On My Mixed Experience with “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-30 00:05Z by Steven

On My Mixed Experience with “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-08-28

Gino M. Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

I have this peculiar, twofold, scrambled-egg relationship with “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” the oft-quoted, seminal article written by Peggy McIntosh in the late 1980s.

That is to say, I have been a student in college classes where McIntosh’s article was cited and discussed, classes in which I was perceived and treated as a white male oppressor. Conversely, I have assigned or cited McIntosh’s article in classes where most of my students perceived and treated me as nonwhite, classes in which I identified myself as mixed race and a person of color—Mexican, Italian, White, Native American…

Read the entire article here.

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Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-04-17 01:53Z by Steven

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-04-13

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This is an excerpt from a paper (currently being revised) that I presented last month at the 2014 MELUS Conference in Oklahoma City.]

[…] Heidi Durrow is also the latest member of the mixed-experience generation to achieve widespread recognition following the publication of her deeply autobiographical first novel. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was published in 2010 after winning the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for a first novel that addresses social justice issues. It became a national bestseller in 2011, and is now available in French, Dutch, Danish, and Portuguese. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a book that was repeatedly rejected by the traditional publishing industry.

For those who are unfamiliar, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky recounts the racialization, alienation, coming of age, and coming to multiracial consciousness of Durrow’s fictional intermediary, Rachel Morse. Rachel is the sole survivor of a heartbreaking tragedy: her Danish mother Nella jumps from a rooftop in Chicago with all her biracial children. After recovering, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother who lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Her alcoholic father, an airman stationed overseas, has disappeared from her life. The year is 1982. Rachel is seen as a light-skinned black girl by her new family and by the surrounding community. From the 5th grade onward, she identifies herself as black, but is still ridiculed for talking white; she is both resented and desired for her good hair and blue eyes. In short, Durrow’s novel recounts from multiple perspectives how Rachel comes to understand the tragedy that claimed her mother and siblings, and in the process reclaim her Danish cultural memory, becoming Afro-Viking like Durrow…

Read the entire article here.

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Jean Toomer and Cultural Pluralism

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-27 01:52Z by Steven

Jean Toomer and Cultural Pluralism

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-03-21

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This short paper was originally written for “Jean Toomer and Politics,” a Special Session Roundtable at the 2012 MLA Conference in Seattle. I have made a few edits.]

In disagreeing with Rudolph Byrd and Henry Louis Gates Jr., I will not directly critique their support and rhetorical strategies. Instead, I will put forth my own interpretation of Toomer’s political vision. Toomer saw literature as his means to address socioeconomic inequalities, transform himself, and influence people in a manner that would advance the promise of democracy in America. We should ask then, not whether he identified as black or white, but what his political vision is, what it is not, and what it entails. Specifically, I argue that his political vision conflicts with the cultural pluralisms of his mentors, Alain Locke and Waldo Frank, and anticipates some postethnic, cosmopolitan, and multiracial perspectives that have emerged in recent history in strong opposition to the limitations and problems of multiculturalism…

Read the entire paper here.

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The popular media and specifically the Race Remixed series in the New York Times propagate the myth of multiracialism.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2014-02-02 22:05Z by Steven

The popular media and specifically the Race Remixed series in the New York Times propagate the myth of multiracialism. According to this social myth, the increasing number of interracial families and multiracial children in America is transforming race and paving the way for a post-racial future. This myth assumes the existence of a growing mass of mixed youth who both identify with their multiracial heritage and who have a clear conception of its significance and transformative potential. At best, writers and audiences (popular and academic) who believe in this myth are engaged in wishful thinking. From my experience and observation, they confuse a few individuals for the many.

Gino Pellegrini, “Generation Mixed and the One Love Club,” Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity, June 3, 2012. http://gmpellegrini.org/2012/06/03/generation-mixed-and-the-one-love-club/.

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Creating Multiracial Identities in the Work of Rebecca Walker and Kip Fulbeck: A Collective Critique of American Liberal Multiculturalism

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2013-12-18 14:20Z by Steven

Creating Multiracial Identities in the Work of Rebecca Walker and Kip Fulbeck: A Collective Critique of American Liberal Multiculturalism

MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States
Volume 38, Issue 4 (December 2013)
pages 171-190
DOI: 10.1093/melus/mlt053

