Adrienne Kennedy Reader
Adrienne Kennedy University of Minnesota Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3561.E4252A6 2001 | Dewey Decimal 812.54
An essential collection of works by one of our greatest living playwrights.
Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s, influencing generations of playwrights with her hauntingly fragmentary lyrical dramas. Exploring the violence racism visits upon people's lives, Kennedy's plays express poetic alienation, transcending the particulars of character and plot through ritualistic repetition and radical structural experimentation. Frequently produced, read, and taught, they continue to hold a significant place among the most exciting dramas of the past fifty years.
This first comprehensive collection of her most important works traces the development of Kennedy's unique theatrical oeuvre from her Obie-winning Funnyhouse of a Negro (1964) through significant later works such as A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White (1976), Ohio State Murders (1992), and June and Jean in Concert, for which she won an Obie in 1996. The entire contents of Kennedy's groundbreaking collections In One Act and The Alexander Plays are included, as is her earliest work "Because of the King of France" and the play An Evening with Dead Essex (1972). More recent prose works "Secret Paragraphs about My Brother," "A Letter to Flowers," and "Sisters Etta and Ella" are fascinating refractions of the themes and motifs of her dramatic works, even while they explore new material on teaching and writing. An introduction by Werner Sollors provides a valuable overview of Kennedy's career and the trajectory of her literary development.
"Kennedy's plays are strong dreams that reveal us in our most vulnerable moments." Robert Brustein, director of the American Repertory Theater
"There are times when we see plays that are so extraordinary-out of this world- we are literally shaken out of our everyday selves. There are greater things in heaven and hell, we realize, and this feeling of 'bigger things' does not easily leave us. The achievement of Adrienne Kennedy's plays is that they hurl us into another place, like a dark stream of consciousness in the blackest of worlds." New York Observer
"Adrienne Kennedy's plays are like towering rock formations, frightening and beautiful." Alisa Solomon, Village Voice
"For four decades Kennedy has been writing the most intensely personal plays of any playwright in the USA, yet to call them autobiographical is misleading. They are about her and not about her, and this paradox gives her work a power, an intimacy, and a truthfulness that few others achieve. . . . Kennedy's works are dream plays, lyrical explorations of a troubled consciousness, female and black, often divided against itself and at odds with the world around it." Boston Phoenix
"Adrienne Kennedy is one of the black female doyennes of theater, where she has become a role model for a younger generation." New York Times
"With Beckett gone, Adrienne Kennedy is probably the boldest artist now writing for the theater." Michael Feingold, Village Voice
"[Kennedy writes] out-of-kilter, lyrical, and drop-dead brilliant work for the American theater." Lisa Jones, Village Voice
Adrienne Kennedy (b. 1931) is a three-time Obie-award winning playwright whose works have been widely anthologized and performed around the world. Among her many honors are the Guggenheim fellowship and the American Academy of Arts and Letters award.
Indigenous people and African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean have long been affected by a social hierarchy established by elites, through which some groups were racialized and others were normalized. Far from being “racial paradises” populated by an amalgamated “cosmic race” of mulattos and mestizos, Latin America and the Caribbean have long been sites of shifting exploitative strategies and ideologies, ranging from scientific racism and eugenics to the more sophisticated official denial of racism and ethnic difference. This book, among the first to focus on African descendants in the region, brings together diverse reflections from scholars, activists, and funding agency representatives working to end racism and promote human rights in the Americas. By focusing on the ways racism inhibits agency among African descendants and the ways African-descendant groups position themselves in order to overcome obstacles, this interdisciplinary book provides a multi-faceted analysis of one of the gravest contemporary problems in the Americas.
Two-thirds of Africans, both free and enslaved, who came to the Americas from 1500 to 1870 came to Spanish America and Brazil. Yet Afro-Latin Americans have been excluded from narratives of their hemisphere’s history. George Reid Andrews redresses this omission by making visible the lives and labors of black Latin Americans in the New World.
Despite being heralded as the answer to racial conflict in the post–civil rights United States, the principal political effect of multiracialism is neither a challenge to the ideology of white supremacy nor a defiance of sexual racism. More accurately, Jared Sexton argues in Amalgamation Schemes, multiculturalism displaces both by evoking long-standing tenets of antiblackness and prescriptions for normative sexuality.
In this timely and penetrating analysis, Sexton pursues a critique of contemporary multiracialism, from the splintered political initiatives of the multiracial movement to the academic field of multiracial studies, to the melodramatic media declarations about “the browning of America.” He contests the rationales of colorblindness and multiracial exceptionalism and the promotion of a repackaged family values platform in order to demonstrate that the true target of multiracialism is the singularity of blackness as a social identity, a political organizing principle, and an object of desire. From this vantage, Sexton interrogates the trivialization of sexual violence under chattel slavery and the convoluted relationship between racial and sexual politics in the new multiracial consciousness.
An original and challenging intervention, Amalgamation Schemes posits that multiracialism stems from the conservative and reactionary forces determined to undo the gains of the modern civil rights movement and dismantle radical black and feminist politics.
Jared Sexton is assistant professor of African American studies and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine.
“This book is both powerful and important. Powerful for the testimony it provides from Americans of many different (and even mixed races) about their experiences. And important because there is a racial revolution underway that will upend race as we know it during the twenty-first century.”
—John Kenneth White, Catholic University of America
America Beyond Black and White is a call for a new way of imagining race in America. For the first time in U.S. history, the black-white dichotomy that has historically defined race and ethnicity is being challenged, not by a small minority, but by the fastest-growing and arguably most vocal segment of the increasingly diverse American population—Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Indians, Arabs, and many more—who are breaking down and recreating the very definitions of race.
Drawing on interviews with hundreds of Americans who don’t fit conventional black/white categories, the author invites us to empathize with these “doubles” and to understand why they may represent our best chance to throw off the strictures of the black/white dichotomy.
The revolution is already underway, as newcomers and mixed-race “fusions” refuse to engage in the prevailing Anglo- Protestant culture. Americans face two choices: understand why these individuals think as they do, or face a future that continues to define us by what divides us rather than by what unites us.
In her prologue to Another Way Home, Ronne Hartfield notes the dearth of stories about African Americans who have occupied the area of mixed race with ease and harmony for generations. Her moving family history is filled with such stories, told in beautifully crafted and unsentimental prose. Spanning most of the twentieth century, Hartfield's book celebrates the special occasion of being born and reared in a household where miscegenation was the rule rather than the exception—where being a woman of mixed race could be a fundamental source of strength, vitality, and courage.
