Mary Seacole, a Nurse and Heroine

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos, Women on 2019-05-22 00:46Z by Steven

Mary Seacole, a Nurse and Heroine

The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered
2017-05-10

Lance Geiger, Historian
O’Fallon, Illinois

The History Guy celebrates National Nurses week with the forgotten history of Mary Seacole, who was a British nurse during the Crimean War.

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Interracial Relationships and the “Brown Baby Question”: Black GIs, White British Women, and Their Mixed-Race Offspring in World War II

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-20 19:32Z by Steven

Interracial Relationships and the “Brown Baby Question”: Black GIs, White British Women, and Their Mixed-Race Offspring in World War IIInterracial Relationships and the “Brown Baby Question”: Black GIs, White British Women, and Their Mixed-Race Offspring in World War II

Journal of the History of Sexuality
Volume 26, Number 3, September 2017
pages 424-453

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Sergeant Lomax, an African American soldier, arrived back in Ohio at the end of the Second World War; he had been stationed in England for much of his time away. He had a confession to make to his wife, Betty. In February 1949 she recounted their exchange to the Pittsburgh Courier, a leading black American newspaper: “He said: ‘I’ve been gone a long time . . . about three years . . . that’s a long time for a fellow to be away from his wife. In the meantime I met a girl. She was nice, she was friendly, and Betty, I was very lonesome, so . . . what I’m trying to say is that there’s to be a child. Betty, you don’t have to answer right away, but would you agree to take this child?’”1 The boy had been born in December 1945 and was given the same name as his father: Leon Lomax. He was put into a children’s home in Britain by his single mother. With great difficulty, Leon senior eventually managed to have his son flown out to the United States, arriving in January 1949. The Pittsburgh Courier called his arrival “the story of the year! . . . The first ‘Brown Baby’ adopted by an American couple to reach America.”2 “Brown babies” was the name that the African American press of the time gave to mixed-race children born to black American soldiers and British and European women (the vast majority of whom were white) during or soon after the Second World War.3 One African American paper, the Chicago Defender, sometimes also referred to them as “tan-yank babies.”4 To the Pittsburgh Courier “the entire ‘Brown Baby’ question is one of the most controversial subjects in this country today. It is a question that involves two great nations—the United States of America and Great Britain.”5 The nature of this “controversial subject”—the “‘Brown Baby’ question”—is the focus of this article.

The British “brown babies” were the result of relationships formed between British women and African American troops stationed in Britain from 1942 in preparation for an invasion of France. From the beginning there was concern in official circles about the consequences of the presence of black GIs. Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, for example, was anxious that “the procreation of half-caste children” would create “a difficult social problem.”6 He and others in the War Cabinet would have preferred that no black GIs be sent at all. However, black troops did indeed arrive, following the Pentagon’s policy that the percentage of black American troops in every theater of war should reflect their percentage in the United States as a whole, namely, 10 percent of the population.7 By the end of the war, of the nearly three million US soldiers who had passed through Britain, up to three hundred thousand were African American.8

Unlike the British government, British civilians largely reacted positively to the presence of black GIs. A report from the Home Intelligence Unit (an organization set up in 1940 to monitor morale) noted the numerous references to “the extremely pleasing manners of the coloured troops.”9 Many may have agreed with the response of a West Country farmer when asked about the GIs: “I love the Americans, but I don’t like these white ones they’ve brought with them.”10 Historian Graham Smith suggests that one of the reasons the black GIs were seen as better mannered was that while the white GIs constantly complained about Britain’s lack of modern conveniences—no refrigerators, no central heating, few cars—most of the black GIs were not used to such luxuries at home and thus did not have reason to find fault.11 However, British attitudes were frequently condescending and informed by negative stereotypes. For example, the June 1943 Home Intelligence report “British Public Feeling about America,” which drew together some of the remarks people had made over the past year and a half, noted (without…

Read or purchase the article here.

