The Burdened Virtue of Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-05-16 19:38Z by Steven

The Burdened Virtue of Racial Passing

The Boston Review
2022-05-13

Meena Krishnamurthy, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

A still from Rebecca Hall’s film Passing, based on the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen. Image: Netflix

Though a means of escaping and undermining racial injustice, the practice comes with own set of costs and sacrifices.

In Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, adapted by Rebecca Hall and distributed on Netfli­x last fall, Clare Kendry—a light-skinned Black woman—decides to pass as white. Clare grows up poor in Chicago; after her alcoholic father dies, she is taken in by her racist white aunts. When she turns eighteen she marries a rich white man who assumes she is white. Clare makes a clean escape until, some years later, she runs into her childhood friend, Irene Redfield, at a whites-only hotel; Irene, it turns out, sometimes passes herself, in this case to escape the summer heat. The storyline traces their complex relationship after this reunion and ends in tragedy for Clare.

Hall’s film adaptation joins several other recent representations that dramatize the lived experience of passing. The protagonist of Brit Bennett’s best-selling novel The Vanishing Half (2020), for example, decides to start passing as white in the 1950s at age sixteen after responding to a listing in the newspaper for secretarial work in a New Orleans department store. Much to her surprise, after excelling at the typing test, Stella is offered the position; her boss assumes she is white. Initially Stella keeps up the ruse just to support her and her sister, but passing also becomes a way for her to escape the trauma of her father’s lynching and the prospect of her own…

Read the entire article here.

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Blackness in Mestizo America: The Cases of Mexico and Peru

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2022-05-16 18:54Z by Steven

Blackness in Mestizo America: The Cases of Mexico and Peru

Latino(a) Research Review
Volume 7, Number 1 (2008)
pages 30-58

Tanya Golash-Boza, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

Christina A. Sue, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Colorado, Boulder

In the PBS film series, Black in Latin America, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes on the ambitious task of depicting blackness in six countries – the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru – to a primarily “American” audience. Given that Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest concentration of persons of African descent outside of Africa, the documentary is an important one. Gates’ coverage of “blackness”1 in these countries is comprehensive, spanning from the time of slavery to the present, with a primary focus on the cultural contributions, social experiences, and identities of individuals of African descent in these regions. However, Gates’ research traditionally has not focused on race in Latin America and, as scholars positioned more centrally in this field, we found some of his characterizations and treatment of the topic to be problematic. In this and the following commentary articles, scholars of race in the featured countries engage in a critical analysis of the documentary.

We begin with an examination of Gates’ presentation of blackness in Mexico and Peru. In contrast to the other countries featured in the series, Mexico and Peru fall within mestizo America; their populations are mainly comprised of mestizos2 and Indigenous peoples and they have relatively small populations of African descent. Moreover, blackness is marginalized in the historical narratives and national ideologies (state-sponsored belief systems) of these countries. Consequently, many people are unaware of the nations’ African heritage. The film endeavors to expose this hidden history…

Read the entire article here.

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Tao Leigh Goffe Is On A Mission To Uncover ‘Afro-Asian Intimacies’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2022-05-13 18:58Z by Steven

Tao Leigh Goffe Is On A Mission To Uncover ‘Afro-Asian Intimacies’

Sweet July
2022-05-09

Nylah Burton

“I am the sedimented sum of four islands. The Caribbean, Hong Kong, the British Isles, New York City; all of them seas and stretches of water containing many islands.”

“My parents named me Tao,” Dr. Tao Leigh Goffe narrates as she approaches an intricately carved, dark wood chest in season two, episode seven of the Hulu series Your Attention Please: Initiative 29.

Directed by Carmen LoBue, the short film is focused on Goffe—who was born in London and lives in New York City—and her Afro-Asian heritage. Opening the chest, Goffe’s hand grazes family photos and mementos: Black Caribbean men in smart suits, her Jamaican Chinese mother, and red envelopes gilded with gold, containing one word: Legacy…

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Clinical Sociology and Mixedness: Towards Applying Critical Mixed Race Theory in Everyday Life

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2022-05-13 16:55Z by Steven

Clinical Sociology and Mixedness: Towards Applying Critical Mixed Race Theory in Everyday Life

Genealogy
Volume 6, Issue 2 (2022) (Special Issue: Beyond the Frontiers of Mixedness: New Approaches to Intermarriage, Multiethnicity, and Multiracialism)
DOI: 10.3390/genealogy6020032
21 pages

