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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The Politics of Multiracialism in an Anti-Black World

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-08-28 02:42Z by Steven

The Politics of Multiracialism in an Anti-Black World

I MiX What I Like!
WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington, D.C.
2011-10-07

Jared A. Ball, Host and Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Jared Sexton, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Film & Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

Dr. Jared Sexton joined us this week to discuss to his work in Amalgamation Schemes and the politics of multiracial identification in an anti-Black world.  As Sexton has written, “Multiracialism cuts its teeth on the denial of this fundamental social truth: not simply that antiblackness is longstanding and ongoing but also that it is unlike other forms of racial oppression in qualitative ways—differences of kind, rather than degree, a structural singularity rather than an empirical anomaly.”   We also paid a brief tribute to professor Derrick Bell and his continuing influence.

Listen to the interview (00:59:30) here. Download the interview here.

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The Flesh of Amalgamation: Reconsidering the Position (and the Labors) of Blackness

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2013-07-04 03:12Z by Steven

The Flesh of Amalgamation: Reconsidering the Position (and the Labors) of Blackness

American Quarterly
Volume 65, Number 2, June 2013
pages 437-446
DOI: 10.1353/aq.2013.0021

Tryon P. Woods, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Crime & Justice Studies
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance and the Ruses of Memory.
By Tavia Nyong’o. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2009. 230 pages.

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracilism.
By Jared Sexton. Minneapolis; University of Minnesota Press, 2008. 345 pages.

The story that cannot be told must not-tell itself in a language already contaminated, possibly irrevocably and fatally. . . . And only in not-telling can the story be told; only in the space where it’s not told—literally in the margins of the text, a sort of negative space, a space not so much of non-meaning as anti-meaning.

NourbeSe Philip

In the postscript to her indomitable poetic treatise on black life and death in the making of the modern world, M. NourbeSe Philip writes of the ongoing mutilation of black humanity through the language of the legal text. She finds, for example, no word for recovering the millions of Africans buried in the “liquid grave” of the Middle Passage: “I find words like resurrect and subaquatic but not ‘exaqua.’ Does this mean that unlike being interred, once you’re underwater there is no retrieval—that you can never be ‘exhumed’ from water?” In the face of this historical cataclysm, Philip uses her poetry to foment a disorder of her own, in search of yet another site of maroonage from what Saidiya Hartman terms slavery’s afterlife. To “release the story that cannot be told,” Philip mutilates the text herself, seeking to “literally cut it into pieces, castrating verbs, suffocating adjectives, murdering nouns, throwing articles, prepositions, conjunctions overboard, jettisoning verbs.”

I find it compelling to consider how Philip’s meditations might extend to the contemporary study of race. Is there an imposition of meaning perpetuating a similar kind of violence on the black subject of critical race studies? Within the American studies community, for instance, there seem to be parallel discussions on race. The primary distinction between these two tracks hinges on what to make of racial blackness, a splitting reminiscent of “the presence of excised Africans” explored by Philip (199). Is blackness but one among a diversity of subjectivities and, historical particulars notwithstanding, essentially no different from these other positions, identities, and experiences in terms of authorizing analyses of suffering and struggle? Or is the rupture that blackness represents so essential to the formation of the social itself that any analysis of violence or injustice that is not centered in, derived from, or accountable to the suffering of African-descended peoples risks missing the crux (as opposed to the totality) of the social formation?

Tavia Nyong’o’s Amalgamation Waltz and Jared Sexton’s Amalgamation Schemes offer answers to these questions that might discomfit many American studies scholars. Indeed, perhaps their interventions into the matter of racial blackness and its place within the various analytic frameworks of American studies scholars has something to do with their heretofore quiet reception. While both books have been duly reviewed in a handful of journals, thus far they have enjoyed only scant critical engagement from American studies scholars. American studies has become a scholarly community that takes pride in its activist bona fides, that foregrounds its commitment to progressive politics, and that positions social justice as central to its avowed raison d’être. With this in mind, I am wondering if this reluctance to engage indexes Philip’s description of “slavery—the story that simultaneously cannot be told, must be told, and will never be told” (206).

