Archive | February 2011

The Root Article: A Black Man That Has White & Black Parents Explains Why He Calls Himself Black & Not Mixed Race.

Halle Berry and the Resurgence of the Tragic Mulatto

The furor caused by Berry’s assertion that her daughter is black reminds us how confused Americans remain about race.

  • By: Clay Cane | Posted: February 22, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Halle Berry’s recent comments in Ebony magazine have brought up the complex subject of racial identity, which still seems to confuse many Americans. Asked if her daughter, Nahla, is African American, the Oscar-winning actress answered, “I feel like she’s black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory.”

Blogs raged, and suddenly everyone was an expert on dissecting the social construction of race. Even many black websites roared that Nahla wasn’t black. It was as if a chapter from an Alex Haley book had come to life on the Web.

Berry has never used the words “mixed” or “biracial” to describe her racial identity. She identifies as a black woman. Similarly, President Barack Obama, Faith Evans, Jasmine Guy and even the late, great Bob Marley all embraced having a white parent — but didn’t identify by degree of blackness. Apparently, they subscribe to the belief that either you are black — or you are not.

In 2011, black is no longer praised as beautiful; everyone wants to be “multi.” People proudly run through their race, ethnicity and nationality as if it’s a résumé. “Mixed,” “multiethnic,” even the deeply offensive word “mulatto,” are resurging as the hottest labels around. Here’s another new term I recently heard: “double-raced.”

The stretch to be “mixed” allows people to remove themselves from the discriminatory world of blackness. Think Tiger Woods. If he can identify as a “social construction combo” — well, then, no one should call him a nigger, but they have. No one should make jokes about him being lynched, but they have. Woods rejected being labeled the first black golfer to win the Masters and has actively divorced himself from the black community — even when he has benefited from being one of few blacks in golf.

Another example: the amazingly talented Mariah Carey, who, at the beginning of her career, ranted that she was mixed with a pinch of black. But when record sales spiraled downward and she began to lose her pop audience, Mimi found her blackness. Some reports claim that Carey’s ambiguous racial identity in her early career was at the insistence of her record label.

Today everyone wants to be a tragic mulatto, not knowing the history. The mulatto is a classic stereotype that first made an appearance in 19th-century American literature. Eventually this archetype became box office gold for films like 1934′s Imitation of Life and 1949′s Pinky.

Deeply troubled characters stumbled through life in a racially tortured turmoil. Were they black? Were they white? No one accepted them. They were eternal victims, all because Mommy and Daddy didn’t stick to their own kind. Although these characters lived tragic lives, at the same time they were praised as an “exotic” mix and somehow revered as being better than plain ole black.

Most important, “mulatto” is a slave word, the result of the mating of a donkey and a horse, which creates a mule — and mules are sterile. Race psychology, which was developed by pseudoscientists to perpetuate intra-racial divisions within the black community, still functions today. “Mixed” and “biracial” are simply remixed versions of terms like “mulatto,” “quadroon” and “octoroon.”

In America, your experience as male, female, black, white, gay, poor, middle class, Muslim and so on shapes who you are. Take me, for example: My father is black American and my mother is white. I have never identified as biracial, which is a term that didn’t exist when I was born in the late ’70s. Even today, “biracial” is not a legal racial identity; it’s a pop-culture identity.

The concept of the biracial identity popped up in the mainstream sometime in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In many ways, being “biracial” is viewed as a step up from blackness. As actress Paula Patton, the daughter of an interracial union, has said, “I find [the term] biracial offensive. It’s a way for people to separate themselves from African Americans, a way of saying, ‘I’m better than that.’ “

My experience is being black in America, as someone who has endured incalculable amounts of racism. I was never looked at as a half-and-half slash. Moreover, once I understood race, I was never “confused” or had racial-identity issues. I knew I was black, and so did my family.

The rant that Nahla is not “full black” shows how behind we are in understanding race. No black Americans are full black. (No white Americans are “full white,” for that matter.) There’s no such thing as any of us being “full” any race. Lesson number one in black studies: Being “mixed” is consistent with the black experience.

