Apr 30th

Janel Parrish has figured out how to fight the internal struggle she has with her looks

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Julie Sprankles @ Sheknows.com

Although we've all come to know and love Janel Parrish as wily Mona Vanderwaal on ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars, the actress — unlike her character — is decidedly un-devious.

That's not to say, though, that Parrish and her character are totally unalike.

Like Mona, Parrish is stunning and smart. She's articulate. And, well, a bit of a nerd at heart. And as Mona's entry into the Rosewood upper crust wasn't without a few hiccups, Parrish's transition into Hollywood wasn't exactly seamless either.

On "fitting in"

"The first couple of years that I moved to LA, actually, it was very hard," said the star, who moved to the area to pursue acting at only 14. "I wasn't working — I didn't know any of the casting directors. You know, I didn't have any idea how big the competition is out here and how hard the rejection is."

But with the support of her family, Parrish learned not only to not doubt herself, but to actually embrace the differences that make her stand out.

"Being a mixed-race actress was very difficult, especially growing up," she said. "When you're younger and you have to fit into a family and you're of mixed race, you don't quite fit into the Hollywood look — which is usually the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl next door — and so I would audition for those roles, and they didn't quite know where to place me."

A shift has occurred over the years, though, Parrish points out.

"Now that I'm older and I don't really have to fit into a family in roles, it's not that much of an issue, and I think also Hollywood and the world has become a little less color-blind, which is wonderful."

And she's happy to see that sense of self-acceptance growing in Hollywood. "People like Maggie Q are getting lead roles as a beautiful Asian American actress," she said. "And that's wonderful... that's not something I think would have happened 10 to 12 years ago when I first came here."

On bucking the trend to bow to Hollywood standards

Women, she asserts, should just be able to be true to themselves.

"And I see a lot of that happening. I love that. Whether it's style or speak[ing] out about what you're passionate about or not following trends that aren't classy — I think class is really sexy."

Although Parrish hasn't personally experienced some of the unfair pressure placed on young actresses by the industry, she concedes that she fights the same internal struggle many women do: "Wanting to be beautiful and wanting to look like the models in the magazines."

Thankfully, she says, there are actresses in Hollywood who are paving the way when it comes to helping women just be themselves and not worry about fitting into any certain mold.

"Women like Jennifer Lawrence," she told us, "who have spoken up a lot just about being herself and not following any fad diets, and thinking she's beautiful the way she is. You know, that curves are sexy and just embracing yourself and your natural sexiness. I think that's really great."

On her favorite imperfections

Of course, holding on to that kind of confidence can be tricky in an industry where digital airbrushing to perfection is the norm — which is precisely why Parrish isn't a fan of Photoshop.

She explained, "I have a little freckle on my nose, and I love this little, like, imperfection, if you will. And a lot of the time when I do photo shoots, they'll photoshop out the freckle. I'm like, 'But I love that little blemish!' or whatever it is.

"I think people's imperfections, whatever they are, give them character," she added. "And I think it's beautiful."

Still, there's a learning curve to self-acceptance, admits Parrish, who has always been self-conscious about what she calls her "chubby little chipmunk cheeks." To this day, they are part of the reason she isn't crazy about smiling in pictures.

"If you look at my Instagram, there's a lot of smizing going on, because I just know that if I smile, my two flaws that I hate are going to show — one is my cheeks, and the second one is my teeth." (The latter of which she says are "kind of crooked.")

She's getting there, though, pointing out that she has decided to embrace those insecurities. "The little flaws add character, so I'm gonna keep my teeth and my cheeks!" she said, laughing.


Please visit sheknows.com by clicking here: http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1070393/janel-parrish-stereotypes-and-photoshop-interview

Apr 28th

The real shame of Ben Affleck running from his family's history

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Dorothy Brown @ CNN.com

Dorothy A. Brown is a professor of law at Emory University and author of "Critical Race Theory: Cases, Materials, and Problems." The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


(CNN)The cover-up is often worse than the crime.

Henry Louis Gates stands accused of scrubbing part of a segment in his PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" because the actor Ben Affleck put pressure on him. Affleck's concern was that the segment would have aired his family's dirty laundry, which includes a slaveholding ancestor, Benjamin Cole.