In the June 2012 issue of American Quarterly, this two-track discourse on race was on full display. Dylan Rodríguez wrote a gentle indictment of the response to the public spectacle of state violence on November 18, 2011, at the University of California, Davis, when campus police pepper sprayed students engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience as part of the Occupy movement. Rodríguez rightfully contrasts the outrage and moral indignation from left-liberal quarters, which was both national and international because of the viral spread of video footage from the incident across social media, against the UC Davis police with what he calls “a broader, commonsense conspiracy of silence” about the larger logic of racist state violence, for which policing is the most visible and fundamental expression. Rodríguez is careful to include brown with black in the category…

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Racial Theories in Context (Second Edition)

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-15 00:05Z by Steven

Racial Theories in Context (Second Edition)

Cognella
2013
224 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60927-056-8

Edited by:

Jared Sexton, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Film & Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

This book presents a critical framework for understanding how and why race matters — past, present, and future. The readings trace the historical emergence of modern racial thinking in Western society by examining religious, moral, aesthetic, and scientific writing; legal statutes and legislation; political debates and public policy; and popular culture. Readers will follow the shifting ideological bases upon which modern racial theories have rested, from religion to science to culture, and the links between race, class, gender, and sexuality, and between notions of race and the nation-state.

The authors of Racial Theories in Context discuss the relationship of racial theories to material contexts of racial oppression and to democratic struggles for freedom and equality:

  • First and foremost in this discussion is the vast system of racial slavery instituted throughout the Atlantic world and the international movement that sought its abolition.
  • Continuing campaigns to redress racial divisions in health, wealth, housing, employment, and education are also examined.
  • There is a focus on the specificity of racial formation in the United States and the centrality of anti-black racism.
  • The book also looks comparatively at other regions of racial inequality and the construction of a global racial hierarchy since the 15th century CE.

Contents

  • Introduction / Jared Sexton
  • A Long History of Affirmative Action—For Whites / Larry Adelman
  • The Cost of Slavery / Dalton Conley
  • Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison-Industrial Complex / INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and Critical Resistance
  • Introduction To Racism: A Short History / George M. Fredrickson
  • Rape and the Inner Lives of Black Women in the Middle West / Darlene Clark Hine
  • Understanding the Problematic of Race Through the Problem of Race-Mixture / Thomas C. Holt
  • The Sexualization of Reconstruction Politics / Martha Hodes
  • The Original Housing Crisis / Derek S. Hoff
  • The American Dream, or a Nightmare for Black America? / Joshua Holland
  • The Hidden Cost of Being African American / Michael Hout
  • Slavery and Proto-Racism in Greco-Roman Antiquity / Benjamin Isaac
  • Colorblind Racism / Sally Lehrman
  • The Wealth Gap Gets Wider / Meizhu Lui
  • Sub-Prime as a Black Catastrophe / Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro
  • Unshackling Black Motherhood / Dorothy E. Roberts
  • Is Race -Based Medicine Good for Us? / Dorothy E. Roberts
  • Understanding Reproductive Justice / Loretta J. Ross
  • The History of the Idea of Race / Audrey Smedley
  • The Liberal Retreat From Race / Stephen Steinberg
  • “Race Relations” / Stephen Steinberg
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In Living Colors

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-02 04:08Z by Steven

In Living Colors

B.L.A.C. Detroit: Black Life, Arts and Culture Magazine
February 2011

Jared A. Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

A Black man with a White mother examines the concept of multiracial identity—past, present and future

What are you?

I have been asked this question for so long, some might think I should be over it. I’m not.

Not because I mind answering it. In fact, I often enjoy the reactions my answers get. “You ever read James Forman’s “The Making of Black Revolutionaries?” I at times reply. “Well, my autobiography would be called “The Making of a Black, African, Pan-Africanist, Nationalist, Communist, Revolutionary, Son of a Jew.” Or I might simply say, “I’m from the Punchdummiesinthemouth people.”

At age 39, I’m not over the question because of the arrogance and derision that commonly accompanies it. There is often a sense of entitlement, even obligation, to have my identity made known. How dare I not be easily classifiable by onlookers? In the United States, everyone is expected to fit neatly into a racial box—which influences your economic, professional and educational opportunities, for better or worse.

In 2011, the color line W. E. B. Du Bois spoke of, rather than dissipating, has evolved into a multiplicity of color lines. Though these lines are intertwining and merging with increasing frequency, they remain firm boundaries determining the lived experiences of millions of people.

