Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-30 14:23Z by Steven

Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

The Harvard Crimson: The University Daily since 1873
Harvard University
2014-09-25

Maia R. Silber, Crimson Staff Writer

While last year’s “I, Too, Am Harvard” focused on identity and belongingness on a multiracial campus, Harvard’s AAPI students will also examine these concepts within the context of their own community.

It is a Saturday night, and it is raining—two factors counting against attendance at the talk co-hosted by Harvard’s Asian American Brotherhood and Black Men’s Forum. But a surprising number of people have filtered through the double doors of Boylston Hall, filling the plush red chairs only vaguely oriented around an old-fashioned projector. Stragglers lean against the shade-less windows, their elbows forming perpendicular angles with the droplets pounding on the other side.

Really, it’s no surprise that neither weather nor the opportunity cost of missed social engagements has deterred the audience; the talk centers on the buzz-worthy issue of affirmative action. Both campus groups have invited an alumnus who’s an expert on the issue for two short presentations, to be followed by a Q&A.

Gregory D. Kristof ’15, the education and politics director of AAB, a campus organization whose mission statement cites dedication to brotherhood, service, and activism, introduces AAB’s alumnus. Kristof focuses on the third part of AAB’s mission—the group’s discussions of discrimination and race-relations.

“We can only make so much progress if we only discuss these issues among AAB—among Asian Americans,” he says.

As discussions about race and inclusiveness have moved to the forefront of campus life with the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign, many Asian American student organizations have launched their own dialogues about issues pertinent to their community. But the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at Harvard—representing around 24 percent of the school’s population—encompasses individuals of dozens of different national, ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious identities. It includes students born here and students born in Asia, biracial students and multiracial students. How can a unified political force emerge from such a diverse and multifaceted population? Is this even a goal to aspire to?…

…Many students remain unsure as to how to define their own identities. “Sometimes I think of myself as Asian, but sometimes I don’t,” said Jacob. “When I see an Asian collaboration happening, do I automatically think that we should be included? Not necessarily.”

“Asian American” identities are further complicated by biracial and multiracial heritages. Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association holds an annual discussion called “So What Are You Anyway?”

“When we get together, people always ask, ‘Do you feel more Asian or more white?’” says outgoing HAPA president Allison W. Giebisch ’16, who is of half-Austrian and half-Chinese descent. “When I go to China, people don’t think I’m Chinese. In the U.S., people don’t think I’m American.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Raceless Like Me: Students at Harvard Navigate their Way Beyond the Boundaries of Race

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-12 21:41Z by Steven

Raceless Like Me: Students at Harvard Navigate their Way Beyond the Boundaries of Race

The Harvard Crimson
Harvard University
2011-10-13

Zoe A. Y. Weinberg, Crimson Staff Writer

One day last fall, Paula M. Maouyo ’14 sat in front of her laptop in Matthews trying to think of a topic for her Expos paper about racial identity.

When Maouyo was a child, she identified as biracial. Her father is black, originally from Chad and her mother is white and American. But by the time she was nine, she began to move away from a biracial identity.

“For a long time I just didn’t identify,” Maouyo said, though she acknowledges that when most people look at her, they immediately categorize her as black.

She had never articulated her non-identification in concrete terms. That is, until she began brainstorming for her Expos paper.

After floating around ideas and fiddling with labels and words, Maouyo suddenly conceived of a term she felt most accurately captured her own identity: araciality.

“People use apolitical and asexual,” Maouyo observed. “Why not aracial?”…

…THE RACIAL SKEPTIC

“Transcendent identity” was first described by Dr. Kerry Ann Rockquemore, a former sociology professor and author of Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America. The current working definition of racial transcendence that she offers—and the one that will be used in this article—is the conscious rejection of racial identity altogether. Not “black,” “white,” or “both” —but rather, “none.”

“My journey has taken me past constructions of race, past constructions of mixed race, and into an understanding of human difference that does not include race as a meaningful category,” wrote Rainier Spencer, the founder and director of Afro-American Studies at the University of Nevada, who identifies as racially transcendent.

Spencer grew up in a black neighborhood in Queens in the 60s with a white mother and black father. Over the years, Spencer has identified as everything from Afro-German to New Yorker to academic to baby boomer. It was not until his thirties, when he was a philosophy teacher at a northeastern college, that he began to question racial identity itself.

During the 1990s, debates about the politics of multiracial identity began to emerge in academic circles. According to Spencer, most of the discussion at the time revolved around the relative importance of multiracial versus monoracial identity.

Spencer entered the debate as a racial skeptic. “A lot of the black scholars who are against multiracial identity are very invested in black identity,” Spencer said. “I think all racial identity is bogus, and that makes me kind of unique.”

Race transcendence should not be confused with color-blindness, which advocates ignoring race without confronting the inequality and discrimination it breeds. Color-blindness implies that racism can be solved passively. Racelessness is far more complex, because people who transcend race “are actually aware of how race negatively affects the daily existence of people of color. They have very likely experienced discrimination, yet they respond by understanding those situations as part of a broad societal problem; one in which they are deeply embedded, but not one that leads to their subscription to racial identity,” according to Rockquemore as cited on a website for race transcenders

…WHO GETS TO BE RACELESS?