Many people want to turn me and others of my background into the classic tragic mulatto. I’m not tragic with my racial identity. This isn’t a scene from Imitation of Life. My theme song isn’t Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World,” with me running to a casket screaming, “Momma!” This isn’t an excerpt from Queen, and I will not be hollering, “I’se nig’ra! I’se nig’ra!”

Race is not an individual choice; it’s a social choice. The key question is, “Do you or do you not have white privilege?” If you don’t, then you are a black person in America. If Nahla Ariela Aubry were white or could truly exist in this country under the imaginary label of “biracial,” then this volatile discussion about her color wouldn’t have started. As Halle told Ebony, “I had to decide for myself, and that’s what she’s going to have to decide — how she identifies herself in the world. And I think, largely, that will be based on how the world identifies her. That’s how I identified myself.”

I do understand the need for people who have different-race parents to live under racial duality; in many ways we all do. Again, no one is pure black or white, but terms like “mulatto,” “quadroon” and “octoroon” failed for a reason. America does not need another divisive racial category, like “biracial,” for people to push themselves into. When separate labels and regurgitated identities are cherry-picked, they only pacify, misinform and silence.

New Blog Statistics: Several Muslim Nations Are Reading My Blog!!!

I am looking at the statistics for my blog and  I am not surprised that the majority of my readers are Americans, Canadians, Australians, United Kingdom, and India.

However, I am shocked that I have a new audience from the Muslim world reading my blog!

Wow! Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran!!!  I am stunned that readers from so many conservative Muslim nations are actually checking out my blog!

I am very honoured but very surprised to be honest.  Homosexuality is illegal in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia. I am pleased that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual people from the Muslim world are reading my blog. If anyone has any information or wants me to discuss any particular topic on the blog  just ask me.

Current Country Totals
From 16 Jun 2010 to 22 Feb 2011

United States (US) 213,472
Canada (CA) 31,016
United Kingdom (GB) 21,872
Australia (AU) 8,223
India (IN) 7,847
Germany (DE) 5,173
France (FR) 3,457
Philippines (PH) 2,744
Italy (IT) 2,468
Netherlands (NL) 2,261
Brazil (BR) 2,176
Saudi Arabia (SA) 2,094
Malaysia (MY) 1,981
Pakistan (PK) 1,832
South Africa (ZA) 1,797
Poland (PL) 1,587
Turkey (TR) 1,572
Iran, Islamic Republic of (IR) 1,550
Indonesia (ID) 1,525
Mexico (MX) 1,524

Shocking News: Two Hundred Muslim Gay Men Arrested In Bahrain For Attending Gay Party!!!

Bahrain arrests 200 men at gay party – newspapers

MANAMA | Wed Feb 9, 2011 8:45pm IST

MANAMA (Reuters) – Bahrain has arrested around 200 men for attending a gay party in the Gulf Arab island state, local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

An official at Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the group was arrested last Thursday “due to immoral activities.”

Media reports said police in the small conservative town of Muharraq raided a celebration hall filled with cross dressers and male revelers drinking wine and smoking water pipes.

“After entering the room, a secret source said he saw a large group of people from the third sex wearing scandalous female clothing … and immediately called in the city patrol, which then surrounded the hall and arrested the suspects,” the Bahraini newspaper Al-Ayam said.

The men were between 18 and 30 years old and were mostly from Gulf Arab countries and were also believed to have come to Bahrain specifically for the party, the daily said.

The official said foreign nationals were likely among those arrested but could not provide further details, adding the case had been referred to prosecutors. Local newspapers said there was one Syrian and one Lebanese man in the group.

Bahrain is considered among the more liberal Gulf states, with alcohol sold in shops while elsewhere in the Gulf sales are limited to hotels.

Its nightlife attracts weekend visitors from other Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to which Bahrain is linked via a causeway.

Gulf Arab states ban homosexuality, considering it a violation of Islamic values. Homosexual men in the region are regularly arrested and sentenced to prison terms.

“Bahrain has been more tolerant compared to for example the United Arab Emirates, without allowing it to be public,” Said Boumedouha, a researcher at human rights group Amnesty International, said. He urged the Bahraini government to free anyone who had been arrested based on his sexual preferences.