Freman Hendrix was raised in segregated Inkster by his Black father and White mother—the only White person in their community. “Walking down the street is where you get your identity,” says the 60-year-old former chair of the Detroit Charter Commission. “We don’t have signs on us telling [people] who we are. It’s how other people react to you that tells you who you are.

“It’s naïve for kids to assume a multiracial identity,” he says.

Nineteen-year-old Karima Ullah couldn’t disagree more.

Ullah, of Oak Park, is the daughter of a Bengali mother and a father who has one White parent and one Black parent. For her, being multiracial means being beyond categorization. She rejects entirely the notion of having to choose one racial identity over another. “Be who you are,” she says. “Be a person.”…

…We may be experiencing a generational shift in the self-identification of children born to parents of different races. After all, it was only one decade ago that Americans had the option to choose more than one racial category when filling out a Census Bureau form. For the record, I checked the African-American box in 2000 and 2010…

Jared Sexton, 36, is the director of the African American Studies Program at the University of California, Irvine. His mom is Irish American and his dad is African American. “Why do those who can want to identify as other than Black? Because this nation remains fundamentally anti-Black and continues to associate Blackness with an absence of humanity,” he says.

On the West Coast, people have attempted to refuse to allow Sexton to identify as Black. On more than one occasion, he’s heard, “No, you can’t be.” People have also guessed that he is Latino or Filipino. On the East Coast—he was raised in Rochester, N.Y.—people frequently assume he is Puerto Rican…

…“We have a right to identify as we choose,” says Sexton. He chooses to self-identify as Black because he thinks multiracial identity contributes to a denial of White supremacy and anti-Black sentiments…

…Says Hendrix, Black-White identity is different from other mixed-race identities. Sexton agrees, attributing this difference to the lingering negative connotations of Blackness…

Detroit native writer and filmmaker dream hampton rejects the concepts of a post-racial America and the tendency to self-identify as biracial or multi-racial.

“My mother is White. My father and stepfather, who both raised me, are Black,” she says. “I have never been mistaken for White.” She wants no part of what she calls the “anything-but-Black multi-racial movement.”

Says hampton, “The Census should simply have a ‘not Black’ box” so that those seeking an out from the perception of Black as “code for criminal and poor” can simply take it. She acknowledges that her acceptance of the “one drop” rule, or what scholars refer to as the practice of hypodescent—the adoption of the identity of the subordinate race—is “retro.” But it is this nation’s continued abuse of African Americans that compels her to do so…

Read the entire article here.
Also see, “Multi-Racial Detroiters: Here’s how some local folks with parents of different races self-identify“.

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Playing Games with Race

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-02 03:54Z by Steven

Playing Games with Race

The Feminist Wire
2011-06-03

Omar Ricks
University of California, Berkeley

NOTE: This article expands on a comment on Prof. Hortense Spillers’ article “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s, Too” published on The Feminist Wire on February 25, 2011. Omar Ricks would like to thank Prof. Spillers for inviting his contribution to The Feminist Wire.

At several places in the first article of her New York Times series, Race Remixed, concerning mostly young adult multiracial individuals, Susan Saulny has one woman, Laura Wood, vice president of the University of Maryland Multiracial Biracial Student Association (MBSA), embody much of the human-interest side of what might otherwise be an article about U.S. Census data. In a game at the beginning of the article, an MBSA friend correctly guesses Wood’s genotype: “Are you mulatto?” We learn of Wood’s painful personal journey. Initially given up for adoption by her white mother, later taken back and raised as white until the age of 8, she is rejected by the black family of her father, who she says “can’t see past the color of my skin and accept me even though I share DNA with them.” As Saulny conveys Wood’s story, we do not get a sense of any other problematics of this woman’s multiracial identity besides this one. We are left wondering at the shape that black people and blackness take in the rhetoric of Saulny’s article, if not of the interviewees, like Wood, with whom she speaks.

