Afro-Mexican Constructions of Diaspora, Gender, Identity and Nation

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2016-08-28 02:32Z by Steven

Afro-Mexican Constructions of Diaspora, Gender, Identity and Nation

University of The West Indies Press
April 2016
234 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-976-640-579-3

Paulette A. Ramsay, Senior Lecturer in Spanish
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Paulette Ramsay’s study analyses cultural and literary material produced by Afro-Mexicans on the Costa Chica de Guerrero y Oaxaca, Mexico, to undermine and overturn claims of mestizaje or Mexican homogeneity.

The interdisciplinary research draws on several theoretical constructs: cultural studies, linguistic anthropology, masculinity studies, gender studies, feminist criticisms, and broad postcolonial and postmodernist theories, especially as they relate to issues of belonging, diaspora, cultural identity, gender, marginalization, subjectivity and nationhood. The author points to the need to bring to an end all attempts at extending the discourse, whether for political or other reasons, that there are no identifiable Afro-descendants in Mexico. The undeniable existence of distinctively black Mexicans and their contributions to Mexican multiculturalism is patently recorded in these pages.

The analyses also aid the agenda of locating Afro-Mexican literary and cultural production within a broad Caribbean aesthetics, contributing to the expansion of the Caribbean as a broader cultural and historical space which includes Central and Latin America.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Foreword Father Glyn Jemmott Nelson
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Mexico through the Distorted Lens of Memín Pinguín
  • 2. Constructions of Gender and Nation in Selected Afro-Mexican Folktales
  • 3. Masculinity, Language and Power in Selected Afro-Mexican Corridos
  • 4. Place, Racial and Cultural Identities in Selected Afro-Mexican Oral and Lyric Verses
  • 5. Afro-Mexico in the Context of a Caribbean Literary and Cultural Aesthetics
  • Conclusion
  • Photographs
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
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Meet American Olympian Anthony Ervin: The Oldest-Ever Individual Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist

Posted in Articles, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-08-28 02:25Z by Steven

Meet American Olympian Anthony Ervin: The Oldest-Ever Individual Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist

Democracy Now!

Amy Goodman, Host and Executive Producer

While Michael Phelps dominated the Olympic headlines over the weekend by scoring a historic 23rd gold medal, another American male swimmer has also made history in Rio. Thirty-five-year-old Anthony Ervin became the oldest-ever individual Olympic swimming gold medalist when he won two gold medals for the men’s 50-meter freestyle and the men’s four-by-100-meter freestyle relay. For more, we go to Rio to speak with Ervin, who is also the author of the recent book titled “Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re in Rio de Janeiro—at least that’s where our guests are. We’re joined by Jesse Washington of The Undefeated, as well as Anthony Ervin, U.S. swimming champion and four-time Olympic medalist. At 35 years old, he’s the oldest-ever individual Olympic swimming gold medalist. Just wrote the book Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian.

Anthony, welcome to Democracy Now! Congratulations on your remarkable victory. Talk about how you feel right now and what it means to you.

ANTHONY ERVIN: Thank you for having me. I feel good. Got some lights burning right into me, and I’m staring into a vacuum to talk back to you.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk about how you felt when you realized—when did you realize you had won, with all those toddlers in the pool, you at 35?…

AMY GOODMAN: Anthony, you write in your beautiful book, Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian, about what it was like after you won in 2000—you won that gold medal—about being promoted as an African-American trailblazer, when you felt, at that point, as a teen, you hadn’t really grown up with that black identity. Can you talk about your life in that way, who your parents are?

ANTHONY ERVIN: Sure. You know, my mom, she came from New York City. She’s a city gal. You know, she even keeps her own—her personal history is a mystery, even to me and the rest of us kids. And my dad came from West Virginia. You know, his father was a coal miner. And, you know, he was—I mean, the question of blackness, you know, is a question of authenticity. And to be viewed in that way—and swimming is—it’s a very visual sport. It’s a body. You know, literally, you’re a body in the water, wearing close to nothing, so that body is on display. And if we’re talking about blackness, blackness is a color. You know, it’s—in the eyes of many, it’s a skin tone. You know, but then, if you dig into the history of it, there’s the idea of hypodescent. You know, one drop of blood makes you black. So, it’s all very complicated, and I didn’t know about any of this. I wasn’t educated on the history of this. Or if I was, I was snoozing through it in classrooms. So, I didn’t know how to necessarily answer to it. And I had trouble tackling, trying to argue that, you know, I authentically am this, if others say I’m not, or people trying to posit some kind of identity on me which I did not drape on myself. I mean, it’s a question of being able to pursue my personal freedom and needing to shuck all forms of identity in order to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: Your father is African-American, Native American?…

Read the transcript here.

