while i was away

besides hoarding articles, traveling too much for work, and evolving into a more holistic version of myself I had a fantastic time chatting with Heidi and Jennifer on the Mixed Experience podcast while I wasn’t blogging over here.  Y’all know I love me some Heidi Durrow.  She’s not only been a wonderful friend to me, but an inspiration as well! Oh yeah, there’s also that riveting novel she wrote called “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.” Such an important novel.  Period.  And in terms of the mixed experience it, like Heidi, is a true gem.  Here’s the interview if you’d like to listen.  I’ve been told it’s pretty good.  I also further explain why I had to take a break…again.

heidi and me

The Mixed Experience Podcast

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race manners

Since I’ve been back on the blog, I have said very little about the so-called biracial experience.  It amazes me that it’s still easier, even for me with all of my good “mixed” intentions, to talk about black and white.  I forgive myself for this because without the black and white there is no mixed.  Without the baggage of white vs. black stuff, there is no need for the mixed discussion.  So, I suppose it’s only natural.  It is little disappointing personally that the middle ground isn’t where the conversation begins for me.  It’s on the ends of the spectrum.  But I also suppose that this is natural.  I suppose this has been the disappointment of my life.  And I suppose that this is how we get to the middle ground.  By exploring the ends and inching toward the middle.

A couple of things in Jenee Harris’ article jumped out at me:

1. “My white mother has developed an acute sensitivity to the subtle ways prejudice and bigotry pop up in daily life.”- 

I wonder if my father would say he has developed the same.  I think so…I think that happened when he entered into a relationship with my (black) mother and grew deeper as he witnessed my experience… but we never talk about it…

82920031

me with my parents:)

2. “Well-intended”– re: “adults loved to tell me that people paid “good money” for hair like mine (think 1980s-era perms on white women)” and “A friend got the biscuit analogy…: God burned black people and undercooked white people, but removed her from the heavenly oven at the perfect moment.”

Well…if the intention of the (white) person who said this is to make the biracial person feel better about the perceived plight of their kind…well…i guess one could count that as a good or harmless intention. But I think that summation signifies complacence.  I, however, have to challenge this notion.  You see, giver of said “compliment,” in your quest to make me feel better about being my invisible, displaced, misunderstood, marginalized and tragic self you put me on the receiving end of your pity, your assumptions and judgements.  I do believe this is usually unconscious.  I also must acknowledge that it is an assumption I’m making. Yet there’s a reason that I assume that this is the intention behind the compliments.  The assumption is based on experience, but even those are dangerous to make. It’s the tone with which these comments are usually, subtly uttered.  If you’ve been the biracial person in this kind of conversation, I think you know what I mean.

When I engage in this kind of innocent interaction I can be left feeling frustrated, upset, and worst of all unseen.  It is depressing.  It is literally a depression of my spirit.  Of my freedom.  A depression of my freedom to just be and simply experience this life without being saddled with the weight of the stigma of a couple hundred years of prejudice, condemnation, fear, greed, inferiority, superiority, discrimination, and antagonism.  My take on it is that some people assuage a fleeting feeling of guilt over the fact that this is the biracial’s lot in life by reminding us (and/or reminding themselves) that I should be happy because I have good hair and tan skin which, I infer from your comments, should make up for the fact that on the whole the society we live in cannot acknowledge or understand how I exist.  I thought there was more to that sentence, but I think that’s it.  Our nation’s identity continues to be wrapped up in race and all the baggage that comes with it.  For that to remain intact, biracial just can’t really be.  I don’t think that needs to remain intact.  I think things are shifting.  So slowly.  But they are shifting and I hope I stay awake enough to the shift to feel when my assumptions based on past experience are truly no longer valid.

On the other hand, I’m fairly certain that most of my response falls into the category of  “Oh, come on, stop being so sensitive.

Or am I just being truthful?  That’s the stuff that this brought up for me.

Biracial Children: Racism Advice for White Parents

Race Manners: Comments about the superior beauty of your biracial child aren’t just weird — they’re troubling.