“If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.” (Saulny, 2011, January 29)

“All society is trying to tear you apart and make you pick a side,” Ms. Wood says. “I want us to have a say.” (Saulny, 2011, January 29)

Few actual opponents of multiracialism are quoted in the article, but, oddly enough, when opposition to multiracialism is given a face, it is generally not the face of “all society” but a black one. Through such moments as these, this article is not merely reporting on but also typical of multiracial discourse, a diverse and sometimes mutually contentious collection of speeches, writings, and collective actions that broadly assert: (a) the presence of multiracial people as such; (b) the freedom of people to define themselves as their genetic diversity allows; and often (c) the implicit imperative that people (especially, for some reason, President Barack Obama) should choose to identify as multiracial. Time and again in this article, as in much of multiracial discourse, several questions arise when it comes to the ways black people are figuratively deployed. Is the problem really that blacks, more than others, are truly preventing multiracial people from identifying as such? If so, how so? Were one to ask against which real or anticipated threat to this freedom to “have a say” the MBSA students are asserting it, and attend closely to the rhetorical structure of the answers that Saulny articulates, I suspect that one would notice in those answers a structural function that blackness serves within multiracial discourse. This structural function owes to the staying power that comes from blacks’ unique position not just as a group, but also as useful rhetorical figures against which the coherence of an asserted “freedom to identify” might be sustained…

…The problems with multiracial identity, at least according to this article series, are not for the most part problems within the movement or its philosophical foundations. Rather, the problems almost always consist of the failure of others to accept mixed-race people—and those “others” are not those with the power to shape things like media representations or urban geography. For example, Saulny says,

No one knows quite how the growth of the multiracial population will change the country. Optimists say the blending of the races is a step toward transcending race, to a place where America is free of bigotry, prejudice and programs like affirmative action.

Pessimists say that a more powerful multiracial movement will lead to more stratification and come at the expense of the number and influence of other minority groups, particularly African-Americans. (Saulny, 2011, January 29)

This passage is performing some subtle but important ideological work. Those who advocate “the blending of the races” are contrasted with those who oppose “a more powerful multiracial movement.” Considering that one can be in favor of “the blending of the races” and yet opposed to the particular politics of “a more powerful multiracial movement,” this statement is a curious slippage, comparing “apples with oranges.” There is also the laying of the mantle of “optimist” on those who make the questionable juxtaposition between “bigotry, prejudice and programs like affirmative action,” almost as though there is no question that affirmative action is rooted in the bigotry and prejudice that necessitated it. Based on my reading of the article series as a whole, it is unclear to which specific “optimists” Saulny refers here, but, far more important is the way she leaves this equation unpacked. By juxtaposing these terms without critically examining them, Saulny ends up, intentionally or not, echoing a connection that multiracial discourses routinely and uncritically draw: the connection between black freedom struggle (affirmative action in this case, although any of the other political concessions that black freedom struggle has effected would probably suffice) and bigotry by blacks toward non-blacks…

Moves like these might be easily bypassed, if they did not bear a close resemblance to a common trope within multiracial discourse. As analyzed by Jared Sexton in his book Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism, the thing that unifies a diverse (left, liberal, conservative, and right) field of discourse around multiracial identity is the singular desire to achieve distance from “certain figures of blackness” that “resurface in each instance of multiracial discourse” and “are generally made to serve as a foil for the contemporary value of multiracialism” (Sexton, 2008). It would require an excessive degree of naïveté or willful disregard to ignore the same symptoms of thought in Saulny’s article series. In Sexton’s words, “what lends [multiracial discourse] its coherence […] is its obdurately unsophisticated understanding of race and sexuality and its conspicuously negative disposition toward what Fanon (1967) terms ‘the lived experience of the black’” (Sexton, 2008).

Most essentially, then, in multiracial discourse, blackness stands in not as an identity or identification to be rejected or worked through but, in the words of Sexton, as a structural position “against which all other subjects take their bearings” (Sexton & Copeland, 2003). In what might otherwise be an incomprehensible world or a movement without a cause, blackness is so serviceable that it can be used to stand in as that with which nobody wants to be associated, even by those who are partly black.

Even if multiracialism shifts us from the “one-drop rule” to a more graduated mestizaje model of racialization, this changes nothing for black people because blackness is still located at the “undesirable” end of the continuum—or, more accurately, hierarchy. In my view, it is necessary that we first understand the stability of that unethical structural relation before we can say that multiracialism challenges racism by injecting into the racist structure a “more fluid” sense of identity. Rainier Spencer’s 2009 Chronicle of Higher Education article, [“Mixed Race Chic”] (Spencer, 2009, May 19), for example, asked, “how can multiracial identity deconstruct race when it needs the system of racial categorization to even announce itself?” Posing this question as a statement would be to say that one needs for there to be a structure of race in order to call oneself multiracial. Small wonder, then, that so many celebrations of multiracial identity sound antiblack. They are…

Read the entire article here.

