mdawkins's blog

Wentworth Miller: One of Today's Most Underrated Actors open call response to
...pic borrowed from People Magazine

I think one of today's most underrated actors is Wentworth Miller. I've been following his career since his performance in The Human Stain a few years back. His work in this film made some important connections between particular mixed race, Jewish and African American responses to American demands of assimilation.

Does It Matter if Harold Ford Jr. is Black or White?

...pic borrowed from AP/Brandon
...full text also found on Truthdig

New Yorkers, beware. It seems that former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a transplant from Tennessee, has upset people again. Ford, an executive at Merrill Lynch and New York University lecturer who might be seeking to unseat fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in a race for the U.S. Senate, has made a very bold statement about his identity. In 2006, Ford claimed that despite official government documentation, family records and testimony to the contrary, his grandmother, Vera Ford, was not black. Rather, she was a white woman passing as black. According to the website The Black Commentator, Ford’s declaration has resurfaced recently and is not only fraudulent but insulting: “There seem to be no limits to the young congressman's perfidy and stupidity. In the process of depicting his own ancestors as people living a lie, Ford has also insulted the Black public and Black history -- not to mention common sense, a quality of which Harold Jr. seems to be totally lacking.” Even though Ford’s father says that Vera was white, the website says he is a liar because other relatives, including Ford’s aunt Barbara, maintain that Vera was black. The larger concern seems to be that if Ford would revise his grandmother's identity for political gain, there might be other and more far-reaching issues about which Ford feels he has the right and obligation to control or reframe for expediency, such as his record on issues like gun control, abortion or same sex marriage. Can Ford be trusted?

Brokenness Everywhere borrowed from AP, and

A friendly reader recently posted a comment to my Avatar blog about the depression that has overtaken many viewers. Stricken by the “Avatar blues,” people are realizing that the ideal presented about life on Pandora is unattainable. Well, I have two things to say about this: (1) the images presented in Avatar were neither revolutionary nor ideal when you dig beneath their beautiful surfaces. And, (2) if there’s something to be depressed about it should be the recent natural disaster in Haiti. According to Rene Preval, the now homeless Haitian President, it is estimated that the devastating quake took over 50,000 lives and injured 250,000. "We need medicine. We need medical help in general," Preval told CNN. "Some of the hospitals, they collapsed." Nearly 3 million people are estimated to have been affected so far. Unreal…

Harry Reid...A Closed Book?

...pic borrowed from Associated Press, snapped by Charles Dharapak
...full text also found on Truthdig

Senator Harry Reid’s comments about Obama’s racial profile might be “a closed book” for our President. After all, he’s got bigger fish to fry. But it appears that Obama is the only one who is over it. For those late to the party, Reid’s racial thinking was revealed recently in the book Game Change, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. In this book the authors expose the inner workings of the 2008 Presidential campaign on both sides of the aisle. Their most shocking revelation is that Reid said that Obama had the right look and sound for presidential candidacy, “light skinned” and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Rather than considering whether Reid’s comments are politically correct…clearly they aren’t…I think it’s more prudent and interesting to open the book on Reid’s comments and think about whether Reid has a point. So, was Reid right?

Mixed Race in the Age of Mrs. O

...written with Ulli K. Ryder, Ph.D. borrowed from Mrs.O and New York Times websites

This study is designed to examine how mixed race identity is formulated and discussed by young adults in the United States. An intensely interdisciplinary project, we begin by discussing racial mixedness and identity “with a twist” as they pertain, not to President Obama but, to First Lady Michelle Obama. Self-identified as and accepted as “Black,” her mixed race ancestry is the subject of recent scrutiny.

On "Avatar"

...written with the help of my avatar, Alesan Hillside
...pic borrowed from Official
Avatar website

Oel ngati kameie. Today is Day 6 since my screening of James Cameron’s Avatar. Part action film, part sci-fi, part horror, part fantasy and part cautionary tale, Avatar has shaped up to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. Figures don’t lie. Avatar passed the $1 billion mark worldwide this weekend, “only the fifth movie in history ever to do so,” according to But did it offer “a sense of delight that quickly gives way to a sense of astonishment,” as promised by The Wall Street Journal? After some reflection my answer is both yes and no.

Notes on Disney's "The Princess and The Frog"

...written with Rebecca Herr Stephenson, Ph.D. snapped coyly by Amanda Lobely

Everyone is talking about Disney’s latest “fairy tale with a twist” The Princess and The Frog. However, a few things seem to be missing from the conversation. Like, where is Maldonia? What sense can we make of Naveen's racial and ethnic identities? How does the film compare to E. D. Baker's novel The Frog Princess or The Brothers Grimm's fairy tale The Frog Prince? While it can’t be denied that Tiana, the African American protagonist, is a welcome addition to Disney’s cadre of princesses, the film is ultimately an argument for post identity politics, self-determination and meritocracy. In a historical moment in which millions of American families are coping with the realities of a troubled economy and widespread unemployment, in which many children spend their days in schools where standardization and the quest for test scores drive instruction, and in which inequalities related to race, gender, class, sexuality, religion and ability continue to be very real elements of young people's lives, is another "bootstrap narrative" really what kids--and adults--need to see?

Book Review: Mixed Race Hollywood

In the wake of “Obama-mania,” conventional wisdom about racial identity is facing a set of new and unique challenges. It is therefore imperative for scholars and industry professionals to reflect upon multiracial identification, representation, past and post-racial politics as they pertain to art and to life.

Outstanding Dissertation Award (Nov. 2009)

No one was more surprised than I to hear that I’d won an Outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Communication Association in 2009. Elsewhere on this site (“Thank You” under “Blogs”), I have talked about the blood, sweat and tears that my family, advisers, partner and I put into this project. I’m so pleased that someone besides us thinks that it’s important and worth reading. I’m currently awaiting a review from a publisher to see if it can be adapted into a book manuscript for publication in late 2010. Fingers crossed...

Media Expertise

Marcia Alesan Dawkins welcomes media inquiries on the following subjects:

* Racial, Multiracial, Post-racial politics
* U. S. Census & Public Policy
* Mediated images of race/ethnicity
* Political Speech, Rhetoric
* Popular Culture
* Identity formation
* Faith & Communication
* Social, Spiritual Dimensions of Hip Hop