‘A Chosen Exile,’ by Allyson Hobbs [Senna Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-11-22 03:00Z by Steven

‘A Chosen Exile,’ by Allyson Hobbs [Senna Review]

The New York Times
Sunday Book Review
2014-11-21

Danzy Senna

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life By Allyson Hobbs; Illustrated. 382 pp. Harvard University Press. $29.95.

One of the best birthday presents anybody ever gave me was a “calling card” by the conceptual artist Adrian Piper. I was in college at the time, and it felt like the ultimate inside joke handed from one racially ambiguous person to another.

Slim and innocuous as a business card, it reads: “Dear Friend, I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racist remark. In the past I have attempted to alert people to my identity in advance. . . . I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I’m sure you regret the discomfort your racism is causing me.”

To be black but to be perceived as white is to find yourself, at times, in a racial no man’s land. It is to feel like an embodiment of W. E. B. Du Bois’s double consciousness — that sense of being in two places at the same time. It is also to be perpetually aware of both the primacy of race and the “bankruptcy of the race idea,” as Allyson Hobbs, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, puts it in her incisive new cultural history, “A Chosen Exile.”

Hobbs is interested in the stories of individuals who chose to cross the color line — black to white — from the late 1800s up through the 1950s. It’s a story we’ve of course read and seen before in fictional accounts — numerous novels and films that have generally portrayed mixed-race characters in the sorriest of terms. Like gay characters, mulattoes always pay for their existence dearly in the end. Joe Christmas, the tormented drifter in William Faulkner’sLight in August,” considers his blackness evidence of original sin (a.k.a. miscegenation) and ends up castrated and murdered. Sarah Jane, a character in Douglas Sirk’s 1959 remake of the film “Imitation of Life,” denies her black mother in her attempt to be seen as white. Her tragedy once again feels like mixed fate. As her long-suffering mother puts it, “How do you tell a child that she was born to be hurt?”…

Read the entire review here.

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Kathleen López: Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive on 2014-11-22 02:39Z by Steven

Kathleen López: Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History

New Books in Latin American Studies: Discussions with Scholars of Latin America about Their New Books
2014-11-21

Alejandra Bronfman, Associate Professor of History
University of British Columbia, Canada

Successive waves of migration brought thousands of Chinese laborers to Cuba over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The coolie trade, which was meant to replace waning supplies of slaves, was but the first. In the twentieth century, a sugar boom in Cuba facilitated the entry of thousands more. Many of these itinerant workers stayed, and this book uses Chinese and Spanish languages sources and microhistorical methods to trace their lives as they married, raised children, formed associations and ran businesses. Kathleen López‘s book Chinese Cubans, A Transnational History (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) asks questions about belonging and offers a nuanced interpretation of the ways people of Chinese descent could proffer loyalties to Cuba even as they were embedded in transnational Chinese networks. There are surprising stories here, about race, family and work. Next time you encounter a Chinese-Cuban restaurant, you’ll know a little more about how it got there.

Listen to the interview (01:06:29) here. Download the interview here.

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“Global Mixed Race,” the 3rd biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, was held at DePaul University in Chicago Nov 13-15, 2014.

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-21 03:06Z by Steven

“Global Mixed Race,” the 3rd biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, was held at DePaul University in Chicago Nov 13-15, 2014.

News from the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference
2014-11-18

Camilla Fojas, Vincent de Paul Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies
DePaul University


Photograph by Ken Tanabe

A big thank you to the over 600 people who attended Global Mixed Race. Videos of our keynotes and Live Performance showcase are forthcoming. Please visit us on Facebook to see event snapshots. High-resolution press photographs are available on request. Follow the archive of the event on Twitter #CMRS2014. Read a reflection from our Social Media Caucus organizer Sharon H. Chang. Watch Mixed Roots Stories top 3 highlights from each day.

