I don’t believe in this miscegenation business.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2012-11-28 23:38Z by Steven

“I don’t believe in this miscegenation business. Though all human beings are really one, various social constructs were invented to perpetuate European supremacy.”

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas

Lamont Lilly, “Afro-Latin And The Negro Common: An Interview With Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas,” Racialicious, September 5, 2012. http://www.racialicious.com/2012/09/05/afro-latin-and-the-negro-common-an-interview-with-dr-marco-polo-hernandez-cuevas/.

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Afro-Latin And The Negro Common: An Interview With Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2012-11-28 22:40Z by Steven

Afro-Latin And The Negro Common: An Interview With Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas

Racialicious
2012-09-05

Lamont Lilly

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas is the Interim Chair of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at North Carolina Central University, where his interests lie in Transatlantic and Diaspora Studies. He is the author of five books, including The Africanization of Mexico from the Sixteenth Century Onward (2010) and Africa in Mexico: A Repudiated Heritage (2007). He is the founder and director of the Mexican Institute of Africana Studies. Read along as we discuss: Colonialism, Gaspar Yanga, Ivan Van Sertima and Mexico’s Little Black Sambo.

Lamont Lilly: Dr. Cuevas, as only the second individual I know to describe themselves as Afro-Mexican can you share some insight on the cultural connections that exist within such a powerful ethic mix? And why have figures such as Gaspar Yanga and Emiliano Zapata been omitted from history’s reference of heralded freedom fighters?

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas: Well, the reason you haven’t heard many refer to themselves as Afro-Mexican is because this is a relatively new term that was first coined by Eurocentric scholars like Melville Herskovits. It was Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán who coined it in 1945 in Mexico City, during the foundational meeting of the Institute for African American Studies. However, that doesn’t mean that a color consciousness didn’t exist in Mexico. Prior to that, we had a host of names such as “Casta,” “Chilango,” “Jarocho,” and “Boshito,” all terms that refer to the lack of blood cleanliness of non-white persons. That would explain why many people in Mexico do not identify themselves as Afro-Mexican. They refer to themselves as Casta, or any of the other names previously mentioned. Recently however, there’s been a movement in the South Pacific side of Mexico whereby Afro-Mexicans do not want to be called Afro-Mexican. They just want to be called Nĕgro — Black. It erases the science and intellectuality of such embedded complexities…

…LL: Whether Maroon, Zambo or so called Negro, most persons of color throughout the Western Hemisphere are all “African Hybrids” of some varying degree. Considering such, how has colonialism maintained a successful barrier of division among our similar groups?

Hernández-Cuevas: These divisions you speak of Lamont, are engrained mostly through language. With the Spanish deploying a series of words that were heavily charged, yes, divisions were created. People were classified from the get-go when so-called “miscegenation” began. We were classified by the degree of whiteness we possessed. I don’t believe in this miscegenation business. Though all human beings are really one, various social constructs were invented to perpetuate European supremacy. Within a social pyramid, “pigmentocracy” was then introduced.

In the case of Mexico’s 500 years of colonization, which began in 1521, the physical colonization may have ended, but the mental “hold” continues to a certain degree. Many Spanish Eurocentric mental prejudices linger today as healthy as ever. Just look at the Mexican public school books our children use. We should examine more critically the one or two paragraphs that refer to African ancestry and their contribution to the building of the Americas. I can assure you, you’ll find very little, especially in Mexico. These barriers are nothing but the product of ignorance and manipulation. The trick is to unravel knowledge–to create connections by exposing similarities rather than exploiting differences…

Read the entire article here.

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Feeling Is Believing: Why Obama’s Hair Matters

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-05-31 21:38Z by Steven

Feeling Is Believing: Why Obama’s Hair Matters

Racialicious
2012-05-30

Danielle Fuentes Morgan

It’s a question President Obama has undoubtedly been asked before. It’s almost a universal African American experience, except this time it was asked under different circumstances and for a different reason.

“Can I touch your hair?”

