It’s Impossible to Lie About Your Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science on 2015-07-26 15:13Z by Steven

It’s Impossible to Lie About Your Race

The Huffington Post
2015-07-01

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

There’s an important question being left out of the furor over charges that Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter, has been “lying” about her race: How can you lie about something that doesn’t have any objective truth to it in the first place?

The frenzy over Dolezal has erupted because her claim to black identity defies a longstanding American belief that human beings come in three or four or five flavors called “races,” which are linked to the geographical areas from which our ancestors came, and which are characterized by physical characteristics that are passed down from one generation to the next. According to this dominant view, Dolezal is objectively white because her parents are white Americans whose recent ancestors were from Europe.

But instead of being a matter of natural, objective facts, race is more like astrology. It’s a way of dividing human beings up into different categories, and we are the ones who invent those categories, not Mother Nature. The idea that there are “black” people and “white” people is no different than the belief that there are Geminis and Scorpios. Indeed, astrology and racial classification both claim to be grounded in nature. Race ostensibly reflects our biological constitution, while sun signs are meant to capture planetary forces that imprinted us at birth. But it’s not too hard to see that a whole lot of human cultural thinking has gone into both. The reality is that scientists are far from any agreement on what race has to do with genes. And the racial classifications so familiar to Americans today are actually products of the 1700s, when they were forged by Europeans who were trying to explain the physical, social and moral qualities of peoples they had come to colonize across the world.

So when Rachel Dolezal says she is black when we consider her white, it’s akin to her claiming to be a Virgo when by our lights she’s a Leo. Would it really be a lie to say you’re a Virgo instead of a Leo when both of those categories are made up in the first place?…

Read the entire article here.

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What It Really Means To Be Transracial And Black

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2015-07-09 02:32Z by Steven

What It Really Means To Be Transracial And Black

The Huffington Post
2015-07-08

Zeba Blay


Photo by Luke Ratan

It’s been weeks since the nation became obsessed with — then subsequently forgot about — Rachel Dolezal. In choosing to identify as a black woman, Dolezal introduced the concept of being transethnic or “transracial” into the mainstream. Faulty comparisons to Caitlyn Jenner and the transgender community abounded, and many commentators (including myself) rejected them, arguing that being transracial “is not a thing.”

I’ve since learned that being transracial is a thing — just not in the way Dolezal interpreted it. The first known use of the word dates back to the 1970s. Transracial applies to those adopted by parents of another race. It’s an experience often overlooked, and a vibrant community of transracial speakers, writers, and activists have come forward in the wake of Dolezal to take back ownership of the word and their unique identities.

What have their experiences been, not only in the wake of the scandal, but in their day to day lives? What does it mean to be transracial?

For many transracial adoptees, to reclaim “transracial” is to reclaim themselves…

…Transracial identity, like all identity, can be such a nebulous thing. Some adoptees feel untethered, or as if they’re forced to choose between sides. Many experience an intimate, insider relationship with whiteness and white privilege while simultaneously experiencing racism. Blogger Katakasrainbow described that in-between plainly as the word “transracial” began to trend. “I wasn’t really black due to a lack of present black parents and family, but I could never ever ever really be white either,” she wrote…

Read the entire article here.

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Reclaiming Jewish Identity: An Aboriginal People of the Middle East

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-07-07 19:30Z by Steven

Reclaiming Jewish Identity: An Aboriginal People of the Middle East

The Huffington Post
2015-06-07

Binyamin Arazi

Starting this September, after decades of lobbying efforts by Arab-American organizations, the United States Census Bureau will begin testing a new category for Americans of Middle Eastern and North African origin. In conjunction with this new listing, no less than 19 subcategories will be made available, including ‘Israel.’ So where does this leave Jewish Americans? Should diaspora Jews follow the example of their Israeli co-ethnics and mark “Middle Eastern/North African,” or should they take the easy way out and mark “Other” or even “White,” as most Middle Eastern and North African Americans have done up to this point? Should there be a separate “Jewish” category?

