Passing for black? Now that’s a twist

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-17 19:29Z by Steven

Passing for black? Now that’s a twist

Cable News Network (CNN)
2015-06-12

Lisa Respers France, Senior producer, CNN Digital

(CNN)—”In this day and age who in the world willingly wants to be black?”

I jokingly said that to my husband when news about Rachel Dolezal broke.

Dolezal, 37, is president of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP whose racial identity is being questioned, now that her parents have produced what they say is her birth certificate. It appears to show that she is white.

They said their daughter, who reportedly earned a master’s degree from the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., and is a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, began to “disguise herself” as black after the family adopted four African-American children.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud black woman who grew up in a family that is incredibly diverse and has such a heritage of hues that my parents were once questioned in a store as to where they “got that white baby from,” as they carted around my fair-skinned and light-eyed infant nephew.

But with all the heated debate over race relations and the treatment of minorities by law enforcement, which has resulted in unrest and more than a few black mothers burying their sons and daughters, I was both flabbergasted and intrigued by any claim that a white woman would willingly pass as black.

Race isn’t necessarily skin color

The concept of “passing” is something many African-Americans are familiar with. Some members of my own family were so light-skinned, with European features, that they willingly chose to live as white rather than deal with the discrimination of being black in America.

My mother, Patricia, who is fair and has greenish-gray eyes, tells the story of when her grandmother arrived at the bank where my mother worked after it closed. My biracial great-grandmother, Rose Evans, knocked on the window as my mother stood next to her white co-worker, counting out their drawer.

“There’s a woman trying to get your attention,” the co-worker told my mother.

When my mother responded “I know. That’s just my grandmother,” the co-worker continued: “No. There’s a white woman trying to get your attention.” “No. That’s my grandmother,” my mother repeated as her co-worker turned bright red with embarrassment.

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to race, you just can’t tell from looking…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal has a right to be black

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-17 19:16Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal has a right to be black

Cable News Network (CNN)
2016-06-16

Camile Gear Rich, Professor of Law and Sociology
Gould School of Law
University of Southern California

(CNN)—When it comes to identity, America takes one step forward and two steps back.

On Monday, Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, resigned in shame because she had posed as a black woman even though she is biologically white.

The outing of Dolezal seems ironic given the recent public embrace of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner. Jenner seems to have ushered in an era of greater tolerance about the constructed nature of identity. After all, when a transgender woman is elevated to the cover of Vanity Fair, it’s as though we have reached a tipping point. We can accept the idea that one’s social identity can be radically transformed if it doesn’t match with what one feels in the heart…

…In my view, hate the sin but love the sinner. Dolezal lied. She should not have lied, but she lied for reasons with which we can sympathize.

I admire the way she chose to live her life as a black person. Advocating for anti-racism efforts is ethical and admirable if she wanted to claim blackness as a social identity. Those quick to throw stones well know that there are costs to living life as a black person, and once Dolezal made the switch she seems never to have looked back. I will not indict her for her choice to link herself to this community, and I would consider her claim no greater if she identified a long lost African ancestor…

Read the entire article here.

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I’m a person of color from a biracial marriage… I am the son of a black woman who still worries about my safety from the bias and privilege and violence that accompanies it.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-05-21 17:06Z by Steven

“I’m a person of color from a biracial marriage… I am the son of a black woman who still worries about my safety from the bias and privilege and violence that accompanies it.” —Ismael Ozanne

Michael Martinez, “Who is Ismael Ozanne, Wisconsin’s prosecutor in Tony Robinson’s death?,” Cable News Network (CNN), May 12. 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/12/us/ismael-ozanne-wisconsin-district-attorney-tony-robinson-case/.

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Who is Ismael Ozanne, Wisconsin’s prosecutor in Tony Robinson’s death?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Law, United States on 2015-05-20 21:52Z by Steven

Who is Ismael Ozanne, Wisconsin’s prosecutor in Tony Robinson’s death?

Cable News Network (CNN)
2015-05-12

Michael Martinez, Newsdesk Editor & Writer

(CNN) Ismael Ozanne wiped a handkerchief across his forehead, nervously tapped a stack of papers on the podium and slowly cleared his throat.

It wasn’t the first time he’d made history; that happened in 2010 when he became Wisconsin’s first black district attorney.

Still, the Dane County district attorney seemed acutely aware of his role on the national stage Tuesday as the man who would decide whether an officer should be charged for the March 6 shooting death of an unarmed biracial man, 19-year-old Tony Robinson.

