Is Being Biracial an Advantage for Obama?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-08-04 02:33Z by Steven

Is Being Biracial an Advantage for Obama?

ABC News

Emily Friedman

The son of a black man and a white woman, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., says he’s seen and heard it all.
From his grandmother’s fear of black men on the street to his former pastor’s perceived anti-American rants, Obama said Tuesday that after a lifetime straddling the line between black and white he remains hopeful that a “more perfect union” is, in fact, possible.
Several biracial individuals with similar backgrounds agreed that living both sides of the racial experience may offer an unique perspective on bridging the racial divide.
“All of us who have those experiences are given the gift of a life lesson in bridging artificial divisions to arrive at common hopes and values,” said Lise Funderburg who is biracial and the author of “Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity.”
“All of us who have that background have the opportunity to make this positive thing out of it, and Obama has seized that opportunity,” Funderburg said.
But not everyone was certain Obama’s views and motives were were so clear cut. Biracial writer Shelby Steele told that he thinks Obama’s use of his background was “disingenuous.” He believes the ruminations about mixed heritage show Obama to be not an expert but rather a man confused about his racial identity.
“Obama is a black man with a white mother. Being biracial is an impossibility,” said Steele, who said that no matter what, when Obama walks down the street he is viewed as a black man. “How could you possibly live as both? If you didn’t know his mother was white, you’d say he’s black and you wouldn’t have a second thought.”
“He’s confused,” said Steele of Obama. “Are you really black or are you playing the biracial card?”
Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor and director of the WEB Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, is considered one of the country’s leading black intellectuals and he believes politics was the major motivation at play in the Tuesday appeal…

…Being biracial, said Funderburg, allows a person insight into two very different worlds … a useful tool when trying to mediate issues between them…

Read the entire article here.

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Reflections: An Anthology of African-American Philosophy, 1st Edition

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Science, United States, Women on 2012-02-06 05:26Z by Steven

Reflections: An Anthology of African-American Philosophy, 1st Edition

Cengage Learning
464 pages
Paperback ISBN-10: 0534573932  ISBN-13: 9780534573935

Edited by:

James Montmarquet, Professor of Philosophy
Tennessee State University

William Hardy, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion
Tennessee State University

This anthology provides the instructor with a sufficient quantity, breadth, and diversity of materials to be the sole text for a course on African-American philosophy. It includes both classic and more contemporary readings by both professional philosophers and other people with philosophically intriguing viewpoints. The material provided is diverse, yet also contains certain themes which instructors can effectively employ to achieve the element of unity. One such theme, the debate of the “nationalist” focus on blackness vs. the many critics of this focus, runs through a great number of issues and readings.

Table of Contents

  • Preface.
  • Introduction.
    • 1. W.E.B. DuBois: From The Souls of Black Folk.
    • 2. Molefi K. Asante: Racism, Consciousness, and Afrocentricity.
    • 3. Kwame Anthony Appiah: Racisms.
    • 4. J. L. A. Garcia: The Heart of Racisms. Contemporary Issue: Views on “Mixed Race”.
    • 5. Naomi Zack: Mixed Black and White Race and Public Policy.
    • 6. Lewis R. Gordon: Race, Biraciality, and Mixed Race-In Theory.
    • 7. Martin R. Delaney: The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored Peoples of the United States.
    • 8. Frederick Douglass: The Future of the Negro, The Future of the Colored Race, The Nation’s Problem, and On Colonization.
    • 9. Marcus Garvey: From Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
    • 10. Maulana Karenga: The Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Their Meaning and Message.
    • 11. Molefi K. Asante: The Afrocentric Idea in Education.
    • 12. Cornel West: The Four Traditions of Response. Contemporary Issue: “Ebonics”.
    • 13. Geneva Smitherman: Black English/Ebonics: What it Be Like?
    • 14. Milton Baxter: Educating Teachers about Educating the Oppressed. Feminism, Womanism, and Gender Relations.
    • 15. Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?
    • 16. Patricia Hill Collins: The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought.
    • 17. bell hooks: Reflections on Race and Sex.
    • 18. Angela P. Harris: Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory.
    • 19. Charles W. Mills: Do Black Men Have a Moral Duty to Marry Black Women? Contemporary Issue: Women’s Rights and Black Nationalism.
    • 20. E. Francis White: Africa on My Mind: Gender, Counterdiscourse, and African American Nationalism.
    • 21. Amiri Baraka: Black Woman. Violence, Liberation, and Social Justice.
    • 22. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
    • 23. Malcolm X: Message to the Grass Roots.
    • 24. Howard McGary: Psychological Violence, Physical Violence, and Racial Oppression.
    • 25. Laurence M. Thomas: Group Autonomy and Narrative Identity. Contemporary Issue: Affirmative Action.
    • 26. Bernard Boxill: Affirmative Action.
    • 27. Shelby Steele: Affirmative Action. Ethics and Value Theory.
    • 28. Alain Locke: Values and Imperatives.
    • 29. Michele M. Moody-Adams: Race, Class, and the Social Construction of Self-Respect.
    • 30. Laurence M. Thomas: Friendship.
    • 31. Cornel West: Nihilism in Black America.
    • 32. Katie G. Cannon: Unctuousness as a Virtue: According to the Life of Zora Neale Hurston. Contemporary Issue: A Classic Question of Values, Rights, and Education.
    • 33. Booker T. Washington: Atlanta Exposition Address.
    • 34. W.E.B. DuBois: The Talented Tenth.
    • 35. Patricia J. Williams: Alchemical Notes: Reconstructing Ideals from Deconstructed Rights.
    • 36. Regina Austin: Sapphire Bound!
    • 37. Derrick Bell: Racial Realism-After We’re Gone: Prudent Speculations on America in a Post-Racial Epoch.
    • 38. John Arthur: Critical Race Theory: A Critique. Contemporary Issue: Racist Hate Speech.
    • 39. Charles Lawrence and Gerald Gunther: Prohibiting Racist Speech: A Debate. Aesthetics.
    • 40. James Baldwin: Everybody’s Protest Novel.
    • 41. Larry Neal: The Black Arts Movement.
    • 42. Angela Y. Davis: Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”: Music and Social Consciousness.
    • 43. Ralph Ellison: Blues People. Contemporary Issue: Rap Music.
    • 44. Crispin Sartwell: Rap Music and the Uses of Stereotype.
    • 45. Kimberle Crenshaw: Beyond Racism and Misogyny: Black Feminism and 2 Live Crew. Philosophy and Theology.
    • 46. David Walker: David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United stated.
    • 47. James H. Cone: God and Black Theology.
    • 48. Victor Anderso: Ontological Blackness in Theology.
    • 49. Anthony Pinn: Alternative Perspectives and Critiques. Contemporary Issue: Womanist Theology and the Traditionalist Black Church.
    • 50. Cheryl J. Sanders: Christian Ethics and Theology in a Womanist Perspective.
    • 51. Delores Williams: Womanist Reflections on “the Black Church,” the African-American Denominational Churches and the Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church.
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Room For Debate: The ‘Two or More Races’ Dilemma

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2011-02-13 23:13Z by Steven

Room For Debate: The ‘Two or More Races’ Dilemma

The New York Times

In Room for Debate, The New York Times invites knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues.


An article in a Times series on the growing mixed-race population in the United States describes a debate over new Education Department rules for how schools from kindergarten through college count students by race and ethnicity. Students of mixed parentage who choose more than one race will be placed in a “two or more races” category.

But those identifying themselves as Hispanic will be reported only as Hispanic, regardless of their race. Some civil rights leaders and educators say that these new classifications will complicate efforts to track academic inequities and represent a step backward in addressing them.

Do the new federal requirements make sense? What are the possible pitfalls?


“Why Race Still Matters”
Anthony P. Carnevale, Research Professor and Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
Georgetown University

“‘Check One’ Didn’t Work”
Susan Graham, Executive Director
Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally)

“Identity and Demography”
Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law
Harvard Law School

“The New Color Wheel”
Eric Liu
Author of The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker (1998)

“Racism and the Multiracial Label”
Rainier Spencer, Director and Professor of Afro-American Studies; Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Author of Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix (2011)

“Take the Politics Out of Race”
Shelby Steele, Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution

“Race, Poverty and Educational Equity”
Gerald Torres, Professor of Law
University of Texas, Austin

…The change endangers the accurate monitoring of civil rights compliance in education. Despite the important gains of the civil rights movement, much discrimination still exists, albeit in less overt forms. Civil rights compliance monitoring—the use of racial statistics to uncover suspicious patterns in education, housing, employment, etc.—is our very best means of detecting covert and institutional discrimination. It is the reason for all those “check boxes” for racial identity that no one loves…

…People, including students, are not discriminated against on the basis of being mixed-race, but rather on the basis of being one part of that mixture The federal race categories, crude as they might be, allow us to track how people are treated based on how they are perceived by others. The dangerous result of the Education Department’s provision will be two-fold.

On one hand, the “two or more races” category will provide no useful data for compliance monitoring; while on the other, real racial discrimination against some students will go untracked by the compliance monitoring apparatus because students who check more than one box will not be placed in the categories that are in fact motivating their unjust treatment…

Rainier Spencer

…But a new generation has arrived, more mixed than any before, and these young Americans are quite uninterested in seeking permission to sit in one of four or five colored boxes. Today’s multiracial Americans are at greater liberty to choose how they’d like to be seen, and under less pressure to pass for white.This is progress. At the same time, the blurring of race labels is neither the dawn of colorblindness nor the dusk of racism. Go to a place like Rio (or, for that matter, New Orleans), where people of many races mix, where there are many fine distinctions of shade—and where lighter is still usually seen as better.If whiteness were of no particular advantage, then having a fuller color wheel of skin tones would be purely a matter of celebration. But whiteness – just a drop of it – does still carry privilege. You learn that very young in America…Eric Liu

…This conflation of race and ethnicity inevitably distorts the diagnosis of the unique educational problems of black Hispanics—or, worse yet, averages them into obsolescence. This is particularly harmful because false or partial diagnosis of any problem inevitably produces less effective policy responses…Anthony P. Carnevale

…All children are worthy of recognition of their entire heritage. If we teach our children to tell the truth and then stand in the way of them doing that on school forms, we are missing the point. If accurate data are what we want, true identity of our students is what we must collect and reflect.We are not asking for a piece of the pie, but we need to be reflected on those data pie charts. Tracking the multiracial population is no less important than tracking any other group…Susan Graham

…Categorizing and counting students by race still has relevance since blacks and Latinos continue to experience educational inequality as shown by achievement data and the resources available in the public schools they attend. Where poverty and race are linked these problems are compounded……The rise of multiracial identification stems from a resistance to obdurate historical racial categories and the reality that there are more children now with parents of different races. Do you erase part of who you are if you are forced to choose one race over another when you really feel like you are part of both? Do you diminish the political power of a historically oppressed group if you do not choose to make that group your primary identifier? And who gets to say who you are anyway?…Gerald Torres

Read the entire debate here.

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