These questions are likely to confuse many readers, particularly those who are more inclined to perceive “Jewishness” as a religious identity rather than an ethnic one. Nevertheless, contrary to the widespread belief that we merely constitute a religious faith, the Jewish people are an ethnic group/tribe of Southwest Asian origin, and one of the oldest extant native peoples of the region…

Read the entire article here.

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New Bill Would Let New Yorkers Identify As Multiracial On Official City Forms

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-12 20:44Z by Steven

New Bill Would Let New Yorkers Identify As Multiracial On Official City Forms

The Huffington Post
2015-05-12

Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias), New York Reporter

New York City has the largest population in the United States of people who identify as multiracial. Even its mayor, Bill de Blasio, and its first lady, Chirlane McCray, have two multiracial children.

And yet, on the various official city documents New Yorkers often have to fill out, there are only five racial categories: “white, not of Hispanic origin”; “black, not of Hispanic origin”; “Hispanic”; “Asian or Pacific Islander”; and “American Indian or Alaskan Native.”

In testimony submitted at a City Council hearing Monday, a New Yorker named Daniel Reckart explained why this can be a problem.

“You see, my mother is half Jamaican and half British-Caucasian,” he said. “My father is half Mexican, half German.”

“My siblings and I — as siblings do — look both alike and, at the same time, a spectrum of our multiple races,” he continued. “Some of us look more Latino and some of us look more white and some look more black. But the fact is that we have all always identified proudly as multiracial, and to ask us to choose just one box is like asking us to choose allegiance with just one of our grandparents.”

Reckart is one of more than 325,000 New Yorkers who identify as multiracial. His testimony Monday was submitted in support of a piece of legislation that would require “city agencies to amend their official forms and databases to accommodate multiracial identification where racial identification is required.”

Those forms include applications for after-school programs, public housing and taxi licenses, as well as discrimination complaint forms and registration with the Department of Small Business Services — not to mention all the paperwork filled out by the 300,000 or so city employees.

The new multiracial designation, say the bill’s supporters, would help the city collect more accurate demographic data. Such information is important for crafting legislation and policy, and for keeping track of how various policies affect people of different races. In some cases, that data can also help determine how much state or federal funding the city will receive.

Council member Margaret Chin, lead sponsor of the bill, told The Huffington Post that it’s “important for government to recognize multicultural heritage.”

“We wanted to allow individuals to celebrate their heritage and be able to identify themselves as they want to,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Gorgeous Black-And-White Portraits Explore The Meaning Of Multiracial Identities

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-01 01:35Z by Steven

Gorgeous Black-And-White Portraits Explore The Meaning Of Multiracial Identities

The Huffington Post
2015-03-30

Katherine Brooks, Senior Arts & Culture Editor

“I began this project because I recognized that I was part of a underrepresented group of people,” artist Samantha Wall explained in an email to HuffPost. “It’s difficult to talk about multiraciality with individuals who can’t understand our perspective. It’s not as simple as being part this and part that, our identities can’t be so easily divided. But art is a language that lends itself to communicating experiences too difficult to comprehend through words alone.”

For her project “Indivisible,” Wall explores the meaning of multiracial identities in Korea and the United States through a series of black-and-white portraits. The images show models staring fearlessly at the viewer, flashing a smile, a laugh and sometimes even a grimace. Wall’s charcoal and ink illustrations attempt to convey, as she notes, a feeling that words cannot. “Through this work I am exposing the plurality of emotions that sculpt human subjectivity,” she writes on her website. “The drawings of these women are portals into the human psyche, a place where emotions call out and perceived racial boundaries dissolve.”…

Read the entire article here

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Hispanic Journalists To Survey Race In Spanish-Language TV After Univision Incident

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-18 15:15Z by Steven

Hispanic Journalists To Survey Race In Spanish-Language TV After Univision Incident

The Huffington Post
2015-03-17

Roque Planas

Carolina Moreno

The National Hispanic Journalists Association applauded Univision’s decision to fire host Rodner Figueroa, after he compared first lady Michelle Obama to a character from “Planet of the Apes” during a segment of “El Gordo Y La Flaca” last week.

