Jewish tent widens as diversity grows

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-12-17 19:58Z by Steven

Jewish tent widens as diversity grows

The Chicago Tribune

Bonnie Miller Rubin, Reporter

Ellen Zemel (left) lends a hand for a symbolic lighting of a menorah for Hanukkah during a party for parents and children of Project Esther: The Chicago Jewish Adoption Network of the Jewish Child & Family Services, at the Elain Kersten Children’s Center in Northbrook. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)

‘The tribe’ expands to include children of many ethnicities

Meira and Tyler Burnett look forward to their family’s annual Hanukkah party, when they will light the menorah and enjoy traditional potato pancakes, called latkes.

The siblings, ages 11 and 14, respectively, also will sing in the children’s choir at B’nai Yehuda Beth Shalom, where four of the eight participants are African-American — just like them.

“When I tell friends at school that I’m Jewish, they don’t believe me,” said Meira, at the Homewood synagogue. “But that’s what I am.”

The American Jewish population has always been overwhelmingly white, with Central or Eastern European roots — synonymous with matzo ball soup, bagels, Maxwell Street pushcarts and “Seinfeld” — and it’s common to hear Jewish people refer to themselves as members of “the tribe.”

But today, as Jews prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday that begins Tuesday, the tribe looks different, because of interracial marriages, adoptions and conversions. And while the white majority still holds true, experts say more racial and ethnic diversity can be found across the spectrum of Judaism.

“There’s more variety of narratives than ever before,” said Chava Shervington, president of The Jewish Multicultural Network. The Philadelphia-based organization started in 1997 with 20 families and has grown to more than 950 members and almost 3,000 Facebook followers, she said. Its tag line: “Because Jews come in all colors.”

The increase in diversity is difficult to quantify. The Chicago Jewish Population Study, conducted every decade by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, first asked about race in 2010. It found that 4 percent (or 5,600 Jewish households) are multiracial, including black, Hispanic, Asian and biracial members…

Read the entire article here or here.

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Lawsuit: Wrong sperm delivered to lesbian couple

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, United States on 2014-10-01 16:44Z by Steven

Lawsuit: Wrong sperm delivered to lesbian couple

The Chicago Tribune

Meredith Rodriguez, Tribune reporter

A white Ohio woman is suing a Downers Grove-based sperm bank, alleging that the company mistakenly gave her vials from an African-American donor, a fact that she said has made it difficult for her and her same-sex partner to raise their now 2-year-old daughter in an all-white community.

Jennifer Cramblett, of Uniontown, Ohio, alleges in the lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court that Midwest Sperm Bank sent her the vials of an African-American donor’s sperm in September 2011 instead of those of a white donor that she and her white partner had ordered.

After searching through pages of comprehensive histories for their top three donors, the lawsuit claims, Cramblett and her domestic partner, Amanda Zinkon, chose donor No. 380, who was also white. Their doctor in Ohio received vials from donor No. 330, who is African-American, the lawsuit said.

Cramblett, 36, learned of the mistake in April 2012, when she was pregnant and ordering more vials so that the couple could have another child with sperm from the same donor, according to the lawsuit. The sperm bank delivered vials from the correct donor in August 2011, but Cramblett later requested more vials, according to the suit…

…”On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” the lawsuit states. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Raising a mixed-race daughter has been stressful in Cramblett and Zinkon’s small, all-white community, according to the suit. Cramblett was raised around people with stereotypical attitudes about nonwhites, the lawsuit states, and did not know African-Americans until she attended college at the University of Akron…

Read the entire article here.

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Interracial couples now part of mainstream

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-10-23 13:59Z by Steven

Interracial couples now part of mainstream

The Chicago Tribune

Dawn Turner Trice, Reporter

Mixed-race relationships becoming more common in Chicago — and everywhere else

Stephen Blessman and Patricia Jones Blessman met in the mid-1990s and fell in love. It didn’t matter to either of them that he’s white and she’s African-American.

They have a lot in common. They are both Roman Catholic and deeply involved in the church. They came of age in the 1960s and are socially conscious.

“But we didn’t get married to prove a point,” said Blessman, 57, who lives with his wife of 14 years and their 5-year-old son in Chicago’s South Loop. “I fell in love with her because she’s funny, beautiful, smart and principled and we’re of the same generation and have the same values.”

As an interracial couple in America, the Blessmans are a relatively rare pairing — but such couples are not nearly as rare as they used to be. A study by the Pew Research Center found that in 2010 about 15 percent of all new marriages in the U.S. were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity — more than double the 6.7 percent in 1980.

