Biracial Cool: Bill de Blasio’s Fresh Electoral Asset

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-11-11 11:12Z by Steven

Biracial Cool: Bill de Blasio’s Fresh Electoral Asset

The Atlantic
2013-11-06

Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law
Syracuse University

The New York mayor-elect’s family—both fascinatingly ordinary and shockingly modern—proved to be one his greatest strengths.

“I’m Bill de Blasio, and I’m not a boring white guy.”

How’s that for a political opener? This is how the New York mayor-elect describes himself. At an August fundraiser for the Young Progressives for de Blasio, his daughter Chiara introduced him to the crowd, making an appeal for a new kind of inclusive city politics. Flanked by her entire family, she remarked, “If we’re gonna bring new ideas to the table and create a world, a society … where everyone has a chance, we need to start listening to everybody’s ideas.”

What are these bold and inventive ideas of the new mayor? Some of them follow a traditional Democratic nesting doll scheme: good government followed by more jobs succeeded by affordable housing topped off by better schools. Add in reason, compassion, equality, and whoomp! There it is—a consummate progressive platform. But the de Blasio campaign offered another idea that most campaigns can’t: the racially integrated family.

Like it or not, it works.

De Blasio is white. His wife, Chirlane McCray, is black. Their two children, Dante and Chiara, are biracial. Their campaign literature relentlessly spotlighted the effortless interracial cool of Brooklyn bohemia—that wonderful, eucalyptus-scented world of woody brownstones, aromatic teas, and gloriously integrated Cheerios breakfasts. His website features his family and marriage first, ahead of “Issues.” At his rallies, his wife and children are the feature rather than the curtain call. His mailings ask recipients to “Meet the BROOKLYN FAMILY who’s fighting to change New York.” They picture the smiling family, drinking orange juice and playing Trivial Pursuit

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Is Interracial Marriage Still Scandalous?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-06-15 03:49Z by Steven

Is Interracial Marriage Still Scandalous?

Room For Debate
The New York Times
2013-06-13

Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law
Syracuse University

Gary B. Nash, Professor Emeritus of History
University of California, Los Angeles

Heidi W. Durrow, Author and Co-Founder
Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival

Diane Farr, Actress and Writer

Rose Cuison Villazor, Professor of Law
University of California, Davis

This month marks almost 50 years since the Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, which made interracial marriage legal nationwide. Marriages between people of different races have climbed since, to a high of 8.4 percent in 2010.

Does this mean that we have achieved a colorblind society, or just that the hate has moved to YouTube? In an age when white people are becoming a minority, is interracial marriage still scandalous?

Kevin Noble Maillard, a professor of law at Syracuse University, suggested this discussion.

Read the entire discussion here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Playing the Interracial Card

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-07-14 15:34Z by Steven

Playing the Interracial Card

The New York Times
2012-07-12

Kevin Noble Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

The Miscegenation Ball” Source: Smithsonian Museum of American History (1864)

Color print of a dance occuring at the Lincoln Central Campaign Club in New York Sept. 22, 1864. A portrait of Lincoln hangs on the wall. Black women fashionably dressed dance and converse with white men.

What is the most reliable way to destroy a political career? Financial shenanigans, criminal records or college antics are all reliable showstoppers, but it’s usually the salacious sex scandal that brings the house down. Jack Ryan, who ran for the Senate against Barack Obama (for a while), brought us Parisian sex clubs. Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina, famously hiked the Appalachian Trail. And former senator John Edwards offered a scorching mess of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”

Add race to the question — particularly interrace — and political prurience goes into overdrive. The confluence of miscegenation and politics speaks to America’s fundamental anxiety about racial boundaries. It’s been a rug-puller of careers as long America has been a republic.

When the candidate is one race, and the spouse/partner/“friend” is another, opponents find a combustible cocktail to stir voter insecurities. Ask the ghost of Thomas Jefferson, who weathered decades of criticism about his relationship with “Dusky Sally” [Sally Hemings], his mixed-race slave who bore six mixed-race children. Consider Richard Johnson, vice president under Martin Van Buren, whom the press condemned for taking a “jet-black, thick-lipped, odiferous negro wench” as his common-law wife. Fast forward to Harold Ford Jr., who was maligned during his 2006 Senate campaign in Tennessee as a white woman-loving playboy. For these figures — just a few of many — the color line drew rings around their reputation.

Why would an interracial relationship become a dangerous political liaison? For most people, sex and relationships are private actions, but for public figures, intimate life turns into news. Add race to the mix, and it raises eyebrows. Obama had a white girlfriend in college? Sarah Palin may or may not have dated a black athlete? There are European royals of black and Asian descent? (Lichtenstein and Denmark.) At minimum, such pairings are imaginatively interesting. But why does it matter?…

…Miscegenation is the original race card. Accusations have affected all political persuasions and races, to a point where the fixation becomes the candidate’s defining element. Jefferson is certainly not alone in the accusations against him. Abraham Lincoln’s opponents published a campaign cartoon, “The Miscegenation Ball,” that lampooned an interracial regime where white men and black women freely dance, flirt and carouse. And Strom Thurmond, who infamously denounced integration of homes, schools and pools, was ultimately revealed to have a mixed pool of his own

Read the entire essay here.