Hartfield begins with the early life of her mother, Day Shepherd. Born to a wealthy British plantation owner and the mixed-race daughter of a former slave, Day negotiates the complicated circumstances of plantation life in the border country of Louisiana and Mississippi and, as she enters womanhood, the quadroon and octoroon societies of New Orleans. Equally a tale of the Great Migration, Another Way Home traces Day's journey to Bronzeville, the epicenter of black Chicago during the first half of the twentieth century. Here, through the eyes of Day and, ultimately, her daughter, we witness the bustling city streets and vibrant middle-class culture of this iconic black neighborhood. We also relive crucial moments in African American history as they are experienced by the author's family and others in Chicago's South Side black community, from the race riots of 1919 and the Great Depression to the murder of Emmett Till and the dawn of the civil rights movement.
Throughout her book, Hartfield portrays mixed-race Americans navigating the challenges of their lives with resilience and grace, making Another Way Home an intimate and compelling encounter with one family's response to our racially charged culture.
Beatrice of Bayou Têche
Alice Ilgenfritz Jones University of Wisconsin Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS2150.J2B43 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.4
Beatrice of Bayou Têche is a work of great historical and artistic interest: a late-nineteenth-century novel by a white woman about a black woman artist-protagonist. As the introduction for this reprint edition shows, Alice Ilgenfritz Jones was the first white woman to take an extended interest in the intersection of creativity, race, and gender. In Beatrice, Jones seeks to unveil the relationships between white and African Americans during the twenty years before the Civil War by following her mixed-race protagonist from her childhood as a slave in New Orleans through her career as a free woman and inspired painter and opera singer. Beatrice renders the white author’s effort to find a place for the mixed-race woman in relation to paradigms of creativity that are not only gendered but racialized. In the process, it exposes the fault lines of ideology and literary convention that underlie attempts to negotiate issues of race, gender, and creativity in late nineteenth-century America.
Becoming Creole explores how people become who they are through their relationships with the natural world, and it shows how those relationships are also always embedded in processes of racialization that create blackness, brownness, and whiteness. Taking the reader into the lived experience of Afro-Caribbean people who call the watery lowlands of Belize home, Melissa A. Johnson traces Belizean Creole peoples’ relationships with the plants, animals, water, and soils around them, and analyzes how these relationships intersect with transnational racial assemblages. She provides a sustained analysis of how processes of racialization are always present in the entanglements between people and the non-human worlds in which they live.
Billboard in the Clouds
Suzanne S. Rancourt Northwestern University Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3618.A48B57 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
In this remarkable debut book of poems, winner of the Native Writers First Book Award, Suzanne S. Rancourt, presents her experience as a mixed-raced person seeking understanding through relationship with the natural world and dominant culture. Her family portraits are reminiscent of E. A. Robinson; her sensuous nature poems are imbued with love of earth as a "blessing."
my legs are explosions
of lustful wind
i converse through cracks in the walls
slipping in my true intention like a snow drift
on the inside
side of a door i pound
has become my wailing wall
i crave your tongue dusted
with words and implications
i have something you need
How do adult children of interracial parents—where one parent is Jewish and one is Black—think about personal identity? This question is at the heart of Katya Gibel Azoulay’s Black, Jewish, and Interracial. Motivated by her own experience as the child of a Jewish mother and Jamaican father, Gibel Azoulay blends historical, theoretical, and personal perspectives to explore the possibilities and meanings that arise when Black and Jewish identities merge. As she asks what it means to be Black, Jewish, and interracial, Gibel Azoulay challenges deeply ingrained assumptions about identity and moves toward a consideration of complementary racial identities. Beginning with an examination of the concept of identity as it figures in philosophical and political thought, Gibel Azoulay moves on to consider and compare the politics and traditions of the Black and Jewish experience in America. Her inquiry draws together such diverse subjects as Plessy v. Ferguson, the Leo Frank case, "passing," intermarriage, civil rights, and anti-Semitism. The paradoxical presence of being both Black and Jewish, she argues, leads questions of identity, identity politics, and diversity in a new direction as it challenges distinct notions of whiteness and blackness. Rising above familiar notions of identity crisis and cultural confrontation, she offers new insights into the discourse of race and multiculturalism as she suggests that identity can be a more encompassing concept than is usually thought. Gibel Azoulay adds her own personal history and interviews with eight other Black and Jewish individuals to reveal various ways in which interracial identities are being lived, experienced, and understood in contemporary America.
Black Power White Blood
Lori Andrews Temple University Press, 1999 Library of Congress E185.97.S7A53 1999 | Dewey Decimal 305.8960730092
Originally published in hardcover to much acclaim, this vividly written biographical drama will now be available in a paperback edition and includes a new epilogue by the author. Conceived within a clandestine relationship between a black man and a married white woman, Johnny Spain was born (as Larry Michael Armstrong) in Mississippi during the mid-1950s. Spain's life story speaks to the destructive power of racial bias. Even if his mother's husband were willing to accept the boy -- which he was not -- a mixed-race child inevitably would come to harm in that place and time.
At six years old, already the target of name-calling children and threatening adults, he could not attend school with his older brother. Only decades later would he be told why the Armstrongs sent him to live with a black family in Los Angeles. As Johnny came of age, he thought of himself as having been rejected by his white family as well as by his black peers. His erratic, destructive behavior put him on a collision course with the penal system; he was only seventeen when convicted of murder and sent to Soledad.
Drawn into the black power movement and the Black Panther Party by fellow inmate, the charismatic George Jackson, Spain became a dynamic force for uniting prisoners once divided by racial hatred. He committed himself to the cause of prisoners' rights, impressing inmates, prison officials, and politicians with his intelligence and passion. Nevertheless, among the San Quentin Six, only he was convicted of conspiracy after Jackson's failed escape attempt.
Lori Andrews, a professor of law, vividly portrays the dehumanizing conditions in the prisons, the pervasive abuses in the criminal justice system, and the case for overturning Spain's conspiracy conviction. Spain's personal transformation is the heart of the book, but Andrews frames it within an indictment of intolerance and injustice that gives this individual's story broad significance.
The Book of Doubt
Tessa de Loo Haus Publishing, 2011 Library of Congress PT5881.22.O524H3713 2011 | Dewey Decimal 839.31364
Even though he is the son of a Dutch mother, Saeed has a Moroccan first name in memory of the virtuoso oud player his mother fell in love with twenty years ago. When she found out she was pregnant, he ran off and returned to Morocco. Saeed decides to look for his father, in the hope of finding a new identity in a new world. His childhood friend Hassan accompanies him. Back then they shared an imaginary land which they both ruled. Now they only have one starting point: a grocery shop in Fez. From there they follow the trail of the oud player, who leads them from the cedar woods of Ifrane to the red dunes of the desert to the high Atlas, where Kasbahs are locked in a losing battle with decay. Saeed's search sends him deeper into disillusionment and into the arms of Islam, where he tries to find something to hold on to. But there is a disturbing presence. A seemingly fictitious character from their imaginary past infiltrates Saeed's quest. While Saeed desperately tries to get rid of him, different aspects of his life, more and more beyond his control, reach an apotheosis resulting in one final deed affecting man and beast alike.
