SOCb53 EXAM NOTES for N. Magbouleh

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Neda Magbouleh

SOCb53 EXAM NOTES Race, Multiracialism and Barack Obama: Toward a More Perfect Union  Obama delivered a speech titled: A More Perfect Union  Most persuasive piece of oratory on US race relations since Dr. Martin Luther King (I Have a Dream)  It spoke about thoughtful history/sociology and provided a remarkably nuanced framing of black anger and white resentment  He acknowledged these phenomena as expressions of the racial and class strife that has marred the egalitarian principles set forth in the nations founding documents  The title/sentiment of his speech were taken from the US constitution and bill of rights – also the declaration of independence  Obama juxtaposes the trials and tribulations of non blacks, including whites with those of African Americans but without equating them o He conceptualizes a space where racial groups may share common principles and transcendent value of equity and justice Obama is from a white mother from Kansas and has a black father from Kenya  He states: He is rooted in the African American community but he is not defined by it  He is comfortable with his racial identity – but that is not all he is  Obama has never said he identifies as multiracial or biracial  These are powerful statements, considering not only Obama’s interracial parentage but also his rearing outside the continental United States (Hawaii and Indonesia)  For all his hybridity, Obama’s identity is situated in the black community and extends outward from that location o Which differs from a multiracial identity which manifests itself (betwixt and between) the boundaries of traditional US racial groups THE RULE OF HYPODESCENT  This social code designates racial group membership of the first generation offspring of unions between European americans and americans of color exclusively based on their background of color  Successive generations of individuals who have European American ancestry combined with a background of color, however, now have more flexibility in terms of self-identification, particularly if that background is less than one fourth of their lineage o The one drop rule of hypodescent designates as black everyone with any African American ancestry o It precludes any choice in self-identification and ensures that all future offspring of African American ancestry are socially designated and self identified as black  In societies that regard some races of people as dominant or superior and others as subordinate or inferior, hypodescent is the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union or mating between members of different socioeconomic groups or ethnic groups to the subordinate group  The American practice of applying a rule of hypodescent began its development in the colonies, as slavery was established. But, it developed in its most strict legal definitions and application after the end of slavery in the early 20th century. After the Reconstruction era, white Democrats regained power in southern states and reasserted white political supremacy through the passage of disfranchising legislation and constitutional amendments, as well as Jim Crow laws, including racial segregation. States followed this with more stringent laws classifying more persons as black based on traceable or any ancestry. For example, in 1822 Virginia, a person was considered legally white with up to one-fourth African ancestry (equivalent to one grandparent). Under its Racial Integrity Act of 1924, Virginia defined as black a person with anyknown African ancestry, no matter how many generations in the past. It also established a binary classification system for vital records, assigning persons to white or black categories (the latter was essentially all other, into which Native Americans were included.)  The rule was implemented to regulate interracial sexual relations and more specifically interracial marriages to preserve WHITE RACIAL PURITY  Hypodescent has helped maintain white racial privilege by supporting other legal and informal barriers to racial equality in most aspects of social life, reaching extreme proportions at the turn of the 20 century with the institutionalization of JIM CROW secregation  The rule’s oppressive origins have often been obscured  It is part of what PIERRE BOURDIEU defines as DOXA, the sphere of the sacred and unquestioned social concepts or dogmas that have acquired the status and effect of a force of nature Canadian Multicultural Policy  The term multicultural used as an adjective to refer to the multiplicity of the world’s cultures and the co-existence of these cultures within particular nations  Multicultural as a historical adjective  1971: the prime minister, pierre trudeau gave a speech to parliament where he outlined the government response to the report  Multiculturalism within the framework of official bilingualism, accentuated the need to maintain the cultural heritage of all groups within a multicultural population  It also established the right of members of visible minority groups to equality with members of the two charter groups of he British and French Ancestry o The key tenets of the multicultural policy: o To assist all Canadian cultural groups that had demonstrated a desire and effort to continue to develop a capacity to grow and contribute to canada, and a clear need for assistance o To assist members of all cultural groups to overcome cultural barriers to full participation in Canadian society o To promote creative encounters and interchange among all Canadian cultural groups in the interest of national unity o To continue assistance to immigrants to acquire at least one of Canada’s official languages in order to become full participants in Canadian Society  The multicultural policy encouraged individuals voluntarily to affiliate with the culture and tradition of their choice, supposedly without fear of discrimination or exclusion  Ethnic differences were to be forged into a workable national framework of unity within diversity – this focus upon difference through unity was seen as a remarkable change from the conventional strategies of nation building Canadian Mixed Race Women’s Readings of Multicultural Policy  Women did not agree with the multicultural policy  It was critiqued and described as an institutional project which funds and promotes staged ethnic representations, supporting the espression of cultural difference through food, family, personal and religious practices  Many informants indicated that these staged ethnic representations did not communicate much sense of the daily realities of their lives  Women of mixed race believe that multicultural policy tends to trivalise their ethnic identity. The policy creates spaces of distance between those considered CANADIAN and NOT CANADIAN. The problematic nature of the hyphen and the role it plays in articulating ethnic differences in Canada Ethnicity as the Primary Marker of Identity  Multiculturalism reduces zenia’s identity to her ethnic constituency  Multicultural policy tends to privilege ethnicity or descent over and above other social identities (like gender and class among other factors) thus obscuring the opportunity to envisage these women’s’ lives on a series of multiple planes Canadian vs Non-Canadian: The True North Strong and Free  Multicultural policy states that every ethnic group has the right to preserve and develop its own culture and vlues within the Canadian context  The phrase within the Canadian context is cause for some concern  What is the Canadian context? The policy constructs specific socio-spatial boundaries between the identifications of Canadian and not Canadian Problematic Nature of the Hyphen  The hyphen effectively marks a DISTANCE DIFFERENCE from potential claims to nation, a troubling symbol which refuses to admit the possibility of the comingling of ethnicities and national citizenship, compounding difference as a priority marker, a boundary post, a knot….  