A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2014-04-17 02:14Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Harvard University Press
October 2014
350 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
26 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674368101

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.

As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.

Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

Tags: ,

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-04-17 01:53Z by Steven

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This is an excerpt from a paper (currently being revised) that I presented last month at the 2014 MELUS Conference in Oklahoma City.]

[…] Heidi Durrow is also the latest member of the mixed-experience generation to achieve widespread recognition following the publication of her deeply autobiographical first novel. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was published in 2010 after winning the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for a first novel that addresses social justice issues. It became a national bestseller in 2011, and is now available in French, Dutch, Danish, and Portuguese. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a book that was repeatedly rejected by the traditional publishing industry.

For those who are unfamiliar, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky recounts the racialization, alienation, coming of age, and coming to multiracial consciousness of Durrow’s fictional intermediary, Rachel Morse. Rachel is the sole survivor of a heartbreaking tragedy: her Danish mother Nella jumps from a rooftop in Chicago with all her biracial children. After recovering, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother who lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Her alcoholic father, an airman stationed overseas, has disappeared from her life. The year is 1982. Rachel is seen as a light-skinned black girl by her new family and by the surrounding community. From the 5th grade onward, she identifies herself as black, but is still ridiculed for talking white; she is both resented and desired for her good hair and blue eyes. In short, Durrow’s novel recounts from multiple perspectives how Rachel comes to understand the tragedy that claimed her mother and siblings, and in the process reclaim her Danish cultural memory, becoming Afro-Viking like Durrow…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pilot Episode

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-17 01:43Z by Steven

Pilot Episode

The Source Weekly
Bend, Oregon

Brianna Brey

Jason Graham (The Source Weekly)

The Lot’s new open mic calls on Bend’s creative types

“Calling ALL local musicians, artist and hacks,” reads the event listing for Bend’s newest open mic night, an free-for-all gathering on Wednesday nights at The Lot. “Sing a tune, read a poem, do a dance, tell a story, present your art…be creative. Here is an opportunity to share your soul.”

Soul sharing is the M.O. for local poet, musician, painter and generally ubiquitous artist MOsley WOtta, a.k.a. Jason Graham, the host of the weekly event. Open mics have the stigma of a musician’s domain, but Graham emphasized the “openness” of this particular event, encouraging all types of creativity, not just the singer/songwriter.

“As much as I love the musical open mics and the poetry slams, I’m trying to see what all we can get,” explained Graham. “It’s sort of like a workout. We already have the massive pectoral muscles that are the singer/songwriters. We want to keep that part strong, but work the other parts of it, too.”

This Wednesday, March 19, will mark the third week of the open mic and already Graham said the event is attracting the diverse talents of Bend. Silly and serious, the event is a platform for the community to test its collective material…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Immigrants Stir New Life Into São Paulo’s Gritty Old Center

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2014-04-17 01:32Z by Steven

Immigrants Stir New Life Into São Paulo’s Gritty Old Center

The New York Times

Simon Romero, Brazil Bureau Chief

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — For obvious reasons, many Paulistanos still consider this megacity’s decrepit old center a no-go zone.

Carjacking and kidnapping gangs prey on motorists at stoplights. Squatters control dozens of graffiti-splattered apartment buildings. Sinewy addicts roam through the streets smoking crack cocaine in broad daylight.

But slip into Jean Katumba’s cramped Internet cafe and a different picture emerges.

“They call this place ugly, but I see its beauty,” said Mr. Katumba, 37, who arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo just 11 months ago.

Trained as an engineer in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, he earns a living here in Baixada do Glicério, a crime-ridden district, renting computers to customers speaking a variety of languages, from Haitian Creole to Colombian-accented Spanish and the Lingala of his homeland.

“São Paulo means a great thing to me: opportunity,” he said.