Affleck said, in a statement posted on Facebook, that he "didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed." And Gates later explained that he subbed that part of the segment for another that made for more "compelling television."

But providing a window into the importance of slavery's past to America's present should never just be about what makes for good television. Gates missed an opportunity.

And Affleck's initial reluctance to acknowledge his truth (an impulse, he said on Facebook, he regrets) is surprising. Last month, Affleck lent his star power to support continued foreign assistance for the Democratic Republic of Congo by testifying before Congress.

He isn't shy about aligning himself with causes and issues. What more could he do if his instinct is also to tackle issues closer to home: the legacy of slavery in his own family tree and how it is possible -- necessary -- to reject the racism passed through generations even today. He should have shown the courage to stay in an uncomfortable place. What a teachable moment for the country.

In any case, why did he agree to do a television show if he was concerned about what might be discovered? He could have paid a genealogist to uncover his ancestry, if privacy was what he wanted.

The irony here is that none of this would have ever been found out if Sony's emails had not been hacked and if Gates hadn't written to Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, for advice.

In the leaked exchange, Lynton advised: "I would take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky." Gates acknowledges that to delete the segment at the request of a guest "would be a violation of PBS rules." Then he does it anyway.Ben Affleck: I'm 'a work in progress'

Gates, however, denies doing this. After the story came to light, he released a statement saying that he "maintained editorial control" and decided what made "for the most compelling program." For Affleck's "Finding Your Roots" segment, he substituted a Revolutionary War ancestor instead of the slave-owning one.

If Gates thought there was no need for the slavery segment because it didn't make for good television, there would have been no need to consult with Lynton; Gates could have given Affleck what he wanted because he made the assessment of how strong Affleck's story was. The original script, reprinted on Gawker and elsewhere, makes it clear, however, that the slave-owner angle makes for better television.

Here are some excerpts:

Gates sets up the segment describing Benjamin Cole as living in Savannah, Georgia. Affleck responds that he has a house in Savannah. Gates says "Really?" and asks whether he knew he had roots there. Affleck says he had no idea he had any Southern roots at all. Then the voice-over lowers the boom: "We wanted to see if we could learn how Ben's ancestor felt about (slavery)." Gates shows the slave schedule of the 1850 Census to Affleck, who says, "There's Benjamin Cole, owned 25 slaves."

Affleck says, "It gives me a kind of sagging feeling to see, uh, a biological relationship to that. But you know, there it is, part of our history." Gates then says: "But consider the irony, in your family line. Your mom went back fighting for the rights of black people in Mississippi, 100 years later. That's amazing." Affleck then observes: "Indeed, people like my mother and many others who have made a much better America than the one that they were handed."

What a great line. What a great story.

And indeed when a public figure -- a celebrity -- chooses to confront the past like this, instead of ignoring it, he can provide a powerful example to a country that struggles daily with the roots of racism in its present.

This is the kind of enlightened approach Gates and PBS should have been interested in facilitating. White Americans' lack of comfort in talking about slavery, race and the places in our society where racism continues to fester is at the heart of why even with a black president, we are still, as a country, far from post-racial.

Affleck's segment had the potential to continue an important dialogue -- but the brand management part of Affleck won, and the rest is history.

The fallout continues. Gates has to deal with PBS and WNET's internal review. He should not walk away without consequences. If you're going to run with the megastars, you need to have mega-ethics.

Please visit cnn.com by clicking here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/27/opinions/brown-slavery-gates-affleck/

Apr 27th

Ticking the box: Finding a place for mixed race

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Chase Caldwell Smith @ http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/comment/0034154-ticking-the-box-finding-a-place-for-mixed-race.html

Image credit: Stinging Eyes

In my life, I have been told many things – that I “look like a bit of a foreigner” or that “I couldn’t tell you were part-Asian before – I can definitely see it now.” I’ve been informed, jokingly, that I’m basically “the blackest person” in the room, or told, imaginatively, that “all Asians look alike” anyway. Or my personal favourite, that because my mother is Asian and my father white, that I “live in one of those kinds of families.”

