“The United States of the United Races” w/ Dr. Greg Carter

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-25 00:53Z by Steven

“The United States of the United Races” w/ Dr. Greg Carter

Mixed Race Radio
Blog Talk Radio
2013-09-25, 16:00Z (12:00 EDT)

Tiffany Rae Reid, Host

Greg Carter, Associate Professor of History
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

On Today’s episode of Mixed Race Radio we will meet Professor Greg Carter, author of The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing. Professor Carter currently serves as the Associate Professor, Department of History at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He studied at the University of Texas at Austin where he received his Ph.D. in 2007.

Besides receiving several prestigious awards including, the Graduate School Research Council Award (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2009) and the Campus Reading Seminar Award (University of Wisconsin System Institute for Race and Ethnicity 2008), Professor Carter is teaching some of the coolest courses in a college setting. He continues to present some very intriguing discussions that explore the mixed race experience in media and he does this while remaining involved in the History Caucus, Minority Scholars Committee and several other committees which he actually chairs.

“Each of the seven chapters in The United States of the United Races explores how tensions in our history have revised themselves in every period since the early republic. This book presents the career of an idea through time more so than the biographies of particular writers, orators, or activists. This unified approach shows that in every period, an optimistic stance has been as central to the American conversation on race as the pessimist. Because antipathy towards mixture is so established, and because they have no formal connection to predecessors, each critic of the dominant position must re-create the position in new ways.”

Today, we will discuss Professor’s Carter’s book,  The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing and engage our listeners in a discussion centered on the history of positive ideas about racial mixing in the U.S. as well as Critical Mixed Race Studies as a field.

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The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-05-11 00:10Z by Steven

The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing

New York University Press
April 2013
288 pages
22 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 9780814772492
Paper ISBN: 9780814772508

Greg Carter, Associate Professor of History
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Barack Obama’s historic presidency has re-inserted mixed race into the national conversation. While the troubled and pejorative history of racial amalgamation throughout U.S. history is a familiar story, The United States of the United Races reconsiders an understudied optimist tradition, one which has praised mixture as a means to create a new people, bring equality to all, and fulfill an American destiny. In this genealogy, Greg Carter re-envisions racial mixture as a vehicle for pride and a way for citizens to examine mixed America as a better America.

Tracing the centuries-long conversation that began with Hector St. John de Crevecoeur’s Letters of an American Farmer in the 1780s through to the Mulitracial Movement of the 1990s and the debates surrounding racial categories on the U.S. Census in the twenty-first century, Greg Carter explores a broad range of documents and moments, unearthing a new narrative that locates hope in racial mixture. Carter traces the reception of the concept as it has evolved over the years, from and decade to decade and century to century, wherein even minor changes in individual attitudes have paved the way for major changes in public response. The United States of the United Races sweeps away an ugly element of U.S. history, replacing it with a new understanding of race in America.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Thomas Jefferson’s Challengers
  • 2. Wendell Phillips, Unapologetic Abolitionist, Unreformed Amalgamationist
  • 3. Plessy v. Racism
  • 4. The Color Line, the Melting Pot, and the Stomach
  • 5. Say It Loud, I’m One Drop and I’m Proud
  • 6. The End of Race as We Know It
  • 7. Praising Ambiguity, Preferring Certainty
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index
  • About the Author


In April 2010, the White House publicized Barack Obama’s self-identification on his U.S. census form. He marked one box “Black, African Am., or Negro,” settling one of the most prevalent issues during his 2008 presidential campaign: his racial identity. This choice resounded with the monoracial ways of thinking so prevalent throughout U.S. history. People who believed he was only black because he looked like a black person or because many others (society) believed so or because of the historical prevalence of the one-drop rule received confirmation of that belief. The mainstream media had been calling him the black president for over a year, so they received confirmation of this moniker.

Many people who had followed the adoption of multiple checking on the census found his choice surprising. Surely, as president, he would be aware of the ability to choose more than one race. To pick one alone went against everything activists wanting to reform the government’s system of racial categorization had worked for in the 1990s. Many found it surprising that the man who had called himself “the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas” would choose one race. After all, he had used this construction far more times than he had called himself black, giving the impression that he embraced his mixture along with identifying as black. That snippet, along with images of his diverse family, had been part of what endeared him to mixed-race supporters. Similarly, his campaign’s deployment of his white relatives built sympathy with white voters. Some people argued that he had failed to indicate what he “was” by choosing one race. He made the diverse backgrounds in his immediate family a footnote. But, recalling Maria P. P. Root’sA Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People,” a pillar of contemporary thought on mixed race, they had to respect his prerogative. He had the right to identify himself differently than the way strangers expected him to identify.