An array of similar ventures started by immigrants is flourishing amid the grit of São Paulo’s old center, reflecting shifts in global immigration patterns. Reinforcing São Paulo’s status as Brazil’s premier global city, Asians, largely from China, Africans and Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are flowing in…

…São Paulo’s new immigration surge stands in contrast to previous waves. After the overthrow of Emperor Dom Pedro II in 1889, Brazil’s first Constitution as a republic promoted a policy of “branqueamento,” or whitening, of Brazilian society through European immigration, while prohibiting immigration from Africa and Asia, according to scholars…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-16 19:53Z by Steven

Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites?


Jamelle Bouie, staff writer covering politics, policy, and race

How Hispanics perceive themselves may shape the future of race in America.

The Trayvon Martin shooting was hardly in the national consciousness before fault lines emerged around the case. Was Martin as innocent as he seemed? Did Zimmerman fear for his life? Did Martin provoke the incident? Was Zimmerman a racist?

Perhaps most controversial among all of these was the question of identity. Yes, Trayvon Martin was black, but is Zimmerman white? For Martin’s sympathizers, the answer was yes. For Zimmerman’s, the answers ranged from “it doesn’t matter” to he “is actually a Hispanic nonracist person who acted in self-defense.”…

…According to Pew—and echoing the results in the last census—the United States is just a few decades away from its demographic inflection point. Come 2050, only 47 percent of Americans will call themselves white, while the majority will belong to a minority group. Blacks will remain steady at 13 percent of the population, while Asians will grow to 8 percent. Hispanics, on the other hand, will explode to 28 percent of all U.S. population, up from 19 percent in 2010. Immigration is driving this “demographic makeover,” specifically the “40 million immigrants who have arrived since 1965, about half of them Hispanics and nearly three-in-ten Asians.”

But the thing to remember about the Hispanic category, for instance, is that it contains a wide range of colors and ethnicities. In the United States, Hispanics (or more broadly Latinos) include Afro-Brazilians, dark-skinned Puerto Ricans, indigenous Mexicans, Venezuelan mestizos, and European Argentinians, among others.

To say that America will become a majority-minority country is to erase these distinctions and assume that, for now and forever, Latinos will remain a third race, situated next to “non-Hispanic blacks” and “non-Hispanic whites.” But, as the Zimmerman controversy illustrates, it’s not that simple…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Improving Anti-Racist Education for Multiracial Students

Posted in Dissertations, Media Archive, Teaching Resources, United States on 2014-04-16 19:43Z by Steven

Improving Anti-Racist Education for Multiracial Students

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
May 2014
479 pages

Eric Hamako

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education

This dissertation explores how anti‐racist education might be improved, so that it more effectively teaches Multiracial students about racism. A brief history of anti‐racist education and a theory of monoracism–the systematic oppression of Multiracial people–provide context for the study. Anti‐racist education in communities and colleges has supported U.S. social movements for racial justice. However, most anti‐racist education programs are not designed by or for students who identify with two or more races. Nor have such programs generally sought to address Multiraciality or monoracism. Since the 1980s, Multiraciality has become more salient in popular U.S. racial discourses. The number of people identifying as Multiracial, Mixed Race, or related terms has also increased, particularly among school‐age youth. Further, the size and number of Multiracial people’s organizations have also grown. Anti‐racist education may pose unintended challenges for Multiracial students and their organizations. This study asked twenty‐five educators involved in Multiracial organizations to discuss anti‐racist education: what it should teach Multiracial students; what is working; what is not working; and how it might be improved. Qualitative data were gathered via five focus group interviews in three West Coast cities. Participants proposed learning goals for Multiracial students. Goals included learning about privilege and oppression; social constructionism; historical and contemporary contexts of racism; and impacts of racism and monoracism on Multiracial people. Participants also called for education that develops interpersonal relationships, self‐reflection, and activism. Participants also discussed aspects of anti‐racist education that may help or hinder Multiracial students’ learning, as well as possible improvements. Participants problematized the exclusion of Multiraciality, the use of Black/White binary racial paradigms, linear racial identity development models, and the use of racial caucus groups or affinity spaces. Participants also challenged educators’ monoracist attitudes and behaviors, particularly the treatment of questions as pathological “resistance.” Suggestions included addressing Multiraciality and monoracism, accounting for intersectionality and the social construction of race, validating self‐identification, and teacher education about monoracism. The study then critically analyzes participants’ responses by drawing on literature about anti‐racist education, social justice education, multicultural education, transgender oppression (cissexism), and monoracism. Based on that synthesis, alternate recommendations for research and practice are provided.