Countless African Americans have passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and communities. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile. This history of passing explores the possibilities, challenges, and losses that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions.
The island of Mauritius lies in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about 550 miles east of Madagascar. Uninhabited until the arrival of colonists in the late sixteenth century, Mauritius was subsequently populated by many different peoples as successive waves of colonizers and slaves arrived at its shores. The French ruled the island from the early eighteenth century until the early nineteenth. Throughout the 1700s, ships brought men and women from France to build the colonial population and from Africa and India as slaves. In Creating the Creole Island, the distinguished historian Megan Vaughan traces the complex and contradictory social relations that developed on Mauritius under French colonial rule, paying particular attention to questions of subjectivity and agency.
Combining archival research with an engaging literary style, Vaughan juxtaposes extensive analysis of court records with examinations of the logs of slave ships and of colonial correspondence and travel accounts. The result is a close reading of life on the island, power relations, colonialism, and the process of cultural creolization. Vaughan brings to light complexities of language, sexuality, and reproduction as well as the impact of the French Revolution. Illuminating a crucial period in the history of Mauritius, Creating the Creole Island is a major contribution to the historiography of slavery, colonialism, and creolization across the Indian Ocean.
The past two decades have seen a growing influx of biracial discourse in fiction, memoir, and theory, and since the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the presidency, debates over whether America has entered a “post-racial” phase have set the media abuzz. In this penetrating and provocative study, Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins adds a new dimension to this dialogue as she investigates the ways in which various mixed-race writers and public figures have redefined both “blackness” and “whiteness” by invoking multiple racial identities.
Focusing on several key novels—Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), Lucinda Roy’s Lady Moses (1998), and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998)—as well as memoirs by Obama, James McBride, and Rebecca Walker and the personae of singer Mariah Carey and actress Halle Berry, Dagbovie-Mullins challenges conventional claims about biracial identification with a concept she calls “black-sentient mixed-race identity.” Whereas some multiracial organizations can diminish blackness by, for example, championing the inclusion of multiple-race options on census forms and similar documents, a black-sentient consciousness stresses a perception rooted in blackness—“a connection to a black consciousness,” writes the author, “that does not overdetermine but still plays a large role in one’s racial identification.” By examining the nuances of this concept through close readings of fiction, memoir, and the public images of mixed-race celebrities, Dagbovie-Mullins demonstrates how a “black-sentient mixed-race identity reconciles the widening separation between black/white mixed race and blackness that has been encouraged by contemporary mixed-race politics and popular culture.”
A book that promises to spark new debate and thoughtful reconsiderations of an especially timely topic, Crossing B(l)ack recognizes and investigates assertions of a black-centered mixed-race identity that does not divorce a premodern racial identity from a postmodern racial fluidity.
SIKA A. DAGBOVIE-MULLINS is associate professor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University. Her articles have appeared in African American Review, the Journal of Popular Culture, and other publications.
Doubters and Dreamers
Janice Gould University of Arizona Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3557.O862D68 2011 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Doubters and Dreamers opens with a question from a young girl faced with the spectacle of Indian effigies lynched and burned “in jest” before UC Berkeley’s annual Big Game against Stanford: “What’s a debacle, Mom?” This innocent but telling question marks the girl’s entrée into the complicated knowledge of her heritage as a mixed-blood Native American of Koyangk’auwi (Concow) Maidu descent. The girl is a young Janice Gould, and the poems and narrations that follow constitute a remarkable work of sustained and courageous self-revelation, retracing the precarious emotional terrain of an adolescence shaped by a mother’s tough love and a growing consciousness of an ancestral and familial past.
In the first half of the book, “Tribal History,” Gould ingeniously repurposes the sonnet form to preserve the stories of her mother and aunt, who grew up when “muleback was the customary mode / of transport” and the “spirit world was present”—stories of “old ways” and places claimed in memory but lost in time. Elsewhere, she remembers her mother’s “ferocious, upright anger” and her unexpected tenderness (“Like a miracle, I was still her child”), culminating in the profound expression of loss that is the poem “Our Mother’s Death.”
In the second half of the book, “It Was Raining,” Gould tells of the years of lonely self-making and “unfulfilled dreams” as she comes to terms with what she has been told are her “crazy longings” as a lesbian: “It’s been hammered into me / that I’ll be spurned / by a ‘real woman,’ / the only kind I like.” The writing here commemorates old loves and relationships in language that mingles hope and despair, doubt and devotion, veering at times into dreamlike moments of consciousness. One poem and vignette at a time, Doubters and Dreamers explores what it means to be a mixed-blood Native American who grew up urban, lesbian, and middle class in the West.
Europe’s imperial projects were often predicated on a series of legal and scientific distinctions that were frequently challenged by the reality of social and sexual interactions between the colonized and the colonizers.When Emmanuelle Saada discovered a 1928 decree defining the status of persons of mixed parentage born in French Indochina—the métis—she found not only a remarkable artifact of colonial rule, but a legal bombshell that introduced race into French law for the first time. The decree was the culmination of a decades-long effort to resolve the “métis question”: the educational, social, and civil issues surrounding the mixed population. Operating at the intersection of history, anthropology, and law, Empire’s Children reveals the unacknowledged but central role of race in the definition of French nationality.
Through extensive archival work in both France and Vietnam, and a close reading of primary and secondary material from the Pacific islands and sub-Saharan and North Africa, Saada has created in Empire’s Children an original and compelling perspective on colonialism, law, race, and culture from the end of the nineteenth century until decolonization.
Eurafricans in Western Africa traces the rich social and commercial history of western Africa. The most comprehensive study to date, it begins prior to the sixteenth century when huge profits made by middlemen on trade in North African slaves, salt, gold, pepper, and numerous other commodities prompted Portuguese reconnaissance voyages along the coast of western Africa. From Senegal to Sierra Leone, Portuguese, including “New Christians” who reverted to Judaism while living in western Africa, thrived where riverine and caravan networks linked many African groups.
Portuguese and their Luso-African descendants contended with French, Dutch, and English rivals for trade in gold, ivory, slaves, cotton textiles, iron bars, cowhides, and other African products. As the Atlantic slave trade increased, French and Franco-Africans and English and Anglo-Africans supplanted Portuguese and Luso-Africans in many African places of trade.
Eurafricans in Western Africa follows the changes that took root in the eighteenth century when French and British colonial officials introduced European legal codes, and concludes with the onset of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, when suppression of the slave trade and expanding commerce in forest and agricultural commodities again transformed circumstances in western Africa.
