The face of change: Census racial categories aren’t so black and white

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-21 21:22Z by Steven

The face of change: Census racial categories aren’t so black and white

The Dallas Morning News

Jill Cowan, Staff Writer

Gloria Fortner, 13, says she values all of the influences of her parentage. Her father, Bruce Fortner, is a black pastor, and her mother, Florencia Velasco Fortner, is a Mexican immigrant who heads a nonprofit. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

When Gloria Fortner was a little girl, a classmate of black and white parentage claimed to be a “better mix” than her. It was a jarring experience — one that has stayed lodged in her mind over the years.

But now, Gloria, the daughter of a black pastor and a Mexican immigrant who heads a nonprofit, said she’s forgiven if not forgotten.

“It’s OK,” the lanky violinist said on a recent afternoon. “We follow each other on Instagram now, so it’s fine.”

Gloria is 13…

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Biography: ‘The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire,’ by Karl Jacoby

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Texas, United States on 2016-07-22 18:41Z by Steven

Biography: ‘The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire,’ by Karl Jacoby

The Dallas Morning News

Karen M. Thomas, Professor of Journalism
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

From all accounts, Guillermo Enrique Eliseo commanded attention. The elegantly dressed Mexican-born Wall Street baron in Gilded Age Manhattan was known for his gold watch, fine taste and ability to strike business deals on both sides of the border. He also had a huge secret.

Eliseo began life not on a Mexican hacienda but across the border on a Texas plantation where he was born into slavery as William Henry Ellis. How he transformed himself into Eliseo is the topic of The Strange Career of William Ellis.

Karl Jacoby is a stellar researcher, and the topic is fascinating. He ferrets out Ellis’ tale of reinvention from historical documents, news accounts and Ellis’ personal material, including letters to his family. Where records are scarce, such as for the years Ellis was a slave on a Victoria plantation, Jacoby instead turns to what is known about American slavery itself. He describes Texas’ role in trying to keep cotton as king and what life was like in Victoria, a town close to the U.S. and Mexican borders, in the 1800s. By doing so, Jacoby is able to extrapolate Ellis’ experience, motivation and preparation for ultimately redefining his personal racial boundaries

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Four years later, Barack Obama still a mystery in some ways

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-09-05 18:57Z by Steven

Four years later, Barack Obama still a mystery in some ways

The Dallas Morning News

From staff and wire reports

File: The welcome in Austin in 2007 was warm and Texan for presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Still somewhat unknown

Even after four years as president, Barack Hussein Obama remains unknown in some ways. He seemed to come out of nowhere. He had served seven years in the Illinois Senate — and less than four years in the U.S. Senate a meager political resume, augmented by a stirring speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Just four years later, he won the presidency over John McCain by almost 9.5 million votes. Now, at age 51, he appears to face a much closer battle for re-election.

Roots in Africa, America, Asia

Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu. His story was like no president before him — son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. Obama was just months old when his father, a brilliant but troubled economist, left to study at Harvard. He would never return. Obama spent his youth alternately in the care of his grandparents in Hawaii and his mother, who moved to Indonesia and a short-lived marriage to a geologist there. He studied at Occidental College in California, Columbia University and Harvard Law, and along the way struggled to come to terms with his identity as a black man of mixed heritage in a white society. He went to Chicago, where he learned to identify with the black community as a social activist.

Calm manner

A supporter dubbed him “No-Drama Obama” in the 2008 campaign, and it stuck because it reflects his personality. “The president is an intellectually ambitious man who is temperamentally cautious,” says Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton. His measured approach has not always worked in his favor; he has frustrated supporters who say he does not express righteous anger when he should…

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