What Is Critical Race Theory?

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-27 16:31Z by Steven

What Is Critical Race Theory?

Harvard Magazine
2016-03-22

Marina Bolotnikova


Khiara Bridges Photograph courtesy of Khiara Bridges

RACIAL-JUSTICE ACTIVISTS at Harvard Law School (HLS) won one of the largest public battles over the school’s legacy this month, when the administration agreed to abandon the existing HLS shield. The shield was modeled after the crest of the slaveholding Royall family, whose fortune endowed Harvard’s first law professorship; the shield’s removal was the first of a list of demands issued in December by student group Reclaim Harvard Law School. But HLS has not, so far, acted on the group’s larger, more controversial demands—among them, creating a program in critical race theory, a legal-studies movement with origins at Harvard in the 1970s.

On Monday night, Reclaim HLS hosted a critical race theory teach-in by Khiara Bridges, an associate law professor at Boston University, modeled on how she teaches first-year criminal law. “We’re not pretending that we’re disconnected from the real world,” Bridges said as she opened her presentation, alluding to one of the motivating goals of critical race theory: to link activism with academics. The event took place in the student lounge of Wasserstein Hall, which members of Reclaim HLS have occupied for the last month to create opportunities for learning and discussion, and to bring visibility to their demands…

Read the entire article here.

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“A columnist examining Obama’s background summed up his racial identity into one equation: ‘white + black = black.’ For me, that said it all.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-12-26 21:09Z by Steven

The media’s metadiscussion explicitly endorsed a definition of Obama’s race that was essentially intersubjective, basing its racial descriptor on a combination of self-identification and ascription by others. Their reasoning, while not to be taken as gospel, explicitly endorsed the use of racial descriptors which were intersubjectively agreed upon. For instance, the Associated Press, whose articles and analysis dominate newspaper discussions of politics and race through both reputation and sheer numbers, endorsed such a view. As Karen Hunter, the Reader Representative at the Hartford Courant, explained in 2008, “Because The Courant relies on the Associated Press for much of its national coverage of the presidential race, the AP plays a key role in how the newspaper presents the candidates.” In accounting for the AP’s decision to use of “black” and “African American” as the proper – and essentially interchangeable – descriptors for Obama, AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman explained, “I would say the answer has to do partly with the way Sen. Obama has defined himself and partly with the way American society defines someone who is biracial.” While Silverman implied a static public definition of black and biracial individuals, and ignored his organization’s own role in creating and shifting these definitions, the AP relied on what it perceived to be the intersubjective consensus in order to determine Obama’s race, rather than any set of facts related to American rules regarding blackness. Nowhere in Silverman’s recapitulation of the AP’s behind-the-scenes discussions does he mention Obama’s parentage, hypodescent, biology, or other American rules of race, although they perhaps form the background of “the way American society defines someone.”

The Washington Post, Hartford Courant, and New York Times editorial boards were among the media to take similar stances. While endorsing and explaining the AP’s use of an intersubjective standard in deciding how to describe Obama, the Hartford Courant stated that,“Obama’s candidacy is a rare and riveting opportunity exactly because it is forcing conversations about issues that have been easier to ignore for centuries.” And in CNN’s “Behind the Scenes” look at it’s coverage of Obama’s race, Jay Carrol somewhat retrospectively summed up the media’s predominate position, writing, “A columnist examining Obama’s background summed up his racial identity into one equation: ‘white + black = black.’ For me, that said it all.” While the piece is entitled “Obama: Black or Biracial?” and Carrol continues with a discussion that claims the answer is complicated, the “accuracy” of the description is treated as an academic exercise attendant to the obvious conclusion based on an assumed social ascription.

Peter Geller, “Making Blackness, Making Policy,” PhD diss., Harvard University, 2012. 42-43. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9548618.

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Making Blackness, Making Policy

Posted in Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-12-26 19:01Z by Steven

Making Blackness, Making Policy

Harvard University
2012
178 pages

Peter Geller

Doctoral Dissertation

Too often the acknowledgment that race is a social construction ignores exactly how this construction occurs. By illuminating the way in which the category of blackness and black individuals are made, we can better see how race matters in America. Antidiscrimination policy, social science research, and the state’s support of its citizens can all be improved by an accurate and concrete definition of blackness.

