UT students, staff reflect on experiences with racial passing

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Texas, United States on 2021-12-06 03:23Z by Steven

UT students, staff reflect on experiences with racial passing

The Daily Texan: Serving the University of Texas at Austin Community Since 1900

Sofia Treviño, Life & Arts Senior Reporter

Julius Shieh/The Daily Texan

Disliking her paler skin compared to other darker-complected Hispanics growing up, Rachel González-Martin spent hours lying under the sun willing herself to tan. Only burning and turning red, she grew frustrated. González-Martin wanted others to easily recognize her as Hispanic.

“There’s who we know we are and how we tell our own story, but we can never escape from what people see in us or read from our appearance,” the associate professor of Mexican American and Latina/o studies said.

Racial passing — a term used to describe those perceived as a member of another racial group than their own — can affect how closely people connect to and feel a part of their communities. For UT students and staff, the process of navigating different cultural stereotypes and learning to embrace their identities regardless of their appearance remains a lifelong project.

Growing up in Oakland, California, with very few fellow Hispanics, González-Martin felt she needed to physically show her identity. However, as she’s grown older, she said she’s learned to accept her own meaning of belonging to a community aside from outside biases…

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Walking the Color Line in 1909

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-12-05 22:11Z by Steven

Walking the Color Line in 1909

Bygone Brookland

Robert Malesky

Isabel Wall. Photo from Wall family album, courtesy of Larissa Clayton

Little 7-year-old Isabel Wall, blonde and blue-eyed, bounced along beside her mother as they walked the two blocks from their home at 1019 Kearny Street to the Brookland School at 10th and Monroe. Isabel was to be enrolled in the first grade.

The principal, Mary Little, asked some basic questions and then filled out the form to admit the child and let her begin classes. It wasn’t to last. Ten days later, she withdrew the admission, due to “information subsequently obtained.” The information? School officials had heard that Isabel’s father, Stephen, though he was light-skinned and had a white wife, was in reality a black man. The Brookland School was for whites only…

Note from Steven F. Riley: see the book The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein.

Read the entire article here.

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These NYC kids have written the history of an overlooked Black female composer

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 20:11Z by Steven

These NYC kids have written the history of an overlooked Black female composer

National Public Radio

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Arts Desk

Three of the student authors of Who Is Florence Price? (left to right: Sebastián Núñez, Hazel Peebles and Sophia Shao), joined by their English teacher, Shannon Potts.
Courtesy of Special Music School

For decades, it was almost impossible to hear a piece of music written by Florence Price. Price was a Black, female composer who died in 1953. But a group of New York City middle school students had the opportunity to quite literally write Florence Price’s history. Their book, titled Who Is Florence Price?, is now out and available in stores.

The kids attend Special Music School, a K-12 public school in Manhattan that teaches high-level music instruction alongside academics. Shannon Potts is an English teacher there.

“Our children are musicians, so whether or not we intentionally draw it together, they bring music into the classroom every day in the most delightful ways,” Potts says. “So if you’re talking about themes and poetry, immediately a child will qualify it with the way that a theme repeats in music.”

Potts assigned her sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to study Florence Price — a composer born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887. She was the first Black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony No. 1 in 1933 and her Piano Concerto in One Movement the next year. In 1939, at her famed Lincoln Memorial concert, the contralto Marian Anderson included Price’s arrangement of the spiritual “My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord.”…

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In Hip-Hop and Academia, Mystic Defines Her Own Success Story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 18:14Z by Steven

In Hip-Hop and Academia, Mystic Defines Her Own Success Story

San Francisco, California

Nastia Voynovskaya, Associate Editor

Mystic surprised the world by walking away from a record deal after her successful debut album. But for her, it was all part of the plan to create and be of service, completely on her own terms. (Nastia Voynovskaya/KQED)

Mystic sits in her backyard on the kind of warm, autumn afternoon that makes people remark at how good it is to live in Oakland, California. Dappled light shines through a lush canopy of persimmon, fig and guava trees. Her pet lovebird chirps in the distance, and she’s snacking on almonds between Zoom calls with young musicians she mentors.

This is the veteran hip-hop artist’s little oasis, away from the unruliness of the city, where she ponders the changing seasons of life, love and art.

It’s a good time for reflection. The recent loss of her longtime close friend and Digital Underground collaborator, Shock G, shook her deeply. That, and the grief of living during a global pandemic, prompted her to listen inward and ask herself what would fulfill her soul right now.

“I mean, shouldn’t we be doing what we love? Isn’t it the time now?” she asks in her naturally poetic cadence, lowering her voice into a near-whisper. Then, she starts to get louder and more passionate, as if proclaiming a manifesto: “If we’re artists, and art is part of our healing journey, then we should all be making art right now, right? There should be art flooding our speakers and our museums and our buildings, right? Public art.”