Tags: , , , ,

Don’t Pass on Context: The Importance of Academic Discourses in Contemporary Discussions on the Multiracial Experience

Posted in History, Law, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Papers/Presentations, Slavery, United States on 2012-06-12 22:15Z by Steven

Don’t Pass on Context: The Importance of Academic Discourses in Contemporary Discussions on the Multiracial Experience

Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival
Japanese American National Museum
Los Angeles, California
2011-06-11

Steven F. Riley

The following is the slightly modified text from my opening remarks.

As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, ponder about re-electing our first black President, and begin the remaining 99 decades of the so-called “Mixed Millennium,” never in any point in time have there been so many ways to disseminate and share information about the multiracial experience: online, offline, YouTube, iPhones, blogs, podcasts, self-publishing, publishing on demand, etc. Thoughts and ideas that in the not too-distant past, that may not have been published until after death; can now be broadcast to the world before breakfast.  Never have so many, been able to say so much, so quickly. But while we marvel at the quantity of the information about multiracialism, I ask that we pause and consider the quality of the information about multiracialism.  Never have so many, been able to publish so much… and say so little, so quickly.

The purpose of this workshop is to encourage writers, filmmakers, and activists to consider discourses and texts outside of their own—or their subject’s—personal experiences during the formation of their respective projects.  The ideas discussed during the workshop should not be seen as mandatory or even suggested guidelines for projects, but rather topics for consideration to help an writer or artist present and communicate their ideas in a more meaningful way.

Just a quick question for the audience… What is the year of the first census that tabulated data on individuals of two or more races? [Audience responses were mostly “2000”, there was one “1890.”  The correct answer is “1850.”]

[By the census of 1850, the aggregate number of slaves in the United States was 3,204,313. Of this number, 246,656 were of mixed blood, mulattoes, The number of unmixed negro blood was, therefore, 2,487,455. The free black and mulatto population was 434,495, in the following proportions; blacks, 275,400; mulattoes, 159,095.]

There are three interconnecting areas of discussion that I find lacking in these contemporary discourses.  I will speak briefly on each of them and explain their importance and at the same time use the narrative of Richard and Mildred Loving as a central point of focus.

Our celebration of the Lovings is an excellent entrée into an examination of co-option and the distortion of an American historical narrative.  Similar to the reduction of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life into his famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC, the narrative of the Lovings has been reduced into the story of “love denied.”  Dr. King did not die because he dreamt of what America could be; he died because he demanded that America be what it should be.  Few remember Dr. King’s criticism of the Vietnam War when he said,

“We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit.”

Like King’s legacy, the popular narrative of the Loving saga has often been crafted in a way that ignores historical facts and denies persistent inequalities.  Like in many stories, there are truths, lies, and omissions. The story of the Lovings is no exception.  It is not that the celebration of the Lovings is inappropriate, it is that it is inadequate.

On the site www.LovingDay.org, the creators state that,

“The Loving Day name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. We found it quite perfect that a couple named Richard and Mildred Loving won their right to marry, and we know a good thing when we see it. So, Loving Day refers to two kinds of loving: the couple in the Supreme Court case, and the original definition of loving.”

Loving did not legalize interracial marriage in the United States.  It legalized interracial marriage in the 15 remaining states that still had anti-miscegenation laws.  (There were 16 states with such laws at the begining of the trial but the state of Maryland repealed its law while Loving v. Virginia was still pending.)  To its credit, LovingDay.org does give the visitor a state-by-state and year-by-year breakdown of anti-miscegenation laws throughout the United States, nevertheless, the inaccuracy of this paragraph remains.  Loving neither increased the number of interracial marriages in the South nor did it create a so-called late-20th century “multiracial baby boom”—the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 did that by increasing immigration from Asia and Latin America.  In fact, ten states have never enacted anti-miscegenation laws. Loving did, according to Victor Thompson, “send a signal to the U.S. population that, in the eyes of the state, interracial marriage was no longer the ‘sin’ that it used to be—even if it still remained a sin in the minds of some.”  Yet even today in 2011, the state of Mississippi with the lowest ratio of white-to-black residents, and as a result the highest potential of interracial unions and multiracial births, reports the lowest rate of self-identified multiracial individuals in the country.

Our preoccupation and celebration with Loving—and in the case of LovingDay.org with the word “loving”—diverts our attention away from the institutional inequities—that are still with us—that created “race” and racism as we know it and forced the Lovings to spend over half of their marriage fighting for their marriage.  While we may remember Richard Loving’s famous, “Tell the court I love my wife,” few remember their lawyer Bernard Cohen’s eloquent argument to the Supreme Court where he said,

“The Lovings have the right to go to sleep at night knowing that if should they not wake in the morning, their children would have the right to inherit from them. They have the right to be secure in knowing that, if they go to sleep and do not wake in the morning, that one of them, a survivor of them, has the right to Social Security benefits. All of these are denied to them, and they will not be denied to them if the whole anti-miscegenistic scheme of Virginia… [is] found unconstitutional.”