By Jenée Desmond-Harris

Updated Monday April 8, 2013

The Root —

“I’m a Caucasian woman with a biracial child (her father is black). I live in a predominantly white community. Why is it that whenever people discover that I have a ‘mixed’ child, they always say things like, ‘Oh, he/she must be so cute/gorgeous/adorable, those kids are always the best looking. You are so lucky.’ 

I know they mean well, but it seems off to me, and maybe racist. Do they mean compared to ‘real’ black children? When a German and Italian or an Asian and Jewish person have a child, black people don’t say, ‘Mixed children like yours are always the best looking.’ (Plus, it’s not true — not all black-white biracial kids are the ‘best looking.’)

Am I being overly sensitive by feeling there’s something off about these comments? If not, what’s the best way to respond?”

I chose this question for the first installment of Race Manners, The Root‘s new advice column on racial etiquette and ethics, because it hits close to home. Like your daughter, I’m biracial. Like you, my white mother has developed an acute sensitivity to the subtle ways prejudice and bigotry pop up in daily life. I should know. She calls me to file what I’ve deemed her “racism reports.”

And let’s be clear. Americans of all races say bizarre things to and about mixed people, who can inspire some of the most revealing remarks about our black-white baggage. Just think of the public debates about how MSNBC’s Karen Finney, and even President Obama, should be allowed to identify.

But the comments in your question often come from a good place, and they’re often said with a smile. When I was a child, adults loved to tell me that people paid “good money” for hair like mine (think 1980s-era perms on white women) and for tanning beds (again, it was the ’80s and ’90s) to achieve my skin color. Thus, the grown-up argument went, I should be happy (even if these trends didn’t stop people from petting my curls as if I were an exotic poodle, nor did they give me the straight blond hair I envied, and it’s not as if I was on the receiving end of the beauty-shop payments).

A friend got the biscuit analogy. Wait for it: God burned black people and undercooked white people, but removed her from the heavenly oven at the perfect moment, she was told.

Awkward. Well-intended. Poorly thought-through. A window into our shared cultural stuff about identity. These statements are all these things at once.

That’s another reason I selected your question. When it comes to remarks that are so obviously dead-wrong to some of us, and so clearly innocuous to others, there’s often little energy for or interest in breaking down the explanation that lies between “Ugh, so ignorant!” and “Oh, come on, stop being so sensitive.”

I’ll try it out here.

You’re right to be bothered by the remarks from the Biracial Babies Fan Club. Here’s why: These people aren’t pulling an arbitrary appreciation for almond-colored skin and curls from the ether. Instead — even if they are not aware of this — they’re both reflecting and perpetuating troubling beliefs that are bigger than their individual tastes. Specifically, while “mixed kids are the cutest” is evenhanded on its face, treating both black and white (and all other ethnic groups) as inferior to your daughter, I hear it as anti-black.

As Marcia Dawkins, the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, told me, “The myth that mixed-race offspring are somehow better than nonmixed offspring is an example of ‘hybrid vigor,’ an evolutionary theory which states that the progeny of diverse varieties within a species tend to exhibit better physical and psychological characteristics than either one or both of the parents.”

mixie girl

And just take a wild guess how this idea has popped up for black people. You got it: In order to demean and oppress African Americans, thought leaders throughout history, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson, have said that black-white mixed offspring are better, more attractive, smarter, etc., than “real” blacks and not as good or attractive or smart as “real” whites, Dawkins explains.

So alleging that mixed kids are the best of anything sounds different when you consider that we’ve long put a wholesale premium on all that’s whiter and brighter.

Nowhere is that premium more stubbornly applied today than when it comes to the topic at the center of your question — beauty and attractiveness. In recent memory, we had to re-litigate the harms of colorism when Zoe Saldana was cast to play the lead in a Nina Simone biopic. Tamar Braxton and India.Arie have both been accused of bleaching skin — as if that would be a reasonable thing to do.