Professor George E. Brooks’s outstanding history of these vital aspects of western Africa is enriched by his discussion of the roles of the women who married or cohabited with European traders. Through accounts of incidents and personal histories, which are integrated into the narrative, the lives of these women and their children are accorded a prominent place in Professor Brooks’s fascinating discussion of this dynamic region of Africa.
In the silent era, American cinema was defined by two separate and parallel industries, with white and black companies producing films for their respective, segregated audiences. Jane Gaines's highly anticipated new book reconsiders the race films of this era with an ambitious historical and theoretical agenda.
Fire and Desire offers a penetrating look at the black independent film movement during the silent period. Gaines traces the profound influence that D. W. Griffith's racist epic The Birth of a Nation exerted on black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux, the director of the newly recovered Within Our Gates. Beginning with What Happened in the Tunnel, a movie that played with race and sex taboos by featuring the first interracial kiss in film, Gaines also explores the cinematic constitution of self and other through surprise encounters: James Baldwin sees himself in the face of Bette Davis, family resemblance is read in Richard S. Robert's portrait of an interracial family, and black film pioneer George P. Johnson looks back on Micheaux.
Given the impossibility of purity and the co-implication of white and black, Fire and Desire ultimately questions the category of "race movies" itself.
In these intertwined essays on art, music, and identity, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, the daughter of African American and Italian American parents, examines the experience of her mixed-race identity. Embracing the far-ranging stimuli of her media-obsessed upbringing, she grasps at news clippings, visual fragments, and lyrics from past and present in order to weave together a world of sense.
Art in all forms guides the author toward understanding concepts like blackness, jazz, mortality, riots, space, time, self, and other without falling prey to the myth that all things must exist within a system of binaries. Recalling her awkward attempts at coolness during her childhood, Sabatini Sloan evokes Thelonious Monk’s stage persona as a metaphor for blackness. Through the conceptual art of Adrian Piper, the author is able to understand what is so quietly menacing about the sharp, clean lines of an art gallery where she works as an assistant. The result is a compelling meditation on identity and representation.
Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was a writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality who lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the precocious Nugent stood for many years as the only African-American writer willing to clearly pronounce his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire. A resident of the notorious “Niggeratti Manor,” Nugent also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (the 1927 play) and Run, Little Chillun (1933) Thomas H. Wirth, a close friend of Nugent’s during the last years of the artist’s life, has assembled a selection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings—works mostly unpublished or scattered in rare and obscure publications and collected here for the first time. Wirth has written an introduction providing biographical information about Nugent’s life and situating his art in relation to the visual and literary currents which influenced him. A foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. emphasizes the importance of Nugent for African American history and culture.
Hapa Girl: A Memoir
May-lee Chai Temple University Press, 2008 Library of Congress F660.A1C38 2007 | Dewey Decimal 978.3004951
In the mid-1960s, Winberg Chai, a young academic and the son of Chinese immigrants, married an Irish-American artist. In Hapa Girl ("hapa" is Hawaiian for "mixed") their daughter tells the story of this loving family as they moved from Southern California to New York to a South Dakota farm by the 1980s. In their new Midwestern home, the family finds itself the object of unwelcome attention, which swiftly escalates to violence. The Chais are suddenly socially isolated and barely able to cope with the tension that arises from daily incidents of racial animosity, including random acts of cruelty.
May-lee Chai's memoir ends in China, where she arrives just in time to witness a riot and demonstrations. Here she realizes that the rural Americans' "fears of change, of economic uncertainty, of racial anxiety, of the unknowable future compared to the known past were the same as China's. And I realized finally that it had not been my fault."
This compelling account of racial identity takes a close look at the question "Who is a Latino?" and determines where persons of mixed Latino-Anglo heritage fit into the racial dynamics of the United States. The son of a Mexican American mother and an Anglo father, Kevin Johnson has spent his life in the borderlands between racial identities. In this insightful book, he uses his experiences as a mixed Latino-Anglo to examine issues of diversity, assimilation, race relations, and affirmative action in contemporary America.
In Identity Politics of Difference, author Michelle R. Montgomery uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine questions of identity construction and multiracialism through the experiences of mixed-race Native American students at a tribal school in New Mexico. She explores the multiple ways in which these students navigate, experience, and understand their racial status and how this status affects their educational success and social interactions.
Montgomery contextualizes students’ representations of their racial identity choices through the compounded race politics of blood quantum and stereotypes of physical features, showing how varying degrees of "Indianness" are determined by peer groups. Based on in-depth interviews with nine students who identify as mixed-race (Native American–White, Native American–Black, and Native American–Hispanic), Montgomery challenges us to scrutinize how the category of “mixed-race” bears different meanings for those who fall under it based on their outward perceptions, including their ability to "pass" as one race or another.
Identity Politics of Difference includes an arsenal of policy implications for advancing equity and social justice in tribal colleges and beyond and actively engages readers to reflect on how they have experienced the identity politics of race throughout their own lives. The book will be a valuable resource to scholars, policy makers, teachers, and school administrators, as well as to students and their families.
Modern and contemporary cultures are increasingly marked by an anxiety over a perceived loss of authentic cultural identity. In this book, Vincent J. Cheng examines why we still cling to notions of authenticity in an increasingly globalized world that has exploded notions of authentic essences and absolute differences.
Who is “authentic” and who is “other” in a given culture? Who can speak for the “other?” What do we mean by authenticity? These are critical questions that today’s world––brought closer together and yet pulled farther apart by globalism and neocolonialism––has been unable to answer. Inauthentic compellingly probes these issues through revealing case studies on the pursuit of authenticity and identity.
Each chapter explores the ways in which we construct “authenticity” in order to replace seemingly vacated identities, including: the place of minorities in academia; mixed-race dynamics; the popularity of Irish culture in America; the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland; Jewish American identity; the status of Jewish America in relation to Israel and Palestine; the cultural problems of international adoptions; and the rapidly changing nature of the Asian American population in the United States.
Inauthentic combines the scholarly and the personal, informed argument and human interest. It will undoubtedly appeal to academic scholars, as well as to a broader reading audience.
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry
Finalist, Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award
In this affecting poetry debut, Charif Shanahan explores what it means to be fully human in our wounded and divided world. In poised yet unrelenting lyric poems, Shanahan—queer and mixed-race—confronts the challenges of a complex cultural inheritance, informed by colonialism and his mother’s immigration to the United States from Morocco, navigating racial constructs, sexuality, family, and the globe in search of “who we are to each other . . . who we are to ourselves.”
With poems that weave from Marrakesh to Zürich to London, through history to the present day, this book is, on its surface, an uncompromising exploration of identity in personal and collective terms. Yet the collection is, most deeply, about intimacy and love, the inevitability of human separation and the challenge of human connection. Urging us to reexamine our own place in the broader human tapestry, Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing announces the arrival of a powerful and necessary new voice.