The surge has brought the percentage of all current U.S. marriages that are interracial to 8.4 percent. In Chicago, about 7.4 percent of marriages in 2011 involved mixed-race couples, according to data compiled by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University…

…Even in politics, where for many years it was considered a drawback to be in an interracial relationship, there’s been a shift. In New York City, Bill de Blasio, a white man married to a black woman, is the front-runner in the mayoral race. In Illinois, two prominent white political figures, Gov. Pat Quinn and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, are dating black women. And of course, President Barack Obama is the product of an interracial marriage.

Even so, experts say modern mixed-race relationships, like the country’s racial past, can be complicated.

“When I research in white communities across the class division and the country, people say they’re fine with interracial relationships,” said Erica Chito Childs, an associate professor of sociology at Hunter College/CUNY Graduate Center.

“But they also say, ‘Why do it? Marriage is difficult enough. Why make it more difficult?’ You hear about young people growing up in a more multiracial world and being so much more accepting, but the majority says dating is fine, marriage is not.

She said that many young people still live in racially homogenous neighborhoods and their first pool of partners tends to reflect that. In addition, first marriages are often more closely tied to the expectations of family and community members…

…The Pew Research Center study released last year, using 2010 data, is the most recent major look at interracial relationships. It found that among new marriages in 2010, Asians were the group most likely to intermarry, at 27.7 percent. Hispanics were next at 25.7 percent, then blacks at 17.1 percent and whites at 9.4 percent. For the Pew study, marriages between two people who are mixed-race weren’t considered interracial.

In Chicago, the most common interracial marriages in 2011 were between Asians and whites. Those types of pairings were about four times more likely than black-white marriages, according to data compiled by the Center for Governmental Studies, using the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.

Laura Kina, 40, is Japanese-American and white. For the past 16 years she has been married to Mitch Aronson, 54, who’s white and Jewish. She grew up as an evangelical Christian in a small Seattle suburb of Norwegian immigrants, and converted to Judaism after marrying. She said she’s always identified as a person of color…

…Online dating has made it easier for people who want to date interracially but don’t work together or hang out in racially diverse circles.

“It provides a safe space for people who are afraid of rejection and don’t feel comfortable walking up to someone of a different race and asking them out,” said Hunter College’s Childs, the author of “Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘War Baby’ is something to see, if you can let go

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2013-05-10 16:17Z by Steven

‘War Baby’ is something to see, if you can let go

The Chicago Tribune

Lori Waxman, Instructor of Art History, Theory and Criticism
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

It was the Hello Kitty tepee that did it for me.

Some exhibitions can be so challenging that it takes a particularly unexpected artwork for the viewer to finally let go and get into the swing of things. “War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art,” currently up at the DePaul Art Museum and featuring work by a dozen-and-a-half artists, is one such show. A riotously colored digital print by Debra Yepa-Pappan featuring a purple-haired Native American woman, lifted from an iconic Edward S. Curtis photograph and set against a background of space-age tepees, one of them marked with the equally iconic and silent face of everybody’s favorite Japanese cat, is one such artwork.

Hilarious and weird and crazily of its time — i.e., now — Yepa-Pappan’s collage lifted my thoughts up and over the various stumbling blocks that “War Baby/Love Child” presents. Curated by Laura Kina, an artist and DePaul professor, and Wei Ming Dariotis, a professor of Asian-American Studies at San Francisco State University, the cogitative but overdetermined exhibition sets up a Catch-22. It wants to recognize the complex realities of a fast-growing segment of the American population — the 2.6 million who identify as Asian plus one or more other races — and to prove how far beyond stereotype those people go. And yet, two gargantuan cliches give their name to the exhibition itself.

The term “war babies” generally refers to the children of Asian or Pacific Islander women and the U.S. soldiers who were stationed in their home countries during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. “Love children” were born of the free love of a post-civil rights and flower-child era, and, as listed in the extensive exhibition catalog, their makeup includes Eurasians and Hapas (Mixed White Asians), Mixed Bloods (Mixed Asian Native Americans), Blasians (Mixed Black Asians) and Mestizaje (Mixed Latino Asians).

“War Baby/Love Child” thus finds itself in the counterintuitive position of wanting to replace its own title with a dozen less-loaded ones. Wall labels are one tool, and the ones here list an astonishing array of mixed identities as well as direct quotes from most of the artists, many of whom speak about personal experiences growing up amid racial presumption…

Read the entire article here.

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How to update census’ race question

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-05-06 21:51Z by Steven

How to update census’ race question

The Chicago Tribune

Clarence Page

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page prefers an America where diversity and unique ethnicities are celebrated, not homogenized.

