff members, all trading and sharing points of view and gaining understanding as they learn from others’ backgrounds.

Nevertheless, data and statistics are able to provide some insights into the makeup of a population and the degree to which that population consists of people associated with various groups.

Before we explore some different ways of measuring diversity through data and statistics, it’s worthwhile to look first to the demographic data themselves. What do the data show? What can’t they measure? And what are some of the complications and pitfalls of using such data to measure racial and ethnic diversity?

Categorizing Race and Ethnicity

The first factor that complicates any discussion of race and ethnicity is how to categorize a person’s race in the first place. Before the 2000 Census, people were asked to check a box indicating their race. The selections were mutually exclusive. You were either white or black. Hispanic or Asian. By 2000, though, a cultural shift had caused people to think about racial categories not as distinct groups but as elements that can combine to form a person’s identity. People could now check multiple boxes…

…So a drop in the number of black students reported at a university from 2009 to 2010, as we noted at the University of Michigan, doesn’t necessarily mean that there were actually fewer black students. It could also mean that some of the students who would have been counted in the black category before 2010 were instead counted in the two-or-more-races category under the new reporting methods…

Read the entire article here.

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The End of the ‘Postrace’ Myth

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-06 18:13Z by Steven

The End of the ‘Postrace’ Myth

The Conversation: Online opinion on ideas and higher education
The Chronicle of Higher Education
2013-01-14

Pamela Newkirk, Professor of Journalism
New York University

Over the past four years, it had become increasingly difficult to mount a public discussion about how racial bias continues to permeate our society, North and South, in boardrooms and newsrooms. Despite glaring signs of racial segregation in our schools, prisons, and pews, many commentators—including some scholars—idealistically clung to President Obama’s 2008 election as evidence of a new, postracial era.

John H. McWhorter, a linguist and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, was among the first to proclaim that Obama’s 2008 election proved that we had moved beyond race as a major impediment for black people. His optimism was widely embraced by the media…

…Now, as President Obama is set to begin his second term, after an election marred by blatant forms of black and Latino voter suppression that evoked post-Reconstruction practices, our blinders have been yanked aside, exposing claims of a postracial nation as premature.

What can be said of the spectacle of prominent men reduced to “birthers” demanding that the nation’s first black president reveal his birth certificate and college transcript? Or state officials and a defeated presidential candidate openly lamenting the strength of black and Latino voter turnout? Residents of some states have called for secession rather than face the reality of a multiracial America. White college students in Mississippi rioted over Barack Obama’s re-election…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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Pacific Islanders: a Misclassified People

Posted in Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-06-03 19:19Z by Steven

Pacific Islanders: a Misclassified People

The Chronicle of Higher Education
2013-06-03

Kawika Riley, Chief Executive and Founder
Pacific Islander Access Project
also adjunct lecturer at George Washington University

Imagine that you’re a parent, teacher, or counselor who helped a promising student apply for financial aid. She’s an underrepresented minority, so you encouraged her to apply to several scholarships for minority students. A few weeks later, she receives a wave of responses from them, all saying the same thing: She’s not eligible to apply. Why? Because the colleges have misclassified her; even though she’s an underrepresented minority student, they’ve decided to treat her as if she’s not.

Now imagine that instead of one student’s being misclassified, this is happening to every student who belongs to one of the fastest-growing minority groups in America. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders don’t need to imagine any of this. This is their reality.

For more than 20 years, U.S. Census data have shown that Pacific Islanders are far less likely to graduate from college than is the general population. The statistics have fluctuated slightly over time, but the trend is that Pacific Islanders are about half as likely as the general population to hold bachelor’s degrees, and even less likely to receive advanced degrees.

…Before 1997, the federal standard for racial classification grouped Asians and Pacific Islanders together. But 16 years ago, the standards were updated, and Pacific Islanders and Asians were recognized as two distinct groups. Unfortunately, the myth of a homogeneous “Asian Pacific” race persists, and the use of “API” data suggests that statistics on “Asian Pacific Islanders” reflect the conditions of both Asians and Pacific Islanders.

They don’t….

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed-Race Chic

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-03-15 20:08Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Chic

The Chronicle Review
The Chronicle of Higher Education
2009-05-19

Rainier Spencer, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Popular wisdom suggests that we are in the midst of a transformation in the way race is constructed in the United States. Indeed, so strong and so inevitable is this shift said to be that longstanding racial dynamics are purportedly being dismantled and reconstructed even as you read these words.

According to this view, individuals of mixed race, particularly first-generation multiracial people, are confounding the American racial template with their ambiguous phenotypes and purported ability to serve as living bridges between races. This perspective is reflected in television and magazine advertising and coverage and in books both academic and nonacademic. As long as a decade ago, the sociologist Kathleen Odell Korgen wrote in From Black to Biracial: Transforming Racial Identity Among Americans (Praeger, 1998) that “today mixed-race Americans challenge the very foundation of our racial structure.”

From his well-received speech on race, in which he positioned himself as having a direct understanding of both black and white anger, to his reference to himself as a “mutt,” Barack Obama and his historic election have significantly boosted this view. Many Americans hail his background as portending our postracial future. We hear that self-styled multiracial young adults accept their mixed identity far more than did their pre-civil-rights-era predecessors; but precisely what they are actually assenting to and what it means may be little more than a fad.

People who see us accepting a new multiracial identity have long argued that it is destructive of race: that recognition and acceptance of multiracialism will bring about the demise of the American racial model. The American Multiracial Identity Movement thereby suggests that multiracial identity possesses an insurgent character, a militant stance against the idea of recognizing race in the United States.

Regardless of their contemporary popularity, such claims are without merit. Indeed, they are self-contradictory. If one holds that multiracial identity is a real and valid identity, then it can be sensible only as a biological racial identity. If words are to mean anything, and they should, it quite obviously cannot be that a multiracial identity is somehow not a biological racial identity. Rather, multiracial identity merely falls in place to join other, already existing racial categories…

…As Catherine R. Squires, a professor of journalism, writes in Dispatches From the Color Line: The Press and Multiracial America (State University of New York Press, 2007), multiracialism is fundamentally ambiguous: “This ambiguity is about exoticism and intrigue, providing opportunities for consumers to fantasize and speculate about the Other with no expectations of critical consideration of power and racial categories.” Squires makes an important point, for it is crucial to be able to separate racial ambiguity that might be utilized to work consciously against racial hierarchies from racial ambiguity that is simply a form of self-interested celebration that ends up reinforcing those racial hierarchies…

Read the entire article here.

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