There’s much talk about race in Cambridge, with the establishment of FLY two years ago igniting a much-needed debate on how we should discuss racial discrimination in a university as multicultural as our own. I know for a fact that other students have been forced to confront much more discrimination than the little I have faced. But I still can’t help feeling that sometimes, much of the debate over race seems to pitch a cut-and-dry privileged majority, usually white, against a generalized group of underprivileged minorities, usually non-white. The issues dividing these groups are painfully real: I am not in any way refuting this.

However, I am concerned that this debate between a clearly delineated majority and minority has the unintended consequence of leaving out the voices of the students in-between – people like me who are neither all-white nor all-Asian, for example. It is sometimes difficult to take part because we don’t fit into the existing scheme of privilege and oppression: we are constantly uncertain of which ‘category’ we fit into, and perhaps, should fit into.

This article was in large part inspired by the experiences of one of my history professors, who was prevented from satisfactorily self-identifying her racial background on a government form due to a lack of suitable options. I, like my professor and many others, have faced the confusion of choosing a racial category on administrative forms, most recently those used for applications to university. Since the fourth grade in the United States, I have been asked to check boxes that try to define me by squeezing me into one or more discreet groups.

I am American by nationality, and my father is of European origin. My mother is ethnically Chinese, but Malaysian by nationality, and spent a formative period of her life in Australia. What single box, then, can ever hold the diversity that is my heritage? If I choose ‘white American,’ then I deny myself half of my identity. If I choose ‘Asian – Chinese,’ I erase the intricacies of my Malaysian roots. No matter how many boxes I try to choose, I am still stuck in the middle, unable to tell the government who I am and where I have come from, because in the end, a set of boxes on paper does nothing but reduce a rich tapestry of cultural memories into a series of pencil markings.

I am afraid that this is what the current debates over race and racism in Cambridge do as well: in pitting one group against another, many students are lost through the cracks, afraid to participate because they don’t feel like they belong on either side.

There is one solution, however, presented ironically on these very same administrative forms, hidden at the bottom. It’s called the “Other,” and it carries with it the baggage of being different, separate, unequal. But it also carries hope, and the promise of liberation – to define oneself outside of the existing schematic of either or, of majority or minority, of privileged or non-privileged.

To be ‘othered’ is a profoundly negative experience. But to choose the ‘other’ for myself, to carve a place for myself not only on a form but in larger racial debate, is empowering. So to those who identify as ‘mixed race,’ I challenge you to reject the pre-filled categories proffered by forms and two-sided debates, and to refuse to be limited by the categories presented to you. Break through them, and define who you are not by boxes, but in your own way, in your own time. 

That is the power of choosing the ‘other’: it is not one side or another, but both and neither, all at once.

Apr 25th

Matthew McConaughey Is On The Run In New Stills For Civil War Drama Free State Of Jones

By Yasmin S

For the film, he’ll assume the role of Newton Knight, a confederate soldier who spearheads one of the largest, and most significant rebellions in the bloody history of the four-year battle. Opposite McConaughey for the film is Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights), a slave named Rachel who wins the heart of the iconic protagonist, paving the way for one of the first mixed-race marriages in the state. Rachel’s relationship with Newton has been documented as one of the defining periods of his life, and it’ll be fascinating to see that play out on the big screen under Ross’ astute eye.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes star Keri Russel and Mahershala Ali are on board in supporting roles, while Free State of Jones will be produced by Scott Stuber and Jon Kilik, whose previous credits include Ted, Safe House and The Hunger Games.

Matthew McConaughey will lead the charge when Ross’ Free State of Jones arrives in theaters nationwide on March 11, 2016.