Making Blackness, Making Policy argues that blackness and black people are literally made rather than discovered. The social construction of blackness involves the naming of individuals as black, and the subsequent interaction between this naming and racial projects. The process of naming involves an intersubjective dialogue in which racial self-identification and ascription by others lead to a consensus on an individual’s race. These third parties include an individual’s community, the media, and, crucially, the state. Following Ian Hacking, this process is most properly termed the dynamic nominalism of blackness.

My dissertation uses analytic philosophy, qualitative and quantitative research, and historical analysis to defend this conception. The dynamic nominalist process is illustrated through the media’s contribution to the making of Barack Obama’s blackness, and the state’s creation and maintenance of racial categories through law, policy, and enumeration.

I then argue that the state’s dominant role in creating blackness, and the vital role that a black identity plays in millions’ sense of self, requires the United States Government to support a politics of recognition. The state’s antidiscrimination efforts would also improve through the adoption of a dynamic nominalism of blackness. Replacing the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission’s inconsistent and contradictory definitions of race with the dynamic nominalism of blackness would clarify when and how racial discrimination occurs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Making Blackness Across Disciplines
  • Chapter One: The Dynamic Nominalism of Blackness
  • Chapter Two: Barack Obama and the Making of Black People
  • Chapter Three: The State and the Centrality of Black Identity
  • Chapter Four: Definitions of Race and Antidiscrimination Policy
  • Conclusion: Making Use of Making Blackness
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Violent Disruptions: Richard Wright and William Faulkner’s Racial Imaginations

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-26 19:58Z by Steven

Violent Disruptions: Richard Wright and William Faulkner’s Racial Imaginations

Harvard University
September 2013
177 pages

Linda Doris Mariah Chavers

A dissertation presented to The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of African and African American Studies

Violent Disruptions contends that the works of Richard Wright and William Faulkner are mirror images of each other and that each illustrates American race relations in distinctly powerful and prescient ways. While Faulkner portrays race and American identity through sex and its relationship to the imagination, Wright reveals a violent undercurrent beneath interracial encounters that the shared imagination triggers. Violent Disruptions argues that the spectacle of the interracial body anchors the cultural imaginations of our collective society and, as it embodies and symbolizes American slavery, drives the violent acts of individuals. Interracial productions motivate the narratives of Richard Wright and William Faulkner through a system of displacement of signs. Though these tropes maintain their currency today, they are borne out of cultural imaginings over two hundred years old. Working within the framework of the imaginary, Violent Disruptions places these now historical texts into the twenty-first century’s discourse of race and American identity.

In the first part of the dissertation, I show in detail the various narratives at work in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (1936) in order to portray the imaginations shared by the white characters and disrupted by the interracial body as spectacle. Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) depicts a similar racial imaginary but with more focus on its violent, corporeal effects. By contrast, in the second half of the dissertation, I demonstrate the writers’ central and racially charged characters from their earlier works, Light in August (1932) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin [Children] (1938; 1940) and look at how the figures of Joe Christmas and Big Boy, respectively, work as literary prototypes for their version in later works.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Photo Gallery Highlights Multiracial Student Experiences

Posted in Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2015-10-27 00:17Z by Steven

Photo Gallery Highlights Multiracial Student Experiences

The Havard Crimson
2015-10-26

Aafreen Azmi, Contributing Writer

Brandon J. Dixon, Contributing Writer


Students study the portraits on display at “OTHER: A Multiracial Student Photo Gallery” at the exhibition’s opening on Sunday afternoon. Eliza R. Pugh

Students expressed their desire to define their racial identities on their own terms at “OTHER: A Multiracial Student Photo Gallery,” which opened in the Student Organization Center at Hilles on Sunday.

Amanda Mozea ’17, who organized the exhibit, described it as an attempt to highlight the struggles that many multiracial students at Harvard face.

The exhibit features more than 50 models who identify as multiracial, each of whom posed for a portrait and answered a series of questions displayed in a written transcript. The questions included, “How does the government define your race? How do others define your race? How do you define yourself?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-30 14:23Z by Steven

Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

The Harvard Crimson: The University Daily since 1873
Harvard University
2014-09-25

Maia R. Silber, Crimson Staff Writer

While last year’s “I, Too, Am Harvard” focused on identity and belongingness on a multiracial campus, Harvard’s AAPI students will also examine these concepts within the context of their own community.