Zarine L. Rocha, Affiliated Researcher
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Research on mixed racial and ethnic identities has developed rapidly over the past decades, increasing in theoretical scope and depth, and exploring mixedness across a growing range of national and social contexts. Recent research has highlighted the huge variations and shifts in conceptions of mixedness around the world, and the different pathways to understanding what it means to be mixed through migration, development, postcolonialism and different forms of nation-building. This paper seeks to connect theory to practice, approaching mixedness through the lens of clinical sociology, applying sociological theory on the ground and exploring the utility of critical mixed race studies in everyday life. Clinical sociology as a practice is first outlined, juxtaposed against the development in theorizing around mixed racial and ethnic identities on an international level. The paper then looks at some possibilities for practical impact: by acknowledging the complexity of mixedness and everyday life, research on mixed identities can go beyond the development of theory and case description, with applied and clinical impacts ranging from the level of the individual to the level of the state. Research on mixedness worldwide illustrates the diversity inherent within ideas of mixing, and the micro, meso and macro applications and potential outcomes of such theories. This paper draws on new and shifting conceptions of mixedness, emphasizing that the sociology of mixedness can have considerable value in effecting positive social change: positioning the (mixed) individual within the (mixed) society and allowing sociology to become action. The development and use of theories around mixedness emphasize the importance of clinical sociology as a practice: a reason for theory, connecting the abstract to the everyday.

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Improving skin tone representation across Google

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Videos on 2022-05-13 16:22Z by Steven

Improving skin tone representation across Google

Google
2022-05-11

Tulsee Doshi, Head of Product, Responsible AI


Seeing yourself reflected in the world around you — in real life, media or online — is so important. And we know that challenges with image-based technologies and representation on the web have historically left people of color feeling overlooked and misrepresented. Last year, we announced Real Tone for Pixel, which is just one example of our efforts to improve representation of diverse skin tones across Google products.

Today, we’re introducing a next step in our commitment to image equity and improving representation across our products. In partnership with Harvard professor and sociologist Dr. Ellis Monk, we’re releasing a new skin tone scale designed to be more inclusive of the spectrum of skin tones we see in our society. Dr. Monk has been studying how skin tone and colorism affect people’s lives for more than 10 years.

The 10 shades of the Monk Skin Tone Scale.

The culmination of Dr. Monk’s research is the Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale, a 10-shade scale that will be incorporated into various Google products over the coming months. We’re openly releasing the scale so anyone can use it for research and product development. Our goal is for the scale to support inclusive products and research across the industry — we see this as a chance to share, learn and evolve our work with the help of others…

Read the entire article here.

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Impact of the forgotten black Europeans

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2022-05-13 15:39Z by Steven

Impact of the forgotten black Europeans

Islington Tribune
London, United Kingdom
2022-05-12

Angela Cobbinah

The Chevalier de St George

Scholars, poets, writers, composers… a new book focuses on the wide influence of Africa abroad, writes Angela Cobbinah

ALESSANDRO de Medici, Duke of Florence, virtuoso 18th-century French violinist and composer Joseph Bologne and 1922 world light heavyweight boxing champion Battling Siki from France via Senegal are probably people we know little about, if at all.

They are part of a forgotten European past explored by Olivette Otele in her scholarly book, African Europeans, which travels through time to reveal how trade, war, slavery and colonialism resulted in a black presence in Europe from as far back as the third century.

This is where Otele, professor of the history and memory of slavery at Bristol University, kicks off, telling the story of St Maurice, Egyptian leader of a Roman legion who was famously executed for refusing to crush a Christian revolt in Gaul.

Celebrated as a martyr across Germany, he is clearly represented as an African in a statue at Magdeburg Cathedral and other church iconography.

Black saints and Madonnas appeared across Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries, perhaps Otele speculates, to symbolise the transformative power of the Catholic Church in converting those it considered heathen…

Read the entire review here.

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The Box: Looking Back At Daytime’s First Black Leading Actress Ellen Holly

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2022-05-13 02:04Z by Steven

The Box: Looking Back At Daytime’s First Black Leading Actress Ellen Holly

A Hot Set
2020-07-21

Hillary Lynch

ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES

Ellen Holly comes from a long line of trailblazers- her family tree includes Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black woman to graduate from medical school in the state of New York (the third in the United States overall) and Sylvanus Smith, the first Black person to address Congress at the Lincoln Memorial– so it’s no surprise that she is a trailblazer herself. Her portrayal of Carla Gray on the Agnes Nixon soap opera One Life to Live marked a major moment in entertainment history, as she became the first Black leading actress in daytime television. Her inclusion on the soap was monumental, giving the daytime television viewing populace a rare opportunity to watch a Black television character in a major, meaningful role.

