Local Stories Show Realities of Biracial Identity for People and Families

Posted in Articles, Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-01-27 23:42Z by Steven

Local Stories Show Realities of Biracial Identity for People and Families

WAER 88.3 FM
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York


Chris Bolt, News Director

Elliott Lewis, Professor of Practice, Broadcast & Digital Journalism
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah is the featured speaker at Syracuse University’s Martin Luther King celebration this Sunday. Noah’s life story as the son of a South African mother and European father has struck a chord with many on campus. SU journalism professor Elliott Lewis explores the ways biracial Americans are answering questions of race and identity.

“I grew up in South Africa during Apartheid, which was awkward because I was raised in a mixed family …” wrote Trevor Noah in his book “Born a Crime”…

Read the story here. Listen to the story here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Obama election stokes debate over what is biracial

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-05-12 00:09Z by Steven

Obama election stokes debate over what is biracial

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

L. A. Johnson

Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette

Heather Curry believes President Barack Obama is denying his white heritage by identifying himself as African-American.

“It’s great that he’s biracial,” says Ms. Curry, 19, a Point Park University advertising major who identifies herself as biracial. “I wish he would accept it a little bit more.”

The election of Mr. Obama—the son of a white woman from Kansas and a man from Kenya—has jump-started a national dialogue on race and racial identity as America’s view of multiracial people changes.

Mr. Obama always has acknowledged his biracial background but identifies himself as African-American. With Mr. Obama, people see who and what they want to see, says Joy M. Zarembka, the Washington, D.C.-based author of “The Pigment of Your Imagination: Mixed Race in a Global Society.” “And most everyone can relate to him — whether [they’re] white, black, rich, poor, foreign, American, etc.”…

…Ms. Curry thinks the media have helped define him as only black and fears that history will forget that America’s “first black president” actually is a biracial man.

“I feel like there are not enough [biracial] role models out there,” says Ms. Curry, whose father was white and mother is black. “We need to say we’re proud of our heritage.”

Her roommate, Erica Stewart, has a different view. Ms. Stewart has a white mother and a black father. Because her mother raised her, she identifies more with white culture than black culture, but she embraces aspects of both and often is mistaken for Hispanic.

“If [Obama] feels more African-American, I don’t have issues with that,” said Ms. Stewart, 19, an art major at the Community College of Allegheny County. “If I had grown up with [my father] instead of my mom, I would have identified more as an African American.”

Friends since middle school in Erie, the two young women recall how they struggled to figure out their own racial identity, routinely seeming too black to some whites and too white to some blacks…

…Ms. Curry thinks Mr. Obama identifying as African-American could be confusing to mixed-race children, making them feel they have to choose or making them think, “If Obama says he’s black, does this mean I’m black?” She thinks biracial people shouldn’t choose one race over the other because they are both.

“I’m biracial,” she says. “I will fight somebody who calls me black.”

Mr. Obama has a special resonance with African-American people, people of African descent, people of color in general and multiracial people.

“Because he identifies as African-American rather than multiracial … there’s a certain tension there,” says G. Reginald Daniel, a University of California, Santa Barbara, sociology professor and author of “More Than Black?: Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order.”

Elliott Lewis, a mixed-race man, journalist and author of “Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America,” finds the ongoing debate about whether Mr. Obama is black or biracial frustrating…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The “inter” land: Mixing autobiography and sociology for a better understanding of twenty-first century mixed-race

Posted in Barack Obama, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2011-07-22 03:31Z by Steven

The “inter” land: Mixing autobiography and sociology for a better understanding of twenty-first century mixed-race

Villanova University
October 2009
105 pages
Publication Number: AAT 1462397
ISBN: 9781109073102

Felicia Maria Camacho

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Department of English Villanova University In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in English

In contemporary autobiographies by black/white biracial Americans, personal identity is a major source of conflict. The proposed study will address topics that are key to an understanding of biracial subjectivity and identity as presented in these autobiographies. The first chapter addresses the physicality of biracial people, paying special attention to such topics as family resemblance in interracial families, and the trope of “biracial hair” which is used as a metaphor for a distinct biracial identity that is neither black nor white. The second chapter examines another identity choice for black/white biracial subjects: singular black identity. It shows how biracial individuals can turn on its head the traditional notion of the “tragic mulatto” who is forced by the one-drop rule to accept his/her blackness. By exploring and honestly acknowledging the social experiences of both parents, the biracial individual can come to assert a healthy black identity. The final chapter links black/white biracial identity with intrinsically multiracial Latino identity. Do ethnicity, nationalism, and language suggest a way to avoid the black/white binarism of American society?

