‘Black & Jewish Talk Series’ starts with ‘A Conversation’

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2021-10-07 19:11Z by Steven

‘Black & Jewish Talk Series’ starts with ‘A Conversation’

The Harvard Gazette

Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Harvard Staff Writer

Exploring their identities through culture, politics, and religion

The Center for Jewish Studies and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research debut Monday “Black & Jewish: A Conversation,” the first installment of a new joint venture to shed light on the multifaceted nature of Black and Jewish identities in North America.

“Black & Jewish” is the first of three scheduled events this semester in the “Black & Jewish Talk Series,” focused on culture, politics, and religion.

“There is a lot of focus on the relationship between Black communities and Jewish communities in the U.S., but Black and Jewish identity hasn’t received very much scholarly attention,” said Sara Feldman, a preceptor of Yiddish in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and a co-organizer of the series. “There are many people in the United States who identify as both Black and Jewish. It’s time that their voices are amplified here at Harvard.”

“Black and Jewish: A Conversation,” takes place with vocalist and composer Anthony Russell and Rebecca Pierce, a writer and filmmaker. The discussion will be moderated by Katya Gibel Mevorach, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Grinnell College, and will focus on how Jewish diversity is discussed in public life and how it can and should change…

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Variations on racial tension

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Europe, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-03-09 21:50Z by Steven

Variations on racial tension

The Harvard Gazette

John Laidler, Harvard Correspondent

For every nation, a different set of challenges, panelists say

A panel discussion Wednesday highlighted striking contrasts in how nations perceive and grapple with racial inequality.

Tracing evolving attitudes toward race and discrimination in Latin America, Europe, and the United States, a trio of experts painted a picture of a multidimensional issue resistant to simple explanations or solutions.

The panel was the second of four in a Weatherhead Center series on comparative inequality.

Patrick Simon, director of research at the National Institute of Demographic Studies in France, said post-war Europe followed a conscious strategy to ban the use of racial terminologies to describe populations, a practice that persists.

“We are all aware that talking about race is not a straightforward situation in Europe,” said Simon, currently a fellow at City University of New York. “Basically, if you don’t talk about race, the name itself is simply not there.”

Simon said the strategy was contradicted at first by continuing racial categorizing in European colonies. That ended with decolonization, but as citizens of those countries migrated to Europe, “race is back in the picture,” he said, “in societies not prepared to address racial issues.”

“Now that there is real racial diversity, this color-blind strategy finds its limits,” Simon said, arguing that the approach — including resistance to directly including race in official data collection — hinders efforts to “change the dynamics of racializing.”

Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin-American History at Harvard and director of the University’s soon-to-launch Afro-Latin American Research Institute, said Latin-American nations have long promoted ideals of mestizaje, or mixing of races, and racial democracy…

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Identity issues

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History on 2013-10-15 00:59Z by Steven

Identity issues

Harvard Gazette

Stephanie Schorow, Harvard Correspondent

‘Black in Latin America’ examines perceptions of race

There were laughs of recognition as Silvio Torres-Saillant, professor of English and humanities at Syracuse University, told a story that underscored a major point of the “Black in Latin America” conference, which kicked off on Jan. 27 at Harvard.

Torres-Saillant, a former director of the Syracuse Latino-Latin American Studies Program, described being approached about joining a black campus caucus some years ago. A representative asked the carefully considered question: “Do you consider yourself more Hispanic or more black?”

His bemused silence may have been seen as an answer by the representative, but it reveals the false dichotomy that, for far too long, has been applied to the study of people of African descent who hail from South, Central, or North America and the Caribbean.

In what many participants called a “historic moment,” scholars from around the world gathered for three days at Harvard to explore issues of race, racial identity, and racism in countries as diverse as Haiti, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. Of the estimated 12.5 million Africans shipped to the New World during the Middle Passage of the slave trade, the vast majority were taken to the Caribbean and Latin America.

“This is not just about Africa; this is not just about Latin America; this is how it all comes together,” said Caroline Elkins, Harvard history professor…

…In the first session of the conference, which focused on racial identity in the Dominican Republic, anthropologist Juan Rodriguez examined how Dominicans emphasize their European ancestry and distinguish themselves from Haitians who are perceived as the darker “other” or even as “foreigners,” even though the two countries share the same land mass.

