Racial Identity Choice and its Consequences: A Study on Elizabeth Alexander’s Race

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2021-07-22 02:35Z by Steven

Racial Identity Choice and its Consequences: A Study on Elizabeth Alexander’s Race

Annual International Conference on Language and Literature
Medan, Indonesia
2020-11-04 through 2020-11-05
Published 2021-03-11
Pages 17-27
DOI: 10.18502/kss.v5i4.8661

Nur Saktiningrum
Department of English
Gadjah Mada University of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Race, as people understand it, is something that you were born with. One was born with specific physical features that by social construction, define one’s race. What if a person was born with physical features that enable him to choose whether to embrace the race defined by blood or the one defined by social construction? And are there any consequences of the choices made? This research studies the choice made by mulatto to pass as white and the consequences following the decision. The focus of the study is a poem written by Elizabeth Alexander entitled Race (2001). To answer the abovementioned questions, the poem is analyzed using a new historical approach. The approach enables the researcher to understand the historical background of and the author’s perspective on racial passing depicted in the poem and its relation to the reality of racial passing in American society. The results show that there are external and internal factors that make it possible for an individual to pass as a member of a different race from what he was. The external factors include the biological taxonomy that identifies him as belonging to a dominant race and the social construction that classifies people based on their physical features. The internal factor is the passer’s belief that by assuming a new racial identity, he will be able to lead a better life and be relieved from the oppression of the dominant race. Despite the privilege and opportunity that the new racial status can offer, racial passing can also bring some disadvantages such as the loss of the sense of belonging to the old racial identity, the feeling of insecurity, and the possibility of being disowned by one’s family.

Read the entire article in PDF or HTML format.

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Tamarind Sky, a Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Novels on 2021-07-21 20:52Z by Steven

Tamarind Sky, a Novel

Inanna
2020-10-15
412 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-77133-733-5
ePUB ISBN: 978-1-77133-734-2
PDF ISBN: 978-1-77133-736-6

Thelma Wheatley

When British immigrant Selena Jones marries Aidan Gilmor, a Sinhalese-Eurasian — part British — from Sri Lanka in the 1960s in Toronto, a passionate clash of culture ensues. Selena’s mother in Wales is horrified when Selena brings Aidan home to Wales for the wedding. Back in Toronto, Selena faces further prejudice and disapproval of her “mixed marriage,” despite Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s new “multiculturalism,” which was being encouraged but also resented. She is shocked not only by the reaction of neighbours but by the teachers at the all-White school in Toronto where she teaches, and she pretends that Aidan is a White Canadian. When two poor West Indian and two East Indian children from a new government housing project nearby unexpectedly arrive at the school, Selena is forced to take a stand in their defence. Gradually she learns to face her fears and confront racism. She is drawn into a deeper understanding of her Sri Lankan family, and especially of her father-in-law, a former tea planter under the British, who left Ceylon after Independence in 1956. She sees the effect of colonialism on Aidan and his family, trying to be “British” while caught in the middle of the civil war conflict in Sri Lanka. The revelation of her father-in-law’s secret guilt about the past leads to an inevitable and shocking climax.

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Personal Attention Roleplay, Stories

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Novels on 2021-07-21 00:59Z by Steven

Personal Attention Roleplay, Stories

Metonymy Press
2021-10-19
280 pages
13.3 x 20.5 x 1.27 cm
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7774852-1-4

Helen Chau Bradley

A young gymnast crushes on an older, more talented teammate while contending with her overworked mother. A newly queer twenty-something juggles two intimate relationships—with a slippery anarchist lover and an idiosyncratic meals-on-wheels recipient. A queer metal band’s summer tour unravels amid the sticky heat of the Northeastern US. A codependent listicle writer becomes obsessed with a Japanese ASMR channel.

The stories in Personal Attention Roleplay are propelled by queer loneliness, mixed-race confusion, late capitalist despondency, and the pitfalls of intimacy. Taking place in Montreal, Toronto, and elsewhere, they feature young Asian misfits struggling with the desire to see themselves reflected—in their surroundings, in others, online. Chau Bradley’s precise language and investigation of our more troubling motivations stand out in this wryly funny debut, through stories that hint at the uncanny while remaining grounded in the everyday.

