Choosing Racial Identity in the United States, 1880-1940

Posted in Economics, History, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Passing, United States on 2020-01-22 01:56Z by Steven

Choosing Racial Identity in the United States, 1880-1940

National Bureau of Economic Research
NBER Working Paper No. 26465
November 2019
76 pages
DOI: 10.3386/w26465

Ricardo Dahis, Ph.D. Candidate in Economics
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Emily Nix, Assistant Professor of Finance and Business Economics
University of Southern California

Nancy Qian, James J. O’Connor Professor of Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

This paper documents that many black males experienced a change in racial classification to white in the United States, 1880–1940, while changes in racial classification were negligible for other races. We provide a rich set of descriptive evidence on the lives of black men “passing” for white, such as marriage, children, the passing of spouses and children, migration and income.

Read the entire paper here.

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The Harlem Renaissance’s Hidden Figure

Posted in Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Passing, United States on 2017-08-16 21:57Z by Steven

The Harlem Renaissance’s Hidden Figure

Ursinus College
English Summer Fellows Student Research
2017-07-21
23 pages

Jada A. Grice
Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania

This project will seek to look at the Harlem Renaissance’s hidden figure, Jessie Fauset. Jessie Fauset was born to an A.M.E. minister and his wife as one of ten children in Camden County, New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia. From there she got her college degree and began teaching all over the country. She has written four novels, There is Confusion, Plum Bun, The Chinaberry Tree, and Comedy: American Style, all of which I have read this summer. Each novel focuses on the early twentieth century black family. I will be analyzing these novels under the four themes of passing, acceptance, romance, and Paris/escape. I will also be mapping the characters in the novel on a QGIS system in order to indicate where the majority of the novel takes place and to see if certain characters have more movement than others. I will finally map Jessie Fauset’s life in order to see if her life parallels with the lives of her characters. Mapping consists of a close reading of the novel, identifying locations in the book, creating an [Microsoft] Excel spreadsheet, and plotting the spreadsheet onto an online map on QGIS.

Read the entire paper here.

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‘A Woman of Strange, Unfathomable Presence’: Ida Platt’s Lived Experience of Race, Gender, and Law, 1863-1939

Posted in Biography, Law, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Passing, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2017-07-06 02:16Z by Steven

‘A Woman of Strange, Unfathomable Presence’: Ida Platt’s Lived Experience of Race, Gender, and Law, 1863-1939

Gwen Jordan
University of Illinois, Springfield

2017-05-08
52 pages

In 1894, Ida Platt became the first African-American woman lawyer in Illinois. She was one of only five black women lawyers in the country and the only one able to maintain a law practice. Throughout her thirty-three year career, Platt served as head of her household, providing for her mother and sisters, without marrying or having children. She accomplished these feats by employing a fluid racial identity, passing as white in her professional life, and by avoiding the dominant gender roles that excluded women from the masculine legal profession. In 1927, at the age of sixty-four, Ida Platt retired, married Walter Burke, a white man, and moved to England. Twelve years later, Ida Burke died. As is the practice in England, there was no race designation on her death certificate.

Platt’s choice to employ a fluid racial identity allowed her to pursue her career as a lawyer amidst a racist and sexist society that particularly discriminated against black women. She entered the law when Jim Crow was taking root, race lines were hardening, and elite, white, male lawyers were intensifying their opposition to women’s rise within the profession. Platt’s life and career offer insights into how law and the legal profession responded to the complexities of race and tender a new story of the lived experience of race as it intersects with gender. It suggests that Platt’s pragmatic strategy of changing her racial identity both contested and shaped the ways in which race, gender, and identity were constructed and represented in American society, as it exposed both the rigidity and permeability of these constructions.

Read the entire paper here.