A writer lamented in a personal essay for xoJane that she was sick and tired of being complimented for what black men viewed as her “mixed” or “exotic” (read: nonblack) physical features. (As far as I know, “you look a little black” is not a common line of praise among other groups.) Black girls still pick the white dolls in recreated Kenneth Clark experiments. Harlem moms can’t get Barbie birthday decorations in the color of their little princesses. We treated rapper Kendrick Lamar like the department store that featured a wheelchair-bound model in an ad campaign when he cast a dark-skinned woman as a music-video love interest.

Against this backdrop of painful beliefs that people of all colors buy into, yes, “Mixed kids are the cutest” should sound “off.”

As the mom of a mixed kid, you signed up for more than just the task of venturing into the “ethnic” aisle of the drugstore and learning about leave-in conditioner. You took on the work of hearing things like this through the ears of your daughter, and you agreed to have a stake in addressing racism. The fact that these comments bothered you means you’re on the job.

So if it’s at all possible, you should explain everything I’ve said above to people who announce that your daughter is gorgeous based on racial pedigree alone. If you’re shorter on time or familiarity, you could try a reminder that there’s really no such thing as genetic purity in the first place (“Great news, if that’s true, since most of us — including you — are mixed”). As an alternative, the old cocked-head, confused look, combined with “What makes you say that?” always puts the onus back on the speaker to think about what he or she is really saying.

Finally, just a simple, “Thanks, I think she’s beautiful, but I don’t like the implication that it’s because of her ethnic makeup,” could open up an important introductory conversation about why comments about superior biracial beauty aren’t true and aren’t flattering, and why the beliefs they reflect aren’t at all “cute.”

before this hurts too much

Need race-related advice? Send your questions to racemanners@theroot.com.

The Root‘s staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life — and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America.

because he was smart

Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein were friends!! Like, friends. Not acquaintances. I am related to Marian Anderson and she hung out with Einstein. Considering the purposefully reposted quote along side Einstein’s notion that the limiters of potential are limited as well, I imagine they had some profound conversations.  That’s nearly as impressive to me as her “dissing” the D.A.R. by singing on the steps outside in response to their choice to disrespect her in honor of the organization’s racial exclusion policy.

Anyway, here’s more on Einstein’s stand for equality. It was a lot more involved than delivering a speech at a University, and there are many more details here than in the article posted yesterday.  Not that the speech wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. It was!  Not only was Mr. Einstein brave enough to speak out, he did it while he was ill.  Outside.  Ok, it was May, so maybe the weather was fine, but I’m just saying if he was looking for an excuse not to speak, sounds like he had it, but chose not to use it.  Instead, he got up there and spoke to the impressionable minds of the “first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.”  If young African American males today are largely still in need of academic encouragement and inspiration and respect, I can only imagine how impactful and empowering Einstein’s presence alone was pre Brown vs. Board of Ed.  Just the simple fact that he spoke, and the forbidden, unspoken truth contained in his words.  I have a feeling this brilliant man knew exactly what he was doing.

Albert Einstein, I acknowledge your greatness as a champion of human and civil rights and your hand in illuminating the fact that limiting the potential of a significant portion of society limits everyone in that society

Thank you.

xo,

Tiff

einstein1d-m

Albert Einstein at Lincoln University

(photo of Marian Anderson in background?)

Albert Einstein passionately fought race prejudice, according to new and old docs

by Ronda Racha Penrice

Nearly 60 years after his death, the great scientist Albert Einstein is still making headlines. The launch of Einstein Archives Online — a more advanced repository of his work — is a long-term collaboration by Israel’s Hebrew University, which he co-founded, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was a guest faculty member on several occasions, and Princeton University, where he was a faculty member, generated global attention on March 19. Eventually, over 80,000 documents held in Hebrew University’s Albert Einstein Archives and Caltech’s Einstein Papers Project will be available on the Internet. About 2,000 are currently available.

Despite this unprecedented access, however, one thing hasn’t changed: Einstein’s strong support of African-American civil rights and his defiant stance against racism are largely footnotes, especially for the mainstream press. While it will, no doubt, be exciting to pull up correspondence between Einstein and W.E.B. Du Bois one day, his association with Du Bois was just the tip of the iceberg.

