Deterred and Discouraged

...full text also available on Race-Talk: A Kirwan Institute Project in Partnership with The Urban Times Online Magazine

Driving while Black. Flying while Arab. Walking while Latino (in Arizona). Not everyone has to worry about raising “reasonable suspicion” in all these settings. As someone who does, I’ve come to appreciate the complex natures of race, identity and a sense of belonging in the U.S. From “random” security checks, to unnecessary delays, to getting escorted off planes, to general harassment, I’ve seen it all. No matter how American I might feel inside, these experiences coupled with the questions “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” remind me that I’m not “really American” and that I will always be viewed as a stranger.

"Loving," Hating and Interracial Relationships

...full text also available on The Huffington Post

In 1958, a newly married couple, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were indicted on charges of violating Virginia's ban on interracial marriages. On January 6, 1959 they pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced to one year in jail. However, "the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years." The Lovings challenged this sentence by questioning whether the State of Virginia's actions to prevent and outlaw interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

What's Not to Like About Civil Rights?

...full text also available on Truthdig

Dr. Rand Paul, winner of Kentucky’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate and a tea party favorite, made headlines recently with regard to statements about the impact of federal legislation on individual rights. Paul’s website claims: “The Federal Government must return to its constitutionally enumerated powers and restore our inalienable rights. America can prosper, preserve personal liberty, and repel national security threats without intruding into the personal lives of its citizens.” This statement sounds perfectly legitimate and libertarian. Yet Paul’s comments on the wisdom of Title II, Section 201 (b) (2), of the 1964 Civil Rights Act have made some wonder what this statement really means. Does it mean, as Paul said in a recent interview with the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that legislation like the Civil Rights Act represents an idea not worth liking?

Beyond Reasonable Suspicion

... pics borrowed from AP
...full text also available on Truthdig

“You’ve been randomly selected for a search.” These are the words I heard as I was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon my return from a recent trip to Canada. The hourlong experience was harrowing—I was asked questions about where I was born, whether English was my first language, whether I had credit cards or cash, what I do for a living, why I was traveling, where I had gone, how my traveling companion and I knew each other, and what I was carrying in my pockets, purse and luggage. I was forbidden to stand, place my hands in my pockets, make phone calls and use the restroom without asking for permission. All of this I took in stride because I figured that it was being done in the interest of national security. Certainly, an hour of my time is well spent in helping to ensure the safety of my fellow citizens.

On Heidi W. Durrow's "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky"

... pics borrowed from AP
...full text also available on Mixed and Happy and The Huffington Post

Professors Ravinder Barn and Vicki Harman from the Centre for Criminology and Sociology at Royal Holloway, University of London are carrying out a groundbreaking research project about white mothers and mixed race children. Theirs is part of a wider study of mixed race children, youth and families that has spanned over twenty years. According to Dr. Harman, “white mothers of mixed-parentage children can find themselves dealing with racism directed at their children as well as facing social disapproval themselves." Such is the case with Nella, the white mother of mixed race protagonist Rachel, in Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (Algonquin Books).

Lloyd Marcus, the Tea Party Anthem, and Race in America

... pics borrowed from AP
...full text also available on Truthdig and The Huffington Post

Today's trying times bring to mind the lyrics of "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield. "There's something happening here / What it is ain't exactly clear." I experienced exactly that sort of feeling when I saw Lloyd Marcus perform the "American Tea Party Anthem," which he wrote, at a recent rally. My lack of clarity about this event didn't come from watching a black man in country gear sing with a twang. After all, years of watching and listening to Eminem and Elvis have conditioned me to not think twice when I see an entertainer playing with racial stereotypes.

So in Style: Barbie's Mixed Race Makeover

...full text also available on Mixed and Happy

The Supreme Court heard many arguments about the negative effects of racial segregation on children of color in the United States over 50 years ago in the landmark case Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s 1939 “Doll experiment” has become the symbol and lightening rod for thinking about how children develop racial and multiracial identity and consciousness in a world that often looks upon them with doubt. The Clarks showed four plastic, diaper-clad dolls, identical except for color. They showed the dolls to black children between the ages of three and seven and asked them questions to determine racial perception and preference. Almost all of the children readily identified the race of the dolls and identified with the black dolls. However, when asked which they thought was “good” or “nice colored” or preferred, the majority selected the white doll and attributed positive characteristics to it. The Clarks proved that discrimination against children of color in the “real world” affected their senses of play, imagination and self-concept. An update done by Kiri Davis shows that things haven’t really changed.

Who's Afraid of Health Care Reform?

...full text also available on Truthdig and Huffington Post

After a weekend of protests over reform, the Obama administration has, in fact, created a change that many Americans can now see and feel. The new bill, though imperfect, represents progress in a new direction. However, it seems that for this step forward some Americans have taken two steps back.

2010 Census: Stressed Out of the Box borrowed from Wordpress.Com
...full text also found on The Huffington Post

Robert M. Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, sent me a letter today. Mr. Groves told me that my 2010 Census form will be arriving sometime next week and that my "response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities and many other programs." According to the Bureau, census data directly affect how more than $200 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated. The letter went on to stress the importance of "a complete and accurate census" as an issue of fairness to my "community." After reading this letter I have a question for Mr. Groves: Is the U.S. Census fair to me?

Passing as Mixed Race borrowed from Official L'Autre Dumas website
...full text also found on The Huffington Post and OpenSalon.Com

Alexandre Dumas has always been one of my favorite writers. Works like The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and Georges took me on countless adventures in worlds and times much different from my own. But there’s a kinship I’ve always felt with the author despite our differences in gender, nationality and history—being of mixed race. Dumas was the grandson of a freed Haitian slave and a French nobleman. When describing his racial profile to a man who insulted him for being different he’s reported to have said, “My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends." Though my own background is different from Dumas’s, and feels even more complex, that multiracial kinship is one of the reasons why I look forward to the U.S. release of the new biopic that opened in Paris on February 10th, L’Autre Dumas, or The Other Dumas.