Kevin Costner Hopes His New Movie Redefines How People Think About Race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-22 18:44Z by Steven

Kevin Costner Hopes His New Movie Redefines How People Think About Race

The Huffington Post
2015-01-22

Sasha Bronner, Los Angeles Editor

Kevin Costner, who just turned 60 earlier this week, can do a lot of things.

“I can make a love story. I can make the American baseball movie. I can make the political thriller, the Western, the romantic comedy. And sometimes you get to make a movie about the moments that you’re living,” he told The Huffington Post Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Costner’s newest film, “Black or White,” is a family drama centered around a custody battle, but the complexities of race are examined at every turn.

“We are living in this moment,” he continued, referring to heightened discussions and displays of racial tension in the country. “[The film] wasn’t timed for any of these things, it was made before some of these seminal moments that have seemed have caught our attention. But I have been very aware of race for a long time. And I never saw a movie that dealt with it the way that this did. That’s the hope. That it gets under your fingernails.”

Costner stars in the film as a grandfather who has raised his granddaughter along with his wife after their daughter died in childbirth. But the film begins with an additional loss. When Costner’s wife dies in a car accident, he is left to raise his granddaughter alone. A family custody battle soon erupts when the granddaughter’s black family, who live in South Los Angeles, petition to adopt her.

Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer plays opposite Costner as the paternal grandmother, and you would think that pairing these two on screen would open any door. But in fact, Costner ended up financing the film himself when all major studios turned it down…

…The film illuminates tensions that many mixed-race families struggle with today. Is the granddaughter black or white? Does she belong with one side of her family when the father is not in the picture? Or should she stay in the only home she has ever known, but with her grandfather who loves her but is now on his own and has shown more than a proclivity to crack into a cocktail at any hour of the day…

Read the entire article here.

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Al Madrigal’s New Special ‘Half Like Me’ Is What Latinos Have Been Waiting For

Posted in Articles, Arts, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-14 15:11Z by Steven

Al Madrigal’s New Special ‘Half Like Me’ Is What Latinos Have Been Waiting For

The Huffington Post
2015-01-13

Ana Maria Benedetti

Al Madrigal goes on a journey of self-discovery… starting with how to pronounce his own name.

In his new one-hour special “Half Like Me,” premiering on Fusion on January 22, The Daily Show’s senior Latino correspondent travels across the U.S. to discover what it means to be half Mexican and half white.

“Being half has always been confusing,” Madrigal says in the preview for the special. “White people think you’re Mexican and Latinos give me shit about not being Latino enough.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Pharmacogenomics and the Biology of Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-08 02:36Z by Steven

Pharmacogenomics and the Biology of Race

Myles Jackson, Albert Gallatin Research Excellence Professor of the History of Science
New York University

The Huffington Post
2015-01-05

The numerous and impassioned responses to Nicholas Wade’s recently published Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History have once again reminded us of the complexity, ambiguity and perils of writing about the biology of race. In the US one is reminded of the collective sins of our past, including the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century, whereby a disproportionate percentage of people of color and those from lower socio-economic classes were sterilized, and the Tuskegee Study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in which 600 African-American sharecroppers in rural Alabama were purposely not treated for syphilis in order to ascertain information on the long-term effects of the disease. More recently, debates about the biology of race have raged among certain academic circles. While biologists will tell you that humans (other than identical twins, triplets, etc.) do differ from one another genetically — i.e. at the level of the DNA, they will also admit that the difference is rather small. And many (but certainly not all) are loath to label populations, which share the same genetic alleles (or different versions of a gene) as “races.” It turns out there are numerous ways in which one can understand human diversity, including geographic ancestry or responses to environmental selection factors. Sickle cell anemia is a case in point. Identified over a century ago, it was originally thought to be limited to “the Negro race.” As time went on, people from parts of Italy, Greece, Iran, India, and in other diverse locations were identified with the disease…

So why then is race the privileged category used by biomedical researchers in understanding human diversity? There are four sets of institutions that have used race as the primary signify of difference, albeit for very different reasons, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Big Pharma, and personal genomics companies…

…Big Pharma, while initially protesting what it saw as the unwarranted meddling of the government in the affairs of private companies, eventually embraced the move. They quickly realized that race creates markets, as Dorothy Roberts has argued in Fatal Invention (New Press, 2011). In 1996 the US became the second nation (after New Zealand) to permit direct-to-consumer advertising; Big Pharma began to market some of their drugs as race-based, including BiDil, used to treat African Americans with a history of heart attacks and Amaryl, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes in Mexican Americans. Many biomedical researchers have challenged the claims that these medications are more efficacious in one race than in the others…

Read the entire article here.

