Playing Games with Race

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

Playing Games with Race

The Feminist Wire
2011-06-03

Omar Ricks
University of California, Berkeley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the entire article here.

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Mama’s Baby, Papa’s, Too

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-03-31 04:54Z by Steven

Mama’s Baby, Papa’s, Too

Trans-Scripts: An Interdisciplinary Journal in the Humanities and Social Sciences at UC Irvine
First Issue Launch (2011-02-16)
Volume I (2011): Race: Theories, Identities, Intersections, Histories, and the “Post-Racial” Society
4 pages

Hortense Spillers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English
Vanderbilt University

In the world of newspapers, “beneath the fold” apparently means that the feature bears only secondary interest or importance compared to what is situated above it, but in all fairness to the writer of the article that I am alluding to, all news for the last three weeks has taken a back seat—or should I say, assumed a beneath-the-fold-posture?—to events unfolding in Egypt. In a very real sense, though, post-millennium changes in American racial attitudes—the topic of the article—are in fact revolutionary-seeming and may go far to explain both the 2008 national elections and their midterm mate of 2010. Both elections “addressed” race in a more or less explicit manner and dispatched glaringly opposite messages concerning it. We might put it this way: It was as though 2010 were furious with 2008 and wrought its revenge in an election result that all but cancelled out the previous outcome. It seems that the Facebook crowd—the young and the restless—stayed home that day, and it is precisely that generational cohort toward which Susan Saulny’s New York Times piece, “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above,” is aimed and from which it draws its inspiration. For this cohort, race is no longer just “race,” but becomes a playful smorgasbord of this, that, and the other. My head spins and my eyesight grows cock-eyed, trying to figure this one out. In short, I fall down in the dizziness.

We’ve been here before, and that is the disappointment. Reminded in the course of Saulny’s treatment that terms like “mulatto,” “once tinged with shame…is enjoying a comeback in some young circles” (1), one wonders what all the brouhaha about “post-racial” identity actually means, unless the new racialist reflexes are intended to be taken as parodic gestures, but I’m not at all sure that is the case. Ms. Saulny’s article, designated as a single entry in a series that “will explore the growing number of mixed-race Americans” (20), is based on the author’s probe of the issues, conducted among some fifty students who are members of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association at the University of Maryland in College Park. Though membership in the MBSA is said to be open, the rationale for the group’s existence is predicated on the number of racial mixtures that converge on a single personality and the descriptive apparatuses that differentiate skin tone and hair type: “tan skin” and “curly brown hair,” for instance, signal, in one case, that the person’s ancestry “could have spanned the globe” (1). Americans are in the midst of a demographic shift, we know, that is fuelled by immigration and intermarriage, as “one in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities” (1). As a result, today’s undergraduate population comprises the “largest group of mixed-race people ever to come of age in the United States” (1). Needing, then, names for racial categories that do not fit the traditional census classifications, the “new” subjects of race welcome “the multiracial option… after years of complaints and lobbying, mostly by white mothers of biracial children who objected to their children being allowed to check only one race.”

What amounts to demographic data and genetic input is here transliterated into terms of human and ontological value, and that is precisely the rebarbative boomerang of the old race concept, or “the racialized perception of identity,” as Robin Blackburn describes it. Rainier Spencer’s view, cited in the article, that “‘mixed race identity is not a transcendence of race, it’s a new tribe,’” penetrates to the heart of the matter, which I would conceptualize as the mimesis of a social and political problem that misnames its vocation. And what, exactly, is the problem?

…We very much doubt that the fury here is that there are not enough boxes on the census form, or a deficit of classificatory items, or the prohibition to check more than one, or even the thwarted desire to express racial pride, but, rather, the dictates of a muted self-interest that wishes to carve its own material and political successes out of another’s hide. To that degree, these celebratory, otiose gestures are very American! In other words, if “racial ambiguity” or looking that way, can be amplified and translated into a legitimate political interest (as it is increasingly becoming a commercial one), then the padded new racism that comes about as a result will gladly declare a new class of winners. But the historical reality (which the nineteen-year olds are not aware of, and neither this author, nor anyone else has informed them of it) is that racial ambiguity is itself a new-world thematic—probably about seven centuries old by now—so that 300 million coeval Americans, all of them, could check off several race boxes on the decennial census form, and who could argue with them? But I suspect that the citizen-taxpayer is not thinking, first and foremost, about traditional race ascription when she responds to the census taker’s queries, but, rather, by what cultural name she is interpellated. Saulny apparently found out (and how silly is this?) that President Obama, for instance, checked only one box on his 2010 census form, and that was the black one, while he could have checked two, Saulny trumpets. Well, yes, he could have checked two, but this President likely has a solid grasp of race and how it operates in the social and political context of the United States, and to call oneself mixed-race, or black and white, or something and something else, means what? What work is that supposed to do for you?…

Read the entire article here.

