Mixing It Up

Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

Let’s Mix It Up!

What signifies race?  Is it the color of one’s skin?  Is it the texture of one’s hair?  What is the relationship between race and culture?  How is race performed on and through the body?  What are the signifiers of race that we subconsciously interpret as we move throughout the world and try to make sense of our place in it and our relationship to others?

The images in the banner of this blog are photos taken during various holidays, such as the the Muslim religious commemoration, Hosay, or the Hindu festival of Phagwa, as celebrated in Trinidad, and of everyday people engaged in everyday life.  Racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries are fluid in this multi-ethnic island, and challenge us to think about the taken for granted nature of race as conceptualized and reified in the United States of America.  Attention to the politics of race and ethnicity, the history of how ideas of race evolved, and the ways in which race and ethnicity are performed in various locations open our eyes to the complicated role of race in our world.

Mixing It Up is a repository of the thoughts, observations, questions, and feelings about race, ethnicity, and hybridity documented by Dickinson College students enrolled in the Spring 2018 semester of Race, Ethnicity, and Hybridity, a course taught by Professor van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy.


  1. “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.” –Oprah

    Oprah Winfrey gave a powerful speech at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, upon receiving a lifetime achievement award. Utilizing her time in the spotlight, she then addressed many forms of abuse. In “A New Division of the Earth”, Francois Bernier gives evidence that inequality and objectivity toward women was very much alive even back then. I find it interesting how the concept of “beauty” has fluctuated over time; “…aquiline nose, little mouth, coral lips, ivory teeth, large ardent eyes, that softness of expression, the bosom and all the rest.” Unfortunately, beauty has gone from something to admire to something to take advantage of. Women are fed up. Many women wore black to the Golden Globes, to symbolize powerful women in solidarity, and to support the “Time’s Up” movement for equal pay for women in the entertainment business. As a woman watching the Golden Globes, I was truly moved.

  2. Cassandra Jimmink
    Mixing It Up Entry 1

    After just two short weeks of this class, I can honestly say I am disgusted, amazed and completely in shock. Race is so embedded into our society that it is impossible to ignore. Yes, it is a socially constructed idea, but it’s an idea that holds so much power. To think that there were countless philosophers who thought it was necessary, and took years, to racially divide up the world blows my mind. I question what this do for them? What did they think they were accomplishing? Francois-Marie Voltaire wrote, “and mulattoes are only a bastard race of black men and white women, or white men and black women, as asses, specifically different from horses, produce mules by copulating with mares” (Bernasconi and Tommy, 6). It was hard to read quotes like this one but what was harder to swallow was the fact that today, February 4, 2018, people still think like this. We still here the word mulattoes. People today still believe that white are superior to other races. In the latest 1700’s Kant expressed the need to erase the inferior. Fast forward to the 1930’s and 40’s and we have the holocaust. The ideas that were introduced hundreds of years ago are still so relevant to today’s world and it is terrifying to think about and have to admit. After reading the article on Meghan Markle’s family tree, I can only ask myself, who cares and why was it so long? It was more than showing her family roots. That article was invasive and unnecessary. They never examined other fiance’s’ family tree as they did her’s.

  3. From the first reading of “The Classification of Races” to the essays on “Science and Eugenics”, I have been alarmed by the sorts of ways race has been talked about and how intellectual people have fabricated a myth about “race” that is still very much relevant to today’s categorization of peoples and the discrimination that exists. I think sometimes we forget how far racism can be traced back to and even if we live in a progressive society, people still think that the ideas, systems and beliefs of the European race should prevail over the inferior races to keep the European model of civilization alive and everlasting. However, Dubois and Senghor challenge this system and call for the conservation and embracement of the black people’s ideals and culture, which can coexist with the European values in the same space. Senghor calls the embracing of the Negro-African civilized values a humanist movement, and makes the point that Negritude welcomes all values of the world to then become alive on its own and part of a civilization that embraces all mankind (138). This is important to look at as it shows how people of different values and backgrounds can still embrace their identities, while embracing other values that are humanist and righteous.

