Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mixed race reading (and viewing)

In a continuation of the reading recommendations I've been making this week for race/anti-racism & fun summer fiction, let me now make a plug for some key selections of mixed-race reading.

*Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural. Claudine Chiawei O'Hearn, editor. New York: Pantheon (1998)
--Good collection of first-person essays by a range of people who identify as mixed heritage and multiracial or written by parents in interracial relationships discussing their thoughts about their children's identities and how being in a mixed family impacts them (Gish Jen's essay, in particular, addresses this issue). One of my favorites in this collection is Danzy Senna's "The Multatto Millennium"--it's very tongue-in-cheek.

*Mixing It Up: Multiracial Subjects. SanSan Kwan and Kenneth Spiers, editors. Austin: University of Texas Press (2004).
--This is more "academic" in nature--largely because it is written by academics, but it offers a broad range of essays that ruminate on various mixed race issues, like Naomi Zack's essay on multiraciality and the 2000 census and issues of mixed race in popular culture.

*Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption. Randall Kennedy. New York: Pantheon Books (2003).
--I know I've mentioned this book before, but it's really a very solid book, through and well researched, and really gets at the legal and social issues surrounding interracial relationships of various sorts, not just marriage or partnerships but also familial ones. Kennedy is a professor at Harvard Law and his legal training shows in the court cases he analyzes, but court cases are important when looking at issues of "miscegenation" or the better contemporary term, interracial relationships.

On the fiction side of things, let me introduce you to some mixed-race authors whose protagonists or plot-lines also pivot on issues of multiraciality--I won't give you a blow by blow because I could go on and on about these works, but you can google them to find plot synopses, and I GUARANTEE--these books are both very enjoyable/pleasure reading as well as reflecting some mixed-race experiences:

*Caucasia -- Danzy Senna

*My Year of Meats -- Ruth Ozeki

*The Painted Drum -- Louise Erdrich

*Edinburgh -- Alexander Chee

*Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience -- Chandra Prasad, editor

For some on-line reading, check out this post from Racialicious, "Not Quite White: When Racial Ambiguity Meets Whiteness," especially the comments (there are almost 100 at the time of this posting). The comments section on Racialicious are almost better than the posts themselves--in this case, you get to hear, directly, from people who live their lives with racial ambiguity.

Finally, check out this animated short by mixed-Japanese-Canadian Jeff Chiba Stearns (tip of the hat to Angry Asian Man). Stearns calls this genre "hapanimation" in honor of his mixed-race heritage. Check out his website Meditating Bunny--he's clearly a VERY talented guy!


Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

Just found your blog via whattamisaid. I think it's interesting. I'll be back. Meanwhile, you can check me out at I blog on current issues, music and literature. Keep up the good work. I got you linked!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I've been an avid "What Tami Said" reader so I feel like I *know* you, a tiny bit, from your comments (which I always find very thoughtful and thought provoking).

And I'll be sure to check out your blog as well--thanks for the plug!