Yet, Rodriguez said, examination of DNA from maternal lines of Dominicans finds that 85 percent have African ancestors, 9.4 Indian, and less than .08 European. DNA from paternal lines found 58 percent from European ancestors, 36 from African, and 1 percent Indian, he said. This emphasizes the abusive role played by the European male in relation to enslaved native and African women, he said.

In his humorous, yet poignant, remarks, Rodriguez discussed the use of race on Dominican national identification cards, rattling off some of the 12 classifications of skin color from the early 1970s, including white, black, ashen, discolored, so pale as to appear sick, light with freckles or moles, and purple. He also cited the 15 kinds of hair texture that ranged on a spectrum from “bueno” (good) for straight hair to “malo” (bad) for kinky hair.

Frank Moya Pons, a professor of Latin America and a former minister in the Dominican government, discussed his research into census data that reveals just how reluctant Dominicans have been over the decades to call themselves “mulatto,” preferring to identify themselves as Indians or the native people of the region. “We are in the presence of a mulatto population that calls itself Indian, which gives us much food for thought,” he said…

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‘One-drop rule’ persists: Biracials viewed as members of their lower-status parent group

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-11 23:16Z by Steven

‘One-drop rule’ persists: Biracials viewed as members of their lower-status parent group

Harvard Gazette
Harvard Science: Science and Engineering at Harvard University

Steve Bradt, Harvard Staff Writer

Arnold K. Ho (right), a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard, and James Sidanius, a professor of psychology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard, researched the “one-drop rule.” They say their work reflects the cultural entrenchment of America’s traditional racial hierarchy, which assigns the highest status to whites, followed by Asians, with Latinos and blacks at the bottom.

The centuries-old “one-drop rule” assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern-day perception and categorization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry.

So say Harvard University psychologists, who’ve found that we still tend to see biracials not as equal members of both parent groups, but as belonging more to their minority parent group. The research appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Many commentators have argued that the election of Barack Obama, and the increasing number of mixed-race people more broadly, will lead to a fundamental change in American race relations,” says lead author Arnold K. Ho, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard. “Our work challenges the interpretation of our first biracial president, and the growing number of mixed-race people in general, as signaling a color-blind America.”…

…“One of the remarkable things about our research on hypodescent is what it tells us about the hierarchical nature of race relations in the United States,” says co-author James Sidanius, professor of psychology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard. “Hypodescent against blacks remains a relatively powerful force within American society.”…

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A tale of two scholars: The Darwin debate at Harvard

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2010-12-06 22:26Z by Steven

A tale of two scholars: The Darwin debate at Harvard

Harvard Gazette

Louis Agassiz was a scientist with a blind spot—he rejected the theory of evolution

Few people have left a more indelible imprint on Harvard than Louis Agassiz.

An ambitious institution-builder and fundraiser as well as one of the most renowned scientists of his generation, he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) and trained a generation of naturalists in the precise methods of observation and categorization developed in Europe. His wife Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the other half of this Harvard power couple, was co-founder and first president of the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women, the precursor of Radcliffe.

Unfortunately, Agassiz chose the wrong side in what turned out to be the 19th century’s greatest scientific controversy, and as a result ended his career as something of an anachronism. The controversy was over Charles Darwin’sOn the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,” which was published in 1859 and soon won over the younger generation of scientists and intellectuals, including most of Agassiz’s students…

…Agassiz’s idea of nature was an essentially static one: God had placed the various species of plants and animals in specific places around the globe, and there they had remained, in the same forms and quantities as when they were first created. There was a hierarchy to organisms, but not an evolutionary one. Some were more complicated and advanced, but he did not believe as Darwin did that more complicated organisms evolved out of simpler ones.

Agassiz had similar ideas about humans. The five races of man were indigenous to specific sections of the earth. Highest in development were white Europeans. Lowest were black Africans. Agassiz took a very dim view of racial mixing.

In 1863, in a letter to Samuel Gridley Howe, appointed by Lincoln to head the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission, Agassiz expressed his views on the matter: “Conceive for a moment the difference it would make in future ages for the prospect of republican institutions and our civilization generally, if instead of the manly population descended from cognate nations, the United States should hereafter be inhabited by the effeminate progeny of mixed races, half indian, half negro, sprinkled with white blood. In whatever proportion the amalgamation may take place, I shudder at the consequences.”…

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