While examining these issues of biracial identity, this study will engage in a commentary on the relationships between and among various academic disciplines. When analyzing literature about race, critics often turn to race theory for secondary material. However, contemporary race theory does not do much to engage and illuminate these autobiographies of biracialism. Interestingly, sociological texts speak more directly to the “biracial phenomenon.” Therefore each chapter of this study shows how sociology and autobiography complement one another and provide a fuller, more informed picture of biracial identity.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: The Roots of Biracialism: Physical Appearance, Inheritance, and Identity in the Autobiographies of Elliott Lewis, Angela Nissel, and June Cross
  • Chapter Two: The End of Tragedy: The New Biracial Subject, Self-Exploration, and Singular Black Identity in the Autobiographies of James McBride and Barack Obama
  • Chapter Three: Finding the Third Space: Jews, Latinos, and Black/White Biracialism in the Autobiographies of Rebecca Walker, Elliott Lewis, and Angela Nissel
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited

Purchase the dissertation here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Journeys in Multiracial America

Posted in Autobiography, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2010-12-18 03:17Z by Steven

Journeys in Multiracial America

Elliot Bay Book Company
Seattle, Washington

Elliott Lewis

Journalist Elliott Lewis discusses his life as a biracial American at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. In his memior Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America, the author explains that while he was raised with two parents of mixed racial heritage who identified themselves as black, he eventually evolved into a biracial self-identity. The book also examines transracial adoption, interracial dating and immigration through the eyes of several multiracial people.

Elliott Lewis is a freelance television news reporter in Washington, DC. He has worked for CNN Headline News, BET, Associated Press Television, WJLA-TV, and the Washington bureaus of Tribune Broadcasting and Hearst-Argyle Television. Mr. Lewis is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and currently serves on their Board of Directors.

Tags: ,

Lewis Explores Race During Unity Month

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2010-03-02 03:31Z by Steven

Lewis Explores Race During Unity Month

The Emory Wheel
Volume 91, Number 22
page 3

Pooja Dhruv, Staff Writer

Elliott Lewis, former television news reporter and author of Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America, discussed current American racial issues during his keynote address for Unity Month on Wednesday.

According to College sophomores Yan Chen and Melissa Mair, who both helped head the event, Lewis was chosen to speak because of his research on race and the growing multiracial identity in America.

…“For example, even though both my parents were half black and half white, they only identified as being black; but I identify as being both,” he said…

…Lewis said most multiracial people go through a period in their lives when they question how to racially or ethnically identify themselves.

“That period of doubt might last 10 minutes or 10 hours, but all multiracial people go through it; I now identify as biracial, half white and half black but, I also went through that period of doubt,” he said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Firsthand multlicultural experience

Posted in Articles, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2010-01-04 23:38Z by Steven

Firsthand multlicultural experience

The Daily Independent (Ashland, Kentucky)

Mike James

Ashland — When he brings up the fact that he is biracial, Elliott Lewis most often hears platitudes.

Some of them are flattering, others not so much. The one that drives him nuts is the question, “What are you?”

It’s one of the things he has to cope with in a generation that is redefining what it is to be biracial.

Lewis, a former television reporter now in law school at the University of Akron, spoke Thursday at Ashland Community and Technical College during the annual Teaching-Learning Conference.

Diversity is the focus of the conference, and Lewis embodies the theme. As a young biracial American, Lewis sees a divide between two generations that have two ways of viewing racial identity.

Had he been of his parents’ generation, grown to maturity before and during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, he would have been biracial by birth and black by experience. “There were no biracial water fountains in the south,” he said….

…Multiracial Americans are a growing segment of the population and thus a group educators need to be informed about, said conference chairman Dan Mahan. “He (Lewis) is on the cutting edge of the subject.”

Even in northeast Kentucky, student populations at the community college level are diverse and becoming more so, he said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-01-04 23:26Z by Steven

Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America

Basic Books an imprint of The Perseus Books Group
302 pages
ISBN: 9780786718825
ISBN-10: 078671882X

Elliott Lewis

Television journalist Elliott Lewis weaves his memoirs as a black-and-white biracial American with the voices of dozens of multiracial people who are challenging how we think and speak about race today. “What are you?” This seemingly ordinary but politically charged question has become a touchstone for debate around race and ethnicity. Now, more than ever, mixed race Americans are calling themselves biracial and multiracial rather than feeling forced to choose only one race. Nearly seven million people checked more than one racial category in the 2000 US census, the first time in history Americans had the option to mark more than one box. With Fade, Lewis offers a comprehensive look at the multiracial state of the union. Here he speaks with dozens of individuals, tackling hot button issues such as the often complicated lives of multiracial people in communities of color, interracial dating, transracial adoption, and the birth of the multiracial movement. The author also shares his own moving — and often humorous — firsthand experiences with race, along with intimate stories from those at the forefront of nationwide efforts to formally recognize the multiracial population.

Tags: , ,