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

Americans of multiracial descent recently have become noticeable, respectable, marketable, and, in the case of Barack Obama, presidential. In the last two decades, a growing body of creative and critical work about multiracial lives and issues has materialized. This social and historical development has become an ideological battleground for advocates, politicians, scholars, journalists, and marketers who have appropriated and interpreted its products and personalities in relation to their own beliefs, objectives, and commitments. According to many popular and political accounts, the growing number of interracial marriages and self-identified multiracials indicates that American society quickly is becoming post-racial. Scholars of this development, however, have been mostly skeptical of accounts that claim or assume that race-mixing leads to post-racial societies. Among scholars, there is ongoing debate over the precise impact that the emergent self-identified multiracial population is having on race, racial hierarchy, and white supremacy. Many scholars agree with G. Reginald Daniel, who claims that self-identified multiracials challenge race and racial hierarchy. However, Rainier Spencer and others argue the opposite: self-identified multiracials maintain racial hierarchy and reproduce race insofar as they rely on established racial categories to articulate their experiences and identities. Hence, this debate is at an impasse.

One way to negotiate this impasse is to shift the focus of the debate from the impact that self-identified multiracials have had on race and racial hierarchy to the conditions that have made mixed-race individuals possible in ethno-racial combinations besides black and white. Of course, scholars who analyze this development through a black/white framework will likely object to this move on the grounds that all other ethno-racial categories must fall between black and white in the racial hierarchy, thus orienting multiracial identities, old and new, toward whiteness and away from blackness. Their objection, however, presumes stable racial categories, groups, and ways…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Generation Mixed and the One Love Club

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-03 00:10Z by Steven

Generation Mixed and the One Love Club

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Amalgamation, Race, Class & Solidarity
2012-06-03

Gino Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

The popular media and specifically the Race Remixed series in the New York Times propagate the myth of multiracialism. According to this social myth, the increasing number of interracial families and multiracial children in America is transforming race and paving the way for a post-racial future. This myth assumes the existence of a growing mass of mixed youth who both identify with their multiracial heritage and who have a clear conception of its significance and transformative potential. At best, writers and audiences (popular and academic) who believe in this myth are engaged in wishful thinking. From my experience and observation, they confuse a few individuals for the many.

For instance, I remember that Timesia is colorful. She wears yellow, purple, red, and taupe colored tops with brown, indigo and maroon pants. She is awkward and sweet, sixteen or seventeen. She’s from the neighborhood and probably poor. She is brown, black, copper, beige, and she wants to start a club for mixed kids like her.

Or at least this is what she initially tells me when she asks me to be the faculty sponsor for her club. The year is 2006, and I am working as an English teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Van Nuys High School. I recall that it’s my future wife, her counselor, who suggests to her that I might be the right teacher to sponsor her club.

I am more than happy to sponsor her club, but there’s a hitch. She has to complete an application: Describe the club. Explain its purpose. Give it a name…

Read the entire esssay here.

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My Day at the 5th Annual Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-10-15 05:29Z by Steven

My Day at the 5th Annual Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Amalgamation, Race, Class & Solidarity
2012-10-14

Gino Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

Saturday morning, June 16, 2012: I take the Metro from North Hollywood to the Tokyo Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. My destination is the 5th Annual Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival at the Japanese American National Museum and the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. This is a three-day event, but I can be there for just this one day, and my first goal is to meet Steven Riley, the creator of the website, Mixed Race Studies.
 
I have not attended an event centered upon the mixed experience in many years. I walk through the glass doors. The volunteer staff is welcoming and energetic. The imagery is colorful, ambiguous, and stimulating. The overall vibe is positive and hopeful, and for a moment I am taken aback to how I felt at my first mixed-experience event, the 2000 Harvard-Wellesley Conference on the Mixed Race Experience.
 
Skeptics say that this type of event, which brings together individuals of diverse mixes and backgrounds, is unsustainable. Do Hapas, blacklicans, latalians, jewasians, and standard black/white multiracials really have that much in common? Apparently many do, and this Festival holds together amazingly well and continues to grow thanks to the diligence, intelligence, and creativity of its founders, Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durrow.
 
The artists/writers whom I see present or talk to this day have strong personal voices and are very talented at what they do. Overall, their work complicates received understandings of multiracial identity, experience, and art…

Read the entire article here.

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An Overview of the Event: Jean Toomer and Politics at the 2012 MLA

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, New Media, United States on 2012-01-13 04:07Z by Steven

An Overview of the Event: Jean Toomer and Politics at the 2012 MLA

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Amalgamation, Race, Class & Solidarity
2012-01-12

Gino Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

This is my general overview of the “Jean Toomer and Politics” special session roundtable at the 2012 MLA Annual Convention. First, I want to thank Professors Barbara Foley, Charles Scruggs, and Belinda Wheeler for their excellent presentations, and a special thanks to Professor George Hutchinson for starting the Q & A. I am very much looking forward to continuing this conversation!
 
