Jean Toomer Passing as White? I Think Not.

...full text also available at The Chronicle of Higher Education

In this letter to the editor of "The Chronicle of Higher Education" I respond to Professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Rudolph P. Byrd...

In their article "Jean Toomer's Conflicted Racial Identity," The Chronicle Review, February 11, the authors Rudolph P. Byrd and Henry Louis Gates Jr. claim that Toomer suffered from a case of "conflicted racial identity." Toomer, one of the first proponents of thinking about race in multiracial "American" terms, is now said to have been passing as white. The authors justify this assertion by presenting new evidence that Toomer identified himself differently based on location and situation.

Mixed Race Beauty Gets a Mainstream Makeover

...full text also available at Truthdig


Are mixed race faces considered the most beautiful? A recent report from Allure magazine says yes. Results of a survey conducted by Allure reveal that 64 percent of its readers thought mixed race was the most attractive. The editors attribute the results to the growing population of mixed race youth. As much as I’d like to agree it appears that this is just another case of wishful racial thinking.

2010 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

In November 2010 I received the National Communication Association's Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in San Francisco, California. The Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Awards program recognizes new scholars who have recently completed their dissertations.

Receiving this award was a true honor and a great way to begin a career in writing. It was especially wonderful to be supported by Harry Guillermo, Deborah Hanan, Terry Nance, Randy Lake, and my colleagues and friends at USC Annenberg, CSU Fullerton and Brown. Mostly, it was humbling to be surrounded by so many scholars whose work makes important contributions to the discipline of communication.

The Coming "MiscegeNation"

...full text also available at Truthdig


It’s official. We’re a “miscegeNation.” The 2010 Census results are reminding us that multiracialism is not only our destiny but our reality. We’re seeing the rise of the most diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history with a record low white population—the millennials. According to the New York Times, “Young Americans are far less white than older generations, a shift that demographers say creates a culture gap with far-reaching political and social consequences.”

Featured in TIME Magazine: "Mixed-Race Celebrities on Race"

...full text available at TIME Magazine

"Historically, racism is equated with segregation, separating people," says Marcia Alesan Dawkins, a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. "In turn, we think racial progress is racial mixing. But the problem is, [that progress is] still based on appearance."

Halle Berry and Nahla, Not So Mixed and Not So Happy

...full text also available on Huffington Post

As we await the results of the 2010 Census it's tempting to think that our growing comfort with categorizing people as multiracial has erased racism and the fear of interracial relations. But in a recent interview with Ebony Magazine, Halle Berry says that we're neither as mixed nor as happy as we'd like to think.

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste—Except in Ohio?

...versions also available on The Women's International Perspective and Truthdig and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education


Kelley Williams-Bolar, an aspiring teacher and mother of two in Ohio, spent nine days in jail earlier this year and was placed on three years’ probation after a felony conviction for falsifying official documents. The basis of her offense? Sending her children to school in a district in which they did not live.

Tom Burlington and the N-Word Game

...full-text also available on The Root

Here we go again. From "Kramer" to Dr. Laura, the debate over the six-letter word is never-ending. Now a former local Fox TV anchor is taking the matter to court. Will we ever find consensus?

10 Reasons Why the Slurs Should Stay in ‘Huck Finn’

...full text also available on Truthdig and on The New Haven Advocate


It’s not surprising that the latest edition of Mark Twain’s paired classics, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,” will remove all traces of nigger and Injun from its pages when our leaders confuse books with bars, Charles Dickens’ words with Leo Tolstoy’s, and omit slavery from Confederate History Month. Our leaders obviously aren’t reading. So why should we care about an old book like Twain’s? Here are 10 reasons.

Racism: Our National Default Mechanism

...full text also available on Truthdig


The latest racial gaffe regarding our president came late last month from Rep. Steve King of Iowa. By way of a little background, King’s comment concerned Pigford v. Glickman, a massive class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging racial discrimination in its allocation of farm loans and assistance to black farmers between 1981 and 1996. The USDA settled out of court in 1999, admitting to widespread racial discrimination against black farmers in its loan programs. About 15,000 farmers were paid a total of more than $900 million in the settlement, but tens of thousands of farmers filed claims after the deadline, and many charged that the government’s outreach had been insufficient and that they had incompetent legal counsel, causing them to miss their opportunity. In February 2010, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack promised an additional $1.15 billion to cover the remaining claims, which was appropriated by Congress in December 2010.