Set during the Civil War, The Free State of Jones tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Opposed to both slavery and secession, Knight launched an uprising of poor white farmers that led Jones County, Mississippi to itself secede from the Confederacy, creating a “Free State of Jones.” His relationship and post-war marriage to a former slave, Rachel Knight, effectively established the region’s first mixed-race community. Knight, continued his fight into the post war period, resisting Klan activity through Reconstruction. His legendary rebellion distinguished Newt Knight as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

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Please visit wegotthiscovered.com by clicking here: http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/matthew-mcconaughey-is-on-the-run-in-new-stills-for-civil-war-drama-free-state-of-jones/

Apr 22nd

Michael B. Jordan has no time for ‘Fantastic Four’ fans who can’t conceive of a mixed-race family

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Danielle Henderson @ Fusion.net

A new Fantastic Four trailer was released this week and in it, African-American actor Reg E. Cathey — playing Dr. Franklin Storm — clearly says that white actress Kate Mara — playing Sue Storm — is his daughter:

It’s a throwaway line that’s not a big deal at all… Unless you’re an unimaginative weirdo who can’t conceive of a mixed-race family.

Michael B. Jordan, the African-American actor who plays Sue’s brother Johnny Storm, has been challenging the notion that this family is in any way strange. In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live — as covered by The Hollywood Reporter — Jordan bristled when Kimmel brought up the race issue:

“Kate Mara, I don’t know if you know this, is a white person,” Kimmel said, asking, “How did they figure that out?”

Jordan explained that there are plenty of families where the brothers and sisters aren’t biologically related.

“I’m pretty sure there’s white people out there with other ethnicities’ brothers and sisters. Doesn’t mean biological. It’s the world that we live in,” he said.

When Kimmel pressed further about whether this is “one of the big secrets” of the film, Jordan said it was mostly that he didn’t feel the need to explain something that seems obvious.

“It’s kind of self-explanatory. It’s one of those things where I don’t like drawing attention to the ignorance sometimes,” he said. “You gotta let it be what it is.”

Amazing — and not just because it immediately showcases a possible prejudice. How — in a fantasy world where a man is made out of stone and another dude straight-up spontaneously combusts — is an interracial family a big deal, or something that needs to be explained? Why are fans of fantasy still so rigid about this point of reality?

Families exist in so many different iterations that having siblings of a different race isn’t remarkable. Adoption is real, but it’s also medically possible for someone to give birth to twins who look like two different races entirely. Let’s not leave out step-parenting, foster families, or any of the other ways children might come into someone’s life.

It’s not unlike the mild uproar that happened when Marvel revealed the new Spider-man, Miles Morales, was a black, Hispanic teenager. For a group of people who can certainly throw their weight behind radioactive spiders, some of them certainly can’t open their eyes to real people who actually live on this planet already. It’s a reductive sort of fandom to assume that superheroes must always be white, or that difference can’t exist on a small scale.


Please visit Fusion.net by clicking here: http://fusion.net/story/123956/michael-b-jordan-has-no-time-for-fantastic-four-fans-who-cant-conceive-of-a-mixed-race-family/


Apr 21st

Radical accusations of cultural appropriation counterproductive

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Katherine Davis @ Columbia Chronicle.com

It goes without saying that racial tensions in America are high. With racist actions occurring on college campuses across the country and the growing perception that police brutality is racially motivated, the topic of race seems even more prevalent now than in recent years. Outrage is certainly warranted at times, but some topics are needlessly inflated, sometimes making race relations worse.

Cultural appropriation, the adoption and exploitation of another race’s cultural practices, is one of the many topics that has been blown out of proportion. Twerking, showing off a big booty and plumping lips, are now actions that have been deemed cultural appropriation by certain individuals ranging from bloggers to Internet commenters. 

Most recently, Kylie Jenner drew criticism for cultural appropriation after she posted an Instagram photo on April 5 of her body appearing to be covered in an artificial dark bronze glaze for a photo shoot by Marcelo Cantu. People reacted to the photo by accusing Jenner of posing in blackface, a form of theatrical makeup worn to impersonate black people usually in a derogatory and offensive manner. 

Jenner later captioned the picture “This is a black light and neon light people, let’s all calm down.” But even without her explanation, nothing about the photo looks as though Jenner is posing in blackface. While her skin appears darker than it truly is, it does not resemble brown, black or any other human skin tone. With its sparkly glow and unusual bronze tone, her skin color looks completely artificial—the look I believe that was their goal.

Although it is true that many traditional black features become accepted after white women began to sport them, American culture has evolved since then. Critics seem to be confused about what is cultural appropriation versus traits and practices that can be shared by multiple cultures and races. 

