What’s the Difference with “Difference”?

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-09 20:48Z by Steven

What’s the Difference with “Difference”?

University of Washington
Kane Hall, Room 120
4069 Spokane Lane
Seattle, Washington 98105
2016-01-14, 19:30 PST (Local Time)

Ralina L. Joseph, Associate Professor
Department of Communication
(also adjunct associate professor in the Departments of American Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies)
University of Washington

Language is power. The words we use and the names we say count, both individually and institutionally. This is particularly true when it comes to minoritized, identity-based nomenclature, such as the language of a racialized and gendered naming. The movement from “colored” to “negro” to “black” to “African-American” signifies important historical shifts in the state and community-naming processes. In other words, the words we use matter in terms of how we assess, frame, and ultimately understand difference.

But what about the naming of “difference” itself? Difference is a term that late 20th and early 21st century scholars of race, gender, and sexuality have claimed and yet left largely untheorized. We use the word difference almost reflexively. Difference replaces—or rather revises—diversity, multiculturalism, or a long-connected string of descriptors such as race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ability. But what does this shift in language mean and why is it significant for the ways in which we assess, inhabit, and perhaps even change our world? Does a change to “difference” lead to a change in identity and inequality?

Registration opens December 2015.

You do not need to be an alum of the University of Washington to attend or register.

For more information, click here.

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New UW center to encourage race, diversity dialogue

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-26 04:00Z by Steven

New UW center to encourage race, diversity dialogue

The Seattle Times

Katherine Long, Seattle Times higher education reporter

Ralina Joseph is the new director of the University of Washington’s Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

A new center at the University of Washington aims to help people figure out how to better communicate about race, equity and diversity.

University of Washington professor Ralina Joseph thinks what we’re seeing in the nation today could be the start of a new civil-rights movement. And at times, college students are leading the charge.

“It feels like a moment at the UW — a potential moment of change,” Joseph said. “Students are more radicalized now, talking to faculty, than people have seen since the ’60s and early ’70s.”

Into this moment steps the university’s new Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, which opened its doors on the Seattle campus at the end of May and is headed by Joseph. Housed in the Department of Communication, it knits together 40 faculty members from a variety of departments, from American ethnic studies to history and sociology…

…She knows some critics may see the mission as another example of political correctness, and that naysayers may argue the country has moved beyond these issues — given that the nation elected a black president, Seattle elected a gay mayor, the Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriages.

Yet Joseph says the data show a person’s race, class, gender and sexual orientation “dictate how your life is going to be lived.” Those factors still influence whether you’ll be able to get a mortgage, or be approved for an apartment rental, to name just a few of the implications, she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Kids Roundtable: The Politics of Multiracialism and Identity

Posted in Audio, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-28 02:39Z by Steven

Mixed Kids Roundtable: The Politics of Multiracialism and Identity

iMiXWHATiLiKE!: Emancipatory Journalism and Broadcasting

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

We were joined in this edition of iMiXWHATiLiKE! by a roundtable of panelists for a discussion of the politics of multiracialism and identity. Our guests included: Dr. Ralina Joseph, associate professor in UW’s Department of Communication and adjunct associate professor in the Departments of American Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, Her first book, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, 2012), critiques anti-Black racism in mixed-race African American representations in the decade leading up to Obama’s 2008 election; Dr. Darwin Fishman, Adjunct Professor at San Diego City College; and Ms. Lisa Fager, Professional agitator, Free Mind. Co-founder Industry Ears. Social market-er. HIV/AIDS Advocate. Indy Voter. Hip Hop. Black. White. Spook Who Sat By the Door. We talked about the film Dear White People and more generally about the history of multiracial identities and the politics of popular culture representation of those identities, and bunch more!

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Have That Awkward Conversation About Race – And Yes, Whiteness Too

Posted in Articles, Audio, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-27 01:42Z by Steven

Have That Awkward Conversation About Race – And Yes, Whiteness Too

KUOW 94.9 FM
Seattle, Washington

Jamala Henderson, Morning Newscaster/Reporter

Protests over high profile police shootings have renewed calls to discuss police treatment of African-Americans – and talk about race relations in general. But how do we have those difficult and often awkward conversations? KUOW’s Jamala Henderson put that question to University of Washington Professor Ralina Joseph. Highlights from the interview:

How do I talk about race with family and friends?

I tell them you need to just start talking. It needs to be a conversation about what does your family look like? What does your family talk about? What are the silences that you have? There’s not one simple answer. The answer is honestly engaging in dialog engaging in conversation.