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Among Blacks, Pride Is Mixed With Expectations for Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-01-28 23:14Z by Steven

Among Blacks, Pride Is Mixed With Expectations for Obama

The New York Times
2013-01-20

Susan Saulny

The Rev. Greggory L. Brown, a 59-year-old pastor of a small Lutheran church, committed himself to ministry and a life pursuing social justice on April 4, 1968 — the day the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was slain by an assassin’s bullet.

And four years ago, like so many African-Americans around the country, he saw Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency as nothing short of a shocking validation of Dr. King’s vision of a more perfect union, where the content of character trumps the color of skin. “I was so excited when he was giving that first inauguration speech,” said Mr. Brown, of Oakland, Calif. “I could feel it in my bones.”

On Monday, when President Obama places his hand on Dr. King’s personal Bible to take a second, ceremonial oath of office, he will be symbolically linking himself to the civil rights hero. But Mr. Brown, along with other African-Americans interviewed recently, said their excitement would be laced with a new expectation, that Mr. Obama move to the forefront of his agenda the issues that Dr. King championed: civil rights and racial and economic equality.

In interviews with experts and black leaders, some, like Mr. Brown, say they have been disappointed by the slow pace of change for African-Americans, whose children, for instance, are still more likely to live in poverty than those of any other race.

“The hope for Obama’s presidency was that there would be more help for places like Oakland and other urban areas that need support, safety and jobs,” Mr. Brown said. “He made people feel like anything is possible.”

African-Americans remain overwhelmingly supportive of the president, as evidenced by their enthusiastic turnout on Election Day and for the inauguration festivities and Monday’s holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birthday. Thousands of black Americans have descended on Washington from across the nation for the many parties and observances and visits to the King memorial.

They have developed a protective stance toward Mr. Obama, acknowledging the limits of his power and the voraciousness of his critics. Many cite the power of representation, the visual message of a prosperous, cohesive black family being beamed around the country and the world, and the untold aspirations that vision inspires.

But African-Americans roundly reject the notion that Mr. Obama’s election has eased racial tensions or delivered the nation to a new post-racial reality.

“I think the great mass of black people have shown tremendous patience, discipline and understanding, recognizing the dilemma that he faces,” said Randall L. Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of “The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Mormons and the Politics of Identity

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2012-05-22 21:03Z by Steven

Black Mormons and the Politics of Identity

The New York Times
2012-05-22

Susan Saulny

SALT LAKE CITY — When Marguerite Driessen, a professor here, entered Brigham Young University in the early 1980s, she was the first black person many Mormon students had ever met, and she spent a good bit of her college time debunking stereotypes about African-Americans. Then she converted to Mormonism herself, and went on to spend a good deal of her adult life correcting assumptions about Mormons.

So the matchup in this year’s presidential election comes as a watershed moment for her, symbolizing the hard-won acceptance of racial and religious minorities.

“A Mormon candidate and a black candidate? Who would have thunk!” Ms. Driessen said. “I think 30 years ago, we would not have had this choice.”

After examining the dual — and sometimes conflicting — identities, she has decided that she will cast her vote for President Obama over Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee. Ms. Driessen believes that there is plenty in the Book of Mormon to support Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and she likes to cite chapter and verse, like Mosiah 29:39 and 23:13…

…While the church does not track members by race, there are thriving Mormon churches with hundreds of black members today in many urban areas, including Washington, Chicago and New York, although African-Americans represent only a tiny fraction of the six million Mormons in the United States…

…“I feel a definite sense of pride in the U.S.A. that we have a Mormon candidate and black candidate,” said Catherine Spruill, who is mixed-race like Mr. Obama and Mormon like Mr. Romney. “I feel pride for my people, because America picked that.”…

…Religion is always on her mind, however, and she particularly enjoys a certain political punch line that is making the rounds among some black Mormons here.

It goes like this: Mr. Obama calls Mr. Romney to say he thinks it is time the country had a Mormon president. But just as Mr. Romney is thanking the president for the apparent concession, Mr. Obama interrupts him to say, “My baptism is on Saturday.”

