The ‘Heights’ of Anxiety and the Color Line: Racial Ambiguity in a Culture of Absolutes

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-07-14 22:56Z by Steven

The ‘Heights’ of Anxiety and the Color Line: Racial Ambiguity in a Culture of Absolutes

Nerds of Color
2021-07-09

Lara Stapleton, Lecturer of English
Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, New York

I once heard the great political philosopher and activist Angela Davis argue that Americans are so obsessed with race as an identifying feature that when we meet racially ambiguous people, we are anxious until we know on which side of the color line they fall. Upon hearing this, I was relieved by the articulation of something I had suspected was at the heart of my experience. It was like experiencing great art, that rush of adrenaline that comes with recognizing what we’ve known all along presented as fantastically new.

I say this because I am extremely racially ambiguous person, particularly in the United States where we traditionally discuss race as an absolute. I am bi-racial, Filipino and white, and I hear, from day-to-day, wildly different interpretations of who I am. I have been recently called “Kaitlin” on the train, and also described as many permutations of light brown people: Latinx, Native American, and Arab. I get Mediterranean, Jewish, and Sicilian and quite often, I am asked if I have some Black ancestry (which coincides also with being Latinx)…

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Policing Cardi B’s Blackness: A Critical Analysis of “Commonsense” Notions of Race

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-30 02:41Z by Steven

Policing Cardi B’s Blackness: A Critical Analysis of “Commonsense” Notions of Race

Black Latinx Studies
2019-06-15

Shantee Rosado, Assistant Professor of Afro-Latinx Studies
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick.

When Cardi B entered the Hip Hop landscape during Love & Hip Hop: New York, the world seemed more entertained by her loud, humorous persona than her music. So, it didn’t surprise me that her emergence as a Hip Hop tour de force was met with some skepticism. Cardi B, born Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, is a Bronx-born and raised Hip Hop phenom. If you haven’t heard of her by now, I’d like an escape to the deserted island you’ve been living on, por favor. Cardi is known for many things these days: for her tenuous relationship with fellow hip hop artist Offset, from Migos, for her very public pregnancy and recent birth of baby girl Kulture; and for her awkward, yet hilarious, interviews with late night figures like Jimmy Fallon.

Despite her obvious appeal to listeners, Cardi’s rise to fame was also met with some ridicule and suspicion, as critics took to Twitter to debate her legitimacy as an artist and her appearance as a “racially ambiguous” woman. Public concerns over Cardi’s Blackness are obvious from just a quick Google search. Existing articles include a blog post on Blavity, published last fall, titled “People want to know if Cardi B is Black, but for Afro-Caribbeans, things are not Black and White.” Another article, published on fuse early last year, is titled “Yes, Cardi B is Black and proud of it: Why the rapper’s Afro-Latina heritage shouldn’t be erased.” Tapping into similar concerns, a YouTube video published by The Talko and titled “20 things you didn’t know about Cardi B,” uses the first item on their list to “clear up” rumors regarding Cardi’s ethnic background. The video “clarifies” that her parents are Dominican and Trinidadian, but that Cardi was born and raised in the Bronx.

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‘In the Heights’ and Colorism: What Is Lost When Afro-Latinos Are Erased

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-22 20:36Z by Steven

‘In the Heights’ and Colorism: What Is Lost When Afro-Latinos Are Erased

The New York Times
2021-06-21

By Maira Garcia, Sandra E. Garcia, Isabelia Herrera, Concepción de León, Maya Phillips and A.O. Scott


The “In the Heights” cast includes Daphne Rubin-Vega, left, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Barrera (rear), Olga Merediz, Gregory Diaz IV, Dascha Polanco and Jimmy Smits. Warner Bros.

The film, set in a New York neighborhood known as the Little Dominican Republic, didn’t cast dark-skinned Latinos in lead roles. Our writers discuss how that absence reverberates.

In the Heights,” the long-delayed Hollywood adaptation of the Broadway musical, has been heralded as a step for more Latino representation in Hollywood, but a conversation has emerged about colorism and the casting of the film.