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The Wig-Maker

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Poetry on 2021-07-21 00:47Z by Steven

The Wig-Maker

New Star Books
2021-03-11
128 pages
6×9 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9781554201716

Janet Gallant and Sharon Thesen

A powerful tale of violence, grief, resilience, and transformation, told in the voice of Janet Gallant, transcribed and lineated as a long poem by Sharon Thesen, The Wig-Maker gathers and weaves together themes and incidents that accumulate toward “the moan” of racism, sexual abuse, maternal abandonment, suicide, mental illness, and addiction.

Though the subject-matter ranges from a lengthy first-person account of sufferings both personal and cultural, historic and current, the pulse of the telling ultimately led to healing and reconciliation. Almost by magic — certainly with the assistance of the uncanny — the 18-month long process of Gallant’s telling/Thesen’s listening-writing resulted in Gallant’s discovery of her true genetic, and social, identity. In the early part of her story Janet longs to know the reasons that her mother abandoned the family when Gallant was three years old, leaving four young children with their abusive father. She also wants to know what turned her father into “the monster” he had become. Her mother, Valerie Johnson, is Black and grew up in the Black community of Wildwood, Alberta; her Canadian serviceman father, Tom McCrate, grew up in Irish-Catholic poverty in Nova Scotia. As a biracial child, Janet was unaware until she was eleven years old that her mother was Black; nor did she know until very recently that Tom McCrate was not her biological father.

The twists and turns of the narrative gather a range of topics and incidents; the human hair industry, Black immigration to Alberta and Saskatchewan in the early 1900’s, maternal abandonment, the stresses of military life, adoption search websites, the suicide of Gallant’s teenage brother, the sudden death of her young husband, the stress-disorder of alopecia, and the loneliness of surviving all this but never finding answers. But some important answers have been given and received as a result of Gallant’s research being inspired by the mysteriously healing process of the telling itself.

“The Wig-Maker” is Janet Gallant’s song; her story comes to life in Sharon Thesen’s poem.

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Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism: The Case of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2021-07-21 00:27Z by Steven

Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism: The Case of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family

Routledge
2021-04-01
266 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780367765453
Paperback ISBN: 9780367765415
eBook ISBN: 9781003167433

Kimberley Ducey, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Joe R. Feagin, Distinguished Professor and Ella C. McFadden Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism applies an existing scholarly paradigm (systemic racism and the white racial frame) to assess the implications of Markle’s entry and place in the British royal family, including an analysis that bears on visual and material culture. The white racial frame, as it manifests in the UK, represents an important lens through which to map and examine contemporary racism and related inequities. By questioning the long-held, but largely anecdotal, beliefs about racial progressiveness in the UK, the authors provide an original counter-narrative about how Markle’s experiences as a biracial member of the royal family can help illumine contemporary forms of racism in Britain. Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism identifies and documents the plethora of ways systemic racism continues to shape ecological spaces in the UK. Kimberley Ducey and Joe R. Feagin challenge romanticized notions of racial inclusivity by applying Feagin’s long-established work, aiming to make a unique and significant contribution to literature in sociology and in various other disciplines.

Table of Contents

  • Systemic Racism: Britain Now and Then
  • Straight Out of the White Racial Frame
  • Post-Racial Duchess or Trophy Wife of Diversity?
  • White Men Ruling and the Problem with Meghan Markle
  • Feminist Counter-Framer and Anti-Racist Counter-Framer: Disrupter of Elite White Dominance
  • “Where Is This Racism You Keep Talking About?”: Sincere Fictions of the Virtuous White Self
  • Concluding Thoughts: The Royals, British Racism, and the Coronavirus Pandemic
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J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian had two identities. It took two authors to tell her story.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-07-20 02:20Z by Steven

J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian had two identities. It took two authors to tell her story.

The Washington Post
2021-06-28

Natachi Onwuamaegbu


“The Personal Librarian” co-authors Heather Terrell, writing as Marie Benedict, and Victoria Christopher Murray. (Phil Atkins)

Historical fiction writer Heather Terrell (who also writes under the name Marie Benedict) was introduced to Belle da Costa Greene between bookshelves at New York’s Morgan Library over 20 years ago. The docent — whom she has tried to find since — told her about a Black woman who passed as White and worked as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian in the early 1900s. Terrell wasn’t yet writing historical fiction about women — she was a lawyer — but the story lingered in the back of her head.