Race is a Social Construction

“Race is a social construction.” Though it has been nearly a century since scientists began to recognize that the concept of race has no basis in biology, yet race—or rather the belief in race—remains a salient force in our world today.  As most have you have already heard before, human beings are the most similar species on earth. When we speak of race, we speak of a concept originally designed for the commoditization, exploitation, oppression and near extermination of African, indigenous (and later Asian) populations. Race as biology is fallacious and we know it.  If we teach our children to tell the truth, then we should do the same.  I ask that writers and artists consider whether embracing an identity that is based in whole—or in part—on these social constructions merely reinforces those constructions.  As author Cedric Dover stated so eloquently in 1937, “Today there are no half-castes because there are no full-castes.” Additionally, little attention is paid to the role class has in self-identification.  It would be interesting to see projects that take leave of the college campuses, suburban enclaves, and coffee shops and investigate the lives of individuals in poorer rural and/or urban settings.

While multiracial identities give the appearance of a deconstruction of a social order based on race, I suggest otherwise. For example, many multiracial Americans of African/European descent understandably attempt to claim and reassert their non-African ancestry; reminding us how they are “a little French, a little Scottish, Italian, etc.,” few of us stop to ponder the near utter destruction of their African ancestry and how it has-even with the inclusion of European ancestry-been reduced to “black.”  While some may embrace a “Black/White” identity, I ask where are the “Luba/Lithuanians”, “Shona/Scottish”, “Ewe/Estonians”, “Igbo/Icelanders?”  It used to be our identities told us and others, where we came from, what we did, how we hunted, how we fished, where we pressed our wine, how we made cheese, when we planted, how we worshiped, and how we lived.  Only a few seem to know or notice these nearly infinite identities (even from Europe) have been reduced through the centuries by the onslaught of white supremacy to just a handful of exploitable commoditized categories. We think we can manipulate the morally corrupt framework of “race” into a modern utopia, but even the so-called “new” hybrid identities may be reabsorbed or discarded back into the oppressive essentialist elements.

Individuals and groups today in 2011 that insist and demand we all tell our whole “racial truth”, are no less misguided and insidious than the Virginians who insisted and demanded “racial integrity” in 1924.  While some criticize President Obama for identifying as Black, who here knows that “black” Mildred Loving had European ancestry along with Native American ancestry on both sides of her family tree?  What even the most ardent racists in Virginia knew—that apparently some activists today do not—was that “racial integrity” was and is pure nonsense.

I ask the creators in this room if they could create projects that consider what life in our society would be like without race.

History

My second area of discussion is by far, my personal favorite, and unfortunately completely neglected in the non-academic contemporary discourses.  Hopefully those in the audience will make my complaint—excuse the pun—history.

No serious discussion about multiracialism can begin without an understanding of history.  History is not merely important, it is essential.  Without an understanding of the past, we shall not only fail at transforming the future, we shall merely repeat it. Loving v. Virginia was the final battle in a 50+ year struggle to repeal all anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. For many, the history of multiracial America—if one even bothers to discuss history—begins in 1967 with Loving.  Yet even the history of this one case suggests that the genesis of multiracial America began much earlier.

As Kevin Maillard has stated,

“Looking back to Loving as the official birth of Multiracial America reinforces the prevailing memory of racial separatism while further underscoring the illegitimacy of miscegenations past. By establishing racial freedom in marriage, Loving also sets a misleading context for the history of mixed race in America. Even though Loving instigates the open acceptance of interracialism, it unintentionally creates a collective memory that mixed race people and relationships did not exist before 1967.”

Loving did not create an explosive growth in the multiracial population.  The heterogeneous residents of Caroline County, Virginia would have scoffed at such a notion just as the inhabitants of San Salvador would have scoffed at Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of their island.  Just as Columbus was a thousand of years too late to claim a “discovery,” those that suggest a post-Loving “multiracial baby boom” are 300 years too late.  If we are to use a point in time as a demarcation of the beginning of multiracial America, we should consider the year 1661, when the then colony of Maryland codified the first anti-miscegenation statute.

The fact that Richard Perry Loving and Mildred Delores Jeter began their courtship in 1950—when he was 17 and she was 11—clearly indicates that their relationship was not transgressive as far as their families were concerned.  In fact, the Jeters made it clear that “Richard [wasn’t] the first white person in our family,” indicating that Mildred—like most “black” Americans—had heterogeneous ancestry.  Perhaps the reason that the 1950’s Loving-Jeter courtship was non-transgressive within their families, was because such relationships were non-transgressive within their community of Caroline County, Virginia; which was known as the “passing capital of America” because so many light-skinned blacks were mistaken for whites.

White Supremacy

LovingDay.org provides us with what, as far as I can tell is the only interactive state-by-state map of anti-miscegenation laws that I know of. It is indeed—as they put it—“cool”.  Yet despite the information given about these statutes, we are presented no overarching reasons why these laws were enacted in the first place.  Nor are we told who wrote these laws. The site does, correctly state that, “The judiciary system played an important role in regulating interracial relationships.”  Yet something very important is missing from these texts.