Three lessons emerged from this episode: How one talks about oneself can be different from how one identifies from day to day. How one identifies from day to day can be different from how one fills out forms. And on a form with political repercussions, such as the census, one may choose a political statement different from both how one talks and how one identifies. Obama had always been a political creature; he never did anything for simple reasons. By the regulations, the administration could have withheld the information for seventy-two years. Instead, it became a small yet notable news piece in real time. Publicizing his participation in the census could motivate other minorities (beyond those who knew the history of multiple checking) to do so as well. More likely, he was thinking about the 2012 election. His response to the 2010 census could influence voters later on. If the number of those who would have hurt feelings over a singular answer was less than those who would find offense in a multiple answer, then a singular answer was the best to give. Even though mixed-race Americans took great pride in Obama’s ascendance, they were a small faction to satisfy.

Then why did Obama take so much care to cast himself as a young, mixed-race hope for the future? Because even though the number of people who identify as mixed race is small, they hold immense figural power for the nation as symbols of progress, equality, and utopia, themes he wanted to associate with his campaign. In other words, he piggybacked onto positive notions about racially mixed people to improve his symbolic power. At the same time, he nurtured the stable, concrete, and accessible identity that people so used to monoracial thought could embrace, not the ambiguous one that challenged everyone.

Interpretation of current events such as this can disentangle the complexities we encounter here and now. However, while historical analysis always enriches the understanding of current events, writing history about current events presents a pitfall: they are moving targets resisting our attempts to focus on them. Similarly, following figures such as Obama lures us into announcing sea changes in racial conditions. Americans of all walks like indicators of progress. But addressing racial inequality calls for more than well-wishing. As a guiding principle, we should remember to appreciate that these are stories that have no resolution, much like the story of racialization in general. The meanings of mixture, the language we use to describe it, and its cast of characters have always been in flux.

Even before colonial Virginia established the first anti-intermarriage laws in 1691, efforts to stabilize racial identity had been instrumental in securing property, defending slavery, and maintaining segregation. The study of interracial intimacy has labeled racially mixed people either pollutants to society or the last hope for their inferior parent groups. To this day, many Americans label each other monoracially, interracial marriage remains a rarity, and group identities work best when easy to comprehend. However, at the same time that many worked to make racial categorization rigid, a few have defended racial mixing as a boon for the nation. Ever since English explorer John Smith told the story of the Indian princess Pocahontas saving his life in 1608 (a founding myth of the United States), some have considered racial mixing a positive. These voices were often privileged with access to outlets. Many were men, and many were white. This study reconsiders the understudied optimist tradition that has disavowed mixing as a means to uplift a particular racial group or a means to do away with race altogether. Instead, this group of vanguards has praised mixture as a means to create a new people, to bring equality to all, and to fulfill an American destiny. Historians of race have passed over this position, but my narrative shows that contemporary fascination with racially mixed figures has historical roots in how past Americans have imagined what radical abolitionist Wendell Phillips first called “The United States of the United Races.”…

Read the entire Introduction here.

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Anatole Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2012-10-28 03:11Z by Steven

Anatole Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Journal of American Ethnic History
Volume 32, Number 1 (Fall 2012)
pages 95-100
DOI: 10.5406/jamerethnhist.32.1.0095

Greg Carter, Associate Professor of History
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

I DESIGNED MY FIRST COURSE, Mixed Race Identity in American Culture, an elective surveying the history of racial mixing in the United States, as a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. Four sections of the class have convened at two universities since then. During the first sessions, I always introduce undergraduates to the analytic lenses of race (and ethnicity), class, and gender, emphasizing that their meanings shift across time and place. From there, Gary Nash’s essay, “The Hidden History of Mestizo America” presents interracial intimacy of many configurations, privileging no particular combination (i.e., black and white). In addition to equipping students with the tools they will need throughout the term, these first two weeks emphasize that the class is historical, going from first contact to the present moment.

However, the class is also interdisciplinary, drawing from popular culture, sociological texts, feature articles, and scientific tracts. Along with helping students contextualize ideas around racial mixing, sampling various discourses addresses complex themes from different perspectives. Anti-intermarriage laws in colonial Virginia introduce students to the gradual development of the one-drop rule in the seventeenth century. Through antebellum ethnological and literary writings, they see the beginnings of hybrid degeneracy notions that follow racially mixed people well past the nineteenth century. An introduction to blackface minstrelsy shows that, in addition to deploying a hateful set of stereotypes, this mainstay of American popular culture involves a sort of racial mixing on the bodies of the actors. Later they see much of the same in the yellowface minstrelsy that targeted Asians in the United States.