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“Brown Babies” in Postwar Europe: The Italian Case

Posted in Europe, History, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations on 2017-04-30 02:29Z by Steven

“Brown Babies” in Postwar Europe: The Italian Case

Max Weber Lecture No. 2016/03
European University Institute
2016
12 pages

Silvana Patriarca, Professor of History
Fordham University, New York, New York

The paper addresses the issue of the persistence of the idea of race in its close intersection with ideas of national identities in post-1945 Europe, by looking at the racialization of the children of European women and non-white Allied soldiers born on the continent during and right after the war. The case of Italy is closely examined through a variety of sources, some of which have only recently become available. Similarly to what happened in Great Britain and Germany, in Italy these children were considered a “problem” in spite of their small numbers. Because of their origin, but especially because of the color of their skin, they were often portrayed as alien to the (white) nation. Fantasies concerning their disappearance paralleled the elaboration of plans for their transfer to non-European countries. Italy, however, had its own specificity, namely the extensive role of the Catholic Church and more generally of the Catholic world in the “managing” of these children, as well as in shaping the self-representation of post-fascist Italy as a non-racist country. In fact Catholic racial paternalism was pervasive and underwrote the support that prominent Catholic figures gave to Italy’s attempt to hold on to the old colonies in the aftermath of the war.

Read the entire paper here.

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More than Just Friends? School Peers and Adult Interracial Relationships

Posted in Campus Life, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Social Science, United States on 2016-11-25 17:06Z by Steven

More than Just Friends? School Peers and Adult Interracial Relationships

Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (Institute for the Study of Labor)
Bonn, Germany
Discussion Paper No. 10319 (October 2016)
40 pages

Luca Paolo Merlino, Associate Professor
Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

Max F. Steinhardt, Research Fellow
Helmut Schmidt University, IZA, LdA and CELSI

Liam Wren-Lewis, Associate Member
Paris School of Economics and INRA

This paper investigates the impact of individuals’ school peers on their adult romantic relationships. In particular, we consider the effect of quasi-random variation in the share of black students within an individual’s cohort on the percentage of adults’ cohabiting partners that are black. We find that more black peers leads to more relationships with blacks later in life. The results are similar whether relationships begun near or far from school, suggesting that the racial mix of schools has an important and persistent impact on racial attitudes.

Read the entire discussion paper here.

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The Effects of School Desegregation on Mixed-Race Births

Posted in Campus Life, Economics, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-08-22 19:44Z by Steven

The Effects of School Desegregation on Mixed-Race Births

The National Bureau of Economic Research
NBER Working Paper No. 22480
Issued in August 2016
47 pages
DOI: 10.3386/w22480

Nora Gordon, Associate Professor
McCourt School of Public Policy
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Sarah Reber, Associate Professor of Public Policy
Luskin School of Public Affairs
University of California, Los Angeles

We find a strong positive correlation between black exposure to whites in their school district and the prevalence of later mixed-race (black-white) births, consistent with the literature on residential segregation and endogamy. However, that relationship is significantly attenuated by the addition of a few control variables, suggesting that individuals with higher propensities to have mixed-race births are more likely to live in desegregated school districts. We exploit quasi-random variation to estimate causal effects of school desegregation on mixed-race childbearing, finding small to moderate statistically insignificant effects. Because the upward trend across cohorts in mixed-race childbearing was substantial, separating the effects of desegregation plans from secular cohort trends is difficult; results are sensitive to how we specify the cohort trends and to the inclusion of Chicago/Cook County in the sample. Taken together, the analyses suggest that while lower levels of school segregation are associated with higher rates of mixed-race childbearing, a substantial portion of that relationship is likely due to who chooses to live in places with desegregated schools. This suggests that researchers should be cautious about interpreting the relationship between segregation—whether residential or school—and other outcomes as causal.

Read the paper here.