Carla Gray is first introduced on One Life to Live in 1968 as Carla Benari, an Italian American woman who is on the brink of a complete nervous breakdown. The cause of her mental health issue is later revealed to be from the inner conflict she faces as a light-skinned Black woman who ran away when she was young and has been passing for white ever since. The irony of the role was not lost on Holly, who referenced the fact that Black actresses avoid trying to pass for white. At the same time, this was the only role on camera that was typically awarded to light-skinned Black actresses- and even then, these roles often went to white actresses. Irony aside, Carla Gray was huge. Upon the show’s revelation that the Italian Carla Benari was actually the Black Carla Gray, ratings spiked, and it was clear that Agnes Nixon had struck television gold with her character’s unique storyline…

Read the entire article here.

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New History Finally Recognizes Afro-Creole Spiritualists

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2022-05-13 01:23Z by Steven

New History Finally Recognizes Afro-Creole Spiritualists

Religion Dispatches
2016-09-20

Paul Harvey, Distinguished Professor of History
University of Colorado

“Ladder of Progress,” a drawing added to the archive of the Cercle Harmonique by René Grandjean, the circle’s first archivist.

Emily Clark’s new work, A Luminous Brotherhood, is an extensive study of a subject that has weirdly been neglected in scholarship: the career of the Afro-Creole Spiritualist Cercle Harmonique from 1858 to 1877. Religious studies scholar Clark has thoroughly mined the records of the Cercle, kept at the University of New Orleans, and produced one of the most important recent works I have seen in race and religion in American history.

By focusing on Afro-Creole Spiritualism in New Orleans, we get an extended, as well as intimate, look at how one very particular group, mostly men and free people of color, envisioned their ideal society through the voices of spirit mediums.

In doing so, they drew from French thinkers and historical experiences (including everyone from Rousseau, Robespierre, and Lamennais to the French and Haitian Revolutions), and applied those to the construction of what they referred to as “the Idea”—a republican society that would achieve liberty, equality and fraternity even in an American society burdened by slavery and racism since its birth.

I had a conversation with Clark, reflecting both on the book as well as on broader questions of race, religion and politics…

Read the entire interview here.

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Conversations In My Head

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Media Archive on 2022-05-13 00:51Z by Steven

Conversations In My Head | Conversations In My Head

Music Xray: 21st century A&R

Artist: Davina Robinson
Album: The Blazing Heart
Title: Conversations In My Head
Year: 2008
Track number: 3
Total tracks: 4
Genres: Rock / Alternative & Punk / Pop

“Powerhouse Rock and Roll Soul” describes Davina Robinson’s blend of rock, funk, soul and wild woman attitude, creating a powerful, fierce, soulful rock style. Davina released her debut EP The Blazing Heart in May 2008, and her first full album, Black Rock Warrior Queen, in November 2011. Davina is from Philadelphia, USA and based in Osaka, Japan.

Lyrics

Are you watching me from afar
Standing over my shoulder
Are you floating above the floor
Sorry that I can’t speak Italian anymore

Many years ago your daughter had a Black boyfriend
When she got pregnant it caused a stir
Everyone said just get rid of it
You were the only one who told her to give birth…

Listen to the song and read the lyrics here.

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‘I know I’m Irish and I don’t have to prove that to anybody’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2022-05-12 21:14Z by Steven

‘I know I’m Irish and I don’t have to prove that to anybody’

The Irish Times
2022-05-07

Sorcha Pollak, Immigration Reporter

Marguerite Penrose has written a memoir called Yeah, But Where are You Really From? Photograph: Alan Betson

Growing up as a black person with a disability in Dublin, Marguerite Penrose sensed her difference

On June 9th 2020, one week after thousands of young Irish people marched through the streets of Dublin calling for an end to racism and inequality, a new post appeared on the recently established Black and Irish Instagram page.

“My name is Marguerite. I was born in Dublin in 1974. I am a PROUD Irish/Zambian, living in Meath now.”

Marguerite Penrose had never spoken or written publicly about her background. She preferred not to dwell on the first three years of her life which she spent in a mother and baby home on the Navan Road, or her battles with scoliosis throughout her life. She didn’t like remembering the racist remarks outside nightclubs or disapproving stares on the bus. She preferred focusing on the positives – her incredible adopted family and her wonderful friends.

But then she decided to speak out about growing up as a black woman with a disability in Dublin…

Read the entire article here.

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