What Does It Mean to Be “Black Enough”?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-28 21:21Z by Steven

What Does It Mean to Be “Black Enough”?

Electric Lit

Brian Gresko

Chris L. Terry’sBlack Card” grapples with biracial identity

Chris L. Terry’s Black Card is a fascinating meditation on race, with a head-nodding soundtrack that moves from funk LPs to punk CDs, Guns N’ Roses to Outkast. The novel follows an unnamed protagonist, a college drop-out who works as a barista in Richmond, Virginia, and plays bass in a punk band. His bandmates are white, along with the majority of the punks he encounters at house parties and shows, but he’s mixed-race, with a white mother and Black father.

All his life he’s been unsure of his Black identity due to his light skin tone and red hair, attributes that read to white people as “racially ambiguous.” His father tells him not to doubt his Blackness, yet this confirmation comes off more as a warning not to get too comfortable around white people, and, like most kids when receiving advice from a parent, he doesn’t really take it to heart…

Read the entire interview here.

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Black Card: A Novel

Posted in Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Novels, United States, Virginia on 2019-08-27 01:53Z by Steven

Black Card: A Novel

272 pages
5.8 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781948226264

Chris L. Terry

Black Card: A Novel by Chris L. Terry

Chris L. Terry’s Black Card is an uncompromising examination of American identity. In an effort to be “black enough,” a mixed-race punk rock musician indulges his own stereotypical views of African American life by doing what his white bandmates call “black stuff.” After remaining silent during a racist incident, the unnamed narrator has his Black Card revoked by Lucius, his guide through Richmond, Virginia, where Confederate flags and memorials are a part of everyday life.

Determined to win back his Black Card, the narrator sings rap songs at an all-white country music karaoke night, absorbs black pop culture, and attempts to date his black coworker Mona, who is attacked one night. The narrator becomes the prime suspect and earns the attention of John Donahue, a local police officer with a grudge dating back to high school. Forced to face his past, his relationships with his black father and white mother, and the real consequences and dangers of being black in America, the narrator must choose who he is before the world decides for him.

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“Chris, are you Greek?” Sheila asked. “No, I’m black and Irish.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2012-12-13 02:19Z by Steven

“Chris, are you Greek?” Sheila asked.

“No, I’m black and Irish.”

There was silence in the room. Jermaine’s eyebrows raised above his glasses. Sheila said, “Chris, we know that. I meant, are you in a fraternity?”

I smiled, embarrassed, “No. No, I’m not.”

The whole room burst into laughter, myself included. Kim put a hand up and said, “Yeah, I knew there was some soul in there the minute he walked into the interview.”

Chris “C.T.” Terry, “the greek,” Story Week Reader (2011): pages 31-32.

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Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference 2012 and Mixed Roots Midwest

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2012-11-14 21:02Z by Steven

Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference 2012 and Mixed Roots Midwest


Camilla Fojas, (CMRS 2012 organizer) Associate Professor and Chair
Latin American and Latino Studies
DePaul University

Laura Kina, (Mixed Roots Midwest 2012 co-organizer) Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University

Photo of Mixed Roots Midwest: Filmmakers Panel by Laura Kina.

Presented by DePaul’s Center for Intercultural Programs and co-organized by Fanshen Cox, Chandra Crudup, Khanisha Foster, and Laura Kina, Mixed Roots Midwest featured three evenings of programming that explored what it means to have a mixed identity:

  • Nov 1, 2012 Selected Shorts: Silences by Octavio Warnock-Graham, Crayola Monologues by Nathan Gibbs, Mixed Mexican by Thomas P. Lopez, and Nigel’s Fingerprints by Kim Kuhteubl.
  • Nov 2, 2012 Filmmakers Panel: Fanshen Cox in conversation with Kim Kuhteubl, Jeff Chiba Stearns, Kip Fulbeck.
  • Nov 3, 2012 Live Event – featuring spoken word artists CP Chang, Chris L. Terry and Sage Xaxua Morgan-Hubbard from Chicago’s own 2nd Story along with a preview of Fanshen Cox’s solo-show-in-progress, One Drop of Love and invited Chicago writer Fred Sasaki reading from a manuscript of e-mails called “Letter of Interest.”
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the greek

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2012-06-25 16:36Z by Steven

the greek

Story Week Reader
Story Week Reader 2011
pages 31-32

Chris “C.T.” Terry, Writer, Editor, Educator

I was nervous on my first day working in the African-American Cultural Affairs section of my school’s Multicultural Office. My boss Kim introduced me to coworkers, and I imagined my blue eyes to be the subject of appraising gazes. I shook hands—no daps—and wondered if the brief, polite greetings I received were typical professional interactions, or if each person was thinking, “The nerve of this white boy, disturbing the sanctity of African-American Cultural Affairs!”

