The Privilege of Racial Identity

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2022-05-20 15:53Z by Steven

The Privilege of Racial Identity

The Spectator: The University of Wisconsin-Eau-Claire’s Student Newspaper Since 1923

Kiara Jackson

I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself.

Mixed people do not owe anyone an explanation for their Blackness.

No one gets to decide their race. But most people get the privilege to say “I’m Black,” or “I’m Native Hawaiian.” They get the privilege of knowing exactly where they come from, exactly what to tell people when asked and exactly what bubble to fill in on standardized tests.

They get the privilege of racial identity.

Being mixed, you don’t get this same privilege. I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Running from Race

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2022-02-22 20:37Z by Steven

Running from Race

On Wisconsin
Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (alumni and friends of the University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Harvey Long MA’16, Librarian, Assistant Professor
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina

Ethelene Whitmire, Professor
Departments of Afro-American Studies; German, Nordic, and Slavic; andGender & Women’s Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Louise Butler Walker as a young Chicagoan: while she was growing up and as a UW student, she identified as Black. Later in her career, facing the limitations Black Americans experienced, she began to pass as white. COURTESY OF THE AUTHORS

Librarian Louise Butler Walker ’35 took desperate measures to survive in a racist society.

During the Great Depression, Louise Butler Walker ’35 completed her bachelor’s in French and earned a library diploma from what is now UW–Madison’s Information School. Walker had been an outstanding student, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and completed a prestigious internship at the American Library Association (ALA) headquarters in Chicago. The school’s career placement office said her assets were her “brilliant mind” and “excellent academic background.” Her limitations, they said, were “racial (she is a mulatto).”

As a local librarian, Walker (at right in photo) became a prominent figure in Fort Atkinson. COURTESY OF THE AUTHORS

Although Walker was not privy to the egregious behind-the-scenes machinations and handwringing about her being Black, she knew that her race was detrimental to her career, so she eventually passed as white to work as a librarian in rural Wisconsin. Her story reveals the extraordinary pressures that African Americans faced…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Graduate Student Breaks Ground on Multiracial Student Experiences

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-04-14 01:27Z by Steven

Graduate Student Breaks Ground on Multiracial Student Experiences

The Black Voice

L. Malik Anderson

Brittany Ota walks into the Center for Cultural Enrichment housed in Witte Hall, places her jacket on the shoulders of her office chair, sits her purse under her desk, and clocks in every Monday at 11 a.m. to begin another week of providing university resources and emotional support to students.

“I get to work closely with amazing students, many students of color, through my work on campus. From which I learn and grow every day,” she said.

Ota serves as the supervisor for the CCE. In addition, she also works as and teaching assistant/ instructor and as the office associate at Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) department while pursuing a doctorate in the same concentration…

…Ota grew up in Pasadena, CA, a racially diverse area, with a Black mother and Japanese father. She has a twin who always reminds her that he is one minute older than her.

“I always knew that I was different but I always knew that I was Black too. Nobody ever challenged my Blackness,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

An Interview with UW’s Lynet Uttal: Making the Asian American experience visible through learning

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-09-07 01:02Z by Steven

An Interview with UW’s Lynet Uttal: Making the Asian American experience visible through learning

Asian Wisconzine
Volume 7, Number 9 (September 2011)

Heidi M. Pascual

Part 1 of 2

It was “quite an accident of fate” that Lynet Uttal became the director of the  University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Asian American Studies Program. Although Uttal has been a faculty affiliate of Asian American Studies since 2003, she never considered being in that position.

“I was in Mexico on sabbatical when I received an email from then director Leslie  Bow asking me if I would consider being the next director,” Uttal said in an interview with Asian Wisconzine. “Although I teach about Asian Americans in my courses, yet I never considered myself as doing research about Asian Americans or being part of the field of Asian American Studies.”

Four years into her position, Uttal has loved her work as she learned the importance of the program in terms of education offering and how it also helps her grow professionally.

“I love being the director of the Asian American Studies Program because the program is very important for the mission of the University as well as for my own professional growth as a race scholar,” she explained. “I have grown in the last four years to believe that the Asian American Studies Program is important because Asian Americans are a racialized group in the United States that is invisible in the practices and understanding of race in the the United States. For example, although it was Asian American graduate students who were extremely active in creating all of the ethnic studies programs and ethnic studies requirement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, very little has been done to acknowledge their activism and contributions.  Yet, Asian Americans have a history in U.S. society parallel to African Americans in terms of having experienced legal exclusions and discrimination on the basis of race.”

