279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-27 01:35Z by Steven

279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Crossing Borders: 2015 Annual Meeting
Eastern Sociological Society
Millennium Broadway Hotel
New York, New York
2015-02-26 through 2015-03-01

Saturday, 2015-02-28, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Organizer: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

Presider: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

  • Transracial Kin-scription: The Silent Engine of Racial Change? Kimberly McClain DaCosta — New York University
  • Emerging Patterns of Interracial Marriage and Immigrant Integration in the United States Daniel Lichter — Cornell University
  • Interracial Marriage in the U.S. and Brazil: Racial Boundaries in Comparative Perspective Chinyere Osuji — Rutgers University
  • A Global Look at Attitudes Towards “Mixed” Marriage Erica Chito-Childs — City University of New York – Hunter College

Discussant: Amy Steinbugler, Dickinson College

For more information, click here.

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Call for Submissions: “Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline,” an anthology edited by Caroline Berz, Jessie Scanlon and Kim Dacosta

Posted in Family/Parenting, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2014-10-28 17:51Z by Steven

Call for Submissions: “Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline,” an anthology edited by Caroline Berz, Jessie Scanlon and Kim DaCosta

When General Mills aired a Cheerios commercial featuring a family with a white mother, a black father and a biracial child, many viewers reacted positively, but the ad’s YouTube page was filled with so much vitriol that the company disabled comments. A white woman calling in to the black comedian D.L. Hughley’s radio show summed up the disgust: “Cereal is white. That has no place at the breakfast table. It’s offensive.” The Cheerios marketing team doubled down, spending $4 million to run a second ad with the family during the Super Bowl, yet many people are still uncomfortable with the very idea of a black/white family. As Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen put it, “people with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York—a white man married to a black woman with two biracial children.” These are the stories of mixed race families that gain national attention. The anger, suspicion, and ignorance they reflect can also be felt in our most mundane daily interactions. Last year, a white man shopping at Walmart with his biracial children was suspected of kidnapping. Black fathers of lighter-skinned children often draw questioning stares, while darker-skinned mothers are often mistaken for “the nanny.”

As a nation we are increasingly multiracial, but mixed race individuals and families are still perceived as an anomaly. For those of us living—and parenting—on the colorline, events like the Cheerios controversy are urgent reminders that the society we are raising our children in is far from “post-racial,” regardless of the election of the first African American/white president. Indeed, since Barack Obama moved into the White House, we’ve seen an increase in violence targeting those of African descent.

How do these issues affect the day-to-day lives of our families? How do they inform the many ways we parent our children, our hopes and dreams—and fears—for them? How do we go about the daily tasks of building and supporting our families, loving our partners, and growing into our own identities as parents when racism continues to be a defining issue in our schools, on our streets, in our government’s policies and sometimes in our own homes?

The essays anthologized in Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline will explore the multiple and complex experiences of parenting children of African and European heritage, and of families formed by transracial adoption. The collection will pay close attention to the ways in which the mixed race identities of children and parents alike are informed by gender, class, sexuality, language and citizenship. The writing will be humorous and lyrical, insightful and critical, and most of all personal, reflecting the joys and challenges of mixed-race parenting.

Topics can include (but are not limited to): pregnancy and birth; adoption; LGBTQ families; interfaith and interracial families; divorce; single-parenting; grandparenting mixed children; racial implications of different parenting philosophies; specifics of parenting mixed girls and boys; gender-nonconforming children and families; special rights children and families; experiences at playgrounds and in mothers’/parents’ groups; schools and education; notions of beauty; bullying; policing; questions of multiculturalism and diversity; individual and family identities that push the boundaries of the black/white binary.

Please send the editors a brief description of your proposed essay (250-300 words), a bio (200-250 words), and a list of previous publications. The essays can range in length and tone, though all should be accessible to a broad audience. Pieces are due on January 15 [2015], and acceptance will depend upon the strength and fit of the completed essay.

