Book Review of (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive on 2013-12-15 01:48Z by Steven

Book Review of (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

The Skanner
Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington

Kam Williams

Yaba Blay and Noelle Théard (dir. of photography), (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (Philadelphia: BLACKprint Press, 2013)

Traditionally, in America, if you were just a teeny-weeny bit black, you’d always been considered black. This arbitrary color line was even codified by the Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, an 1896 case brought by an octoroon light enough to pass who sued for the right to sit in the “white only” section of a segregated train traveling through the South…

…This means that folks, who only a generation ago would’ve been forced to identify themselves simply as black, now feel much more freedom to avail themselves of an array of alternatives along the ethnic spectrum. (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race is a collection of essays reflecting on racial identity by 60 introspective individuals who until relatively recently would’ve been labeled black in the eyes of the law.

This enlightening opus was edited by Dr. Yaba Blay, a professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University, and each contributor’s entry is accompanied by a proud portrait photographed by Noelle Théard, a professor at Florida International University. The book breaks down the contributors by three categories: “Mixed Black,” “American Black” and “Diaspora Black.”

Although “Black” Kathleen Cross has a black father and a white mother, she has resisted the invitations to join the “Multiracial Movement, which she sees as divisive. By contrast, Harlemite Jozen Cummings describes himself as “Mixed,” with parents who are Japanese, Puerto Rican and African-American…

Read the entire review here.

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Black in America: It’s not just about the color of your skin

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-01-15 19:39Z by Steven

Black in America: It’s not just about the color of your skin

In America: You define America. What defines you?
Cable News Network

Moni Basu

(CNN) – What is black? Race. Culture. Consciousness. History. Heritage.
A shade darker than brown? The opposite of white?
Who is black? In America, being black has meant having African ancestry.
But not everyone fits neatly into a prototypical model of “blackness.”
Scholar Yaba Blay explores the nuances of racial identity and the influences of skin color in a project called (1)ne Drop, named after a rule in the United States that once mandated that any person with “one drop of Negro blood” was black. Based on assumptions of white purity, it reflects a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.
In its colloquial definition, the rule meant that a person with a black relative from five generations ago was also considered black.

Your take on black in America
One drop was codified in the 1920 Census and became pervasive as courts ruled on it as a principle of law. It was not deemed unconstitutional until 1967.
Blay, a dark-skinned daughter of Ghanian immigrants, had always been able to clearly communicate her racial identity. But she was intrigued by those whose identity was not always apparent. Her project focuses on a diverse group of people—many of whom are mixed race—who claim blackness as their identity.
That identity is expanding in America every day. Blay’s intent was to spark dialogue and see the idea of being black through a whole new lens…

…Black and white
California author Kathleen Cross, 50, remembers taking a public bus ride with her father when she was 8. Her father was noticeably uncomfortable that black kids in the back were acting rowdy. He muttered under his breath: “Making us look bad.”
She understood her father was ashamed of those black kids, that he fancied himself not one of them.
“My father was escaping blackness,” she says. “He didn’t like for me to have dark-skinned friends. He never said it. But I know.”
She asked him once if she had ancestors from Africa. He got quiet. Then, he said: “Maybe, Northern Africa.”
“He wasn’t proud of being black,” she says.
Cross’ black father and her white mother never married. Fair-skinned, blue-eyed Cross was raised in a diverse community.
Later, she found herself in situations where she felt shunned by black people. Even light-skinned black people thought she was white.
“Those who relate to the term ‘black’ as a descriptor of color are unlikely to accept me as black,” she says. “If they relate to the term ‘black’ as a descriptor of culture, history and ancestry, they have no difficulty seeing me as black.”
At one time in her life, she wished she were darker—she might have even swallowed a pill to give her instant pigment if there were such a thing. She even wrote about being “trapped in the body of a white woman.” She didn’t want to “represent the oppressor.”
She no longer thinks that way.
She doesn’t like to check the multiracial box. “It erases everything,” she says.
She doesn’t like biracial, either. Or mixed. It’s not her identity.
“There’s only one race,” she says, “and that’s the human race.”

“I am a descendant of a stolen African and Irish and English immigrants. That makes me black—and white—in America…

Read the entire article here.

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