Itch Like Crazy
Wendy Rose University of Arizona Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS501.S85 vol. 51 | Dewey Decimal 810.8
Among Native American writers of mixed-blood heritage, few have expressed their concerns with personal identity with as much passion as Wendy Rose. A mainstay among American Indian poets whose work addresses these issues, she is a writer with whom readers of diverse ethnic backgrounds have consistently identified.
In her latest work, Rose returns to these major motifs while exploring a new dimension: using poetry as a tool to delve into the buried secrets of family history—and all of American history as well. Confronting questions of personal history that itch like crazy—the irritations that drive human existence—she acknowledges and pays tribute to her Indian and European ancestors without hiding her anger with American society.
Rose's poems are strong political and social statements that have a distinctly narrative flavor. Here are Europeans who first set foot on America's shores while Taino Indians greeted them as if they were visiting neighbors; Hopi and Miwok "Clan Mothers, grand-daughters, all those the missionaries erased"; and European forebears who as settlers pushed their way relentlessly west. Through her vivid imagery, she speaks to and for these ancestors with a sense of loss and an itching caused by the biases provoked by ethnic chauvinism.
Itch Like Crazy is a finely crafted literary work that is also a manifesto addressing contacts and conflicts in the history of Indian-white relations. By presenting another view of U.S. history and its impact on the Native Americans who are her ancestors, it offers a new appreciation of the issue of "tribal identity" that too often faces Native peoples of the Americas—and is too often misunderstood by Euro-American society.
In 2005 Margaret Jones Bolsterli learned that her great-great-grandfather was a free mulatto named Jordan Chavis, who owned an antebellum plantation near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The news was a shock; Bolsterli had heard about the plantation in family stories told during her Arkansas Delta childhood, but Chavis’s name and race had never been mentioned. With further exploration Bolsterli found that when Chavis’s children crossed the Mississippi River between 1859 and 1875 for exile in Arkansas, they passed into the white world, leaving the family’s racial history completely behind.
Kaleidoscope is the story of this discovery, and it is the story, too, of the rise and fall of the Chavis fortunes in Mississippi, from the family’s first appearance on a frontier farm in 1829 to ownership of over a thousand acres and the slaves to work them by 1860. Bolsterli learns that in the 1850s, when all free colored people were ordered to leave Mississippi or be enslaved, Jordan Chavis’s white neighbors successfully petitioned the legislature to allow him to remain, unmolested, even as three of his sons and a daughter moved to Arkansas and Illinois. She learns about the agility with which the old man balanced on a tightrope over chaos to survive the war and then take advantage of the opportunities of newly awarded citizenship during Reconstruction. The story ends with the family’s loss of everything in the 1870s, after one of the exiled sons returns to Mississippi to serve in the Reconstruction legislature and a grandson attempts unsuccessfully to retain possession of the land. In Kaleidoscope, long-silenced truths are revealed, inviting questions about how attitudes toward race might have been different in the family and in America if the truth about this situation and thousands of others like it could have been told before.
Let It Be Broke
Ed Pavlic Four Way Books, 2020 Library of Congress PS3616.A9575A6 2020 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
The poems in Ed Pavlić’s Let It Be Broke are ignited by sonic memories—from Chaka Khan on the radio to his teenaged daughter singing “Stay” at a local café—that spark a journey into personal and ontological questions. Pavlić’s lyric lines are equal parts introspection and inter-spection, a term he coins for the shared rumination that encourages some collective deep thinking about the arbitrary boundaries that perpetuate racial and geographic segregation and the power of words to transcend those differences. In an epiphanic moment, Pavlić recalls a quote shared by a former teacher as “a hammer made of written words,” and how he held “onto those words / as if they were steel bars and I was dangling over some bright black deepness.”
Mark One or More tells the little-known story of the struggle to include a multiracial category on the U.S. census, and the profound changes it wrought in the American political landscape.
The movement to add a multiracial category to the 2000 U.S. Census provoked unprecedented debates about race. The effort made for strange bedfellows. Republicans like House Speaker Newt Gingrich and affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly took up the multiracial cause. Civil rights leaders opposed the movement on the premise that it had the potential to dilute the census count of traditional minority groups. The activists themselves—a loose confederation of organizations, many led by the white mothers of interracial children—wanted recognition. What they got was the transformation of racial politics in America.
Mark One or More is the compelling account of how this small movement sparked a big change, and a moving call to reassess the meaning of racial identity in American life.
Kim M. Williams is Associate Professor of Public Policy in Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and an expert in racial and ethnic politics and political movements.
Focusing on the often unrecognized role race plays in expressions of Chicano culture, Mestizaje is a provocative exploration of the volatility and mutability of racial identities. In this important moment in Chicano studies, Rafael Pérez-Torres reveals how the concepts and realities of race, historical memory, the body, and community have both constrained and opened possibilities for forging new and potentially liberating multiracial identities.
Informed by a broad-ranging theoretical investigation of identity politics and race and incorporating feminist and queer critiques, Pérez-Torres skillfully analyzes Chicano cultural production. Contextualizing the history of mestizaje, he shows how the concept of mixed race has been used to engage issues of hybridity and voice and examines the dynamics that make mestizo and mestiza identities resistant to, as well as affirmative of, dominant forms of power. He also addresses the role that mestizaje has played in expressive culture, including the hip-hop music of Cypress Hill and the vibrancy of Chicano poster art. Turning to issues of mestizaje in literary creation, Pérez-Torres offers critical readings of the works of Emma Pérez, Gil Cuadros, and Sandra Cisneros, among others. This book concludes with a consideration of the role that the mestizo body plays as a site of elusive or displaced knowledge.
Moving beyond the oppositions—nationalism versus assimilation, men versus women, Texans versus Californians—that have characterized much of Chicano studies, Mestizaje synthesizes and assesses twenty-five years of pathbreaking thinking to make a case for the core components, sensibilities, and concerns of the discipline.
Rafael Pérez-Torres is professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of Movements in Chicano Poetry: Against Myths, Against Margins, coauthor of To Alcatraz, Death Row, and Back: Memories of an East LA Outlaw, and coeditor of The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology of Aztlán, 1970–2000.
Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN6714.M59 2021 | Dewey Decimal 741.59
American culture has long represented mixed-race identity in paradoxical terms. On the one hand, it has been associated with weakness, abnormality, impurity, transgression, shame, and various pathologies; however, it can also connote genetic superiority, exceptional beauty, and special potentiality. This ambivalence has found its way into superhero media, which runs the gamut from Ant-Man and the Wasp’s tragic mulatta villain Ghost to the cinematic depiction of Aquaman as a heroic “half-breed.”