And for Mystic, one of the roles of hip-hop as a public art form is to bring traumas out of darkness and into the light, where they can be examined and processed—maybe even let go—in communion with others. That’s the power of her classic album Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom, whose 20th anniversary Mystic is celebrating this year. She recently took ownership of the master recordings and put out a podcast series looking back at its creation. Now, she’s gearing up for a vinyl rerelease in December.

From the outside, it might look like Mystic is recommitting to her art after years of focusing on her other loves: academia and teaching. After Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom was released to great acclaim, she walked away from a record deal and took a different path that brought her to UC Berkeley and, eventually, the University of Oxford for her master’s degree in education. For years, she spent more time in kindergarten classrooms than on stage in front of fans. But to Mystic, these multiple pursuits are all part of one continuous quest to create, express and be of service.

“It takes life to make art,” she texts me after one of our conversations. “There are times of input and times of output. I take my time for input, and that includes healing, living, loving, working with children, school and community. When my art is ready to be born, that is output. That is all 😉.”…

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Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 22:01Z by Steven

Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Columbia University and Slavery
Columbia University, New York, New York

Ciara Keane

Discussions of racial passing have never been simple, as racial passing involves the traversing of social systems and the manipulation of power structures in a way that is often unsettling. Racial passing, according to Randall Kennedy, is a “deception that enables a person to adopt certain roles or identities from which he would be barred by prevailing social standards in the absence of his misleading conduct”.1 The most typical form of passing that has historically occurred in the United States is that of a black person passing as a white person; in other words, a person who has black ancestry that would societally deem him to be black moving throughout society identifying and performing as a white person. It is important to distinguish between a passer and a person who is not aware of their racial ancestry; while a passer is actively cognizant of their background and intentionally living as another race, many individuals are simply unaware of their race and fully believe themselves to be of the race they are living as, even though the facts of their racial ancestry would classify them as a different race than the one they identify as.2 The reasons for racial passing vary, but individuals usually decide to pass in order to reap the benefits that come with being of the race they are passing as. For example, a person may pass in order to access better job prospects, receive a higher level of education, or to occupy any other space that was typically off limits for their race.3

In a society like that of the United States which exists as a social hierarchy stratified by race and class, racial passers have been considered a significant threat to the structures that uphold white supremacy. For white people in America, “the core of ‘the American national character’ was a denial of legitimacy and privilege based exclusively on descent”.4 In other words, American society was and is inherently structured based on the hoarding of privilege by the white race and the denial of this privilege to minority groups, which above all applies to African-Americans. Therefore, minorities who pass as white pose a grave threat to the maintenance of this structure, as the act of passing blurs the barrier between the privileged elite and the oppressed. Although the infamous one-drop rule was not formally adopted until the 1920s5, the American South’s desire to hold onto the racial caste created by slavery led the entire nation to spend the years of 1850 to 1915 “turning from a society in which some blackness in a person might be overlooked to one in which no single iota of color was excused”.6 States like North Carolina and Virginia had laws prior to the solidification of the one-drop rule within the 18th and 19th century that defined as white those with less than one-fourth, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth African “blood”, but these rules were always overridden by rules of slavery which could deem even a person with one-sixty-fourth black “blood” to be black if their mother was a slave.7 By time the one-drop rule was written into law, which classified a person as black if they had any hint of African “blood” no matter how small and no matter their phenotypical appearance, any advantage that Mulattos may have enjoyed post-slavery that elevated them slightly above Black people without any white “blood” had long disappeared, and Mulattoes had been solidified as indistinguishable from any other member of the black race.8

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Pioneers on the playing field: Bruno’s first Black athletes and coaches

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-15 20:41Z by Steven

Pioneers on the playing field: Bruno’s first Black athletes and coaches

The Brown Daily Herald
Providence, Rhode Island

Peter Swope, Senior Staff Writer

Media by Courtesy Photos | The Brown Daily Herald

Looking back at Jackie Court, other Black trailblazers in Brown Athletics program

While today’s Brown Athletics program displays diversity among its coaches and athletes, this has not always been the case. Throughout the history of Brown Athletics, trailblazing Black athletes and coaches have battled racism and adversity to earn athletic achievements while helping to build a more equitable program. This week The Herald will feature baseball player William White, class of 1883, football player Fritz Pollard, class of 1919 and gymnastics coach Jackie Court, who each contributed to the development of Brown Athletics on and off the field.

“William Edward White was the first African-American to play in the professional baseball ranks,” according to Brown Athletics archivist Peter Mackie ’59. “He played one game for the Providence Grays … (few people know) about him, but if you look at a picture of that 1879 team, there he is.”