Uttal has a mixed racial, cultural and national background, with a Japanese American mother and a Russian American Jewish father, but according to her, neither of these cultures (which were not mainstream Euro-American) was used to create a sense of ethnic identity in her parents’ home.

“My mother is a Japanese American who grew up in Japan from age 9-23 years and returned to the U.S., almost as if she were a Japanese immigrant,” Uttal said.  “She raised my two sisters and me to think of ourselves as American, because according to Japanese standards we certainly were not Japanese.  But we also were not Japanese American.  The cultural and socialization values in the home I grew up in reflected my Japanese grandparents’ values as well as my mother’s transnational identity ideas, and also father’s upbringing as a Russian American Jewish father.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

“My Daughter Married a Negro”: Interracial Relationships in the United States as Portrayed in Popular Media, 1950-1975

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-08-06 04:03Z by Steven

“My Daughter Married a Negro”: Interracial Relationships in the United States as Portrayed in Popular Media, 1950-1975

Journal of Undergraduate Research
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Volume VIII (2005)
13 pages

Melissa Magnuson-Cannady

Between 1948 and 1967, thirty states either repealed their anti-miscegenation laws or the states’ laws themselves were struck down as unconstitutional by the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision. Although these laws were slowly being annulled, interracial relationships, especially Black-White relationships, were still considered taboo in much of the country. This research project critically examines how mainstream America thought about interracial relationships during and after those years as portrayed in popular culture media outlets such as popular magazines and periodicals, newspapers, and one major film. The articles and productions reveal both continuity and change over time and that many of those articles and productions were reactions to national events and court cases. After examining various articles it becomes clear that as more states repealed laws banning interracial relationships, more people accepted interracial relationships as long as interracial couples did not move into their neighborhoods, or involve their children. Currently, while there is an ever-increasing population of people involved in interracial relationships, this fact is not widely depicted in advertisements, on television, or in movies, revealing vestiges of an out-dated taboo.


The author of “My Daughter Married a Negro” chose not to reveal his identity when he wrote this story detailing his family’s ordeal with their daughter marrying across the color line.1 But his story reveals that he and the rest of his family and their friends and neighbors did indeed have issues with the marriage. In fact, with the many references to the Second World War and to war in general, it seems as though he feels that he is fighting a war against the interracial union. This article was one of many articles published between 1950 and 1975 that portrayed both a reluctance to allow such relationships and a slow eventual acceptance of interracial relationships. Even the fact that he chose to remain anonymous and hide the fact that his daughter was marrying a black man from his co-workers speaks volumes about the general thoughts and notions about interracial marriages during the early 1950s. In fact, at the time this article was published and for years after, antimiscegenation laws were still widely practiced and enforced in the majority of the states in the South and the West of the United States. These laws were used to prohibit racial mixing, or amalgamation so to ensure the superiority and purity of the white race, to maintain the hierarchy of slave or free during the centuries of slavery, and to regulate property transmission. Such antimiscegenation laws predated the United States of America and continued to regulate relationships, race, and property transmission for a long time—less than forty years ago many states still had laws that banned the marriage of a white person to a person of any other race. Many of these laws were in place for decades, or even centuries, while other states had more recently passed their laws during the twentieth century…

Racial equality leading to mixed marriages and then to children of mixed racial descent was one of the driving forces behind preventing school integration. The September 19, 1958 issue of U.S. News & World Report published as its cover story “What South Really Fears about Mixed Schools: Leading Sociologists Discuss Sex Fears and Integration.” This article, along with the “Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood” article blatantly reveal the South’s real fear about integration. The sociologists’ views varied greatly. One stated, “…about the last person in the world that the average white kid would really seriously get interested in would be a Negro.” Another stated that although school integration may not directly lead to intermarriage, it will definitely lower the barriers to such relationships.51 Another leading sociologist argued that interracial relationships and sex are used to oppose integration, but that it “may not be the real reason but merely one that is easily understood and useful for the opposition. He then argued that the real reasons may have to do with social and political mobility of Negroes—that better educated Negroes would rock the world of politics in the South and that would eventually lead to whites loosing status and privilege in society. Still another sociologist, when answering the question, “Do you think that white parents are afraid their daughters may become interested in Negro boys, or their sons might become involved with Negro girls?” responded with,

Their sons have clandestinely been involved with Negro girls and women for over 200 years, and the evidence can be seen in the form of light mulattoes in almost every Southern and Northern City.

Public opinion accepts this fact, however, as not endangering the purity of the white race so long as the mixing does not involve the incorporation of the mixed-blood children in the father’s group. Of course, legal marriage with colored women would violate this principle, and this is why it is forbidden by law in every Southern State and in many non-Southern States.