Editor Bios:

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Caroline Berz has been engaged in active dialogue around issues of “race” and identity for as long as she can remember. She has worked closely with Facing History and Ourselves for over fifteen years first as an intern, then as a full-time staff member and most recently as a member of the National Teacher Advisory Board and adjunct online facilitator. She has piloted new material on the American eugenics movement, South Africa and Rwanda. She spent a decade as a high school history teacher in Boston area public schools teaching a variety of courses ranging from Modern European History to Modern World History to her personal favorite, a junior/senior elective on Race and Membership. In 2008, she transitioned from being in the classroom full-time to curriculum writing, film education and outreach. Helping schools and communities to become “fluent” in multiculturalism is one of her passions so she enjoys leading diversity workshops in schools for teachers, students and parents. She has a BA in US History from Tufts University and a Masters in Education from Harvard University and is mom to two young children, ages 2 and 6.

Jessie Scanlon has worked as a writer, editor, and journalist for 20 years. After graduating with honors from Brown University, she earned an internship at Wired magazine and worked her way up the masthead to become a senior editor. Along the way she co-authored Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age. After ten years on staff, she became a contributing writer for the magazine. In addition to her pieces for Wired, she has written for national magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Slate, Popular Science, ID, Dwell, Men’s Journal, and TED.com. After four years on staff at BusinessWeek, where she spearheaded its online coverage of innovation and design, she shifted to working primarily in books. Most recently, she helped write Leading the Life You Want, a Wall Street Journal best seller. Jessie lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and two children.

Kim DaCosta, a sociologist, is especially interested in the contemporary production of racial boundaries. Born in Boston and raised in two of its suburbs—both largely white and blue collar—she is the fourth of her Irish mother and Black father’s six children. The experience of growing up in metropolitan Boston of the 1970s and 80s, a time and place uncomfortable with when not outright hostile to interracial families, first sparked her academic interests. Kim’s book, Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line (Stanford 2007), explores the cultural and social underpinnings of the movement to create multiracial collective identity in the United States. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and holds a PhD in sociology from Berkeley. Kim is currently a professor and dean at New York University and is the mother of three children.

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The irony here is that while the discourse of choice in racial identification suggests we as individuals are determining for ourselves who we want to be, in fact we are “choosing” within a given set of epistemological, social, and political conditions that make only certain choices possible.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-03-18 15:03Z by Steven

Similarly, the idea that racial identity can be freely chosen appeals to the high value Americans place on individualism.  The novelty of a mixed racial identity makes one stand out against dominant modes of identification. At the same time, the elaboration of sense of a multiracial group identity makes one feel as if one belongs to a community where one is, if only in one’s perceived marginality, just like everyone else.  The irony here is that while the discourse of choice in racial identification suggests we as individuals are determining for ourselves who we want to be, in fact we are “choosing” within a given set of epistemological, social, and political conditions that make only certain choices possible.

DaCosta, Kimberly McClain, Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line, (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2007), 179.

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The JCMRS inaugural issue will be released Summer, 2013

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2013-03-18 03:35Z by Steven

The JCMRS inaugural issue will be released on Summer, 2013

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
c/o Department of Sociology
SSMS Room 3005
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California  93106-9430
E-Mail: socjcmrs@soc.ucsb.edu

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to developing the field of Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) through rigorous scholarship. Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies.

JCMRS is transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational in focus and emphasizes the critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions and constructions of ‘race.’ JCMRS emphasizes the constructed nature and thus mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. JCMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.

Sponsored by University of California, Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library. JCMRS functions as an open-access forum for critical mixed race studies scholars and will be available without cost to anyone with access to the Internet.

Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 2013 will include:


  1. “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States”—Winthrop Jordan edited by Paul Spickard
  2. “Retheorizing the Relationship Between New Mestizaje and New Multiraciality as Mixed Race Identity Models”—Jessie Turner
  3. “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation,” Keynote Address presented at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, November 5, 2010, DePaul UniversityAndrew Jolivétte
  4. “Only the News We Want to Print”—Rainier Spencer
  5. “The Current State of Multiracial Discourse”—Molly McKibbin
  6. “Slimy Subjects and Neoliberal Goods”—Daniel McNeil

Editorial Board

Founding Editors: G. Reginald Daniel, Wei Ming Dariotis, Laura Kina, Maria P. P. Root, and Paul Spickard

Editor-in-Chief: G. Reginald Daniel

Managing Editors: Wei Ming Dariotis and Laura Kina

Editorial Review Board: Stanley R. Bailey, Mary C. Beltrán, David Brunsma, Greg Carter, Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Michele Elam, Camilla Fojas, Peter Fry, Kip Fulbeck, Rudy Guevarra, Velina Hasu Houston, Kevin R. Johnson, Andrew Jolivette, Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Laura A. Lewis, Kristen A. Renn, Maria P. P. Root, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, Gary B. Nash, Kent A. Ono, Rita Simon, Miri Song, Rainier Spencer, Michael Thornton, Peter Wade, France Winddance Twine, Teresa Williams-León, and Naomi Zack

For more information, click here.

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“Tense and Tender Ties”: a review of Janny Scott’s A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother (2011)

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive on 2012-10-31 00:01Z by Steven

“Tense and Tender Ties”: a review of Janny Scott’s A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother (2011)

Number 108 (2012)
pages 129-140

Kimberly DaCosta, Associate Professor of Sociology; Associate Dean of Students
New York University, Gallatin

Psychologically conflicted, confused, traitorous, tragic, and deracinated: the public vocabulary used to describe multiracial people has hardly changed since the days when state laws banned marriage between black and white. Zeroing in on interracial kinship, Kimberly DaCosta close reads Janny Scott’s biography of Barack Obama’s mother.

My father’s white, I tell them, and rural.
You don’t hate the South? they ask. You don’t hate it?
Natasha Trethewey, “Pastoral”

“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” said Cornel West in an interview published on the political blog, TruthDig in May 2011. “It’s understandable,” he continues, “As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening … Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”

West claims to understand quite a lot about Obama, intuited from the most general facts of his upbringing in an interracial and international family context. According to West, this upbringing has directly shaped (or perhaps “distorted” is the better description from West’s point of view) his political formation, alienating him from his people (“deracination”) and thus making him ideally suited to become what West calls “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”

“It is a tried and true ritual of American politics to interpret interracial intimacy and mixed race subjectivity as a sign of suspect political loyalty.”

When he made these statements, West was participating in a tried and true ritual of American politics—the one in which interracial intimacy and mixed-race subjectivity are interpreted as sign of, or explanation for, suspect or insufficient political loyalty. George W. Bush performed the ritual in 2000, successfully smearing John McCain in the South Carolina Republican primary with a whisper campaign that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock. Most recently, in a widely read and discussed New York Times opinion piece published just a few months after the West interview, Drew Westen, psychologist and self-described “scientist and strategic consultant,” explained Obama’s perceived political betrayal as a consequence of his insufficiently integrated identity. In Obama, Westen writes, we have “a president who either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his reelection. Perhaps those of us who were so enthralled with the magnificent story he told in Dreams from My Father appended a chapter at the end that wasn’t there—the chapter in which he resolves his identity and comes to know who he is and what he believes in” (emphasis added).

These statements rely on familiar stereotypes of mixed race people—psychologically conflicted, confused, race traitors—for their impact, and evidence no more than a cursory knowledge of the details of Obama’s family life. Not that more detail about those relationships matters much to those making these kinds of political speculations. Ideologies, as Barbara Fields reminds us in the New Left Review, “are real, but it does not follow that they [need to be] scientifically accurate” in order to do their work. They work because they reflect the daily rituals that people engage in to make them seem plausible—rituals like the ones West and Westen are performing—that assert, while claiming to merely describe, the political impact of mixed-race subjectivity.