Eventually, Ozanne told reporters that he’d cleared Matt Kenny of the Madison Police Department, declaring that the officer’s gunfire was “a lawful use of deadly police force.”

But before he revealed his long-awaited decision Tuesday, the prosecutor also made it a point to talk about his past…

…Wisconsin’s first black DA

Ozanne became the first African-American district attorney in Wisconsin history in August 2010, when former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, appointed him as Dane County district attorney.

Ozanne’s appointment filled a vacancy created when the prior DA was elected as a Court of Appeals judge…

…Ozanne’s grandfather, Robert Ozanne, was a high school teacher, a labor organizer, an author and a professor of economics at University of Wisconsin at Madison in the 1950s, according to Ismael Ozanne’s biography.

His parents are also teachers: His father taught at Tuskegee University in Alabama and in Madison public schools, and as of last year, his mother was still in the classroom, teaching reading at a middle school.

Ozanne describes himself as biracial.

“I’m a person of color from a biracial marriage. … I am the son of a black woman who still worries about my safety from the bias and privilege and violence that accompanies it,” he said Tuesday…

Read the entire article here.

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Why mixed-race comic was ‘born a crime’

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2014-12-29 22:35Z by Steven

Why mixed-race comic was ‘born a crime’

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-12-04

Jessica Ellis

Teo Kermeliotis

London (CNN) — When it comes to getting ready for a show, fast-rising South African comedian Trevor Noah has it all figured out.

“My ideal setting is I walk from the streets, backstage and straight onto the stage,” says Noah, who last year became the first African comedian to perform on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show in the United States.

“Two minutes and I am on the stage. That way in my head I have gone from my world and then into a social setting with my friends. I want my audience to be my friends — that is when they will get the best comedy. If they see me as a performer, they won’t get the best show.”

At just 28 years old, Noah is already a big name in his country’s fledgling standup scene, as well as a cover star for Rolling Stone South Africa. But despite treating the audience as friends, he’s not afraid of provocative subject matter, with his latest show called “The Racist.”

he son of a black South African woman and a white Swiss man who met when interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa, Noah jokes that he was “born a crime.” On stage, he draws upon his particular life experiences to tackle thorny issues with his funny, and sometimes trenchant, punchlines…

Read the entire article here.

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CNN’s Candy Crowley interviews President Barack Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Videos on 2014-12-23 02:28Z by Steven

CNN’s Candy Crowley interviews President Barack Obama

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-12-21

For his last interview of the year, President Obama sat down, exclusively, with CNN’s Candy Crowley to discuss North Korea’s cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, normalizing relations with Cuba, Russia, Iran, race relations in America and Guantanamo Bay.

The interview aired Sunday, December 21st, on CNN at 09:00 and 12:00 EST

Text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below…

CROWLEY: …And I thought, you know, do you think that you look at race matters somewhat differently because, yes, you’re the first African-American president, but your mother was white.

OBAMA: Right.

CROWLEY: You were raised by your mother and your white grandparents.

OBAMA: Yes.

CROWLEY: Does that give you a different perspective, do you think?

OBAMA: I think it probably does. I – you know, I wrote a whole book about this. And, uh, there’s no doubt that, you know, I move back and forth between the racial divides, not just black-white, but Asian and Latino and, you know, I’ve got a lot of cultural influences.

I – I think what it does do for me is to recognize that most Americans have good intentions. I said a little bit about this in the press conference earlier today.

I assume the best rather than the worst in others. But it also makes me mindful of the fact that there’s misunderstanding, there’s mistrust and there are biases both overt and sometimes hidden that operate in ways that disadvantage minority communities.

And that’s a carryover. There’s a long legacy in this country that has gotten enormously better, but is still there. And when you look at what’s happened in law enforcement across the country over the last several years, um, that’s not news to African-Americans. What’s different is simply that some of it’s now videotaped and people see it.

And the question then becomes, you know, what practical steps can we take to solve this problem?

And I believe that the overwhelming majority of white Americans, as well as African-Americans, want to see this problem solved.

So I have confidence that by surfacing these issues, we’re going to be able to make progress on them…

Read the entire interview transcript here.

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The new threat: ‘Racism without racists’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-28 03:32Z by Steven

The new threat: ‘Racism without racists’

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-11-27

John Blake

They showed people a photograph of two white men fighting, one unarmed and another holding a knife. Then they showed another photograph, this one of a white man with a knife fighting an unarmed African-American man.

