joys, complicated

Joys should be simple.  Didn’t Pippin teach us that?  Sorry, my musical theatre nerd wanted to speak.  But anyway, joys should be simple not complicated.  While I’ve been away examining my life, living my life, changing my life I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to shy away from things that bring me joy.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the experience of feeling that my joys are complicated that informs my reticence.  But the joys actually are not complicated.  Not to me.  Only from the outside looking in.  Only within the parameters of a paradigm in which black and white are mutually exclusive.  Only when clinging to a dogma that rigidly defines an “us” and a “them” and prescribes clearly definable attributes to each.  I’m gonna be a rebel here and doubt those antiquated notions.  That’s not new for me though.  Actually I’m going to be a rebel here just for myself and let go of my discomfort with the complexity others may still perceive in the things that bring me joy, in the things that are me, and I’m just gonna be and enjoy them.  That is new for me.  That is a challenge. But, hey, why not go ahead

As for this article, I love that Mr. McCollum’s mother mandated that his Irish pride run fierce.  I love that he takes pride in facilitating the paradigm shift.  I love that someone wrote this article.

St. Patrick’s Day holds mixed emotions for some

By Martine Powers

Ryan McCollum knows that on St. Patrick’s Day, he cuts an unusual figure.

All in green, a traditional Irish Claddagh ring on his finger and a houndstooth flat cap on his head, everything about his attire screams “Irish and proud.’’

But McCollum, 33, is also black. His father, a Navy man from Springfield, married an Irish-American girl from Downeast Maine.

He knows his appearance does not fit the bill of a stereotypical Irishman – most assume he’s black, or maybe Latino – but since childhood, his mother mandated that his Irish pride run fierce.

“Growing up, I knew I was Irish,’’ said McCollum, of Springfield, “even if the rest of the world didn’t know I was Irish.’’

As the American population has grown increasingly mixed-race in recent decades, some descendants of Irish immigrants are claiming a multiracial heritage, though they may differ in appearance from their red-haired, freckled ancestors. For them, the joys of embracing Irish roots are complicated by the challenges of being multiracial.

“I always feel this deep kinship with Irish people in Boston,’’ said Kelly Bates, a mixed-race Irish-American who lives in Roslindale. “But I don’t always feel like they have this kinship with me.’’

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Americans who checked two or more races on the US Census increased from 6.8 million to 9 million.

Paul J. McNamara, president of the 275-year-old Charitable Irish Society, said he does not believe that any of the organization’s 400 current members are multiracial, but the group welcomes membership applications from anyone interested in promoting Irish history and culture.

“Most people in our group want to appreciate and retain their Irish roots,’’ McNamara said. “There is a strong element that you want to participate and preserve aspects of the culture.’’

But for Bates, it’s not quite so simple.

Her mother, a black woman from Harlem, married an Irish-American man from Massachusetts. Bates loves to visit her huge, boisterous Irish-Catholic family in Lynn. She grew up reading Irish poetry with her father. She calls him every March 17 to hear the legend of Saint Patrick and the snakes.

In a ritual that is all too familiar for many mixed-race people, new acquaintances try to guess Bates’s heritage. Usually, they pick Puerto Rican or Colombian. Maybe Middle Eastern or Italian.

But Irish? Never.

17mixedirish3[1].r

Kelly Bates, executive director at Access Strategies Fund, is also part Irish.

“You could look at my cousins and me, and you could see the resemblance,’’ said Bates, executive director of the philanthropic foundation Access Strategies Fund. “But they would be accepted [as Irish] right away, and it would be very different for me.’’

Part of that divide may come from Boston’s racially fraught past, she said.

“I’m aware of the fact that my cultural communities have not always been able to build a bridge toward each other, especially in this city,’’ said Bates.

While Irish and African-American communities worked and lived in close proximity in the decades after America’s founding – both groups were stigmatized by English landowners – they grew antagonistic toward one another at the end of the 19th century, said Marie E. Daly, library director at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In the last century, the communities have butted heads over labor rights, housing, and public school desegregation.

Bates said she is just as proud to be African-American as she is proud to be Irish. After all, she said, the sound of bagpipes and African drums both give her chills. But she sometimes worries about expressing pride in her Irish roots. As much as Irish is a national origin, she said, it also identifies her as white. She does not want others to think she has distanced herself from her black identity.

“I think my black friends and black colleagues don’t know what to make of it when I talk about my Irish heritage,’’ Bates said.

Mari Tanaka, a junior at Harvard, knows that most people think they immediately have her pegged.

“I guess I look Asian, but I don’t feel comfortable with people just assuming that’s all I am,’’ said Tanaka, 21. “Growing up, being Irish has been such a big part of my life.’’

Most of Tanaka’s ancestors hailed from Japan, but her mother’s father is Irish-American. During her childhood in Hawaii, he ensured that she listened to traditional Irish music, watched “Riverdance,’’ and ate corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

College has offered her an opportunity to further explore her Irish roots. She has connected with Irish-American relatives in Cambridge who show her genealogical charts and tell stories about her ancestors. While she felt pressure to take a class in East Asian Studies, Tanaka, a biology major, instead chose to enroll in a class on Celtic history and culture where she was one of two nonwhite people.

“I felt like, yeah, being Asian, that’s a part of me,’’ Tanaka said. “But there’s another part of me that is much less explored.’’