Once she read Black author Victoria Christopher Murray’s work two years ago, she knew she found the partner she was waiting for to tackle da Costa Greene’s story. To write about a Black woman who passed as non-Black with an author she had never met was a process, especially when the editing coincided with the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and a pandemic.

The Washington Post talked to Terrell and Murray about what it was like to work on “The Personal Librarian” when so much of the world was falling apart…

Read the entire interview here.

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Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, United States on 2021-07-17 02:34Z by Steven

Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments

Noemi Press
2021-10-01
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-934819-97-5

Jackson Bliss

From fragmented ransom notes to hanging footnotes, contemporary fairy tales to coded text, interconnecting pieces of modal flash fiction to backwards fractal narratives about gradual blindness, transgressive listicles to how-to guides for performative wokeness, variable destinies in downtown Chicago to impossible dating applications, counterfactual relationships to the French translation of adolescence, the conceptual, language-driven short stories in Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments are an exploration of not just mixed-race/hapa identity in Michigan (and the American Midwest), but also of the infinite ways in which stories can be told, challenged, celebrated, and subverted.

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J.P. Morgan’s librarian hid her race. A novel imagines the toll on her.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-07-17 00:53Z by Steven

J.P. Morgan’s librarian hid her race. A novel imagines the toll on her.

The Christian Science Monitor
2021-06-29

Heller McAlpin, Correspondent


Library of Congress
Belle da Costa Greene, shown in 1929, curated rare books for mogul J.P. Morgan. She was the first director of the Morgan Library.

Some books leave you wondering why the author has chosen to tell this particular story, and why now. This is emphatically not the case with “The Personal Librarian,” a novel about the woman who helped shape the Morgan Library’s spectacular collection of rare books and art more than a century ago. It quickly becomes clear why two popular authors, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, have teamed up to tell this important, inspirational story.

Belle da Costa Greene’s success in the almost exclusively male world of art and rare book dealers was an unusual feat for a woman in the early 20th century. But what makes it even more extraordinary – and such rich material for historical fiction – is the secret she harbored throughout her long career: She hailed from a prominent, light-skinned Black family, many of whose members had chosen to pass as white.

“The Personal Librarian” reminds readers that this decision was not made lightly. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act in 1883 – a ruling that ushered in Jim Crow segregation and gave white supremacy and racial discrimination legal cover, the ramifications of which are felt to this day – few opportunities were open to anyone classified as nonwhite…

Read the entire book review here.

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The Personal Librarian, A Novel

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-07-17 00:36Z by Steven

The Personal Librarian, A Novel

Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Randomhouse)
2021-06-29
Hardcover ISBN: 9780593101537
Paperback ISBN: 9780593414248
Eboock ISBN: 9780593101551

Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.

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Elizabeth Miki Brina: “The historical and the personal are intertwined.”

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2021-07-17 00:10Z by Steven

Elizabeth Miki Brina: “The historical and the personal are intertwined.”

Guernica
2021-05-10

Elizabeth Lothian, Digital Director


Photo credit: Thad Lee

The author of Speak, Okinawa talks about learning her family history, writing from guilt, and questioning her father’s values.

Elizabeth Miki Brina’s debut memoir Speak, Okinawa is a nuanced investigation of self, lineage, and inheritance. Born in the 1980s to an Okinawan mother and a white, American, ex-military father, Brina struggled with the duality of her identity. She connected more with her father—the dominant force in her family triad—often in an attempt to fit in with the 99 percent white suburb in which she grew up, and this made her feel distant from her already isolated mother.

It is only years later, after moving out of her parents’ enveloping orbit, that Brina comes to question why she feels so disconnected from her mother and Okinawan ancestry. She then sets out to explore her heritage—half that of the colonized and half that of the colonizer. We take this journey with her as she recounts the history of Okinawa. These chapters, voiced brilliantly in the first person plural “we,” tells the reader of Okinawa’s conquest by China and Japan, the horrors it faced in World War II—nearly a third of its population was killed in one battle alone—and the subsequent US military occupation of the island, which continues to this day.

As Brina learns the history of her maternal lineage, she comes to better understand not just her mother but herself. She is then forced to reckon with the role her father played in dictating her worldview and to try and unknot how America, as both a political entity and a cluster of ideals, has marginalized other ways of being…

Read the entire article here.

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