Ancient DNA sheds light on what happened to the Taino, the native Caribbeans

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2018-02-20 04:22Z by Steven

Ancient DNA sheds light on what happened to the Taino, the native Caribbeans

Ars Technica
2018-02-19

Kiona N. Smith


Reconstruction of a Taino village in Cuba. Michal Zalewski

A new DNA study explores where the Taino came from and where they went.

The Caribbean was one of the last parts of the Americas to be settled by humans, although scientists don’t agree on when the first settlers arrived or where they came from. Some argue that people probably arrived from the Amazon Basin, where today’s Arawakan languages developed, while others suggest that the first people to settle the islands came from even farther west, in the Colombian Andes.

“The differences in opinion illustrate the difficulty of tracing population movements based on a patchy archaeological record,” wrote archaeologist Hannes Schroeder of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and his colleagues. Schroeder’s research team has a new study on the genetics of the long-lost Taino people, which gives some clear indications of their origin and where they went after European colonization…

Not vanished after all

The recent work also shows that the vanished people of the Caribbean didn’t actually disappear without a trace. Modern inhabitants of the Caribbean islands mostly have a mixture of African and European ancestry, but some have a little indigenous DNA as well. That’s not entirely surprising; Spanish colonists reportedly married Taino wives, and other records say that Taino and escaped African slaves also intermarried and formed communities. Some people have made an effort to revive Taino culture and identity in the last century and a half or so, but it has never been clear how genetically related modern Caribbean residents are to the presumably vanished tribes…

Read the entire article here.

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And today it’s to the point where when I walk into a place and people see or hear me, people assume I’m mixed because mixed identity EXISTS.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-02-20 03:52Z by Steven

“I think the generation after me was really the beginning of people openly embracing the idea of mixed identity. And today it’s to the point where when I walk into a place and people see or hear me, people assume I’m mixed because mixed identity exists. Because it didn’t exist in the public consciousness in the past, people would look at me like I was this wild, mutant creature.” —Mat Johnson

Charles Pulliam-Moore, “Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White,” Gizmodo, February 12, 2018. https://io9.gizmodo.com/incognegro-renaissance-author-mat-johnson-talks-about-1822834011.

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Frederick Douglass, Refugee

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery on 2018-02-20 03:42Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass, Refugee

The Atlantic
2017-02-07

David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University


J.C. Buttre / Wikimedia

Throughout modern history, the millions forced to flee as refugees and beg for asylum have felt Douglass’s agony, and thought his thoughts.

Frederick Douglass, author, orator, editor, and most important African American leader of the 19th century, was a dangerous illegal immigrant. Well, in 1838 he escaped a thoroughly legal system of enslavement to the tenuous condition of fugitive resident of a northern state that had outlawed slavery, but could only protect his “freedom” outside of the law.

Douglass’s life and work serve as a striking symbol of one of the first major refugee crises in our history. From the 1830s through the 1850s, the many thousands of runaway slaves, like Douglass, who escaped into the North, into Canada, or Mexico put enormous pressure on those places’ political systems. The presence and contested status of fugitive slaves polarized voters in elections; they were the primary subject of major legislation such as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as well as Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1857. They were at the heart of a politics of fear in the 1850s that led to disunion. Among the many legacies of Douglass’s life and writings alive today, one of the most potent is his role as an illegal migrant and very public abolitionist orator and journalist posing as a free black citizen in slaveholding America.

On February 1, 2017, President Donald J. Trump made some brief remarks on Black History Month. “Frederick Douglass,” he said, “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job, that is being recognized more and more, I notice.” That afternoon in one of the discussion sections of my lecture course at Yale on “The Civil War and Reconstruction Era,” my teaching fellow, Michael Hattem, reports that he read that quotation to the class. Students had just been assigned to read Douglass’s classic first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Michael says the class let out an audible collective groan, and one student declared: “My God, he doesn’t know who he was!”

…Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, his father likely his owner and his mother, Harriet, likely the owner’s slave, Douglass lived twenty years in bondage on Maryland’s eastern shore and in Baltimore. At age 18 he organized an escape plot with a small “band of brothers” among the slaves on a farm near St. Michaels, Maryland. Foiled and betrayed, he and his comrades were arrested, put in chains and marched several miles to the jail in Easton, the Talbot County seat. As great luck, Douglass’s owner, Thomas Auld, sent his slave back to Baltimore rather than selling him into obscurity in the deep South. Two years later, in a cunning and brave plot hatched with a few friends and with his intrepid fiancée, Anna Murray, Douglass escaped from slavery by train, steamer, and ferryboat to New York City, disguised as a sailor. His story is one of great drama and risk in the face of what he called a sense of “hopelessness” and “loneliness.” But in recollecting these events Douglass left the world an illegal refugee-immigrant’s language of fear and courage. His greatest power always resided in the written and spoken word…

Read the entire article here.

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Incognegro: Renaissance #1

Posted in Articles, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:31Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance #1

Dark Horse Comics
2018-02-07
32 pages
b&w, Miniseries
UPC: 7 61568 00235 5 00111

Writer: Mat Johnson
Artist: Warren Pleece
Editor: Karen Berger

After a black writer is found dead at a scandalous interracial party in 1920s New York, Harlem’s cub reporter Zane Pinchback is the only one determined to solve the murder. Zane must go ”incognegro” for the first time–using his light appearance to pass as a white man–to find the true killer, in this prequel miniseries to the critically acclaimed Vertigo graphic novel, now available in a special new 10th Anniversary Edition.

With a cryptic manuscript as his only clue, and a mysterious and beautiful woman as the murder’s only witness, Zane finds himself on the hunt through the dark and dangerous streets of ”roaring twenties” Harlem in search for justice.

A page-turning thriller of racial divide, Incognegro: Renaissance explores segregation, secrets, and self-image as our race-bending protagonist penetrates a world where he feels stranger than ever before.

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Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:12Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White

Comics
Gizmodo
2018-02-12

Charles Pulliam-Moore


Dark Horse

In Dark Horse’s Incognegro: Renaissance, Zane Pinchback—a young black journalist and New York transplant by way of Tupelo, Mississippi—finds himself smack dab in the middle of Harlem at the height of its Renaissance during the 1920s. Zane, like Incognegro: Renaissance creator Mat Johnson, is a black man with a light enough complexion that people are sometimes unsure or entirely unaware of his race.

To those who know him, Zane’s identity isn’t a question, but for many of the new people he encounters in New York—particularly the white ones—Zane is able to pass as white, and thus move through certain spaces that other black people can’t. Drawn by Warren Pleece, Incognegro: Renaissance opens on a very taboo and illegal book party in Harlem where black and white people co-mingle as the champagne flows freely.

When a black guest suddenly turns up dead of an apparent suicide, the authorities show up on the scene to shut the gathering down, but have zero interest in investigating whether the death may be a homicide because the man is black. Realizing that his ability to pass (and willingness to do work others won’t) might allow him to dig deeper into the potential crime, Zane sets out on a mission to uncover the truth.

When I spoke with Johnson recently about his inspiration for the new series, he explained that much of the core premise is based on his own experiences and a life-long love of Walter Francis White, the civil rights activist who was the head of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955. But what Johnson really wants readers to get out of the series, he said, was a better understanding of the fact that identity in all its forms is fluid…

Read the entire interview here.

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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-02-20 01:43Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Simon & Schuster
October 2018
864 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781416590316

David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

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National Park Service’s Betty Reid Soskin Publishes Memoir at 96

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-02-20 01:12Z by Steven

National Park Service’s Betty Reid Soskin Publishes Memoir at 96

Forum
KQED Radio
San Francisco, California
2018-02-16

Mina Kim, Host

Betty Reid Soskin’s lectures at Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter Museum have garnered her national attention, including a visit with President Obama in 2015. Soskin’s talks reflect on the oft-overlooked African-American wartime experience and how opportunities for black women have changed throughout her lifetime. Now the 96-year-old has written a memoir, “Sign My Name to Freedom,” documenting her history as a political activist, musician and entrepreneur. A longtime resident of the East Bay, Soskin illustrates how the Bay Area laid the groundwork for the national civil rights movement.