McCollum, a political consultant, hopes to travel to Ireland, and he knows he will arrive in the land of his ancestors and find that no one looks like him. But that doesn’t bother him.

A history buff, McCollum spends much of his time reading about Irish history and culture, learning about his family’s genealogy, and watching Irish sports.

“For people who are proud of being Irish and knowing their Irish roots, it’s almost like a game – like, ‘How Irish are you? What county are you from? How many times have you been? Is your family still there?’’’ said McCollum, who is board member for the Irish Immigration Center. “If I’m in a room with Irish folks and have to re-prove my Irishness, I can talk to them about facts and history of Ireland.’’

McCollum’s surname adds further confusion: People often assume it represents his Irish side, but it’s a Scottish name probably adopted by his father’s African slave ancestors from their owners.

His African-American heritage is just as important as his Irish roots, he said; his passion for history extends to antislavery politics and the Black Power movement. But because of his skin color, he has no trouble relating to other black people. Being Irish, he said, is a less obvious part of his identity.

“A lot of times, I am that reminder that every Irish person doesn’t look like a stereotypical Irish person,’’ McCollum said. “And I don’t mind being that reminder. Sometimes, I take pride in that.’’

wee bottles of leprechaun gold st. patrick's necklace 8

re: a mammy tale

I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain’t a color, disease ain’t the Negro side a town.  I want to stop that moment from coming-and it come in ever white child’s life- when they start to think that colored folks ain’t as good as whites.- The Help

old photo of baby Ralph in an elaborate lace christening dress held proudly by a large black woman

"Black man with white child and dog." http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/2720789660/

“Black man with white child and dog.” via a “Manny”

"White-capped nurse holding infant." http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/3248110220/

“White-capped nurse holding infant.” via
"Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939." http://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/3110575890/“Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939.” via

"Child and nurse." http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/2678243048/

“Child and nurse.” via

…the dichotomy of love and disdain living side-by-side is what surprises me- The Help

Mammy & Child-1850

some photos found @ postpostracial

a mammy tale

The following essay is reblogged from Southern-Style.  A real life modern-ish mammy story!  I’ve long been interested in the dynamic between black women and other people’s white children.  When I was in college studying African-American history for the first time, I stumbled upon the thought that Mammies had raised our nation and yet black women generally are not revered (to say the least).  When I was a nanny myself, I thought a lot about mammy.  And, back in January, when I devoured The Help I pondered her some more.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do yourself a favor and put Kathryn Stockett’s The Help on your summer reading list.  It’s one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.  Right up there with The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, Caucasia, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Life of Pi.  i.e. the rest of your summer reading list.

I Remember Mammy:
Mattie Lee Martin (“Mammy”)
By one who loved her, Sharman Burson Ramsey

Thirteen year old Mattie Lee Martin took her mentally challenged older sister by the hand and led her down the rutted, red clay country road. Neither looked back. Mattie was determined her sister would not be abused again in their grandparent’s home. She’d finally accepted that her parents would never come back to get them. The road led to the town of Dothan, Alabama, and a life, Mattie Lee hoped, that would be better than the one they’d known on that god-forsaken farm.

Mrs. Bender stood at the door of her variety store, broom in hand, and watched the two girls walk toward her down the sidewalk. Mattie, the spokesperson for the two, stepped forward and boldly asked, “I need work and a place where me and my sister can stay. Do you know of anything?” She looked up at Mrs. Bender quite seriously.  Her black eyes were wide.  Anxiety was written all over her round black face that now dripped in sweat in the hot summer day after her long walk. Mrs. Bender read in that expression that she’d gotten this far, but now the little girl was in a quandary as to what should she do now? She looked at the tight grip she had on her much larger, but obviously more dependent, sister.

Mrs. Bender sized them up and in her gentle voice said, “I hear they are hiring maids across the street at the Wadlington Hotel, but come in here and let me help you with something to wear to your interview. Your sister can rest here while you go and inquire. Tell them I sent you.”

Mattie stood straight and said, “I don’t take no charity. I’ll pay you back.” Mrs. Bender nodded.

That Jewish lady remained a dear friend to Mattie the rest of her life.

Mattie Lee Martin later became highly regarded for her cooking skills. She cooked at the restaurant of the Houston Hotel for awhile and then took a job as the private cook for Dr. Moody, founder of Moody Hospital in Dothan. When the Moodys moved into their big house on Main Street from the house across from the hospital, Mattie for some reason was not going with them. Dr. Moody recommended Mattie to Dr. E. G. Burson, my father. The Moodys gave her a house as a parting gift.

When Mattie Lee Martin interviewed with my mother, she told my mother, “I don’t work with children.”

Yet as the pictures reveal, Mattie Lee Martin became as dear to us as our grandmothers and so she deserved just as endearing a name. Thus she came to be called “Mammy.”

Mammy came to work every morning before seven, except Sunday, either by bus or by taxi and stayed until after five.  Even after our overweight dog, Sir Bow Wow, went blind, he would meet Mammy at the bottom of the hill where she got off the bus every morning and together they would plod their way to the house.  She cooked, cleaned, and loved us. I remember seeing one of her paychecks in the amount of $27.00. I also remember the days we’d take Mammy home and she’d ask Mother to stop by the grocery store several blocks away. Then she’d put some money in my hand and I’d run into the grocery store and plunk the money down saying, “Bit o Dental Snuff, please.”

