A Fable of Agency

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2022-05-21 21:45Z by Steven

A Fable of Agency

The New York Review of Books
2022-05-26

Brenda Wineapple

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

Lumpkin’s Jail; engraving from A History of the Richmond Theological Seminary, 1895

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail by Kristen Green. Seal, 332 pp., $30.00

Kristen Green’s The Devil’s Half Acre recounts the story of a fugitive slave jail, and the enslaved woman, Mary Lumpkin, who came to own it.

In The Allure of the Archives (1989), a gem of a book, the French historian Arlette Farge talks about unearthing, insofar as it’s possible, a past that’s not quite past—particularly in relation to the lives of women, whose histories have often been hidden, forgotten, or written over, women spoken about but whom we seldom hear speaking. Combing through the judicial archives at the Préfecture of Paris, Farge reads the sullen or angry answers that ordinary eighteenth-century Parisian women, some of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable, give to the police who have arrested them. And she knows that to understand what they say, or don’t say, we need to care and not to care: to distance ourselves with empathy while we set aside expectations and assumptions. Deciphering what’s left in the archives, Farge writes, “entails a roaming voyage through the words of others, and a search for a language that can rescue their relevance.”

Piecing together stories about women who managed the uncertainties and privations of their situations is even more difficult when the women in question have been enslaved and thus forbidden even the basic rights that an eighteenth-century Parisian laundress enjoyed. That is Kristen Green’s task in her impassioned The Devil’s Half Acre, which she calls “the untold story of how one woman liberated the South’s most notorious slave jail.”

Green is a journalist and also the author of Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County (2015), a personal account of how that Virginia county defied Brown v. Board of Education and shut down its schools for almost five years rather than integrate them. In The Devil’s Half Acre, she recovers the life of Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman of mixed race born in 1832 who, likely by 1840, was held in bondage at Lumpkin’s Jail, a chamber of horrors located between Franklin and Broad Streets in Shockoe Bottom, the central slave-trading quarter in Richmond, Virginia

Read the entire review here.

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Interracial couple representation in pop culture isn’t as progressive as we think

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2022-05-20 19:48Z by Steven

Interracial couple representation in pop culture isn’t as progressive as we think

Andscape
2021-05-21

Rebecca Theodore-Vachon

Chuck Anderson

The optics, while a sign of change, don’t point to any change in the status quo

In June 2013, Cheerios aired its usual family-friendly commercial where a cherub-faced little girl approaches her mother in the kitchen and asks, “Dad says Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?” What should have been a heartwarming ad about an everyday American family quickly attracted a firestorm of controversy. Why? This commercial depicted an interracial family consisting of a Black father, white mother and a mixed-race child.

Over the last five years, these portrayals of interracial relationships are so common that they often go unmarked. Yet, even though there is more diversity of different kinds of pairings – multiethnic, non-monogamous, queer – the optics are just one part of the story. Are depictions of interracial unions and by extension, mixed-race and biracial children, a sign of racial progress?

The answer isn’t as clear-cut as one might think. Hollywood has been wrestling with how to best reflect the representation and nuances of Black-white interracial unions with varying results. The critiques and conversations surrounding Black-white interracial relationships have evolved beyond just the visual representation to how filmmakers and TV showrunners choose to depict these unions. Are interracial couples rather than strictly monoracial, Black ones being presented because they’re more palatable to mainstream audiences? Do biracial, particularly light-skinned children, reinforce colorism? These are some of the concerns as the proliferation of interracial couplings continues to spread across media…

Read the entire article here.

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The Privilege of Racial Identity

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2022-05-20 15:53Z by Steven

The Privilege of Racial Identity

The Spectator: The University of Wisconsin-Eau-Claire’s Student Newspaper Since 1923
2022-04-28

Kiara Jackson

I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself.

Mixed people do not owe anyone an explanation for their Blackness.

No one gets to decide their race. But most people get the privilege to say “I’m Black,” or “I’m Native Hawaiian.” They get the privilege of knowing exactly where they come from, exactly what to tell people when asked and exactly what bubble to fill in on standardized tests.

They get the privilege of racial identity.

Being mixed, you don’t get this same privilege. I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself…

Read the entire article here.

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Why Not Pass?

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2022-05-20 15:21Z by Steven

Why Not Pass?

Yes!
2022-05-18

Gila K. Berryman

Illustration by Fran Murphy/YES! Media

The Vanishing Half” deals with the theme of racial “passing” in the 1950s. Passing is different today, but still presents a choice between safety and authenticity

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was one of the most popular novels of the last few years—a bestseller on multiple “best book” lists. The story begins in 1954, when identical twins Stella and Desiree, aged 16, run away from home and their Southern town of light-skinned Black folks. In a year, the twins will go their separate ways, “their lives splitting as evenly as their shared egg,” when Stella crosses over to pass as White—she disappears, marries her White employer, and doesn’t look back.

American Whiteness exacts a high price in exchange for its safety and privilege. In order to pass, Stella severs every connection to her previous life so she can hide her true identity, even from her husband. As a result, she can never completely let her guard down around White people, and she refuses to have anything to do with Black people for fear that they might recognize some vestige of her Blackness…

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Multiracial Residents Are Changing the Face of the US

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2022-05-19 20:16Z by Steven

Multiracial Residents Are Changing the Face of the US

Stateline
Pew Charitable Trusts
2022-05-13

Tim Henderson, Staff Writer

A woman in Yellow Springs, Ohio, shows a portrait of her multiracial family. The number of people identifying as more than one race nearly doubled between 2010 and 2020 as stigmas fade and more people learn about multiracial backgrounds.

John Minchillo / The Associated Press

The number of Americans who identified as more than one race nearly doubled to 13.5 million people between 2010 and 2020, and did double or more in 34 states and the District of Columbia, a Stateline analysis of census figures shows.

To some observers, the increase in the number of Americans identifying as more than one race shows that barriers are breaking down. But the increase also may reflect changes to census questions designed to tease out the heritage of multiracial people.

The increases contributed to a first-ever decline in the population identifying solely as non-Hispanic White. The number of people identifying as White who also identified as Hispanic or another race did grow, however.

“It’s not unreasonable to imagine that if people keep intermarrying, if they define themselves as White and they are accepted as White, the definition of White in 2052 could be much different than it is in 2022,” said Ellis Monk, an associate sociology professor at Harvard University who has studied the way official racial categories can be misleading.

But Monk emphasized that he and other people with dark skin or other distinctive racial features continue to face discrimination and reduced opportunities, even if they identify as more than one race. Monk is Black, and like most African Americans he has White forebears, but he doesn’t consider himself to be biracial…

Read the entire article here.

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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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