    • Significance of the problem
    • Goals and intended audiences
    • Locating myself as a researcher
    • Research questions
    • Organization of the study
    • A brief overview of CBARE
    • Two brief histories of CBARE
    • Anti‐intersectional praxes
    • Binary racial paradigms
    • Racial essentialism
    • Pathologizing “resistance”
    • Toward new anti‐racist praxes: Accounting for monoracism
    • Theorizing monoracism
    • Addressing challenges to a theory of monoracism
    • Benefits of theorizing monoracism
    • Summary
    • Focus group interview methodology
    • Participants
    • Focus groups: Number, size, and locations
    • Pre‐focus group data collection: Surveys, curricula sharing, and curricula analysis
    • Focus group data collection
    • Data analysis
    • Representational knowledge: Learn about racism and monoracism
    • Representational knowledge: Hierarchies that trouble Multiracial organizing
    • Relational knowledge: Learn to connect with other people
    • Reflective knowledge: Learn about oneself
    • Summary
    • Representational knowledge: Learn about racism and monoracism
    • Representational knowledge: Hierarchies that trouble Multiracial organizing
    • Relational knowledge: Learn to connect with other people
    • Reflective knowledge: Learn about oneself
    • Summary
    • Monoracism in anti‐racist educational theories, curricula, and pedagogies
    • Monoracism in educators’ attitudes and behaviors
    • Summary
    • Monoracism in anti‐racist educational theories, curricula, and pedagogies
    • Monoracism in educators’ attitudes and behaviors
    • Summary

Read the entire dissertation here.

Tags: ,

I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-15 22:04Z by Steven

I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway

The Atlantic

Doug Glanville

A retired Major League Baseball player explains how he’s trying to turn an upsetting encounter with the police into an opportunity for dialogue.

It was an otherwise ordinary snow day in Hartford, Connecticut, and I was laughing as I headed outside to shovel my driveway. I’d spent the morning scrambling around, trying to stay ahead of my three children’s rising housebound energy, and once my shovel hit the snow, I thought about how my wife had been urging me to buy a snowblower. I hadn’t felt an urgent need. Whenever it got ridiculously blizzard-like, I hired a snow removal service. And on many occasions, I came outside to find that our next door neighbor had already cleared my driveway for me.

Never mind that our neighbor was an empty-nester in his late 60s with a replaced hip, and I was a former professional ballplayer in his early 40s. I kept telling myself I had to permanently flip the script and clear his driveway. But not today. I had to focus on making sure we could get our car out for school the next morning. My wife was at a Black History Month event with our older two kids. The snow had finally stopped coming down and this was my mid-afternoon window of opportunity.

Just as I was good-naturedly turning all this over in my mind, my smile disappeared.

A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help. He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”

All of my homeowner confidence suddenly seemed like an illusion…

…As offended as I’d been, the worst part was trying to explain the incident to my kids. When I called my wife to tell her what had happened, she was on her way home from the Black History Month event, and my son heard her end of the conversation. Right away, he wanted to know whether I’d been arrested. My 4-year-old daughter couldn’t understand why a police officer would “hurt Daddy’s feelings.” I didn’t want to make my children fear the police. I also wasn’t ready to talk to them about stop-and-frisk policies, or the value judgments people put on race.