A legitimate example of cultural appropriation is the “MLK Black Party” that an Arizona State University fraternity hosted in January 2014. The party encouraged attendees to wear costumes that imitated and mocked American black culture. Photos were released depicting attendees wearing basketball jerseys and flashing gang signs while drinking from watermelon cups—an attempt to crudely imitate what they considered to be black culture. Their actions proved they were not only ignorant but also seemingly malicious, causing many to be rightfully offended by the racist party.

However, lately, people are being deemed racist for things as innocuous as drawing on thicker lips and sun tanning. The difference between actions like this is that these appearance-based actions are usually not malicious or a direct attack on black people. Some may mistakenly assume plump lips and bodacious booties are exclusive to black women, but that is not true. Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, two women who are not black but also not white, have some of the most celebrated butts in America. Angelina Jolie, a white actress, has naturally full lips, proving that these features are not limited to black women or any other specific race.

If people want to make the argument that white women cannot have big lips, big butts and tan skin, then in that same vein, black women cannot straighten their hair to achieve the typical Caucasian hairstyle.

It is not fair to tell someone they cannot participate in another’s cultural practice because they are not exclusively a part of that culture. Telling people they can never adopt aspects of style from other cultures and races is oppressive and only creates a greater divide.

As a person of mixed race, it is frustrating when people designate styles, body parts and music to specific race categories because I am not just one race but many. As the U.S. becomes more racially mixed, it is no longer fair to separate these aspects of culture. An admirable quality of the U.S. is that its many cultures can mesh together and coexist. Adopting a style from another culture is not necessarily racially inappropriate. However, throwing a race-themed party to mock and degrade a specific group of people is extremely racist, and it is important to understand the difference. 

Many of the individuals who accuse others of cultural appropriation would argue that they are just addressing race problems in America, but nitpicking and rashly finding fault with people expressing a style preference is counterproductive in the fight for racial equality. While generations continue to progress, Americans should focus on celebrating all cultures and races rather than punishing people for branching out of their own racial stereotypes. There are racist actions, and then there is the act of embracing something out of genuine appreciation.

Please visit Columbia Chronicle by clicking here: http://www.columbiachronicle.com/opinion/article_ae0970c2-e576-11e4-af8e-9fcf13a46af7.html


Apr 21st

Black, Too Black or Not Black Enough

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Antwan Dobson @ Chicago Now.com

I recently watched a video of a young Barack Obama dating back to 1995, giving a lecture at a Cambridge Public Library, about his newly published memoir, “Dreams from My Father.”

In the book, Obama recounted a time when his maternal grandmother, a White woman, was having a disagreement with his grandfather.  His grandmother had asked his granddad to take her to work.  During the debate, Obama had offered to simply take his grandmother, in an effort to curtail the back and forth, only to find out that the issue was much deeper than just a ride to work.

His grandfather explained to him that his grandmother was quite upset because a man was peddling her for money and suddenly felt uncomfortable taking the train to work, like she typically insisted on doing. Obama expressed through reading a passage from the book, that from his grandfather’s vantage point, the sudden displeasing of her taking public transportation wasn’t just because of the man peddling her; it was because the man was Black, a sentiment that his white grandfather did not appreciate. Needless to say, Obama, a bi-racial man, describes an agonizing “punch in the gut” feeling with this revelation.

Now, President Obama has often made remakes about how he struggled in his youth with his racial identity. His father is a native of the African country of Kenya and his mother, a white woman, from Wichita, Kansas.

There have always been conversations about how a person should identify himself or herself when they are of mixed race. How does one choose who they are? Is it the culture you were reared in or, is it what your parents tell you who you are and when you become an adult, you just follow suit based on how you were raised?  President Obama is hardly the first to have this issue, as our country is made up of several bi and multi-racial people, many have risen in the spotlight and tackle the question head on, like Tiger Woods, Soledad O’Brien and many more.

Obama’s first presidential election campaign in 2008 was saturated with several pundits and critics trying their best to turn the election into a racial spectacle at the expense of Obama’s monumental run to seek the office. While Obama made every attempt to sway the attention away from his skin color and onto the issues at hand, eventually he had to “face the music” and tell the nation how and why he identify himself as a man of color.

