Amongst all of the women who could be identified as black, there exists such a huge diversity of features and appearances that it is hard to talk about what a “black woman” looks like in any meaningful way, yet you reduce us to a monolith?

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-04-26 02:40Z by Steven

What is it about black girls that you find so attractive? We come in all different shades and sizes. Amongst all of the women who could be identified as black, there exists such a huge diversity of features and appearances that it is hard to talk about what a “black woman” looks like in any meaningful way, yet you reduce us to a monolith?

Emma Dabiri, “Emma: On What It Means to Be “Attracted to Black Girls”,” Dublin InQuirer, April 24, 2018. https://www.dublininquirer.com/2018/04/24/emma-on-what-it-means-to-be-attracted-to-black-girls.

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Donna Nicol: An Agent of Change for Africana Studies

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-26 02:30Z by Steven

Donna Nicol: An Agent of Change for Africana Studies

CSUDH Campus News Center
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Carson, California
2018-03-12


Donna Nicol, associate professor and chair of Africana Studies at CSU Dominguez Hills.

Donna Nicol, associate professor and chair of Africana Studies, arrived at CSUDH in fall 2017. As a faculty member, she teaches Comparative Ethnic and Global Societies. As chair, Nicol is working with her colleagues and the university administration to strengthen the program’s curriculum and bolster its presence on campus and in the region.

A fourth-generation “Comptonite,” Nicol’s deep local roots and unique upbringing in a community-focused family has had a profound effect on her as a researcher and educator. She briefly left South Los Angeles for Ohio State University where she earned a Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education with a specialization in African American higher educational history, and a minor in African American Studies in 2007.

Prior to coming to CSUDH, Nicol was the first woman of color to be promoted and tenured in Women’s Studies at CSU Fullerton. She joined the faculty ranks at Fullerton after spending nearly a decade working in higher education administration, a nontraditional career path that she believes gives her a unique perspective on the ethos of public education, and an advantage as an academic chair…

…Nicol sat down with CSUDH Campus News Center to discuss her unique Compton upbringing, her latest research, and her perspectives regarding the African American experience in higher education.

Q: To get started, can you tell me about your upbringing in Compton, and a little about how it influences you as an educator?

A: My family moved the Compton because it was one of the few places in Los Angeles at the time that allowed African Americans to buy homes. Coming from a military background—my great-grandfather was as an Army doctor during World War I—my great-grandparents didn’t want to go back to the South with mixed-race kids (Filipino and Black). After World War II, they moved to California as did my paternal grandparents who also moved to Compton to avoid racial segregation in the Jim Crow South. We were one of the few families that had the opportunity to go to college. My great-grandfather was a doctor, so he had “cultural capital,” and taught my grandmother how to prepare for college; who passed it on to my mother; who passed it on to me…

Read the entire article here.

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Meet the Viscountess Transforming the Idea of British Aristocracy

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2018-04-26 02:10Z by Steven

Meet the Viscountess Transforming the Idea of British Aristocracy

Vanity Fair
2018-04-25 (May 2018 Issue)

David Kamp, Contributing Editor


Photograph by Simon Upton.
Emma Thynn, the Viscountess Weymouth, on the roof of Longleat House, in Wiltshire, England

Emma Thynn, an extraordinary cook and mother who is positioned to become Britain’s first black marchioness, has recast the mold of aristocracy with her stylish, entrepreneurial spirit—despite a strained relationship with her in-laws.

So there we were, the future ninth Marquess of Bath and me, on a boat patrolling a lake on his family’s estate, each of us holding a plastic cup full of sprats. All at once, some sea lions surfaced starboard, barking expectantly, their whiskery maws wide open. We hustled to the boat’s railing, emptying our cups, tossing the silvery fish to the appreciative beasts. The marquess-to-be took to this task with particular relish, unsqueamish about getting his fingers slimy and barking back at the sea lions, “Urt! Urt! Urt!” As was only appropriate: he is three and a half years old.