When they asked people to identify the man who was armed in the first picture, most people picked the right one. Yet when they were asked the same question about the second photo, most people — black and white — incorrectly said the black man had the knife.

Even before the Ferguson grand jury’s decision was announced, leaders were calling once again for a “national conversation on race.” But here’s why such conversations rarely go anywhere: Whites and racial minorities speak a different language when they talk about racism, scholars and psychologists say.

The knife fight experiment hints at the language gap. Some whites confine racism to intentional displays of racial hostility. It’s the Ku Klux Klan, racial slurs in public, something “bad” that people do.

But for many racial minorities, that type of racism doesn’t matter as much anymore, some scholars say. They talk more about the racism uncovered in the knife fight photos — it doesn’t wear a hood, but it causes unsuspecting people to see the world through a racially biased lens.

It’s what one Duke University sociologist calls “racism without racists.” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, who’s written a book by that title, says it’s a new way of maintaining white domination in places like Ferguson.

“The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits,” says Bonilla-Silva…

…’I don’t see color’

It’s a phrase some white people invoke when a conversation turns to race. Some apply it to Ferguson. They’re not particularly troubled by the grand jury’s decision to not issue an indictment. The racial identities of Darren Wilson, the white police officer, and Michael Brown, the black man he killed, shouldn’t matter, they say. Let the legal system handle the decision without race-baiting. Justice should be colorblind.

Science has bad news, though, for anyone who claims to not see race: They’re deluding themselves, say several bias experts. A body of scientific research over the past 50 years shows that people notice not only race but gender, wealth, even weight.

When babies are as young as 3 months old, research shows they start preferring to be around people of their own race, says Howard J. Ross, author of “Everyday Bias,” which includes the story of the knife fight experiment…

…Another famous experiment shows how racial bias can shape a person’s economic prospects.

Professors at the University of Chicago and MIT sent 5,000 fictitious resumes in response to 1,300 help wanted ads. Each resume listed identical qualifications except for one variation — some applicants had Anglo-sounding names such as “Brendan,” while others had black-sounding names such as “Jamal.” Applicants with Anglo-sounding names were 50% more likely to get calls for interviews than their black-sounding counterparts.

Most of the people who didn’t call “Jamal” were probably unaware that their decision was motivated by racial bias, says Daniel L. Ames, a UCLA researcher who has studied and written about bias.

“If you ask someone on the hiring committee, none of them are going to say they’re racially biased,” Ames says. “They’re not lying. They’re just wrong.”

Ames says such biases are dangerous because they’re often unseen.

“Racial biases can in some ways be more destructive than overt racism because they’re harder to spot, and therefore harder to combat,” he says…

…’But I have black friends’

In the movie “The Godfather,” the character of Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, hatches an audacious plan to kill a mobster and a crooked cop who tried to kill his father.

Michael’s elders scoff at his plans because they believe his judgment is clouded by anger. But in a line that would define his ruthless approach to wielding power, Michael tells them:

“It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”When some whites talk about racism, they think it’s only personal — what one person says or does to another. But many minorities and people who study race say racism can be impersonal, calculating, devoid of malice — such as Michael Corleone’s approach to power.

“The first thing we must stop doing is making racism a personal thing and understand that it is a system of advantage based on race,” says Doreen E. Loury, director of the Pan African Studies program at Arcadia University, near Philadelphia.

Loury says racism “permeates every facet of our societal pores.”…

Read the entire article here.

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It’s her Ferguson — and it’s not all black and white

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-17 16:25Z by Steven

It’s her Ferguson — and it’s not all black and white

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-11-17

Moni Basu

Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) — Stefannie Wheat carried a yard sign all the way from her Midwestern town to the nation’s capital. She visited the White House and tucked it into the guard rail.

“I Love Ferguson,” it said.

It was mid-October and her beloved city turned restive after the police shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown. Businesses were boarded up and losing money, protests had on occasion turned violent and anxiety had spread through the city of 22,000 people northwest of St. Louis.

Ferguson, the quiet community she chose to make home, had become synonymous with racism, injustice and police brutality. Wheat wanted to scream.

Her Ferguson was not what it had become in the headlines.

For this 45-year-old white woman, things were far more complex than they appeared in the news. The world that she, like many others, saw as black and white had morphed into myriad shades of gray over the years.

