We hosted a series of virtual events to cultivate community and engage in the important work of Critical Mixed Race Studies.

Book Talk: Mixed-Race in the US and UK with Drs. Jennifer Patrice Sims and Chinelo L. Njaka,
6 May 2021

Watch the video HERE.

Our third book talk is on May 6, 2021 at 9:30AM EDT/ 13:30 GMT/ 14:30 BST. We’ll hear from Drs. Jennifer Patrice Sims and Chinelo L. Njaka on their recently released book, Mixed-Race in the US and UK: Comparing the Past, Present, and Future. We’ll begin with a presentation by the authors, followed by informal conversation, and ending with live Q&A with the audience!

Contributing to an emerging literature on mixed-race people in the United States and United Kingdom, this book draws on racial formation theory and the performativity (i.e. “doing”) of race to explore the social construction of mixedness on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to macro- and micro-level theoretical frameworks, the authors use comparative and relational analytical approaches to reveal similarities and differences between the two nations, explaining them in terms of both common historical roots as well as ongoing contemporary interrelationships.

Focusing on the census, racial identity, civil society, and everyday experiences at the intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality, Mixed-Race in the US and UK: Comparing the Past, Present, and Future offers academics and students an intriguing look into how mixed-race is constructed and experienced within these two nations.

Jennifer Patrice Sims is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Originally from Nashville, TN, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison in 2014 and then taught as an Adjunct Visiting Professor at UW-River Falls before joining UAH in 2017.

Dr. Sims specializes in the study of race/ethnicity, social psychology, and gender and sexuality. Taking mixed-race people as her main focus, her research examines racial construction, perception, and identity in the US and UK. She has conducted statistical analysis of survey data to examine perceptions of mixed-race attractiveness and qualitative interviews to study mixed-race people’s everyday experiences. Her most recent work offers empirically grounded theoretical insights into mixed-race identity development (2016, 2018, 2019) and the influence of hairstyle on racial perception (2020).

Jennifer Patrice Sims is pictured outdoors from the waist up and standing in front of a sand-colored brick wall. Dr. Sims wears a pink cardigan sweater over a white collared shirt and glasses. She is smiling.
Chinelo L. Njaka is pictured outdoors from the waist up and standing in front of a sand-colored brick wall. Dr. Njaka wears a blue cardigan sweater over a white collared shirt with a ditsy floral print. She is smiling.

Chinelo L. Njaka is the Founder and Director of Peckham Rights! and an independent social researcher based in London, UK. She is a Nigerian-American who grew up in Minnesota, USA and later moved to the UK for postgraduate studies. She holds a MA in Culture, Globalisation and the City from the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2005. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Manchester in 2017.

Dr. Njaka’s research interests include race and ethnicity, cross-national comparison, organisational studies, community development, and the African Diaspora—particularly in the European context. Her work examines racialisation processes in different national, institutional, and organisational contexts.

Photo credits are attributed to Dr. Paul Wright.

Book Talk: Multiracial Experiences in Higher Education with Drs. Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe, Nick Davis, and Naliyah Kaya, 4/8/2021

Watch the video HERE.

Our second book talk is on April 8, 2021 at 1:00PM EDT. We’re featuring the newly released book, Multiracial Experiences in Higher Education: Contesting Knowledge, Honoring Voice, and Innovating Practice, edited by Drs. Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero and Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe, with a foreword by Dr. G. Reginald Daniel. We’ll hear from contributing authors, Drs. Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe, Nick Davis, and Naliyah Kaya. The presentation will be followed by a live Q&A with the audience.

For the CMRS community, the publisher is offering a special discount of 20% off + Free Shipping (with no expiration date)! Click here to order your discounted copy and use the following Discount Code: MRE20.

In the last Census, over 9 million people – nearly 3% of the population – identified themselves as of two or more races. The proportion of college students who identify as Multiracial is somewhat higher, and growing. Although increasing at a slightly slower rate, Multiracial faculty and staff are also teaching and working on campuses in greater numbers. Together, Multiracial people from diverse backgrounds and in various roles are influencing college and university culture, practices, and climate.

This book centers the experiences of Multiracial people, those individuals claiming heritage and membership in two or more (mono)racial groups and/or identifies with a Multiracial term. These terms include the broader biracial, multiethnic, and mixed, or more specific terms like Blasian and Mexipino.

In addressing the recurring experiences of inclusion, exclusion, affirmation, and challenges that they encounter, the contributors identify the multiple sites in higher education that affect personal perceptions of self, belonging, rejection, and resilience; describe strategies they utilized to support themselves or other Multiracial people at their institutions; and to advocate for greater awareness of Multiracial issues and a commitment to institutional change.

In covering an array of Multiracial experiences, the book brings together a range of voices, social identities (including race), ages, perspectives, and approaches. The chapter authors present a multiplicity of views because, as the book exemplifies, multiracial people are not a monolithic group, nor are their issues and needs universal to all.