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“Virtues do not all belong to the whites”: The Portrayals of Americanization and Miscegenation in Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, United States on 2016-05-02 23:23Z by Steven

“Virtues do not all belong to the whites”: The Portrayals of Americanization and Miscegenation in Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance

SEGue: Symposium for English Graduate Students
The College at Brockport, State University of New York
2016-04-23
18 pages

Jennifer Bradley
Villanova University

The works of Sui Sin Far, who is widely recognized as the first Asian-American writer, revolve around questions of identity that capture the dissenting voices surrounding Asian-American immigration. A biracial woman of Chinese and English descent, Sui Sin Far writes from a variety of perspectives in order to paint a picture of race relations between Chinese and Americans during a time of intense Sinophobia in the United States. This paper will consider how several of the stories in her collection Mrs. Spring Fragrance showcase central dilemmas of immigration and assimilation. Critics have examined Sui Sin Far’s portrayal of assimilation, but not through the comparative lenses of Americanization and miscegenation. Americanization entails the sharing and appreciation of American values, customs, and culture while miscegenation is characterized by the mixing and interbreeding of different races. In Mrs. Spring Fragrance, white characters tend to view Americanization favorably but regard miscegenation with horror and disgust. Moreover, biracial children of both Chinese and white descent are regarded with confusion and even repulsion. Through miscegenation, white identity mixes with, rather than dominates, Chinese identity. In Mrs. Spring Fragrance, Americanization is often encouraged by whites because it entails an effacement of Chinese heritage, but miscegenation is discouraged because it instead implies an equality of this same Chinese heritage. This paper will turn to the stories of “Mrs. Spring Fragrance,” “The Story of One White Woman Who Married a Chinese,” and “Her Chinese Husband” to examine the contrasting portrayals of Americanization and miscegenation and their implications in forming American culture and society.

Read the entire paper here.

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The Complexity of Immigrant Generations: Implications for Assessing the Socioeconomic Integration of Hispanics and Asians

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, United States on 2016-02-17 20:18Z by Steven

The Complexity of Immigrant Generations: Implications for Assessing the Socioeconomic Integration of Hispanics and Asians

National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Working Paper No. 21982
February 2016
58 pages
DOI: 10.3386/w21982

Brian Duncan, Professor of Economics
University of Colorado

Stephen J. Trejo, Professor of Economics
University of Texas, Austin

Because of data limitations, virtually all studies of the later-generation descendants of immigrants rely on subjective measures of ethnic self-identification rather than arguably more objective measures based on the countries of birth of the respondent and his ancestors. In this context, biases can arise from “ethnic attrition” (e.g., U.S.-born individuals who do not self-identify as Hispanic despite having ancestors who were immigrants from a Spanish-speaking country). Analyzing 2003-2013 data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), this study shows that such ethnic attrition is sizeable and selective for the second- and third-generation populations of key Hispanic and Asian national origin groups. In addition, the results indicate that ethnic attrition generates measurement biases that vary across groups in direction as well as magnitude, and that correcting for these biases is likely to raise the socioeconomic standing of the U.S.-born descendants of most Hispanic immigrants relative to their Asian counterparts.

Read the entire paper here.

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A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs (review) [Cutter]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, United States on 2015-10-23 01:01Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs (review) [Cutter]

African American Review
Volume 48, Number 3, Fall 2015
pages 381-383

Martha J. Cutter, Professor of English and Africana Studies
University of Connecticut

Hobbs, Allyson, A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014)

The historian Allyson Hobbs opens her book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life with an anecdote about a young child living on Chicago’s South Side in the late 1930s who is light enough to pass for white. Her parents (who are also light enough to pass) make the heart-wrenching decision to send her to live as a white person in Los Angeles, without them. She cries, pleads, and begs to stay with her parents, but they are adamant. Many years later when the father is dying the mother calls home the daughter, now a young woman who has married a white man and has had white children, but she refuses to return. This incident—sourced as “one of my family’s stories” (4)—seems an unusual way to begin a book titled A Chosen Exile, for the young girl’s exile is not chosen by any means. It is also a curiously ambiguous story. We may wonder (for example) why the parents do not go with the child, whether she has relatives in California to whom she is sent, and what age she is when this event occurs. This tantalizing story leaves a reader with more questions than it answers, and it belies the richness of Hobbs’s work in the book as a whole. Hobbs does not use this anecdote to elucidate some of the mysteries around passing or the difficulty of excavating the history of the racial passer, who disappears into whiteness. Instead, the story is deployed in support of the central argument of her book—that “racial passing is an exile” (4) and “the core issue of passing is not becoming what you pass for, but losing what you pass away from” (18). But how can we know that passing is “losing what you pass away from” based on this anecdote? In Hobbs’s book, the young girl is never heard from again. Perhaps she found freedom in her whiteness, or perhaps not. She might have had a permanent sense of exile, but this is never elucidated.