Mammy ordered the groceries to cook for lunch from Murphy’s Market downtown first thing in the morning and a boy on a bicycle delivered them in time for her to cook. Dinner was served at exactly 12:00 noon. (In the South we eat breakfast, dinner and supper.) The meat went on a platter before “the doctor”. The table was set precisely with forks on the left of the plate (with the napkin) and the knife (facing inward) on the right. The glass was placed above the knife. She trained us well.

…Mammy had worked for the aristocracy of the town, Dr. and Mrs. Earl Moody. While she often locked horns with my mother (whose own father had been killed when logs rolled off a log truck when she was 13 leaving her mother to struggle raising five children) she refused to give up on us. “Yo mama, she be mean. But I be mean too, so we get along.” Mother had been awarded campaign ribbon for service in World War II as a nurse at the Battle of the Bulge. She could curse a blue streak and did so on occasion when things did not go to suit her. Sometimes those disagreements would get so heated that Mother would fire Mammy, but we’d cry and carry on so, she’d have to go and ask her to come back. My father was a doctor and his father was a doctor and that made us worth Mammy’s time and effort. My mother might not know what was “proper” but Mammy did, and she was determined to turn us out well.

…Mammy did have her own family…a daughter Lucy Mae Dixon who was my Mother’s age. Mammy had very little education herself and the lists she made could barely be read, so she valued a good education. Mammy skrimped and saved and sent her to college in the North. It must have been a Catholic college because Lucy Mae converted to Catholicism. Mammy was a dedicated member of the Cherry Street AME Church. Lucy earned her Masters and came home to teach. Mammy bought her items of silver “on time” as birthday gifts. The mahogany furniture in their living areas was always covered in plastic to “save” it.

…I guess Mammy told my brother and sister the same thing she drilled into me. “Yo daddy be somebody. You gotta be somebody.” My sister is a cardiologist in New Orleans (Dr. Sylvia Burson Rushing) and my brother (Elkanah George Burson III ) has just started a pharmaceutical company (Burel Pharmaceuticals). Me? After you’ve got a man it’s all right “to rune yo hands” with Ajax, I learned. I wash a mean bathtub and have stayed married to the same man, an attorney of whom she approved (whose family once owned the Houston Hotel where she had worked) for forty years doing a little teaching and writing. This humble generous woman whom I never saw wear a single piece of jewelry gave me a pearl and gold bracelet for graduation from high school.  She who worked from can to can’t all of her life gave me a silver goblet when I got married.  I wonder if she ever knew how much they mean to me and that I realize the sacrifice and love those gifts demonstrated.

…Mammy was a proud person who made the most of her situation and, selflessly, with hard work and determination earned respect and made a good life for herself and her family. She raised us, her white family, to believe we could do whatever we chose to do and that we should make our parents proud. She drilled into us values of honesty, integrity, and a sense of responsibility.  Because we had been given so much; much was expected.  Because we loved her, it was Mammy we wanted to make proud.

Read more HERE

offensive or no?

Upon reading the headline of the article my mom emailed me, I was all set to be very offended by these photos.  After reading it and seeing the pics, I am not offended.  Is that bad?  When I read “blackface” I think poorly applied shoe polish and outrageously red lipstick.  When I saw these pictures and read Schiffer’s statement that they were playing with different men’s fantasies, I thought it made sense.  Lagerfeld and Dom Perignon hired one super Supermodel to play two characters (for lack of a better analogy).  To me this is not offensive.  I don’t think Schiffer kept a black model from working that day.  What if Naomi Campbell had done the ad in “whiteface”?  Would that be offensive?  I also wonder if Heidi Klum would have agreed to participate in this.  I would love to get her take on it.

Claudia Schiffer strikes controversial pose in ‘blackface’ for German magazine

BY MEENA HARTENSTEIN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Claudia Schiffer is drawing criticism for her controversial photo on a German magazine cover.

Claudia Schiffer is one of the world’s best-loved supermodels, but she’s drawing a firestorm of criticism for her latest magazine cover.

The blond stunner is at the center of a racially-charged controversy after a photo of her in “blackface” hit the Internet this month.

In the photo, which was shot by Karl Lagerfeld two years ago as part of an ad campaign for Dom Perignon, Schiffer is disguised in an Afro wig and dark face paint, prompting accusations of insensitivity.

“It shows poor taste and it’s offensive,” Shevelle Rhule, fashion editor at black lifestyle magazine Pride, told U.K.’s Daily Mail. “There are not enough women of color featured in mainstream magazines. This just suggests you can counteract the problem by using white models.”

The photo resurfaced when German magazine Stern Fotografie repurposed the image as one of six hardback covers for its 60th anniversary issue.

The other covers also feature Schiffer in various costumed looks shot by Lagerfeld – as a sexy secretary, a leather-clad cop, Marie Antoinette, and even an Asian woman in a kimono.

Schiffer’s rep defended the series, saying, “The pictures have been taken out of context. The images were designed to reflect different men’s fantasies. The pictures were not intended to offend.

The sexy shots of Schiffer are drawing serious criticism from those who think the makeup choice was offensive.

Read more HERE

re: little. black. sambo.