Undoubtedly, some black Mormons are still wrestling with the decision of whom to vote for.

“It’s tough because you’ve got the first black president, but he’s running against a candidate who has the values I believe in,” said Eddie Gist, 43, a black Mormon who lives in Salt Lake City. Mr. Gist said he may end up leaning more toward Mr. Romney, but added, “I really can’t go wrong either way.”…

Read the entire article here.  Watch the video of the interview with Susan Saulny and Megan Liberman here.

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Race Remixed?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-02-02 02:41Z by Steven

Race Remixed?

Living Anthropologically
2011-03-28

Jason Antrosio, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York

The 2000 U.S. Census was the first in modern times allowing respondents to check off more than one box for the mandatory race question. In 2010, the number of people checking more than one box grew enormously. At the New York Times, Susan Saulny investigates “the growing number of mixed-race Americans” in a series called “Race Remixed.”
 
This post uses Saulny’s numbers to do a reality check. There may be some interesting things going on with regard to personal attitudes about racial identification, but in terms of how race really matters–economic and political inequalities, or structural racism–the trends look more like retrenchment.
 
Race and racism in the U.S. today is best seen through economic and political inequalities. The average white household holds ten to twenty times the wealth of the average black household. This gap is growing, as reported in “The Racial Wealth Gap Increases Fourfold” (2010). And despite Barack Obama, black political power is extremely limited:…

…Given these present inequalities–which by some measures are increasing, not decreasing–I don’t find it very interesting that “many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity,” the subject of Saulny’s first article “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above.” Personal feelings about race and identity could influence economic-political inequality, but it will not be automatic. There are already a lot of white people who say “race doesn’t matter anymore.” They are often the same people who ask “why do all the black people sit together?” or complain about affirmative action and “reverse racism.” Statements of “race doesn’t matter anymore” or rejecting color lines often are claims to a more enlightened-progressive state, better than benighted previous generations, or people of color, who are tagged as “more racist.” Saulny does briefly mention the “pessimists” who think the emphasis on mixing might “lead to more stratification.” She also writes “it is telling that the rates of intermarriage are lowest between blacks and whites, indicative of the enduring economic and social distance between them.” Still, the vast bulk of the article is about new multiracial college students celebrating mixture.

Saulny’s second article, “Black and White and Married in the Deep South” is more interesting. It is certainly worth investigating the rise of black-white marriages in places like Mississippi, where such unions were illegal 50 years ago, and where “a black man could face mortal danger just being seen with a woman of another race.” This is not to say southern states are “more racist” than northern states, which still boast the most segregated cities in the United States. Northern states have usually been able to get by on economic-geographic segregation instead of explicit legal sanction or lethal violence, although there has been plenty of legal sanction and lethal violence in northern states (see “A Dream Still Deferred” on Detroit). In any case, it is actually difficult to tell what is going on in Mississippi–is there really an increase, or are people just checking off different boxes in 2010 than they did in 2000?
 
The question remains as to whether inter-racial marriages can alter the structure of economic and political inequality. On this question, the graphic of “Who is Marrying Whom” is very enlightening. The numbers hint at three points I elaborate below: first, white people and the white-black household wealth gap are not going away; second, the “Hispanic” category shows signs of bifurcating into white and black; third, Asian-Americans have more securely become “probationary whites”:

What matters here is how the changing construction of whiteness intersects with the maintenance of a white/black divide that structures all race relations in the United States. Whether significant numbers of the people now called Latinos or Asian Americans–or the significant numbers of their known “mixed” offspring with whites–will become probationary whites and thus reinforce the structure is an important indicator of the future of race relations in the United States. (Trouillot 2003:151, Global Transformations)

White people are not going away
 
In 2009, approximately 95% of white people married each other, a figure that rises to 97% if “Hispanic (white)” is included. About five whites out of every thousand married a black person, or about 0.5%. That’s not going to change the wealth gap. Indeed, I suspect the numbers of white-black intermarriages decrease as one moves up the class ladder, but the overall number is so miniscule that further tracking is unnecessary.
 
There is certainly more white-black intermixture than registered by official marriage numbers. As “Census Data Presents Rise in Multiracial Population of Youths” reveals, the most common multi-racial combination chosen is white-and-black. This may simply be recognizing a long history of intermixture: “America already has almost 400 years of race mixing behind it, beginning with that first slave ship that sailed into Jamestown harbor carrying slaves who were already pregnant by members of the crew” (Brent Staples, 1999, “The Real American Love Story“). However, mixing has not altered overall white-black disparities. White people, white privilege, white-black wealth gap: no reason from the 2010 numbers to believe there will be much change….