It is a Saturday night, and it is raining—two factors counting against attendance at the talk co-hosted by Harvard’s Asian American Brotherhood and Black Men’s Forum. But a surprising number of people have filtered through the double doors of Boylston Hall, filling the plush red chairs only vaguely oriented around an old-fashioned projector. Stragglers lean against the shade-less windows, their elbows forming perpendicular angles with the droplets pounding on the other side.

Really, it’s no surprise that neither weather nor the opportunity cost of missed social engagements has deterred the audience; the talk centers on the buzz-worthy issue of affirmative action. Both campus groups have invited an alumnus who’s an expert on the issue for two short presentations, to be followed by a Q&A.

Gregory D. Kristof ’15, the education and politics director of AAB, a campus organization whose mission statement cites dedication to brotherhood, service, and activism, introduces AAB’s alumnus. Kristof focuses on the third part of AAB’s mission—the group’s discussions of discrimination and race-relations.

“We can only make so much progress if we only discuss these issues among AAB—among Asian Americans,” he says.

As discussions about race and inclusiveness have moved to the forefront of campus life with the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign, many Asian American student organizations have launched their own dialogues about issues pertinent to their community. But the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at Harvard—representing around 24 percent of the school’s population—encompasses individuals of dozens of different national, ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious identities. It includes students born here and students born in Asia, biracial students and multiracial students. How can a unified political force emerge from such a diverse and multifaceted population? Is this even a goal to aspire to?…

…Many students remain unsure as to how to define their own identities. “Sometimes I think of myself as Asian, but sometimes I don’t,” said Jacob. “When I see an Asian collaboration happening, do I automatically think that we should be included? Not necessarily.”

“Asian American” identities are further complicated by biracial and multiracial heritages. Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association holds an annual discussion called “So What Are You Anyway?”

“When we get together, people always ask, ‘Do you feel more Asian or more white?’” says outgoing HAPA president Allison W. Giebisch ’16, who is of half-Austrian and half-Chinese descent. “When I go to China, people don’t think I’m Chinese. In the U.S., people don’t think I’m American.”…

Read the entire article here.

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So, What Are You… Anyway?: 2013 Conference on Multiracial Identity

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-06 16:17Z by Steven

So, What Are You… Anyway?: 2013 Conference on Multiracial Identity

Hosted by the Harvard College Half-Asian People’s Association
Harvard University
2013-04-05 through 2013-04-06

The Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association will host its fifth annual conference on mixed-race politics and identity issues, “So…What Are You, Anyway?” (SWAYA) on Friday, April 5, 2013 and Saturday, April 6, 2013 on the Harvard University campus. The event is open to the public and will feature an array of exciting guest lecturers who will speak on issues involving multiracial identity.

The conference will include lectures given by author Pearl Fuyo Gaskins, Harvard professor Jennifer Hochschild, and Eric Hamako, as well as discussion groups led by experts on modern race relations. Last year, the event drew over one hundred students and other guests from colleges and cities around the US.

SWAYA will culminate in a special gala dinner* in honor of the 2013 recipient of the Cultural Pioneer Award, Pearl Gaskins, author of the book What are You?: Voices of Mixed-Race Young People

For more information, click here.

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A diverged family converges at Harvard Law

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Identity Development/Psychology, United States on 2012-10-11 02:16Z by Steven

A diverged family converges at Harvard Law

Havard Law School News
2012-10-10

Audrey Kunycky

A chance encounter, a discovery of kin on opposite sides of the world

It wasn’t inevitable that Harvard Law School graduate students Erum Khalid Sattar and Rebecca Zaman would meet so soon, or even at all. Sattar has been at the law school for three years, pursuing a doctorate in juridical science (S.J.D.); Zaman arrived in August to begin a year of study for a master’s in law (LL.M.). Sattar is from Pakistan, and studied law in London; Zaman grew up, earned her law degree and completed a judicial clerkship in Australia. Then again, they’re about the same height, with the same dark brown hair, and that might not be just a coincidence.

In August, a few days into LL.M. Orientation, the two women shook hands and said hello at a Graduate Program reception. “If we hadn’t been wearing nametags, what happened next might never have happened,” says Zaman. Sattar’s large, expressive eyes are glittering, but she wants Zaman to tell the story, because she tells it better.