Listen to the interview (00:34:56) here. Download the interview here.

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“There is so much diversity in Africans that there is no such thing as an African race.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-02-20 00:57Z by Steven

The study adds to established research undercutting old notions of race. You can’t use skin color to classify humans, any more than you can use other complex traits like height, [Sarah] Tishkoff says. “There is so much diversity in Africans that there is no such thing as an African race.”

Ann Gibbons, “New gene variants reveal the evolution of human skin color,” Science, October 12, 2017. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/new-gene-variants-reveal-evolution-human-skin-color.

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New gene variants reveal the evolution of human skin color

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2018-02-20 00:53Z by Steven

New gene variants reveal the evolution of human skin color

Science
2017-11-12

Ann Gibbons, Contributing Correspondent


Researchers have identified genes that help create diverse skin tones, such as those seen in the Agaw (left) and Surma (right) peoples of Africa.
ALESSIA RANCIARO & DR. SIMON R. THOMPSON

Most people associate Africans with dark skin. But different groups of people in Africa have almost every skin color on the planet, from deepest black in the Dinka of South Sudan to beige in the San of South Africa. Now, researchers have discovered a handful of new gene variants responsible for this palette of tones.

The study, published online this week in Science, traces the evolution of these genes and how they traveled around the world. While the dark skin of some Pacific Islanders can be traced to Africa, gene variants from Eurasia also seem to have made their way back to Africa. And surprisingly, some of the mutations responsible for lighter skin in Europeans turn out to have an ancient African origin.

“This is really a landmark study of skin color diversity,” says geneticist Greg Barsh of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama.

Researchers agree that our early australopithecine ancestors in Africa probably had light skin beneath hairy pelts. “If you shave a chimpanzee, its skin is light,” says evolutionary geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, the lead author of the new study. “If you have body hair, you don’t need dark skin to protect you from ultraviolet [UV] radiation.”

Until recently, researchers assumed that after human ancestors shed most body hair, sometime before 2 million years ago, they quickly evolved dark skin for protection from skin cancer and other harmful effects of UV radiation. Then, when humans migrated out of Africa and headed to the far north, they evolved lighter skin as an adaptation to limited sunlight. (Pale skin synthesizes more vitamin D when light is scarce.)…

Read the entire article here.

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Latina heroine or black radical? The complicated story of Lucy Parsons.

Posted in Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-02-20 00:16Z by Steven

Latina heroine or black radical? The complicated story of Lucy Parsons.

The Washington Post
2018-01-12

Tera W. Hunter, Professor of History and African American Studies
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

Lucy Parsons occupies an unusual position in American history: a prominent woman noted as much for her acts of brilliance and bravery as for her evasiveness and contradictions.

Parsons spent most of her life in Chicago, where a park named in her honor calls her the first “Chicana socialist labor organizer.” Born circa 1853, Parsons said she was of Mexican and Indian descent and from Texas — an Aztec genealogy dating before Columbus. Elsewhere she’s been recognized as “the first Black woman to play a prominent role in the American Left.”

These differing narratives are indicative of a life that defies easy categorization and has challenged assessments of Parsons’s legacy…

…With “Goddess of Anarchy,” prize-winning historian Jacqueline Jones has written the first critical, comprehensive biography of Parsons that seeks to peel back the layers of her complex life. Jones amassed an incredible body of records — local, state and federal government documents; prolific newspapers; organizational and personal correspondence; and Lucy and husband Albert Parsons’s extant writings. Through these documents Jones uncovered evidence that Parsons was not of Mexican or Indian ancestry. Her research shows, too, that Parsons was not, as many have thought, born Lucia Eldine Gonzalez but as Lucia Carter in Virginia in 1851. Her mother was black, and her father was white (and probably her slave owner). Her family moved to Waco, Tex., during the Civil War, where Lucia worked as a cook and seamstress in the homes of white families. As a teenager, she married an older, formerly enslaved man, Oliver Benton, a.k.a. Oliver Gathings, and had a child who died as an infant…

Read the entire review here.

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