The boy’s mother, Emma, Viscountess Weymouth, was leading me on a tour of the estate, Longleat, which includes a drive-through safari park open to the public. John, my fish-tossing comrade and the elder of Emma’s two sons, was tagging along. The park’s animals include tigers, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, red pandas, gorillas, monkeys, rhinos, hippopotamuses, and an Asian elephant, Anne, who was restored to good health after years of abuse in a circus and now lives at Longleat in her own purpose-built facility with a trio of companion goats. There are also walk-through enclosures where visitors can feed smaller animals, such as tamarins and rainbow lorikeets, and there is the boat ride, where a cup of sprats usually goes for £1, a fee that was waived for his lordship and his adult guest…

Emma McQuiston was born in 1986 to a Nigerian father and an English mother. When her husband, Ceawlin, Viscount Weymouth, assumes the title held at the moment by his 86-year-old father, Alexander, the current, and seventh, Marquess of Bath, Emma will become Britain’s first black marchioness. In the ranks of British peerage, a marquess and marchioness are second only to a duke and duchess. And someday, young John, a sweet and precociously eloquent boy with caramel skin and loose black curls, will assume his father’s title and become the United Kingdom’s first marquess of color…

Read the entire article here.

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Bedside Books: How Half-Breed by Maria Campbell connected musician Nick Ferrio to his grandmother

Posted in Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2018-04-25 23:50Z by Steven

Bedside Books: How Half-Breed by Maria Campbell connected musician Nick Ferrio to his grandmother

CBC Radio
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2018-04-16


Musician Nick Ferrio examines Maria Campbell’s autobiography, Half-Breed, and its depiction of race issues in Canada. (Jeff Bierk/Goodread Biography)

Musician Nick Ferrio is based in Peterborough, Ont., but his roots are in Saskatchewan. He recently read Maria Campbell’s memoir Half-Breed and its account of an Indigenous woman’s encounters with racism, and the book resonated with him, thanks to his own Cree ancestry.

Ferrio’s album Soothsayer also mixes several influences to create a personal style and sound.

Mapping internal conflict

“I think every Canadian should read Half-Breed. It’s an incredible story of a mixed woman whose ancestry is part Cree. She explains the racism she faced in Canada. It resonated with me as my paternal grandmother is Cree. Because of the Indian Act, her family was forced to leave the reserve. When she moved to Toronto, she had internal racism. She was ashamed of her identity. She passed as white, so she blended into white culture in Toronto. That’s a dark thing.”..

Listen to the story here. Read the story here.

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Emma: On What It Means to Be “Attracted to Black Girls”

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Social Work on 2018-04-25 22:22Z by Steven

Emma: On What It Means to Be “Attracted to Black Girls”

Ask Emma: Navigating race and identity in Ireland
Dublin InQuirer
Dublin, Ireland
2018-04-24

Emma Dabiri


Image by Rob Mirolo

In her regular column, Emma Dabiri fields your questions on race and identity in contemporary Ireland. Got something you’ve been pondering? You can send her your questions through this form.

Hi Emma,

I’m a white male Dubliner who is very attracted to black girls. I’ve never been with a black girl, and don’t actually know any black women at all to be honest, but whenever I see a pretty black girl on the street or in the office, I melt.

I’m trying not to sound too weird. I know it’s not good to exoticize. I do watch lots of black porn. I have had no chill on the few opportunities I’ve had to speak to black girls. I feel like flirting is hard enough, but with race, identity, etc. it all becomes overwhelming.

What should I do?

We deliberated quite a lot as to whether or not this was a serious question or the work of a troll. However, as a black woman who grew up on the receiving end of attitudes such as yours, I am pretty convinced of its veracity.

The ideas about what blackness is that inform your “preferences” are centuries old, and sadly are not going away anytime soon. What I write should help you, although I have to admit that in this instance helping you is not my main priority.

Rather, I want to take this opportunity to expose the mechanics behind this way of thinking, and the ways in which these attitudes are damaging and dehumanizing to black people.

What is it about black girls that you find so attractive? We come in all different shades and sizes. Amongst all of the women who could be identified as black, there exists such a huge diversity of features and appearances that it is hard to talk about what a “black woman” looks like in any meaningful way, yet you reduce us to a monolith?…

Read the entire article here.