The New York neighborhood at the center of the story, Washington Heights, is predominantly Afro-Dominican. In an interview, Felice León, a video producer for The Root, asked Jon M. Chu, the director, and some of the stars about the lack of dark-skinned leads in the film: “As a Black woman of Cuban descent specifically from New York City,” she told him, “it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the fact that most of your principal actors were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people.” Chu said it was a conversation and something he needed to be educated about. In the end, he said, they “tried to get the people who were best for those roles.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is a part of the film’s creative team, which includes the writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, addressed the criticism last week in a statement on Twitter. He apologized for falling short in “trying to paint a mosaic of this community.” Several prominent Latinos came to Miranda’s defense, including the pioneering Latina actress Rita Moreno, who later backtracked her comments. It’s not the first time Chu has had to contend with questions of identity. His box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians” also had to address similar issues when it came to the casting of Asians and Asian-Americans in the film. (The lead actor in that film, Henry Golding, is biracial.)

I asked five critics and reporters at The Times to weigh in on the criticism and what it means for representation in the arts. These are edited excerpts from the conversation. MAIRA GARCIA

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Opinion: ‘In the Heights’ is just more of the same whitewashed Hollywood

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-22 20:11Z by Steven

Opinion: ‘In the Heights’ is just more of the same whitewashed Hollywood

The Washington Post
2021-06-21

Julissa Contreras and Dash Harris Machado


Producer Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival opening-night premiere of “In the Heights” on June 9 in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Julissa Contreras is a Dominican writer, poet, actor and creator of the “Ladies Who Bronché” podcast. Dash Harris Machado is co-founder of AfroLatino Travel, producer and facilitator of the “Radio Caña Negra” podcast and producer of “NEGRO: A Docu-series About Latinx Identity.”

The recent controversy surrounding “In the Heights,” the big-budget film based on the musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, came as no surprise for Black Latin American and Caribbean people. With its White and light-skinned leading roles, the film became part of a long tradition in the Americas of Black erasure.

When moviegoers and journalists, including the Root’s Felice León, started highlighting the lack of Black leading cast members in the film, many prominent figures rushed to defend it. “We shouldn’t burden Lin-Manuel with the responsibility of representing every Latino,” commentator Ana Navarro said. “You can never do right, it seems,” actress Rita Moreno said in defense of Miranda. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.” Both accounts are inaccurate.

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How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-21 02:06Z by Steven

How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation

Rolling Stone
2021-06-16

Andrea Marks, Research Editor


MELISSA BARRERA (center) as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS
Macall Polay/Warner Bros

A prevalence of light-skinned actors demonstrates Hollywood’s — and Latin America’s — history of colorism

When the musical In the Heights debuted in 2008, it was considered a triumph of Latin American story-telling. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, it brought the barrio to Broadway and centered Latino immigrants building a community in New York “north of 96th street” so their children could chase the American Dream. The plot is centered around Usnavi (originally played by Miranda himself), the son of Dominican immigrants, who runs the family bodega but dreams of something bigger.

The movie version of the Tony Award–winning show hit theaters and HBO Max last week to largely positive reviews and praise for its three-dimensional portrayals of Latin-American characters, not to mention its ambitious full-cast musical numbers. A majority-Latino cast carries the film, starring actors like Anthony Ramos, a star of Miranda’s other Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton, who is of Puerto Rican descent, playing Usnavi; Mexican TV actress Melissa Barrera; and Bronx-born bachata singer Leslie Grace, who is of Dominican descent. At the same time, many viewers have expressed disappointment at a lack of Afro-Latino representation in the cast, especially among lead characters…

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George Floyd Protests Prompted a Reckoning Over Colorism, Afro-Latinx Identity

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2021-06-09 20:38Z by Steven

George Floyd Protests Prompted a Reckoning Over Colorism, Afro-Latinx Identity

Teen Vogue
2021-05-26

Zoë Watkins

Racial Reckoning is a series produced by student journalists reflecting on how the national uprisings after the police killing of George Floyd affected their generation. It was produced in collaboration with Dr. Sherri Williams’ Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting class at American University.

Alé Headley, 24, an Afro Panamanian living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, attended over 20 marches and rallies last summer to protest the death of George Floyd. Headley, who is Black, Afro-Latina, and queer, identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them and ella. They say they were “immediately” driven to join movements demanding justice for Black and brown lives lost to police violence.

Their decision to get involved was multifaceted and deeply personal: They had witnessed police officers mistreat unhoused people in their neighborhood, thought of their younger brother who regularly endures police harassment, and their own experiences with racial profiling. “It’s disgusting to see how other people are treated, and then experiencing it for yourself,” Headley tells Teen Vogue. “It’s a different level of empathy.”