The 2016 conference will be held Nov 10-12, 2016 at University of Southern California and will be hosted by Associate Professor Duncan Ryuken Williams, founder of the Hapa Japan Project (along with project co-director Velina Hasu Houston) and Director of USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. We will continue to partner with Mixed Roots Stories to offer arts and cultural programming. We are moving forward with founding an association. Join our mailing list to stay informed. We anticipate organizing a symposium in 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and a full CMRS conference on the United States east coast in 2018. We are currently seeking institutional partners in the United Kingdom or Japan to host a CMRS symposium in 2017. Please contact us at cmrs@depaul.edu if you would like to volunteer…

For more information, click here.

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How a biracial woman grew up thinking she was white

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-11-20 17:59Z by Steven

How a biracial woman grew up thinking she was white

Vox
2014-11-19

Jenée Desmond-Harris

When Lacey Schwartz was accepted to Georgetown University, the school saw her photo and passed her name along to the black student association. The organization contacted her.

The only issue: Schwartz had grown up in a Jewish household in Woodstock New York, and had always — despite occasional questions about the source of her brown skin and curly hair — identified as white…

…Schwartz, who told Vox she now identifies as “black/biracial,” explaining, “I look at bi-racial as a category of being black,” said Little White Lie’s message is about more than just race…

Read the entire article here.

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Who You Really Are

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-11-20 01:46Z by Steven

Who You Really Are

GeneWatch
Council for Responsible Genetics
Volume 27, Issue 2 (May-July 2014)

Robert Pollack, Professor of Biological Sciences, Earth Institute Professor, Adjunct Professor of Religion, Lecturer in Psychiatry
Columbia University, New York, New York

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

“International Biosciences offer a broad range of DNA Testing services designed to provide indisputable answers to emotional questions….”
www.ibdna.com/regions/UK/EN/?page=blackAmericans

“Your story awaits – go find it…”
www.ancestry.com

“Welcome to you.”
www.23andMe.com

Oh the happy marketplace for genetic information! The hunt is on: From royal roots to hidden baby-daddies, to making sure you’re not accidentally related to any of those many, many Kardashians. The very definition of “ancestry” is freighted with social meaning. “Tracking” it tempts one to imaginary flights about inheritance, wealth, esteem, identity, purity of lineage – and correction! How we all long to be redeemed by such searches, released from the unfairly limited befoggery of what we actually know of ourselves. What bliss instead to follow our most deliciously arrogant, nakedly ambitious fantasies of some Mystery Me, some hitherto unspoken-of chromosomal configuration that will distinguish and redeem. Given that hunger, it isn’t hard to market DNA as a product, like cement, designed to fill in the gaps, and provide stick-um for the jigsaw puzzle of ourselves. Within that marketplace, the definition of DNA is not confined by science but rendered connotatively huge, larger than galaxies, unconfined, a universe of wildest imagination. Yearning. Cure. Immortality. Control. A golem created from the skeletons of the past to address anxiety about what will happen to the present body.

Yet the boring bottom line is that we are all doomed to be embarrassed by the vulgar commonality of our humanity. We are all alone, orphans, bastards, individuals, adopted, adapted, lost, sold down the river, rediscovered like Moses in the bulrushes. We are, not one of us, descendants of a pure untainted line…

Read the entire article here.

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Go Stand Upon The Rock with Samuel Michael Lemon, Ed.D.

Posted in Audio, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-20 00:20Z by Steven

Go Stand Upon The Rock with Samuel Michael Lemon, Ed.D.

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
BlogTalk Radio
Thursday, 2014-11-20, 21:00 EST (Friday, 2014-11-21, 02:00Z)

Bernice Bennett, Host

Go Stand Upon the Rock (2014) is a deeply moving Civil War-era novel based on stories handed down by Sam Lemon’s grandmother about the lives of her grandparents who were once runaway slaves from Virginia. It is a tale of unsettling plantation life, courageous women, dramatic Civil War battles, heroes, hoodoo, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. The book is supported by historical and genealogical research, photographs, and documents from his doctoral dissertation. This is a compelling and emotionally engaging history that comes alive through the lives of real people and events.