Fortunately for us we have a scholar like Peggy Pascoe to tell us the whole truth.  The very first paragraph of her multiple award winning book, What Comes Naturally, Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America, states:

“This book examines two of the most insidious ideas in American history. The first is the belief that interracial marriage is unnatural.  The second is the belief in white supremacy. When these two ideas converged, with the invention of the term “miscegenation” in the 1860s, the stage was set for the rise of a social, political, and legal system of white supremacy that reigned through the 1960s and, many would say, beyond.”

No one should celebrate another “Loving Day” without reading this magnificent book.

In my last of the three areas of discussion, this perhaps is the most difficult to discuss, yet perhaps the most pervasive.  No force in American society has had—and continues to have—a stronger influence on identity than that of white supremacy.

While it is tempting to frame the narrative of the Lovings as a case of love denied by racial difference, there is more to the story.  Anti-miscegenation laws did much more than prevent the marital unions between men and women of different races.  Anti-miscegenation law in fact; transformed the fiction of race into a social reality.  Their enforcement meant that a persons racial identity had to be determined in order to receive a marriage license. Furthermore, the variation in punishments—based on the determined race of the litigants—reinforced the idea of racial hierarchy. Whereas for example, a white person and Indian would both face a $200 dollar fine and two years in prison for illegally getting married, while a white person and a black person would face a $500 fine and five years in prison for the same offense.  Anti-miscegenation laws also disenfranchised spouses and children.  To make matters worse, the idea of racial hierarchy was embraced even in states that had no anti-miscegenation laws. These laws adversely affected all people of color regardless of their marital unions. In short, anti-miscegenation laws were the cornerstone of white supremacy.  Yet despite the multitudes of non-academic discourses celebrating the demise of these laws, absolutely no mention is made in them about white supremacy.

The first anti-miscegenation statutes enacted in Maryland and Virginia in the 1660s were part of the broader strategy of supporting the growing institution of slavery.  The presence of interracial couples and their mixed-race offspring threatened the belief in racial difference, black inferiority, and notion of slavery altogether. To counter this perceived threat, these laws were enacted to create a physical, moral and psychological barrier between the whites and blacks and made the concept of the ownership of another human being acceptable.

On January 6, 1959, just six months after police officers entered through the unlocked front door of the Lovings and arrested the sleeping newly married couple for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, they were sentenced to one year in prison. The sentence was suspended on the condition that they leave the state of Virginia for 25 years.  After passing sentence, the trial judge in the case, Leon M. Bazile infamously proclaimed:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

Although Judge Bazile’s statement is ostensibly about the prevention of what he saw as putative marriages, a closer examination reveals a more sinister agenda. For him, not only did Mildred and Richard Loving not belong in the same bed, they—and all of their respective racial cohorts—did not belong on the same continent.  Although Jim Crow segregation could not send the “races” back to their separate respective “home continents,” it did the next best thing by consigning the races to their separate schools, separate theaters, separate hospitals, and separate water fountains.  Much like his predecessors almost 300 years before, Bazile reaffirmed the framework of white supremacy and the oppression of people of color via the ruse of anti-miscegenation laws.

Conclusion

While we all owe a debt of gratitude to the courageousness of Richard and Mildred Loving that can never be repaid, we should use care on how we celebrate their interracial marriage.  The increased attention towards multiraciality has brought—appropriately—more scrutiny, particularly from the academic community.  More scholars than ever before are examining the role of multiraciality within the framework of racial justice in the United States and abroad. In the case of Latin America, critics have begun to argue that “multiracialism, like the firmly discredited concept of Brazilian racial democracy, functions as an ideology that masks enduring racial injustice and thus blocks substantial political, social, and economic reform.”

The clever positioning by multiracial identity activists of the Loving marriage as the 1960s vanguards of multiraciality, promotes several troubling ideologies that should exposed and examined.  These ideologies effectively distance the Lovings’ saga from the greater African-American struggle for freedom and justice.  Firstly, the emphasis on the “marriage” of the Richard and Mildred Loving implies that these unjust anti-miscegenation laws had no adverse impact towards Black-Americans and other people of color as a whole.  Finally, and most importantly, the continual dissemination of the myth of increased multiracial births since the Loving decision, is an insidious maneuver that illogically seeks to erase the history of over three centuries of interracial marriages and the millions of descendants from those unions.  As I have stated before, we are not becoming a multiracial society, we already are a multiracial society and we have been so for centuries.

By the time the Loving decision marked its first anniversary on June 12, 1968, there was no sign of either a multiracial baby boom or an interracial marriage boom. While the Lovings were finally able to live quietly—and legally—as husband and wife in their Virginia home town, the racist attitudes that inspired the creation of anti-miscegenation laws were still very salient. (In fact, Alabama did not remove its unenforceable statute until 2000).  What “booms” that could be seen and heard were near and far and were those of dismay, protest and death.  Booms were heard loudly in January, 1968 when the North Vietnamese began the Tet Offensive that despite its military failure, shocked policy makers in Washington, D.C. enough that they became convinced that the war—even with its black and white comrades in brutal solidarity—could not be won.  Booms would be heard in cities like Newark, New Jersey—exactly one month after the decision, with riots over racial injustice. Then more “booms” in Detroit, just days later which would be just another one of the 159 race riots in the “long hot summer” of 1967. The most ironic and tragic “boom” would come from the shot of a rifle across the street from a Memphis, Tennessee hotel on April 4, 1968, which would fell Dr. King, America’s true non-violent symbol of racial reconciliation.  From hence “booms” would be heard in violent protest all over America.