A municipal official from Muharraq has called for a crackdown on celebration halls after the incident last weekend, the local paper Gulf Daily News said.

“I know the men had conned the hall’s manager into believing they were holding a birthday party,” Ramzy al-Jalaleef was quoted as saying. “However, it turned out, as I have heard, they were holding a wedding for two of the men.”

Jalaleef told the paper that there should be careful investigation of events being booked in the town, which he said had 29 mosques and was very religious and conservative.

Officials at Bahrain’s public prosecution could not be reached for comment.

Canadian TV Show Student Bodies: Emily’s Lesbian Friend Stacey Visits Town!!

I love this wonderful 1990s Canadian sitcom Student Bodies and the gay friend episode is my favourite one! In this episode, Emily finds out her best friend Stacey is a lesbian. I am so impressed that a Canadian sitcom can discuss lesbianism in a mature fashion. The humor is good and the message is very good!

No Connection

The last couple of days I have been hibernating in my bedroom because I  don’t want to see the light.

I keep on thinking to myself what am I going to do in April 2011?

The reason I am bored with university is because this is the second time around for me.

I want my life to mean something, I want to make a difference in this  world.

I know I sound corny, but it is true.

I want my life to have  a sense of direction, focus, and purpose.

I thought returning to York University and working towards a second degree would provide this purpose.

However, now I feel deflated, and fatigued.

I wonder if I am wasting my life?

I already have a B.A. degree in history, but two years ago I decided to return to the academic world.

York University is a business and the purpose of the company is to expand the brand.

We are taught to believe that a university education is very important in order to become a proper citizen.

If a university degree is so important, why am I still struggling?

How can I change it for the better?

Employers don’t really care about university degrees they care about work experience.

I wonder if I made a mistake returning back to York University?

I feel exhausted at times in lectures listening to information I really don’t care about.

Yes, I am volunteering at a non profit agency for almost a year.

I do feel I am hopefully making a difference in the lives of the residents I work with every week.

However, I am bored. I am tired of listening to entitled middle class youth talk about revolution.

The last month of university starts in a few weeks and I know I’ve got to keep up my time management skills.

I am bored with studying, writing essays, attending lectures, listening to analytical discussions from wannabe know it all students.

You know, the kind of people who believe since they  memorized French philosopher Michel Foucault or lesbian academic Judith Butler works they know something.

I wonder though, what I am learning? Is the information I am studying really constructive and applicable to the real world?

Theatre Review: Man2Man Is An Amazing Play!!!

Last night,  I  watched an amazing play Man2Man at the Harbourfront Centree in Toronto. Man2Man is a  beautiful play about the love between two black gay men. Black gay love is rarely seen in society and this play is political and not just entertainment. Man2Man also explores homophobia in the black community.

I believe it is important that black people we have an honest dialogue about homosexuality.

Man2Man is about two black gay men   Damion is in his twenties and Emmanuel is in his forties. Emmanuel recently got divorced and he is still struggling with his homosexuality. The play deals with themes of religion, identity, love, and self esteem. The audience was packed in the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront! The play was funny, serious, exciting, and dramatic. I enjoyed the play and I love the fact it is about black gay men.

NOW Magazine’s Racist & Sexist Love & Sex Issue Exploits Black Sexuality For White Sexual Gratification!!!

Every year the white liberal Toronto publication Now Magazine publishes a Love & Sex issue and usually black models are used. The question has to be asked, why are black models used for the Love & Sex Issue? What messages are Now Magazine trying to promote about black sexuality? One argument is that, white models are used but white people are the norm. It is acceptable in society for white people to express their sexuality their bodies are not hyper sexualized. However, black  bodies are consistently hyper sexualized in North America.

Now Magazine is a white liberal Toronto publication and rarely are black people on the cover!  Black people tend to be on the cover for specific issues such as  black history month in February or Caribana in August.