Albeit the reason why he scheduled this speech was actually about his membership of a church where the pastor made, what some might call very incendiary comments about America, it all came to a head on March 18, 2008 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Personally, it is my favorite speech by him because it hit all the marks about our beloved country’s ills on race relations.  He goes on and describes the true and false perceptions some people feel about one another via the prism of race.

He titled the speech, “A More Perfect Union.”

Of, course, this is in reference to the Preamble of the United States Constitution.  In that speech, he explains his disdain towards his own grandmother who raised him because of some of her views of black people. He also articulated why he identify himself as a black man.

In polite company, within the black community, there have always been whispers and mumbles as to the “blackness” of an individual based on their current lifestyle or the way they may master the English language, which is perplexing in its own right. This disdain causes concern, at times, for those black men or women who are highly educated, reared in affluent neighborhoods, possessing a certain job title, articulate or simply carrying him/herself in a certain way. Some folks want to question his/her allegiance to the black community; or as some would put it, are they for their “own people.” This mindset is sickening and divisive to say the least.

The mentality of questioning someone’s “blackness” is not exclusive to common folk in the community. There are also signs and symptoms of this type of discontent with highly educated black folks whom themselves are often looked at with a side-eye by many others and their sense of awareness of being a black man.

Most recently Dr. Cornel West, an acclaimed intellect and professor on political, race and theological matters, directly from the halls of two of the nation’s most elite institutions of higher learning, Harvard and Princeton, has been on a tirade about President Obama and his perceived lackluster performance for the betterment of black people.  I find it very ironic because like West, who received a PhD from Harvard, President Obama is also a graduate from Harvard earning a law degree.

So, when are we going to see someone for whom they are and what they stand for as oppose to what their skin color is? Can’t a black man be intelligent, well to do and articulate without him having to explain how he still qualifies as being a “real black man?” Will we ever see the day when it’s not unusual to see men of color as a part of high society without thinking they were part of some affirmative action program? Time will tell and God-willing we will see the day.

Please visit chicagonow.com by clicking here: http://www.chicagonow.com/urban-intellect/2015/04/black-too-black-or-not-black-enough/

Apr 19th

The problem with 'swirling'

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Neha Kale @ Dailylife.com.an

Few things are a more potent symbol of slipping away from this toxic history than openness to partnering with someone from another race.

Few things are a more potent symbol of slipping away from this toxic history than openness to partnering with someone from another race. Photo: SIMONE BECCHETTI

The greatest myth about progress that it's measured rather than felt.

There's a reason we feel joy at the prospect of using dark-skinned emoji in a text message, or a like a weight is lifted when Olivia Pope's affair with president Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal raises questions because Fitzgerald is married (not because Pope is black), but a job ad asking for diverse candidates can leave us oddly unmoved.

It's easier to celebrate the things we can see and feel rather than the things we can count. When we imagine a post-racial world, it's one in which skin colour means next to nothing.

Christelyn Karazin subscribes to this theory. Last year, the African-American interracial dating expert and author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed, launched Swirlr, a dating website and web series intent on proving that hooking up with someone who doesn't look like you is the fastest way to assert control over your love life and expand your romantic horizons.

Although Karazin (who's prone to using euphemisms such as "rainbeau" without a hint of irony, and chirpily compares interracial relationships to the kind of sickly McDonald's confection that might land you in a sugar coma) is difficult to take seriously, there's no denying that our culture views "swirling" as a progressive act, worthy of celebration even as it's condemned.

When Louis C.K. revealed in season four of Louie that the mother of his two blonde daughters was a black woman played by Susan Kelechi Watson, it was considered further proof of the show's groundbreaking power. In a 2013 Salon essay, Roxane Gay (who recalls a bigot once spitting in her path when she strolled down a Montreal street with a white boyfriend) describes relief at watching a Cheerios ad in which a biracial girl covers her black father with cereal in a cute attempt to lower his cholesterol intake.

"It has been really comforting to see so many interracial families and families of colour being represented, being seen. That comfort rises out of seeing more evidence, on television, of the world as it really is, not hopelessly trapped in how it once was," she writes.