While navigating dual identities, many members of Afro-Latinx communities got involved in last summer’s uprisings against systemic racism. Many often found themselves in an uncomfortable tug of war with their identities. As they protested and heard personal stories of racism, some realized that their identification with their Blackness had been muddied throughout childhood, and their dual identities were never allowed to fully shine…

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Multiracial Experiences in Higher Education: Contesting Knowledge, Honoring Voice, and Innovating Practice

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Campus Life, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science, United States on 2021-03-08 02:38Z by Steven

Multiracial Experiences in Higher Education: Contesting Knowledge, Honoring Voice, and Innovating Practice

Stylus Publishing
2021-02-17
Paperback ISBN: 9781642670691
E-Book (ePub) ISBN: 9781642670714
Hardback ISBN: 9781642670684
Lib E-Book ISBN: 9781642670707

Edited by:

Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero, Associate Professor
Department of Educational Studies
Ohio State University

Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe, Ed.D., Consultant and Author in Organizational Development and Social Justice Education

Foreword by:

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Recipient of the 2021 Innovation Award of The Multiracial Network (MRN)

In the last Census, over 9 million people – nearly 3% of the population – identified themselves as of two or more races. The proportion of college students who identify as Multiracial is somewhat higher, and growing. Although increasing at a slightly slower rate, Multiracial faculty and staff are also teaching and working on campuses in greater numbers. Together, Multiracial people from diverse backgrounds and in various roles are influencing college and university culture, practices, and climate.

This book centers the experiences of Multiracial people, those individuals claiming heritage and membership in two or more (mono)racial groups and/or identifies with a Multiracial term. These terms include the broader biracial, multiethnic, and mixed, or more specific terms like Blasian and Mexipino.

In addressing the recurring experiences of inclusion, exclusion, affirmation, and challenges that they encounter, the contributors identify the multiple sites in higher education that affect personal perceptions of self, belonging, rejection, and resilience; describe strategies they utilized to support themselves or other Multiracial people at their institutions; and to advocate for greater awareness of Multiracial issues and a commitment to institutional change.

In covering an array of Multiracial experiences, the book brings together a range of voices, social identities (including race), ages, perspectives, and approaches. The chapter authors present a multiplicity of views because, as the book exemplifies, multiracial people are not a monolithic group, nor are their issues and needs universal to all.

The book opens by outlining the literature and theoretical frameworks that provide context and foundations for the chapters that follow. It then presents a range of first person narratives – reflecting the experiences of students, faculty, and staff – that highlight navigating to and through higher education from diverse standpoints and positionalities. The final section offers multiple strategies and applied methods that can be used to enhance Multiracial inclusion through research, curriculum, and practice. The editors conclude with recommendations for future scholarship and practice.

This book invites Multiracial readers, their allies, and those people who interact with and influence the daily lives of Multiracial people to explore issues of identity and self-care, build coalitions on campus, and advocate for change. For administrators, student affairs personnel, and anyone concerned with diversity on campus, it opens a window on a growing population with whom they may be unfamiliar, mis-categorize, or overlook, and on the need to change systems and structures to address their full inclusion and unveil their full impact.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword —G. Reginald Daniel
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part One: Framing Multiracial Experiences in Higher Education
    • 1) Insights on Multiracial Knowledge, Voices, and Practices: Lessons From Our Lives and Work—Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe and Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero
    • 2) Multiracial Identity on Campus: Identities and Experiences of Multiracial People in Higher Education—Kristen A. Renn
    • 3) The Naming and Framing of Identity: Reflecting on Core Concepts Through the Experiences of Multiracial People—Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe
    • 4) Monoracism: Identifying and Addressing Structural Oppression of Multiracial People in Higher Education—Jessica C. Harris, Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero, and Maxwell Pereyra
  • Part Two: Multiracial Narratives Across the Higher Education Landscape
    • 5) Back to Black—Nick Davis
    • 6) On the Path to Multiracial Consciousness: Reflections on My Scholar-Practitioner Journey in Higher Education—Victoria K. Malaney Brown
    • 7) Being Mexipina in Higher Education—Rebecca Cepeda
    • 8) Remembering to Resist Racist Colonial Forgetting on Campus—e alexander
    • 9) Existing In-Between: Embodying the Synergy of My Ancestors—Naliyah Kaya
    • 10) Reflections of a Creole, Indigenous, Afro-Latin Scholar: From Community to the Classroom—Andrew Jolivétte
  • Part Three: Strategies and Tools for Enhancing Multiracial Inclusion
    • 11) Contextualizing Multiraciality in Campus Climate: Key Considerations for Transformative Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—Chelsea Guillermo-Wann and Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero
    • 12) Building Multiracial Aikido: A Student Social Justice Retreat—Charlene C. Martinez and Stephanie N. Shippen
    • 13) Mixed and Multiracial Student Organizations on Campus: The Necessity of Weaving Together Art and Critique—Orkideh Mohajeri and Heather C. Lou
    • 14) Critical Mixed Race Studies: Rooted in Love and Fire—Nicole Leopardo, Kira Donnell, and Wei Ming Dariotis
  • Part Four: Future Directions
    • 15) Intergenerational Reflections and Future Directions—Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero, Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe, and Lisa Combs
  • Editors and Contributors
  • Index
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The Afro-Latinx Experience Is Essential To Our International Reckoning On Race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Latino Studies, Media Archive on 2020-12-12 02:38Z by Steven