Since it is February 2011,  I guess Now Magazine has decided to fill their black quota for the month. The images may not seem racist but they are. Why is the dark-skinned black male body treated as a sexual exotic? So black people are only allowed to be in Now Magazine to promote sex?

Black men we are stereotyped in North America to having sexual prowess and an insatiable sex drive. Notice in the first ad the black man is placed with a white woman. Why doesn’t Now Magazine use  South Asian, Native Canadian, or East Asian models? Why are black models consistently used for the Love & Sex issue?

These images simply reinforce white supremacist ideologies about black sexuality and black bodies.

So a black man has to be half nude in order to get the cover of Now Magazine? When was the last time a black doctor,  businessman, writer, teacher, poet got on the cover of Now Magazine? This racism and sexism is disgusting and makes me want to vomit!!

The Denver Post Article: Society Needs More Male Teachers To Work With Elementary School Age Children.

denver and the west

Increasingly, male teachers found at head of elementary class

Posted: 02/08/2011 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/08/2011 07:07:49 AM MST


“Kids had issues with me being a strong figure. They’re used to hearing it from their moms or aunts.” Tyrone Johnson, above, a third-grade teacher at Ashley Elementary (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Each weekday, students filing into Denver’s Ashley Elementary School come face to face with a relatively rare educational experience.

They call it by name: Mr. Johnson. Mr. Heath. Mr. Walters.

In all, eight of 18 instructors at the K-5 school are men, a proportion that far exceeds the statewide average of 15.6 percent of elementary school teachers — most concentrated in grades five and six.

“Anybody who works with little kids knows they need input from both sexes,” says principal Kenneth Hulslander, who assembled his staff by keeping an eye out for promising male talent among visiting substitutes and student-teachers. “I look at it as being part of the learning experience for my kids.”

Throughout the U.S., men traditionally have shied away from the elementary grades — for reasons ranging from low pay and low status to stereotypes that cast them as less nurturing than their female counterparts and the fear of accusations of inappropriate behavior.

“I think there’s this assumption that there’s a certain maternal quality needed to be an elementary school teacher,” says Peter Vigil, assistant professor of elementary education at Metropolitan State College of Denver. “A lot of men can’t get past the idea that it’s a wiping- noses and herding-cats kind of thing.”

But once in the classroom, do men make a difference?

Some experts note that there’s little data suggesting a definitive correlation between teacher gender and learning. But others contend that men offer the added advantage of providing positive male role models in classrooms teeming with single-parent kids.

North Carolina education consultant Steve Peha zeroes in on the lack of hard data on academic progress tied to teacher gender. And he doesn’t put a lot of stock in the role-model argument, either.

“I want teachers to model interest in reading books, in math, in science, for all the kids,” Peha says. “I’m not too concerned about role, though. I don’t know how much of a difference that’s going to make. I think we should focus on ‘model.’ We know that model works.”

A male or female teacher?

Hulslander, well aware that many of his kids don’t have fathers living at home, weighs several factors in determining where to place students — including whether they’d respond better to a male or female teacher.

He doesn’t aim for percentages but tries to field a teaching staff that reflects his student body — roughly two-thirds Latino, one-third African-American, with a sprinkling of white kids.

“If you’re looking at teaching as this cold, statistical piece of work, then a good teacher is a good teacher,” Hulslander says. “But we don’t teach empty chairs. We teach kids who have needs, personalities and interests.”

Tyrone Johnson, who teaches third grade at Ashley, grew up without his dad in the picture, so he can empathize with many of his students. And while he loves the way kids react to him, presenting himself as a role model wasn’t an easy transition.

“When I first started, kids had issues with me being a strong figure, an authoritarian,” he says. “They’re used to hearing it from their moms or aunts. I had a learning curve.”

According to Colorado Department of Education statistics for 2009-10, male teachers made up barely 3 percent of kindergarten instructors, with that number gradually rising with each grade level to a peak of 30.4 percent in sixth grade.

Among the 10 largest districts, Douglas County had the lowest percentage of men teaching elementary school, at 11.2 percent, while Colorado Springs District 11 had the highest, at nearly 21 percent.

Denver Public Schools, at 17.7 percent, ranked second-highest among the large districts.