We don't have to look far to work out why tiny victories can feel so big.

In a November 2011 op-ed for The Sydney Morning Herald, Finance Minister Penny Wong highlighted the ways in which the White Australia Policy gave rise to the view that interracial partnerships were the cause of "racial contamination". This belief was even more corrosive in the US, where miscegenation was considered a criminal offence until after 1967 – and the last ban on interracial marriages was lifted as recently as November 2000 in Alabama.

Few things are a more potent symbol that we're slipping away from this toxic history than openness to partnering up with someone from another race. In November 2013, a University of California study on online dating habits discovered racial segregation on websites such as OkCupid had nothing to do with desire and everything to do with users' fear someone from another background wouldn't find them attractive. In 2013 SBS reported interracial coupling rates for non-white Australians jumped 60 per cent or more by the third generation.

But although this uptake in "swirling" suggests that romantic connection is less subject to age-old prejudice (or ruled by fetish, depending on whether you're a pessimist or an optimist), it's more interesting to consider this from the perspective of someone nonwhite. If dating someone from your own race confirms the notion that "nonwhite culture is assumed to be rooted in instinct" but "white culture is one of intent," as Ayesha Siddiqi puts it in her excellent essay for The New Inquiry 'Can the white girl twerk?', then diverting from this can feel like a radical act. 

However, "swirl" conjures images of chocolate melting into vanilla – and this is where ice cream metaphors fall horribly short. On her high-traffic dating site Beyond Black & White, Karazin (who's happily married to a white man) makes the case for "swirling" based on statistics that are the product of systemic inequalities, such as low marriage rates between African-Americans. Swirlr, which is about as edgy as an episode of Joe Millionaire, features awkward bowling dates in which spirited women named Quintana gravitate towards brooding jocks called Rocky.

Karazin's app might ask us to "date different" but her project still reflects a culture that uses the language of cosmopolitanism to push a version of diversity with whiteness at its heart. If the world was really post-racial, we wouldn't celebrate interracial couples for being interracial. Love depends on feelings that occur entirely beneath the skin.


Please visit Daily Life by clicking here: http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-problem-with-swirling-20150420-1mnod5.html

Apr 17th

Accepting our multi-racial realities

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Victor Davis Hanson @ Mercurynews.com

Not long ago, The New York Times uncovered the artifact that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush had once listed himself as "Hispanic" on a Florida voter registration form.

Bush is married to a Mexican-American. He lived for a number of years in South America and speaks Spanish fluently.

Maybe he has consciously assumed a Hispanic identity. Or perhaps he did not think there was much of a difference between "white" and "Hispanic." Or, as he said, he simply checked the wrong box by accident.

Vijay Chokal-Ingam, whose family immigrated from India and who is the brother of sitcom actress Mindy Kaling, recently confessed that he, too, once changed his ethnic identity in frustration over not being admitted to medical school. The dark-skinned Chokal-Ingam shaved his head, used his middle name Jojo, and was admitted to Saint Louis Medical School as a minority African-American. Was he or was he not "black"?

Bush and Chokal-Ingam are not the only ones who may be confused about ethnic identity or may believe such identity can be assumed or alleged instead of being innate.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren for much of her career advantageously checked off "Native American" when under consideration for law professorships. Although there was no concrete evidence of any such ethnic pedigree, Warren simply cited her grandparents' family stories about their heritage as if they were proof enough to claim official and expedient Native American minority status.

Former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill for decades masqueraded as a Native American activist. Apparently he either wished to be a Native American or saw careerist advantages in feigning such a minority pedigree. Churchill's long-successful ruse suggests that society does not quite know who is and is not Native American.

During the Trayvon Martin shooting case, The New York Times apparently wished to diminish defendant George Zimmerman's claim of minority status (he is half-Peruvian), so it coined the term "white Hispanic" for him.

Barack Obama, whose mother was a white American and whose father was a black Kenyan, used to go by the name Barry Soetoro (the last name of his Indonesian stepfather). Since college he has preferred his birth name, Barack Hussein Obama. Apparently at different times, a young Obama felt more comfortable with different ethnic nomenclatures -- and what they conveyed to others.