The use of this anecdote reflects a systemic flaw in Hobbs’s otherwise powerful and eloquent book. Her source material often opens up in provocative ways the can of worms that is racial passing, but then she sometimes forces those messy, squiggly worms back into a single “can”—the frame of family loss and exile. Hobbs makes the dubious claim that “historians and literary scholars have paid far more attention to what was gained by passing as white rather than to what was lost by rejecting a black racial identity” (11). To counter this tendency, she mines historical sources on passing “to discover a coherent and enduring narrative of loss” (24). At various points, she does acknowledge the shifting meaning of racial passing; for example, she states that “to pass as white varied and cannot be collapsed into a singular narrative” (15) and that “passing was by no means a static practice” (25). By the end of the book, her argument evolves into a more nuanced one: “Loss was a prerequisite of passing. But the losses that passing demanded were not all the same for those who passed. … For some, [passing] was undoubtedly a bitter bargain. But for others, the connection with oneself and one’s past had been lost long ago” (230). Hobbs here articulates some of the plural possibilities of passing—the way it can come to mean both conscription to a certain racial ideology and liberation from this very same ideology at one and the same time.

Hobbs’s book might have put forward from its start, then, a slightly more nuanced overarching framework. But in many ways this book is a very valuable resource for scholars interested in the history of passing, as well as students who may need a broad overview of the phenomenon. It examines the more-than-250-year history of passing in the United States, reaching back to the time of the American Revolution and forward to our current so-called “mulatto millennium,” or “Generation E.A.”—“ethnically ambiguous” (276). Most unique about the book is the wealth of source materials (much of which is…

Read the entire article here.

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Dating Partners Don’t Always Prefer “Their Own Kind”: Some Multiracial Daters Get Bonus Points in the Dating Game

Posted in Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-24 00:14Z by Steven

Dating Partners Don’t Always Prefer “Their Own Kind”: Some Multiracial Daters Get Bonus Points in the Dating Game

Council on Contemporary Families
Austin, Texas
2015-07-01

Celeste Vaughan Curington
Department of Sociology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Ken-Hou Lin, Assistant Professor of Sociology
The University of Texas, Austin

Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, Professor of Sociology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

A briefing paper prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families by Celeste Curington, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Ken-Hou Lin, University of Texas at Austin, and Jennifer Lundquist, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Despite growing approval of interracial dating, researchers have long documented the existence of a racial hierarchy within the dating world, with white women and men the most preferred partners, blacks the least preferred, and Asians and Hispanics in between. But where do the growing numbers of biracial and multiracial individuals fit into this hierarchy? Do they too get ranked by descending shades of lightness?

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of individuals who identified themselves to Census takers as being of two or more races increased by a third. These nine million individuals still represent less than three percent of the population. But studies predict that by the year 2050, nearly one in five Americans may claim a multiracial background. How will this affect dating and marriage patterns in the United States?

We recently completed a study of how multiracial daters fare in a mainstream online dating website. Using 2003-2010 data from one of the largest dating websites in the United States, we examined nearly 6.7 million initial messages sent between heterosexual women and men. Specifically, we looked into how often Asian-white, black-white, and Hispanic-white daters received a response to their messages compared to their monoracial counterparts…

Read the entire paper here.

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