Einstein, as documented in the 2003 book Einstein on Race and Racism by veteran science writer and journalist Fred Jerome, who also covered civil rights activity in the South in the 1960s, and New York librarian Rodger Taylor whose early writings have focused on jazz and early African-American life in New York, staunchly denounced racism and segregation in the United States, even as his health steadily failed and his own mortality drew nearer.

Jerome first delved into Einstein’s human rights advocacy in his 2002 book, The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret War Against the World’s Most Famous Scientist. In that groundbreaking work, Jerome highlighted a May 3, 1946 speech Einstein gave at historic Lincoln University, the alma mater of both Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes and, as its then president Horace Mann Bond pointed out, “the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.” Interestingly, a young Julian Bond, Horace Mann Bond’s son, was there that day.

The speech was especially significant because, as Jerome also writes in The Einstein File, “During the last twenty years of his life, Einstein almost never spoke at universities.” He routinely turned down almost all of the honorary degree requests he received.

On top of that, Einstein’s health was not the greatest. Yet, he stood outdoors to receive his honorary degree from Lincoln University, which can actually be viewed on the Einstein Archives Online now, and, even more importantly, spoke these poignant words reported in the Baltimore Afro-American May 11, 1946: “There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”

And he was not. Einstein, as Jerome notes in his essay The Hidden Half-Life of Albert Einstein: Anti-Racism for the Journal of the Research Group of Socialism and Democracy Online, spoke these words in a time known by some as “the Bloody Spring of 1946” because it was just after black men had returned from World War II to the harsh reality that the Double V campaign, which The Pittsburgh Courier especially championed, had succeeded in saving the world from Hitler, but had not destroyed racism at home. 

On February 25, 1946, William Fleming, a white radio repairman, assaulted Ms. Gladys Stephenson, a black woman, and her son James, a Navy veteran, defended her, resulting in both of their arrests. When some white men, including four policemen, headed towards the black side of town, known as Mink Slide, later that evening, they found that a group of veterans had organized themselves for self-defense, and shots were fired.

“African-Americans firing on white policemen was enough for the governor to rush in 500 State Troopers with submachine guns who attacked Mink Slide, destroying virtually every black-owned business in the four-square-block area, seizing whatever weapons they could find, and arresting more than one hundred black men,” writes Jerome.

Twenty-five of the black men arrested were indicted for attempted murder. Einstein immediately joined the National Committee for Justice in Columbia, Tennessee, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt and also supported by Mary McLeod Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Joe Louis, A. Phillip Randolph and Langston Hughes that March. With Thurgood Marshall serving as the chief defense attorney, 24 of the 25 men were acquitted.

The violence didn’t stop in Columbia. On July 26, the heinous murder of two black men, one a veteran, and their wives in Monroe, Georgia was even reported by the New York Times. As with the majority of these acts of domestic terrorism, justice was not served. Einstein was outraged enough to lend his prominence to actor and activist Paul Robeson’s American Crusade to End Lynching (ACEL) that September.

Despite being too ill to participate in the mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial on September 23, 1946 (the day after Lincoln proposed the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in 1862), Einstein penned a brief letter to President Truman confirming his support of the ACEL.

“May I wholeheartedly endorse the aims of this delegation, in the conviction that the overwhelming majority of the American people is demanding that every citizen be guaranteed protection from acts of violence,” he wrote. That same month, Einstein penned a much longer letter in support of the National Urban League Convention that highlighted the economic injustices, among other inequalities, experienced by black Americans.

When the Nassau Inn in Princeton refused Marian Anderson lodging during her 1937 concert there, Einstein invited her into his home as a guest and they maintained a friendship. Anderson actually stayed in the Einstein home in 1955 two months before his death. Before Einstein even came to this country permanently in 1933, he responded to a 1931 letter written to him by Du Bois, who had studied at the University of Berlin where Einstein was on the faculty, to write something small against racism to be published in The Crisis. Later, Einstein supported Du Bois even as Senator McCarthy placed him at the top of his target list.

