Racial divide: It’s a social concept, not a scientific one

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-11-23 17:43Z by Steven

Racial divide: It’s a social concept, not a scientific one

The Washington Post
2014-11-03

Nancy Szokan

Most scientists agree that race is not a biological concept.

As Wikipedia defines it, in an extremely lengthy and extravagantly footnoted entry that surely has been edited and re-edited many times, “Race is a social concept used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”

Yet race undoubtedly affects government policies, pervades our social interactions, creates alliances and sets off wars.

We are asked to specify our race (or races) on census forms, medical questionnaires, job applications, college applications, opinion surveys and so on — and the very act of asking the question, sometimes to be answered by just checking a box, can seem to imply that there is a clearly definable, provable answer.

As Robert Wald Sussman puts it in “The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea,” many if not most people would be surprised to learn that race is a social rather than a scientific construct. In his new book, Sussman, a professor of physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, explores how race emerged as a modern social construct, tracing its origins to the Spanish Inquisition and its legacy as a justification for Western imperialism and slavery…

Read the entire review here.

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When whites are guilty of colorism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-09 21:51Z by Steven

When whites are guilty of colorism

The Washington Post
2014-11-08

Lance Hannon, Professor
Department of Sociology and Criminology
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

Robert DeFina, Professor
Department of Sociology and Criminology
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” However, in our public discourse, the second of those categories — “color” — is rarely mentioned as a source of discrimination distinct from “race.” And when “colorism” — discrimination based on skin shade — does get discussed, it is framed almost exclusively as something that occurs only within a racial group — “black-on-black discrimination,” as a 2005 segment of ABC’s “20/20” program put it.

But is that correct? There are two common reasons colorism by whites gets overlooked. First, social science seems to bolster anecdotal evidence that white people see variation in skin tone in a narrower range than African Americans do. Second, given that one’s racial category has always been of such great importance in the United States — think of the infamous “one-drop rule” — any impact of skin-tone differences within racial categories is assumed to be minuscule in comparison. While both of these rationales may seem to make sense on the surface, on close inspection neither provides justification for ignoring clear, real-life consequences of white colorism.

Regarding the first point: Our recent analysis of data from the National Opinion Research Center’s long-running General Social Survey confirms that African Americans and whites judge skin tone quite differently. In particular, white observers perceive the skin tones of black individuals as much darker than black observers do. This is consistent with other data showing that, to use one example, roughly 42 percent of whites describe Tiger Woods as having “dark” or “very dark” skin, while only about 14 percent of African Americans say the same. But such results do not mean that white people are “tone-blind.” In fact, there is solid evidence that white people do indeed see significant variation in African American skin tones. It is just that this variation is concentrated at the darker end of the scale…

Read the entire article here.

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Republican Larry Hogan wins Md. governor’s race in stunning upset

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-11-05 21:16Z by Steven

Republican Larry Hogan wins Md. governor’s race in stunning upset

The Washington Post
2014-11-05

John Wagner, Maryland Political Reporter

Jenna Johnson, Maryland Political Reporter

Republican businessman Larry Hogan pulled off a stunning upset in heavily Democratic Maryland on Tuesday, winning the governor’s race against Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown by relentlessly promising to roll back tax increases and chart a new direction for the state.

Shortly after midnight, Brown conceded a race that he lost despite the strong support of the state’s Democratic establishment and visits to Maryland in the closing weeks of the campaign by President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton

…With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, Brown was winning handily in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and he was well ahead in the city of Baltimore. But turnout appeared fairly low in those populous jurisdictions. And Hogan led everywhere else, including in the Baltimore suburbs. That was the region that in 2002 paved the way to victory for Ehrlich, who hired Hogan as a member of his Cabinet.

“Tonight, we fell short of our campaign goals,” Brown told supporters at what turned out to be a subdued gathering at the University of Maryland at College Park. “It was a tough campaign. But it was tough because there’s a lot at stake, a lot worth fighting for.”

Brown, the son of a Jamaican father and a Swiss mother, was attempting to become the first African American governor of Maryland and only the third elected anywhere in the nation. He would also have been Maryland’s first lieutenant governor to ascend to the state’s top job…

Read the entire article here.

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Iowa memorial for six brothers who died as Union soldiers

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-13 23:07Z by Steven

Iowa memorial for six brothers who died as Union soldiers

The Washington Post
2014-05-07

Linda Wheeler

A site was approved Tuesday for a memorial to honor six brothers of an African American farm family of Toolesboro, Iowa, who died as Union soldiers during the Civil War.