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A Furious Voice, Forged In The ‘Fire’ Of Prejudice

Posted in Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-04-25 21:38Z by Steven

A Furious Voice, Forged In The ‘Fire’ Of Prejudice

Book Review
National Public Radio
2008-10-10

Jessa Crispin, Founder and Editor
Bookslut.com

If I Could Write This in Fire
By Michelle Cliff
Hardcover, 104 pages
University of Minnesota Press
List price: $21.95

While on a tour of the University of Virginia, Jamaican-American novelist and short-story writer Michelle Cliff is informed by a doctoral student that Thomas Jefferson never owned slaves. “‘Villagers,’ as they’re affectionately known,” says the student, “built [this] university, Monticello, every rotunda, column and finial the great man dreamed of. They liked him so much they just pitched in, after their own chores are done.”

It’s one of many unsettling moments in If I Could Write This in Fire, a collection of essays that is Cliff’s first nonfiction book. Everywhere Cliff goes, she sees people treating history as if it were a story they could rewrite at will: women at cocktail parties uttering, “Pinochet was not so bad”; guests at a dinner party disbelieving that the blacks in Birth of a Nation were white actors in blackface.

Cliff, 61, has always been an outsider — a lesbian born on a homophobic Caribbean island, an immigrant in the U.K. (where she studied) and the U.S. (where she settled), a mixed-race intellectual trying to make sense of a black and white world…

Read the entire review here.

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William Alexander Leidesdorff: Forgotten San Francisco Pioneer

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-24 17:53Z by Steven

William Alexander Leidesdorff: Forgotten San Francisco Pioneer

San Francisco Travel
2014-08-22

Cindy Hu


Photo by vgm8383 / CC BY-NC

Financial district hotshots pass by tiny Leidesdorff Street, hardly more than an alley, and few can pronounce its name. Little do they know that the namesake of this charming hitching post-lined lane blazed the trail for them some 150 years ago. Fewer still realize he was the city’s first prominent businessman of black ancestry.

William Alexander Leidesdorff was born the son of Alexander Leidesdorff, a drifting Danish seaman, and a mulatto woman on St. Croix Island in the West Indies. The child was given Danish citizenship, though his father never shared in the raising of young William. However, an English plantation owner grew fond of the young boy and saw to his care and education.

When Leidesdorff grew into a strapping young man, the Englishman sent him to New Orleans to live with the planter’s brother and to become a cotton merchant. Leidesdorff and the mercantile industry were a perfect fit. He quickly learned the industry and built a reputation as a keen businessman. When the Englishman and his brother suddenly died, just months apart, Leidesdorff fell heir to their New Orleans estate.

When he was not managing the estate, the striking, young and wealthy Leidesdorff courted a southern belle named Hortense, whose prominent family claimed membership in New Orleans’ high society and whose lineage heralded back to Louis XIV of France. Keeping his mixed ancestry secret, Leidesdorff became engaged to the blonde, fair-skinned Hortense…

Read the entire article here.

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If I Could Write This in Fire

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-04-24 14:08Z by Steven

If I Could Write This in Fire

University of Minnesota Press
2008
104 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth/jacket ISBN: 978-0-8166-5474-1

Michelle Cliff (1942-2016)

A deeply personal meditation on history and memory, place and displacement by a major writer

Born in a Jamaica still under British rule, the acclaimed and influential writer Michelle Cliff embraced her many identities, shaped by her experiences with the forces of colonialism and oppression: a light-skinned Creole, a lesbian, an immigrant in both England and the United States. In her celebrated novels and short stories, she has probed the intersection of prejudice and oppression with a rare and striking lyricism.

In her first book-length collection of nonfiction, Cliff displays the same poetic intensity, interweaving reflections on her life in Jamaica, England, and the United States with a powerful and sustained critique of racism, homophobia, and social injustice. If I Could Write This in Fire begins by tracing her transatlantic journey from Jamaica to England, coalescing around a graceful, elliptical account of her childhood friendship with Zoe, who is dark-skinned and from an impoverished, rural background; the divergent life courses that each is forced to take; and the class and color tensions that shape their lives as adults. The personal is interspersed with fragments of Jamaica’s history and the plight of people of color living both under imperial rule and in contemporary Britain. In other essays and poems, Cliff writes about the discovery of her distinctive, diasporic literary voice, recalls her wild colonial girlhood and sexual awakening, and recounts traveling through an American landscape of racism, colonialism, and genocide—a history of violence embodied in seemingly innocuous souvenirs and tourist sites.

A profound meditation on place and displacement, If I Could Write This in Fire explores the complexities of identity as they meet with race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and the legacies of the Middle Passage and European imperialism.