Read the entire article here.

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Unless we solve those issues of inequality in other areas, interracial families are going to be questioned about why they’d cross that line…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-10-14 03:14Z by Steven

Jenifer L. Bratter, an associate sociology professor at Rice University who has studied multiracialism, said that as long as race continued to affect where people live, how much money they make and how they are treated, then multiracial families would be met with double-takes. “Unless we solve those issues of inequality in other areas, interracial families are going to be questioned about why they’d cross that line,” she said.

Susan Saulny, “In Strangers’ Glances at Family, Tensions Linger,” The New York Times, October 13, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/us/for-mixed-family-old-racial-tensions-remain-part-of-life.html.

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In Strangers’ Glances at Family, Tensions Linger

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2011-10-13 14:00Z by Steven

In Strangers’ Glances at Family, Tensions Linger

The New York Times
2011-10-13

Susan Saulny

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — “How come she’s so white and you’re so dark?”

The question tore through Heather Greenwood as she was about to check out at a store here one afternoon this summer. Her brown hands were pushing the shopping cart that held her babbling toddler, Noelle, all platinum curls, fair skin and ice-blue eyes.

The woman behind Mrs. Greenwood, who was white, asked once she realized, by the way they were talking, that they were mother and child. “It’s just not possible,” she charged indignantly. “You’re so…dark!”

It was not the first time someone had demanded an explanation from Mrs. Greenwood about her biological daughter, but it was among the more aggressive. Shaken almost to tears, she wanted to flee, to shield her little one from this kind of talk. But after quickly paying the cashier, she managed a reply. “How come?” she said. “Because that’s the way God made us.”

The Greenwood family tree, emblematic of a growing number of American bloodlines, has roots on many continents. Its mix of races — by marriage, adoption and other close relationships — can be challenging to track, sometimes confusing even for the family itself…

Jenifer L. Bratter, an associate sociology professor at Rice University who has studied multiracialism, said that as long as race continued to affect where people live, how much money they make and how they are treated, then multiracial families would be met with double-takes. “Unless we solve those issues of inequality in other areas, interracial families are going to be questioned about why they’d cross that line,” she said.

According to Census data, interracial couples have a slightly higher divorce rate than same-race couples — perhaps, sociologists say, because of the heightened stress in their lives as they buck enduring norms. And children in mixed families face the challenge of navigating questions about their identities…

…Once, on a beach chair at a resort in Florida years ago, a white woman sunning herself next to Mrs. Dragan bemoaned the fact that black children were running around the pool. “Isn’t it awful?” Mrs. Dragan recalled the woman confiding to her.

Within minutes, Mrs. Dragan, ever feisty despite her reserved appearance, had her brood by her side. “I’d like to introduce you to my children,” she told the woman. Awkward silence ensued…

Read the entire article here.

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Getting Back to Basics: Re-Reading NYT’s “Race Remixed”

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-09-11 09:29Z by Steven

Getting Back to Basics: Re-Reading NYT’s “Race Remixed”

Nuñez Daughter
2011-02-15

Kismet Nuñez

A few weeks ago, @TrickAmaka sent me a New York Times piece by Susan Saulny on the high numbers of adults who identify as mixed-race as of the 2010 census.  In what was apparently the first in a series titled “Race Remixed,” the article focuses on a group of students at the University of Maryland as part of “the crop of students moving through college right now” who make up “the largest group of mixed-race people ever to come of age in the United States.”  Apparently, inquiring minds expect to latest census to reflect the changing dynamics of race in America:

One in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to data from 2008 and 2009 that was analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Multiracial and multiethnic Americans (usually grouped together as “mixed race”) are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups. And experts expect the racial results of the 2010 census, which will start to be released next month, to show the trend continuing or accelerating.

I’m glad I waited until after V-Day to even click the link.  Turns out the second article basically redacted the first (it is, *gasp* a “complex” matter, quantifying and analyzing the mixed-race population), and the third (well, what do you, our ever so intelligent and enraged readers, think?) threw the topic to the wolves of the blogosphere for further discussion…

The piece is mostly NYT playing Columbus and re-discovering race (mixture) in this country.  Again.  After all, what do you with bleached out phrases like these:

“Some proportion of the country’s population has been mixed-race since the first white settlers had children with Native Americans.”

