Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out!

NEW from Inanna Publications:

Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out
edited by Adebe DeRango-Adem and Andrea Thompson

"Speaks boldly and poignantly to who we are, and by 'we' I mean … all citizens of 21st century North America."

invite you to the launch of

Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out
on Thursday, December 9, 2010 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Toronto Women's Bookstore, 73 Harbord Street, Toronto (at Spadina)

Refreshments will be served. 
Authors will read from the book at 7:15 p.m.

OTHER TONGUES: MIXED-RACE WOMEN SPEAK OUT is an anthology of poetry, spoken word, fiction, creative non-fiction, spoken word texts, as well as black and white artwork and photography, explores the question of how mixed-race women in North America identify in the twenty-first century. Contributions engage, document, and/or explore the experiences of being mixed-race, by placing interraciality as the center, rather than periphery, of analysis. 

Praise for 

In a fresh approach to the quest for understanding mixed-race identity in the Americas, the multiple genres that find their way into the Other Tongues anthology -- from poetry to photography, fiction to scholarship -- perfectly mirror the prodigious spectrum of their authors’ positions toward the topic. This collection speaks boldly and poignantly to who we are, and by "we" I mean not only women of mixed-race ancestry, but all citizens of 21st-century North America.
-- Lise Funderburg, author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity

These exciting, beautifully inked narratives tell us that, as each woman embraces her biracial or multiracial identity, she mothers a new world, one with equal space for everyone.
-- George Elliott Clarke, Africadian & Eastern Woodland Metis, Laureate, 2001 Governor-General’s Award for Poetry
Passionate, courageous and insightful, Other Tongues speaks affectingly about the pleasures and paradoxes of living between the conventional categories of race. It is a significant anthology, one that I've been waiting for.
-- Karina Vernon, Assistant Professor,
Black Canadian Literature and Diaspora Studies, 
University of Toronto

About the editors:
Adebe De Rango-Adem recently completed a research writing fellowship at the Applied Research Center in New York. Her debut poetry collection, Ex Nihilo, was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the world’s largest prize for writers under thirty.

Andrea Thompson’s spoken word CD, One, was nominated for a Canadian Urban Music Award in 2005. A pioneer of slam poetry in Canada, Thompson has also hosted Heart of a Poet on Bravo TV, CiTr Radio’s spoken word show, Hearsay.

The publisher acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council 
for our publishing program.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Re-Cap of The 1st Annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference

Yup. It. Was. Amazing.
Over 400 participants from all over the country gathered at Depaul Unverisity in Chicago, IL for the First Annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference. There were panels, round tables, film screenings and keynote addresses ranging from the arts to new media, from high education to health care and from psychology to politics.
I presented on and chaired the Panel entitled "High-Ed Challenges for Mixed Race Students" with Brett Coleman (grad student in the Community and Prevention Research doctoral program of the Psychology Department at University of Illinois at Chicago), Kenyatta Dawson (grad student in the Education doctoral program at Texas State University) and Dr. Jessica Guzman Rea (current Academic Advisor for the Honors College at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County).We discussed challenges faced by multiracial students in higher-ed and the ways in which different systems and structures could be changed to better support identity development and socialization for these students.

In addition to sharing some of my work, I also had the opportunity to check out a round table of Wesley and and University of Washington students who are currently teaching and co-facilitating the only student-run courses on multi experiences called Mixed 101. I also attended a panel of students from Berkeley's Ethnic Studies doctoral program discussing mixed identity as well as a panel on entitled "Back From Beyond Black: Alternative Paradigms for Critical Mixed Race Theory" with Michele Elam, Rainier Spencer, Habiba Ibrahim and Jared Sexton

It's taken me a few weeks to process it all, but the wheels are still turning  and my excitement about future dialogue and action hasn't worn off.  Throughout the conference I kept wishing I coul dbe at every single event. But alas, I was forced to choose. So, please checkout co-founder Laura Kina's blog post Watershed Moment for Critical Mixed Race Studies for an in depth profile of all the weekend's events. In addition take some time a take a look at videos from the conference. Here is a link to the following videos of the conference. You must have iTunes installed in order to view the video.  It can be download here.
  • November 5th (00:19:48): Welcoming Remarks by DePaul’s Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Charles Suchar and conference organizers Camilla Fojas, Wei Ming Dariotis, and Laura Kina.
  • November 5th (00:50:36): Keynote Address by Andrew Jolivette, “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation”
  • November 6th(01:00:04): Keynote Address by Mary Beltr├ín, “Everywhere and Nowhere: Mediated Mixed Race and Mixed Race Critical Studies”
  • November 6th (00:57:08): Keynote Address by Louie Gong, “Halfs and Have Nots”

