Passing: On crossing the color line

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2021-11-03 15:27Z by Steven

Passing: On crossing the color line

CBS Sunday Morning
CBS News

Passing can be a gray area that some biracial or multiracial Americans face when navigating questions of identity and social acceptance, while defining the story we tell about ourselves. “CBS Saturday Morning” co-host Michelle Miller talks with Rebecca Hall, Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, the director and stars of the new film “Passing,” and with writers Lise Funderburg and Allyson Hobbs, about the social history of passing, and its impact upon perception and power.

It’s been a theme in Hollywood for years, from “Imitation of Life,” to “The Human Stain.” And off-screen, the subject of “passing” – crossing the color line – is just as complex.

“The world perceives me as White, at least visually,” said Chicago lawyer Martina Hone, who has lived her whole life balancing her Black mother’s identity with her European father’s privilege.

“CBS Saturday Morning” co-host Michelle Miller asked, “Have you ever passed at any point in your life?”…

Read the story here.

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Racism ‘won’t go away’ even if we’re all mixed-race in the future

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Justice, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2019-06-19 00:56Z by Steven

Racism ‘won’t go away’ even if we’re all mixed-race in the future

Natalie Morris, Senior lifestyle Reporter

The idea of ‘divide and conquer’ harks back thousands of years.

Whether it is by gender, class, wealth or race, humans love walling themselves into distinct categories then using those categories to create hierarchies.

In the case of race, this hierarchical distinction ended up with slavery, countless programmes of ethnic cleansing and the retention of ‘othering’ based on the colour of skin even to the present day.

But what happens if we take away these racial categories that divide us into subgroups?

If, instead of defining as black, white, Asian or any other singular category, we defined ourselves as a little bit of everything, would it herald the dawn of a more accepting, ‘post-racial’ age?

And would that mean racism would end?…

Read the entire article here.

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Why A New Mixed Race Generation Will Not Solve Racism

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2017-02-11 02:42Z by Steven

Why A New Mixed Race Generation Will Not Solve Racism


Lauren Michele Jackson, BuzzFeed Contributor
Chicago, Illinois

A promotional still from A United Kingdom. Fox Searchlight Pictures

Love may trump hate, but it can’t cure white supremacy.

On January 23, Chrissy Teigen — model,domestic goddess,” and number one John Legend troll — decided to have some fun with Richard Spencer on Twitter. Now best known as the neo-Nazi who got punched at the January 20 presidential inauguration, Spencer was salving his wounded pride with a “selection of Nelson Mandela quotes. 😉”. The tweet to which Teigen responded, however, was actually a quote from Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become,” Spencer tweeted. Teigen’s @reply: “you became someone who was punched in the face.”

When Spencer attempted to embarrass Teigen, implying she was not educated enough to recognize a quote from Mandela (while, again, the quote in question was not from Mandela), Teigen responded with “you are a literally a nazi. I don’t even need to come up with a comeback. Thanks, nazi!” Teigen meanwhile tweeted to her followers sans @reply, “Hey guys, just conversing with a literal nazi over here wyd,” followed by “Nothing I could say will piss him off more than the fact I have a black/asian/white baby. Life is grand.”.

A month prior, Ellen Pompeo of Grey’s Anatomy summoned her black husband and mixed children in a similar maneuver, if under slightly different circumstances. Against criticism she received for her usage of brown emojis in a tweet applauding A&E’s decision to revamp its (now canceled) docuseries on the KKK, Pompeo told followers, “You do realize…being married to a black man and having black children can make you a target from racist white people right? That’s a thing.” In response to one user’s taunt (“SHUT UP, WHITE LADY”) she tweeted, “That’s white lady with a black husband and black children to you babe.”

In their respective contexts, the tweets from Teigen and Pompeo look very different if not completely contradictory. Chrissy Teigen snubs the nose of a professed white supremacist and flounces away with her superstar black husband and multiracial child; Pompeo calls up her black husband and children to deflect criticism. And yet, very similarly, both position interracial relationships — implied in Teigen’s case — and multiracial children as the antidote to racism. That they are both able to invoke this rationale so congruently points to a culture-wide infatuation with interracial relationships and their heteronormative outcome, multiracial children. In advertising, on film, and on TV, there is a common preference for multiracial-looking people, along with the belief that they represent a utopian political future. Why do multiracial children so often function as the antonym for racism? What is the political value of an interracial relationship? The notion that cream-colored babies will save the world is a popular one. Unfortunately, it’s a myth…

Read the entire article here.