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors choose a site near the tiny crossroads community where the brothers were raised in southeast Iowa on the Illinois border.

In 1840, James and Martha Littleton moved from Maryland, via Ohio, to Iowa where they raised their nine children including three girls. In the1860 census, the family is identified as mulatto, a term used during that time period to mean they were of mixed race. Research determined Martha was white and her husband, James, was mulatto.

The men served in white military units, volunteering between 1861 and 1862. By 1864, all had died—some in battle and others from disease– and were buried far from home…

Read the entire article here.

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Light-Skinned Latinos Tend To Vote More Republican. Be Careful How You Interpret That.

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-09-19 18:14Z by Steven

Light-Skinned Latinos Tend To Vote More Republican. Be Careful How You Interpret That.

Latino Voices
The Huffington Post
2014-09-18

Roque Planas, Editor

Lighter-skinned Latinos are more likely to vote Republican, according to polling data analyzed by the Washington Post.

The data highlights rarely recognized racial divisions within the Latino community that have perplexed the U.S. Census Bureau and tripped up mass media. But don’t expect it to change too much about the way you understand the Latino vote.

Writing for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog on Wednesday, professor Spencer Piston analyzed a sample of Latino citizens interviewed for the 2012 American National Election Studies. Interviewers measured the respondents’ skin color.

…The predictions Piston makes based on the data, however, are questionable. He writes that the analysis should make us rethink projections suggesting that the growth of the Latino electorate will dilute the Republican vote, which are based on the premise that Latinos tend to vote Democrat. …

…As a multiracial ethnicity, Latinos view race differently than non-Latinos because so many Hispanics come from a mixed-race background. While racial division and discrimination are undoubtedly part of the Latino experience, Latinos have less fixed ideas about race than non-Latino Americans. Our communities, our social groups and our families are racially mixed in a way that doesn’t exist to the same degree among non-Hispanic white and black Americans. …

Read the entire article here.

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Study reveals the mysterious ancestors of modern Europeans

Posted in Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-09-18 20:24Z by Steven

Study reveals the mysterious ancestors of modern Europeans

The Washington Post
2014-09-18

Gail Sullivan, Reporter

Some had dark skin and blue eyes.

Some had light skin and brown eyes.

And no one is sure what some others looked like.

But, according to a new study of ancient human genomes, three very different populations got together seven millennia ago and made modern Europeans.

“The surprising finding was that present-day Europeans trace their ancestry back to three and not just two ancestral groups as previously thought,” said study co-author Alan Cooper, the director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, in a press release.

Until now, scientists couldn’t fully explain the gene pool of modern Europe. Clues from archaeological research and previous genetic comparisons suggested most Europeans descended from Middle Eastern farmers who migrated to Europe about 7,500 years ago and interbred with local hunter-gatherers.

“Ancient human genomes suggest three ancestral populations for present-day Europeans,” said the article, published Thursday in the journal Nature

Read the entire article here.

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A surprising number of people change their race and ethnicity from one Census to the next

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-06 21:57Z by Steven

A surprising number of people change their race and ethnicity from one Census to the next

The Washington Post
2014-08-06

Emily Badger, Reporter

On Census forms, the option to check a box for racial or ethnic identity presupposes that there’s an unambiguous answer: white, black, American Indian, Hispanic, etc. But identity is a fluid thing. And, it turns out, about eight percent of us change our answers to the Census questions pictured at right from one decade to the next.

Researchers at the Census Bureau and the University of Minnesota have calculated this with the most comprehensive survey yet of our shifting sense of race and ethnicity, in a new working paper based on the matched responses of 162 million Americans captured in the 2000 and 2010 censuses (a preview of their findings circulated earlier this spring is here; here is the full paper)…

Read the entire article here.

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Herb Jeffries, jazz balladeer and star of all-black cowboy movies, dies

Posted in Articles, Arts, United States on 2014-05-26 21:33Z by Steven

Herb Jeffries, jazz balladeer and star of all-black cowboy movies, dies

The Washington Post
2014-05-26

Adam Bernstein, Editor


Source: Wikipedia

Herb Jeffries, a jazz balladeer whose matinee-idol looks won him fame in the late 1930s as the “Bronze Buckaroo” — the first singing star of all-black cowboy movies for segregated audiences — died May 25 at a hospital in West Hills, Calif. He was widely believed to be 100, but for years he insisted he was much older.