The photo of this moment, three-years-old at this point, is making the rounds again. You’ve seen it in your inbox and on social networking sites—President Obama, bent at his waist while a five-year-old African American boy wearing a tie and dress pants touches his hair. It seems innocuous enough—meriting a few awwws certainly—but leaving some to wonder what all the fuss is about. Cute, sure. But is this news? Absolutely…

…If a black man—indeed, a black man named Barack Hussein Obama—can become leader of the free world, then what can’t a child of color do? It’s this new belief in the possibility of limitlessness that matters so much. Perhaps Jacob couldn’t believe his eyes. But by touching the president’s hair, his own potential was affirmed.

Read the entire article here.

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The Multiracial Identity Movement: Countless Ways to Misunderstand Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2011-11-04 04:15Z by Steven

The Multiracial Identity Movement: Countless Ways to Misunderstand Race

MixedRaceStudies.org
2011-11-04

Steven F. Riley

In Jen Chau’s essay, “Multiracial Families: Counted But Still Misunderstood,” in the October 31, 2011 issue of Racialiscious, reveals just how much race is misunderstood by some activists within the multiracial identity movement and exemplifies why the movement—in its current form—is incapable of leading us into a post-racial future.

Part of the “quiet” that Ms. Chau is experiencing is due to the realization that President Barack Obama is not the multiracial messiah some had thought he would be. He is neither a messiah, nor is he—as he has stated on multiple occasions—multiracial.  Unfortunately, in many ways, the policies of our first black President differ little from our previous white President (George W. Bush). Is this the “black-white mix” we were hoping for? Perhaps the quiet is the palatable disappointment in President Obama’s first three years office. What part of “race is a social construction” does she not understand?  As succinctly stated by Professor Richard Thompson Ford,

“Because race is a social category and not a biological or genetic one, Obama’s mixed parentage does not determine his race. Mixed parentage may influence one’s appearance, and a person whose appearance is racially ambiguous can influence how she is perceived. In such instances, race may be a question of personal affiliation to some extent. And mixed parentage may influence how one chooses to identify. But for the most part, society assigns us our races. At any rate, Obama’s appearance is not ambiguous, and he unquestionably identifies as black.” (Emphasis is mine.) 

A good first step would be to for activists respect Obama’s identity as they would like us to respect theirs.

My theory—which differs considerably from Ms. Chau’s—is that the “quiet” is due to fact that multiracial-identity movement is simply not the progressive force she and others think it is; and we—including activists themselves—are beginning to recognize that.  In many ways, the multiracial-identity movement mimics the tactics, ideologies and demagogueries of the right-wing conservative adherents that it claims to fight.

The problems with the movement are numerous, but they can be narrowed to three major issues: 1) Race as biology, 2) Ahistoricity, and 3) the refusal to discuss the role of white supremacy within the discourses of multiraciality.

After nearly a century of scientific acknowledgment that there is no such thing as “race” as a biological concept, why do some in the movement still pursue issues dealing with so-called “multiracial medicine?”  A truly progressive movement would preface all of its statements with the fact that “race” in short, was a concept used to justify the extermination and enslavement of non-Europeans.

Another deficiency in the multiracial movement is its unwillingness to acknowledge that so-called “racial mixing” in the Americas is a five-century—not four decade—aspect of our history.  Thus even if “race” were a biological concept, we are all most certainly “mixed” by now.  Rather than making hypocritical (demanding the freedom to self-identify for some but not for others) pronouncements on President Obama’s heterogeneous background, multiracial activists should also consider the heterogeneity of the First Lady Michelle Obama, the overwhelming vast majority of black and Latino Americans, and yes, a significant segment of white Americans. In 1927, 40 years before the mythological baby-boom that was allegedly brought about by Loving v. Virginia and just seven years after the last 20th-century census that would enumerate “mixed-race” people (Ms. Chau seems to have forgotten the seven past censuses starting in 1850 that counted mixed-race individuals), anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits, revealed that,

“The word “Negro” is, biologically, a misnomer, for the African Negroes, brought to the United States as slaves, have crossed in breeding with the dominant White population, as well as with the aboriginal American Indian types with whom they came into contact, so that there is today only a small percentage of the American Negroes who may be considered Negro in the ordinary sense of the term.” (The emphasis is mine.) 

When an early 20th-century anthropologist—in the midst of an overtly racist era—can show more insight that 21st century activists—in the midst of the so-called “Age of Obama” era—we have a serious problem.