Dr. Sam Lemon grew up in Media, Pennsylvania, where his maternal great-great grandparents arrived as runaway slaves during the Civil War. Given refuge and support by local Quakers, his ancestors prospered and became prominent members of the community. He is currently an assistant professor and the director of a graduate program at Neumann University in Pennsylvania, and formerly worked in the fields of social services, education, and public television at WHYY in Philadelphia.

For more information, click here.

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Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-11-19 23:47Z by Steven

Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America

Brookings Institution Press
2014-11-19
212 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780815725589
Paperback ISBN: 9780815725596
Ebook ISBN: 9780815726357

William H. Frey, Senior Fellow
Metropolitan Policy Program
Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.

At its optimistic best, America has embraced its identity as the world’s melting pot. Today it is on the cusp of becoming a country with no racial majority, and new minorities are poised to exert a profound impact on U.S. society, economy, and politics.

In April 2011 a New York Times headline announced, “Numbers of Children of Whites Falling Fast.” As it turns out, that year became the first time in American history that more minority babies than white babies were born. The concept of a “minority white” may instill fear among some Americans, but William H. Frey, the man behind the demographic research, points out that demography is destiny, and the fear of a more racially diverse nation will almost certainly dissipate over time.

Through a compelling narrative and eye-catching charts and maps, eminent demographer Frey interprets and expounds on the dramatic growth of minority populations in the United States. He finds that without these expanding groups, America could face a bleak future: this new generation of young minorities, who are having children at a faster rate than whites, is infusing our aging labor force with vitality and innovation.

In contrast with the labor force-age population of Japan, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, the U.S. labor force-age population is set to grow 5 percent by 2030.

Diversity Explosion shares the good news about diversity in the coming decades, and the more globalized, multiracial country that U.S. is becoming.

Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. A Pivotal Period for Race in America
  • 2. Old versus Young: Cultural Generation Gaps
  • 3. America’s New Racial Map
  • 4. Hispanics Fan Out: Who Goes Where?
  • 5. Asians in America: The Newest Minority Surge
  • 6. The Great Migration of Blacks—In Reverse
  • 7. White Population Shifts—A Zero-Sum
  • 8. Melting Pot Cities and Suburbs
  • 9. Neighborhood Segregation: Toward a New Racial Paradigm
  • 10. Multiracial Marriages and Multiracial America
  • 11. Race and Politics: Expanding the Battleground
  • 12. America on the Cusp
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index

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What is a White Man?

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-19 23:20Z by Steven

What is a White Man?

The Independent
Volume 41 (1889-05-30)
pages 5-6
Source: The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive

Charles W. Chesnutt, Esq.

The fiat having gone forth from the wise men of the South that the “all-pervading, all-conquering Anglo-Saxon race” must continue forever to exercise exclusive control and direction of the government of this so-called Republic, it becomes important to every citizen who values his birthright to know who are included in this grandiloquent term. It is of course perfectly obvious that the writer or speaker who used this expression—perhaps Mr. Grady of Georgia—did not say what he meant. It is not probable that he meant to exclude from full citizenship the Celts and Teutons and Gauls and Slavs who make up so large a proportion of our population; he hardly meant to exclude the Jews, for even the most ardent fireeater would hardly venture to advocate the disfranchisement of the thrifty race whose mortgages cover so large a portion of Southern soil. What the eloquent gentleman really meant by this high-sounding phrase was simply the white race; and the substance of the argument of that school of Southern writers to which he belongs, is simply that for the good of the country the Negro should have no voice in directing the government or public policy of the Southern States or of the nation.

But it is evident that where the intermingling of the races has made such progress as it has in this country, the line which separates the races must in many instances have been practically obliterated. And there has arisen in the United States a very large class of the population who are certainly not Negroes in an ethnological sense, and whose children will be no nearer Negroes than themselves. In view, therefore, of the very positive ground taken by the white leaders of the South, where most of these people reside, it becomes in the highest degree important to them to know what race they belong to. It ought to be also a matter of serious concern to the Southern white people; for if their zeal for good government is so great that they contemplate the practical overthrow of the Constitution and laws of the United States to secure it, they ought at least to be sure that no man entitled to it by their own argument, is robbed of a right so precious as that of free citizenship; the “all-pervading, all conquering Anglo-Saxon” ought to set as high a value on American citizenship as the all-conquering Roman placed upon the franchise of his State two thousand years ago. This discussion would of course be of little interest to the genuine Negro, who is entirely outside of the charmed circle, and must content himself with the acquisition of wealth, the pursuit of learning and such other privileges as his “best friends” may find it consistent with the welfare of the nation to allow him; but to every other good citizen the inquiry ought to be a momentous one. What is a white man?…

Read the entire article here.