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Voices of Slavery: ‘They Were Saving Me For a Breeding Woman’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2016-08-28 01:55Z by Steven

Voices of Slavery: ‘They Were Saving Me For a Breeding Woman’

This Cruel War: An Evidence-Based Exploration of the Civil War, its Causes and Repercussions

Virginian Luxuries, artist unknown. c1825.

During 1929 and 1930, an Africa-American scholar named Ophelia Settle Egypt, conducted nearly 100 interviews with former slaves. Working then at Fisk University, she was the first person to ever conduct such a large scale endeavor. Accompanied by Charles Johnson, a black sociologist, she was able to get the former slaves to open up about the waning days of the institution. In 1945, she finally published her Unwritten History of Slavery, which collected thirty-eight transcripts of the interviews. Each account, published anonymously, painted a fuller picture of black slavery in Tennessee and Kentucky, where most of the interviewees had resided.

This first account, entitled “One of Dr. Gale’s ‘Free Niggers’,” is surprisingly candid about the rape of slave women by their owners, as well as other aspects of such relationships.

Just the other day we were talking about white people when they had slaves. You know when a man would marry, his father would give him a woman for a cook and she would have children right in the house by him, and his wife would have children, too. Sometimes the cook’s children favored him so much that the wife would be mean to them and make him sell them. If they had nice long hair she would cut it off and wouldn’t let them wear it long like the white children…

…Then there was old Sam Watkins, – he would ship their husbands (slaves) out of bed and get in with their wives. One man (a slave) said he stood it as long as he could and one morning he just stood out side, and when he (the master) got with his wife (the slave), he just choked him to death. He knew it was death, but it was death anyhow; so he just killed him. They hanged him. There has always been a law in Tennessee that if a Negro kill a white man it means death.

Now, mind you, all of the colored women didn’t have to have white men, some did it because they wanted to and some were forced. They had a horror of going to Mississippi and they would do anything to keep from it. A white woman would have a maid sometimes who was nice looking, and she would keep her and her son would have children by her. Of course the mixed blood, you couldn’t expect much from them…

Read the entire article here.

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Kanye Collaborator Vanessa Beecroft Reveals A Common Misconception About Race

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-28 01:37Z by Steven

Kanye Collaborator Vanessa Beecroft Reveals A Common Misconception About Race


Tricia Tongco

Vanessa Beecroft is best known as the artist who has collaborated with Kanye West on several of the rapper’s most noteworthy visuals, from the “Runaway” mini-movie to the Yeezy Season 3 fashion show.

But thanks to a recently published profile in New York Magazine, Beecroft is gaining notoriety in her own right. In the piece, she makes several bizarre statements, but her first quote in the piece is probably the most questionable:

“I have divided my personality,” she says. “There is Vanessa Beecroft as a European white female, and then there is Vanessa Beecroft as Kanye, an African-American male.” Later she tells me, “I even did a DNA test thinking maybe I am black? I actually wasn’t. I was kind of disappointed, and I don’t want to believe it. I want to do it again, because when I work with Africans or African-Americans, I feel that I am autobiographical. If I don’t call myself white, maybe I am not.”…

…The mainstream belief in the scientific community is that race is a social construct without biological meaning, with research demonstrating that genetic differences are not fixed along racial lines.

By that logic, there’s nothing wrong with what Vanity Fair describes as Beecroft’s “choose-your-own-race views.”

However, as a white woman from Italy, Beecroft is able to propose that choice from a place of privilege, while her black collaborator Kanye cannot. Also, no matter what racial identity she “feels” or identifies with at any given moment, she still benefits from white privilege, because she looks white and others treat her as such…

Read the entire article here.