In all these cases, ethnic identity apparently could be reinvented or at least tweaked.

People can change their gender if they so choose or present themselves as either sex regardless of traditional definitions. Is race likewise becoming a shifting construct, often predicated on changing nomenclature, accent, dress and superficial appearance?

We are more likely to identify Sen. Ted Cruz as a Latino than former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. That's because Cruz's father was Cuban and he has a Latino surname, while Richardson's mother was Mexican and he doesn't have a Latino surname.

Had George Zimmerman just Latinized his first name and gone by his mother's maiden name, becoming Jorge Mesa, would The New York Times have been so quick to render him a white Hispanic? Zimmerman, the person, remained the same. Were our views of him supposed to be conditioned by his particular ethnic construct?

Perhaps Jeb Bush could be called transracial. By virtue of his marriage, his Spanish fluency and his years of residence in Spanish-speaking countries, is he more Latino than are third-generation Americans with names like Nicole Lopez or Juanita Brown who speak no Spanish and have never visited Latin America?

America is a multiracial society due to immigration, intermarriage and assimilation. Perhaps it is time to cut out the bumper sticker self-labeling and instead accept that in our ethnically mixed-up nation, race has become an incidental construct rather than essential to our careers and personas.

Victor Davis Hanson is a syndicated columnist.

Please visit mercurynews.com by clicking here: http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_27926502/victor-davis-hanson-accepting-our-multi-racial-realities

Apr 17th

FYI: You’re Still White, Even If You Married Outside Your Race

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Megan Reynolds @ The Frisky.com

In a clever bit of trolling from the New York Times‘ Parenting blog, Jack Cheng, an Asian man, throws his wife — a white woman — under the bus by telling the world that she no longer considers herself 100 percent white. Weird. How can someone’s race change over time? By having and raising two biracial children, that’s how. Sure. Take it away, Jack.

A few years ago, in fact, my wife casually mentioned that she doesn’t consider herself 100 percent white any more. She has blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin, and as far back as anyone can remember, all of her ancestors have been Irish.

Okay, still seeing whiteness here, but hey, what do I know?

She became less white when our son, and then our daughter, were born.

I don’t know about that, Jack. My rudimentary understanding of both childbirth and genetics would lead me to believe that the only person that becomes less white in this situation is the child you gave birth to, because they have a white mother and an Asian father. That’s literally the only way this works. There is no magic procedure that happens to you, the white person, in an interracial marriage or when you raise your children who are not white. It’s as simple as that.

The sentiment here is buried under poor framing and a clickbait-y headline, intended to provoke. I admit by getting riled, I am part of the problem. But there are better ways to talk about this. The point of this poorly-executed piece, to me, is that parents care for their children very deeply. If you are a white parent raising a biracial child, there will certainly be many things that affect your child in a way that you can’t quite understand. Microaggressions that white people are not privy to will affect their small children, and it will hurt, because those little babies are yours, dammit, and you want the world for them. That colors your experience, because you get a glimpse of how shitty life can be.

Cheng’s wife, however, is somewhat of an expert. He says:

Part of her job is to lead discussions on diversity in her workplace. She usually begins by explaining why she makes an appropriate leader for such discussions and points out the stereotypes that come with being blond. Now, however, she could probably just put up a PowerPoint slide of her children and many people would accept that she understands at least some of the issues of being nonwhite.

The issues of being nonwhite are nuanced and unique to every person, and therefore very difficult to explain to someone that doesn’t share at least some of the same experience. Having two children who experience these issues will surely give you a bird’s eye view of the problems, but it’s impossible to actually understand the problems unless you’re directly experiencing them yourselves.

There’s a difference between co-opting someone’s very personal experience and standing in solidarity as an ally. You can recognize the struggles, and empathize, but the important thing to understand is that their struggles are not yours to take. A good ally is someone that stands beside you without inserting themselves in the conversation, someone that listens instead of diving headfirst into a struggle that isn’t theirs to own.


Please visit the frisky.com by clicking here: http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-04-16/fyi-youre-still-white-even-if-you-married-outside-your-race/