My mother is white, Irish-American. My father is black. I’m pale, with freckles. Usually, black people can tell that I’m mixed, and white people go, “Oh, I thought you were white, but, like, with an Afro.”

After growing up in a white area outside of white Boston, and having so many people mistake me for white, I get self-conscious around black people. If they don’t recognize my blackness, does it exist? At a party, I’ll screw up an elaborate handshake, clasping when I should be bumping, and one of the other black guys there looks away in shame. Then I die inside a little bit and vow to delete all Hank Williams from my iPod…

Read the entire essay here.

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The Language of Hairzilla

Posted in Articles, Media Archive on 2012-06-25 02:44Z by Steven

The Language of Hairzilla

SmokeLong Quarterly
Issue 33 (2011-10-02)

Chris Terry, Writer, Editor, Educator

cover art “Sparta, NJ” by David Ohlerking
Art by Myles Karr

Punk is a revelation the first time your skateboarding friend takes you to a show. You’re fifteen in saggy jeans. You watch bands emerge from the audience, lay waste to your eardrums for twenty minutes, then slip back into the crowd to joke with their friends. Anyone could do it and everyone was equal. You knew it was as close as you’d ever get to finding a world of people like you.

You are biracial. In the Boston suburbs, you were a black kid at a white school and everyone urged you to “grow an af-rowww.” Say “af-rowww” in the valley girl voice that trite black comedians use to mimic white folks. Af-rowww. Pause between the syllables to pull your top front teeth from your bottom lip. Af-rowww.

Your hair covers the tops of your ears. You haven’t cut it since you moved, but The Af-rowww People can’t see you in Virginia. You weren’t out to make them happy anyway. Now, you’re a white kid at a black school and your classmates call you Kermit thee Frog because of the way you sound reading.

After that first punk show, the energy of the music and the anger boiling in your apartment combine to ignite a punk bomb inside of you. You try to do something good with the explosion. You somersault out the door, stapling show flyers to telephone poles. Punk is for everyone, even people whose families can’t hold on to their houses, whose parents lecture by saying, “We’re done with you. Don’t expect anything else from us besides a roof and some of this spaghetti.” You try to be indignant and stonefaced, but start crying. You ask why. They pull out a yellow legal pad with a list of your infractions…

Read the entire essay here.

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The Impersonator

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2012-06-24 22:45Z by Steven

The Impersonator

2nd Story
Chicago, Illinois

Chris Terry, Writer, Editor, Educator

A biracial man who is often told that he looks like certain celebrities goes to a Brooklyn bar, where he has an encounter with a guy whose strange profession makes him really good at The “You Look Like” Game.

Listen to the podcast here (00:12:36).  Read an earlier draft of “The Impersonator” here.

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Meet The Bloggers: Chris Terry

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2012-04-08 13:36Z by Steven

Meet The Bloggers: Chris Terry

Marginalia: The Graduate Blog
Columbia College Chicago

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

Words are a big deal in my family. My mother was a children’s librarian who always encouraged me to read, which backfired when I would spell things out while speaking (“C-a-n w-e g-o t-o t-h-e p-o-o-l-question mark?”). Yes, it was obnoxious.

English was the easy A in high school, so that’s what I studied in college. I got a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University, then left Richmond for New York so that I could use my degree for something besides making lattes. In New York, I did Production and Editorial work for a couple of publishing houses, and also worked as a corporate Proofreader for advertisers, websites, translation firms and banks. My longest-term job was fifteen months spent editing catalogs for a makeup company. It wasn’t bad, but as a lover of creative writing, proofreading felt like looking through the window at an awesome party. I’d been doing some music writing and publishing zines, and started taking continuing education writing workshops at night to get a portfolio together so I could apply to grad school and follow my dream of becoming a published author. I also hoped for more career options than just makeup catalogs and am now feeling good about my future.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

In The Creative Writing MFA Handbook, Tom Kealey says that location should be your first concern when looking into schools. I agree. I liked the idea of moving somewhere with the specific intention of going to school. In a new city, I would be free of distractions, and be able to focus on writing. I’m originally from Boston, and like big, cold cities. There is no doubt that Chicago is a big cold city, and my girlfriend agreed to move here with me if I got into school…

…Columbia College’s site emphasizes diversity, which is important for me, a half black/half white guy. I also got the feeling that Columbia is a very down to earth place. That appealed to me, because I come from a humbler background than your average art student, and was intimidated by the idea of being in workshops with a bunch of snobs. My gut told me that wouldn’t be the case at Columbia. I’m usually a logical dude, so on the rare occasion that my gut tells me something, I listen.

Finally, I liked that Columbia College’s Fiction Writing program encourages writers to draw from their own experiences for stories. I tend to write realistic, autobiographical material, so I hoped that my writing would be a good fit…

Read the entire article here.

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