A notable example of how Americans fall through the cracks in census data-gathering caught my eye recently. It appeared on the black-oriented website under this intriguing headline: “I found one drop; can I be black now?”

The “one drop” is a reference to the old oddly American racial rule that one drop of “black blood” in your veins makes you black. As a full-fledged black American, I wondered who is so eager to join the club?

The answer turned out to be a white woman who had written to The Root’s “Race Manners” advice column. Through genealogical records she uncovered an African-American ancestor who long ago had passed for white. Now faced with census forms, among other documents that ask us Americans for our race, she was wondering which box to check.

“Do I check both, and come across as a liar to those who don’t know my history?” she asked. “Or do I check just white, and feel like a self-loathing racist?”

I sympathize with the woman’s confusion. In changing times, government forms are often the last to catch up.

It has only been since 2000, for example, that mixed-race people are allowed to check more than one racial box on the U.S. census. And that’s just one area of government forms not keeping up with America’s changing demographics…

…More extensive questions of ethnicity and ancestry have been asked since 2000 by another set of longer forms, the American Community Survey. Unlike the 10-year census, the survey is conducted among a sample of 250,000 people every month.

That’s a good model, some experts, say, for how the 10-year census could give a more complete and realistic picture of America’s changing demographic landscape.

“We shouldn’t be governing in the 21st century by a race classification given us by a German doctor in 1776,” former Census Director Kenneth Prewitt wrote to me in an email…

Read the entire article here.

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Scholars fix gaze on changing racial landscape

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Women on 2012-10-29 02:03Z by Steven

Scholars fix gaze on changing racial landscape

Chicago Tribune

Dawn Turner Trice

Laura Kina, 39, is half Asian-American and half white. Her husband is Jewish, and her stepdaughter is half Hispanic. Her family, including her fair-skinned, blue-eyed biological daughter, lives near Devon Avenue in the heart of Chicago’s Indian and Pakistani community.

Kina, who’s a DePaul University associate professor of art, media and design, views her life as a vibrant collage of culture, religion and race, pieced together by chance and choice.

“I grew up in the ‘Sesame Street’ generation,” she said. “This is just my normal.”

On Thursday, Kina and DePaul professor Camilla Fojas will begin a four-day conference on campus that explores the emerging academic field of critical mixed-race studies. Hundreds of scholars and artists from around the country and globe are expected to participate in research presentations, spoken-word performances and discussions.

Kina and Fojas, who hosted a similar conference in 2010, hope to cover an array of topics on identity, discrimination and racial “passing.” Additionally, panels will tackle issues such as the role of the mixed-race person as exotic “everyman” in advertising and film, and the impact of President Barack Obama and Tiger Woods, among others, as biracial icons…

Read the entire article here.

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American Indians in Chicago struggle to preserve identity, culture and history

Posted in Arts, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-08-28 03:38Z by Steven

American Indians in Chicago struggle to preserve identity, culture and history

Chicago Tribune

Dahleen Glanton, Reporter

Recession, social service funding cuts hinder efforts

Susan Kelly Power was 17 when she boarded a train to Chicago, a place that seemed a world away from the Indian reservation she grew up on in North and South Dakota.

In the 70 years since she left her family’s home on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Power has carved out a distinctive place for herself in Chicago’s youthful American Indian community. The oldest Native American in Chicago, she is the memory keeper in a community where history is sacred.

From the controversial Battle of Fort Dearborn, which marks its 200th anniversary this week, to Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois mascot who was forced into retirement five years ago, activists such as Power have made it their mission to set the historical record straight. While the Battle of Fort Dearborn is considered a pivotal part of the city’s history, American Indians living in Chicago have become, for the most part, an invisible population that is struggling.

With few financial resources and no political muscle, the community of about 49,000 American Indians in the Chicago area has struggled to find a voice in a region where they are outnumbered by almost every ethnic group. Once tucked away in Uptown and now scattered throughout the city and suburbs, they could virtually go unnoticed if not for a small but vocal group of elders who refuse to back down from a good fight…

…Wiese said the economic condition of American Indians is more dire than the 2010 census indicates, largely because she believes the figures are skewed. The census form allows anyone to identify themselves as American Indian, whether they have official tribal papers or not, she said. Without those who identified themselves as mixed race, the number of American Indians in Chicago would be cut in half, to just over 13,337, the census shows.

East Indians, whites, African-Americans and Hispanics who do not have tribal documentation are identifying themselves as Native American, Wiese said, driving up the economic status of Indians to artificial levels. Meanwhile, an equal number of tribal-recognized Indians, who like many poor people living with multiple families in a residence, were not counted in the census, she said.