I just wanted to post a bit more about the history of Little Black Sambo.  I think the most important aspect of this history is the way the character/story has made people feel about themselves.  White privilege protects a majority of people from the hurts that can be evoked by “harmless” depictions in story books and advertisements.  The price for that protection can come in the form indifferent ignorance.

  • “The cultural understanding of ‘Little Black Sambo’ is a negative,” says Professor Frank Gilliam of UCLA. “It’s meant to suggest that people of African descent are childlike, that they’re irresponsible, that they’re not fully developed human beings.”
  • Langston Hughes pointed out that Little Black Sambo was “amusing undoubtedly to the white child, but like an unkind word to one who has known too many hurts to enjoy the additional pain of being laughed at.”

The following is excerpted from an essay found at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia:

Arguably, the most controversial picaninny image is the one created by Helen Bannerman…The book appeared in England in 1899 and was an immediate success. The next year it was published in the United States by Frederick A. Stokes, a mainstream publisher. It was even more successful than it had been in England. The book’s success led to many imitators — and controversies.

Was Bannerman’s Little Black Sambo racist? The major characters: Little Black Sambo, his mother (Black Mumbo) and his father (Black Jumbo) used standard English, not the bastardized English then associated with Blacks. Stereotypical anti-Black traits — for example, laziness, stupidity, and immorality — were absent from the book. Little Black Sambo, the character, was bright and resourceful unlike most portrayals of Black children. Nevertheless, the book does have anti-Black overtones, most notably the illustrations. Sambo is crudely drawn, an obvious caricature… The names Mumbo and Jumbo also make the characters seem nonsensical at a time when Blacks were routinely thought to be inherently dumb.

The illustrations were racially offensive, and so was the name Sambo. At the time that the book was originally published Sambo was an established anti-Black epithet, a generic degrading reference. It symbolized the lazy, grinning, docile, childlike, good-for-little servant. Maybe Bannerman was unfamiliar with Sambo’s American meaning. For many African Americans Little Black Sambo was an entertaining story ruined by racist pictures and racist names. Julius Lester, who has recently co-authored Sam and the Tigers, an updated Afrocentric version of Little Black Sambo, wrote:

When I read Little Black Sambo as a child, I had no choice but to identify with him because I am black and so was he. Even as I sit here and write the feelings of shame, embarrassment and hurt come back. And there was a bit of confusion because I liked the story and I especially liked all those pancakes, but the illustrations exaggerated the racial features society had made it clear to me represented my racial inferiority — the black, black skin, the eyes shining white, the red protruding lips. I did not feel good about myself as a black child looking at those pictures.

Little Black Sambo served as the boiler plate for a spate of other versions, many of which used mean-spirited racist drawings and dialogue. The vulgar reprint versions were symbolic of Black-White relations. Little Black Sambo’s popularity coincided with the crystallization of Jim Crow laws and etiquette. Blacks were denied basic human and civil rights, discriminated against in the labor market, barred from many public schools and libraries, harassed at voting booths, subjected to physical violence, and generally treated as second class citizens. The year that Little Black Sambo came to America a Whites-initiated race riot occurred in New Orleans. It was effectively a pogrom — Blacks were beaten, their schools and homes destroyed. Little Black Sambo did not, of course, cause riots, but it entered America during a period of strained and harsh race relations. It was, simply, another insult in the daily lives of African Americans.

The anti-Little Black Sambo movement started in the 1930s and continued into the 1970s. Black educators and civil rights leaders organized numerous campaigns to get the book banned from public libraries, especially in elementary schools. In the 1940s and 1950s the book was dropped from many lists of “Recommended Books.” By the 1960s the book was seen as a remnant of a racist past.

Little Black Sambo was again popular by the mid-1990s. Its recent popularity is a result of many factors, including a white backlash against perceived political correctness. This is evident in internet discussions. Americans, Black and White, are rereading the original book (and some of the unauthorized reprints). There is agreement that Bannerman’s book is entertaining. However, there is little agreement regarding whether it is racist. White readers tend to focus on Bannerman’s non-racist intentions and the unfairness of judging yesterday’s “classics” by today’s standards of racial equality. Blacks find the book’s title and the illustrations offensive. Most of the debate centers on Bannerman’s version; there is no debating the racism explicit in later editions of the book produced by other writers and publishers.

© Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology
Ferris State University
Oct., 2000

SOURCE

little. black. sambo.

For someone who has a romanticized view of Japan as a near-perfect country/society, this is quite disappointing.  It’s not the first I’ve heard of Japanese insensitivity to stereotypes of African-Americans, and I hope that’s all it is.  Insensitivity.  Oh, Japan.

Little Black Sambo Comes to A Japanese Kindergarten

By Geoff Dean

The end of the last year of kindergarten and/or nursery school in Japan usually features a school play. My elder daughter played Toto in a very loosely arranged “Wizard of Oz” (there were two other Toto`s and all the boys were flying monkeys, meaning there was no scarecrow or tin man) while my younger one recently took a shot at “Alice in Wonderland” in a form probably unrecognizable to Lewis Carroll.

So when a nursery school in Saitama ran a school play, it was nothing out of the ordinary. There were songs, cute costumes, dancing, and kids who cried when the couldn`t remember their lines. Pretty much par for the course. Except that the school play was “Little Black Sambo”.