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Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-02-04 18:14Z by Steven

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism

University of Minnesota Press
2008
328 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-5105-4; ISBN-10: 0-8166-5105-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-5104-7; ISBN-10: 0-8166-5104-3

Jared Sexton, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Film & Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

Questions the ramifications of multiracialism for progressive social change.

Despite being heralded as the answer to racial conflict in the post–civil rights United States, the principal political effect of multiracialism is neither a challenge to the ideology of white supremacy nor a defiance of sexual racism. More accurately, Jared Sexton argues in Amalgamation Schemes, multiracialism displaces both by evoking long-standing tenets of antiblackness and prescriptions for normative sexuality.

In this timely and penetrating analysis, Sexton pursues a critique of contemporary multiracialism, from the splintered political initiatives of the multiracial movement to the academic field of multiracial studies, to the melodramatic media declarations about “the browning of America.” He contests the rationales of colorblindness and multiracial exceptionalism and the promotion of a repackaged family values platform in order to demonstrate that the true target of multiracialism is the singularity of blackness as a social identity, a political organizing principle, and an object of desire. From this vantage, Sexton interrogates the trivialization of sexual violence under chattel slavery and the convoluted relationship between racial and sexual politics in the new multiracial consciousness.

An original and challenging intervention, Amalgamation Schemes posits that multiracialism stems from the conservative and reactionary forces determined to undo the gains of the modern civil rights movement and dismantle radical black and feminist politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: On the Verge of Race

1 Beyond the Event Horizon: The Multiracial Project
2. Scales of Coercion and Consent: Sexual Violence, Antimiscegenation, and the Limits of Multiracial America
3. There Is No (Interracial) Sexual Relationship
4. The Consequence of Race Mixture
5. The True Names of Race: Blackness and Antiblackness in Global Contexts

Notes
Works Cited
Index

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Lecture: Unbearable Blackness

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-10-25 07:23Z by Steven

Lecture: Unbearable Blackness

Terror and the Inhuman (2012-10-25 through 2012-10-27)
Brown University
Sidney Frank Hall, Room 220
185 Meeting St.
2012-10-25, 18:30 EDT (Local Time)

Jared Sexton, Associate Professor, African American Studies; Associate Professor, Film & Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

The Department of Modern Culture and Media presents a lecture by Jared Sexton titled “Unbearable Blackness,” as part of a conference called “Terror and the Inhuman.” In this lecture, Sexton will address the psychic life struggles of black freedom within the political culture and cultural politics. Sexton, associate professor of African American studies and film and media studies at the University of California, is the author of Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (2008) and is the editor of Racial Theories in Context (2013).

For more information, click here.

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New Americans: Rise of the Multiracials: A Documentary

Posted in Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2012-07-28 20:14Z by Steven

New Americans: Rise of the Multiracials: A Documentary

A Work-In-Progress Documentary

Eli Steele, Producer

With more Americans marrying across the color line today than before, it is inevitable that the racial makeup of America’s face will forever change. Of the nine million individuals that identified themselves as multiracial on the 2010 census, more than 50 percent were under 18 years of age, including filmmaker Eli Steele’s two children, Jack and June. By 2050, they and their multiracial peers are expected to account for 25% of the total population.
 
This fate was long predicted by early Americans such as James Madison and Frederick Douglass who knew the color line could not keep the races apart for eternity. And now that this fate is upon us, what does it mean for a country that has shed so much blood in the name of race?

With this question on his mind, Filmmaker Eli Steele, who is multiracial himself, has embarked on a journey through America to explore various aspects of the American landscape for clues to what the future holds. So far, he has encountered individuals ranging from a U.S. Army soldier who refuses to self identify his race to a radio host who identifies as Black American despite a white mother and black father. Aside from interviews, Steele plans to explore the role of multiracial individuals in key moments in American history, the ongoing demographic shifts that are rapidly redefining once firm racial boundaries, and pockets of resistance to the multiracial baby boom.
 