The Afro-Latinx Experience Is Essential To Our International Reckoning On Race

National Public Radio
ALT.LATINO
2020-07-03

Felix Contreras
Anaïs Laurent
Marisa Arbona-Ruiz
Jasmine Garsd


In Tijuana, raised fists show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

Let’s pause the music for a bit and talk through some things.

In three segments, we’re going to have a conversation about how Afro-Latinx folks often get left out of national discussions about Blackness and, in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement. Petra Rivera-Rideua, of Wellesley College, and Omaris Z. Zamora, of Rutgers, help us wade through layers of complexities. Our newest contributor to the Alt.Latino family, NPR publicist Anaïs Laurent, lends her considerable knowledge of Afro-Latinx culture and reggaeton to the conversation.

“I don’t think that the media, on a national level, is doing the work to understand that Blackness is heterogeneous,” Zamora says.

“There are Black Latinos, there are Afro Latinos who very much a part of Black Lives Matter and the experiences we’re talking about,” Laurent adds.

Read the entire story here.

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Dash Harris is doing the work to end anti-Blackness in LatinX culture

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2020-09-19 01:50Z by Steven

Dash Harris is doing the work to end anti-Blackness in LatinX culture

theGrio
2020-06-16

DeMicia Inman

Through her work in creating ‘NEGRO: A DOCU-SERIES ABOUT LATINX IDENTITY,’ Harris hopes to dismantle anti-Blackness in the LatinX community.

The African diaspora gave much of the world a very layered identity. For centuries, the slave trade resulted in African natives being sold or stolen as slaves and transported across the globe. Now, Black people reside in countries from the United States and Brazil to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Dash Harris, an Afro-LatinX woman, understands not only her multi-cultural heritage but also the implications and societal structure surrounding her identity. Through her work in creating NEGRO: A DOCU-SERIES ABOUT LATINX IDENTITY and more, she hopes to highlight LatinX existence and dismantle anti-Blackness in the LatinX community…

Read the entire interview here.

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Jessica Krug and the theft of Black Latina identity.

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-09-11 01:34Z by Steven

Jessica Krug and the theft of Black Latina identity.

Daily Kos
2020-09-05

Denise Oliver Velez


Professor Jessica A. Krug, a white woman from Kansas, who has been passing herself off as an Afro-Latina
Professor Jessica Krug, panelist, Diasporic Politics panel Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS) 25th Anniversary Conference, Friday , Columbia University, April 26, 2019

We all know what identity theft is, in a world filled with cyber crimes. We’ve all watched horror films with body snatchers as the main villains. Things become far more complicated when we address the issue of humans who, for a host of warped reasons, assume a false racial or ethnic identity.

Such is the case of Professor Jessica A. Krug, who is currently an Associate Professor of African American history at George Washington University. Krug has for years portrayed herself as Black, and Afro-Latina, while publishing her academic work, receiving grant funding, teaching and also acting as a Afro-Latina political activist from the Bronx under the pseudonym “Jess La Bombalera,” all the while hiding her real self — a white woman from Kansas City.

Her exposure as a fraud, has unleashed a firestorm of pushback on social media and in academia, similar to the exposure of black-passing Rachel Dolezal in 2015…

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