Here’s what I did when racists complained about an interracial family in my magazine

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2015-07-28 02:32Z by Steven

Here’s what I did when racists complained about an interracial family in my magazine

The Washington Post
2015-07-27

Scott Vogel, Editor-in-Chief
Houstonia, a city magazine based in Houston, Texas


Offended by this image? Houstonia magazine doesn’t want your business. (Photo by Chris Skiles/Houstonia)

Don’t compare me to business owners who refuse to serve LGBT customers

As editor in chief of a lifestyle magazine, my job has been to balance two competing concerns of the journalism business: publishing stories that make a difference and selling ads that make money. This month, I discovered a third, hitherto unknown concern: ads that make a difference.

The full-page ad on the first page of Houstonia magazine’s June issue seemed innocuous. It showed a family of five in cozy domesticity, enjoying the warmly capacious living room they ostensibly found through the upscale real estate agency that created the ad. Mom stood barefoot in the living room, an arm around her 5-year-old daughter. Dad sat on an overstuffed sofa, struggling to keep the couple’s squirmy 2-year-old from leaving his lap. And at their feet was an unbearably cute baby boy perched atop an embroidered pillow on the family’s rug. Carefully composed and brightly lit, the scene, it seemed, could be described with just one word: adorable. But as it turned out, there was another word for it: disgusting.

That’s how a suburban Houston doctor described the image in an email to Ashton Martini Group, the real estate company responsible for the ad. “I will not put this magazine in my reception area!” he wrote. The source of his disgust? The mother in the ad was white; the father, black; and the couple’s three children, biracial. A second complaint reached me a week later, from a subscriber who confessed that, although he liked our magazine, “I just can’t go for racial mixing.” And so, lest his children “get it into their heads that this is okay,” he had taken our June issue straight from the mailbox to the trashcan.

I followed the two men’s impulsive actions with one of my own…

Read the entire article here.

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The black president some worried about has arrived

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-17 16:30Z by Steven

The black president some worried about has arrived

The Washington Post
2015-07-15

Janell Ross, Reporter

There’s this thing people sometimes say down South.

So-and-so is “acting brand new.” Sometimes that’s a reference to people behaving like they don’t know old friends and family — that they have evolved past their old crowd. Sometimes that’s Southern-speak for the emboldened, people behaving like they either don’t know the rules or have outright decided to disregard them.

In the past four weeks, we’ve seen President Obama take up residence in a place that sits somewhere in-between.

He’s spoken off the cuff about race relations on a widely circulated podcast (even using the n-word) and then eloquently followed that with what can only be described as a sermon on race relations in America before breaking into song. He’s challenged America to go deeper in its support of equality than retiring symbols of slavery (such as the Confederate flag) and impolitic words (such as the n-word).

While eulogizing a slain minister and state lawmaker allegedly killed by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C., he outlined a whole raft of ways in which discrimination remains and inequality continues to grow. And now, in the span of two weeks, he has announced two major reform packages — housing last week and criminal justice on Tuesday — that could, if ultimately implemented, be of particular benefit to people of color in the United States.

Here’s the thing: This Obama might look or sound “brand new” to some Americans. He might even sound a little something like the black president some white Americans across the political spectrum feared (or hoped for). But to people who watch the White House closely, this is the President Obama who has been developing for some time…

Read the entire article here.

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How a long-dead white supremacist still threatens the future of Virginia’s Indian tribes

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Virginia on 2015-07-01 14:45Z by Steven

How a long-dead white supremacist still threatens the future of Virginia’s Indian tribes

The Washington Post
2015-07-01

Joe Heim, Staff Writer


Walter A. Plecker’s goal as Virginia’s registrar of vital statistics was to ban race-mixing. He declared there were no true Indians left because of marriages with blacks. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia’s Indian tribes have faced numerous obstacles in their decades-old quest for federal recognition. But one person has long stood in their way — and he’s been dead for 68 years.

Walter Plecker — a physician, eugenicist and avowed white supremacist — ran Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics with single-minded resolve over 34 years in the first half of the 20th century.

Though he died in 1947, Plecker’s shadow still lingers over the state, a vestige of a vicious era when racist practices were an integral part of government policy and Virginia officials ruthlessly enforced laws created to protect what they considered a master white race.

For Virginia’s Indians, the policies championed by Plecker threatened their very existence, nearly wiping out the tribes who greeted the country’s first English settlers and who claim Pocahontas as an ancestor. This month, the legacy of those laws could again help sabotage an effort by the Pamunkey people to become the state’s first federally recognized tribe.

Obsessed with the idea of white superiority, Plecker championed legislation that would codify the idea that people with one drop of “Negro” blood could not be classified as white. His efforts led the Virginia legislature to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a law that criminalized interracial marriage and also required that every birth in the state be recorded by race with the only options being “White” and “Colored.”

Plecker was proud of the law and his role in creating it. It was, he said, “the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made in 4,000 years.