The past two years have brought forth an unprecedented amount of critical examination of multiracialism.  Articles, books, live programs, even a conference—The first critical mixed-race studies conference—are forcing us to ask serious and important questions about how multiracialism and multiracial identities may impact  racial dynamics here and abroad.  Even Dr. Naomi Zack—who many of you have just seen in this morning’s movie Multiracial Identity defending the political recognition of a multiracial identity, has since, retracted that position in her article titled “The Fluid Symbol of Mixed Race” in the Fall 2010 issue of the journal Hypatia.

She states:

“The recognition of mixed race that I have advocated would proceed from where we are now, in a society where many people continue to think that human racial taxonomy has a biological foundation. Recognition of mixed race would be fair, because if racially “pure” people are entitled to distinct racial identities, then so are racially mixed people.  Also, the false belief in biological races logically entails a belief in mixed biological races. But, of course, in true biological taxonomic terms, if pure races do not exist, then neither do mixed races (Zack 1997, 183-84; Zack 2002, chap. 7).

However, by the time I finished writing Philosophy of Science and Race (Zack 2002), I had come to the conclusion that broad understanding of the absence of a biological foundation for “race,” beginning with philosophers, was more urgent than mixed-race recognition or identity rights.  Against that needed shift away from the false racialisms to which many liberatory race theorists still clung, advocacy of mixed-race recognition seemed self-serving, if not petty. And I think that the shift is still a work in progress. But still, the ongoing historical phenomena of mixed race and the distinctive experiences of mixed-race people continue to merit consideration, and I am grateful for this opportunity to revisit my earlier confidence and enthusiasm that mixed-race recognition was on the near horizon, with the full-scale undoing of race soon to dawn.”

She continues with,

“…The dangers of insisting on black and white mixed-race political recognition in a system in which blacks are disadvantaged is that a mixed-race group could act as a buffer between blacks and whites and re-inscribe that disadvantage. It is interesting to note that under apartheid in South Africa, there was not only a robust mixed population known as “colored,” but individuals were able to change their race as their life circumstances changed (Goldberg 1995).  From the perspective of mixed-race individuals, this example may seem as though even South Africa was more liberatory on the grounds of race than the one-drop-rule-governed U.S. (This is not to say that South African coloreds had full civil liberties under apartheid, but only that they were better off than many blacks.)  But from a more broad perspective, in terms of white–black relations, recognition of mixed-race identity, while it may advantage mixed-race individuals and add sophistication to a black and white imaginary of race, does little to dislodge white supremacy overall. The public and political recognition of mixed-race identities could be quite dangerous to white–black race relations overall if the position of blacks remained unchanged (Spencer 1999).  But continued obliviousness about mixed-race identities holds the immediate danger of denying the existence of injustice for some presumptively pure blacks who do not have the advantages of white parentage…”

With the next two years promising even more scrutiny of the discussion surrounding multiraciality, it is more important than ever that we all read the academic texts to help us create projects that can produce greater impact.

©2011, Steven F. Riley

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Loving vs. Virginia in a Post-Racial World: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Marriage

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2012-05-28 19:11Z by Steven

Loving vs. Virginia in a Post-Racial World: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Marriage

Cambridge University Press
June 2012
300 pages
Hardback ISBN-13: 9780521198585
Paperback ISBN-13: 9780521147989

Edited by

Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law
Syracuse University

Rose Cuison Villazor, Professor of Law
University of California, Davis

In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional in Loving vs. Virginia. Although this case promotes marital freedom and racial equality, there are still significant legal and social barriers to the free formation of intimate relationships. Marriage continues to be the sole measure of commitment, mixed relationships continue to be rare, and same-sex marriage is only legal in 6 out of 50 states. Most discussion of Loving celebrates the symbolic dismantling of marital discrimination. This book, however, takes a more critical approach to ask how Loving has influenced the “loving” of America. How far have we come since then, and what effect did the case have on individual lives?

