Event Date
Sep 29, 2011
Ellis Monk, Jr., UC Berkeley
Jessie Turner, UC Berkeley

Ellis Monk Jr. and Jessie Turner



Skin Tone Stratification Among Black Americans, 2001-2003
Ellis Monk Jr., Sociology

In the past few decades a dedicated collection of scholars have examined the matter of skin tone stratification within the Black American population and found that complexion has significant net effects on a variety of stratification outcomes.  These analyses relied heavily on data collected between 1950 and 1980.  In particular, many scholars have utilized the National Survey of Black Americans (1979-1980).  This leaves the question of whether or not the effect of skin tone on stratification outcomes has changed in the past thirty years.  Newly available data from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) (2001-2003) are used to examine this question; specifically, I analyze the effect of gradations of skin tone on black Americans’ educational attainment, occupational status, employment status, marital status, personal income, household income, and feelings of closeness to other blacks — net of a variety of traditional stratification measures.  Ultimately, the findings suggest that skin tone does still have significant net effects on stratification outcomes – in the same ways as have been found in earlier studies.  Some of these findings, however, paint a slightly more complicated picture of skin tone stratification among Black Americans than earlier studies based on data collected between 1950 and 1980.  These differences, complexities, and their implications – as well as directions for future research – are discussed.

“I’m Mixed and Mixed”: Narrating Identities of Individuals with Mexican and Other Ancestries
Jessie Turner, Ethnic Studies

Given the rate of Mexican American intermarriage, it is crucial that scholars consider where the children of these unions fit within current ethnoracial paradigms.  Chicana/o Studies addresses racial and cultural mixture through discourses of (new) mestizaje, while Multiracial Studies employs the language of (new) multiraciality. Yet   both have given limited attention to multiracial individuals who are the offspring of interracial relationships between Mexican Americans/Chicanas/os and other U.S. racial/ethnic groups. Given this gap in the literature, my dissertation takes an interdisciplinary and feminist intersectional approach to address the following questions: How do individuals who have Mexican and other ethnic or racial ancestries negotiate their identities?  How is this negotiation influenced by vectors such as gender, sexuality, class, and geographic origin?

This presentation will share my findings based on oral histories with narrators in the Santa Barbara and San Francisco Bay areas.  In sum, across various ancestry “mixes,” narrators have worked out synthesized identities in one or more of the following ways: 1) identifying parallels between their ethnoracial groups and/or their families, thus emphasizing commonalities rather than differences; 2) stating that their ethnoracial groups were never in conflict to begin with and so they, themselves, did not experience conflict; 3) locating their present ethnoracial plurality firmly within the context of their family lineages, via genealogical research, rather than larger societal race relations; 4) using discourse around Mexicanness and Chicanidad to account for not only historical mixing, but also their first and second generation mixed race experiences; and 5) sustaining contradictions. I will also touch on the part of my research that investigates the ways in which, as is consistent with Multiracial Studies literature, intersecting vectors often significantly influence narrators’ ethnoracial identities, and changes in these vectors sometimes led to changes in their ethnoracial identifications.