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The crime of miscegenation: racial mixing in slaveholding Brazil and the threat to racial purity in post-abolition United States

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-08-27 18:45Z by Steven

The crime of miscegenation: racial mixing in slaveholding Brazil and the threat to racial purity in post-abolition United States

Revista Brasileira de História
Ahead of print 2016-08-08
24 pages
DOI: 10.1590/1806-93472016v36n72_007

Luciana da Cruz Brito
City University of New York

This article discuss how the Brazilian example was debated and appropriated by politicians, scientists, and other members of the white US elite, who in the post-abolition period were preparing a nation project which maintained the old slaveholding ideologies of white supremacy and racial segregation, lasting in the country until the twentieth century. In Latin America it was possible to assess the negative effects of racial mixing, while Brazil became an example of backwardness and degeneration, reinforcing the need for urgent segregationist policies in the United States. The question of racial mixing was linked to the production of a notion of national identity which was sustained by the idea of purity of blood and in opposition to Latin American societies.

Read the entire article in English or Portuguese.

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Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-27 18:18Z by Steven

Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem

NFL News
National Football League

Steve Wyche, NFL Media Reporter

SANTA CLARA, Calif.San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has willingly immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

His latest refusal to stand for the anthem — he has done this in at least one other preseason game — came before the 49ers’ preseason loss to Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium on Friday night.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The 49ers issued a statement about Kaepernick’s decision: “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

By taking a stand for civil rights, Kaepernick, 28, joins other athletes, like the NBA’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and several WNBA players in using their platform and status to raise awareness to issues affecting minorities in the U.S…

…Kaepernick said that he has thought about going public with his feelings for a while but that “I felt that I needed to understand the situation better.”

He said that he has discussed his feelings with his family and, after months of witnessing some of the civil unrest in the U.S., decided to be more active and involved in rights for black people. Kaepernick, who is biracial, was adopted and raised by white parents and siblings.

Kaepernick’s Twitter feed is filled with civil rights messages…

Read the entire article here.

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Colin Kaepernick Protests National Anthem Over Treatment of Minorities

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-27 16:52Z by Steven

Colin Kaepernick Protests National Anthem Over Treatment of Minorities

ABC News

Michael Edison Hayden

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game Friday out of protest against America’s treatment of “black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick told NFL media he made his own decision to protest the playing of the anthem during the game against the Green Bay Packers, saying he felt an obligation to stand with “people that are oppressed.”

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick, a five-year veteran, broke into the NFL in 2012, a year he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

“I am not looking for approval,” he added. “I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico: Defining Racial Difference

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Mexico, Monographs on 2016-08-26 00:56Z by Steven

Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico: Defining Racial Difference

University of Oklahoma Press
304 pages
Illustrations: 3 b&w illus., 2 maps, 18 tables
6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806154879

Robert C. Schwaller, Assistant Professor of History
University of Kansas, Lawrence

On December 19, 1554, the members of Tenochtitlan’s indigenous cabildo, or city council, petitioned Emperor Charles V of Spain for administrative changes “to save us from any Spaniard, mestizo, black, or mulato afflicting us in the marketplace, on the roads, in the canal, or in our homes.” Within thirty years of the conquest, the presence of these groups in New Spain was large enough to threaten the social, economic, and cultural order of the indigenous elite. In Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico, an ambitious rereading of colonial history, Robert C. Schwaller proposes using the Spanish term géneros de gente (types or categories of people) as part of a more nuanced perspective on what these categories of difference meant and how they evolved. His work revises our understanding of racial hierarchy in Mexico, the repercussions of which reach into the present.

Schwaller traces the connections between medieval Iberian ideas of difference and the unique societies forged in the Americas. He analyzes the ideological and legal development of géneros de gente into a system that began to resemble modern notions of race. He then examines the lives of early colonial mestizos and mulatos to show how individuals of mixed ancestry experienced the colonial order. By pairing an analysis of legal codes with a social history of mixed-race individuals, his work reveals the disjunction between the establishment of a common colonial language of what would become race and the ability of the colonial Spanish state to enforce such distinctions. Even as the colonial order established a system of governance that entrenched racial differences, colonial subjects continued to mediate their racial identities through social networks, cultural affinities, occupation, and residence.

Presenting a more complex picture of the ways difference came to be defined in colonial Mexico, this book exposes important tensions within Spanish colonialism and the developing social order. It affords a significant new view of the development and social experience of race—in early colonial Mexico and afterward.