My surname is Zaman, and it’s a very unusual surname for a white-appearing Australian to have,” explains Zaman. “So when they saw my nametag, a lot of the Indians, Pakistanis and Middle Easterners asked how I could have this name. When I met Erum, it was very similar.  So I said, ‘Oh! My father’s father is a Muslim Indian from Hyderabad.’ And Erum said, ‘Oh, what a coincidence. My family was from Hyderabad, before they moved to Karachi after the partition.’ And she laughed, and said, ‘Maybe we’re related.’ We both laughed, and I said, ‘Maybe. It’s a strange story.’”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘It gives me gooseflesh’: Remarkable find in South Side attic

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-04-07 02:34Z by Steven

‘It gives me gooseflesh’: Remarkable find in South Side attic

Chicago Sun-Times
2012-03-10

Kim Janssen, Staff Reporter


Richard Theodore Greener (1844-1922), Harvard Class of 1870

It wasn’t much more than a ghost house by the time Rufus McDonald got the call.

The front door of the abandoned home near 75th and Sangamon was unlocked and swinging in the wind.

Drug addicts, squatters and stray animals carried away whatever they wanted. Everything that wasn’t termite-infested seemed to have been stolen. Even the copper pipes were gone.

But the scavengers missed something incredible.

Hidden in the attic that McDonald was contracted to clear before the home’s 2009 demolition was a trunk. Inside were the papers of Richard T. Greener, the first African American to graduate from Harvard…

…Married to Genevieve Ida Fleet, with whom he had six children, he became dean of Howard University’s law school; worked at the U.S. Treasury and in Republican politics and law in Washington, and befriended President Ulysses S. Grant, whose memorial he helped build.

A friend and sometimes rival of other leading African Americans of his era, including Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, he wrote in 1879: “The negro has received so many hard knocks, and experienced so little consideration, charity, or justice from those who criticize him, that he has no quarter to give.”

In an 1894 essay he pointedly renamed the “Negro Problem” as “The White Problem.”

Sick of Washington politics, in 1898 he accepted a post from President William McKinley in Vladivostok, Russia. Leaving his family, he took a Japanese common-law wife, Mishi Kawashima, with whom he had three children. He was praised for his efforts as a U.S. agent during the Russo-Japanese war, but he was fired in 1905 after a smear campaign.

From 1909 until his death in 1922 he lived with cousins at 5237 S. Ellis in Chicago. Cut off from both his families, he was likely visited just once in Hyde Park by his daughter Belle da Costa Greene, according to biographer Heidi Ardizzone.

Along with the rest of Greener’s first family, da Costa Greene — the chic director of banker J.P. Morgan’s personal library — changed her last name to pass as white in elite New York society. “Greener had so much intelligence and passion and to see his equally talented children not have their achievements counted as African American must have been heartbreaking,” Ardizzone said.

Da Costa Greene burned her own personal papers before her death in 1950. The discovery of some of her father’s documents in an Englewood attic is “every historian’s dream,” Ardizzone said…

Read the entire article here.

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So… What are You, Anyway

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, United States on 2012-03-27 01:08Z by Steven

So… What are You, Anyway

2012 Conference on Multiracial Identity: Exploring Our Roots
Hosted by Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association
Harvard University
2012-04-06 through 2012-04-07

Welcome to the fourth annual conference on multiracial identity and politics, hosted by the Harvard College Half-Asian People’s Association on April 6 – April 7, 2012.

Join us this year in exploring what it means to be mixed race. This year we are happy to announce Diane Farr as our keynote speaker. Diane Farr last brought her unique sense of humor to Showtime’s CALIFORNICATION as Jill Robinson. Having just finished three years as Agent Megan Reeves on CBS’s NUMB3RS, Farr was thrilled to put her gun down and don a sundress for a comedy. Prior to NUMB3RS, Farr starred on RESCUE ME, as well as THE JOB, THE DREW CAREY SHOW and ROSWELL. Her advice as the sole female on the MTV hit, LOVELINE, is what made her whiskey-soaked voice so recognizable. After 200 episodes of this cult phenomenon, Farr published her first book.

The Girl Code, a comic look at single women in the 21st century has since been sold to seven countries in five languages. Farr’s latest book, Kissing Outside The Lines, hilariously chronicles her path to an interracial marriage. Part of a two book series, Kissing will be followed up next year with Shades of America – which discusses raising biracial children. Diane writes for most American magazines and recently took over Dave Barry’s internationally syndicated column for Herald Tribune Newspapers, writing a comedic comment on pop culture.

We are also happy to welcome Associated Press journalist Jesse Washington and former Harvard Hapa president James Fish as speakers and Sue Lambe, Katie Low, and as discussion leaders…

For more information, click here.

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