The essays in this collection contend with the multitude of ways that racial mixedness has been presented in superhero comics, films, television, and literature. They explore how superhero media positions mixed-race characters within a genre that has historically privileged racial purity and propagated images of white supremacy. The book considers such iconic heroes as Superman, Spider-Man, and The Hulk, alongside such lesser-studied characters as Valkyrie, Dr. Fate, and Steven Universe. Examining both literal and symbolic representations of racial mixing, this study interrogates how we might challenge and rewrite stereotypical narratives about mixed-race identity, both in superhero media and beyond.
Mixing It Up: Multiracial Subjects
Edited by SanSan Kwan and Kenneth Speirs University of Texas Press, 2004 Library of Congress E184.A1M569 2004 | Dewey Decimal 305.80092273
The United States Census 2000 presents a twenty-first century America in which mixed-race marriages, cross-race adoption, and multiracial families in general are challenging the ethnic definitions by which the nation has historically categorized its population. Addressing a wide spectrum of questions raised by this rich new cultural landscape, Mixing It Up brings together the observations of ten noted voices who have experienced multiracialism first-hand. From Naomi Zack’s “American Mixed Race: The United States 2000 Census and Related Issues” to Cathy Irwin and Sean Metzger’s “Keeping Up Appearances: Ethnic Alien-Nation in Female Solo Performance,” this diverse collection spans the realities of multiculturalism in compelling new analysis. Arguing that society’s discomfort with multiracialism has been institutionalized throughout history, whether through the “one drop” rule or media depictions, SanSan Kwan and Kenneth Speirs reflect on the means by which the monoracial lens is slowly being replaced. Itself a hybrid of memoir, history, and sociological theory, Mixing It Up makes it clear why the identity politics of previous decades have little relevance to the fluid new face of contemporary humanity.
In Monsters and Revolutionaries Françoise Vergès analyzes the complex relationship between the colonizer and colonized on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion. Through novels, iconography, and texts from various disciplines including law, medicine, and psychology, Vergès constructs a political and cultural history of the island’s relations with France. Woven throughout is Vergès’s own family history, which is intimately tied to the history of Réunion itself. Originally settled by sugar plantation owners and their Indian and African slaves following a seventeenth-century French colonial decree, Réunion abolished slavery in 1848. Because plantation owners continued to import workers from India, Africa, Asia, and Madagascar, the island was defined as a place based on mixed heritages, or métissage. Vergès reads the relationship between France and the residents of Réunion as a family romance: France is the seemingly protective mother, La Mère-Patrie, while the people of Réunion are seen and see themselves as France’s children. Arguing that the central dynamic in the colonial family romance is that of debt and dependence, Verges explains how the republican ideals of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment are seen as gifts to Réunion that can never be repaid. This dynamic is complicated by the presence of métissage, a source of anxiety to the colonizer in its refutation of the “purity” of racial bloodlines. For Vergès, the island’s history of slavery is the key to understanding métissage, the politics of assimilation, constructions of masculinity, and emancipatory discourses on Réunion.
In the United States, anyone with even a trace of African American ancestry has been considered black. Even as the twenty-first century opens, a racial hierarchy still prevents people of color, including individuals of mixed race, from enjoying the same privileges as Euro-Americans. In this book, G. Reginald Daniel argues that we are at a cross-roads, with members of a new multiracial movement pointing the way toward equality.
Tracing the centuries-long evolution of Eurocentrism, a concept geared to protecting white racial purity and social privilege, Daniel shows how race has been constructed and regulated in the United States. The so-called one-drop rule (i.e., hypodescent) obligated individuals to identify as black or white, in effect erasing mixed-race individuals from the social landscape. For most of our history, many mixed-race individuals of African American descent have attempted to acquire the socioeconomic benefits of being white by forming separate enclaves or "passing." By the 1990s, however, interracial marriages became increasingly common, and multiracial individuals became increasingly political, demanding institutional changes that would recognize the reality of multiple racial backgrounds and challenging white racial privilege.
More Than Black? regards the crumbling of the old racial order as an opportunity for substantially more than an improvement in U.S. race relations; it offers no less than a radical transformation of the nation's racial consciousness and the practice of democracy.
Longstanding Mexican and Puerto Rican populations have helped make people of mixed nationalities—MexiGuatamalans, CubanRicans, and others—an important part of Chicago's Latina/o scene. Intermarriage between Guatemalans, Colombians, and Cubans have further diversified this community-within-a-community. Yet we seldom consider the lives and works of these Intralatino/as when we discuss Latino/as in the United States.In Negotiating Latinidad, a cross-section of Chicago's second-generation Intralatino/as offer their experiences of negotiating between and among the national communities embedded in their families. Frances R. Aparicio's rich interviews reveal Intralatino/as proud of their multiplicity and particularly skilled at understanding difference and boundaries. Their narratives explore both the ongoing complexities of family life and the challenges of fitting into our larger society, in particular the struggle to claim a space—and a sense of belonging—in a Latina/o America that remains highly segmented in scholarship. The result is an emotionally powerful, theoretically rigorous exploration of culture, hybridity, and transnationalism that points the way forward for future scholarship on Intralatino/a identity.
The change in the way the federal government asked for information about race in the 2000 census marked an important turning point in the way Americans measure race. By allowing respondents to choose more than one racial category for the first time, the Census Bureau challenged strongly held beliefs about the nature and definition of race in our society. The New Race Question is a wide-ranging examination of what we know about racial enumeration, the likely effects of the census change, and possible policy implications for the future. The growing incidence of interracial marriage and childrearing led to the change in the census race question. Yet this reality conflicts with the need for clear racial categories required by anti-discrimination and voting rights laws and affirmative action policies. How will racial combinations be aggregated under the Census's new race question? Who will decide how a respondent who lists more than one race will be counted? How will the change affect established policies for documenting and redressing discrimination? The New Race Question opens with an exploration of what the attempt to count multiracials has shown in previous censuses and other large surveys. Contributor Reynolds Farley reviews the way in which the census has traditionally measured race, and shows that although the numbers of people choosing more than one race are not high at the national level, they can make a real difference in population totals at the county level. The book then takes up the debate over how the change in measurement will affect national policy in areas that rely on race counts, especially in civil rights law, but also in health, education, and income reporting. How do we relate data on poverty, graduation rates, and disease collected in 2000 to the rates calculated under the old race question? A technical appendix provides a useful manual for bridging old census data to new. The book concludes with a discussion of the politics of racial enumeration. Hugh Davis Graham examines recent history to ask why some groups were determined to be worthy of special government protections and programs, while others were not. Posing the volume's ultimate question, Jennifer Hochschild asks whether the official recognition of multiracials marks the beginning of the end of federal use of race data, and whether that is a good or a bad thing for society? The New Race Question brings to light the many ways in which a seemingly small change in surveying and categorizing race can have far reaching effects and expose deep fissures in our society. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series Copublished with the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College
Winner of the Colorado Author’s League Award for Creative Nonfiction
A 2010 Colorado Book Awards Finalist
A FEAST Ezine Best of 2009 (Nonfiction)
Power in the Blood: A Family Narrative traces Linda Tate’s journey to rediscover the Cherokee-Appalachian branch of her family and provides an unflinching examination of the poverty, discrimination, and family violence that marked their lives. In her search for the truth of her own past, Tate scoured archives, libraries, and courthouses throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Missouri, visited numerous cemeteries, and combed through census records, marriage records, court cases, local histories, old maps, and photographs. As she began to locate distant relatives — fifth, sixth, seventh cousins, all descended from her great-greatgrandmother Louisiana — they gathered in kitchens and living rooms, held family reunions, and swapped stories. A past that had long been buried slowly came to light as family members shared the pieces of the family’s tale that had been passed along to them.
