Monday, October 10, 2016

Research on Biracial Students

My name is Maria Gadsden and I am a graduate student at Claremont Graduate University. I am conducting researching on Biracial students with one Black parent inspired by my daughter.  I am looking for participants to take my 30 question survey. Participants are middle school age, high school age, and young adults 30 years old and younger. 

The following is a link to my survey:
Your time and consideration are very much appreciated.


Maria G Gadsden

Thursday, May 12, 2016

TedX Talk: Tracing Your Routes

Dr. Zebulon Miletsky discusses his journey through the multiple worlds of race and identity as he shares his experiences with researching his own family genealogy, the various "routes" this process led him to and how "tracing your routes" can lead to more than just knowledge about your background--it's about how we treat one another along those "routes". 

Dr. Zebulon Miletsky teaches African-American History at Stony Brook University where he is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies. He is the author of numerous articles, essays and most recently a book chapter that appeared in the anthology “Obama and the Biracial Factor: The Battle for a New American Majority” which traces the contested meanings throughout history of terminology for multiracial people and the role that this historical legacy of “naming” plays into how President Obama is read as African American, but still asserts a strategic biracial identity through the use of language, symbols, and interactions with the media. Miletsky who is half-Jewish (white) and African-American/Afro-Caribbean, has done a great deal of genealogical research for a book manuscript in progress and is in the process of researching his own family tree. He lives in Brooklyn.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mixed Race People Are Changing The Face Of America

Mixed Race People Are Changing The Face Of America

Since the U.S. Census Bureau started collecting data on mixed race people in 2000, the category has grown by 32 percent. How do multiracial Americans define themselves and how are they changing the face of the country?
Originally aired on October 4, 2013

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Race: More Than Skin Deep

Race: More Than Skin Deep
HuffPost Live
Alyona Minkovski, Host

Multiracial people are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., but for these Americans, race isn’t a black and white issue.HuffPost Live explores the experience of multiracial Americans and how outward appearance shapes their identities.
  • Alexi Nunn Freeman (Denver, Colorado) Director of Public Interest & Lecturer, Legal Externship Program, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • Jenee Desmond-Harris @jdesmondharris (Washington, D.C.) Writer, The Root
  • Stephanie Troutman @KittyKahlo (Boone , North Carolina) Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, Berea College
  • Zebulon Miletsky @zebulonmiletsky (Stony Brook, New York) Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Stony Brook Univesity

  • KEY: Beyond Biracial
    "In the past, these Americans would have been labeled 'quadroons' or 'octoroons.' Today their options are so much broader. What can they teach us about race in 2014 and in the future?"
    View Original

  • MORE: The Widening Aisle Of Interracial Marriages
    More than 5.3 million marriages in the U.S. are between husbands and wives of different races or ethnicities. According to the 2010 Census, they make up one in 10 marriages between opposite-sex couples, marking a 28-percent increase since 2000.
    View Original
  • CLICK: 8 Interracial Relationships That Changed History
    PBS Black Culture Connection, PBS Learning Media, and have teamed up on a special feature about interracial relationships and marriages that have changed history around the world.
    View Original
  • READ: Biracial Actress Says Changing Name Changed Her Luck
    Chloe Wangs fortunes in Hollywood improved dramatically when she decided to change her surname. She says within days of adopting her fathers given name Bennet as a family name, she landed her first big acting gig.View Original

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    Sunday, June 15, 2014

    One Drop of a Father's Love

    By Zebulon Miletsky

    This week I had the pleasure of attending a one-woman show by Television and Film actress, Fanshen CoxDiGiovanni, called “One Drop of Love” a multimedia solo performance put on at the Brooklyn Historical SocietyIt was phenomenal. Not only was it brilliant in its exposition of the social and historical dimensions of race, but it alsobrought a human dimension to the oft-complicated question of mixed race in America.  The context alone was compelling.  In the next room, the critically praised exhibit on Brooklyn Abolitionists entitled “In Pursuit of Freedom”, rich with the documentation and exhibits about slavery and its abolition, much of it the raw material and subtext of the play we were about to witness. The day of the performancealso happened to be “Loving Day”, an annual celebration ofthe anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws in the U.S. The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages, although not necessarily all "black/white" ones, and it is commemoratedannually on what is now Loving Day, June the 12th.