The Midori (Green) Nursery School of Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture (about an hour northwest of Tokyo) might have escaped notice if one concerned parent of a biracial child who attended the school, had not posted the play`s contents to Facebook. On questioning, a teacher at the school admitted reading the controversial book to the kids in her charge and arranging the school play based on the book. She said the kids “all” loved the book and found it very “cute”. The children even sang a ditty she wrote that was translated as “Little Black Sambo, Sambo, Sambo. His face and hands are completely black. Even his butt is completely black.”

This is not the first time that the racial insenstivity of Japan has gotten them in trouble. A few years back, a toothpaste brand called “Darkey” featured a grotesque picture of a person of color with hugely oversized lips and glowing teeth, the implication apparently being that this toothpaste would make your teeth as shiny as those of a “darkey”. It was ultimately pulled from the shelves but not without much consternation. Many Japanese friends asked me what all the fuss was about.

Another involved the drink Calpis which is sold as Calpico is the states. The carton of the drink featured a “minstrel Al Jolson-style” black faced person with a top hat and the proverbial oversized lips. It was also eventually withdrawn.

I am especially concerned that “Little Black Sambo” was performed in a school where a biracial child was in attendance. How was he/she expected to feel? Did the teacher even consider that? I rather doubt it.

Still, the problem in my view ultimately stems from the lack of exposure and contact (deep, not superficial) that Japanese people have with the outside world. Traveling to and shopping in Guam and Hawaii does not equal “cultural sensitivity.” Especially in rural areas like Saitama, the idea that some might find “Sambo” offensive has never sunk in. But then again, when we have a governor of Tokyo like Shintaro Ishihara who constantly blames the rise of crime on foreigners and especially the Chinese, despite reams of data to the contrary, what can be expected?

Now, as for homphobia, ageism, sexism and glorification of the abuse of women in Japanese media….OK, don`t get me started already!

SOURCE

The facts that the story is read at the school and that this “play” was performed are disheartening, but it gets worse!  The parents of the biracial child complained.  Big time.  And yet the school refuses to remove the book from the classroom, or to stop the children from singing the offensive ditty.  I found this letter detailing the fallout after the performance on BlackTokyo.com.

Dear Black Tokyo,

I would like to bring the following matter to your attention.

A daycare center named Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園), or Green Daycare Center, in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture, located just 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, has been teaching hate speech to three-year old children daily, despite the protests of the parents of at least one biracial child in the class.

http://tinyurl.com/yz8ht6m

Although technically a private institution, the parents were originally instructed by the city of Tokorozawa that their child would have attend daycare there.

During the two years that the child has attended the daycare center, the parents had never once voiced a single concern about the operation of the daycare center until much to the their shock, the daycare center based a play / musical to be performed on Saturday, February 27th, 2010, on the book Little Black Sambo:

http://tinyurl.com/2xgvg8

This is the very same book that several Japanese publishing companies had stopped printing due to public outrage in 1988. When the book was reprinted by one rogue publisher in 2005, many residents of Japan–foreign and Japanese–signed a petition encouraging the publishing company to use a different title and illustrations for the book due to their offensive nature:

http://www.debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html

Unfortunately, now that the book Little Black Sambo has been republished and widely distributed in Japan, it is apparent that the book is now being taught at Japanese daycare centers and quite possibly preschools and elementary schools across the country as well. At least two additional volumes of the book have also been printed by the same rogue Japanese publishing company.

…Here is a quick translation of some of the frightening lyrics from the song the children are being taught to enjoy singing daily at the daycare center in Tokorozawa:

“Little Black Sambo, sambo, sambo
His face and hands are completely black
Even his butt is completely black”

Obviously, that kind of speech should never be taught to children by teachers at a daycare center. Those words are more akin to what might be taught by a white supremacist group.

Apparently, the book they daycare center is using even comes complete with demeaning pickaninny images.

Now every time the 3-year old biracial child sees a black person he starts using the racial slur and mentions their black skin. The parents now fear taking their own child out in public or overseas. As the child is of such a young age, it also is not effective for the parents to tell the child not to use those derogatory words outside of daycare, as the child will only use them more.

In an attempt to be as understanding of cultural differences, as it was possible that perhaps the daycare center teachers were just not aware of the problems with the book, the parents of the biracial child both wrote letters in Japanese explaining the history of the book, why the title was discriminatory, and mentioning that they thought that illustrations showing demeaning racial stereotypes were not appropriate for young children.

The parents even showed the teachers that the term “sambo” was offensive and derogatory, both in English and in Japanese.

Beside being used as a disparaging reference to black people, the English dictionary makes it clear that the word is also used to refer to people of “mulatto ancestry,” in other words, the offspring of parents of different racial origin.

After doing a little research, the parents soon found that the term had been in use and deemed derogatory as far back as 1748, 150 years before the book Little Black Sambo was even written. In addition, the derogatory word “sambo” has been prohibited from being broadcasted on TV or radio in Japan, which was also explained to the daycare center.

This fact that the book contains offensive slurs shouldn’t even be considered news to anyone in Japan, when when Little Black Sambo was republished in Japan in 2005, the website of the Asahi News reported that the book was said to “discriminate against black people” and the article can still be found online:

http://book.asahi.com/news/TKY200504190160.html

In an attempt to help the daycare center out of a sticky situation, the parents of the biracial child even had the two following books sent by express mail and took them to the daycare center:

The Japanese translations of “Sam and the Tigers” and “The Story of Little Babaji.”

