Category: identity

by Guest Contributor (and regular commenter) Atlasien

*Warning: Strong Language*

From Protecting children from racism and racial abuse: a research review: Summary of research and findings

– Although the family structure is an important site of resistance to racism, research highlights that many minority ethnic children do not discuss their experiences of racial abuse with parents or other family members.
– Ethnic minority young people are not passive recipients of racism – they employ a range of strategies when confronted with racial abuse.
– It is important to produce integrated strategies, involving a number of agencies, to combat racist abuse both in the school setting and in the local community.
– To date, the majority of responses have focused on the victims of racial harassment, but the effectiveness of these programmes is debatable. Agencies also need to undertake both preventive and interventive programmes focusing on perpetrators.
– There is a need for approaches which are based on children’s actual experiences and perceptions rather than adult constructions of the problem.

Did they ever tell the black girls to go back to Africa?

Back then, I didn’t know. And I had no idea how to ask.

There were a few of them at my middle school, maybe around ten. For some reason, I don’t remember ever seeing any black boys. The middle school must have been between 95-99% white. It was about .001% Asian (me).

The black girls stuck close together. I had no interaction with them, with one exception. One girl was in my Honors class for a year. She didn’t fit in well. She seemed very loud and very insecure (I was quiet and insecure). One day for show and tell, she brought her little sister to school. She was obviously proud of her little sister, who was extremely cute. But the girl’s first name was the same as a certain household product and the rest of the class couldn’t stop saying how crazy that name was. Why would any parent name their kid something so crazy? They must be stupid. I watched the big sister get frustrated, almost to the point of tears. Either her family moved after that year, or she transferred to another school.

I always looked at the black girls and wondered: what did I have in common with them? I took this question very, very seriously. If I found something in common with them, maybe I wouldn’t have to feel so horribly alone. As it was, junior high school race relations felt sort of like The Omega Man/I am Legend, with me being Charlton Heston/Will Smith.

When I was five and six, we lived in Japan with my father. Then my mother moved back to America to be close to my grandparents. We started off living with them, then moved to a house in the suburbs. I quickly forgot all my Japanese, but I kept ties in other ways. I refused to eat sandwiches for lunch; I had to have my bento with noodles or rice.

I was as close to my father as is possible with a non-custodial parent in another country. We talked on the phone, I flew out to Japan in the summer, he got copies of my grades in school. My grades were always good. I really liked school. I played soccer and swam and rode my dirt bike. I liked living in America. I was American because my mom and my grandparents were American and I was born in America and I lived in America.

Then, starting about second grade, I noticed that other kids started calling me names and singing funny songs at me. The other kids started telling me I didn’t belong. I looked weird and I talked funny. I wasn’t a real American. I should go back to China. My mother had always stressed the importance of logic, reason and peaceful conflict management. I tried logic. I told them I’d never even been to China. I didn’t even know anyone from China. Nobody paid attention. I started getting frustrated and depressed in school. Read the Post Getting Past the Bears: Racist Abuse in Middle School and the Formation of People of Color Consciousness

December 11, 2008 / / books

by Guest Contributor Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, originally published at Write.Live.Repeat

Twilight, the movie, comes out this week. It is based upon the bestselling novel by Stephenie Meyer, and, like the book, is said by many to be the “next Harry Potter,” meaning it is the first young-reader book series to come close to the astronomical sales of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Meyer still has a lot of catching up to do, having sold “just” 17 million books worldwide, compared to Rowling’s 400 million.

While both sets of books deal with children and their adventures with the supernatural, that is where the similarities end. Potter is aimed at a slightly younger demographic (9 to 12) and is loved by boys and girls alike; Twilight appeals mostly to older girls (14 to 19) and their sexually frustrated mothers.

The most startling difference between Twilight and Potter, however, is not demographical; it is ideological.

Put simply, Rowling and Potter live on the left; Meyer and Edward dwell on the right. Read the Post The Politics of Wizards and Vampires

December 10, 2008 / / Outside the Binary

by Guest Contributor Tanglad, originally published at Tanglad

As we celebrated the eve of November 4th, I was struck by a comment from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He pointed out with pride the role of the Latino vote in Obama’s election. I wish I could say that about my fellow Filipinos.

And yes, I know, the Filipino vote is not monolithic. I am specifically talking about Filipinos like me, who have immigrated here in our adult lives. We’re working to make ends meet. Many of you are raising families, go to church every Sunday, support extended families back in the Philippines. The Philippines that would theoretically be a very red state if it could vote.

So yeah, there are lots of factors behind this particular Pinoy demographic’s support of McCain and Proposition 8, but I will dive into the one that presents the most challenges.

Filipinos can be quite forthcoming when talking about race. In news interviews in the Philippines and in Pinoy gatherings, many immigrant Pinoys have made it abundantly clear that their “discomfort” over Barack Obama is not due to the rumors that he’s an inexperienced, socialist, Muslim politician. Their discomfort is from Obama’s blackness. Read the Post Aspiring to whiteness

December 9, 2008 / / The Things We Do to Each Other

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

The first time I saw “Roots” I was in puberty, but since my birth the groundbreaking miniseries has been a running joke among my maternal relatives.

My mother is a black American, raised Baptist in Tennessee. My father is a Muslim from Nigeria. More specifically, for those in the know, he’s Yoruba.

When I was a baby my American relatives, all natives of small-town Tennessee and wholly unfamiliar with Africans, took to holding me up in the air and anointing me Kunta Kinte, like the character in “Roots.” Although the gesture annoyed my mother to no end, her family members found it hilarious.