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The ‘Brown Babies’ who were left behind

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-20 16:37Z by Steven

The ‘Brown Babies’ who were left behind

BBC News
2019-05-17

Charlie Jones

children in a children's home
Many of the babies were put in children’s homes, such as Holnicote House in Somerset
Leslie York

When Babs Gibson-Ward was born in 1944, her mother’s navy officer husband did not question whether he was her father.

“He honestly believed I was his child, I think because my complexion at that time was very fair. It took six months for it to change,” she said.

She was one of 2,000 mixed race babies born to white British women and black American GIs during World War Two.

The children were dubbed “Brown Babies” by the media and many had troubled childhoods.

When Mrs Gibson-Ward’s skin darkened, her mother’s lie was revealed – her real father was a black US Airforce engineer…

…”Many British people had never seen a black person before. They were charming and less arrogant than the white officers.

“They met women at dance halls or pubs, on evenings which were designated ‘blacks only’,” Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History at Anglia Ruskin University, said.

But relationships were forbidden and their children were often kept secret. Most had never shared their stories until Prof Bland found 45 of them for her book, titled Britain’s Brown Babies

Read the entire article here.

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Thousands of mixed-race British babies were born in World War II – and adoption by their black American fathers was blocked

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 23:41Z by Steven

Thousands of mixed-race British babies were born in World War II – and adoption by their black American fathers was blocked

The Conversation
2019-05-16

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge


Outside Holnicote House children’s home, Somerset. ©Lesley York

Around 2.2% of the population of England and Wales is now mixed race and 3.3% are from black ethnic groups. During World War II, over 70 years ago, these figures were far lower. And so unsurprisingly, life was difficult for the 2,000 or so mixed race babies who were born in World War II to black American GIs and white British women.

They grew up in predominately white localities and experienced significant racism. I have interviewed 45 of these children (now in their seventies), hailing from all over England. Their story of institutional racism rivals the horrors of the appalling story of the Windrush generation.

Of the 3m US servicemen that passed through Britain in the period 1942-45, approximately 8% were African-American. The GIs were part of a segregated army and they brought their segregation polices with them, designating towns near to American bases “black” or “white” and segregating pubs and dances along colour lines, with dances held for black GIs one evening and whites the next.

Inevitably, relationships formed between the black GIs and local women and some resulted in what the African-American press referred to as “brown babies”. All these children were born illegitimate because the American white commanding officers refused black GIs permission to marry, the rationale being that back in the US, 30 of the then 48 states had anti-miscegenation laws.

The children grew up in predominately white areas – the sites where the GIs had been largely based: south and south-west England, south Wales, East Anglia and Lancashire, where they had little or no black or mixed race role models. Most suffered racism, the stigma of illegitimacy and a confused identity…

Read the entire article here.

Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 19:39Z by Steven

Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Manchester University Press
May 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-3326-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-3327-4

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Britain’s ‘brown babies’

  • Provides a fascinating but little-known story of the 2,000 illegitimate children born to black GIs and British women in World War II – one consequence of the war missing from the history books
  • Gives personalised accounts from mixed-race people born in a (then) very white Britain before the 1948 arrival of the Windrush, charting the racism, stigma and acute sense of difference
  • Illuminates the difficulties facing mixed-race, illegitimate children in what was then, in the 1940s and early ’50s, a very white Britain
  • Makes an important contribution to the history of British mixed-race people
  • 50 black and white illustrations

This book recounts a little-known history of the estimated 2,000 babies born to black GIs and white British women in the second world war. The African-American press named these children ‘brown babies‘; the British called them ‘half-castes‘. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry their white girl-friends. Nearly half of the children were given up to children’s homes but few were adopted, thought ‘too hard to place’. There has been minimal study of these children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. The book will present the stories of over fifty of these children, their stories contextualised in terms of government policy and attitudes of the time. Accessibly written, with stories both heart-breaking and uplifting, the book is illustrated throughout with photographs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. British women meet black GIs
  • 2. Keeping the ‘brown babies’
  • 3. ‘Brown babies’ relinquished: experiences of children’s homes
  • 4. Adoption, fostering and attempts to send the babies to the US
  • 5. Secrets and lies: searching for mothers and fathers
  • 6. After the war and beyond
  • Appendix: the case study ‘brown babies’
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Intersection of Race and Blood

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-05-14 22:53Z by Steven

The Intersection of Race and Blood

The New York Times
2019-05-14

Rose George


Keith Negley

Blood can be racially or ethnically specific, so having more blood donors in certain groups can be crucial for saving the lives of patients who share their backgrounds.

