Since the 1990s, mainstream media has heralded the growing population of self-identified “mixed race” people in the US and Canada as material proof of a post-racial era (a recent example: National Geographic‘s 2013 feature “The Changing Face of America,” whose title paraphrases a Time feature [at right] from two decades prior). Meanwhile, foundational multiracial activists and scholars like Maria Root claim a doubled oppression—racism via white supremacy and ostracizing from so-called “monoracial” people of color. A growing body of Critical Mixed Race Studies literature is challenging both positions, questioning the assumption that multiracial activism and scholarship is necessarily anti-racist.
Minelle Mahtani critically locates how an apolitical and ahistorical Canadian “model multiracial” upholds the multicultural claims of the Canadian settler state. Jared Sexton calls to task multiracial activists who leverage a mixed race identity in opposition to those who are “all black, all the time.”
A roundtable conversation moderated by Ann Morning (NYU Department of Sociology) will follow.
Eschewing an apolitical “celebration” of mixed race, this panel examines the movement’s implications for multiracial coalition and the future of race in the US and Canada, asking: does the multiracial movement challenge—or actually reinforce—the logics of structural racism?
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Minelle Mahtani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Geography and the Program in Journalism, University of Toronto-Scarborough. She is the author of Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality (UBC Press, 2014) and a co-editor of the volume, Global Mixed Race (NYU Press, 2014). She is a former television news journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, winner of the Glenda Laws Award from the Association of American Geographers for outstanding research on social issues and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal winner. She is former President of the Association for Canadian Studies and former Chair of CERIS – Centre for Excellence on Research on Immigration and Settlement. Her articles have appeared in Ethnicities, Social Identities, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Social and Cultural Geography, among other journals.
Ann Morning is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University and a faculty affiliate of New York University Abu Dhabi. Her research interests include race, demography, and the sociology of science, especially as they pertain to census classification worldwide and to individuals’ concepts of racial difference. Her doctoral thesis was a co-recipient of the American Sociological Association’s 2005 Dissertation Award, and was published in 2011 by the University of California Press with the title The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference. Prof. Morning was the recipient of a 2008-09 Fulbright research award to visit the University of Milan-Bicocca, and is currently a 2014-15 Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City. She has consulted on racial statistics for the European Commission in Brussels and is a member of the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations. Morning holds her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University, a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from Yale University.
Jared Sexton is Associate Professor and Director of the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine, where he is also affiliated with the Department of Film and Media Studies. He has published articles in journals such as African American Review, American Quarterly, Art Journal, Cultural Critique, Radical History Review, and Social Text, and chapters in various anthologies on contemporary politics and popular culture. He is author of Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) and co-editor of Critical Sociology 36:1, a special issue on “Race and the Variations of Discipline.”