The act didn’t just make blacks in Virginia second-class citizens — it also erased any acknowledgment of Indians, whom Plecker claimed no longer truly existed in the commonwealth. With a stroke of a pen, Virginia was on a path to eliminating the identity of the Pamunkey, the Mattaponi, the Chickahominy, the Monacan, the Rappahannock, the Nansemond and the rest of Virginia’s tribes…

Read the entire article here.

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The ambiguity of racial categories

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 13:54Z by Steven

The ambiguity of racial categories

The Washington Post
2015-06-16

Andrew Gelman, Professor of Statistics and Political Science
Columbia University, New York, New York


Racial classification has been in the news lately with the story of Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP official who is ethnically white but characterized herself as black until the story came out:

The allegation lit up the Internet, fueled by Ms. Dolezal’s apparent refusal to give a direct answer about her racial background, and by family photos of her as a blue-eyed teenager with straight blond hair.

What does it mean to be white, or black, or mixed-race?

These questions are not going away. Richard Perez-Pena reports:

The number of American adults with mixed-race backgrounds is three times what official census figures indicate… The Pew Research Center survey found that 6.9 percent of adults in the United States were multiracial, based on how they identify themselves or on having parents or grandparents of different races. By comparison, the 2010 census reported 2.1 percent of adults, and 2.9 percent of people any age, as multiracial, based on people’s descriptions of themselves or others in their households. (Hispanics are considered an ethnic group, not a race.)…

Relevant to this discussion is a book from two years ago, “What is Your Race? The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans,” by former Census Bureau director Ken Prewitt recommends taking the race question off the decennial census. As I summarized last time this came up, Prewitt recommends gradual changes, integrating the race and national origin questions while improving both. In particular, he would replace the main “race” question by a “race or origin” question, with the instruction to “Mark one or more” of the following boxes: “White,” “Black, African Am., or Negro,” “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” and “Some other race or origin.” He recommends treating Hispanic as a race or origin, in parallel with white, black, etc., which I agree makes sense. I think the current categorization in which “Hispanic” is an ethnic group but “White” and “Black” are races, is both confusing and unnecessary…

Read the entire article here.

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As a kid, I was biracial (and black). Today, I’m black (and biracial).

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-25 20:38Z by Steven

As a kid, I was biracial (and black). Today, I’m black (and biracial).

The Washington Post
2015-06-24

Kristal Brent Zook, Professor of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations
Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

The box we check on census forms is only half the story.

A recent Pew study, “Multiracial in America: Proud, Diverse and Growing in Numbers,” has unleashed a flurry of new commentary about a group that’s now growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole. Pew says its numbers have been seriously underestimated by the U.S. Census, which only began offering a box for those of more than one race in 2000. In 2010, those who checked it were 2.9 percent of the population, but Pew now places the number as high as 6.9 percent, with a serious caveat: Fully 61 percent of those with a mixed racial background don’t consider themselves to be part of this “mixed race or multiracial group.”

I can relate.

Although my mother is African American and my father is Caucasian — which I’ve readily acknowledged to anyone who wants to know — the census box I’ve always chosen is African American. To officially consider myself “multiracial” rather than black would be a complicated and, for me, uncomfortable undertaking, fraught with emotional, social, political and cultural minefields.

The box we check, after all, is only half the story. What struck me most about the Pew study was what it called an “added layer of complexity.” No matter which box one chooses, the study found that “racial identity can be fluid and may change over the course of one’s life, or even from one situation to another. About three in ten adults with a multiracial background say they have changed the way they describe their race over the years, it went on to note, “with some saying they once thought of themselves as only one race and now think of themselves as more than one race, and others saying just the opposite.”

Once again, I can relate…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing in reverse: What does an NAACP leader’s case say about race?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-14 16:04Z by Steven

Passing in reverse: What does an NAACP leader’s case say about race?

The Washington Post
2015-06-12

Krissah Thompson, Staff Writer

Passing in this country has usually operated in one direction: black skin passing for white, marginalization traded for privilege, the burden of the minority cast off.

Until now. Enter Rachel Dolezal, 37, the head of the NAACP in Spokane, Wash., who seized headlines and set social media afire this week when relatives claimed that she is a white woman who has been passing as African American.

Her story was a head-scratcher for many, raising questions about the determination to self-identify when it comes to race. Is “passing in reverse” a thing? And what does Dolezal’s supposed decision say about being white in modern America? Was whiteness the weight she cast off?

“In this society, people would prefer to be identified with the race that is least stigmatized,” says Derald Wing Sue, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, where he has studied racial identity. “It baffles everyone when it goes the other way.”

But it does not surprise Sue, who has studied the ways white Americans become sensitive to racial dynamics…

…Take, for example, Walter White, born in 1893. Blue-eyed and blond-haired with fair skin, the product of Atlanta’s black community had more white ancestors than black, according to some accounts. And he saw himself as black, although he passed as white to enable his travels through the South investigating lynchings and hate crimes. Later in life, he married a white woman and was forced to defend himself against accusations that he was white passing as black — all while serving as the national head of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955.

Read the entire article here.

