Obama and his grandfather social construction of race

2 Aug

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2008/10/24/what-does-black-and-white-look-like-anyway/

Below are two photos — one of Barack Obama as an adult and one of a young Obama and his Grandfather, Stanley Dunham (found here and here).  I tried a little experiment in class. I put up the photo of adult Obama and I had my students make a list of what characteristics made him identifiably Black, in their view. Every one of them put on their list his nose, lips, and hair, and several made comments about his ears or just that “the combination of all his facial features” was “clearly” Black.

http://sotru.wjct.org/pike-county-oh-as-black-as-we-wish-to-be/

People in Appalachia, OH choose which race with which they identify. It’s a 51 minute audio that challenges hegemonic ideas of race. People who “look white” are discriminated against because they are labeled Black.
In this episode Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that they look white. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white. It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage.

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