“Now, more than before, we are looking specifically on how better to recruit men,” says Jeannine Carter, director of diversity initiatives for DPS. When the district looks at out-of-state colleges to recruit, she adds, the male-female breakdown figures into any decision to invest in a campus visit.

“We don’t spend dollars where they don’t have larger mixed-gender populations,” Carter adds.

Recent University of Colorado Denver graduate Christian Eaves finds himself looking for a job in the primary grades while most of his male classmates head straight to high school or middle school, often lured by the added attraction — and income — of coaching sports.

He figures that even when he finds an elementary gig, he’ll seek a second job to bolster his bottom line. But the financial aspect hasn’t changed his commitment to teaching younger kids.

“I get a lot of ‘Why would you want to do that? Kids are crazy, and there are too many behavior problems,’ ” Eaves says. “And a lot of people say it’s an easy job — it’s like you’re a cop-out, not taken seriously. I tell them they don’t understand. You’re making an impact on somebody’s life.”

Men were fixtures at the lower grades until about the mid-19th century, after which their numbers plummeted just before World War I as job options for men expanded and women could be paid less, says Bryan G. Nelson, executive director of Men Teach, an organization that aims to increase men in the field.

Numbers rose slightly during the Depression, and then again after World War II, when the G.I. Bill sent a surge of soldiers into America’s classrooms.

Nelson thinks the country might be experiencing a slight uptick thanks to similar circumstances — a poor economy and military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Still, he adds, a recent survey by his organization showed that low pay and status, along with concerns about stereotypes and allegations of inappropriate behavior, continue to deter some men from elementary education.

“I don’t think there’s active opposition,” Nelson says, “though I do think you could find people who’d say, especially with the younger ages, that no, (men) don’t belong there. But I know it’s changing. There’s a shift going on in society.”

Margarita Bianco has seen such a shift, however subtle, in the pre collegiate class she teaches at Montbello High School.

Bianco, an assistant professor of education at UCD, offers the program — called Pathways2Teaching — primarily as a means to encourage students of color to consider careers in education. But she was pleasantly surprised to find 10 males among the 33 enrollees.

One of the program’s early projects involved pairing the high school students with fourth-graders at nearby Greenwood ECE-8 to help them learn vocabulary.

“Some of the (high school) students, especially the boys, said things like this was the first time in their life that they felt needed and special — they loved the idea of being role models for young kids,” Bianco says.

Interest isn’t so robust at the University of Northern Colorado, where professor Gary Fertig teaches two undergraduate classes on teaching elementary school social studies. This semester, for the first time in his 17 years at the Greeley school, no men are enrolled.

“I think the public considers (middle school or high school) to be more academically rigorous,” Fertig says. “In elementary school, you’ve got to be attentive to all (kids’) needs and emotional quandaries, because it all affects how they respond to your instruction in the classroom.”

Perceptions “hard to change”

His colleague Michael Opitz has one male undergraduate in a class of 30.

“Perceptions,” he says, “are hard to change.”

Opitz, who has authored textbooks on teaching, has found himself deliberately inserting men into his books’ hypothetical scenarios — just to counter the stereotype.

Fertig and Opitz note that UNC’s post-baccalaureate program, which allows students who already have a bachelor’s degree to fast-track toward a teaching license, has attracted more men than the undergraduate program. They see a combination of life experience and parenting experience dissolving some of the old stereotypes and producing a new pipeline of men for the elementary school classroom.

Metro State has noticed a similar trend, as post-baccalaureate male students seeking an elementary teaching license doubled the percentage for male undergraduates — 20.3 to 10.4.

Paul Frazier, 28, enrolled at Metro State after using his degree in criminal justice to work as a counselor in the juvenile system.

Disheartened by his experience with adolescents, and mindful that he saw no male teachers as he grew up, Frazier resolved to try to reach young kids before they took a wrong turn.

He’s currently student-teaching fourth grade in Aurora.

“The younger kids — now, they need us more,” he says. “Me being an African-American male, my parents always instilled that education is important. It’s hard working with other black youth and seeing that they don’t have the same reinforcement. That’s why I’m there, being a role model for them.”