The cause was stomach and heart ailments, said Raymond Strait, a friend of 70 years who had been working with Mr. Jeffries on his autobiography. Mr. Jeffries liked to exaggerate his age to shock listeners. “He wanted people to say, ‘Wow, he can still sing pretty good for 111,’ ” Strait said.

Mr. Jeffries had a seven-decade career on film, television, record and in nightclubs. His baritone voice — extraordinarily rich but delicate — was memorably captured on his greatest musical success, a 1941 hit recording of “Flamingo” with Duke Ellington’s big band.

With a towering physique and a square jaw, Mr. Jeffries was perfectly suited to capitalize on the singing-cowboy movie craze that Gene Autry and Roy Rogers popularized in the 1930s…

…Mr. Jeffries was coy about his background. He claimed, at times, to have been born Umberto Alejandro Balentino to an Irish mother and Sicilian father of mixed race. Other sources say he was born Herbert Ironton Jeffries in Detroit, probably on Sept. 24, 1913 — the date Strait said was correct. Other reported dates of birth range from 1909 to 1916.

He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2008 of his heritage: “I’m all colors, like everyone else. If we all go back 10 or 15 generations, we don’t know what we have in us. I don’t think there’s one person from around the Mediterranean who doesn’t have Moorish blood. I have Sicilian blood, and I have Moorish blood. I am colored, and I love it. I have a right to identify myself the way I do and if nobody likes it, what are they going to do? Kill my career?”

Mr. Jeffries never knew his father. He was raised by his mother in a boardinghouse she ran and where many singers and actors stayed. It was this exposure to show business that led Mr. Jeffries to appear, as a young man, in Detroit nightclubs and ballrooms…

Read the entire obituary here.

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The legend of Lone Star Dietz: Redskins namesake, coach — and possible impostor?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2013-11-08 13:58Z by Steven

The legend of Lone Star Dietz: Redskins namesake, coach — and possible impostor?

The Washington Post
2013-11-06

Richard Leiby

Reading, Pa. — Here lies the celebrated Lone Star Dietz — in a donated cemetery plot, aside a back road, under a drooping evergreen. A simple marker, paid for by friends, bears only one word that hints at his legend: “Coach.”

Finally, we have found him, the Washington Redskins’ namesake. Dietz coached the inaugural Boston Redskins team 80 years ago, before it moved to Washington. He was a Sioux Indian, and the team was named in his honor, “out of respect for Native American heritage and tradition.”

That is what the team’s attorneys have said, anyway, in court filings battling an effort by Native Americans to cancel the Redskins trademark as disparaging — a campaign more than two decades old. Now the objections to the name are reaching an unprecedented volume, including Tuesday’s D.C. Council vote condemning the team name as “racist and derogatory.”

In the midst of this criticism, team owner Dan Snyder wrote a letter to season-ticket holders last month in which he mentioned the team’s former Native American head coach and called the name “a badge of honor.”

But what if Coach Lone Star Dietz wasn’t an Indian?…

…A half-century after his death, it seems that no one has decisively pinned down the heritage of William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz. This makes the Redskins’ flat-out assertions that the First Coach was an Indian even more problematic for some…

…Dietz’s claims about his Sioux origins were accepted and repeated for decades by researchers and credulous reporters.

I was one of them. Ninety years after The Post first took note of Dietz and his artistry at the 1904 World’s Fair, I wrote about him. “His father was German, his mother Sioux,” I said in a story about how the Redskins got their name.

At the time, my understanding of Dietz’s heritage was based on the available scholarship and a number of interviews. Indians I talked to did not raise questions about his self-proclaimed Sioux identity…

Read the entire article here.

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Cory Booker wins New Jersey Senate race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-10-17 03:00Z by Steven

Cory Booker wins New Jersey Senate race

The Washington Post
2013-10-16

Sean Sullivan

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rising national Democratic star, was elected to the U.S. Senate Wednesday and will become New Jersey’s first ever African American senator.

Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota. With 58 percent of the vote counted, the Associated Press called the contest for Booker, who was carrying 56 percent of the vote.

When Booker is sworn in, the Democratic Caucus will once again hold a 55-45 advantage over the GOP Conference. Booker will fill the seat once held by Frank Lautenberg, a long-serving Democratic senator who died in June. Gov. Chris Christie appointed fellow Republican Jeff Chiesa to be Lautenberg’s interim replacement.

Booker, 44, will become the chamber’s second African American member along with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)…

Read the entire article here.

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