A lot of people might claim not to have a race for one reason or another. According to professor Jennifer Hochschild, who teaches “Transformation of the American Racial Order?”, there are three groups of people that might refuse to identify by race: 1) disaffected (probably white) people who believe the world is post-racial and that we should all be color-blind; 2) recent immigrants for whom American racial categories simply do not resonate nor make any sense; and 3) bi-racial or multiracial people who do not identify with any particular racial category…

…White students might also check “none” for other reasons. Sometimes white students will check the “other” box is if they are uncomfortable with the social meaning of whiteness, said Natasha K. Warikoo, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Education who studies race, immigration, and inequality in educational contexts. “It signifies privilege and racial exploitation, a history that some white people are uncomfortable with,” she said. In the blank line, these students might write “Italian-American,” or “Jewish-American,” Warikoo said.

To solve this problem, Harvard could have two sections—one in which you identify for the purpose of statistics and civil rights compliance, and one in which you identify in the way that reflects your personal life. This would allow raceless students (and the perplexed white students) to identify by race, and by whatever else they like…

Read the entire article here.

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Race, Marriage, and Law

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-07-09 02:35Z by Steven

Race, Marriage, and Law

The Harvard Crimson
1963-12-17

Peter Cumminos

American racism, though it rests most strongly upon social practice, is strongly bulwarked by many state and local laws. The segregated schools and transportation facilities of the South are explicitly decreed by state legislatures. Virginia courts maintain, for example, that “the preservation of racial integrity is the unquestioned policy of this State, and that it is sound and wholesome, cannot be gainsaid.

The laws which most directly protect “racial integrity,” whatever that may be, are those which make miscegenation (intermarriage of races) a crime. The first anti-miscegenation law was enacted in the colony of Maryland in 1661. It declared that “divers free-born English women, forgetful of their free conditions, and to the disgrace of our nation do intermarry with Negro slaves,” and to deter these “shameful matches” the law provided that women who so marry, and their off-spring, should themselves become slaves. Massachusetts became the third colony to prohibit marriage between Negroes and Caucasians in 1705.

Today it is illegal for Negroes and whites to marry in 21 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, [Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana], Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Six of these states prohibit Negro white marriages in their constitutions. Eighteen states, most of them in the last ten years, have repealed anti-miscegenation statutes: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington…

…Who’s Who

A problem that consistently confronts racist law makers in the question of defining who is “Negro” and who is “white.” In general, two schools of “thought” prevail is the United States on this issue. In about nine states a Negro is anyone who had a grandparent who was a Negro. The laws generally define such a person as “having one-eighth or more Negro blood” or as an “octoroon.” The other definition of Negro is used in at least six states: a Negro is any person who has “any trace of Negro blood.” The circularity of these statements does not seem to trouble the opponents of miscegenation.

Virginia provides an interesting example of racist legal gymnastics. Whites in that state can marry neither Negroes nor American Indians. In Virginia, a Negro is a person who has any Negro ancestor, and an American Indian is a person who had at least one Indian grandparent. If someone has one-sixteenth or less “Indian blood” then he is a white. But Virginia still hasn’t decided what you are if you have one-eighth Indian heritage, i.e. one of your great-grandparents was an Indian. Furthermore, if a man is an inhabitant of an Indian tribal reservation and has at least one Indian grandparent and less than one-sixteenth “Negro blood,” then despite the state’s definition of a Negro he may be regarded as an Indian on the reservation. Once he leaves the reservation, however, he undergoes a legal metamorphosis and becomes a Negro. Of course he can then move to Mississippi, where the “octoroon” requirement prevails, and thus become a Caucasian.

Oklahoma courts have decided that American Indians are “white” and therefore may not marry “any person of African descent.” In Alabama, however, Indians are mulattoes, according to the courts, and therefore cannot marry whites. Filipinos in Louisiana must be able to prove that they are “not basically negroid” before they can marry whites. Indiana courts have revealed that “all Mexicans are not white persons and some of them are negroes,” and therefore non-Negro Mexicans can marry either Negroes or whites.

Once a miscegenation case reaches the courts, legal definitions of race give way to more practical methods. Missouri courts, unable to test a man’s blood for his Negroness, have held that “the jury trying such a case may determine the proportion of negro blood in any party to such marriage from the appearance of such person.” In Alabama you are a Negro if witnesses testify that you attended a Negro school, go to Negro church, have Negro acquaintances, or are “otherwise voluntarily living on terms of social equality with them.” But in many states miscegenation suits have been lost because the white jurors simply could not decide whether the defendant was white or Negro…

Read the entire article here.

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Study Looks at Biracial Assignment

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-13 21:24Z by Steven

Study Looks at Biracial Assignment

The Harvard Crimson
2010-12-13

Hana N. Rouse, Crimson Staff Writer

People classify biracial children as members of the minority parent group

People have the tendency to classify those of biracial descent as members of their minority parent group rather than as equal members of both races, according to a recent study published by Harvard psychologists.

The study, led by Harvard psychology graduate student Arnold K. Ho and co-authored by Harvard Professors James Sidanius and Mahzarin R. Banaji and Vanderbilt Professor Daniel T. Levin, employed computer generated faces of varying ethnicities and fictional family trees to test people’s intuitive racial classifications.

Study results suggest that participants classified half-white and half-minority persons as part of a minority. Researchers used computer generated faces of varying ethnicities and fictional family trees to test people’s preferences…

Read the entire article here.

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