Africans, you see, are hilarious. If there is one stereotype about Africans that has lingered throughout my life it is this. Perhaps because of this stereotype, before my birth my maternal grandmother envisioned that I would look less like a baby and more like an offensive cartoon character. She warned my mother to expect me to have coal black skin and bright red lips like Little Sambo. In expressing her fears, my grandmother ignored the reality of my father, who is dark-skinned but not especially so. In fact, he is a shade or two lighter than my mother is. Because Africans are an “exotic other,” however, my grandmother adopted a white supremacist gaze in connection to my father.

She’s far from the only black American to adopt that stance in relation to Africans. In Chicago, where my parents met and lived, my mother recalled being approached by a black woman curious to know if I cried in “African.” Now, I was born in the late1970s, before Akon dominated music charts or Hakeem Olajuwon (a fellow Yoruba) dominated basketball courts. Still, it’s somewhat shocking to note that some of the African Americans in my midst then viewed me as an entirely different entity from themselves. Read the Post On Being American and African Black

December 8, 2008 / / asian

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger

Young Adult (YA) literature has exploded in recent years with the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter books, the Chronicles of Narnia, Tuck Everlasting, Lord of the Rings, the Gossip Girl series, The Princess Diaries, and the more recent Twilight series to name a few right off the top of my head. There are some who look down their noses at YA lit and don’t consider it real literature. But, given the success of the aforementioned novels and series, I blow a big, fat raspberry in those people’s general direction.

Kidding. But, seriously. My guess is that the reason all those titles, and many, many others in the YA or MG (middle grade) categories have been so successful is that they reach across age barriers. If you look at the audiences for Harry Potter, Gossip Girl, Lord of the Rings and Twilight – books and movies – you’ll find fans ranging from nine-year-olds all the way through to the middle-aged, paunch set. The same cannot be said for high literary novels, or children’s books. YA and upper MG novels are right smack in the middle and appeal to that vast swath of almost-adult to inching-out-of-adulthood readers. There are often subtle, mature themes, and usually no gratuitous violence or sex.

I write YA because that is a time that ideals were still strong and fresh.

When I write, it is as if I was on the cusp of adulthood where things were still simple: good and bad were easy to define, as were right and wrong. It was a time when my inner life was more vivid than my outer and there were constant, brutal clashes between the two. It was a time where creativity was wild, unencumbered by the expectations and restrictions of adulthood. Anger, pain, joy – all were raw, enormous forces. It is still the place I go when I am seeking unrefined, unfiltered Truth.

My first novel, a YA release, comes out in March, 2009, and the road to getting it published has been full of surprises. I belong to a group of first time authors with Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG) novels coming out in 2009. We are all working together to promote our first novels. We share resources, commiserate about bumps and bruises along the way, and rejoice in one another’s accomplishments. It is completely voluntary, and no one is obligated to do anything they don’t want to, except participate in whatever capacity they can. The group is a wonderful social and networking space with some amazingly talented authors and many future stars.

And yet, something about the group caught my notice.

I don’t have any hard data or statistics in front of me, but several weeks ago as I was answering questions for my first online author interview, I was startled to realize that I was one of three YA authors of Color debuting in 2009. Read the Post On Race and YA Lit

November 26, 2008 / / african-american

by Latoya Peterson

Checking my Clutch feeds, I stumbled across this video from the Tyra show*. Literally, the title of the post sums it up. It’s about biracial folks who hate one side or the other.

The video is 32 minutes long.

The video features Jenna, who is half black and half white, who denies her blackness; Tabitha, who is half latina and half white, who denies her whiteness; Jaselle, who is black and Puerto Rican, who denies her PR heritage; and Sohn (her segment was not included in the video I watched.)

While Tyra focused more on Jenna for the majority of the segments, but the other guests actually brought up some really good points about race and identity.

Jenna appears to have been a ratings ploy – she espouses extreme hatred of other blacks, denies of all positive aspects of her non-white heritage, reaffirms stereotypes as truth, explains a preference for a “white” way of living, proudly displays three rebel flags (using the customary “get over it, it’s heritage not hate, it’s in the past” defenses without any acknowledgment of her own contradiction) and even has a photo of her in makeshift Klan gear.

[One of the Clutch commenters called her a sighted Clayton Bigsby. Was Chapelle’s art imitating life? Or was that skit based on a true story?]

Yeah…moving on. Read the Post On Tyra: Biracial Women Who Hate Their Other Side

November 10, 2008 / / african-american

by Latoya Peterson

Well, look at what slipped under the radar.

In the midst of the election run up, the results, and the waves of discussion about proposition 8, Logo launched a movie based on their popular (yet mysteriously canceled) series Noah’s Arc.

The New York Press’ Armond White has a thought provoking review on the significance of the movie, titled “MEET THE BLACK CARRIE BRADSHAW – LOGO’s Noah’s Arc makes the jump to the big screen—showing a completely different African-American experience”:

Noah’s Arc’s quartet of young black men counteracts the prevailing image of gayness as a young, rich, white male phenomenon. The title refers to Noah (Darryl Stephens), an L.A.-based aspiring screenwriter whose love and social life resist Hollywood storybook cliché. Noah may dress in couture like Carrie Bradshaw (he enters Jumping wearing a Russian toque, cape and calf-high boots) but his style is provocative; he flouts ideas about masculinity, blackness and class. If you accept Noah (his gentle, gazelle-like demeanor stresses effeminacy), his friends still test your tolerance: Chance (Doug Spearman) is a snooty, over-enunciating university professor; Alex (Rodney Chester) is a plus-sized drama queen who likes to cook when not dispensing counsel at a gay men’s health center; and Rickey (Christian Vincent) is incorrigibly promiscuous. Read the Post Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom Movie Plays to Modest Success