Parsing Race and Blackness in Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-10-30 16:02Z by Steven

Parsing Race and Blackness in Mexico

Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews
Volume 43, Number 6 (November 2014)
pages 816-820
DOI: 10.1177/0094306114553216a

Enid Logan, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Minnesota

Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue  Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013. 234pp. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 9780199925506.

In Land of the Cosmic Race, Christina Sue offers an ambitious, data-rich ethnography set in the “blackest” area of Mexico: the port city of Veracruz. She asks how the local population understands and negotiates racial and national identity, and in particular, how they make sense of the tricky issue of blackness in Mexico. Sue is one of a comparatively small number of sociologists who study race relations in Latin America, as most scholarship in this area has come from the fields of anthropology and history. Though the study is grounded in Veracruz, Sue’s larger intent is to analyze racial dynamics in contemporary Mexico writ large.

Sue “centralizes the racial common sense” of Mexican mestizos, a population that she estimates to comprise up to 90 percent of the total (p. 6). Mestizo is a broad category including anyone of “mixed-race” ancestry: Spanish, indigenous, or African. And in large part because Mexico defines itself as a mestizo nation, almost everyone in Mexico identifies as mestizo as well. Within the broad racial category of mestizo, Sue states, there are crucial distinctions of color, which are too often ignored. She sets out to analyze these distinctions in her study.

She writes that Mexican mestizos negotiate the dynamics of race and color in “an ideological terrain littered with contradiction” (p. 18). While elite ideology asserts that racism in Mexico is non-existent, implies that there are no blacks in Mexico, and is officially celebratory of race-mixing (or mestizaje), the lived experiences of most Mexicans, Sue claims, are “replete” with contradictory attitudes and events (p. 5). Sue uncovers in her research a general distaste for intercolor relationships from the point of view of those whose racial capital they would degrade, a clear aesthetic preference for whiteness, and a wealth of strongly-held negative beliefs about blacks and…

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Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America [Review]

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-10-02 02:13Z by Steven

Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America [Review]

Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews
Volume 42, Number 5 (September 2013)
page 763
DOI: 10.1177/0094306113499714e

Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America, by Michael P. Jeffries. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. 210pp. paper. ISBN: 9780804780964.

The ascendancy of Barack Obama from an orphan raised by his grandparents to the most powerful man on the planet is extraordinary not only due to its rapid progression, but also because of its impact on racism in America. Surely the election of a black President will heal America’s wounds of modern racism and erase the scars of slavery. However, in his poignant book Paint the White House Black, Michael P. Jeffries points out that President Obama’s election has placed the United States no closer to the idealized post-racial society that many Americans seem to strive for. Indeed, if anything, the election of America’s first black President raises interesting questions about the nature and pervasiveness of race.

In his book, Jeffries skillfully outlines his thesis, beginning with a description of the politics of inheritance, the racialized natureof patriotism, and the intersectionality of black identity and nationalism. He proceeds with a discussion of multiracial identity and its impact on black politics by incorporating theoretical arguments made by others, as well as his own analysis of self-collected interview data. Next, Jeffries discusses the intersection of gender and blackness by focusing on the First Lady, Michelle Obama, before concluding with a concise chapter that summarizes his arguments quite nicely. The writing is both accessible and direct. Though the scholarly nature of this work requires the inclusion of specialized jargon, the detailed notes section leaves the reader with all the information needed to fully understand this topic…

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Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities [Review: DaCosta]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Identity Development/Psychology, United Kingdom on 2011-09-13 21:15Z by Steven

Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities [Review: DaCosta]

Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews
Volume 40, Number 5 (September 2011)
pages 571-572
DOI: 10.1177/0094306111419111i

Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Associate Professor
Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University

Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities, by Sultana Choudhry. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010. 219 pp. cloth. ISBN: 9780754678601.

Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities is a study of identity choices among South Asian/white individuals in the United Kingdom. The term “South Asian” refers here to peoples with ancestry from the Indian subcontinent, including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Sultana Choudhry situates her study primarily in the social psychology literature and in the growing body of social science literature on mixed race or, to use the author’s preferred term, “interethnic” people in the Anglophone world. In focusing on South Asian/white interethnics, the author begins to fill a gap in both literatures. She rightly points out that there is a relative dearth of research on South Asian/white interethnics in Britain, despite the fact that they comprise a substantial proportion of interethnics in a society in which interethnic births are on the rise.

This is a multi-method study, incorporating semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis, retrospective diary accounts of factors that influenced respondents’ ethnic identity choices and a survey of 87 interethnics of a variety of ethnoracial combinations. While the majority of respondents were interethnic, some phases of the study include monoethnic respondents, including some parents of the interethnic respondents.

While I applaud this use…

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