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The Case for Black With a Capital B

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-19 20:45Z by Steven

The Case for Black With a Capital B

The New York Times
2014-11-18

Lori L. Tharps, Associate Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA — I WAS sitting in my office at Temple University when I overheard an exchange between a colleague and his student. The student had come to see her professor to go over a paper, and he was patiently explaining that the abundance of grammatical mistakes detracted from her compelling content. I sympathized with my colleague as he pointed out error after error. Until he came to this one.

“Why did you capitalize black and white people?” he asked. “I thought I’d seen it written that way before,” the girl stammered. “Come on,” he said. “Why would you capitalize black or white?”…

…After emancipation, as many individuals replaced their slave surnames with ones of their own devising, like Freedman or Freeman, they still bore the painful legacy of the labels they’d been given: black, negro and colored.

It wasn’t only Black people who didn’t know what to call the nearly four million newly freed citizens of the United States. The government itself fumbled its way through names, categories and labels for Black people. Between 1850 and 1920, the United States census classified those of African descent as black, negro, mulatto, quadroon or octoroon — depending on the visual assessment of the census taker. By 1930, the Census Bureau offered just one of these categories: negro.

This wasn’t solely an issue of identity politics. In a 2008 article on the census for Studies in American Political Development, Jennifer L. Hochschild and Brenna M. Powell wrote, “Over the course of almost a century, the U.S. government groped its way through extensive experimentation — reorganizing and reimaging the racial order, with corresponding impact on individuals’ and groups’ life chances.” These names matter…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Empire of Sin,’ by Gary Krist

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-19 20:25Z by Steven

‘Empire of Sin,’ by Gary Krist

The New York Times
Sunday Book Review
2014-11-06

Walter Isaacson, President and CEO
Aspen Institute

Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans By Gary Krist; Illustrated. 416 pp. Crown Publishers. $26.

When Tom Anderson’s saloon opened in 1901, at the entrance to the recently designated sin district known as Storyville on the edge of New Orleans’s French Quarter, people from all over town came to marvel at its opulence. Its cherrywood bar stretched half a block and was lit by a hundred electric lights. With Anderson’s encouragement, high-class brothels were soon flourishing down Basin Street. Josie Arlington, his business partner, had a four-story Victorian mansion with a domed cupola, mirrored parlor and Oriental statues. The exotic, mixed-race Lulu White built a brick palace that specialized in interracial sex and featured the jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton at the piano. Another octoroon (the appellation given to people considered to be one-eighth black), Willie V. Piazza, passed herself off as a countess and sported both a monocle and a diamond choker. Anderson, whose civic spirit earned him the title “the Mayor of Storyville,” published a Blue Book that contained photos and descriptions of the area’s better prostitutes, annotated with symbols (“w” for white, “c” for colored, “J” for Jewish and “oct.” for octoroon). It was all a vivid expression of the city’s tolerance and diversity…

…Through much of the 19th century, New Orleans had been racially progressive, especially for Creoles of color, most of them French-speaking Roman Catholics descended from families that had intermarried with Europeans. From the early 1870s onward, blacks could vote and serve on juries; marriage between different races was legal; and schools, lakefront beach areas and many neighborhoods were integrated. But the advent of Jim Crow laws after Reconstruction created a new dynamic. The reformers of the city’s elite took the lead in passing segregation laws as well as in cracking down on prostitution. In 1908, the State Legislature passed a bill that barred musical performances in saloons, prohibited blacks and whites from being served in the same establishment and excluded women from bars…

Read the entire review here.

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