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Friday, March 7, 2008

COLOR INITIATIVE REPORT 3: European Immigrants, Whiteness and Why it Matters Today, Part I

COLOR REPORT THREE: My third report in the COLOR INITIATIVE series on The World (BBC/WGBH/PRI) looks at how some European immigrant groups to this country--many whom were originally regarded as NON-white--became white, and the relevance to current immigration concerns. This is part one of two reports on this issue.

(Listen to report on The World by clicking on the link below and scroll down to January 21st story)

I traveled to Chicago's Greektown and also spoke with Iranian, Italian and Brazilian immigrants in putting together these two stories. A key resource for understanding the role of color in America's hierarchical construction is the book:
Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White: the Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs by David R. Roediger, who was also interviewed for this story.

The Color Initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation, with additional resources provided by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Funding Exchange.

1 comment:

Candelaria said...

Over the years I have watched in dismay the prejudice and stereotyping that many immigrants display for Black Americans in particular.

A couple of years ago, I was reconnected to my biological father who is Puerto Rican. My half sister who's mother is white, considers herself white and my father who is light-skinned but in no way looks white, also feels that he is something other than Puerto Rican. This despite the fact that we can trace our ancestry to Africa quicker on the PR side.
I think that people like the Irish and other ethnic European groups want to fit in quickly and they find solace that in America they are not on the bottom and can more easily blend in. No matter how mainstream Black and other Americans of color talk, live or style- the color persists.

WGBH , PRI and BBC Announce a World-Wide Reporting Initiative Focused on Color

WGBH Radio, Public Radio International and the BBC have announced the launch of “The Color Initiative”, a landmark journalism project that will examine complex global issues of politics, culture, history and society through the framework of human perceptions and experiences related to color. Once complete, this on-going project will air on The World, broadcasting on WGBH 89.7, Mon-Fri at 4pm and 7pm. Feature Color Initiative stories reported from around the globe will be produced by Lifted Veils Productions, a Boston-based non-profit radio journalism organization dedicated to exploring issues that divide society. Former NPR supervising senior editor and NPR’s former Race Relations Correspondent, Phillip Martin, will serve as lead correspondent. He is also the Executive Producer of Lifted Veils Productions. Anthony Brooks, The World’s former senior producer and former national correspondent for NPR, is the Color Initiative series editor. The World’s Executive Producer is Bob Ferrante. The project is made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. “The establishment of an international editorial beat dedicated to covering color worldwide is the first of its kind, and places The World in a unique position in public radio in the United States and Britain,” says Marita Rivero, General Manager for WGBH Radio and Television. Among the topics that will be explored by the Color Initiative are: • COLOR AND IMMIGRATION: A FOUR PART SERIES • IRAQ’S WAR DEAD, AMERICA’S RESPONSE AND THE ROLE OF COLOR • CASTE, COLOR AND EDUCATION IN INDIA The first report in the year-long project looks at the on-going marketing campaign by Benetton, which mixes business with socially conscious messages focusing on diversity of all sorts, including color. Those messages are now coming up against growing anti-immigrant realities in Europe, including the dominant presence of the Northern League in the very Italian city where Benetton is headquartered: Treviso. That report airs in early November. About The World Winner of the 2006 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Broadcast News, The World with anchor Lisa Mullins has been bringing daily international news to local audiences for the past 10 years. Monday through Friday at 4pm on WGBH 89.7, the international staff of The World presents a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. The World is the first international radio news program developed specifically for an American audience, giving listeners an upbeat and informed take on the day's events. Co-produced by WGBH, the BBC World Service, and Public Radio International, The World is heard on more than 200 public radio stations across the country. About WGBH Listener-supported WGBH 89.7 is Boston's NPR® arts and culture station. Bringing you the best for more than 50 years, 89.7 serves its wide-ranging audience with a menu of classical music, NPR news, jazz, blues, folk, and spoken-word programs. The station is an active participant in New England's vibrant music community, presenting more than 300 performances every year, including live broadcasts and remote recordings from such diverse venues as Tanglewood, the Lowell Folk Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, and WGBH's own studios. WGBH 89.7 can be heard online anywhere in the world at, and can be heard on Nantucket at WNCK 89.5.