    Fanshen began her show by entering from the back of the room, wading through the aisles of an eager audience, holding an imaginary clipboard and with a verysupercilious, almost scornful demeanor, nose in the air, finger pointing out members of the audience like a sharpened number 2 pencil, squawked  “You’re a mulatto.  Yes, and we have a quadroon here… and yes, I see an Octoroon.”  With that somewhat jarring startwe were off into the complicated world of history, race, and censusboxes-- our “guide” explaining to us that from 1850-1970, the census was not done as it is today, but collected by people, “enumerators” who judged what race someone was by simply looking at them.  Her purposefully obnoxiousperformance reminded us of the arrogance of some of those counters of American civilization—who not only counted Americans, but assigned racial identity.  As census manifests flashed above our heads in an accompanying multimedia presentation, we were confronted by theinhuman process in which the US census was oftencollected.  With racial titles that many would consider to be antiquated today, terms like “Negro”, “Mongolian” and“Mexican” (which Fanshen reminded us was once a “race”producing one of the biggest laughs of the night) flashedupon the screen.


    Besides being a brilliant satire on the absurdities of race, and a personal memoir of the difficulties of life "betwixt and between", this one-woman show was really more than anything else, a love letter to her estranged father.  Billed asa mixed race daughter's search for her father's love", the heart of one drop of love was far and away the emotional angst around the loss of her relationship with her Dad.  Introduced early in the drama is the fact that Fanshen'sfather was Jamaican.  We are introduced to this fact through the voice of her Grandmother, whose personaFanshen takes on with a spot-on patois dialect: "Grandduaghtah". ... She intones, "call ya faddah speak to him.(She also speaks perfect Cape Verdean creole we find out in a later act, honed during her time in the Peace Corps in the West African Island nation).  


    A somewhat hard-hearted man, at least in his youth, we find out that he didn't attend his daughter’s wedding, which was held in Jamaica, apparently in part, to honor him.  A learned man, his memoirs have been published, and we hear Fanshen read from them considerably.  What emerges is a complicated picture of a man grappling with issues of race and his difficult relationship with his mixed race family.  We learn, for example, that he "very skillfully" anentire manuscript of his memoirs without even mentioning his white ex-wife once —a woman so devoted to radical politics and racial justice that she left college to live with agroup of Black Panthers in the South for a semester He is cold and unfeeling to his children's racial plight or even emotional needs.  Through the voices of Fanshen's mother and brother, a picture of a bitter, angry old man emergesand just when you think you know the outcome, a surpriseawaits.  Mainly through this playwe are told; their relationship has been restored.  The advice of the grandmother echoes back to us: “call ya faddah.  And we hear an audio recording of that difficult phone conversation between father and daughter that had been alluded to earlier.  Achingly awkward. And it is at that moment that we realize, this is not just a story about mixed race, but ofredemptionof her father, their relationship, and ultimately of racial identity through one drop of her father’slove.  He could have easily gone the way of the domineering, angry, bitter old man, thrashing about uncritically, irresponsibly affecting the lives around him.   It is then, we findthat this man who we have spent the better part of an hour and a half, learning about, struggling to understand, putting the puzzle together, substituting pieces perhaps our own fathers... who we have now grown closer to through Fanshen’s struggles, is actually herein the audience with us, and has traveled to see this show for the first time.  The crowd is swept up in the most excited and heartfelt moment of the entire show—the word made flesh, the hope renewed and our hope in America’s misadventure of race, in fatherhood, in love—is restored.


    That was a magical moment of theater.  The show incorporated filmed images, photographs, and animation to tell the story of how the notion of ‘race’ came to be in the U.S., and how it influenced the narrators relationship with her father  a journey that took us from the 1700s to the present, to cities all over the U.S. and to West and East Africa, where both father and daughter spent time in search of their ’racial’ roots.  And in that moment we were all children again, sitting in the puppet show, or the magic show of our youths.  Part of it.  Caught up in it.  Willing to clap, sing or wish as hard as we could to get Tinkerbell to fly again, or the hero to believe again, or in this case, for the father to love again.  We wanted so much for our heroine to find the love of her father... And the magic, in this case, the magic of theater literally, made it come true.  Fanshen was saved by one drop of her father’s love and I can think of no stronger statement on Father’s Day, as we consider our relationships with our own fathers, as fathers, and as sons and daughters to shed one drop of love.