Participants uncomfortably inhabit that space of the hyphen, where difference is continually expropriated and appropriated within a Eurocentric framework Why Being a POC Author Sucks Sometimes  Race/Ethnicity Breakdown of Books reviewed – showcases 65% of books reviewed as Caucasian authors  Highlights the gap in diversity of Caucasian and POC authors  This is an informal survey taken by author Roxanne Gay that breaks down authors reviewed by NYT  These days, it is difficult for any writer to get a book published. We’re all clawing. However, if you are a writer of color, not only do you face a steeper climb getting your book published, you face an even more arduous journey if you want that book to receive critical attention. It shouldn’t be this way. Writers deserve that same fighting chance regardless of who they are but here we are, talking about the same old thing  Ellen Oh is a person of color – and a published author  She cannot answer if it felt harder for her to get published Her problems  No one would buy a book on ancient korea  Writing was ridiculed saying it’s a bad translation of a chinese book even though English is her native language and shes not Chinese A lovely publisher published her  She wrote a childrens book – multicultural  Librarians and teachers looking for diversity, there have been many more multicultural titles in children’s publishing  However she was wrong – 37%  Publishers seem to believe that multicultural books just don’t sell as well. But do they get the same marketing push as non-POC books? Are all things equal when they are sent out into the world? I would hazard a guess that they are not. Because if you do not believe that multi- cultural books will sell well, then you will not put the marketing money behind them and thereby you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now I have been lucky, my books have had terrific marketing support from my publisher. So the question then goes to the other side of the coin. Where are the booksellers, the librarians, the teachers on pushing the multicultural books? It’s not just enough to ask publishers to publish the books, there must be help from the other side. There has to be a support system for these books once they are published, to help get them into the children’s hands. And that is not all up to the publisher.  I once asked a YA librarian if she thought there were enough diverse titles and she said that they were there, but you just have to know how to look for them. Isn’t that part of the problem? That they are invisible and no one knows about them? How are they shelved in bookstores and libraries? How easy are they to find? Of the 112 titles chosen by YALSA for the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list, less than 10% were by POC authors. The 2013 list is looking like it may fare even worse. So if teen librarians are looking to these lists that are so woefully underrepresented, does this not aggravate the underlying problem?  But there is that part of me that wonders why is it that when I see a list about what Asian fantasy books are out there, the books are predominantly by caucasian authors. Are POC writers not writing them or are they being passed over for books written by non-POC authors instead? And why is it that books by or about POC don’t tend to sell as well as other “mainstream” books. What is the difference? Is it the difference in how they are marketed? Is it their cover art? Where they are placed in the bookstore or library? How they are pushed or not pushed by the booksellers, librarians, and teachers?  The reality is, there are just not a lot of POC authors out there. We are not representing the 37% of our population when we only amount to 10% of publishing. When you look at diversity panels or even the YA tag in, the authors tend to be predominantly white because they reflect publishing.  This is why I can’t help but be resentful. I freely admit it. It sucks being a POC author sometimes. You feel invisible. You feel passed over. And true or not, it feels harder for us to get to tell our own stories. And that shouldn’t be the way things are.  I want to see more of me in publishing. I want to see more POC authors overcoming the publishing barrier and writing about their cultures. I want to see diversity panels filled with… diversity! We need to be performing on stage with our counterparts, not just watching in the audience. DEVIOUS MAIDS The problem with Devious Maids  Different politics to see that project through in Hollywood  She uses devious maids (was a show that was made) to talk about the problems that she had within her work  It portrayed one particular slice of the Latina experience  Heteronormative  There are no unattractive maids  There’s a white-racial frame, systemic racism and Joe Feagin  These stereotypes have large implications, this time honored imperialistic way  How north Americans speak to Latinos  This is very threatening, every time Hollywood serves this stereotypical thing o Its easier to dehumanize people, because it does have the political aims attached to them, colonialism looks different, however it takes on similar sorts of echoes One Big Hapa Family One Big Hapa Family is a 2010 animated/live-action documentary film directed by Canadian director Jeff Chiba Stearns. The documentary explores aspects that influence most Japanese- Canadians to marry inter-racially and how the mixed Japanese generation perceives its multiracial identity. Islamophobia and the Privileging of Arab American Women  Islamophobia, mainstream American culture seems to favor Muslim women who are not seen as a menace to American society, but powerless victims of their own religion  Islamophobia is a neologism used generally to refer to prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of Muslims or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim.  The impulse to save Muslim women from their male kin pervades various social and political movements in the United States, proving to be a common denominator between ideologies as seemingly disparate as Christian fundamentalism and liberal feminism  The othering and rejection of Arabs and Arab Americans is as old as this country as is the erroneous homogenization of all Arab Americans as Muslims  Despite consistent attempts to separate church from state- attempts that are now fast being openly eroded by a president who claims that his policy and vision are informed by his frequent communications with God – US POLICY and culture have been steeped in religion from the country’s Puritan origins  Arabs and Arab Americans are perceived as the quintessential enemy  Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Villifies a People, offers a thorough analysis of the negative depiction of Arabs in the American film industry - from its early years until 2000  This rejection cannot be attributed to the trauma of the terrorist attacks and is quite clearly based in religious intolerance, the assumption that Arabs are irrevocably other because they are muslim – aliens in this judeo-christian culture  Rejection takes on both overt and covert forms o Overt: need no elaboration o Covert: form of rejection that has been the erasure of arab americans from the American consciousness o Arab americans are officially erased from American political discourse and representation; they do not exist as a recognized minorit
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