 A bit of rape with your legacy of colonialism?  A dollop of indentured servitude and forced labor on the side?  How Disney of you…

…And I affirm Ms. Wood, Ms. López-Mullins, and all of the other students who were brave enough to talk to a reporter about what is going on in their hearts and in their heads.  Figuring out who you are is no easy feat, regardless of your race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, political affiliation, etc., etc., etc.
 
But there is a legacy of violence that underlies all of these identity claims and we need to make that central to the discussion.   Once upon a time a black man boy was lynched for whistling at a white woman.  Once upon a time a black woman was raped for walking down the wrong road.  Once upon a time a white woman was enslaved for not being white enough (or was she?).
 
And because we should never speak of these relations as though they were simply a matter of romance, a rainbow conflagration of resistance that just happened to occur between the legs of women of color, I will also never advocate for “mixed-race” as a corporate identity…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed-Race Students Wonder How Many Boxes to Check

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, United States on 2011-06-14 13:56Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Students Wonder How Many Boxes to Check

The New York Times
2011-06-14

Susan Saulny

Jacques Steinberg

Multiracial students confess to spending sleepless nights worrying about how best to answer the race question on college applications. Some say they wonder whether their answers will be perceived as gamesmanship or a reflection of reality…

Read the entire article here.

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On College Forms, a Question of Race, or Races, Can Perplex

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, United States on 2011-06-14 12:31Z by Steven

On College Forms, a Question of Race, or Races, Can Perplex

The New York Times
2011-06-13

Susan Saulny

Jacques Steinberg

HOUSTON — At the beginning of the college application season last fall, Natasha Scott, a high school senior of mixed racial heritage in Beltsville, Md., vented about a personal dilemma on College Confidential, the go-to electronic bulletin board for anonymous conversation about admissions.

“I just realized that my race is something I have to think about,” she wrote, describing herself as having an Asian mother and a black father. “It pains me to say this, but putting down black might help my admissions chances and putting down Asian might hurt it.”

“My mother urges me to put down black to use AA” — African-American — “to get in to the colleges I’m applying to,” added Ms. Scott, who identified herself on the site as Clearbrooke. “I sort of want to do this but I’m wondering if this is morally right.”

Within minutes, a commenter had responded, “You’re black. You should own it.” Someone else agreed, “Put black!!!!!!!! Listen to your mom.”

No one advised marking Asian alone. But one commenter weighed in with advice that could just as well have come from any college across the country: “You can put both. You can put one. You’re not dishonest either way. Just put how you feel.”…

…Some scholars worry that the growth in multiracial applicants could further erode the original intent of affirmative action, which is to help disadvantaged minorities. For example, families with one black parent and one white parent are on average more affluent than families with two black parents. When choosing between two such applicants, some universities might lean toward the multiracial student because he will need less financial aid while still counting toward affirmative-action goals.

“How do we include multiracials in our view of an egalitarian society and not do it in a way that disadvantages other groups?” said Ulli K. Ryder, visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University…

A Growing Category

Rice University in Houston might, given its early history, seem an unlikely place to find admissions officers wrestling with questions of race as they size up their applicants. A private and highly selective institution, it was founded in the early 1900s by a wealthy Houston businessman as an exclusively white institution, a designation it maintained through the late 1960s.

And yet these days, white students are now only 43 percent of the student body at Rice, where an applicant’s racial identification can become an admissions game changer. This can be especially true during the “committee round” in early spring, when only a few dozen slots might remain for a freshman class expected to number about 1,000.

At that stage, a core group of five to seven bleary-eyed admissions officers will convene for debate around a rectangular laminate table strewn with coffee cups and half-eaten doughnuts as the applications of those students still under consideration are projected onto a 60-inch plasma TV screen.

For most of the nearly 14,000 who applied this year, the final decision — admit or deny — was a relatively straightforward one resolved early on, based on the admissions officers’ sampling of factors like test scores, grades, extracurricular activities and recommendations.

But there are several thousand applicants whose fate might still be in limbo by the committee round because their qualifications can seem fairly indistinguishable from one another. This is when an applicant’s race — or races — might tip the balance.

“From an academic standpoint, the qualifying records, the test scores, how many AP courses, they may all look alike,” said Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice since 2006. “That’s when we might go and say, ‘This kid has a Spanish surname. Let’s see what he wrote about.’ Right or wrong, it can make a difference.”…

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