White was born in Milner, Georgia; his mother was a formerly enslaved African-American woman and his father was a wealthy white man. White and his siblings attended Moses Brown School before being accepted to Brown through a connection via a local Baptist church. As a dually-enrolled student, White was a first baseman for the Brown baseball team while still a senior at Moses Brown…

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Health scientist Carrie Bourassa on immediate leave after scrutiny of her claim she’s Indigenous

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2021-11-02 20:56Z by Steven

Health scientist Carrie Bourassa on immediate leave after scrutiny of her claim she’s Indigenous

CBC News

Geoff Leo, Senior Investigative Journalist

At the 2019 TEDx talk in Saskatoon, Carrie Bourassa claimed publicly that she is Métis and Anishnaabe and has suffered the effects of racism. (YouTube.com)

University of Saskatchewan, CIHR place Bourassa on leave over lack of evidence

Carrie Bourassa, a University of Saskatchewan professor and the scientific director of the Indigenous health arm of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is on leave from both institutions following a weekend of online outrage stemming from CBC’s investigation into her claims to Indigeneity.

Bourassa, who has headed up an Indigenous research lab at the U of S and the CIHR’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health, has publicly claimed to be Métis, Anishnaabe and Tlingit.

CBC found there was no evidence she was Indigenous, despite her claims many times over the past 20 years. When asked, Bourassa hasn’t offered any genealogical evidence to back up her claims, but in a statement she said two years ago she hired a genealogist to help her investigate her ancestry, and that work continues.

Just last week, after publication of the CBC story, the CIHR issued a statement supporting Bourassa, saying it “values the work of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health under Dr. Carrie Bourassa’s leadership.” And the U of S also backed her, stating, “The quality of Professor Bourassa’s scholarly work speaks for itself and has greatly benefited the health of communities across Canada.”

However, on Monday, both institutions announced Bourassa was on immediate leave…

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Indigenous or pretender?

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Canada, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2021-11-02 01:59Z by Steven

Indigenous or pretender?

CBC News

Geoff Leo, Senior Investigative Journalist

Carrie Bourassa, one of the country’s most-esteemed Indigenous health experts, claims to be Métis, Anishinaabe and Tlingit. Some of her colleagues say there’s no evidence of that.

With a feather in her hand and a bright blue shawl and Métis sash draped over her shoulders, Carrie Bourassa made her entrance to deliver a TEDx Talk at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in September 2019, where she detailed her personal rags-to-riches story.

“My name is Morning Star Bear,” she said, choking up. “I’m just going to say it — I’m emotional.”

The crowd applauded and cheered.

“I’m Bear Clan. I’m Anishinaabe Métis from Treaty Four Territory,” Bourassa said, explaining that she grew up in Regina’s inner city in a dysfunctional family surrounded by addiction, violence and racism…

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Stony Brook professor’s biracial heritage has lessons for life, classroom

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-10-29 14:57Z by Steven

Stony Brook professor’s biracial heritage has lessons for life, classroom


Joe Dziemianowicz, Special to Newsday

Stony Brook University Assistant Professor Zebulon Miletsky holds a photo of his parents, Marc and Veronica Miletsky. Miletsky draws on his own biracial past to delve into conversations about race in America. Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

A week and a half ago, Zebulon Vance Miletsky, who will be leading a talk on African Americans and the right to vote on Feb. 27 at the Brentwood Public Library, was zipping through a PowerPoint presentation in his “Themes in the Black Experience” class at Stony Brook University.

He got to a slide with bullet points on the renowned black historian and activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Miletsky, an assistant professor in Africana Studies and History, went off-script. He shared an anecdote with his students about the time a young Du Bois offered a white girl a valentine and she turned him down flat. Because he was black. It left a mark.

Du Bois went on to become the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard. “Childhood things shape you,” the professor added.

Miletsky, 45, speaks from experience…

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‘Black & Jewish Talk Series’ starts with ‘A Conversation’

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2021-10-07 19:11Z by Steven

‘Black & Jewish Talk Series’ starts with ‘A Conversation’

The Harvard Gazette

Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Harvard Staff Writer

Exploring their identities through culture, politics, and religion

The Center for Jewish Studies and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research debut Monday “Black & Jewish: A Conversation,” the first installment of a new joint venture to shed light on the multifaceted nature of Black and Jewish identities in North America.

“Black & Jewish” is the first of three scheduled events this semester in the “Black & Jewish Talk Series,” focused on culture, politics, and religion.

“There is a lot of focus on the relationship between Black communities and Jewish communities in the U.S., but Black and Jewish identity hasn’t received very much scholarly attention,” said Sara Feldman, a preceptor of Yiddish in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and a co-organizer of the series. “There are many people in the United States who identify as both Black and Jewish. It’s time that their voices are amplified here at Harvard.”

“Black and Jewish: A Conversation,” takes place with vocalist and composer Anthony Russell and Rebecca Pierce, a writer and filmmaker. The discussion will be moderated by Katya Gibel Mevorach, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Grinnell College, and will focus on how Jewish diversity is discussed in public life and how it can and should change…

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