Tag Archives: new demographic

Racialicious! When Race and Pop Culture Collide

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce that New Demographic’s seminar, Racialicious! When Race and Pop Culture Collide, is now available in both audio seminar and e-book formats!

From the neo-minstrelsy of Flavor of Love to the racial segregation on Survivor, from the race-swapping families on Black.White. to the fascination with interracial sex, from Gwen Stefani’s use of Harajuku girls as mute human props to Angelina Jolie’s obsession with international adoption, from Michael Richards’ lynching tirade to Rosie O’Donnell’s “ching chong” remarks, race and pop culture are colliding more now than ever before.

What does pop culture reveal about our attitudes toward race and racism? Does pop culture’s treatment of race help or harm discussions about race? As consumers of pop culture, what kinds of stereotypes and assumptions should we look out for?


Format: MP3 file that you can download, keep and play as many times as you like
42 minutes


Format: Adobe Acrobat PDF file that you can either print out or read on the screen. You can also download the file and keep it forever.
14 pages

Please note:

  • Within 24 hours of the time you place your order, you will receive an email with a link to the MP3 (audio seminar) or PDF (e-book), which you can download and keep forever.
  • If you’d like to pay by credit card instead of PayPal, click one of the buttons above. When you get to the PayPal page, look in the lower left-hand corner where it says “Don’t have a PayPal account? No problem, continue checkout” and click the “Continue” button there.

What you missed on Race in the Workplace

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

In case you haven’t been checking out New Demographic’s latest blog, Race in the Workplace, here’s what you may have missed:

Promoting diversity in American classical music
Adina Ba interviews Aaron Dworkin, founder and president of the Sphinx Organization, a national non-profit founded in 1996 to overcome the dramatic racial inequalities in the field of classical music. Did you know that nationally, less than 4% of professional orchestras are comprised of Blacks and Latinos combined?

When you’re too honest during diversity training
Funny video from Comedy Central’s show “Dog Bites Man.” The diversity trainer they hire has no idea what he’s in for.

Recommended Reading
Why are non-white workers less likely to say promotions are based on merit? Is it a mistake to be a stay-at-home mother? How can you avoid an asshole boss? What’s the best way to ask for mentoring? Why are companies scared to fire problem workers?

Watercooler: The missing wedding invitation
Merq shares a story about a white coworker who not only refused to invite any non-white colleagues to his wedding but then proceeded to insult Merq with a racist joke.

What you missed on Race in the Workplace

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

In case you haven’t been checking out New Demographic’s latest blog, Race in the Workplace, here’s what you may have missed:

The HR department protects the company, not you
I interview career columnist and blogger Penelope Trunk about her new book, “Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success.” She’s full of counter-intuitive advice, like why reporting discrimination to HR may be the worst move you can make, why sexual harassment may actually be a career booster, why you should hope for a little incompetence on your boss’s part, and why $40,000 is the magic number to happiness through financial success.

Motivational video from Ernst & Young: Be happy or else!
An unintentionally hilarious motivational video from accounting giant Ernst & Young. Who knew auditors had such soul?

Recommended reading
Our weekly roundup of the best on the Web. Why a great job, lots of money, responsibility and respect still may not be enough to make you happy. How blogging can help you get a new job. How to do better in phone interviews. And much, much more.

Watercooler: When the chair of the anti-racism committee is a racist
This is the section of the blog in which we share with you real-life horror stories from the frontlines of race in the workplace. What happens when the chair of the anti-racism committee is prone to using terms like “Chinaman,” “Oriental” and “A-rab?”

As “all-American” as apple pie?
I write about the code words we use when we try to not sound racist. Words like “all-American” have a meaning that we all understand. And as you’ll see in the story I relate, it specifically excludes “half-Chinese” folks like me.

I’ll be at Pomona College tomorrow

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Super-late notice, but if any of you are in the Los Angeles area, I’m going to be doing a workshop tomorrow evening at Pomona College in Claremont. It’s open to the public so feel free to come by and say hi! Here are the details:

Cute But Confused: Myths and Realities of Mixed Race Identity

60-minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of facilitated discussion.

“Mixed babies are the cutest! Too bad they grow up to be such confused adults.” Chances are you’ve heard others talk about mixed race people using simplistic stereotypes like this. The reality is that being multiracial is a complex, multi-layered experience. In this seminar, Carmen Van Kerckhove identifies some of the common assumptions made about mixed race people, points out why these are untrue, and discusses some of the implications that the growing multiracial population has on communities of color.

