Land of the Cosmic Race

Posted in Anthropology, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-03-08 01:34Z by Steven

Land of the Cosmic Race

Sociological Forum
Volume 30, Issue 1 (March 2015)
pages 248-251
DOI: 10.1111/socf.12157

Martha King
Graduate Center
City University of New York

Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico. Christina A. Sue. New York: University of Oxford Press, 2013.

In Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico, Christina A. Sue makes significant theoretical and empirical contributions to the field of racial and ethnic studies and to its growing subfield of comparative investigation. These contributions are more impressive because they stem from Sue’s dissertation and compose her first book. Her study is an ambitious ethnography exploring Mexicans’ negotiation of racial and national ideology at a micro level, as well as the themes of mestizaje (race mixture), racism, racial identity construction, and blackness in everyday discourse. Sue’s qualitative approach richly blends various sources: participant observation, interviews, and focus groups. Her fieldwork was conducted between 2003 and 2005 in Mexico’s urbanized Veracruz region, which lies on the coast southeast of Mexico City. As in comparable metropolitan areas in Mexico, the majority of residents are mestizo while a smaller proportion is indigenous. Veracruz, however, is unique because it is home to a higher proportion of people of African descent and its residents have more phenotypical variation. It was a major gateway for African slaves and has acted in recent years as an entry point for migrant black Cubans.

For much of Mexico’s colonial period, blacks outnumbered whites (p. 11). Finding segregation increasingly difficult to maintain because of race mixing, colonial authorities implemented a hierarchical caste system based on race, color, culture, and socioeconomic status with Spaniards at the top, then mixed-race individuals, Indians, and Africans at the bottom. During the postrevolutionary period, Mexican leaders and elites celebrated mestizo identity as the foundation of Mexican nationalism and distinction. This ideological turn was intended to cope with indigenous marginalization and social divisions and evade the period’s rampant scientific racism that would see Mexico as a less capable or worthy nation due to its black and indigenous population.

This postrevolutionary ideology is the foundation for Mexico’s contemporary national ideology. Sue describes contemporary national ideology as composed of three pillars. The first pillar is that of mestizaje, which upholds race mixture as positive and quintessentially Mexican (p. 15). The second pillar is nonracism, meaning Mexico is a country free of racism. Sue’s informants consistently confirm that because Mexico’s national identity is based on race mixture, then racism is inconceivable. The third pillar is nonblackness or the “minimization or erasure of blackness from Mexican national image, both as a separate racial category and as a component of the mestizo population” (p. 16). Sue argues persuasively that these three pillars are complementary in facilitating racial discrimination and the privileging of whiteness in Mexico.

Sue’s overarching question is how do individuals respond to, manage, and resolve the contradictions between Mexico’s national ideology and their daily experiences of white privilege and discrimination toward people of African descent (p. 5). Sue’s data persuasively show that mechanisms and discourse at the micro level play pivotal parts of reproducing ideology and social hierarchy in Mexico. Her work reminds us that elites do not, on their own, develop and maintain dominant ideologies. Instead, “the social force behind ideology lies in the popular realm” (p. 8)…

Read the entire review here.

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The End of the One-Drop Rule? Labeling of Multiracial Children in Black Intermarriages

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-03-08 20:37Z by Steven

The End of the One-Drop Rule? Labeling of Multiracial Children in Black Intermarriages

Sociological Forum
Volume 20, Number 1 (March, 2005)
pages 35-67
Print ISSN: 0884-8971, Online ISSN: 1573-7861
DOI: 10.1007/s11206-005-1897-0

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

The identity choices of multiracial individuals with Black heritage have traditionally been limited in America by the one-drop rule, which automatically designated them as Black. This paper evaluates the rules contemporary influence and argues that, with increasing interracial marriage, options in racial identification are now available to this group. Using the 5% 1990 and 2000 Public Use Microdata Samples, I consider how children from Black intermarriages are racially identified by their families and, using 2000 data, evaluate theoretical hypotheses to explain identification processes. The results show that most families with Black intermarriages reject the one-drop rule, but that Black–White families create unique interracial options, the implications of which are considered.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Mother’s, Father’s, or Both? Parental Gender and Parent-Child Interactions in the Racial Classification of Adolescents

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2009-08-18 03:35Z by Steven

Mother’s, Father’s, or Both? Parental Gender and Parent-Child Interactions in the Racial Classification of Adolescents

Jenifer L. Bratter, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban Research
Rice University

Holly E. Heard
Rice University

Sociological Forum
Volume 24, Number 3, September 2009
pages 658-688
DOI: 10.1111/j.1573-7861.2009.01124.x

Research on racial identification in interracial families shows that children are more likely to be labeled as minority if the father is of minority race. Yet, prior studies have not sufficiently considered the role of parent-child relationships in shaping children’s identification with either mother’s or father’s race.  We address this limitation using data on 706 adolescents in interracial families from Wave 1 of Add Health.  We examine whether adolescents identify with their mother’s race or with their father’s race, as opposed to selecting a multiracial identity, within specific combinations of parents’ races. We also explore whether indicators of parental involvement (i.e., quantity and quality of involvement, educational involvement, and social control) explain any gender effects. Contrary to prior studies, we find that the tendency to match father’s race is only true in black/white households, particularly if he is white, while adolescents in Asian/white families tend to match mothers regardless of her race. Moreover, while father’s involvement, particularly educational involvement, was more likely than mother’s to influence racial classification, adjusting for involvement does not explain gender patterns.  This study shows that the well-known gender influences on parenting have little to do with the complex ways parent-child relationships impact racial classification.

Read the entire paper proposal for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, 2006 here.

Read or purchase the article here.

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