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Bill De Blasio Responds To Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-12-03 23:56Z by Steven

Bill De Blasio Responds To Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision

The Huffington Post
2014-12-03

Sam Levine, Associate Politics Editor

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Wednesday that a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner was a decision “that many in our city did not want.”

The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put Garner in a chokehold that was captured on video during an arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes in July. In the video, Garner can be heard repeating, “I can’t breathe.”

In a statement, de Blasio called Garner’s death “a great tragedy” but said that any protests following the decision should be peaceful. He said that his administration was working with police to make sure that similar incidents did not happen in the future. De Blasio also noted that there would be a NYPD internal investigation as well as a separate investigation by the U.S. Attorney…

…During a press conference on Staten Island Wednesday evening, de Blasio called for peaceful demonstrations and spoke in personal terms about Garner’s death. Mentioning that he had met with Garner’s father, de Blasio said that he couldn’t help but think of his own son, Dante, who is black.

“I couldn’t help but immediately think what it would mean to me to lose Dante. Life would never be the same for me after,” de Blasio said. “Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face,” he added.

“No family should have to go through what the Garner family went through,” de Blasio said…

Read the entire article here.

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Being a White Latina: A Reflection on Racial And Ethnic Identities

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-02 21:15Z by Steven

Being a White Latina: A Reflection on Racial And Ethnic Identities

The Huffington Post
Latino Voices
2014-12-01

Nicholle Lamartina Palacios, Writer, activist, and community organizer

We live in a country where race is a dichotomy and people are literally separated into categories of black and white — but human identities are not that simple. When speaking about my own racial identity, it is impossible not to also talk about my ethnic identity. These two concepts go hand-in-hand. How one regards themselves ethnically and the cultural background that one has grown up with, will inevitably shape the way one sees themselves through a racial lens; it will also affect the way they are perceived from the outside. When talking about my own racial identity I cannot just speak about the color of my skin nor the box I check off on applications. Not only would that would be an injustice to myself, but it would also negate the reality of the complexities and nuances that arise when we try to essentialize and simplify people’s ethnological narratives.

My racial and ethnic identification have been majorly affected by the fact that I grew up in New York City, “the central diasporic location for [many] transnational communities historically and in our times” according to scholar Juan Flores, the director of Latino Studies at NYU. I was born and raised in Queens to an Argentine mother and an Italian-American father, but spent my formative years with my grandmother and mother in a Spanish speaking home. Growing up in Queens, the most diverse borough of New York, almost every single one of my friends was either an immigrant or the child of immigrant parents. Because of the wide variety of races and ethnicities, while living in Queens “where are you from?,” “what’s your nationality?,” and “what are you?” are common questions to receive and to ask starting at a very young age. Even if the person’s nationality is American and they were born in the States, they automatically connect themselves to their parent’s or grandparent’s countries, since this is what is expected. I have never heard anyone say “I am American” even if they technically were…

…Although I certainly cannot complain about being in a position of privilege when it comes to my skin color and Anglo features, I have realized it has shaped the way in which I connect to my latinidad and to the community at large. After a few Latino studies courses, I became aware that in order to be regarded as “Latina” I have to assert my latinidad and constantly prove it — either through my use of Spanish, my ability to dance to Latin dances, or by explaining my family history. This contrasts greatly with the lived experiences of many other Latinos, especially those of color…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Did Somebody Say “Mulatto”?’ Speaking Critically on Mixed Heritage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-23 19:51Z by Steven

‘Did Somebody Say “Mulatto”?’ Speaking Critically on Mixed Heritage

The Huffington Post
The Blog
2014-11-21

A. B. Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Photograph: Ken Tanabe

One of the main characters in the award-winning film Dear White People is a mixed “black and white” college student who works to make sense of her life and relationships. The movie addresses several thought-provoking subjects, and the storyline around this character raises the question: Should people of mixed heritage have to choose one part of their ancestry over another?