From the Scottsboro Boys case to the numerous attempts to stop the execution of Willie McGee, a black Mississippi sharecropper accused of raping a white woman, and efforts to prevent New Jersey from extraditing Sam Buckhannon, a black Georgian who had escaped a chain gang after serving 18 years for stealing a pack of cigarettes, Einstein used his fame to condemn American racism.

In the wake of the monumental effort to digitize Einstein’s life and genius for the masses, let’s hope that more of us will follow Jerome’s lead, and acknowledge Einstein’s greatness as a champion of human and civil rights for African-Americans as one of his greatest contributions to the world.

old paris, eiffel

Excerpted from a blog post by Rodger Taylor on a presentation in Paris about Einstein and racism:

The Book in Bed presentation was by far the largest audience — it seemed a hundred or so people. Half of them appeared to be high school aged.

“Einstein was White. Why should or did he care about racism?” — was a question asked by a French high school student. The question sparked conversation and also framed our presentation the next day.

Some of the responses as to why included:

Because Einstein was smart.

Because he realized that limiting the potential of a significant portion of society limits everyone in that society.

Because he was empathetic — and if he could imagine what is was like to be a beam of light projected into space, he could imagine what it was like to be black in America.

Because he got to know black people on a personal basis — both in the town of Princeton where he lived and beyond and that made a signficiant difference in how he felt about the racism they experienced.

it is both

there is no light without darkness… there is no darkness without light… everything is everything… my joy only runs as deep as my sorrow… it’s all good…

“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both.

Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple.

Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”

Excerpted from “Start Where You Are”

by Pema Chödrön

found

So many great things come out of Ann Arbor.  Such as Found.  I have the first book and it has provided me with hours of side-splitting, rolling on the ground laughter.  I finally checked the website out today, and while I laughed really hard at some of them I did manage to stay in my seat.  Definitely worth adding to your list of websites to waste some time perusing.

concensus

The Consensus

SOURCE

Mrs. H.A. Deming spent a year assembling lines from 38 English and American poets into this mosaic verse, published originally in the San Francisco Times in the 19th century:

“Life”

Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour? [Young]
Life’s a short summer–man is but a flower. [Dr. Johnson]
By turns we catch the fatal breath and die; [Pope]
The cradle and the tomb, alas! how nigh. [Prior]
To be better far than not to be, [Sewell]
Though all man’s life may seem a tragedy; [Spencer]
But light cares speak when mighty griefs are dumb– [Daniel]
The bottom is but shallow whence they come. [Sir Walter Raleigh]
Thy fate is the common fate of all; [Longfellow]
Unmingled joys here no man befall; [Southwell]
Nature to each allots his proper sphere, [Congreve]
Fortune makes folly her peculiar care. [Churchill]
Custom does often reason overrule, [Rochester]
And throw a cruel sunshine on a fool. [Armstrong]
Live well; how long or short permit to Heaven. [Milton]
They who forgive most shall be most forgiven. [Bailey]
Sin may be clasped so close we cannot see its face– [French]
Vile intercourse where virtue has no place; [Somerville]
Then keep each passion down, however dear, [Thompson]
Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear. [Byron]
Her sensual snares let faithless pleasure lay, [Smollett]
With craft and skill to ruin and betray; [Crabbe]
Soar not too high to fall, but stoop to rise; [Massinger]
We masters grow of all that we despise. [Crowley]
Oh, then, renounce that impious self-esteem. [Beattie]
Riches have wings and grandeur is a dream. [Cowper]
Think not ambition wise because ’tis brave, [Sir William Davenant]
The paths of glory lead but to the grave; [Gray]
What is ambition? ‘Tis a glorious cheat, [Wills]
Only destructive to the brave and great. [Addison]
What’s all the gaudy glitter of a crown? [Dryden]
The way to bliss lies not on beds of down. [Francis Quarles]
How long we live, not years, but actions tell; [Watkins]
That man lives twice who lives the first life well. [Herrick]
Make, then, while yet ye may, your God your friend, [William Mason]
Whom Christians worship, yet not comprehend. [Hill]
The trust that’s given guard, and to yourself be just, [Dana]
For live we how we may, yet die we must. [Shakespeare]

resisting the split

Choosing Peace

VIA

By Pema Chödrön

There is a key moment, says Pema Chödrön, when we make the choice between peace and conflict. In this new teaching from her program Practicing Peace in Times of War, she describes the practice we can do at that very moment to bring peace for ourselves, for others, and for the world.

If we want to make peace, with ourselves and with the world at large, we have to look closely at the source of all of our wars. So often, it seems, we want to “settle the score,” which means getting our revenge, our payback. We want others to feel what we have felt. It means getting even, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with evenness at all. It is, in fact, a highly charged emotional reaction.

Underlying all of these thoughts and emotions is our basic intelligence, our basic wisdom. We all have it and we can all uncover it. It can grow and expand and become more accessible to us as a tool of peacemaking and a tool of happiness for ourselves and for others. But this intelligence is obscured by emotional reactivity when our experience becomes more about us than about them, more about self than about other. That is war.

I have often spoken of shenpa, the Tibetan term for the hook in our mind that snags us and prevents us from being open and receptive. When we try to settle the score, we cover over our innate wisdom, our innate intelligence, with rapidly escalating, highly charged, shenpa-oozing emotionality. We produce one hook after another.

What are we to do about that? We could say that this emotionality is bad and we have to get rid of it. But that brings problems, because it’s really the same approach as getting even with other people. In this case we’re basically saying that we have to settle the score with ourselves, get even with ourselves, as it were, by ridding ourselves of our emotionality.

Since this approach will not work, what we need to do is to neither reject nor indulge in our own emotional energy, but instead come to know it. Then, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught, we can transmute the confusion of emotions into wisdom. In simple terms, we must gain the capacity to slowly, over time, become one with our own energy instead of splitting off. We must learn to use the tools we have available to transform this moment of splitting in two. *Splitting in two* is the moment when peace turns into war, and it is a very common experience.

***Especially if you’re “biracial”***

whiteness defined

This one is so good that I don’t have perspective to add or anything witty to say about it.  However that could just be because I’ve only had three hours of sleep and just can’t do any better.  Either way, this excerpt of a transcript of an NPR interview is definitely worth reading and pondering.  You could also listen to it in it’s entirety HERE.

Author Examines ‘The History Of White People’

Once upon a time, notorious laws in this country defined as black anyone with as much as one drop of black blood. Similar laws struggled with the rights of people of mixed race, octoroons, for example. But nowhere can you find a definition of white people, and as a practical matter, that non-definition has changed. Ethnic groups now regarded as white Irish, Jews, Italians – were once very much on the outside.

These points (are) from Nell Irvin Painter’s new book, “The History of White People,” which traces ideas about color and race from antiquity to the Obama administration.

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I’m Neal Conan in Washington. Nell Irvin Painter is our guest…

CONAN: …you conclude at the end of your book, you say the fundamental black-white binary endures even though the category of whiteness or we might say more precisely a category of non-blackness effectively expands. That non-blackness, is that by lack of a definition of whiteness?

Ms. PAINTER: Yeah, that’s about how it goes. There as you noted, there have not been legal definitions of whiteness. It’s kind of what’s leftover from blackness.

CONAN: What isn’t.

Ms. PAINTER: And blackness, there’s the idea of a one-drop rule is an idea. What the states did was say one-fourth, one-eighth, that kind of thing, one grandparent, one great-grandparent. That’s how they decided what one drop was.

I suppose people use the word one drop because actually color disappears very quickly in people. And so you can look functionally white with one black grandparent, which in most places would make you legally black. So what makes you black has been defined and redefined and re-re-redefined. What makes you white is what’s leftover.

CONAN: And in fact, you say that has been, well, ill-defined but redefined and redefined over the years, too.

Ms. PAINTER: Yeah…  The whole point of defining races is mostly to put people down, and so those needs change over time. Who do you want to put down? Well, you want to put down, say, Jews and Italians and Slavs 100 years ago, but 150 years ago, you wanted to put down the Irish.

…We think of race as something physical, biological and permanent, but the way people used race in the 19th and 20th centuries and probably still today is that it has to do with temperament, racial temperament. So how people look on the outside is a key to what they’re like on the inside, their temperament. So that had to do with Protestantism, too.