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Movie about Va.’s now-defunct ban on interracial marriage to be shot in state

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2015-05-14 19:42Z by Steven

Movie about Va.’s now-defunct ban on interracial marriage to be shot in state

The Washington Post
2014-05-14

Laura Vozzella, Richmond Bureau Reporter

RICHMONDVirginia has landed a movie project about Richard and Mildred Loving, the real-life Virginia couple arrested in 1958 for violating the state’s interracial marriage ban.

The Lovings filed a lawsuit that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 struck down bans on interracial marriage. The case is often invoked today amid legal challenges to bans on same-sex marriage.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced on Thursday that makers of the movie had chosen to shoot the project in the state. A statement from his office noted that the court case at the center of the story was “a landmark civil rights case in defense of marriage equality that is still relevant today.”

Loving is a significant American story that should be told, and I am happy to announce it will be filmed in Virginia,” said McAuliffe, who supports same-sex marriage. “Attracting these projects to the Commonwealth helps build the new Virginia economy by generating new revenues, creating good-paying jobs for our citizens and continuing to highlight Virginia’s historical significance.”

The film will star Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, and will be directed by acclaimed film director Jeff Nichols. It was inspired by “The Loving Story,” a documentary produced and directed by Nancy Buirski that aired on HBO, the governor’s office said…

Read the entire article here.

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Legacies of war

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-18 18:09Z by Steven

Legacies of war

The Washington Post
2015-04-17

Annie Gowen, Bureau chief — New Delhi

Linda Davidson, Photography

Forty years after the fall of Saigon, soldiers’ children are still left behind

Vo Huu Nhan was in his vegetable boat in the floating markets of the Mekong Delta when his phone rang. The caller from the United States had stunning news — a DNA database had linked him with a Vietnam vet believed to be his father.

Nhan, 46, had known his father was an American soldier named Bob, but little else.

“I was crying,” Nhan recalled recently. “I had lost my father for 40 years, and now I finally had gotten together with him.”

But the journey toward their reconciliation has not been easy. News of the DNA match set in motion a chain of events involving two families 8,700 miles apart that is still unfolding and has been complicated by the illness of the veteran, Robert Thedford Jr., a retired deputy sheriff in Texas.

When the last American military personnel fled Saigon on April 29 and 30, 1975, they left behind a country scarred by war, a people uncertain about their future and thousands of their own children. These children — some half-black, some half-white — came from liaisons with bar girls, “hooch” maids, laundry workers and the laborers who filled sandbags that protected American bases.

They are approaching middle age with stories as complicated as the two countries that gave them life. Growing up with the face of the enemy, they were spat on, ridiculed, beaten. They were abandoned, given away to relatives or sold as cheap labor. The families that kept them often had to hide them or shear off their telltale blond or curly locks. Some were sent to reeducation or work camps, or ended up homeless and living on the streets.

They were called “bui doi,” which means “the dust of life.”

Forty years later, hundreds remain in Vietnam, too poor or without proof to qualify for the program created by the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987 that resettles the children of American soldiers in the United States.

Now, an Amerasian group has launched a last-chance effort to reunite fathers and children with a new DNA database on a family heritage Web site. Those left behind have scant information about their GI dads — papers and photographs were burned as the communist regime took hold, and memories faded. So DNA matches are their only hope…

Read the entire photo-essay here.

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Yes, the new ‘Daily Show’ host is black. And he’s spent his career making fun of African Americans.

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-01 18:05Z by Steven

Yes, the new ‘Daily Show’ host is black. And he’s spent his career making fun of African Americans.

The Washington Post
2015-03-31

Wendy Todd, Social Media Coordinator
St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis, Missouri

So much for that “fresh perspective” on race.

News that Trevor Noah would replace Jon Stewart as the new host of “The Daily Show” brought a collective round of applause for the South African comedian and his “fresh” perspective and “fresh takes on race.” Critics have long lamented the lack of color among late-night TV hosts, and now a black man has gotten one of the plum hosting gigs.

Noah might look like an enlightened choice, but his routines show he isn’t — his jokes often hinge on insulting African Americans.

Back in 2012, Noah made his first American appearance, on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The bulk of his routine was composed of jokes about black Americans. The United States, he said, was not “the America he was promised,” and “America has the credit of a black man.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Wisconsin chief treading carefully after fatal shooting

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-10 01:10Z by Steven

Wisconsin chief treading carefully after fatal shooting

The Washington Post
2015-03-08

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — Within hours of a white officer shooting an unarmed black man, the police chief of Wisconsin’s capital city was praying with the man’s grandmother, hoping to strike a conciliatory tone and avoid the riots that last year rocked Ferguson, Missouri.

Chief Mike Koval said he knows Madison is being watched across the nation since 19-year-old Tony Robinson’s death Friday evening, and he has gone out of his way to avoid what he once called Ferguson’s “missteps.”

“Folks are angry, resentful, mistrustful, disappointed, shocked, chagrined. I get that,” Koval said Saturday. “People need to tell me squarely how upset they are with the Madison Police Department.”

The contrasts with Ferguson are many…

Read the entire article here.

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