From Nov. 13 to Nov. 15, over 600 people came together at DePaul University in Chicago to explore this question and other issues surrounding ideas of race, perceptions of racial mixture, and the experiences of mixed-heritage people. The goal of the 2014 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, titled “Global Mixed Race,” was to “bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines around the world to facilitate a conversation about the transnational, transdisciplinary, and transracial field of Critical Mixed Race Studies.”

As the number of people who identify as “mixed” increases, discussions around various topics concerning people of mixed ancestry are also expanding and challenging our perceptions of race and racism. Both critical mixed-race studies and films like Dear White People accomplish the same goal of furthering conversations regarding race — dialogues that we can engage in with friends, family, and those in our communities at large…

…CMRS Asks: Is There a “Global Mixed Race”?

Activists, artists, and scholars who compose critical mixed-race studies (CMRS) are complicating questions beyond “What are you?” and combating the myth of the “tragic mulatta/o.” In past decades, CMRS has expanded over a number of academic fields spanning several disciplines.

While CMRS has fought over the years to gain legitimacy within scholarly circles, one of its greatest attributes is that the coalition is not made up of solely academics but includes community activists, students, educators, families, visual artists, independent filmmakers, and others interested in the varied experiences of mixed-heritage peoples. Of course, not all these categories are mutually exclusive, as many of the activists, artists, etc., are also scholars.

Laura Kina and Camilla Fojas of DuPaul University organized the third CMRS conference, “Global Mixed Race,” which featured a variety of people telling their own stories, sharing the stories of others, and dissecting theories that surround notions of ethnoracial mixture.* In the opening keynote address, sociologist Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, co-editor of the book Global Mixed Race, explored the idea of a “mixed experience,” where she discussed the commonalities that people of mixed descent share widely across the globe.

King-O’Riain noted that people of mixed heritage have had to learn how to live and operate within their respective societies, often finding themselves ostracized by individuals within their local communities and battling exclusive national definitions of citizenship. King-O’Riain explained that people of mixed ancestry therefore have often had to skillfully create a flexible hybrid identity, one where they develop a keen ability to operate among several groups…

Read the entire article here.

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Raven-Symoné, Oprah, and What it Means to be (African) American

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-15 00:50Z by Steven

Raven-Symoné, Oprah, and What it Means to be (African) American

The Huffington Post
Black Voices
2014-10-13

A. B. Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Last week entertainer Raven-Symoné appeared on Oprah: Where Are They Now? and proudly stated that she was in “an amazing, happy relationship” with a woman, yet what she followed up with turned out to be more surprising for some. After telling Oprah that she did not want to be labeled “gay” yet simply as “a human who loves humans,” Raven continued: “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African American; I’m an American.”

As Oprah shook her head, she responded, “Oh girl, don’t set up the Twitter on fire.” She then threw up her hands and yelled jokingly, “Stop, stop, stop the tape right now!” Twitter and the blogosphere certainly did blow up in response to Raven’s remarks, which many felt were blasphemous, not regarding her sexual orientation, but because she rejected being identified as African American.

Everyone has the right to identify as they please, and if she wants to, Raven-Symoné can certainly refuse labels surrounding her sexuality and ethnoracial background. However, she didn’t dodge all labels as rigorously as she claimed, for Raven still enthusiastically and without hesitation embraced the national label of “American.”

What might be more problematic is that Raven and Oprah both came to agreement on the point that “America” is supposed to be a “melting pot.” While their version of the “melting pot” may be that everyone is equally included in the melding of cultures that make up the United States, this has not been the case in the past and is still not the case today. (If we truly considered every culture as equal contributors to the U.S. “melting pot” then why in 2014 do we still have a sports team called Redskins and continue to celebrate Columbus Day as a national holiday?)