What makes race so difficult to talk about?

Some people refuse to name people by race and ethnicity for example in thinking that that’s a progressive move that shows to them they’re colorblind and they’re above labeling people.

But I think that’s actually part of the problem. Pretending that people are all the same, that we don’t see difference, doesn’t actually make disproportionality go away. It just means that we don’t actually have the tools to be able to talk about describe race…

Read the interview here. Listen to the interview here.

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Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial by Ralina L. Joseph (review) [Ardizzone]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-10-29 00:25Z by Steven

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial by Ralina L. Joseph (review) [Ardizzone]

African American Review
Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2013
pages 787-790
DOI: 10.1353/afa.2013.0105

Heidi Ardizzone, Assistant Professor of American Studies
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

Joseph, Ralina L., Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012)

Ralina Joseph begins Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial with a personal story. Her own engagement with ongoing debates over identity, ancestry, authenticity, and race mirrored political and cultural shifts in perceptions of people of mixed ancestry at the time. As a college student in the 1990s, Joseph quickly embraced the term multiracial to describe her own “race story,” becoming a leader of Brown (University’s) Organization of Multi- and Biracial Students (BOMBS). Being multiracial became, she says, a “full blown preoccupation” (xv), resulting in her undergraduate thesis on cultural depictions of black-white women. Transcending Blackness continues this project, identifying two related images, the millennial mulatta, and the exceptional multiracial, which operate in a dialectic cultural relationship as a “two-sided stereotype” (5). Joseph defines both representations in relationship to blackness: Millennials are punished for their attempts to identify as black; exceptionals are rewarded for transcending blackness or even race itself. Rather than demonstrating that blackness might be embraced “in messy, hybridized, multiracial forms” in the cultural texts Joseph examines, blackness is the thing that “must be risen above, surpassed, or truly transcended” (4). However, Joseph also introduces a third potential option: multiracial blackness, identifying positively and simultaneously as mixed and as black or African American. While she embraces this option for herself and claims it as a dominant identity, the authors whose works she analyzes never display it in their fictional depictions of this black-unite figure. So multiracial blackness forms a third point in a now triangulated relationship that crosses the line between social experience and cultural representation.

Transcending Blackness follows a familiar literary and media studies format: The Preface, Introduction, and Conclusion bracket four chapters, each focusing on a particular genre, work, and multiracial or black-white female character. Joseph’s Introduction lays out her terms and framework, while providing a clear and concise history of people of mixed ancestry, of their treatment and categorization, and of the attitudes toward and circumstances of interracial unions. She also provides a selective trajectory of literary and media depictions of the black-white figure covering roughly a century prior to her target years of 1998-2008. This decade spans the first inclusion of the “pick one or more” option under the federal census’ racial categories, and the election of the first U.S. president who could have—but publically didn’t—exercise that option. Like the twenty years that preceded it, the 1998-2008 decade falls squarely in the overlapping postracial and postfeminist eras that Joseph identifies as key to understanding the shifting meaning of the representations of black-white women. However, her decade is a static one: Her chapters are not chronological, but organized around her analytic positioning of each text and character within her framework.

One result of this is that the four main chapters operate in some ways more as related essays than as an integrated argument. But there is a consistent analytical thread. In the first two chapters Joseph presents two examples of the new millennium mulatta to show “how blackness is cause and effect of sadness and pain for the multiracial African American figure.” The last two chapters then argue that for the exceptional multiracial “blackness is an irrelevant entity” (6). And the first chapter sets up Joseph’s argument, not just for the new millennium mulatta, but also for the absence of the multiracial blackness that Joseph is looking for but doesn’t find—at least not in the form in which she desires it to be…

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Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial. Ralina L. Joseph. [Cannon]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-11 06:58Z by Steven

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial. Ralina L. Joseph. [Cannon]

MELUS: Multi-Ethnic LIterature of the United States
Volume 39, Issue 3 (Fall 2014)
pages 207-209
DOI: 10.1093/melus/mlu028

Sarita Cannon, Associate Professor of English Language and Literature
San Francisco State University

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial. Ralina L. Joseph. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. 248 pages. $84.95 cloth; $23.95 paper.