“We need black blood.”

I didn’t know what to say to this, not least because it had been said by the head of donor services at England’s National Health Service Blood and Transplant. The interview was for a book I was writing on blood, a topic I knew a little about by then, but the baldness of his statement still shocked me. Surely we’re all the same under the skin?

I knew the history of race and blood was an ugly one. America’s earliest blood bank, founded in 1937 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, noted race on donor forms and other blood banks followed suit. During World War II, African-American blood was labeled N for Negro (and some centers refused African-American donors outright) and given only to African-American soldiers. Writing to Eleanor Roosevelt, the chairman of the American Red Cross, Norman H. Davis, admitted that segregating blood was “a matter of tradition and sentiment rather than of science,” but didn’t stop doing it until 1950. Louisiana banned the segregation of blood only in 1972.

But the Red Cross was wrong: While no one is suggesting forced segregation of blood bags, it’s now scientifically established that blood can be racially or ethnically specific…

Read the entire article here.

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A royal baby with black heritage will have absolutely no effect on the issues facing black Britons like me

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2019-05-12 17:57Z by Steven

A royal baby with black heritage will have absolutely no effect on the issues facing black Britons like me

The Independent
2019-05-07

Kuba Shand-Baptiste

This is the same United Kingdom that was so taken aback by Jon Snow’s remark on ‘Channel 4 News’ that he had ‘never seen so many white people in one place’ at a predominantly white Brexiteer rally, that thousands of people, unfamiliar with being classified as anything but the default, complained

So, the new royal baby is here. Since Meghan Markle’s explosive arrival on the scene, the media has speculated wildly about the significance of her heritage, as well as that of her child.

What did her race say about this country? Was this as monumental a moment as Obama’s presidential election, then thought of as a marker of post-racialism in America? And now that the baby, with his mixed-race American mother and white British princely father, is here – does he represent the so-called progressiveness the United Kingdom increasingly ascribes for itself?…

…The United Kingdom this baby has been born into still struggles to muster the introspection to really grapple with its existing history with race. We’ve seen it in dog whistle attacks on Markle over the last few years, even in the last few months, from outrage over her star-studded baby shower in the States, to accusations of the Duchess of Sussex’s bad or “difficult” attitude. Yet, it seems, vast swathes of the nation are still taken by the notion that the arrival of this child has the power to eclipse that. No chance…

Read the entire article here.

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What The Reaction To The Royal Baby Says About Racial Identity And Racism

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-05-11 15:10Z by Steven

What The Reaction To The Royal Baby Says About Racial Identity And Racism

Gothamist
WYNC
New York, New York
2019-05-10

Rebecca Carroll, Editor of Special Projects

2019_05_babysussex.jpg
Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex with their baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor during a photocall in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire (Shutterstock)

In the five days since Meghan Markle, the black and biracial American who married into the British monarchy, gave birth to her son Archie Harrison Mountbattan-Windsor, at least two media outlets have posted blatantly racist commentary targeting the royal baby’s racial identity. On Tuesday, CNN published an article by John Blake with the headline, “How Black Will the Baby Be?

The story unleashed a torrent of backlash on social media…

…Don’t get me wrong. The myth of mixed-race and racially ambiguous children as representative of hope and harmony is real. Mixed-race people are notoriously fetishized, and colorism is rampant in mainstream media and Hollywood and, well, across many industries. Dark-skinned black folks are without question discriminated against in far greater numbers than lighter-skinned and mixed-race black folks…

Read the entire article here.