In a statement published to NAHJ’s website on Tuesday, the organization’s President Mekahlo Medina called Figueroa’s comments “racist” and said that Univision made “the right decision” by dismissing him.

“Univision, the fifth largest network in the U.S., took a stand against racism and we are all better for it,” Medina’s statement said. “But I keep wondering, what was Figueroa thinking when those words came out of his mouth? Why was it okay for him, at that moment, to compare the First Lady of the United States or any person to an ape? And why, still today, does he think that was not racist?”…

…Medina also highlighted the lack of racial diversity within both the Spanish-language and English-language news media, saying it helps perpetuate a “hierarchy of skin color and race.”

“How many dark-skin or afro-Latino anchors do you see on Spanish language newscasts?” Medina said in the statement. “How many indigenous Latinos do you see on any newscast, English or Spanish? There isn’t a single Latino/a anchoring an 11pm English language newscast in Los Angeles, despite the market being 53% Latino and overwhelmingly English speaking or bilingual.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Look at Race as a Social Construct

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-03-03 18:16Z by Steven

A Look at Race as a Social Construct

The Huffington Post
2015-02-03

Kimberly Cooper

Sometimes a picture is truly worth a thousand words. For those of us from the “multiracial” or mixed race community, photos of our population — our people, our families, our children — aren’t as shocking as they are an affirmation of what we have already known: Race is a social construct.

For twins, Lucy and Maria Aylmer from Gloucester, England who have been asked to produce their birth certificates to prove they are related, they aren’t alone. In the U.S., the self-identified “multiracial” community is at nine million and climbing. So why is it so difficult for so many to believe that the two girls are related, even after being told of their biological ties? Well, our notion of “race” and the historical “one-drop-rule” may be a good place to start.

The 1924 Racial Integrity Act defined race by the “one-drop rule,” defining as “colored” persons as anyone with any African or Native American ancestry. This law was in effect to purify the white population, while also expanding the scope of Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage (anti-miscegenation law) by criminalizing all marriages between white persons and non-white persons. In 1967 the law was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in its ruling on Loving v. Virginia.

As for those who believe that “race” is somehow biologically determined, Lucy and Maria are twins — (yes, from the same mother and father), but which racial group do they belong to? Is it the same one? Given the one-drop rule, should red-headed Lucy still be considered “black”?…

Read the entire article here.

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Arturo O’Farrill: Afro-Latino Heritage Is ‘One Big Culture That We All Share’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-08 16:29Z by Steven

Arturo O’Farrill: Afro-Latino Heritage Is ‘One Big Culture That We All Share’

The Huffington Post
Latino Voices
2015-02-06

Roque Planas, Editor

Arturo O’Farrill wants Africa to get the credit it deserves.

The New York-based pianist, composer and educator traveled Friday to Los Angeles to attend the Grammys, where his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s “The Offense of the Drum” is nominated for best Latin jazz album.

“We talk a lot about Afro-Cuban jazz, but we don’t really talk about Africa and its impact on the Dominican Republic, on Venezuela, Colombia — bro, in Peru!” O’Farrill told The Huffington Post. “There’s whole parts of Colombia where they play a music called pacífico, and the instruments that they use are direct descendants of marímbulas and instruments that you can find throughout the west coast of Africa. How do you think it got there? Cuba’s a small — maybe a very vibrant and important part of that picture — but Cuba’s just one aspect.”…

…Like the United States, most Latin American societies are a multiracial mix of largely indigenous, European and African peoples — though people of virtually all backgrounds and parts of the globe have settled in the region. In places like Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic or Brazil, where many if not most people are either black or mixed-race, African influences can be found in virtually every aspect of the culture, whether it’s the language, food or religion.

But O’Farrill says too many musicians shortchange their African heritage…

Read the entire article here.

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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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