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“Evoking the Mulatto” Screening + Panel Discussion

Posted in Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-11-20 02:57Z by Steven

“Evoking the Mulatto” Screening + Panel Discussion

The National Black Programming Consortium

Tune in Thursday, November 19, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM ET for a back-to-back screening of all four episodes from “Evoking the Mulatto,” a transmedia project about 21st-century mixed black identity. A discussion will follow with Judy Pryor-Ramirez, director of Civic Engagement & Social Justice at the New School; Lise Funderburg, author of “Black, White, Other” and the 2013 National Geographic article “The Changing Face of America“; plus “Evoking the Mulatto” interviewee Giovanna Fischer and the project’s creator, Lindsay Harris.

View the entire presentation (01:35:55) here.

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4th Annual “What Are You?” with Lacey Schwartz’s “Little White Lie”

Posted in Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2015-06-08 12:46Z by Steven

4th Annual “What Are You?” with Lacey Schwartz’s “Little White Lie”

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Monday, 2015-06-08, 18:30-21:00 EDT (Local Time)

A BHS “Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations” program.

Top: Lacey Schwartz, photo by Michael Hill; Bottom: Lise Funderburg, photo by Tigist Tsegie

On the week of Loving Day 2015, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz comes to BHS to presents her provocative documentary about being a biracial woman who grew up believing she was white, Little White Lie, as part of our 4th Annual What Are You? program looking at mixed heritage and identity.

Lise Funderburg, the author of the ground-breaking book on multiracial identity, Black, White, Other leads Schwartz in a post-screening talkback.

For more information and to reserve a free ticket, click here.

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The Mixed Marriage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Family/Parenting, Interviews, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-01-12 16:18Z by Steven

The Mixed Marriage

The New York Times

Interview by Lise Funderburg

Lise Funderburg, a journalist, interviewed Yael Ben-Zion, a photographer raised in Israel, about her new book, “Intermarried,” published by Kehrer, which features families from the Washington Heights neighborhood where she lives with her French husband and 5-year-old twins.

Q. What inspired this project?

A. I saw an Israeli television campaign that showed faces on trees and bus stops, like missing children ads. A voice-over said, “Have you seen these people? Fifty percent of young Jewish people outside of Israel marry non-Jews. We are losing them.” I happen to be married to a person who is not Jewish. And, so for me it was, “Aah, they’re losing me.” I’m not religious, but this campaign made me wonder more generally why people choose to live with someone who is not from their immediate social group, and what challenges they face.

Q. How did you establish your taxonomy for what qualified as mixed?

A. I wasn’t going to go in the street and ask couples if they were mixed. I didn’t grow up here; I didn’t even know what terminology to use. But I live in a very diverse Manhattan community that has an online parent list with more than 2,000 families on it. I put up an ad saying I was looking for couples that define themselves as mixed. I said it could be different religion, ethnicity or social background. I didn’t use the word race, because I wasn’t sure how politically correct that was. All the couples who responded are either interfaith or interracial or both, but my goal from the beginning wasn’t to create some statistical visual document. For example, I have hardly any Asian people, and I don’t think there are any Muslims, and the reason is that they didn’t approach me…

Read the entire interview and view the slide shows here.

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Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity [20th Anniversary Edition]

Posted in Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-11-15 18:52Z by Steven

Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity [20th Anniversary Edition]

Smashwords Edition
October 2013
146,200 words (approximate)
eBook ISBN: 9781301877591

Lise Funderburg

In this 20th anniversary edition of the landmark “Black, White, Other,” journalist Lise Funderburg explores the lives of adult children of black/white unions. Her subjects’ unflinching honesty, whipsmart humor, and deep feeling result in a stunning — and enduring — portrait of race in America. New foreword by novelist Mat Johnson and links to updated commentary from the original participants.

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Visualizing Race, Identity, and Change

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-23 01:06Z by Steven

Visualizing Race, Identity, and Change

National Geographic

Michele Norris, Guest Contributor

Proof is National Geographic’s new online photography experience. It was launched to engage ongoing conversations about photography, art, and journalism. In addition to featuring selections from the magazine and other publications, books, and galleries, this site will offer new avenues for our audience to get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Geographic storytelling process. We view this as a work in progress and welcome feedback as the site evolves. We can be reached at

A feature in National Geographic‘s October 125th anniversary issue looks at the changing face of America in an article by Lise Funderburg, with portraits of multiracial families by Martin Schoeller, that celebrates the beauty of multiracial diversity and shows the limitations around our current categories when talking about race.