Both books above are modern, politically-correct retellings of Little Black Sambo that would not cause offense.

However, the daycare center said that they were not only already aware of the politically correct versions of the book, but has also refused to use them.

The daycare center’s excuse is that since all of the children have already learned the title Little Black Sambo, there will be no change in the title whatsoever. The staff have continued to teach the use of the discriminatory word “sambo” and encourage the children to enjoy using it.

In addition, at a meeting with one of the parents of the biracial child, the daycare center said that although they could not make any promises, they would “try” to change the lyrics of the song. However, it seems that additional lyrics were never actually taught and the biracial child and others in the school continue to use the hate speech filled one.

It appears that nothing has been done at all and that the daycare center is just trying to avoid the problem. Despite the parents’ protests, the daycare center still continues to use the racial slur in the presence of their biracial child and encourages the child’s classmates to enjoy singing the song which clearly contains hate speech.

Despite the daycare center’s claims, the fact is that there is no good excuse for racial discrimination.

It is shocking that a daycare center of all places, located just 30 minutes by train from downtown Tokyo, where the population includes a fair number of black people and numerous African Embassies, is teaching hate speech to small children.

As can be imagined, this has caused quite a lot of stress for the family with the biracial child. While understanding that this matter needs to be brought to the attention of the public, one of the parents of the biracial child has expressed concern for their family’s safety, and so wishes that the family not be further identified publicly.

Japanese society is based on shame and often slow to change. As a culture is appears that may Japanese people prefer to try to ignore problems and just hope they go away. Only by shaming organizations that discriminate and drawing the public’s attention to the problem of racial discrimination in Japan, will real change eventually come about.

Please take the time to contact the daycare center yourself, either in English or Japanese, and raise your concerns about the daycare center’s teaching of hate speech to young children. It will only take a minute of your time and contact information is provided below.

Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園)

Tel: 04-2948-2613 (Monday to Saturday, 9 AM – 5 PM)
Fax: 04-2947-3924
E-mail: qqew85hd@world.ocn.ne.jp

Address:

Sayamagaoka 1-3003-52
Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1161

Please also make your voice heard, by sending a carbon copy to Tokorozawa City Hall, Department of Daycare Services, which has been informed of this issue:

EMAIL: a9126@city.tokorozawa.saitama.jp

Thank you very much for your time. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Mark Thompson

This message can be freely copied, distributed or published online. Please help raise awareness of racial discrimination.

no fear, no bias

When I first read this I thought it was a joke.  I suppose it had something to do with naming this a disorder when it seems like we should all be striving to attain such open-mindedness when it comes to race and the perception of otherness.  Then I thought we should all be so lucky as to be born with this “disorder.”  What this article doesn’t mention though is that there’s a lot more to Williams syndrome than lack of racial biases.  It is not a joke.  And hopefully there will be a cure someday.  I’m grateful to those who did this study and hope to hear that further studies with racially-mixed families will be done to test this explanation of fear based racial biases.

Individuals with Rare Disorder Have No Racial Biases

Robin Nixon
LiveScience Staff Writer

Never has a human population been found that has no racial stereotypes. Not in other cultures or far-flung countries. Nor among tiny tots or people with various psychological conditions.

Until now.

Children with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that makes them lack normal social anxiety, have no racial biases. They do, however, traffic in gender stereotypes, said study researcher Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

illustration by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Normally, children show clear preferences for their own ethnic group by the age of three, if not sooner, other research has shown.

And, indeed, the children in this study without Williams syndrome reliably assigned good traits, such as friendliness, to pictures of people the same race as themselves. When asked something negative, such as “which is the naughty boy,” they overwhelmingly pointed to the other race.

Children with Williams syndrome, however, were equally likely to point to the white or black child as naughty or friendly.

While this study was done with white children, other research has shown that blacks and people of other races also think more highly of their own, Meyer-Lindenberg told LiveScience.

Williams syndrome is caused by a gene deletion known to affect the brain as well as other organs. As a result, people with Williams syndrome are “hypersocial,” Meyer-Lindenberg told . They do not experience the jitters and inhibitions the rest of us feel.

“The whole concept [of social anxiety] would be foreign to them,” he said.

They will put themselves at great peril to help someone and despite their skills at empathy, are unable to process social danger signals. As a result, they are at increased risk for rape and physical attack.

Nature or nurture?

While the first human population to demonstrate race-neutrality is missing critical genes, “we are not saying that this is all biologically-based and you can’t do anything about it,” Meyer-Lindenberg said.

“Just because there is a genetic way to knock the system out, does not mean the system itself is 100 percent genetic,” he said.

The study does show, however, that racism requires social fear. “If social fear was culturally reduced, racial stereotypes could also be reduced,” Meyer-Lindenberg said.

Despite their lack of racial bias, children with Williams syndrome hold gender stereotypes just as strongly as normal children, the study found. That is, 99 percent of the 40 children studied pointed to pictures of girls when asked who played with dolls and chose boys when asked, say, who likes toy cars.

The fact that Williams syndrome kids think of men and women differently, but not blacks and whites, shows that sex stereotypes are not caused by social anxiety, Meyer-Lindenberg said.