…CONAN: It’s interesting, Nell Irvin Painter, you describe how, in fact, racial laws made a transition in the late part of the 20th century from being used to exclude persons of color to define injustices against persons of color.

Ms. PAINTER: Not persons of color, Negroes, to be exact. The laws were against Negroes. But you’re absolutely right that before desegregation, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all those laws, exclusionary laws, were meant to keep Negroes out. And the counting up was to keep Negroes out.

And after that, particularly after the 1970s, the need to rectify the injustices meant that we had to count people in order to straighten things out. So now we count up racial categories, say, to track mortgage lending, where there’s still a good deal of racial discrimination.

So in the census, the census keeps counting us by race for purposes of undoing racial harm in the past.

Read more (or listen) HERE

conspicuously negroid features

Really, Frontline?  Really!?  Negroid?  Whatever, PBS.  Not sure why that caused me intense irritation, but it did.  Moving on…  This strikes me as something that should be common knowledge.

Was This Britain’s First Black Queen?

by Mario de Valdes y Cocom

“The suggestion that Queen Charlotte was black implies that her granddaughter (Queen Victoria) and her great-great-great-great-granddaughter (Queen Elizabeth II) had African forebears. Perhaps, instead of just being a boring bunch of semi-inbred white stiffs, our royal family becomes much more interesting.” (The Guardian, March 12, 2009)

With features as conspicuously Negroid as they were reputed to be by her contemporaries, it is no wonder that the black community, both in the U.S. and throughout the British Commonwealth, have rallied around pictures of Queen Charlotte for generations. They have pointed out the physiological traits that so obviously identify the ethnic strain of the young woman who, at first glance, looks almost anomalous, portrayed as she usually is, in the sumptuous splendour of her coronation robes.

Queen Charlotte, wife of the English King George III (1738-1820), was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House…  Six different lines can be traced from English Queen Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, in a gene pool which because of royal inbreeding was already minuscule, thus explaining the Queen’s unmistakable African appearance.

Queen Charlotte’s Portrait:
The Royal FamilyThe Negroid characteristics of the Queen’s portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate undesirable features in a subjects’s face. Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits. Ramsey was an anti-slavery intellectual of his day. He also married the niece of Lord Mansfield, the English judge whose 1772 decision was the first in a series of rulings that finally ended slavery in the British Empire. It should be noted too that by the time Sir Ramsay was commissioned to do his first portrait of the Queen, he was already , by marriage, uncle to Dido Elizabeth Lindsay, the black grand niece of Lord Mansfield.

Thus, from just a cursory look at the social awareness and political activism at that level of English society, it would be surprising if the Queen’s negroid physiogomy was of no significance to the Abolitionist movement.

Ramsay painted this one, with her two children, in 1765

Mulatto Queen: Black Grandmother of Queen Victoria

by Gary Lloyd

History reveals two curious details about Queen Charlotte Consort to George III: First, her official coronation portrait shows a woman with distinct mulatto features. Second, the Royal Physician to her granddaughter, Queen Victoria, wrote about her in his memoir: “She had a true mulatto face.”

But if Queen Charlotte was a mulatto, who was the black man who fathered her? And if Queen Victoria became the “Grandmother of Europe” would not her black African great-grandfather be the great-grandfather of virtually every Royal house in Europe?

Mulatto Queen unravels this mystery. Along the way we meet Voltaire, Samuel Johnson, Czar Peter the Great, Liebniz, and finally, the black African rumored to be Queen Charlotte’s biological father.

No stodgy historical drama, Mulatto Queen is a hypnotic, farcical romp through King George III’s England. Think: The Da Vinci Code meets Roots …

The characters are heroic, cowardly, desperately funny, disturbingly neurotic. What with their wedding-cake high wigs, court gowns, rampant alcoholism, bloodlust for public executions, addiction to snuff, penchant for gluttony, the appearance of a 17-year old mulatto girl and King George’s instant attraction to her caused a scandal and a cover-up that persists to this day.

Buy the book HERE