Power in the Blood is a dramatic family history that reads like a novel, as Tate’s compelling narrative reveals one mystery after another. Innovative and groundbreaking in its approach to research and storytelling, Power in the Blood shows that exploring a family story can enhance understanding of history, life, and culture and that honest examination of the past can lead to healing and liberation in the present.
Queering Mestizaje employs theories of postcolonial cultural studies (including performance studies, queer and feminist theory) to examine the notion of mestizaje---the mixing of races, and specifically indigenous peoples, with European colonizers---and how this phenomenon manifests itself in three geographically diverse spaces: the United States, Latin America, and the Philippines. Alicia Arrizón argues that, as an imaginary site for racialized, gendered, and sexualized identities, mestizaje raises questions about historical transformation and cultural memory across Spanish postcolonial sites.
Arrizón offers new, queer readings of the hybrid, the intercultural body, and the hyphenated self, building on the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, Walter Mignolo, and Vera Kutzinski, while challenging accepted discourses about the relationship between colonizer and colonized. Queering Mestizaje is unique in the connections it makes between the Spanish colonial legacy in the Philippines and in the Americas. An engagingly eclectic array of cultural materials---including examples from performance art, colonial literature, visual art, fashion, and consumer products---are discussed, and included in the book's twenty-nine illustrations.
"Arrizón takes as her point of departure the connections and distinctions between the four keywords in the title (each with a long, specific, and convoluted history in its own right) while bringing together the Philippines, the Hispanophone Caribbean, and the United States to configure a map carved by the same blade of colonialism and imperialism. In its conjoining of queer, mestizaje, transculturation and performance, the pleasurable and enlightening variety of its textual examples, and its commitment to theorize desire from the space of queer mestizaje, her book makes a unique and accomplished contribution."
---Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano, Stanford University
Alicia Arrizón is Professor of Women's Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She is author of Latina Performance: Traversing the Stage and co-editor of Latinas on Stage: Practice and Theory.
Quicksand and Passing
Larsen, Nella Rutgers University Press, 1986 Library of Congress PS3523.A7225A6 1986 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
"Quicksand and Passing are novels I will never forget. They open up a whole world of experience and struggle that seemed to me, when I first read them years ago, absolutely absorbing, fascinating, and indispensable."--Alice Walker
"Discovering Nella Larsen is like finding lost money with no name on it. One can enjoy it with delight and share it without guilt." --Maya Angelou
"A hugely influential and insightful writer." --The New York Times
"Larsen's heroines are complex, restless, figures, whose hungers and frustrations will haunt every sensitive reader. Quicksand and Passing are slender novels with huge themes." -- Sarah Waters
"A tantalizing mix of moral fable and sensuous colorful narrative, exploring female sexuality and racial solidarity."-Women's Studies International Forum
Rutgers' all-time bestselling book, Nella Larsen's novels Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) document the historical realities of Harlem in the 1920s and shed a bright light on the social world of the black bourgeoisie. The novels' greatest appeal and achievement, however, is not sociological, but psychological. As noted in the editor's comprehensive introduction, Larsen takes the theme of psychic dualism, so popular in Harlem Renaissance fiction, to a higher and more complex level, displaying a sophisticated understanding and penetrating analysis of black female psychology.
The sheer diversity of the Asian American populace makes them an ambiguous racial category. Indeed, the 2010 U.S. Census lists twenty-four Asian-ethnic groups, lumping together under one heading people with dramatically different historical backgrounds and cultures. In Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture, Jennifer Ann Ho shines a light on the hybrid and indeterminate aspects of race, revealing ambiguity to be paramount to a more nuanced understanding both of race and of what it means to be Asian American.
Exploring a variety of subjects and cultural artifacts, Ho reveals how Asian American subjects evince a deep racial ambiguity that unmoors the concept of race from any fixed or finite understanding. For example, the book examines the racial ambiguity of Japanese American nisei Yoshiko Nakamura deLeon, who during World War II underwent an abrupt transition from being an enemy alien to an assimilating American, via the Mixed Marriage Policy of 1942. It looks at the blogs of Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese Americans who were adopted as children by white American families and have conflicted feelings about their “honorary white” status. And it discusses Tiger Woods, the most famous mixed-race Asian American, whose description of himself as “Cablinasian”—reflecting his background as Black, Asian, Caucasian, and Native American—perfectly captures the ambiguity of racial classifications.
Race is an abstraction that we treat as concrete, a construct that reflects only our desires, fears, and anxieties. Jennifer Ho demonstrates in Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture that seeing race as ambiguous puts us one step closer to a potential antidote to racism.
The history of Mexican Americans is a history of the intermingling of races—Indian, White, and Black. This racial history underlies a legacy of racial discrimination against Mexican Americans and their Mexican ancestors that stretches from the Spanish conquest to current battles over ending affirmative action and other assistance programs for ethnic minorities. Asserting the centrality of race in Mexican American history, Martha Menchaca here offers the first interpretive racial history of Mexican Americans, focusing on racial foundations and race relations from prehispanic times to the present. Menchaca uses the concept of racialization to describe the process through which Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. authorities constructed racial status hierarchies that marginalized Mexicans of color and restricted their rights of land ownership. She traces this process from the Spanish colonial period and the introduction of slavery through racial laws affecting Mexican Americans into the late twentieth-century. This re-viewing of familiar history through the lens of race recovers Blacks as important historical actors, links Indians and the mission system in the Southwest to the Mexican American present, and reveals the legal and illegal means by which Mexican Americans lost their land grants.