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Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2018-04-24 13:49Z by Steven

Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Ph.D.
2017-06-28

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Global Diaspora Studies
Michigan State University

Michelle Cliff (Nov. 2, 1942-June 12, 2016) was an award-winning Jamaican novelist, essayist, critic, poet, scholar, and teacher. An influential author in Caribbean, feminist, and lesbian writings, some of her notable works include: Abeng, No Telephone to Heaven, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise, Free Enterprise, If I Could Write This In Fire, and The Land of Look Behind. Cliff’s work reflected many parts of her identity, contemporary sociopolitical concerns stemming from colonialism, and a critical investment in the Caribbean and her diasporas. Her works examine the complexities of identity politics, lesbianism, colorism, colonialism/post-colonialism and revolution – both of the personal variety and the political. On June 22, 2017, we gathered at the Caribbean Philosophical Association Annual Meeting in NYC to honor her life and writing. This post includes the work of the roundtable participants. The roundtable, titled “‘Writing in Fire’: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff” marked the second year that the Chair of Afro-Diasporic Literatures (me) and the Chair of the Initiative on Gender, Race, and Feminisms (Xhercis Mendez) joined together to propose roundtables to honor Caribbean women writers at the CPA (at the 2016 we celebrated the 10th/11th publication anniversary of M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing). This year two Ph.D. students – Keishla Rivera (Rutgers Newark) and Briona Jones (Michigan State) – joined moderator Xhercis Mendez and I to reflect on the rich inheritance Michelle Cliff has left us. Below are excerpts from the reflections which engendered a powerful and generative dialogue across several topics, fields, and interests…

Read the entire article here.

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A Girl Full of Smartness

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-04-24 02:25Z by Steven

A Girl Full of Smartness

The Paris Review
2017-06-02

Edward White


Mary Ellen Pleasant

As an entrepreneur, civil-rights activist, and benefactor, Mary Ellen Pleasant made a name and a fortune for herself in Gold Rush–era San Francisco, shattering racial taboos.

They did things differently in the Old West. On the morning of August 14, 1889, Stephen J. Field, a justice of the Supreme Court, was eating breakfast at a café in Lathrop, California, when David S. Terry, a former bench colleague, stopped by Field’s table and slapped him twice across the face.

This was not unprecedented behavior. Despite having risen to the rank of chief justice of the Supreme Court of California, Terry was described by one contemporary as an “evil genius” with an “irrepressible temper,” who once stabbed a man for being an abolitionist and killed a Congressman wedded to the Free Soil movement. His gripe with Stephen Field, however, had nothing to do with slavery. In 1883, Terry’s wife had filed a lawsuit (Sharon vs. Sharon) against the multimillionaire U.S. Senator William Sharon, claiming she had been married to him in secret some years ago and that, having been callously discarded by the womanizing senator, she was owed a divorce settlement. After five years the case ended up at a federal circuit court, where Field found in favor of William Sharon; there would be no divorce settlement. Terry was livid and promised to exact revenge.

It was only the latest twist in what had been a bizarre case. On the first day of the trial, William Sharon’s attorney asserted that his client was the victim of a plot involving an elderly black woman who had used voodoo to steal Sharon’s hard-earned fortune. That woman was known to the San Francisco public as “Mammy Pleasant,” around whom sinister rumors had swirled for years. Some accused her of being a murderess, a madam, and a practitioner of black magic who befriended white families only to curse them and bleed them dry; a nightmarish image of “the mammy gone wrong,” to quote one historian. But just as many—especially among the black community—knew her as Mary Ellen Pleasant: an ingenious entrepreneur, pioneering civil-rights activist, and beloved benefactor who broke racial taboos and played a singular role in the early years of San Francisco…

Even within her lifetime, there were several competing stories about Pleasant’s origins. One version has her born into slavery in Georgia; another says she was the daughter of a wealthy Virginian planter who had a fling with a voodoo priestess from the Caribbean. In her published reminiscences she claimed to have been born in Philadelphia in 1812, to a Hawaiian father and “a full-blooded Louisiana negress.” Racial mixing and ethnic ambiguity, themes that would repeat over and again throughout Pleasant’s life, appear to have been part of her identity from the start…

Read the entire article here.

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