This may be because we learn about gender within “safe” home environments, while a different race is usually a sign of someone outside our immediate kin. (Studies to test this explanation, such as with racially-mixed families, have not yet been done.)

Racial biases are likely rooted in a general fear of others, while gender stereotypes may arise from sweeping generalizations, Meyer-Lindenberg said. “You watch mother make the meals, so you generalize this to everyone female.”

In their heads

Due to the present study, we now know that “gender and race are processed by different brain mechanisms,” Meyer-Lindenberg said, although those involved in gender are less understood.

Previous work has shown that in the brains of people with Williams syndrome, the amygdala – the emotional seat of the brain – fails to respond to social threats. While the amygdala itself is functionally normal, it is misguided by the pre-frontal cortex – the executive of the brain – to block all social anxiety.

This system is now thought to underlie racism, but it seems uninvolved in the formation of sex stereotypes.

Meyer-Lindenberg and colleagues are now using brain imaging to get a clearer picture of how racism and sexism are differentiated in the brain. The present study was published in the journal Current Biology.

SOURCE

if you look like one, you could be another

Brilliant!!! I love everything about this!  I’ll admit that I felt what I would have described back then as “weird” about my (mixed)race.  Looking back, I think “shame” fits the bill.  I’m so happy to hear that acknowledged, and even happier that feelings are changing to pride.  Mine included.

Danbury’s multi-racial students to star in film

Eileen FitzGerald

DANBURY — The three boys wore jeans and long-sleeve T-shirts. The two girls each wore a dozen bracelets and necklaces. They looked like typical students in the library media center at Broadview Middle School.

It was their differences, however, that brought them together Monday. They’re subjects in a documentary in which Western Connecticut State University professor Marsha Daria is examining the identity and social relationships of multiracial children.

Daria is interviewing elementary, middle and high school students to help educators and teacher training programs consider multiracial students in the curriculum and school issues.

The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders carry the roots of about a dozen ethnic heritages, including African American, Spanish, Italian, Scottish, Irish, Chinese and Portuguese.

“It’s cool to be two races, because you get to experience two different cultures and those countries,” sixth-grader Jonathan Garcia, 11, said.

Jonathan, who is half Chinese and half Puerto Rican, was a little nervous to be interviewed but glad to express his feelings about the issue for the movie.

“This gives me a chance to say that what race you are doesn’t matter. If you look like one, you could be another,” he said. “Sometimes they say I am Asian, but what bothers me is that I’m not all Asian. They say things about Asians that I don’t think are nice.”

Sometimes he points out people’s negative comments, and they acknowledge they were wrong. Other times he ignores what people say.

Eighth-grader Kiani Oliveira, 14, who is Portuguese, African American, Indian and Scottish, wanted people to know that multiracial people are unique.

“Like we look different. Our skin color is different, and our hair and eyes can be different — unique,” she said. “It’s not harder to be multiracial. My friends take me as I am and think I’m cool.”

A Western Connecticut State University Professor, Marsha Daria, is filming a documentary on multiracial children. Daria and the film crew where filming at Broadview Middle School in Danbury on Monday March 29, 2010. From left, cameraman Scott Volpe of WCSU media services, Broadview student Kiani Oliveira, 14, and Professor Marsha Best. Photo: Lisa Weir

Daria is doing this project during her sabbatical as an education professor at WestConn, where she has taught since 1995. Her film crew is from WestConn –Rebecca Woodward, Scott Volpe and Renato Ghio– and she consults Emmy award-winning producer and director Karyl Evans.

“It’s critical to examine the ways in which we talk about race and ethnicity. There is a change in how kids view themselves. They used to be ashamed, but now you see a lot of pride. They want people to know who they are,” Daria said.

“It used to be a marginalizing experience, but not anymore. They feel special.”

Daria will use the results of the 2010 Census in the documentary, which are likely to be more specific about race than the 2000 census, in which seven million people reported they were of mixed race.

“I want to educate. To bring awareness to kids who are mixed race. We do become a better country when we accept each other,” she said. “There are good and bad in every group. We should accept people for who they are.”

Seventh-grader Robert Best, 12, who is Italian, African American, Indian and Irish, hopes the film will help people understand that multiracial kids are just like other kids.

“People think African-American people steal and white people are laid back, and I’m supposed to be like both of them, but I don’t like that,” he said. But he wouldn’t want things to be different for children who are multiracial, because it would put them in a separate group.

Seventh-grader Marissa Segura, 12, who is Costa Rican and Italian, and Nasir Fleming, 13, an eighth-grader who is Puerto Rican, African American, Italian, Native American, and a little Irish were also questioned.

The students, all American born, said they mostly celebrate American holidays and eat all types of food, including traditional food from their dominant cultures. They usually talk about typical teen topics — things like school and music — with friends from all over.

Marissa has friends from all over and wishes people would stop guessing and ask what nationality she is.

“All my friends are from different places,” she said. “My sister said I never have a friend who is actually from America. I just get along with a lot of people and have a lot of friends.”

Nasir said he’s annoyed when people think he is only African American.

“When I was younger it made me feel sad, but now it’s just whatever,” he said. “Some friends aren’t cool about who they are, because society tries to make them feel they are nothing.”