  4. Part of what interested me most from these readings so far is Francis Galton’s definition of eugenics as “science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage” (79). This makes it seem so clinical, unbiased, and harmless—even inarguable. If the only goal of this so-called “science” is to improve the human race, how bad could it be? The mobilization of science in this way is extremely dangerous as it shrouds the inherent racist biases in what are supposed to be facts and legitimate scientific methods.

    At the same time of reading this text, in another class I read Home by Toni Morrison which deals with many things, one of which being eugenics. One of the main characters, Ycidra, is employed by a white doctor in Georgia to help schedule his appointments and keep track of his scientific work. Ycidra discovers that this doctor is heavily interested in eugenics and is mainly “helping” the poor community of Atlanta. He administers shots and medicines he concocted himself to Ycidra. She nearly dies, however after a recovered she learns that she will never be able to have children. Morrison’s Home sheds light on the atrocities committed in the name of a false science as Ycidra is a victim of the forced sterilization of black women as a direct result of eugenics programs in the United States.

    Reading these two texts side-by-side was enlightening because reading Galton’s “Eugenics: its Definition, Scope and Aims” allowed me to understand the thinking of people who believed in its message and how these racist ideologies were presented to the public through the ruse of science, and Home by Toni Morrison humanized the issue further by illustrating the experience of an unsuspecting woman who was abused by a doctor that justified sterilizing her without her knowledge or consent because, in his opinion, it was for the good of the human race.

  5. Kayla Burke-Ozuna

    February 10, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    In many of my classes, it has become apparent to me that I am deliberating people deliberate themselves. People trying to socialize their right in the world most and be perceived by the world in the same light they perceive themselves.

    The journey of identity, both external and internal, is encompassed by philosopher Alan Watts’ quote “I believe that if we are honest with ourselves the most fascinating problem in the world is: who am I?” This is the question we spend much of our life attempting to answer. This is the question we intellectualize through paintings, films, and novels. This is the question we continue to politically disregard though it is the foundation for all our politics. For many people of color in the United States, this is the question dictated by racial stigmas, which demands that the development of who they are is dependent on how they are racially categorized.

    And what is a person of color? What by the existence of that identification alone is implied about humanity? I think it means that we, as people of color, live as an additional or almost, accidental people. Why is it not enough to just say person when I speak about myself or when someone else speaks about me?

  6. Jahmirah Warrick

    February 11, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I believe that it is apparent that the idea of race is just that – an idea. It is evident more than ever after the readings in “Classifications of Race” that race was created as a social concept to justify the mistreatment of those who physically differed from Europeans.

    Signifiers of race that we as humans subconsciously interpret as we move throughout the world and try to make sense of our place in it and our relationship to others is the significance of one’s skin color. I believe that minute physical characteristics such as skin pigmentation and hair texture drastically takes apart in shaping one’s complex identity. There are a lot of factors that subconsciously shape how we identify as people such as our individual characteristics, historical factors, social and political contexts in addition to individual characteristics.

  7. Kayla Burke-Ozuna

    March 4, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    After reading the article “Third World Quarterly row: Why some western intellectuals are trying to debrutalise colonialism,” and the piece “I am a Coolie” I began to think about the more subtle, intimate consequences of colonialism. Be it the exploited people reclaiming derogatory terms like ‘n****r’ and ‘coolie’ to rather reflect all they’ve endured and overcome. It is a constant navigation for pride in one’s natural self through abstractions like language, love, and beauty that have been perverted by colonialism. I wrote a poem that I feel embodies the hurt and confusion when you can’t find that pride because it has been systematically stolen from you.

    In English class, she learned
    that Juliet is the sun and she has spent years
    trying to feel her light. Years of sitting beneath
    scorching heat scalding the tips of her girlhood
    ears while generational echoes tell her to
    unkink the Dominican in her hair. The stench
    of burning curls becomes the scent of
    apprehensive conformity and the blood lining
    the insides of her cheeks taste the way longing might.
    She looked to Juliet, to the sun, to see
    remains of herself but she never found them.
    Instead she cried the secrets of colonialism,
    because she is Julietta, never Juliet.
    The moon tried to whisper to her “Va con paz,”
    on a bright morning before she realized the
    sun had risen and she was to be lost, once more
    and always, in its light.

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