Ralina L. Joseph’s timely book about representations of multiracial black women in popular culture makes a significant contribution to the growing field of critical mixed-race studies. Drawing on research in various fields, Joseph closely reads four texts produced between 1998 and 2008: Showtime’s television series The L Word (2004-09), Danzy Senna’s coming-of-age novel Caucasia (1998), Alison Swan’s independent film Mixing Nia (1998), and the reality competition show America’s Next Top Model (2003-present). Joseph examines representations of black mixed-race subjectivity in these texts through two tropes: the new millennium mulatta and the exceptional multiracial. These two very different archetypes of multiracial identity are nonetheless linked by a common desire to transcend blackness, a proposition that Joseph argues is deeply troubling in twenty-first-century America, where, although many proclaim that affirmative action is no longer necessary, structural inequalities between blacks and whites remain entrenched.

One of Joseph’s central claims in Transcending Blackness is that popular representations of black mixed-race women fall into one of two categories. The new millennium mulatta is, in many ways, a revision of the tragic mulatta figure, made popular in films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Imitation of Life (1959). According to Joseph, the new…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Beyond Biracial: When Blackness Is a Small, Nearly Invisible Fraction

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2014-05-13 21:29Z by Steven

Beyond Biracial: When Blackness Is a Small, Nearly Invisible Fraction

The Root

Jenée Desmond-Harris, Senior Staff Writer and White House Correspondent

In the past, these Americans would have been labeled “quadroons” or “octoroons.” Today their options are so much broader. What can they teach us about race in 2014 and in the future?

Stephanie Troutman, a 36-year-old professor at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., has a white mother and a black father. She has her own family’s racial elevator speech down to a single sentence: “I’m a mixed woman who has a child with a black man and a child with a white man.” Her 7-year-old son, Rex, is unambiguous when it comes to his racial identity and “very pro black,” even protesting when he’s described as merely “brown,” she says.

With her 11-year-old daughter, Melora—whose pale, golden-hued skin; light eyes; and long, copper-colored hair prompt strangers to ask if she’s “Mediterranean” or “Arab”—things aren’t as simple.

“For now I’ve told her that she’s a person of color. That’s the best way I can explain it. I want to take it away from black and white because those are weird options for her,” Troutman says. “But I always kind of knew that I’d have a kid who looked white, and I was right. When Melora was born, my friends were like, ‘How did her dad’s white hippie granola genes completely beat out your biracial genes?’ ”

Despite those biracial genes, Troutman realized as a teen that most people see her as “just light skinned” (in other words, black). That hit home one day in the mid-1990s when, in a classically tragic black-identity-forming moment, a Florida stranger yelled “nigger” at her from a passing car.

“At first I was like, ‘Damn, that’s kind of messed up. Who are they yelling at?’ And then I realized I was the only person on the street.”

Given the way she’s perceived, Troutman is “willing to talk about the biracial thing”—her own mixed heritage—in certain contexts, but most of the time, she says, “I don’t think there’s anything new or interesting about it.”

What is interesting to Troutman is the experience of her preteen daughter, who, if you’re doing the crude math, is one-quarter black. She’s the kind of person who would have been called a “quadroon” when that “one-drop rule“-inspired term appeared on census forms between about 1850 and 1920, alongside its also-retired relatives, “octoroon” (one-eighth black) and mulatto (one-half).

Of course, as Zebulon V. Miletsky, a visiting assistant professor of Africana studies at Stony Brook University whose research interests include the history of the mixed-race experience, explains, “A lot of times, the people who took the census would sort of guess those things.”…

…Attention to Americans who have both black- and white-identified parents peaked during what Miletsky calls the “biracial boom” of the 1990s. They found celebrity touchstones in the likes of Mariah Carey and Halle Berry; validation from support organizations; and—in the ultimate victory for those whose rallying cry was “Don’t put me in a box!“—the creation in 2000 of a new, multiracial census category. With that, says Ralina L. Joseph, author of Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial, came the fading of the “tragic mulatto” stereotype and the emergence of the “millennium mulatto,” along with an accompanying sense of legitimacy…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race America: Identities and Culture

Posted in Arts, Communications/Media Studies, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-02-26 22:12Z by Steven

Mixed Race America: Identities and Culture

Fifteenth Annual American Studies Conference
Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55105
2014-02-27 through 2014-02-28

Keynote Address
Thursday, 2014-02-27, 18:00-19:30 CST (Local Time)
Alexander G. Hill Ballroom
Kagin Commons, Macalester

Keynote Speakers:

Ralina L. Joseph, Associate Professor of Communication
University of Washington

Author of: Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, 2012).

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Co-editor of: War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013).

Cover design by Ricardo Levins Morales

The American Studies Department at Macalester College is honored to host the 15th annual American Studies Conference, “Mixed Race America: Identities and Culture.”