In her presentation, Belinda Wheeler focused on the “documents” (census, marriage, and draft) that Byrd and Gates include in the second Norton Critical Edition of Cane to support their claim that Toomer was a Negro who passed as white. Wheeler discussed how the documents, when examined carefully and in aggregate, weaken their claim. The documents show (and this is a point that Barbara Foley also made) that Toomer sometimes identified as black and sometimes as white at different junctures in his life, and this assumes that it was Toomer who actually authored the documents. In countering their claim, Wheeler also drew upon interviews that she had conducted with Susan Sandberg, the daughter of Marjorie Content, Toomer’s second wife, as well as with Jill Quasha, a friend of Sandberg and Content who knew the family well and authored a book on Content’s photography. Toomer was married to Content from 1934 until his death in 1967, and Wheeler’s important bibliographic research sheds light on how Toomer, post-Cane, identified and lived. Her interviews suggest that Toomer did not waver from his basic position that he was an American, neither black nor white, and that he tried to live his life free from the influence of racial categories and standards…

Read the entire overview here.

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Jean Toomer and Politics (Session 465)

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Passing, United States on 2011-12-14 02:51Z by Steven

Jean Toomer and Politics (Session 465)

Modern Language Association
127th MLA Annual Convention
2012-01-05 through 2012-01-08
Washington State Convention Center
Seattle, Washington

A Special Session
Saturday, 2012-01-07, 12:00-13:15 PST (Local Time)
Room 6A, WSCC

Presiding:

Gino Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

Speakers:

Barbara Clare Foley, Professor of English and American Studies
Rutgers University, Newark

Gino Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

Charles Scruggs, Professor of English
University of Arizona

Belinda Wheeler, Assistant Professor of English
Paine  College, Augusta, Georgia

This roundtable will focus on the 2011 edition of Jean Toomer’s Cane, edited by Rudolph Byrd and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and in particular on the editors’ provocative new thesis that Toomer was a Negro who chose to pass for white. Presenters will confront, examine, and discuss Byrd and Gates’s thesis.

For more information, click here.

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American Mixed-Race Literature: Cultural History, Precursors, Identities, and Forms of Expression

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2010-12-04 03:37Z by Steven

American Mixed-Race Literature: Cultural History, Precursors, Identities, and Forms of Expression

Purdue University
2004
116 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3166693
ISBN: 9780542022999

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjust Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

This dissertation focuses on recent instances of mixed race literature in American culture such as Danzy Senna’s novel Caucasia, Rebecca Walker’s Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, and Kip Fulbeck’s Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography. This dissertation suggests that these mixed race literary texts, as well as the multiracial experiences, sensibilities, themes, and expressions communicated therein, differ from traditional conceptions and descriptions of race and mixed race in American society, history, and literature that are based on the logic of the binary racial system. Mixed race literature attempts to phrase and communicate suppressed, distorted, and/or neglected multiracial experiences, sensibilities, and possibilities. Mixed race literature is also coextensive with the emergence of the multiracial social formation and movement in the post-civil rights era. “Precursors” to mixed race literature fall short in their attempt to phrase and to communicate complexities and experiences of mixed race lived existence. I read Jean Toomer’s Cane as one of the most significant precursors to mixed race literature in American literature. Mixed race literature also differs from “mixed race in American literature” insofar as the later, in the presentation of mixed race characters and themes, both relies on and validates the categorical, hierarchical, and dichotomous logic of the binary racial system. Notable examples in the canon of American and American Ethnic literature are William Faulkner and Toni Morrison who, from a mixed race perspective, extend and promote in their texts the suppression and distortion of multiracial complexities, possibilities, and lived realities in the service of the binary racial system.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Chapter One: Multiracial Identity in the Post-Civil Rights Era: A Personal Narrative Essay
    • The Summer of 1999
    • Growing up Racially Mixed in the 1970s and 1980s
    • Negotiating Raciated University in the 1990s
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Two: Cane and Jean Toomer: Percursors, American Mixed Race Literature
  • Chapter Three: Danzy Senna’s Caucasia: A Novel About Growing Up Racially Mixed and Becoming Multiracial in the Post-Civil Rights Era
  • Chapter Four: American Mixed Race Ficiational Autobiographies: Rebecca Walker’s Black, White and Jewish and Kip Fulbeck’s Paper Bullets
  • List of References
  • Vita

Purchase the dissertation here.

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