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Paul Spickard and Laurie Mengel

Deconstructing Race

… a footnote in race relation theory a symbol for the intersection of two worlds, one foot in each of them so you can be dissected stuffed into labeled boxes—

Are you more white or more Japanese?

Race: check only one box below

What's it like only being half Japanese?


And you're denied completeness wholeness and put on display

What are you?

--"Guessing Game,"

by Douglas P. Easterly

American society has long been prisoner to binary thinking about race. For the most part, racial matters have been cast in terms of black and white. Other groups, no matter how populous or important to the consideration of a given issue, have been seen as secondary to these two in the national dialogue about race.

Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings

By Sui Sin Far

Edited by Amy Ling and Annette White-Parks

University of Illinois Press

297 pp.; $39.95, hardcover;

$15.95, paper

Sui Sin Far/Edith Maude Eaton: A Literary Biography

By Annette White-Parks

University of Illinois Press

268 pp.; $34.95

In recent years, however, some parts of American society have begun to come to grips with multiplicity in the ways they think and act about race. The Census Bureau is testing new forms that include a controversial "multiracial" box and allow an individual to give more than one response. Tiger Woods, whom some sportswriters have dubbed the Great Black Hope of the golf world, insists that he is more Asian than African American, and that he has several other ancestries as well. The cover of Newsweek asks, "What Color Is Black?" and Time proclaims that "The New Face of America" is multiracial.

Such recent trends show promise of overturning binary thinking about race. In fact, if one examines the historical and literary record, one will find that there has long been a quiet tune played in a minor key by people with mixed racial consciousness. Some of the writings of prominent African American leaders from the first part of this century—people like W. E. B. DuBois and Mary Church Terrell and ...

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