Held every February during Black History Month, the conference brings renowned scholars to campus to present their work and engage with faculty, staff, students, alumni and Twin Cities residents. The conference seeks to highlight the links between scholarship, activism and civic engagement. Each year a different theme is selected based on pertinent issues.

The American Studies Department serves as the academic focal point for the study of race and ethnicity in a national and transnational framework.

For more information on the American Studies Department or this event, contact Kathie Scott at scott@macalester.edu.

For more information, click here. Read the program guide here.

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Transcending blackness: from the new millennium mulatta to the exceptional multiracial [Aspinall Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2013-10-15 02:23Z by Steven

Transcending blackness: from the new millennium mulatta to the exceptional multiracial [Aspinall Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 5, 2014
pages 850-851
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.831934

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader in Population Health
University of Kent, UK

Transcending blackness: from the new millennium mulatta to the exceptional multiracial, by Ralina L. Joseph. Durham and London. Duke University Press. 2013.
xx+ 226 pp., (paperback). ISBN 978-0-8223-5292-1

This book is concerned with representations of mixed-race African American women, notably, the two categories into which fall the mainstream images of mixed-race blackness: the new millennium mulatta. exceedingly tragic, always divided, alone, and uncomfortable, and the exceptional multiracial, unifying, strikingly successful post-racial ideal. The analysed texts which form the main body of the book belong to the 1998-2008 era (following the debates about capture of the multiracial population in the 2000 US Census), a period during which representations crystallized into this two-sided stereotype. Both are rooted in a condemnation of blackness which is either implicit as where blackness is stigmatized through the presentation of tragic mulatta inevitability or explicit, where discarding the burden of blackness means arriving at a safely post-racial state. Both representations take place in the context of gendered and sexualized as well as racialized performances.

An in-depth approach is adopted in which four representative works are examined with regard to the textual nuances that construct the two stereotypes. Part 1 explores the new millennium mulatlas: the bad race girl’ in Jennifer Beals’s portrayal of Bette Porter on the cable television drama The L Word (2004-2008), in which Bette is mired in the tragic misfortune and destiny of the mulatta: and the ‘sad race girl’ in Danzy Senna’s novel ‘Caucasia‘ (1998), which investigates how Senna reinterprets the tragic mulatta heroine in her production of a new millennium mulatta representation. Race and gender arc the drivers that torture the protagonists who are unable to achieve the states of post-race and post-feminism. In part II, ‘The Exceptional Multiracial’. Joseph interrogates representations that develop the character of the racial-transforming mixed-race title character in Alison Swan’s independent film ‘Mixing Nia‘ (1998) and the racial-switching mixed-race contestant in an episode of Tyra Banks’s reality television show ‘America’s Next Top Model‘ (2005). These representations portray blackness as an irrelevant entity for the multiracial, something that can and should be transcended through racialized performances. Blackness, the cause of sadness and pain for the multiracial African American, must be erased or surpassed in order to reach a state of health or success.

These particular works were chosen by Joseph as they were ‘representations of this particular time period and particular subgenre of multiracial African American representations’ and are not isolated representations of mixed-race African Americans but representative texts. Indeed, she contends that contemporary black-white representations do not go beyond this binary, the idea that blackness is a deficit that black and multiracial people must overcome…

Read or purchase the review here.

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“Well, if you were to ask him. President Obama is black. He is African-American.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-07-14 16:55Z by Steven

Steve Scher: “What is President Obama?”

Ralina Joseph: “Well, if you were to ask him. President Obama is black. He is African-American.”

Steve Scher: “Yeah. When President Obama came out after the Trayvon Martin killing and he said, ‘My kids would have looked like Trayvon Martin if they had been boys.’… Let’s unpack all of the things that were being said there. What was he saying about his identity?”

Ralina Joseph: “So, this is a really interesting question. I think that he is identifying as black and in the way which we have seen President Obama identify publically it has been as black. He has also talked about his white family. He’s also famously referenced his mother from Kansas and his father from Kenya. But that has not precluded his identifying as African-American. I think that in real life that these identities are always together. They’re very much a part of each other. They’re fluidly understood. They’re simultaneous. And yet, when we understand race, we think about them in these really separate binaristic manners. So it makes sense to me that he identifies very much with Trayvon Martin’s family and also can talk about his white and Asian-American family, for example.”

Steve Scher, “Ralina Joseph discusses her book Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial,” Weekday with Steve Scher, KUOW.org Seattle, 94.9 FM. (April 15, 2013). http://cpa.ds.npr.org/kuow/audio/2013/04/WeekdayA20130415.mp3 (00:18:50-00:20:07).

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