Red and Yellow, Black and Brown gathers together life stories and analysis by twelve contributors who express and seek to understand the often very different dynamics that exist for mixed race people who are not part white. The chapters focus on the social, psychological, and political situations of mixed race people who have links to two or more peoples of color— Chinese and Mexican, Asian and Black, Native American and African American, South Asian and Filipino, Black and Latino/a and so on. Red and Yellow, Black and Brown addresses questions surrounding the meanings and communication of racial identities in dual or multiple minority situations and the editors highlight the theoretical implications of this fresh approach to racial studies.
Scholars have long heralded mestizaje, or race mixing, as the essence of the Cuban nation. Revolutionizing Romance is an account of the continuing significance of race in Cuba as it is experienced in interracial relationships. This ethnography tracks young couples as they move in a world fraught with shifting connections of class, race, and culture that are reflected in space, racialized language, and media representations of blackness, whiteness, and mixedness. As one of the few scholars to conduct long-term anthropological fieldwork in the island nation, Nadine T. Fernandez offers a rare insider's view of the country's transformations during the post-Soviet era. Following a comprehensive history of racial formations up through Castro's rule, the book then delves into more intimate and contemporary spaces. Language, space and place, foreign tourism, and the realm of the family each reveal, through the author's deft analysis, the paradox of living a racialized life in a nation that celebrates a policy of colorblind equality.
Largely as a result of multiracial activism, the U.S. Census for 2000 offers people the unprecedented opportunity to officially identify themselves with more than one racial group. Among Asian-heritage people in this country and elsewhere, racial and ethnic mixing has a long but unacknowledged history. According to the last U.S. Census, nearly one-third of all interracial marriages included an Asian-descent spouse, and intermarriage rates are accelerating. This unique collection of essays focuses on the construction of identity among people Asian descent who claim multiple heritages.
In the U.S., discussions of race generally center on matters of black and white; Asian Americans usually figure in conversations about race as an undifferentiated ethnic group or as exotic Eurasians. The contributors to this book disrupt the standard discussions by considering people of mixed Asian ethnicities. They also pay particular attention to non-white multiracial identities to decenter whiteness and reflect the experience of individuals or communities who are considered a minority within a minority. With an entire section devoted to the Asian diaspora, The Sum of Our Parts suggests that questions of multiracial and multiethnic identity are surfacing around the globe. This timely and provocative collection articulates them for social scientists and students.
Representations of multiracial Americans, especially those with one black and one white parent, appear everywhere in contemporary culture, from reality shows to presidential politics. Some depict multiracial individuals as mired in painful confusion; others equate them with progress, as the embodiment of a postracial utopia. In Transcending Blackness, Ralina L. Joseph critiques both depictions as being rooted in—and still defined by—the racist notion that blackness is a deficit that must be overcome.
Analyzing emblematic representations of multiracial figures in popular culture—Jennifer Beals's character in the The L Word; the protagonist in Danny Senza's novel Caucasia; the title character in the independent film Mixing Nia; and contestants in a controversial episode of the reality show America's Next Top Model, who had to "switch ethnicities" for a photo shoot—Joseph identifies the persistence of two widespread stereotypes about mixed-race African Americans, those of "new millennium mulattas" and "exceptional multiracials." The former inscribes multiracial African Americans as tragic figures whose blackness predestines them for misfortune; the latter rewards mixed-race African Americans for successfully erasing their blackness. Addressing questions of authenticity, sexuality, and privilege, Transcending Blackness refutes the idea that race no longer matters in American society.
Troubling the Family argues that the emergence of multiracialism during the 1990s was determined by underlying and unacknowledged gender norms. Opening with a germinal moment for multiracialism—the seemingly massive and instantaneous popular appearance of Tiger Woods in 1997—Habiba Ibrahim examines how the shifting status of racial hero for both black and multiracial communities makes sense only by means of an account of masculinity.
Ibrahim looks across historical events and memoirs—beginning with the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967 when miscegenation laws were struck down—to reveal that gender was the starting point of an analytics that made categorical multiracialism, and multiracial politics, possible. Producing a genealogy of multiracialism’s gendered basis allows Ibrahim to focus on a range of stakeholders whose interests often ran against the grain of what the multiracial movement of the 1990s often privileged: the sanctity of the heteronormative family, the labor of child rearing, and more precise forms of racial tabulation—all of which, when taken together, could form the basis for creating so-called neutral personhood.
Ibrahim concludes with a consideration of Barack Obama as a representation of the resurrection of the assurance that multiracialism extended into the 2000s: a version of personhood with no memory of its own gendered legacy, and with no self-account of how it became so masculine that it can at once fill the position of political leader and the promise of the end of politics.
A wide-ranging consideration of the nature and significance of Pushkin's African heritage
Roughly in the year 1705, a young African boy, acquired from the seraglio of the Turkish sultan, was transported to Russia as a gift to Peter the Great. This child, later known as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was to become Peter's godson and to live to a ripe old age, having attained the rank of general and the status of Russian nobility. More important, he was to become the great-grandfather of Russia's greatest national poet, Alexander Pushkin. It is the contention of the editors of this book, borne out by the essays in the collection, that Pushkin's African ancestry has played the role of a "wild card" of sorts as a formative element in Russian cultural mythology; and that the ways in which Gannibal's legacy has been included in or excluded from Pushkin's biography over the last two hundred years can serve as a shifting marker of Russia's self-definition.
The first single volume in English on this rich topic, Under the Sky of My Africa addresses the wide variety of interests implicated in the question of Pushkin's blackness-race studies, politics, American studies, music, mythopoetic criticism, mainstream Pushkin studies. In essays that are by turns biographical, iconographical, cultural, and sociological in focus, the authors-representing a broad range of disciplines and perspectives-take us from the complex attitudes toward race in Russia during Pushkin's era to the surge of racism in late Soviet and post-Soviet contemporary Russia. In sum, Under the Sky of My Africa provides a wealth of basic material on the subject as well as a series of provocative readings and interpretations that will influence future considerations of Pushkin and race in Russian culture.
In Unreasonable Histories, Christopher J. Lee unsettles the parameters and content of African studies as currently understood. At the book's core are the experiences of multiracial Africans in British Central Africa—contemporary Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia—from the 1910s to the 1960s. Drawing on a spectrum of evidence—including organizational documents, court records, personal letters, commission reports, popular periodicals, photographs, and oral testimony—Lee traces the emergence of Anglo-African, Euro-African, and Eurafrican subjectivities which constituted a grassroots Afro-Britishness that defied colonial categories of native and non-native. Discriminated against and often impoverished, these subaltern communities crafted a genealogical imagination that reconfigured kinship and racial descent to make political claims and generate affective meaning. But these critical histories equally confront a postcolonial reason that has occluded these experiences, highlighting uneven imperial legacies that still remain. Based on research in five countries, Unreasonable Histories ultimately revisits foundational questions in the field, to argue for the continent's diverse heritage and to redefine the meanings of being African in the past and present—and for the future.