With the daughters of white parents, it is a very different matter. Motherhood is concealed only with great difficulty. An old saying of the frontier has it that motherhood is a matter of fact but fatherhood is a matter of opinion. Hence it is through the woman that the white group lays down its rules of race membership.

This statement, very similar in many ways to Peggy Pascoe’s explanation of interracial relationships, shows why interracial marriage, but not interracial sex, is banned by law in many states, and how race and sex compound to further subjugate black women of the South. This statement reveals the sick truth that while white male slave owners had supreme control over his slaves, and later sharecroppers, and women in general in the South, black men had almost no power—not even to protect their female family and friends from the possible horrors of the white man. And, while not all of the relationships resulting in mixed children were based on this imbalance of power that resulted in rape, many surely were purely by the definition of rape itself. This statement reveals the ugly, horrible truth about one aspect of race relations in the South…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Between Race and Nation: The Plains Metis and the Canada-United States Border

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2011-05-12 01:12Z by Steven

Between Race and Nation: The Plains Metis and the Canada-United States Border

University of Wisconsin, Madison
May 2009
419 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3384469
ISBN: 9781109476347

Michel Hogue, Assistant Professor of History
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This dissertation examines how the Plains Métis both experienced and shaped their incorporation into two nation-states: the U.S. and Canada. It explores how, as the northern Plains were pulled into the economic, political, and social orbits of distinct metropolitan centers, the social category of race emerged as a key measure of the boundaries of citizenship within new nation-states. The study encompasses a critical time period when ideas about race and the differences it marked were in flux. Set in a place that straddled national borders, where national territorial claims were weak, and where national borders marked different legal regimes, it explores the question of how and why mixed racial groups in North America formed or failed to form. This study asks, What effect did the new political boundaries and racial hierarchies emerging within these new states have on the potential for the creation of the Métis as a distinct people?

The study shows that, as this borderland world became more closely tied to national economies and polities through the nineteenth century, the socio-legal categories of nationality and race became key faultlines that circumscribed Métis claims to belonging in both countries. Incorporative projects, whether commercial or national, initially allowed Plains Métis communities to flourish. But, as settler-based societies supplanted fur trade societies, social relations changed dramatically. Even in Canada, where distinct legal and conceptual categories existed for people of mixed Indigenous and white ancestry and where fur trade interactions had given rise to separate Métis communities in other parts of the country, recurring questions about nationality and race undercut Plains Métis attempts to secure a more permanent place in the borderlands. The precise meanings of the categories of race and nation—or who could be included within them—remained the subject of intense negotiation among officials, the Métis, and their Indigenous neighbors. Ultimately, the absence of appropriate legal frameworks for the recognition of mixed-race groups and state willingness to guarantee the corporate rights of those groups created significant barriers for the continuation of separate, identifiable Plains Métis borderland communities.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • Note on Terminology
  • INTRODUCTION: Remapping Plains Metis History from the Borderlands
  • CHAPTER ONE: Creating a Metis Borderland, 1800-1840
  • CHAPTER TWO: Fur Trade, Free Trade, and the Franchise: The Politics and Economics of Metis Borderland Settlements, 1840-1870
  • CHAPTER THREE: Crossing Boundaries: The Plains Metis in Montana, 1869-1878
  • CHAPTER FOUR: White, Indian, Metis: Race and Incorporation on the Canadian Prairies, 1869-1879
  • CHAPTER FIVE: Dismantling Plains Metis Borderland Settlements, 1879-1885
  • CHAPTER SIX: Scrip & Enrollment Commissions and the Shifting Boundaries of Belonging, 1885-1920

List of Figures

  1. “Heart of a Continent”
  2. Northern Plains in the 1860s
  3. Metis Wintering Sites, 1840s-1870s
  4. Metis Migrations
  5. Northern Plains in the 1870s
  6. Reduction of Montana Indian Reservations, 1885-95

Purchase the dissertation here.

Tags: ,

Hypodescent: New Work by Gabriel Mejia

Posted in Arts, Live Events, New Media, United States, Women on 2010-12-13 22:42Z by Steven

Hypodescent: New Work by Gabriel Mejia

University of Wisconsin, Madison
George L. Mosse Humanities Building
7th Floor Gallery Room 7240
455 North Park Street
2010-12-11 through 2010-12-16

Gabriel Mejia

All events are free and open to the public.

Closing Reception: 2010-12-16, 19:00-21:00 CST (Local Time).

A meditation on identity and the social constructs of racial assignment. Featuring printmaking and video installations by 2nd year MFA graduate student, Gabriel Mejia.

For more information, click here.

Tags: ,