Lastly, the most deafening “quiet” within the multiracial movement, is its silence on the role of white supremacy in the continuing oppression and shaping of identities here in United States and around the world.  It is the ideology of white supremacy that created the notion of race as biology, then racialized and dehumanized, enlslaved, and exterminated people around the world for centuries—and continue to do—to preserve the current Eurocentric hegemonic paradigm.  As Professor G. Reginald Daniel has warned,

“We should be especially concerned about any half-hearted attack on the Eurocentric paradigm in the manner of interracial colorism that merely weakens rather than eradicates the dichotomization of blackness and whiteness, while leaving intact the racial hierarchy that maintains white privilege.”

The type of incidents that agitate the multiracial identity movement today are not the growing wealth disparities among racialized groups, or current vigorous attempts to curtail voting rights of minorities ahead of the 2012 General Election, but rather the freely chosen racial identity by the President or the chosen racial identity of the child of a Hollywood celebrity.  As Ms. Chau has stated, there are many ways that we have to fight racism and ignorance, yet the movement—particularly on the internet—is more interested in exploiting the bodies of young people by hosting “mixed-race” fashion shows that conjure-up images of Quadroon Balls from the early 19th-century or posting photographs of the allegedly “multiracial person of-the-day” in a self-aggrandizing exercise that Professor Rainier Spencer has coined as “miscentrism.”  At this rate, the multiracial-identity movement will be no more effective in combating racism and ignorance than a lukewarm decaffeinated soy-triple-shot no-fat latte at Starbucks.

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Multiracial Families: Counted But Still Misunderstood

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, New Media, United States on 2011-11-01 02:27Z by Steven

Multiracial Families: Counted But Still Misunderstood

Racialicious
2011-10-31

Jen Chau, Guest Contributor

In the past couple of years, I have noticed a certain complacency that I never noticed before, in my eleven years of leading Swirl. The same passion and the same excitement around building multiracial communities had faded a bit. In the one year leading up to the Presidential election, we launched five new chapters (the norm had been a chapter every year or every other year). People were excited by the energy created by Obama’s campaign, and they were motivated and eager to be a part of creating supportive and inclusive multiracial communities.

And then once Obama was firmly placed in the White House, something happened. It got quiet…

Read the entire article here.

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The Wormiest of Cans: who gets to be “mixed race”?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-07-15 20:33Z by Steven

The Wormiest of Cans: who gets to be “mixed race”?

Racialicious
2011-07-12

Thea Lim

A few days ago on Facebook I watched two community activists have a throwdown over the phrase “mixed race.”

It began when Activist X posted a link to this article about the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and noted with some irritation that despite the festival’s claims to inclusivity, there were no Latin@s mentioned in the article. X asked: if Latin@ people are the largest group of multiracial people in the Americas and the festival is supposed to be open to everybody, why weren’t Latin@ people included? A few people agreed with X, and some people who had been at the festival said that they thought Heidi Durrow and the festival were great, but that they could see X’s point.

Enter Activist Y: after expressing some trepidation, Y said that the festival was using the term “mixed race” or “multiracial” to refer to people who had parents of two or more different racial categorisations. Activist Y said that if your whole family shared the same ethnic identity, then you were not mixed in the way the festival intended.

Dear Racializens, I am sure you can imagine what happened next: a veritable Facebook wall brawl — albeit one that was highly intellectual and restrained. Most people sided with X (it was X’s wall to begin with) and Y, after making several long attempts to explain themselves, eventually left in a digital huff.

This exchange brought back some of the most difficult writing that I have ever done on Racialicious: where readers challenged my right to call myself, as a mixed race person with parents of two different races, mixed in a separate way from those who are mixed race but share the same identity as their whole family, for e.g. folks who are mestizo, Creole, African American, Metis, Peranakan…

…Using the term “mixed race” in this narrow way is to systematically erase ethnic histories that bear witness to slavery and colonization; or simply, to erase ethnic histories, period. To do so can be read as an act of white supremacy: it covers up the fact that many Americans, regardless of skin colour or the stories elders are willing to tell, have mixed lineages. To do this silences a whole community’s right to express their experience…

Read the entire article here.

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