Janny Scott’s biography emerges in this moment in which the political utility of interracialism reveals itself yet again. If statements about the significance of Obama’s upbringing in his political decision-making proceed largely on the basis of supposition and innuendo,A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, published by Riverhead Press, provides some much needed context. Scott did not get to comment on this most recent controversy since the volume went to press before it occurred. Yet, her book can be read as a long (nearly 400-page) retort to those who would so blithely use interracial kinship and mixed-race subjectivity in this way…

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

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Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities [Review: DaCosta]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Identity Development/Psychology, United Kingdom on 2011-09-13 21:15Z by Steven

Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities [Review: DaCosta]

Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews
Volume 40, Number 5 (September 2011)
pages 571-572
DOI: 10.1177/0094306111419111i

Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Associate Professor
Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University

Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities, by Sultana Choudhry. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010. 219 pp. cloth. ISBN: 9780754678601.

Multifaceted Identity of Interethnic Young People: Chameleon Identities is a study of identity choices among South Asian/white individuals in the United Kingdom. The term “South Asian” refers here to peoples with ancestry from the Indian subcontinent, including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Sultana Choudhry situates her study primarily in the social psychology literature and in the growing body of social science literature on mixed race or, to use the author’s preferred term, “interethnic” people in the Anglophone world. In focusing on South Asian/white interethnics, the author begins to fill a gap in both literatures. She rightly points out that there is a relative dearth of research on South Asian/white interethnics in Britain, despite the fact that they comprise a substantial proportion of interethnics in a society in which interethnic births are on the rise.

This is a multi-method study, incorporating semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis, retrospective diary accounts of factors that influenced respondents’ ethnic identity choices and a survey of 87 interethnics of a variety of ethnoracial combinations. While the majority of respondents were interethnic, some phases of the study include monoethnic respondents, including some parents of the interethnic respondents.

While I applaud this use…

Purchase or purchase the review here.

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‘Obama’s My Dad’: Mixed Race Suspects, Political Anxiety and the New Imperialism

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Canada, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2011-09-01 18:26Z by Steven

‘Obama’s My Dad’: Mixed Race Suspects, Political Anxiety and the New Imperialism

thirdspace: a journal of feminist theory & culture
Volume 10, Number 1 (2011)

Rachel Gorman, Lecturer
Women and Gender Studies Institute
University of Toronto

In this article I will argue that the ideology of white supremacy is currently being reproduced as an ideology of political supremacy. I explore narratives of Obama and my father, and bring a transnational feminist framework to an examination of ontological and cultural ideologies of mixed race identity.

All my life I have encountered suspicion about my race. As a child in a working class neighbourhood of Toronto, Canada in the 1970s, my mixed race identity seemed to be an ontological threat to my European immigrant and white settler neighbours, and my ‘Mediterranean’ appearance rendered me unintelligible in relation to Blackness As a pre-teen transplanted to Muscat, Oman in the 1980s, I was intelligible as Arab, which, given Oman’s historical and geographical proximity to Eastern Africa, did not preclude African ancestry. While I was unremarkable at the national school, I was questioned by British ‘expats’ when I circulated in the international neighbourhood, despite (or perhaps because of) the presence of several mixed families. Back in Toronto during the aggressive intensification of war and occupation in the Middle East in the 2000s, my racial ambiguity has become suspicious in new ways. I am dating this shift from September 2000, the beginning of the second Intifada, not September 2001, when the New American Century went prime time. Much happened between the two Septembers–mass protests at the summit on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas at Québec City in April 2001; the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in August 2001. In the weeks following Durban, the global struggle to maintain white supremacy was recast as the will to reestablish American political supremacy. It was also during this time that, as an antiwar and anti-occupation organizer, my racial ambiguity was reconstituted through suspicions over whether I harbour dangerous worldviews…

…A phenomenology of race is useful to continue to dispel the illusions of white supremacists who argue that Obama’s presidency means we are living in a post-racist world. Indeed, there are many questions to be asked about how mixed race people are emerging as tropes of the triumph of a liberal brand of diversity—as Kimberley DaCosta argues, the identity ‘multiracial’ emerged in the US context in part through a struggle over racial categories on government forms, and in part through niche market recognition. In order to resist the tendency to analytically collapse antiracism into advocacy for market inclusion, we need a phenomenology of race that allows us to grasp both ontology and culture in relation to political consciousness…

Read the entire article here.