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MTV Decoded Answers The Question ‘Are Hispanic People White?’

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-08-26 00:00Z by Steven

MTV Decoded Answers The Question ‘Are Hispanic People White?’

Latino Voices
The Huffington Post

Carolina Moreno, Editor

It’s complicated.

When it comes to matters of race and ethnicity, things can get very complicated. Thankfully, Franchesa Ramsey is always ready to decode everything.

In a new episode of MTV News, the host of “Decoded” tackled the question “Are Hispanics white?” The answer is, unsurprisingly, complex.

As an ethnicity, there’s a limitless amount of racial identities that can live within the Latino community. That means Latinos can be asian, black, mixed race and, yes, even white.

“If you ever hear anyone say, ‘This is America and 77 percent of it is white.’ Whether they know it or not, they’re including a very large number of people who identify as Hispanic or Latino,” Ramsay says in the video as she breaks down “Hispanic” isn’t a racial category in the census.

Ramsey also enlisted the help of YouTube vlogger Kat Lazo to help further break down the difference between Hispanic and Latino (or the gender neutral term Latinx), plus explain the differences between race and ethnicity…

Read the entire article here.

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The Trouble with Post-Blackness

Posted in Anthologies, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-25 21:25Z by Steven

The Trouble with Post-Blackness

Columbia University Press
February 2015
288 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780231169356
Hardcover ISBN: 9780231169349
E-book ISBN: 9780231538503

Edited by:

Houston A. Baker, Distinguished University Professor
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

K. Merinda Simmons, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University of Alabama

An America in which the color of one’s skin no longer matters would be unprecedented. With the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, that future suddenly seemed possible. Obama’s rise reflects a nation of fluid populations and fortunes, a society in which a biracial individual could be embraced as a leader by all. Yet complicating this vision are shifting demographics, rapid redefinitions of race, and the instant invention of brands, trends, and identities that determine how we think about ourselves and the place of others.

This collection of original essays confronts the premise, advanced by black intellectuals, that the Obama administration marked the start of a “post-racial” era in the United States. While the “transcendent” and post-racial black elite declare victory over America’s longstanding codes of racial exclusion and racist violence, their evidence relies largely on their own salaries and celebrity. These essays strike at the certainty of those who insist life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are now independent of skin color and race in America. They argue, signify, and testify that “post-blackness” is a problematic mythology masquerading as fact—a dangerous new “race science” motivated by black transcendentalist individualism. Through rigorous analysis, these essays expose the idea of a post-racial nation as a pleasurable entitlement for a black elite, enabling them to reject the ethics and urgency of improving the well-being of the black majority.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Dubious Stage of Post-Blackness—Performing Otherness, Conserving Dominance, by K. Merinda Simmons
  • 1. What Was Is: The Time and Space of Entanglement Erased by Post-Blackness, by Margo Natalie Crawford
  • 2. Black Literary Writers and Post-Blackness, by Stephanie Li
  • 3. African Diasporic Blackness Out of Line: Trouble for “Post-Black” African Americanism, by Greg Thomas
  • 4. Fear of a Performative Planet: Troubling the Concept of “Post-Blackness”, by Rone Shavers
  • 5. E-Raced: #Touré, Twitter, and Trayvon, by Riché Richardson
  • 6. Post-Blackness and All of the Black Americas, by Heather D. Russell
  • 7. Embodying Africa: Roots-Seekers and the Politics of Blackness, by Bayo Holsey
  • 8. “The world is a ghetto”: Post-Racial America(s) and the Apocalypse, by Patrice Rankine
  • 9. The Long Road Home, by Erin Aubry Kaplan
  • 10. Half as Good, by John L. Jackson Jr.
  • 11. “Whither Now and Why”: Content Mastery and Pedagogy—a Critique and a Challenge, by Dana A. Williams
  • 12. Fallacies of the Post-Race Presidency, by Ishmael Reed
  • 13. Thirteen Ways of Looking at Post-Blackness (after Wallace Stevens), by Emily Raboteau
  • Conclusion: Why the Lega Mask Has Many Mouths and Multiple Eyes, by Houston A. Baker Jr.
  • List of Contributors
  • Index
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