I also present students with positive notions regarding racial mixing in the United States, from the Pocahontas myth to Thomas Jefferson’s policy of civilization and assimilation to some of the radical abolitionists’ visions of a post-Civil War racial democracy. In the unit immediately before the two weeks we focus on racial passing, we analyze the birth of the melting…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Greg Carter to be Featured Guest on Mixed Chicks Chat

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2011-01-29 18:14Z by Steven

Greg Carter to be Featured Guest on Mixed Chicks Chat

Mixed Chicks Chat (The only live weekly show about being racially and culturally mixed. Also, founders of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival) Hosted by Fanshen Cox and Heidi W. Durrow
Website: TalkShoe™ (Keywords: Mixed Chicks)
Episode: #191-Greg Carter
When: Wednesday, 2011-02-02, 22:00Z (17:00 EST, 16:00 CST, 14:00 PST)

Greg Carter, Assistant Professor of History
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Greg Carter is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His book, The United States of the United Races, a survey of positive ideas about racial mixing in the United States is forthcoming from New York University Press.

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America’s new racial heroes: Mixed race Americans and ideas of novelty, progress, and Utopia

Posted in Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-05-27 04:00Z by Steven

America’s new racial heroes: Mixed race Americans and ideas of novelty, progress, and Utopia

University of Texas, Austin
May 2007
250 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3345886
ISBN: 9781109010473

Gregory Thomas Carter, Associate Professor of History
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

The University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

My dissertation, “America’s New Racial Heroes,” is the first full-length intellectual history examining the fascination with mixed race people that has been concurrent with the stereotypes that pathologize them. Through five moments in United States history, this project asks what the idea of racially mixed people does for America, uncovering a set of vanguards who suggested that, rather than fear racial mixing, we should embrace it as a means to live up to ideals of equality and inclusion, thus benefiting the nation as a whole. Whether the subject is abolitionist Wendell Phillips’s defense of racial amalgamation, the popularity of the Melting Pot trope, Time Magazine’s 1993 New Face of America issue, or the promises of a “Multiracial” category on the 2000 census, similar notions regarding novelty, progress, and utopia repeat themselves. Rounding out “America’s New Racial Heroes” is an examination of contemporary praise of ambiguity at the same time Americans wish for quantifiable racial makeup. Overall, this project warns against the giddy hope that racially mixed people alone can solve America’s racial problems.

I have several models in bringing together these five cases, including George M. Fredrickson’s The Black Image in the White Mind, Philip J. Deloria’s Playing Indian, and Robert Lee’s Orientals. Each of these shows how discourses of science, nationality, and popular culture shape the identities of dominant and minority groups concurrently. Like these works, my project brings together archival research, cultural studies readings, and theories of racial formation to examine how pro-mixing advocates situate themselves within their own contexts and resonate through time. This work on mixed race identity has many intersections with both fields, accentuating the richness that can result from comparative, ethnic studies work across disciplinary boundaries.
Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Wendell Phillips: Unapologetic Abolitionist, Unreformed
From Brahmin to Radical
Marriage Law Petition and Europe
The United States of the United Races and Beyond
Phillips and Miscegenation

Chapter 2: Israel Zangwill’s Melting Pot vs. Jean Toomer’s Stomach

Chapter 3: The New Face of America: The Beauty, the Beast

Chapter 4: Census 2000 and the End of Race as We Know It

Chapter 5 Praising Ambiguity, Preferring Certainty
Tiger Woods: 100% Unambiguous
Mixed Race Models: Who’s the Fairest of Them All?
DNAPrint: Racial Makeups ‘R’ Us


Read the entire dissertation here.

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History 270: Topics In American History – Mixed Race Identity in American Culture

Posted in Census/Demographics, Course Offerings, History, New Media, Passing, United States on 2010-02-01 17:48Z by Steven

History 270: Topics In American History – Mixed Race Identity in American Culture

Spring 2010

Greg Carter, Assistant Professor of History
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Through most of the United States’ history, laws have been in place to prevent interracial intimacy and the production of mixed-race offspring, and the Tragic Mulatto figure, victim of confusion and isolation, has remained in the popular imaginary since the nineteenth century, reappearing in novels, movies, and even social science writing that addresses the challenges of multicultural societies. At the same time, writers have equated American identity with the creation of new, hybrid men since Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur asked “What then is the American, this new man?” in 1782. While less prevalent than ideas that disparage racial mixing, fascination with it has always gone hand in hand with ideas of citizenship, American identity, and progress. Why has there been a combination of appeal with mixed-race Americans along with an antipathy towards them as “half-breeds,” “intermediary,” or marginal”? Have stereotypes of them altered through the past two hundred years? Do they reflect how mixed-race people identify themselves? Lastly, how have these issues changed in the decades since the Supreme Court invalidated anti-miscegenation laws in 1967? This course aims to answer these questions through a variety of interdisciplinary sources. We will be reading fiction, essays, newspaper articles, and texts from the behavioral and social sciences that address a number of topics, including: the one-drop rule, abolition, assimilation, racial passing, the proposed “Multiracial” category for the Census, and representations in popular culture…

Read the entire syllabus here.

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