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Making Multiracials: State, Family, And Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line [Book Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-12-24 04:52Z by Steven

Making Multiracials: State, Family, And Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line [Book Review]

The Black Scholar

Alexes Harris, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Washington

Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line, by Kimberly McClain DaCosta (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007; $30.95, paper, 280 pp; ISBN 10 0-80475546-9).

THIS THOUGHT-PROVOKING book addresses several interesting and important questions about the relatively recent emergence of a multiracial movement in the United States. In Making Multiracials, DaCosta explores a unique racial and ethnic project in the making and asks how and why has a group of people who have been largely invisible to and isolated from one another mobilized for a new census classification? Using a purposively drawn sample of 62 individuals including those who have mixed-race ancestry and those who are in mixed-race relationships, and ethnographic observations of group activities and events around multiracial identity, DaCosta finds that mixed-race individuals become members of multiracial organizations for a sense of belonging, a safe space, and to reflect on their shared experiences…

Read the entire review here.

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Multiracial Politics

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2010-10-10 03:18Z by Steven

It is impossible to evaluate the impact of multiracial politics without attention to historical and social contexts.  Without such contexts, it is tempting to conclude, as many have, that the collective efforts of multiracials are inherently progressive, inherently regressive, or even irrelevant.  Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show, for example, a black/white woman explains to the audience that as a multiracial person she can be a bridge to promote understanding between racial groups.  In hearings over changes to racial classification, opponents to the possibility of the state enumerating mixed descent persons invoke the specter of apartheid South Africa, suggesting that new categories will create an escape hatch from blackness.  At around the same time, some scholars claim that Asian outmarriage reflects Asian self-hatred and is an attempt to leave behind a stigmatized group.  Still others state that the issue is “old news,” not important enough time commenting on it.

DaCosta, Kimberly McClain, Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line, (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2007), 174.

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Integrating Multiple Identities: Multiracials and Asian-Americans in the United States (Review Essay)

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-03-08 21:23Z by Steven

Integrating Multiple Identities: Multiracials and Asian-Americans in the United States (Review Essay)

Canadian Journal of Sociology
Volume 33, Number 2 (2008)
pages 397-403

Wendy D. Roth, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of British Columbia, Canada

Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007, 280pp., paper (978-0-8047-5546-7), hardcover (978-0-8047-5545-0).

Pawan Dhingra, Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007, 328 pp., paper (978-0-8047-5578-8), hardcover (978-0-8047-5577-1).

As the sociological literature has shifted away from a primordial view of race and ethnicity as fixed identities, research has emphasized not only their fluid and changing nature, but also how individuals maintain and negotiate multiple identities. It was not so long ago that ethnic and — especially — racial identities were seen as exclusive: a person could only have one. Today we recognize that people can identify as both White and Black, as both Chinese and Canadian, or that they can create new identities that combine yet are different from any of their constituent parts (e.g., a “Canadian-Born Chinese” identity that is neither Canadian nor Chinese).

Kimberly McClain DaCosta and Pawan Dhingra both take up the question of how people create and legitimize new identities that blend together different, and sometimes conflicting, cultures or sets of meaning. DaCosta focuses on the construction of “multiracial” as a social category and mode of identification, particularly how the family, marketing, and the state contribute to this construction. Dhingra illustrates how professional second-generation Korean-Americans and Indian-Americans in Dallas live out the hybridity they experience on both sides of their hyphen. His groups work in the mainstream economy, allowing them to balance their ethnic and American selves. DaCosta’s book is ultimately a more satisfying contribution, but both works offer valuable illustrations of how groups resist pressures to sublimate one identity into another, and thereby integrate multiple identities into a more complex whole…

Read the entire book review here.

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