In many ways race is about difference and how those differences are codified through language, categories, boxes, segmentation, and even the implicit sorting that goes on in our heads in terms of the way we label others and even ourselves.

Appearance and identity are most certainly linked when it comes to racial categories, but there is another important ingredient in that stew: Experience. There is no room for that on those official census forms, but when a person picks up a writing instrument to choose which box they check, experience most certainly helps guide their hand…

Read the article and view the photographs here.

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The Changing Face of America

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-14 00:52Z by Steven

The Changing Face of America

National Geographic Magazine
October 2013
Special 125th Anniversary Issue: The Power of Photography

Lise Funderburg

Photography by Martin Schoeller

Lise Funderburg is the author of Black, White, Other and Pig Candy. When asked, “What are you?” she often describes herself as a woman of some color.

We’ve become a country where race is no longer so black or white.

What is it about the faces on these pages that we find so intriguing? Is it simply that their features disrupt our expectations, that we’re not used to seeing those eyes with that hair, that nose above those lips? Our responses can range from the armchair anthropologist’s benign desire to unravel ancestries and find common ground to active revulsion at group boundaries being violated or, in the language of racist days past, “watered down.”

Out in the world, the more curious (or less polite) among us might approach, asking, “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” We look and wonder because what we see—and our curiosity—speaks volumes about our country’s past, its present, and the promise and peril of its future.

The U.S. Census Bureau has collected detailed data on multiracial people only since 2000, when it first allowed respondents to check off more than one race, and 6.8 million people chose to do so. Ten years later that number jumped by 32 percent, making it one of the fastest growing categories. The multiple-race option has been lauded as progress by individuals frustrated by the limitations of the racial categories established in the late 18th century by German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who divided humans into five “natural varieties” of red, yellow, brown, black, and white. Although the multiple-race option is still rooted in that taxonomy, it introduces the factor of self-determination. It’s a step toward fixing a categorization system that, paradoxically, is both erroneous (since geneticists have demonstrated that race is biologically not a reality) and essential (since living with race and racism is). The tracking of race is used both to enforce antidiscrimination laws and to identify health issues specific to certain populations…

Read the entire article here. View the photographs here.

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An Interview with Lise Funderburg

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2013-07-28 23:36Z by Steven

An Interview with Lise Funderburg

Hot Metal Bridge: published by Writing MFA students at the University of Pittsburgh
Spring 2009 (All The Way Down)

Interview by Liberty Hultberg

Lise Funderburg is the author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity (1994) and the memoir Pig Candy (2008), which has been described as part memoir, part travelogue, and part social history, about race, mortality, filial duty…and barbecue. She has written numerous articles for publications including O Magazine, Self Magazine. She is a creative writing instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and resides in Philadelphia.

HMB: What prompted you to write Pig Candy? At what point did you know this needed to be a book?

LF: My dad got sick and almost died. I was in my late thirties, and I realized, suddenly, that he wasn’t going to be around forever. He recovered fully from that incident, but I realized there were things about my father that I just didn’t know because he’d been a very close-to-the-vest kind of person growing up. I wanted to figure out who he was; he was a curious combination of disparate elements. He was hardworking and reliable and charming and funny and unpredictable and cantankerous and mean and abusive. He was a very strict father, but in some ways he didn’t care about formalities at all. So who was this man and what made him tick?

I thought: Here’s this guy who’s so different from me demographically. He’s a man born in the twenties right before the Great Depression into the Jim Crow South in Monticello, a rural Georgia town. He grew up Black, and I grew up a mixed race girl in the integrated North in an urban environment during Civil Rights. There’s so much about what shaped his life that I don’t know anything about and how will I find this out? So I started to interview him. I was already a journalist, so I had this idea that maybe it was a book, but I didn’t really know what form the book was going to take. I interviewed him on safe subjects, which were his jobs; he was such a hardworking person that I thought this was something he’ll talk to me about, and it wouldn’t have the goopy, unpleasant (to him) qualities of emotion…

Read the entire interview here.

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