Steele also plans to journey into the history of his family for to be multiracial is a fate that is at once deeply personal and political. Why did the ancestors of his children make the decisions to cross the color line, especially at times where there were no societal advantages in doing so? By learning more about the world they came from and the decisions they made, Steele hopes to provide his children with a better understanding of the world and people they come from. 
 ​
To date, Steele has discovered there are two Americas at odds with one another. There is the private America of individuals has advanced race relations to the point that 85 percent of 18 to 29 year olds and 73 percent of 30 to 49 year olds would consider marriage to another race. On the other side, there is the public America of government institutions and corporations that continue their race policies despite an obvious absurdity: if an individual is more than one race, then what is race? Will America reconcile its race policies with the irreversible trends of private America or will there always be a disconnect?

The outcome of this new front on the culture war around race will determine whether America continues its legacy of racial strife or finally looks past skin color to the person’s content of character. At the end of his journey, Steele hopes to return to his two children, Jack and June, with a better and realistic understanding of how to prepare them for the America they will live in 2050.

Interview subjects include Clay Cane, Jennifer Ceci, Jen Chau, Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Eric ‘Charles’ Jaskolski, Angela Mckee, Farzana Nayani, Jared Sexton, and Ken Tanabe.

For more information, click here.

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‘Mixture is a Neoliberal Good’: Mixed-Race Metaphors and Post-Racial Masks

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2012-07-03 17:04Z by Steven

‘Mixture is a Neoliberal Good’: Mixed-Race Metaphors and Post-Racial Masks

darkmatter: in the ruins of imperial culture
ISSN 2041-3254
Post-Racial Imaginaries [9.1] (2012-07-02)

Daniel McNeil, Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies
Newcastle University, United Kingdom

This fight for democracy against the oppression of mankind will slowly leave the confusion of neo-liberal universalism to emerge, sometimes laboriously, as a claim to nationhood. It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Many conservative commentators reacted to the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001 with platitudes about the clash of civilizations. Robert Fulford, a prominent cultural critic for the Canadian National Post, was one of the few to tie a post-9/11 context to the fortieth anniversary of Frantz Fanon’s death. In an article strategically published at the beginning of Black History Month, Fulford claimed that Fanon’s classic texts were invoked and not read, as if The Wretched of the Earth was just another ironic commodity for consumers full of sound and fury who wear images of Malcolm X and Che Guevara without knowing anything about their commitment to human rights. To go further, he maintained that Fanon should be remembered as a ‘poisonous thinker’ who helped usher in a culture of violence and victimization in the West.

Providing a critical alternative to Fulford, activists and scholars marked the fiftieth anniversary of Fanon’s passing with extensive discussions of his impact on social justice movements and intellectual debates about existentialism, phenomenology and psychoanalysis. This short article takes a rather circuitous route to their commentaries on the legacy of Fanon’s explorative, suggestive and provocative work. It argues that the loaded metaphors Fanon used to target ‘half-breed’ translators in the 1950s and 60s have been creatively adapted by transnational intellectuals in their critique of forms of neoliberal multiculturalism that privilege the multiracial American citizen as a subject more universal and legitimate than even the multicultural world citizen.

The article revolves around three sections and three conceptual metaphors in its attempts to address an oft-repeated element of Fanon’s work that has rarely been the subject of extended analysis or critical inquiry. The first section introduces three popular metaphors about mixed-race objects and ‘racial bridges’ that Fanon used to invoke the threat of bestial, immature and consumerist Others – metaphors that were not swept away by the winds of change in the 1960s, or the decline and fall of Black internationalist movements in the 1970s. It contends that similar metaphors and similes continue to frame representations of mixed-race individuals that emerged after the neoliberal revolution of the 1970s and 80s called for ‘new’ multicultural identities to replace ‘old-fashioned’ notions of racial essences. The second section documents how intellectuals such as David Theo Goldberg, Paul Gilroy and Lewis Gordon have engaged with Fanon and mixed-race metaphors in order to critique the slyness of neoliberal agents in the age of Obama. The third and final section also addresses three writers – Jared Sexton, Paul Spickard and Mark Anthony Neal – who have developed work on multiracial national subjects in the United States. The short conclusion contends that Sexton’s Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism avoids some of the pitfalls of national consciousness evident in the work of Spickard and Neal – and engages with the diasporic work of Fanon and ‘Fanon’s children’ in order to challenge multiracial, and post-racial, environments that deny the legitimacy of African American anger. In short, it uses Sexton’s vision of a global African American studies to illuminate some of the discordant affinities between more insular visions of ethnic American studies and the cultural project of neoliberal multiculturalism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries…

Read the entire article here.

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