Table of Contents

  • Introduction Kevin Noble Maillard and Rose Cuison Villazor
  • Part I: Explaining Loving v. Virginia
    • 1. The legacy of Loving John DeWitt Gregory and Joanna L. Grossman
  • Part II: Historical Antecedents to Loving
    • 2. The ‘love’ of Loving Jason A. Gillmer
    • 3. Loving in Indian territory: tribal miscegenation law in historical perspective Carla Pratt
    • 4. American mestizo: Filipinos and antimiscegenation laws in California Leti Volpp
    • 5. Perez v. Sharp and the limits of Loving: race, marriage, and citizenship reconsidered R. A. Lenhardt
  • Part III: Loving and Interracial Relationships: Contemporary Challenges
    • 6. The road to Loving: the legacy of antimiscegenation law Kevin Noble Maillard
    • 7. Love at the margins: the racialization of sex and the sexualization of race Camille A. Nelson
    • 8. The crime of Loving: Loving, Lawrence, and beyond I. Bennett Capers
    • 9. What’s Loving got to do with it? Law shaping experience and experience shaping law Renée M. Landers
    • 10. Fear of a ‘Brown’ planet or a new hybrid culture? Jacquelyn Bridgeman
  • Part IV: Considering the Limits of Loving
    • 11. Black pluralism in post-Loving America Taunya Lovell Banks
    • 12. Multiracialism and reparations: accounting for political blackness Angelique Davis
    • 13. Finding a Loving home Angela Onwuachi-Willig and Jacob Willig-Onwuachi
  • Part V: Loving outside the United States Borders
    • 14. Racially inadmissible wives Rose Cuison Villazor
    • 15. Flying buttresses Nancy K. Ota
    • 16. Crossing borders: Loving v. Virginia as a story of migration Victor Romero
  • Part VI: Loving and Beyond: Marriage, Intimacy and Diverse Relationships
    • 17. Black vs. gay: centering LBGT people of color in civil marriage debates Adele Morrison
    • 18. Forty years after Loving: a legacy of unintended consequences Rachel F. Moran
    • 19. The end of marriage Tucker Culbertson
    • 20. Afterword Peter Wallenstein
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Does The Heritage Controversy Tell Us More About Warren Or The Media?

Posted in Articles, Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-05-28 02:36Z by Steven

Does The Heritage Controversy Tell Us More About Warren Or The Media?

Radio Boston
WBUR
2012-05-22

Dan Mauzy, Associate Producer

Hosts

Meghna Chakrabarti, Co-Host

Anthony Brooks, Co-Host

Guests

Kevin Noble Maillard, Associate Professor of Law (member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma)
Syracuse University

David Catanese, National Political Reporter
Politico

Here’s a bit of a problem that political reporters have to contend with: How should we handle those stories that appear to distract from what most regard as the big, important issues of the day? When a particular campaign or a political party fans the flames of one of these sidebar stories in an effort to keep a controversy alive, what should the media do?
 
The story about Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry presents one of those challenges.
 
The Harvard law professor who’s challenging Sen. Scott Brown has talked proudly about her Native American heritage, and we’ve learned that she listed herself as a “minority” for nearly a decade back in the late 1980s and early 90s. Warren has tried to explain why and there’s no evidence that Harvard, or any other university, hired her because of her claim…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:25:32) here. Download it here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elizabeth Warren’s Birther Moment

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2012-05-06 23:33Z by Steven

Elizabeth Warren’s Birther Moment

The New York Times
2012-05-04

Kevin Noble Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

If you are 1/32 Cherokee and your grandfather has high cheekbones, does that make you Native American? It depends. Last Friday, Republicans in Massachusetts questioned the racial ancestry of Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate. Her opponent, Senator Scott Brown, has accused her of using minority status as an American Indian to advance her career as a law professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas. The Brown campaign calls her ties to the Cherokee and Delaware nations a “hypocritical sham.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Warren defended herself, saying, “Native American has been a part of my story, I guess since the day I was born, I don’t know any other way to describe it.” Despite her personal belief in her origins, her opponents have seized this moment in an unnecessary fire drill that guarantees media attention and forestalls real debate…

…The Republican approach to race is to feign that it is irrelevant — until it becomes politically advantageous to bring it up. Birthers question Obama’s state of origin (and implicitly his multiracial heritage) in efforts to disqualify him from the presidency. They characterize him as “other.” For Warren, Massachusetts Republicans place doubts on her racial claims to portray her as an opportunistic academic seeking special treatment. In both birther camps, opponents look to ancestral origins as the smoking gun, and ride the ambiguity for the duration…

Read the entire opinion here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Multiracial Epiphany of Loving

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-02-15 03:33Z by Steven

The Multiracial Epiphany of Loving

Fordham Law Review
May 2008
Volume 76, Number 6
pages 2709-2733

Kevin Noble Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

The year 1967 becomes the temporal landmark for the beginning of an interracial nation. That year, the United States Supreme Court ruled state antimiscegenation laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia. In addition to outlawing interracial marriage, these restrictive laws had created a presumption of illegitimacy for historical claims of racial intermixture. Not all states had antimiscegenation laws, but the sting of restriction extended to other states to forge a collective forgetting of mixed race. Defenders of racial purity could depend on these laws to render interracial relationships illegitimate. Looking back to Loving as the official birth of Multiracial America reinforces the prevailing memory of racial separatism while further underscoring the illegitimacy of miscegenations past. By establishing racial freedom in marriage, Loving also sets a misleading context for the history of mixed race in America. Even though Loving instigates the open acceptance of interracialism, it unintentionally creates a collective memory that mixed race people and relationships did not exist before 1967. To imagine and realize a pre-1967 miscegenated America directly challenges the legal legitimacy of the racial reality that antimiscegenation law attempted to enforce. I approach this subject by examining contemporary claims of mixed race that are rooted in the past. This conflict usually entails opposing narratives: one venerating the involvement of a prominent historical figure as party to an interracial relationship; the other steadfastly holds that such claims are unfounded as specious. Placing miscegenation upon narratives and figures that are faintly characterized and understood as racially white turns private claims of mixed identity into public contemplations of interracial intimacy. To imagine historic figures as “Founding Fathers” of another sort destabilizes an implicit understanding of ingrained racial limitations.

