Visualizing Race, Identity, and Change

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-23 01:06Z by Steven

Visualizing Race, Identity, and Change

National Geographic

Michele Norris, Guest Contributor

Proof is National Geographic’s new online photography experience. It was launched to engage ongoing conversations about photography, art, and journalism. In addition to featuring selections from the magazine and other publications, books, and galleries, this site will offer new avenues for our audience to get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Geographic storytelling process. We view this as a work in progress and welcome feedback as the site evolves. We can be reached at

A feature in National Geographic‘s October 125th anniversary issue looks at the changing face of America in an article by Lise Funderburg, with portraits of multiracial families by Martin Schoeller, that celebrates the beauty of multiracial diversity and shows the limitations around our current categories when talking about race.

In many ways race is about difference and how those differences are codified through language, categories, boxes, segmentation, and even the implicit sorting that goes on in our heads in terms of the way we label others and even ourselves.

Appearance and identity are most certainly linked when it comes to racial categories, but there is another important ingredient in that stew: Experience. There is no room for that on those official census forms, but when a person picks up a writing instrument to choose which box they check, experience most certainly helps guide their hand…

Read the article and view the photographs here.

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The Changing Face of America

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-14 00:52Z by Steven

The Changing Face of America

National Geographic Magazine
October 2013
Special 125th Anniversary Issue: The Power of Photography

Lise Funderburg

Photography by Martin Schoeller

Lise Funderburg is the author of Black, White, Other and Pig Candy. When asked, “What are you?” she often describes herself as a woman of some color.

We’ve become a country where race is no longer so black or white.

What is it about the faces on these pages that we find so intriguing? Is it simply that their features disrupt our expectations, that we’re not used to seeing those eyes with that hair, that nose above those lips? Our responses can range from the armchair anthropologist’s benign desire to unravel ancestries and find common ground to active revulsion at group boundaries being violated or, in the language of racist days past, “watered down.”

Out in the world, the more curious (or less polite) among us might approach, asking, “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” We look and wonder because what we see—and our curiosity—speaks volumes about our country’s past, its present, and the promise and peril of its future.

The U.S. Census Bureau has collected detailed data on multiracial people only since 2000, when it first allowed respondents to check off more than one race, and 6.8 million people chose to do so. Ten years later that number jumped by 32 percent, making it one of the fastest growing categories. The multiple-race option has been lauded as progress by individuals frustrated by the limitations of the racial categories established in the late 18th century by German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who divided humans into five “natural varieties” of red, yellow, brown, black, and white. Although the multiple-race option is still rooted in that taxonomy, it introduces the factor of self-determination. It’s a step toward fixing a categorization system that, paradoxically, is both erroneous (since geneticists have demonstrated that race is biologically not a reality) and essential (since living with race and racism is). The tracking of race is used both to enforce antidiscrimination laws and to identify health issues specific to certain populations…

Read the entire article here. View the photographs here.

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