It might be easier to stay quiet when you are classified a certain way, he said, “but if you want to keep your rights you should explain who you are.

“People who are diverse are like a little community, but we’re all different,” Nasir said. “If you had to find a similar thing about us, it’s that we don’t like being titled one thing. It’s not OK to be judgmental, to stereotype.”

SOURCE

re: sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree

Here are excerpts from two stories similar to the one I posted yesterday.  You can read them in their entirety HERE.

Her Father’s Daughter

Cindy Foster will never forget the face in the window.

She woke up in the middle of the night, sat up in bed, and saw a man — she believes it was a white man — peering through her bedroom window. It was the early 1960s in a small Alabama city, and her family had just received a bomb threat from the Black Panthers because of her father’s notoriety as a Klan leader.

Foster, then about 6, tried to scream for help but her voice failed. Then the face disappeared. She later found out it was probably an FBI agent checking on her family’s safety.

The midnight memory is just one example of how her late father’s Klan activities cast an uneasy shadow over her childhood. The family received other threats; she recalls long stretches of wariness punctuated by moments of fear. That legacy continued to haunt her as an adult. She suffered from nightmares, was constantly vigilant, and didn’t easily trust others. She saw a therapist for several years and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety condition that can develop after frightening events. And she struggled to assert her own identity in the hometown where nearly everyone knew who her father was and assumed she shared his views about race.

“I just wanted to be me — not my father’s daughter,” said Foster, who now lives in northern Florida. (The Intelligence Report agreed not to identify her father, who died in 2003, to protect Foster’s privacy.)

In fact, Foster held beliefs very different from her father’s — a phenomenon she attributes partly to her faith. As a child of about 4 attending Sunday school in her family’s Methodist Church, she sang that Christ’s love is colorblind: “Jesus loves the little children/all the children of the world/black and yellow, red and white/They’re all precious in his sight.”

“I realized at a very young age that you either had to believe what the church taught or what my father stood for,” she said. “And what I saw my father doing was wrong.”

…Foster became a nurse, married and raised two children. For several years she volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, often working with black children from poor families. “I wanted to go out and do something for humanity and show that I believed differently than he did,” she said.

The Price of Hate

When Stephan Mills was 10 or 11, his father sat him and his older sister down after supper one night and told them that if they ever became emotionally involved with someone of color, he would kill them.

“I just nodded in agreement,” said Stephan, now 16.

The incident seemed normal to a boy who for years had been steeped in his father’s bigotry. Arthur Kemp, a South African white supremacist who has ties to British and American hate groups, indoctrinated his children with racist and anti-Semitic beliefs from the time they were very young. Stephan mostly adopted those views as his own. Several years ago, however, he rejected all that his father stood for. The experience would radically change his life and lead to his ongoing estrangement from his father, who’s now divorced from his mother and believed to be living in England.

“Stephan’s resentment toward his father is based partly on the fact that, in his sister’s words, he had to relearn to be a civilized human,” said his mother, Karen Mills.

There was a lot to relearn. Arthur Kemp “was a very involved and doting father” when his children were small, Karen Mills said. He read to them often, carefully choosing books he felt would reinforce his ideology. Among them were the original “Noddy” series, English children’s books that featured Golliwogs, dark-skinned caricatures that were later removed from the text because they were deemed racist. In one of Kemp’s favorite Noddy books, the Golliwogs steal Noddy’s car. Kemp enjoyed telling his children that the Golliwogs’ theft of the car amounted to typical behavior for blacks.

…He also forbade socializing with non-white children. If they arrived at a friend’s party to find that a black child had also been invited, Kemp made his children go home. When Stephan was six, his father reluctantly took him and his sister to swimming lessons at a public pool where one of the children turned out to be black. “He told us to get out and that we were leaving,” said Stephan, who now uses his mother’s maiden name. “I was still pretty young so I didn’t really understand what was going on.”

…He also relished showing them articles and statistics that purported to prove that blacks were inferior. He contended that blacks could never be race car drivers because they have poor depth perception, that they cannot swim because their bones are too dense, that they are not as intelligent because their brains are smaller.

“The children were actively encouraged to be vocal about their views and to challenge their peers,” Karen Mills wrote. “In Stephan’s case in particular, this resulted in him being ostracized and made an outcast as he followed his father’s lead.”

Stephan said he had few friends until his first year of high school. At times, he suffered from depression because his father’s brainwashing had so alienated him from his peers, his mother said.

“I wasn’t really someone that people wanted to hang around with,” Stephan said. “They regarded me as weird because I was constantly talking about Hitler.”

…Karen Mills said Kemp has had almost no contact with his children since their divorce. “I don’t think there’s any way that Arthur could fix the broken relationship with Stephan,” she said. Nonetheless, “Stephan has gone through something of a catharsis.” In addition to his posts on Lancaster Unity, he chose to discuss his father when he was assigned to give a school speech on someone who had influenced him — only he said his father’s influence had been entirely negative. Now, his social life is improving, and he has resolved to be as unlike his father as possible. “I am stuck with some of his traits and characteristics — Mom used to joke with me that I have the Kemp laziness gene — but definitely not his political views,” he said.

Yet there’s no bringing back the years he lost to his father’s hate. “You,” he wrote to him in the September 2008 Lancaster Unity post, “will never understand what you have done to me.”