Kevin Simpson: 303-954-1739 or

Guardian Article: Is It Right Or Wrong For The Developed World To Contact Amazon Indigenous Tribes?

Outside looking in: the Amazon’s isolated tribe

Photos of an Amazon tribe show the effectiveness of modern aerial imaging, while recalling a history of colonisation

  • john
  • Amazon tribe View larger picture One of a series of photos released to bring attention to the plight of an Amazon tribe under threat from loggers. Photograph: Gleison Miranda/Funai/EPAThe aerial photograph or video is one of the dominant visual genres of our age. It is certainly the most domineering. Newly released, vibrant colour images of a previously uncontacted Amazonian tribe have been photographed by a Brazilian Indian affairs department aircraft near the border with Peru. In collaboration with the Brazilian government, these have been released by Survival International, an NGO that is campaigning for the tribe’s protection.

    One of the most widely circulated shows an adult male and four children by their hut. They are at a loss as to what to do about the intruder above. The man has his bow half-raised. One child points. Another holds a machete defensively to their chest. I take in, but cannot reciprocate, the stunned gaze of those swooped upon by this camera from the air.

    Transfixed by their looks, I spontaneously recall similar images. There are Francis Ford Coppola’s Wagnerian helicopters strafing a Vietnamese village, shot in even more amplified colour, in Apocalypse Now. While in the spring of 2010, the WikiLeaks release of US classified footage of an Apache helicopter’s strafing of innocent civilians in Iraq again made visible the loss of foreign bodies to war. It was these that were absent from the CNN missile-head camera images of precision bombing in the first Gulf war and the satellite images presented by Colin Powell to the UN security council as evidence of supposed Iraqi WMD. Nevertheless, the post-facto relaying of atrocity footage by WikiLeaks, seen through the cross-hairs of the gunner who shot it, sickeningly replayed the inevitable fixing, classification and punishment of those videoed from above.

    In the age of the drone and the satellite, being viewed from above is the first step to being considered a worthy subject to be viewed, controlled, or worse. In our own urban environment in the UK, the prerequisite of being a citizen with a legitimate right to occupy public space is to be placed under the surveillance of countless cameras looking down at us.

    Taken at the moment, that brief pause, before the risk of contact or contamination is encountered, these nostalgic images of a lost tropical world tantalise us with the vain prospect that there are still undiscovered corners of the planet. In fact, it is the tribe’s very connectedness with the economic dynamics of its region that puts it at risk. Illegal loggers on the Peruvian side of the border have displaced the tribe into Brazil, motivating the release of the images by the Brazilian authorities.

    The photographs also recall a history of mapping and colonisation.

    The photographs also recall a history of mapping and colonisation. The invention of photography in the first half of the 19th century precedes the emergence later in the same century of anthropology as an academic discipline. Photography thus provided one of the latter’s key instruments in identifying and classifying the human subjects of newly colonised territories. The founding of National Geographic magazine in 1888 is symptomatic; more or less coinciding with the colonial expansion of the United States abroad from 1898 onwards, a high proportion of its early issues were devoted to the Caribbean, Central America, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii. Detailed maps, high-quality photography and writing often resembling a descriptive inventory of human and natural resources, assessing the potential of profitable development for the burgeoning superpower.

    These vivid but detached photographs are currently being distributed relatively indifferently through social networks, somewhat eclipsed by aerial images of the crowds in Tahrir Square. On Twitter, @tearfuldogs writes: “Couldn’t someone have given that lost tribe a map?”. Bearing in mind that discovery has a dreadful history in Latin America, photography will certainly fix this Amazonian tribe as a co-ordinate on the maps of those who would protect, integrate, exploit, or erase them. Whether the tribe itself will have its own maps to enable it to navigate its newly found visibility is a moot point. For the moment, as a photograph of two tribesmen resplendent in war paint shows, firing arrows at the aeroplane above is their only active response.

    • This article was amended on 2 February 2011. It originally stated that photography was invented at the end of the 19th century, rather later than was in fact the case. This has now been corrected


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