She has been married to Ken, who is black, for almost two decades. She adopted Christopher, a black child from a foster home. In eight years, he will turn 18, Brown’s age at the time of his death, and embark on life in a world she knows is still full of hate…

Read the entire article here.

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Am I ‘black enough’?

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-06 01:41Z by Steven

Am I ‘black enough’?

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-10-27

Gene Seymour

Editor’s note: Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

(CNN) — I am black, though for most of my life, I’ve heard from various people that I wasn’t.

From children with skin the same color as mine saying that my normal speaking voice was somehow faked and that I spoke and therefore acted “like a white man”; from a black woman who berated me for listening to the Beatles in my car because, in her words, their music “wasn’t yours”; from strangers and would-be acquaintances of varied races over several decades who openly wondered if I was something other than African-American because of an eclectic range of interests (Jewish novelists, New Wave French movies, Wallace Stevens’ poetry, etc.) that didn’t quite jibe with whatever was expected from African-Americans.

There was even a liberal white teacher in my high school who suggested to me, straight-faced and with the very best of intentions, that if I was feeling out of place among my fellow black students I should just spend more time around what was then called “the ghetto” and learn how to speak as they would prefer; maybe even to adopt their speech as my own, so as to ….I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m guessing it was to better embody whatever her idea of legitimate blackness was back in the mid-60s.

If you came of age in mid- to late-20th century America when the civil rights movement gave way to growing consciousness of, and pride in being of African descent, the charge from within the black community that you were Not Black Enough was almost as wounding, even debilitating, as a racial epithet from a white person.

Apparently, you can’t even win a Super Bowl as a black quarterback without somebody slurring your authenticity. There were reports swirling around the Internet last week that Russell Wilson, signal caller for the defending NFL champion Seattle Seahawks, was being accused by some of his black teammates of being Not Black Enough. “I don’t even know what that means,” Wilson, who has mixed-race parentage, told a press conference yesterday after his team rallied from a two-week losing streak to beat the Carolina Panthers

…This fall, what was once a mostly insular discourse among black folks has gone even more public through two cozily familiar entertainment genres: the family sitcom and the campus comedy.

The latter, “Dear White People” is writer-director Justin Simien’s Sundance Film Festival sensation about culture clashes between white and black students (and among black students themselves) at a mythical Ivy League college. There’s a black Big Man On Campus named (what else) Troy, who besides being the son of the dean of students is dating the daughter of the white university president. There’s also a gay nerd-outcast named Lionel, who wears a retrograde Afro hairstyle so big as to be compared to a weather system, listens to Mumford & Sons, loves Robert Altman movies and, as he puts it, “isn’t black enough” for either the black or the white students.

The most radical character is a mixed-race young woman named Sam White, a rabble-rousing radio jock and aspiring filmmaker whose acerbically funny barbs aimed at genteel racial stereotyping at mythical Winchester University sets off a nationalist insurgency among the black students. Yet, as with Lionel, she carries a portfolio of seeming contradictions, such as a white lover and a preference for Ingmar Bergman’s movies over Spike Lee’s

Read the entire article here.

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How Ferguson could be America’s future

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-26 02:12Z by Steven

How Ferguson could be America’s future

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-08-23

John Blake

(CNN) — The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, have been described as a mirror into contemporary America, but they are also something else: A crystal ball.

Look past the headlines — the debates over race and police militarization that have surfaced after the killing of an unarmed black youth by a white police officer — and one can glimpse America’s future, some historians and political scientists say.

No one is talking about an impending race war or a police state, but something more subtle. Unless Americans re-examine some assumptions they’ve made about themselves, they argue, Ferguson could be the future.

Assumption No. 1: Tiger Woods is going to save us

It’s called the “browning of America.” Google the phrase and you’ll get 18 million hits. By 2050, most of the nation’s citizens are expected to be people of color, according to the Pew Research Center.

Dig beneath the Google links and one can detect an emerging assumption: Racial flashpoints like Ferguson will fade in the future because no single race will be dominant. You could call it the Tiger Woods effect. The New American will claim multiple racial origins like Woods, the pro golfer. Demographic change will accomplish what a thousand national conversations on race could never do: lessen the sting of racial conflict.

A dramatic increase in interracial marriages will change the racial landscape as more people cross racial and ethnic lines to marry. But that change won’t be a cure-all, says Rory Kramer, a sociology and criminology professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

He says racial progress is not inevitable with the browning of America.

“I don’t want to deny the optimism,” Kramer says. “I deny the assumption that it will happen without effort.”…

Read the entire article here.

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