Race Remixed… Reconsidered

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2011-07-06 22:04Z by Steven

This lame and utterly boring series has yet to even reach the already low, low bar set in the mid-1990s regarding this topic by Time and Newsweek. Beyond the drippingly bathetic nature of the reporting throughout the series, there is never more than a sentence or two given over to the fact that there is a huge ideological debate occurring within critical mixed-race studies circles about just what mixed race is and is not, about whether or not supporting it requires belief in the fallacy of biological race, about how much it does or does not advance the cause of white supremacy (whether overtly and knowingly or not), and about the propriety of the disproportionate influence of white mothers of black/white children within the multiracial movement.

The only boundary being pushed by the “Race Remixed” series is the continued fencing off of any significant input (beyond that sentence or two acknowledged above) by scholars who are critical of multiracial identity. If this thoroughly unbalanced series wanted to actually provide real news, it would dare to investigate how multiraciality poses a danger to civil rights compliance monitoring, how multiraciality is assisting certain persons of Hispanic and Asian descent in their transition to “honorary whiteness” while persons of African descent remain barred from doing the same, and how the multiracial movement remains absolutely exclusionary in terms of setting itself apart from the nearly 40 million Afro-Americans of mixed descent in this country. If that thoroughly mixed population is not mixed race, then no one is.

Rainier Spencer (Professor and author of Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix, 2011), Reader’s Comments (#49) for article “Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice,” The New York Times, July 5, 2011. http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/arts/mixed-race-writers-and-artists-raise-their-profiles.html?permid=49#comment49

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More than a ‘tragic mulatto’

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, United Kingdom, United States on 2011-07-06 21:38Z by Steven

More than a ‘tragic mulatto’

Runnymede Bulletin
Spring 2011, Issue 365
pages 26

Zaki Nahaboo
Department of Politics & International Studies
The Open University, UK

Daniel R. McNeil. Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic: Mulatto Devils and Multiracial Messiahs. London: Routledge, 2009, 186 pp. Hardback ISBN 978-0-415-87226-3, Paperback ISBN 978-0-415-89391-6, eBook ISBN 978-0-203-85736-6.

Daniel McNeil illuminates harrowing accounts and insidious perceptions of mixed-race that exist across Canada, America and Britain. His monograph charts the transgression of the ‘colour-line’, exploring the subjectivity of those compelled to negotiate a mixed-race heritage while providing a critical intervention into the discourse of mixed-race as the contemporary cosmopolitan signifier of a post-racial future. These issues leap from the pages as he draws upon influential figures and popular culture ranging from Philippa Schuyler to Barack Obama.

As the title suggests, these issues cannot be analysed without considering the gendered forms of violence and the masculine structuring of desire, which snare the mixed race woman, particularly, between a rock and a hard place.

This is best exemplified in the second chapter of the book, in which McNeil seeks to uncover the linkages between the likes of W. E. B Du Bois, Frantz Fanon and Otto Rank. McNeil does not undermine recent poststructuralist readings of these theorists, instead choosing to delve into their perceptions about the mulatto. Here he finds that within their masculinist framework the mixed-race woman, in particular, is perceived as a hindrance, a problem, a neurotic and an object of pity. McNeil has provided a novel contribution, subtly showing that mixed-race is not simply a position of the petty bourgeoisie, but rather is seen as a shameful reminder of colonialism and ‘dilution’.

McNeil’s account of renowned American child prodigy Philippa Schuyler is a strategically deployed case study for elucidating a far more complex identity than the ‘tragic mulatto‘: i.e. “a feminised and neurotic figure who desires a white lover and either dies or returns to the black community”. Schuyler’s life is deployed to expose how the black/white binary is paradoxically and simultaneously transcended, escaped, denied and repudiated, while also remaining a continuous weight upon her life…

Read the entire review here.

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Seeing in color – art and mixed race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2011-07-06 18:39Z by Steven

Seeing in color – art and mixed race

Laura Kina’s Art Blog

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University

I was reviewing an Asian American marketing book (Many Cultures One Market by Robert Kumaki and Jack Moran) and getting my toenails painted dark fuchsia pink, just a few steps from blood red, at a neighborhood Vietnamese nail salon when I got a text that the New York Times article I’ve been waiting for had finally come out: Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice by Felicia Lee.

The article highlights, amongst others, the recent Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, works by authors such as Heidi Durrow and Danzy Senna, filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearn’s “One Big Hapa Family” and artist Kip Fulbeck’s traveling exhibition Part Asian/100% Hapa.

In the hours that followed, my inbox blew up with comments on mixed race (see the Critical Mixed Race Studies Facebook wall and the comments on the NY Times article). I kept thinking that what was missing here (both in the article and the online commentary) was a discussion of the artwork itself in terms of form and aesthetics and the different ways the various art forms (literature, film, spoken word, performance, visual arts etc.) change the terms of discussion on mixed race and how we might see (or read, or hear, or feel and experience) color…

Read the entire article here.


Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2011-07-06 18:33Z by Steven

Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice

The New York Times

Felicia R. Lee

Heidi Durrow, left, and Fanshen Cox, the co-producers of the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival. (Ann Johansson for The New York Times)

Note from Steven F. Riley: Please make sure to view the many reader comments for the article here.

Race Remixed: Articles in this series explore the growing number of mixed-race Americans.

For years Heidi W. Durrow heard the refrain: editors wouldn’t publish her novel because readers couldn’t relate to a protagonist who was part black and part Danish. But when that novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” was finally published last year (after about four dozen rejections, said Ms. Durrow, who is, of course, black and Danish), the coming-of-age story landed on best-seller lists.

Today Ms. Durrow finds herself in the elite precincts of The New Yorker and National Public Radio — which a few weeks ago began the Summer Blend Book Club, featuring works about multiracial people…

…“The national images of racially mixed people have dramatically changed just within the last few years, from ‘mulattoes’ as psychically divided, racially impure outcasts to being hip new millennials who attractively embody the resolution of America’s race problem,” said Michele Elam, an associate professor of English at Stanford University.

Both images, she said, are wrongheaded and reductive.

Much of the work by mixed-race artists, though certainly not all of it, reveals the fault lines and pressure points that still exist in a rapidly changing America. It is on these rough edges that many multiracial people live, and where many artists find the themes that animate their work: the limits of tolerance, hidden or unacknowledged assumptions about identity, and issues of racial privilege and marginalization.

“These images and narratives are not just entertaining,” said Ms. Elam, who is also the author of “The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium.” “They can influence, both consciously and unconsciously, how we think about race today in our nation.”…

…To support and showcase artists telling their stories of the mixed experience, Ms. Durrow and Fanshen Cox, a biracial actor and Ms. Durrow’s best friend, created the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival in Los Angeles in 2008…

Read the entire aritcle here.  View the reader comments here.

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