The book opens by outlining the literature and theoretical frameworks that provide context and foundations for the chapters that follow. It then presents a range of first person narratives – reflecting the experiences of students, faculty, and staff – that highlight navigating to and through higher education from diverse standpoints and positionalities. The final section offers multiple strategies and applied methods that can be used to enhance Multiracial inclusion through research, curriculum, and practice. The editors conclude with recommendations for future scholarship and practice.

Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe, EdD, is a consultant and author who addresses issues of social justice, racial and social identity, intersectionality, and conflict resolution. Her professional background includes positions as staff associate to the vice chancellor of student affairs and assistant ombudsperson at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and dean of students at Mount Holyoke College.  Charmaine served as volume editor or coeditor for five volumes addressing race, identity, and social change, including New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development, the forthcoming book The Complexities or Race: Identity, Power, and Justice in an Evolving America, and the book that we are discussing today: Multiracial Experiences in Higher Education. Charmaine’s 1992 dissertation presented one of the first models of Multiracial identity.  

Charmaine is a Multiracial woman of Sri Lankan, Dutch, and Portuguese descent who believes most people see her as a Black woman. She has medium brown skin tone and her oval face has some freckles and darker age spots. Because of her high forehead the bridge of Charmaine's nose starts half way down her face. When not smiling, the edges of her mouth line up with the ends of her nostrils. Her teeth are tightly packed, so when she smiles her upper teeth form a connected line and her lower teeth are bunched up and a bit crooked. Charmaine's hair is mostly grey but has some black mixed in, and it forms tight curls about 2 inches around her head. She has brown eyes that appear behind her black rimmed glasses.

Naliyah Kaya, PhD, is an associate professor at Montgomery college in Takoma Park, Maryland. She previously served as the coordinator for multiracial and Native American/Indigenous student involvement at the University of Maryland, where she also created a multiracial leadership course and continues to facilitate TOTUS Spoken Word Experience. Naliyah identifies as a poetic public sociologist centering her energy on the intersections of art and activism. She organizes arts programming in her role on the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association Executive Committee. Naliyah is an alumna of Shoreline Community College, Hampton University, and George Mason University.

Naliyah identifies as a Multiracial woman of mixed MENA Middle Eastern North African and European ancestry. She has a light yellow-tone complexion green eyes and long dark brown hair.

Nick Davis is a storyteller, cook, gardener and consultant who is committed to creating experiences that deepen and transform our relationship to community, the earth, and our collective imaginations. A native of Inglewood, CA, he’s been based in Chicago for the better part of a decade. Nick’s work has involved building out programs designed to develop strong youth organizing networks, helping formerly incarcerated youth navigate the inequities of reentry, and empowering communities to take control of their access to healthy, fresh and affordable food. He is a published author and has presented at numerous conferences on topics ranging from racial identity development to how racial anxieties are portrayed in sci-fi films to urban agriculture. Nick studied sociology at Northwestern University where he was heavily involved in student organizing, developing hydroponic/aquaponic systems, and President of MIXED, Northwestern’s Mixed Race Student Coalition.

Nick is a young light skinned black man with a long nose, and a short black beard that covers most of his face below his high cheekbones and connects with his hair near his temple. He has dimples like wide arrows pointing towards his large ears when he smiles and laughs, and his teeth are slightly gapped. His eyes are wrinkled from smiling, and they almost disappear behind his lids and lashes when he laughs. He has curly black hair that's about an inch tall on his head but keeps the sides of his hair cut low.

Book Talk: Imagining the Mulatta with Dr. Jasmine Mitchell, 1/21/21

Watch the video HERE

Let’s start off the new year with a discussion on anti-blackness in terms of mixed-race/multiraciality. Join us January 21, 2021 at 9:30AM EST online when Dr. Jasmine Mitchell will discuss her recently released book, Imagining the Mulatta: Blackness in U.S. and Brazilian Media. She will begin with an overview of the book, then there will be a conversational interview with a CMRS board member, followed by live Q&A with the audience.

Brazil markets itself as a racially mixed utopia. The United States prefers the term melting pot. Both nations have long used the image of the mulatta to push skewed cultural narratives. Highlighting the prevalence of mixed-race women of African and European descent, the two countries claim to have perfected racial representation—all the while ignoring the racialization, hypersexualization, and white supremacy that the mulatta narrative creates.

Jasmine Mitchell investigates the development and exploitation of the mulatta figure in Brazilian and U.S. popular culture. Drawing on a wide range of case studies, she analyzes policy debates and reveals the use of mixed-black female celebrities as subjects of racial and gendered discussions. Mitchell also unveils the ways the media moralizes about the mulatta figure and uses her as an example of an “acceptable” version of blackness that at once dreams of erasing undesirable blackness while maintaining the qualities that serve as outlets for interracial desire.

Dr. Jasmine Mitchell is Associate Professor of American Studies and Media Studies at the State University of New York-Old Westbury. Her scholarly specialties include mixed-race and gender representation in popular culture, connections between African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians, Black feminisms, and race and sports.

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