Date:    Thursday, April 19, 2007
Time:    7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location:    Doms Lounge in the Smith Campus Center, Pomona College
City/Town:    Claremont, CA
Contact Email:    markus.kessler@pomona.edu

Barack Obama and racial authenticity

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update: Eric included extra comments from the folks he interviewed for this article on his blog, The Feed.

Today’s issue of The St. Petersburg Times features an article by Eric Deggans, who examines the discussion surrounding Barack Obama’s race. If Obama isn’t considered to be authentically African-American, then who is?

It’s a fascinating article that includes a multitude of perspectives: Al Sharpton, Julian Bond from the NAACP, Sylvester Monroe from Ebony magazine, conservative Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, history professor Jonathan Holloway, anthropologist Peter B. Hammond, Monroe Anderson from the Chicago Sun-Times, and yours truly.

I really enjoyed talking to Eric for this article — I think we spent over an hour on the phone. One of the main points I made to Eric was this: How a multiracial person self-identifies is almost the least important factor in how others view that person racially. This phenomenon is especially obvious in Obama’s case. He has repeatedly stated that he self-identifies primarily as a black man and an African-American but still, everyone projects onto him what they want to see.

So if self-identification isn’t how racial authenticity is determined, then what is? Halle Berry and Nicole Richie both self-identify as black women, yet we think of Berry as somehow “blacker” than Richie. Eric’s attempt to create a list by which we judge “how black” someone is is really interesting:

Van Kerckhove, Hammond and other experts agree there is a long list of characteristics others often use to judge someone else’s racial identity. And these details can be crucial cues for others – sometimes given more weight than what the person actually says about his or her own racial identity.

Some characteristics: physical appearance/genealogy; language (do you have an accent or speak in a vernacular?); race of your romantic partner; race of your friends (an area which is often segregated in people’s lives); music you enjoy; your history of activism, if any; your name; where you go to church (churches are still highly segregated); your assertion of culture at your job.

Here’s my take on the multiracial angle:

While some may view race identity as something handed down through families, experts agree that race is a delicate balance between how society perceives you and how you perceive yourself.

Tiger Woods, for example, learned the folly of trying to carve a new race identity for himself without society’s permission – once insisting on Oprah Winfrey’s popular talk show that he was not African-American but “Cablinasian,” a mix of Caucasian, black, Dutch, Native American and Thai (both Woods’ parents are from mixed-race heritage).

But Woods quickly found trouble: Some black people assumed he was denigrating their culture by refusing to be a part of it, and white sports commentators didn’t seem to know how to handle a guy who didn’t want to be the first black golf legend.

“He came out too early on. … America wasn’t ready to take it,” said Carmen Van Kerckhove, a New Yorker of Flemish-Belgian and Chinese heritage who serves as president of the antiracism training company New Demographic.

“I think mixed-race people exist in this space where their legitimacy is constantly questioned,” said Van Kerckhove, who recalled a discussion with friends who insisted mixed-race people must “choose a side” when defining their racial identity. “Different communities try to claim you, depending on how well you’re doing at that point in your life.”

Woods, it seems, has learned his lesson: He rarely talks openly about race anymore. But Obama, in seeking to become the nation’s first black president, doesn’t have that luxury.

Introducing a new blog: Race in the Workplace

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce the launch of a brand-new New Demographic blog, Race in the Workplace. Please head on over to check it out!

It will explore how race and racism influence our working lives. You’ll find a mix of practical advice, personal stories, interviews with experts and authors, recommended resources, and much, much more. But perhaps most importantly, you’ll find a space in which you can discuss these issues with like-minded people.

If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of the robotic diversity-speak and uncritical celebrations of multiculturalism that dominate our workplaces. That’s why I started New Demographic, an anti-racism training company that goes beyond diversity buzzwords to tackle the real issues behind race and racism.

I hope you’ll enjoy the blog and that you’ll participate in the conversations that will take place there. Let me know what you think! :)

Join New Demographic’s mailing list and get free report on race and pop culture

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Did you know that I send out a monthly email newsletter with updates on New Demographic’s many projects? You can check out the latest newsletter here.

Join New Demographic’s mailing list today and receive a free copy of the special report, The 10 Biggest Trends in Race and Pop Culture. To sign up, please fill out the form below: