All Articles Tagged "race"
Last fall, I got to “meet” Toni Morrison. I use the term meet loosely because I really just attended a talk she gave and she signed her latest book Home. When she first started speaking, I was surprised by the sound of her voice. I expected it to be full of bass. Deep. But really, it was gravely with high, almost nasally notes interspersed. I took notes and Toni said a lot of noteworthy things; but the moment I didn’t need to write down to remember occurred when the woman in front of me, asked Toni to write an inscription to her daughter in the book she’d just purchased. Now, keep in mind, Toni, who was 80 at the time, had spent over an hour signing hundreds of books. And she signed everyone’s. But her people made it clear that she was not going to be doing anymore than sign her name. So when the woman asked Toni if she could write something to her daughter, Toni smiled, closed the book and told her “No, she wants you to do that.” The woman was visibly disappointed but I couldn’t help put chuckle. But it was so Toni.
Now, I don’t know Toni Morrison personally; but throughout her career, through not only her writing but through her advocacy as well, she’s always told it just like it was. She responded to the “Black is Beautiful” movement by exposing the very real issues of colorism in the black community, with The Bluest Eye. When she noticed that there were stories about slavery that hadn’t been told yet she wrote Beloved. And when critics and fans asked her why she only wrote about black people, she said, no one ever asked James Joyce why he only wrote about Irish people, or why Dostoyevsky seemed so hung up on Russians.”
Toni Morrison, as far as her career as a writer and public figure have gone, has always been honest about the black experience, even if it was painful for some to hear.
So today, on her82nd birthday, celebrate Toni by keeping it real, listening to one of her insightful interviews, meditating on one of her inspiring quotes or, better yet, reading one of her classic works. Love happens to be her favorite. She calls it, “perfect.”
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Black people certainly know white privilege exists because we live with the reality every day. But the question we’ve always wondered is do white people realize the position of privilege they’ve inherited or are they oblivious to the constructed reality and all the benefits that come with it? That’s what we asked the ladies of The Frisky in this candid discussion on race and the choice to acknowledge privilege.
Check it out and weigh in below.
KEEP THE DISCUSSION GOING WITH MORE EPISODES OF I ALWAYS WANTED TO ASK.
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From Black Voices
In a recent study out of Tel Aviv University, researchers found that people with an inclination to put certain racial groups into a box (aka stereotyping) tend to have trouble thinking outside of the box themselves.
The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, examined the link between “racial essentialism” (psychologist speak for the view that certain groups of people possess deep-rooted traits and abilities that can’t be changed) and creativity.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, study author Carmit Tadmor and her team explored the connection as follows:
The researchers manipulated participants’ beliefs about racial essentialism by having them read one of three articles: one that described fictitious scientific research supporting racial essentialist beliefs, one that described fictitious research supporting racial nonessentialist beliefs, or one about the scientific properties of water.
The participants then took a commonly used test of creativity called the Remote Associates Test. The participants were given three distinct words and they had to identify a single target word that linked the three words together. So, for example, given the words “manners,” “round,” and “tennis,” the correct answer would be “table.”
Read the rest at Black Voices
It seems like every other week, some news organization or journalist ends up saying or doing or writing something that puts their name in heavy Google rotation and sets their Twitter feed ablaze with 140-character badgering. Thank God it’s not me this time. It’s Rob Parker’s turn to be in the hot seat for comments he made last week about Redskins’ quarterback and franchise golden child Robert Griffin III (pictured). Today, Parker issued an apology, as is the rote course of action in debacles of this variety, because I’m quite sure between the fallout from higher-ups and the deafening yodel of public outcry, he is genuinely sorry he said what he said, even if he’s not genuinely sorry for thinking it.
His remarks, in case you missed them when he enlightened us on last Thursday’s edition of ESPN2’s “First Take,” went like this: “Is he a brother or a cornball brother?” Parker pontificated about RGIII. He then launched into a monologue about the rookie’s Blackness, called it into question because he has a White fiancée, is a rumored Republican and has made public statements that suggest race isn’t a big deal for him. “I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out…Tiger Woods was like, ‘I’ve got Black skin, but don’t call me Black,’” Parker added. “So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”
Folks get real uncomfortable talking honestly about race outside the secure perimeters of our living room discussions and whispered coffee room conversations. You and I know that. And I’m sure Rob Parker knows it, too—I doubt this is his first tango with this kind of subject matter—but if he didn’t, he sure as heck knows it now. We can’t get a constructive dialogue going en masse about race in this country because people like to pretend that racial differences don’t exist, like racism is a thing of the far-flung past and like we really are basking in the serenity of a colorless society.
Read the rest of this piece on Essence.com.
Two international reports were released this week, analyzing how students around the world perform in math, science, and reading. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study show mixed results for US students.
Looking at fourth and eighth grade students, the US performed better than it has in the past, but still fell behind students in Singapore and Hong Kong, especially in math and science, the Washington Post reported. Several states requested to be tested separately, including Florida, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, and often performed better than the US average, though there were some critics with concerns.
According to The New York Times, the US was 11th and 7th for fourth-grade math and science, respectively, and 9th and 10th for eighth-grade math and science. For reading, US students overall ranked 6th.
There were some findings that came out showing the differences among race and ethnicity in the tests. According to the Washington Post, white, Asian, and multiracial students in the US performed better than average on the reading tests, while blacks and Hispanics scored lower.
And CBS News went into more depth: “Racial and class disparities are all too real. In eighth grade, Americans in the schools with the highest poverty—those with 75 percent or more of students on free or reduced-price lunch—performed below both the US average and the lower international average. Students at schools with fewer poor kids performed better. In fourth-grade reading, all ethnic groups outperformed the international average, but white and Asian students did better than their black and Hispanic classmates.”
Education reform is a big issue in this country, with educators, charter schools, and the public education system looking to find ways to improve results nationwide. Just last week, the Chicago Teachers Union accused the city’s public education system of racism.
By Jada Gomez-Lacayo
At its core, Thanksgiving is meant to be a holiday devoted to the convergence of traditions, but we all know the actual occasion was a lot more tumultuous than history’s popular flowery retelling of events. The truth is Native Americans shared maize while dinner guests (New England colonists) brutally conquered and destroyed their lands. But rest assured your Thanksgiving feast, no matter the racial breakdown, can only go up from there. In fact, it’s probably safe to say things won’t get much rowdier than a drunk uncle – eventually.
Holidays can get tense when families come together period (peep the issues we talked about yesterday) and thanks to my racially unorthodox family, the holidays at my house couldn’t be any more different. My family unknowingly provided me with lifelong lessons that would not only shape my opinions on race, but also taught me how to make everyone comfortable with one basic thing, laughing at themselves. Honestly, the best way to enjoy the holidays without ruffling any ethnically sensitive feathers (pun intended) is to simply have fun with it.
Obviously, my family and I weren’t joining hands and singing “We Are The World” from the start. Even when I was very young, I sensed the uncomfortable vibes at early family gatherings. I noticed that the elders in my family had to make the most adjustments, and were subsequently the ones who transformed the most. My Abuela barely spoke English when I was a child, and she was just getting accustomed to the fact that all of her sons would not marry Puerto Rican women, as she had hoped, when I arrived. Her husband was a Puerto Rican Nationalist, and their children would be slapped for speaking English in the home. Talk about an adjustment when her youngest granddaughter at the time turned out to be a curly haired, bronze-toned girl who didn’t like pernil.
My other grandma, an African American woman who grew up in Harlem, was just as weary of her new relatives, often remarking, “That woman doesn’t like me. She’s always speaking Spanish when I come around!” Of course she’d never mention this until non-African American family members pulled out of the parking lot, and she could confide in the safe confines of her side of the family. Regardless, I was keenly aware of the awkwardness and innately became a mediator because I desperately wanted these two women whom I loved deeply to love each other just the same. But while there may have been a huge language barrier, one thing was universal: they both loved good food. Abuelita cooks a pot of rice that’s yet to be duplicated, while my granduncle on the other side who was an army chef during World War II has a Mississippi-bred ribs recipe that is still uncontested. Quickly, I caught on to that and became a non-driving valet of sorts at the front door. I would run as quickly as my 3-year-old legs would allow to the kitchen to tell my granduncle that Abuela had arrived with her castor iron pots, signaling a delicious pot of rice was on the way, and I’d let Abuela know as soon as there were ribs on the premises. Eventually nobody’s language, skin color, or nationality mattered.
Two decades later, as new nationalities and cousins made it to the dinner table, like my Italian aunt who makes us a newer version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, our family racial dynamic has become far less relevant. Laughter and loud chatter now fill those tense moments of the past, and instead we embrace the stereotypes we used to whisper, like:
“She’s the lightest thing in the house.”
“Let me return this baby to her mother so the cops don’t think I kidnapped her.”
“You know Puerto Ricans sleep with everyone.”
What we learned is the best way to dispel the differences was to just confront them head on, and honesty — and liquor — made our family gatherings unique and memorable instead of uncomfortable and unforgettable for the wrong reasons. Most importantly, the diversity at the dinner table affected each of our interactions outside of our home, making us more accepting of all nationalities.
If there will be new family members at your dinner table this holiday season, it’s probably not the greatest idea to start with the upfront, “you know all ____ do ____” talk right away, but if there’s ever an opportunity to have a light laugh about an unfamiliar tradition from a member of the family that’s different from yourself, now would be the time.
How do Thanksgiving dinners with your racially blended families usually turn out?
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
It’s Not A Black Women’s Problem: Matchmaker Paul Brunson Explains Why Dating Is A Challenge For Everyone
Love is patient and kind and … complicated, according to Paul Brunson, businessman turned “Modern Day Matchmaker” and now author, who aims to explain in his new book, “It’s Complicated,” why it doesn’t have to be.
For starters, one simple truth lies at the core of Brunson’s beliefs on why our conversations about dating aren’t evolving: “Establishing and maintaining a relationship is the most critical skill we can have,” Brunson told The Huffington Post. “All of the elements that lead you to having a successful romantic relationship are the same elements needed to have a successful platonic relationship,” he added.
In the African-American community, however, that truth is often convoluted by matters of race and the disproportionate number of single black women to men.
Here, Brunson explains why it’s important to check the race talk at the door, along with the biggest hangups he’s encountered in his matchmaking practice.
Read the rest at BlackVoices
More on Madame Noire!
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- True Life: I Had To Learn The Hard Way
- Self-Pity? No Thanks: Why I Love The Chocolate Skin I’m In
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- Ask A Very Smart Brotha: Why Falling In Love Is A Choice (And Why I Hate Romantic Comedies)
- Fall Into Your Feelings: How Autumn Will Affect Your Love Life
- Well, You Don’t Say: 9 Celebrities, Ballers, Authors And Vixens You Might Not Have Known Were Virgin Islanders
Have you ever noticed that successful individuals of the Caucasian persuasion rarely say they accomplished something for the benefit of their race or community? They usually cite personal desires as the source of their drive. It’s an interesting contrast to minorities who often speak of a need to represent for their people. The desire to make your community proud is an admirable one. But, the pressure of carrying an entire race or gender on your back can be a burden on the climb to success.
A Huffington Post op-ed captures the pressure black women in particular face, saying “I feel it is my duty to rep my groups well, so maybe there will be one less comment, one less shunning of someone else who comes along or to combat some crappy individual that somebody crossed paths with… There is a weight that I carry around because my words, actions and interactions are frequently perceived on behalf of my race and gender. No pressure, right?”
That’s a lot of pressure, actually. This role model mindset requires performing for two audiences — your people and the public. You can turn yourself into a one-woman show of making one group proud while debunking stereotypes held by the other. But where does the opinion of the person doing all the work come into play? Living up to the standards of others requires that you let other people define what success looks like for you.
Muhammad Ali said, “I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” He made this statement after joining the Nation of Islam. I have a feeling it was directed to his own people as much as White America.
At times your goals will align with those of your community or outsiders you want to impress, but it is important to be clear where the differences lie. Ali realized the problem with living to please everyone else. It’s impossible to do.
Black folks in particular can be a hard group to please. Take Gabrielle Douglas, the first black woman to win gold in the gymnastics individual all-around. Before the medal could be hung around her neck, many of the people she had just blazed a path for prefaced their praise with ridicule over what brand of gel she put in her hair. Lucky for Douglas, she pursued a gymnastics dream that was all her own, saving her well-deserved victory from being tarnished.
You have just as much control over what your own people think of you as you do the assumptions that are made about your race or gender based on your behavior. None. So, forget what they think. Concentrate on representing yourself in a way that makes you proud.
People can be inspired or have their minds opened by witnessing your climb to success, but ultimately the journey is a personal one. Everyone’s opinion on what success looks like and how it should be handled is different. Trying to live up to someone else’s vision of success is the definition of not being true to you. The only opinion on your life that matters is yours.
From Hello Beautiful
I remember the first time I met Ernest Green, the first to graduate Central High School of the Little Rock Nine–that group of students who made school integration in America a moment of historical and democratic note. I learned about him watching a Disney movie, as a 10 year-old, which effortlessly offered more depth than the five pages of study on the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement allotted in my college preparatory school’s 500-plus-page American history book. So when he shook my hand, years later as a recent college graduate, I responded, “I guess you do look like Morris Chestnut.” We shared a laugh.
The power of Hollywood film imagery rests in the fact that not too many people really takes the time separate biopic from fact. So, the growing clamor around the casting choice for a film on Nina Simone, which would be the first major telling on a subcultural hero for African beauty, is worth note.
Read more at Hello Beautiful
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- Is There A Right Way To Demand A Paternity Test?
- I Know You Didn’t Just Say Dutch: Why Women Should NOT Split The Tab On A First Date
- Where Are They Now? 8 Sassy And Silly Sidekicks From Some Of Our Favorite Black Sitcoms
- Did You Know They Dated (Part IV)? 14 Celeb Couples We Were VERY Surprised By
By Rachel Garlinghouse
I’m an adoptive parent. I’m white. My two daughters, ages three and one, are both black. It’s glaringly obvious that my kids and I don’t “match” and that they are adopted.
We have been asked a slew of questions. “Are you girls REAL sisters?” “Did you hear that Katherine Heigl adopted another baby?” “Are your kids full or mixed?” “Why didn’t their birth parents keep them?” “Why couldn’t you have your own kids?”
One question that I found incredibly interesting, and one that the media is asking more than ever is, “Why didn’t you adopt one of your own kind?” (Yes, this is exactly how the question was asked.) It has been implied that there are plenty of white babies who need good homes, so why would we, as whites, pluck a black child out of the mix of available kids? (This is actually not true. Many adoption agencies have a tremendous need for families to be open to adopting black children, including sibling groups and kids with special needs, as many white parents only want to adopt healthy white infants.)
The media and the public are asking these questions of transracial adoptive parents: Are you trying to capitalize on some sort of trend? Why are you stealing a black baby away from her racial culture? Are you trying to make your child white? How in the world can a white family raise a black child properly?
The increase in media attention on celebrity adoptive parents, particularly transracial adoptive celebrity families like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, and Katherine Heigl, has brought transracial adoption to the forefront of pop culture. I have read, much to my dismay, article after article that begins by prompting the public to question the integrity and intent of such parents.
I have to admit, I don’t necessarily blame people for their assumptions and skepticism regarding transracial adoption, particularly white parents who are raising black kids. Whites have a long history of treating blacks and other races in degrading, dehumanizing manners. There is a seemingly natural and underlying distrust between whites and all other races. Despite people claiming to be “colorblind” and spouting that “the world is a melting pot” which is magically full of harmony and unity, I know otherwise.
You might question if parents are adopting minority children because it’s the trendy thing to do. Here are some truths, from my experience, regarding transracial adoption:
1. Transracial adoptive families are double-minorities, facing endless discrimination.
Until we adopted our first daughter, I was, unknowingly, enjoying white Privilege. No one ever looked twice at me in a shopping mall or restaurant, no one questioned my motives, no one asked how authentic my family was, if we were a “real” family or not.
But when my husband and I brought our first daughter home, we were quickly inducted into the life of a minority. We have been asked by an airline to provide our youngest child’s birth certificate to prove that she is actually our daughter prior to us boarding a plane. When we went to obtain a social security card for her, the attendant gave us several glares, making it clear she didn’t approve of our transracial adoption. She then asked, quite judgmentally, a question that had nothing to do with the application for the social security card: “Do they [our daughters] have the same parents?” I’ve been asked about the girls’ “real” mom, as if I am the fake mom. A cashier at a local store asked why the hell my girls’ birth parents would “give them away” because after all, the girls were “so pretty.” My family deals with, on a daily basis, discrimination related to adoption and race.
2. Transracial adoption is a path to parenthood.
Individuals and couples adopt because they want to be parents. Maybe they couldn’t have biological kids, couldn’t have more biological kids, had always wanted to adopt, didn’t want to wait for a partner to have children, or chose to adopt to avoid passing a genetic condition on to any biological children. The reasons are many.
When I was twenty-four years old, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease: type I diabetes. I am dependent on insulin for life; without it, I will die. Type I diabetes can be accompanied by a slew of dangerous side effects, all of which can impact the life of the diabetic’s unborn baby. My husband and I chose not to have biological children because we felt the risks outweighed the benefits. So we filled out paperwork to adopt, marked “open to a child of any race,” and waited. We were chosen, twice, to adopt black children. Without adoption, we wouldn’t be parents. We wanted to be parents. So we adopted. It’s really that simple.