..This essay takes issue with the overemphasis on Loving as the enabler for mixed race in the United States, and concomitantly, its effect on legitimating a varied interracial past. Gary Nash’s thesis demonstrates a notable irony: if our just, democratic system openly permits and justifies the “happening thing” of mixed race, why is this same valorization and recognition not extended to the pre-Loving era? Turning to a single court case to celebrate a social phenomenon that has existed at the margins of American culture mistakenly erases the past of racial amalgamation that preexisted the legality that Loving provided. In the system of the racial binary that has been established in the United States, mixtures that disrupt the notion of racial purity, particularly those that originate in the time period before Loving, are presumed to be deviant and abnormal. The collective racial memory in the United States, unlike that of Mexico or Brazil, operates from an assumption of racial purity and sexual avoidance of miscegenation. This national culture of disbelief of racial intermixture has permeated our views of history and law.

This essay argues that looking to Loving as the birthplace of interracialism reinforces the legal authority and resultant legacy of the antimiscegenation regime that it replaced. In addition to outlawing interracial marriage, these restrictive laws created a lasting presumption of illegitimacy for historical claims of racial intermixture. Defenders of racial purity could depend on these laws to render interracial relationships, whether married or unmarried, improbable and illegitimate. Not all states had antimiscegenation laws, but the sting of restriction extended to other states, forging a collective forgetting and denial of the existence of mixed race. The absence of a national, judicial acceptance of mixed race facilitated a collective belief in racial purity. Because it was illegal and immoral, it could not have occurred. As states were withholding the marital right from biracial couples, they attempted to deny and erase the intimate reality of persons, like Richard and Mildred Loving,who would have sought alternatives to the prohibitive law…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Anatomy of Grey: A Theory of Interracial Convergence

Posted in Law, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Passing, United States on 2011-12-19 01:30Z by Steven

The Anatomy of Grey: A Theory of Interracial Convergence

College of Law Faculty Scholarship
Paper 74
January 2008
56 pages

Kevin Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

Janis L. McDonald, Professor of Law
Syracuse University

This article offers a theory of racial identity divorced from biological considerations. Law fails to recognize the complexity of racial performance and identity, thus categorically simplifying a perceived polarity of black and white. Ground-breaking scholarship addressing racial boundaries, as written by Randall Kennedy, Elizabeth Bartholet, and Angela Onwuachi-Willig, generally focuses on the enduring legacy of race discrimination. We approach these boundaries from a different angle—whites who become “less white.” We bring together the challenges of passing and adoption to offer a theory of fluid racial boundaries.
 
Transracial adoption provides one viable channel to discuss the possibilities of white-to-black racial identity transformation. By confronting the meaning of white identity in relation to their black surroundings, adoptive parents may engage along a continuum of what we term “interracial convergence.” Parents who adopt transracially potentially face some of the pressures of being black in the United States. The Interethnic Placement Act forbids the consideration of race in adoption placements, but white adoptive parents nevertheless receive sharp criticism from black social workers for lacking the ability to teach “survival skills” necessary for the child’s racial identity development. We argue, alternatively, that it creates a grey space where racial convergers—adoptive parents and racial passers—can challenge the stability of racial boundaries.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • I. Introduction
  • II. Invisible Racial Connections
    • A. Racial Defection
    • B. Racial Intentions And Performance
    • C. The Performativity Of Passing
  • III. White Racial Identity Development
    • A. Colorblindness
    • B. Willful Racial Ignorance
  • IV. White Parents: Black Children: Racial Performativity
  • V. Transformative White Identity: Interracial Convergence
    • A. The Pre-Encounter Stage
    • B. Encounter and Disorientation
      • a) Initial Racial Disorientation
      • b) Awareness of Repetitive Racial Incidents
      • c) Reckoning with Privilege
    • C. Augmenting a White Racial Identity
  • VI. Conclusion: Interracial Convergence