Oprah and Raven-Symoné are two models of excellence who deserve recognition for their achievements in media, entertainment, and life. Still, their recent conversation concerning ethnoracial identity and what it means to be “American” may have been misdirected in places and requires further discussion. These revealing comments provide us with a place for further conversation as we reflect on our views concerning the important topics of race, culture, and identity…

…While Raven never expected her personal comments would “spark such emotion in people,” those claiming mixed descent need to understand that speaking openly about their blended heritage can still be controversial, especially when they are perceived to be favoring their mixture over an identity of color.

When Raven-Symoné said, “I have lots of things running through my veins” she was being honest about her ancestry further back on her family tree. Still, some people of mixed heritage have used statements like these to distance themselves from stigmas associated with “blackness.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Privilege of White Hispanic: Leaving Out the Rest

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-21 17:32Z by Steven

The Privilege of White Hispanic: Leaving Out the Rest

Latino Voices
The Huffington Post
2014-09-09

César Vargas, Writer, director, activist

People talk so much about Latinos denying their Blackness, but bring up the term “white Latino” and you will see an extreme reaction, visceral attack from white Latinos themselves. Tactics such as (and I’m pretty sure you’ve read this a lot from racist Americans): Stop talking about race, Latinos aren’t racist, white and Black Latinos are still treated the same, your language is divisive. They love to pretend they don’t enjoy privileges afforded to them when they identify as Latino or Hispanic.

Embracing Latino or Hispanic has not benefitted Indigenous folks, Chicanos or Afro-Latinos because it has been robbed from the rest of us by white Latinos for their own agenda: money and political powers with brands, sponsors, the government, publications, grants, you name it.

We are here to demand to be included in Latinoness and not just with a label so we can be targeted for political and monetary gain: with positions in the government, with positions as brand ambassadors, with positions in both the film industry and TV networks. With jobs…

Read the entire article here.

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Light-Skinned Latinos Tend To Vote More Republican. Be Careful How You Interpret That.

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-09-19 18:14Z by Steven

Light-Skinned Latinos Tend To Vote More Republican. Be Careful How You Interpret That.

Latino Voices
The Huffington Post
2014-09-18

Roque Planas, Editor

Lighter-skinned Latinos are more likely to vote Republican, according to polling data analyzed by the Washington Post.

The data highlights rarely recognized racial divisions within the Latino community that have perplexed the U.S. Census Bureau and tripped up mass media. But don’t expect it to change too much about the way you understand the Latino vote.

Writing for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog on Wednesday, professor Spencer Piston analyzed a sample of Latino citizens interviewed for the 2012 American National Election Studies. Interviewers measured the respondents’ skin color.

…The predictions Piston makes based on the data, however, are questionable. He writes that the analysis should make us rethink projections suggesting that the growth of the Latino electorate will dilute the Republican vote, which are based on the premise that Latinos tend to vote Democrat. …

…As a multiracial ethnicity, Latinos view race differently than non-Latinos because so many Hispanics come from a mixed-race background. While racial division and discrimination are undoubtedly part of the Latino experience, Latinos have less fixed ideas about race than non-Latino Americans. Our communities, our social groups and our families are racially mixed in a way that doesn’t exist to the same degree among non-Hispanic white and black Americans. …

Read the entire article here.

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Black In The Dominican Republic: Denying Blackness

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Social Science, Videos on 2014-06-11 20:11Z by Steven

Black In The Dominican Republic: Denying Blackness

HuffPost Live
The Huffington Post
2014-06-10

Marc Lamont Hill, Host

In Latin America and Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic many deny being of African decent, despite 90 percent of the population possessing black ancestry. Where has the blackness gone in the region?

Guests:

  • Biany Perez (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Graduate Student at Bryn Mawr College
  • Christopher Pimentel (New York , New York) Finance Student at Baruch College
  • Robin Derby (Los Angeles, California) Associate Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Kimberly Eison Simmons (Columbia, South Carolina) Associate Professor, Anthropology and African American Studies, University of South Carolina
  • Silvio Torres-Saillant (Syracuse, New York) Professor of English, Syracuse University

 

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