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Carina E. Ray, Crossing the Color Line: race, sex, and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana [Aderinto Review]

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-05-03 19:18Z by Steven

Carina E. Ray, Crossing the Color Line: race, sex, and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana [Aderinto Review]

Africa
Volume 88, Issue 1 (February 2018)
pages 193-194
DOI: 10.1017/S0001972017000821

Saheed Aderinto, Associate Professor of History
Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina

Carina E. Ray, Crossing the Color Line: race, sex, and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana. Athens OH: Ohio University Press (hb US$80 – 978 0 8214 2179 6; pb US$32.95 – 978 0 8214 2180 2). 2015, 333 pp.

In this creatively and brilliantly conceived book, Carina Ray uses the story of interracial sexual relationships between European men and African women in the Gold Coast and African men and European women in Britain as an entry point into a much broader history of racial and gender relations. Throughout, one learns about the interconnectedness of sexual and racial politics to the big question of colonial ‘civilization’. The author’s carefully sourced and previously untapped primary sources from both Ghana and Britain, combined with her ingenuity, give beauty to historical writing. Her detailed archival materials and oral interviews allow her to move from specific colonial trials of interracial affairs to big narratives on the transatlantic movement of ideas, practices and families, and anti-colonial struggles within the British Empire. The photographs of multiracial families strategically placed throughout further put a human face on her narratives, and bring readers another step closer to the lived experience of historical agents and the societies that produced them. The eight closely connected chapters introduce change and continuity in the politics of race and sex in both the Gold Coast and Britain, the factors responsible for change, and how social and political transformation of colonial legitimacy reshaped perceptions of interracial relationships across race, class, gender and location.

Any Africanist familiar with trends in the scholarship on race, gender, sexuality and empire would not contest the significant contributions of Ray’s Crossing the Color Line to African studies. For one thing, this book is another successful attempt at putting sexuality in its rightful place in the general history of the colonial encounter in Africa. Instead of following the established discourse of ‘sex peril’ or anxiety over the alleged rape of European women by African men in settler colonies of East and Southern Africa, Ray’s book presents convincing arguments and narratives that humanize socio-sexual relations and removes them from the margins of criminality and violence…

Read the entire article here.

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Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri review – a voyage to empowerment

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-05-03 13:35Z by Steven

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri review – a voyage to empowerment

The Guardian
2019-05-02

Colin Grant


Emma Dabiri records the external and internal pathologising of black hair as a chronic condition. Photograph: Silvana Trevale/The Guardian

Combs, braids and Bob Marley’s bad-hair days are explored in this richly researched cultural history

When Rita Anderson’s teenage boyfriend Bob was growing up in Jamaica’s Trenchtown ghetto, the fair-skinned future Rasta reggae star was so concerned to demonstrate his black heredity that he would get Rita to rub black shoe polish into his hair – so that, she says, it appeared “blacker, coarser and more African”. But after reading Emma Dabiri’s richly researched book, you wonder which model of African hair Bob Marley had in mind. For Dabiri shows that Africans have always paid close attention to the grooming and careful styling of hair, and in Yoruba the phrase for “dreadlocks” is irun were, which translates as “insane person’s hair-do”.

Like Marley, Dabiri also has black and white parents, and has wrestled with her identity. As a child in Ireland, people volunteered opinions about her hair that made her feel ashamed and “like an abomination”. But her personal story merely serves in the book as a jumping off point for an exploration of many subjects, among them colourism and self-worth.

Dabiri, who is a teaching fellow at SOAS, argues that the “desire to conform” to a European “aesthetic which values light skin and straight hair is the result of a propaganda campaign that has lasted more than 500 years”. European powers saw African culture as an impediment to productivity. “Idle husbands”, fumed one colonial administrator, wasted hours setting their wives the task of “braiding and fettishing out their woolly hair”…

Read the entire review here.

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