Until that moment, skin colors had been little more than adjectives to my kids. Some members of our family have bronze or latte skin; others are caramel-colored or dark brown. Our eldest and “lightest-skinned” daughter had at times matter-of-factly described her brother and me as “brown” and herself as “white.” But that night, my wife made it painfully simple. “We are black,” she explained. “All of us.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Barack Obama’s Warning to People of Mixed Heritage

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Videos on 2014-04-15 21:42Z by Steven

Barack Obama’s Warning to People of Mixed Heritage

Eighth Generation

Louie Gong

Back in April 2005, a group of mixed people sponsored by the nonprofit MAVIN had the golden opportunity to sit down with the then-Senator Obama. The conversation, filmed as part of the feature length documentary “Chasing Daybreak,” may be the only interview in which he has addressed the mixed race experience directly. I pulled the dusty DVD off my shelf last week and uploaded this clip with permission from MAVIN. (I’m a past President of MAVIN, and I currently sit on the Advisory Board for both MAVIN and Mixed in Canada)

In my travels, I still hear people citing the increasing presence of America’s mixed race population (up 32% since Census 2000)—and high-profile individuals—as supposed movement towards a “post-racial” or colorblind society. In a cultural climate like this, I think hearing President Obama—the mixed race person most often touted as evidence of this post-race state—strongly caution mixed folks to stay connected to community and participate in larger movements by people of color is a priceless tool for sparking discussion…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Americans Say Obama’s Not Black? How Pew Got This Wrong

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 21:25Z by Steven

Americans Say Obama’s Not Black? How Pew Got This Wrong

The Root

Jenée Desmond-Harris, Senior Staff Writer and White House Correspondent

Saying “Yes, Obama is mixed race” is not the same as saying “No, he’s not black.” Racial Identity 101: You can be both.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans say President Barack Obama is black, while 52 percent say he’s mixed race.

That’s part of a newly published Pew Research Center report that has inspired jarring headlines like these about perceptions of the man commonly (formerly?) known as the first African-American president:

Is Barack Obama ‘Black’? A Majority of Americans Say No

Poll: Majority of Americans Say Obama Is Mixed-Race, Not Black

The Washington Post calls the data “fascinating.”

But it’s actually not. The only thing fascinating (read: frustrating) is why Pew would force people to choose between these two options. By setting up “black” and “mixed race” as mutually exclusive, as it appears to have done in the “Obama: Black or Mixed Race” (emphasis mine) portion of its poll, it offered Americans a misleading choice that doesn’t reflect their social reality, and certainly doesn’t tell us anything new about how they see their president.

If participants were, in fact, forced to choose between the two options, knowing that Obama self-identifies as black and knowing, too, that he has a white parent and a black parent, it makes sense to assume that many people simply picked the most specific option: “mixed race.”

That does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean they say “no” to his being black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Forget Policy—Americans Can’t Even Agree on Whether Obama Is Black

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 19:54Z by Steven

Forget Policy—Americans Can’t Even Agree on Whether Obama Is Black


Liz Dwyer, Staff Writer

A Pew Research Center study finds that whites and Latinos identify the commander-in-chief as ‘mixed race.’

If you thought the United States had achieved the significant historic milestone of electing its first African American president, think again. According to Next America, a just-released Pew Research Center report, only a little over one-fourth of Americans believe Obama is black.

Obama self-identifies as black—he checked the “black, negro, African American” box on the 2010 U.S. Census—and has jokingly identified himself as a mutt too. But when asked if Obama is black or mixed race, 27 percent of Americans say that he’s black, and 52 percent say he’s mixed race.

When the data is broken out according to racial groups, whites and Hispanics respond similarly. Of whites, 24 percent say Obama is black, and 53 percent say he is mixed race. As for Hispanics, 23 percent say he’s black, and 61 percent say he’s mixed race. Asians weren’t asked what they thought. (What’s up with that, Pew?)

The question—Is Obama black or mixed race?—is phrased oddly. A person can be both. And where is Pew’s “Is Obama black or mixed race or white” option? But this study is simply the latest example of America’s mass confusion over Obama’s identity…

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, writer and star of One Drop of Love (Ben Affleck, Chay Carter, and Matt Damon are co-producers), a multimedia show that explores how a father and a daughter develop their racial identities, says she finds it “problematic to allow anyone other than self to identify people as a ‘race.’ ”

Now we get boxes on the U.S. Census survey, but, says Cox DiGiovanni, “until 1970 the race question on the Census was answered through observation by the Census taker.” That means if you looked “black,” you were identified by the Census taker as black—or “negro,” as African Americans were called then…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,