“We call them ‘box checkers,’ the thousands of people who say they are American Indian” but don’t have legal status, said Wiese, whose agency provides educational services for children and adults. “It hurts us when the demographics look higher than they are.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Intermarriage of Races is Urged by Sociologist

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-08-28 03:29Z by Steven

Intermarriage of Races is Urged by Sociologist

Chicago Tribune
page 11
Source: The Mead Project, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Prof. William I. Thomas Predicts the Disappearance of Color Line in Prejudices of Civilized Peoples.
Disappearances of the racial “color lines” was predicted yesterday by Prof. William I. Thomas of the University of Chicago in a lecture in Kent theater on “Race Prejudice.”
“Race prejudice will grow less as race relationships become closer and as we travel more,” he said. “Already whites and Japs intermarry. There is no reason why intermarriage of races should not continue along these and other lines. The reason we marry Japs is that they are on a level with us — in many ways, at least. Their civilization and culture and ours are much alike.
“The questions of the future are not to be bound up in the tint of the skin by by the degree of development of the different races and occupations. The differences to be found in fair Scandinavians and dark Italians are duplicated in the case of whites and blacks.
“What we call the white race is the most mixed race of all. It has negro blood in it. The infusion of Indian blood into Americans has resulted in one of the finest strains possible.

“The signs of race prejudice are to be found in their extreme degree in our attitudes toward negroes. But, disagreeable as some of their traits are to us, our manners and features are even more shocking to negroes in Africa. They despise white people because our skins recall such things as ghosts, death, disease, and white mice. The time is coming when we shall not be separated as we now are by color.”

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Time to drop racial categories in census

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-08-16 17:09Z by Steven

Time to drop racial categories in census

The Chicago Tribune

Arthur Caplan, Director of Division of Medical Ethics
Department of Population Health
New York University

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it wants to make a number of changes in how it counts membership in a race. The change is based on an experiment the bureau conducted during the last census in which nearly 500,000 households were given forms with the race and ethnicity questions worded differently from the traditional categories. The results showed that many people who filled out the traditional form did not feel they fit within the five government-defined categories of race: white, black, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. If Congress approves, the bureau says it plans to stop using the word “Negro” as part of a question asking if a person was “black, African-American or Negro.” There are a number of other changes planned for counting Hispanics and Arab-Americans.

These changes may seem like improvements. They are not. The bureau and Congress ought to be considering a more radical overhaul of the census — dropping questions about race entirely. There are a lot of reasons why.

First, the concept of “race” makes no biological sense. None. The classifications Americans use to divide people into groups and categories have nothing to do with genetics or biology…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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Was first black priest black enough?

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion on 2010-05-13 22:13Z by Steven

Was first black priest black enough?

Chicago Tribune

Manya A. Brachear, Tribune reporter

Healy, son of a plantation owner, isn’t mentioned as often as Tolton, who is being pushed for sainthood

More than a year after some African-Americans scrutinized the blackness of the nation’s first black president, America’s Catholics are now wrestling with the same questions to determine who was the nation’s first black priest.

The debate emerges as the Archdiocese of Chicago seeks sainthood for the Rev. Augustus Tolton, long hailed in Chicago as the first African-American clergyman to serve in the U.S. Catholic Church.

A rival for the title is Bishop James Augustine Healy, who was ordained in 1854, the year Tolton was born. But Healy, the son of an Irish-American landowner and a mixed-race slave, was light-skinned enough to pass as a white man. And in many cases, he did…

…As bishop of Portland, Maine, Healy served another marginalized population: Native Americans.

The eldest of 10 siblings, Healy was raised Catholic but attended a Quaker school in New York. In 1849, he graduated valedictorian of the first class at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

He attended seminary in Canada and was eventually ordained in Paris. But he distanced himself from an African-American identity. He declined to participate in African-American organizations and turned down invitations to address the National Black Catholic Congress, citing the New Testament — “Christ is all and in all” — as his reason.

James O’Toole, author of “Passing for White: Race, Religion and the Healy Family [, 1820-1920],” said that denial comes across to some as betrayal. To others, it gives a new dimension to the struggle. But he believes contemporary categories or agendas shouldn’t be imposed upon historical figures.

“In a sense, that can look like racial treason. Why are you denying who you are?” said O’Toole. “Those are very much the standards of today. But they’re not their standards. As a historian, that’s what ought to govern here. … We should be assessing them on their own terms.”

But Michelle Wright, associate professor of African-American studies at Northwestern University and author of “Becoming Black [: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora],” cautions that ceding to Healy’s self-identity could further the misconception that African-Americans did not contribute to society…

Read the entire article here.

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