    Where Do I Fit? Multiculturalism & Multiracial Sudents in Higher Education

    Above is the slide-show for a presentation I gave on the panel "Higher-Ed Challenges for Multiracial Students" at the 1st Annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in Chicago November 5th-6th.
    My comments centered around the ideas of cultural diversity and multiculturalism and the ways in which these concepts pose challenges to multiracial students as well as “monoracially” identified students of color in higher education. For me the dilemma about how to support and create spaces for multiracial students really stems from how we’ve come to institutionalize and practice “multiculturalism” and cultural diversity in higher education and elsewhere. What we really need is as the conference organizers expressed in their opening remarks --a paradigm shift-- basically a huge change from the structural right down to the individual. How to create this is the key and most difficult question.  

    The end goal should be creating models and strategies for how students, faculty, staff and administration can work toward imagining and implementing first radical models of multiculturalism and cultural diversity and how these models can support and empower multiracial students, as well as monoracially identified students and even create proactive ways to confront racial tensions and microagressions that still occur on campus. 

    The concept which we now know as multiculturalism really began to solidify itself as an important social and political model in the Late 1980s and early1990s during the Reagan Administration throughout the Bush Sr. Administration and then through the early part of the Clinton Era. And its really been here to stay since then with a few minor alterations. Despite countless critiques and challenges the basic framework has remained the same. It was conceived as an ideological and socio-political intervention in education, culture and democracy in the United States and it sought to recognize differences in race, ethnicity, gender and to varying degrees back in the 1990s sexuality and socio-economic class, religion and spirituality-- with the latter three really coming into the fore over the past decade. The recognition of these “differences” was a huge project of early multiculturalism because of the idea that intolerance, tensions, violence, racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and oppression were tied to ignorance of or denial of differences.

    The origins of multiculturalism really began in the major social movements of the 1960s and 1970s and then within the academy which theorized and structured it and offered models of behavior practice and implementation and thus, academic disciplines and departments were created, core curriculums and “canons” were challenged. Nationally, the rise and institutionalization of multiculturalism also coincided with the institutionalization of grassroots organizing and social movements and the subsequent rise of the liberal non-profit sector. There was also an influx of immigrants to the United States as well as he coming of age of 2nd and 3rd generation American-born immigrant children of color. Finally the country was experiencing a climb back to an economic boom during the Clinton years after decades of recession and economic instability.

    By the mid 90s, however, multiculturalism had morphed into something else and as described by Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner in their introduction to Critical Multiculturalism published in 1994: “Multiculturalism promised to make political culture open and responsible, not only to diverse viewpoints, but also to the conflicts that liberal procedures normally screen out; now, it easily appears to turn into a fantasy of “looking like America.” In this defanged version, “multicultural” identities are being conceived as genetic and iconizing sources of ethnicity, of political validity, and of authenticity."

    In key ways I feel like this quote is just as relevant and apt today as it was back in 1994 even as we head at breakneck speed toward post-racial era and no where is this idea of multicultural identities being iconizing sources of ethnicity, political validity and authenticity most evident than in the common racial/ethnic classification system. 

    The neat boxes multiculturalism provides, hide all manner of complexities about what the boxes are not telling us. These succint little boxes do not reflect the range of racial, ethnic, cultural, political, socioeconomic, geographic and (trans)national factors that shape how people identify at any given time within and outside these categories. Yet these are the boxes that are recognized and which have become essentialized and institutionalized all across the board from the US Census to our school system. And if this system is essentializing to officially recognized racial and ethnic communities, then how can we expect it to work for such a diverse identity as multiracials. So the answer isn’t creating more and more boxes. In that problematic solution we would just be creating an exclusive monolithic multiracial identity. The great promise of recognizing multiraciality is that it also forces us to confront all the factors that shape and change identification at any given time.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010


    Tomorrow,  I'm off to attend and present at the First Annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference at DePaul University in Chicago:
    The CMRS conference brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines nationwide. Recognizing that the diverse disciplines that have nurtured Mixed Race Studies have reached a watershed moment, the 2010 CMRS conference is devoted to the general theme “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies.”
    Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) is the transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions of race. CMRS emphasizes the mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. CMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.
    Many of the events will be podcasted and selected audio will be published on ITunes under the DePaul University conference channel.

    (Props and many thanks to Laura Kina, Camilla Fojas and Wei Ming Dariotis for making this conference a reality!!)