I. INTRODUCTION

In 1998, Boston city authorities terminated the eleven-year employment of two firefighters who had falsified their employment applications. Twin brothers, Philip and Paul Malone, transformed themselves from white to black on their applications in order to benefit from a federal diversity program. Although their family had identified as white for three successive generations, the brothers claimed their black ancestry from their maternal great-grandmother. They relied on the traditional, although controversial rule in law and social practice of hypo-descent, or the “one-drop” rule, to justify their status. A hearing officer held that the twin brothers, who had lived most of their lives as white, “willfully and falsely identified themselves as black in order to receive appointments to the department.” The officer based her determination of their racial identity on three criteria: visual observation of facial features, documentary evidence, and social reputation of the families. Under this test, the Malones failed to qualify as “black.” In a different case, a Pennsylvania social service agency failed to approve a potential adoption placement for Dante, a biracial black/white child, with his white foster parents, Victor and Mary Jane DeWees. Before the family accepted Dante as a foster child Mrs. DeWees expressed to a social worker that she preferred a white child because she “did not want people to think that [she] or her daughter were sleeping with a black man.” The social service agency based their denial on the DeWees’ negative racial attitudes, which they believed conflicted with Dante’s best interests. In return, the foster parents argued that their views had changed in the two years that they fostered Dante and they were ready to “accept [him] as any other child.” Nevertheless they did not view race as important to Dante’s upbringing: they informed the social worker that race had “no impact” on the self-esteem and identity of minority children, and refused “to manufacture black friends.” Challenging the relevance of the child’s racial identity, Mr. and Mrs. DeWees brought suit against the agency in federal court.

Both Malone and DeWees demonstrate the inherent difficulties of rigid racial categorization. The two forms of racial subversion we examine here, passing and transracial adoption, effectively question the rigidity of racial boundaries. While passing facilitates the secret transference of racial membership, adoption across the color line compels an open form of interracial kinship. Both require a journey into unfamiliar racial territory which reorients racial identity from a biological status to a performative measurement based on the choices made by the individuals involved…

…Both cases present potential situations where transracial adoption and racial passing intersect in some ways. Passing, for those persons born as white, means confronting unearned racial privilege inherited at birth. This article seeks to expand on traditional discussions of passing by offering a theory of racial identity divorced from biological considerations. Law fails to recognize the complexity of racial performance and identity, thus categorically simplifying a perceived polarity of black and white. While the majority of passing scholarship focuses on the enduring legacy of white supremacy, much less work focuses on whites relinquishing the trappings of race privilege—whites who become “less white.” This discourse, as it stands, lacks a rigorous examination of the ways that whites might join this destabilization of racial boundaries…

…This Article proceeds in four parts. Section One addresses traditional racial “passing,” where necessary subterfuge and identity performance undermined socially identified and controlled racial divisions. In this cautious challenge to the biological essence of white identity, passers expose the different ways that white identities could be performed. Section Two introduces the continuum of white identity development, beginning with a “pre-encounter,” stage of racial awareness. The section examines the contributing role of colorblindness and racial recklessness in supporting the existence of a pre-encounter stage. Section Three introduces the application of interracial convergence into the transracial adoption debate as it relates to considerations of the child’s need to develop a healthy black racial identity. Recent changes in federal adoption law require a colorblind placement process, which eliminates scrutiny of the racial attitudes of the adoptive parents. The DeWees parents, despite their deliberate ignorance of their foster child’s racial needs, might have been approved under these new interpretations of the law. Section Four identifies the potential stages of a transformative white identity for adoptive parents. Our model identifies stages that progress from a colorblind, preencounter stage, followed by a disorienting racial encounter stage, to various stages that recognize the role of white privilege, progressing toward a stage of interracial convergence and, perhaps, a new, transformative white identity…

Read the entire paper here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tribal Rights vs. Racial Justice: Was the Cherokee Nation’s expulsion of black Freedmen an act of tribal sovereignty or of racial discrimination?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2011-09-16 18:29Z by Steven

Tribal Rights vs. Racial Justice: Was the Cherokee Nation’s expulsion of black Freedmen an act of tribal sovereignty or of racial discrimination?

The New York Times
Room for Debate
2011-09-15

Kevin Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

Matthew L. M. Fletcher, Professor of Law
Michigan State University

Cara Cowan-Watts, Acting Speaker
Cherokee Nation Tribal Council

Rose Cuison Villazor, Associate Professor of Law
Hofstra University

Heather Williams, Cherokee citizen and Freedman Descendent
Cherokee Nation Entertainment Cultural Tourism Department

Carla D. Pratt, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law

Tiya Miles, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Afro-American and African Studies
University of Michigan

Joanne Barker (Lenape), Associate Professor of American Indian studies
San Francisco State University

Introduction

When the Cherokee were relocated from the South to present-day Oklahoma in the 1830s, their black slaves were moved with them. Though an 1866 treaty gave the descendants of the slaves full rights as tribal citizens, regardless of ancestry, the Cherokee Nation has tried to expel them because they lack “Indian blood.”

The battle has been long fought. A recent ruling by the Cherokee Supreme Court upheld the tribe’s right to oust 2,800 Freedmen, as they are known, and cut off their health care, food stipends and other aid in the process.

But federal officials told the tribe that they would not recognize the results of a tribal election later this month if the citizenship of the black members was not restored. Faced with a cutoff of federal aid, a tribal commission this week offered the Freedmen provisional ballots, a half-step denounced by the black members.

Is the effort to expel of people of African descent from Indian tribes an exercise of tribal sovereignty, as tribal leaders claim, or a reversion to Jim Crow, as the Freedmen argue? Kevin Noble Maillard, a professor of law at Syracuse University and a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, organized this discussion of the issue.

Read the entire debate here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,