Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and “The American Negro”

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-11-19 21:15Z by Steven

Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and “The American Negro”

University of Georgia Press
2019-11-15
416 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-5626-6

John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

The classic biography of the infamous black Negrophobe William Hannibal Thomas, with a new preface by the author

William Hannibal Thomas (1843-1935) served with distinction in the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War (in which he lost an arm) and was a preacher, teacher, lawyer, state legislator, and journalist following Appomattox. In many publications up through the 1890s, Thomas espoused a critical though optimistic black nationalist ideology. After his mid-twenties, however, Thomas began exhibiting a self-destructive personality, one that kept him in constant trouble with authorities and always on the run. His book The American Negro (1901) was his final self-destructive act.

Attacking African Americans in gross and insulting language in this utterly pessimistic book, Thomas blamed them for the contemporary “Negro problem” and argued that the race required radical redemption based on improved “character,” not changed “color.” Vague in his recommendations, Thomas implied that blacks should model themselves after certain mulattoes, most notably William Hannibal Thomas.

Black Judas is a biography of Thomas, a publishing history of The American Negro, and an analysis of that book’s significance to American racial thought. The book is based on fifteen years of research, including research in postamputation trauma and psychoanalytic theory on self-hatred, to assess Thomas’s metamorphosis from a constructive race critic to a black Negrophobe. John David Smith argues that his radical shift resulted from key emotional and physical traumas that mirrored Thomas’s life history of exposure to white racism and intense physical pain.

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Elevating Social Status by Racial Passing and White Assimilation: in George Schuyler’s Black No More

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-11-11 02:15Z by Steven

Elevating Social Status by Racial Passing and White Assimilation: in George Schuyler’s Black No More

Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies
Volume 3, Number 4, October 2019
pages 24-35
DOI: 10.24093/awejtls/vol3no4.3

Menia Mohammad Almenia
Department of English Language and Translation
College of Arabic Language and Social Sciences
Qassim University, Buraidah, Saudi Arabia

This paper examines the legacy of the 1932 novel Black No More by George Schuyler with its message promoting assimilation. Racial divisions within the United States have a complex history, either insisting on separation or promoting unity, but advocates of assimilation have traditionally been viewed negatively. This paper aims to reconcile the assimilationist views of Schuyler against his larger purpose of empowerment through change. Schuyler focuses on issues of education, economy, and social status to demonstrate his thesis: meaningful change is possible if action is taken. Numerous theorists such as Jane Kuenz (1997), Hee-Jung Serenity Joo (2008), Jason Haslam (2002), and Ann Rayson (1978) have considered that Schuyler as an assimilationist. Schuyler’s novel builds a case for assimilation of individuals into the dominant culture as the practical course for improvement on both a personal and social scale.

Read the entire article here.

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Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2019-11-04 17:54Z by Steven

Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932

Bloomsbury
2019-02-21
232 pages
9 colour and 37 bw illus
229 x 152 mm
Hardback 9781501332357

Lyneise E. Williams, Associate Professor of Art History
University of North Carolina

Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932

Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932 examines an understudied visual language used to portray Latin Americans in mid-19th to early 20th-century Parisian popular visual media. The term ‘Latinize’ is introduced to connect France’s early 19th-century endeavors to create “Latin America,” an expansion of the French empire into the Latin-language based Spanish and Portuguese Americas, to its perception of this population.

Latin-American elites traveler to Paris in the 1840s from their newly independent nations were denigrated in representations rather than depicted as equals in a developing global economy. Darkened skin, etched onto images of Latin Americans of European descent mitigated their ability to claim the privileges of their ancestral heritage. Whitened skin, among other codes, imposed on turn-of-the-20th-century Black Latin Americans in Paris tempered their Blackness and rendered them relatively assimilatable compared to colonial Africans, Blacks from the Caribbean, and African Americans.

After identifying mid-to-late 19th-century Latinizing codes, the study focuses on shifts in latinizing visuality between 1890-1933 in three case studies: the depictions of popular Cuban circus entertainer Chocolat; representations of Panamanian World Bantamweight Champion boxer Alfonso Teofilo Brown; and paintings of Black Uruguayans executed by Pedro Figari, a Uruguayan artist, during his residence in Paris between 1925-1933.

Table of contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
    • The Term “Latin American”
    • Why Paris?
    • Much More Than Primitivism
    • Reduced to Latin Americans
    • Parisian Figurations of Blackness from the Mid-Nineteenth to the Early Twentieth Century
    • Overview of the Study
  • Chapter 1: Playing Up Blackness and Indianness; Downplaying Europeanness
    • Editing Francisco Laso: Racializing Spanish and Portuguese Americans
    • Performing Rastaquerismo
    • Justified by Anthropology: Quatrefages, Hamy, and the Casta Paintings
    • Latin American Self-Representation
    • The Shifting Rastaquouère
    • Maintaining Anthropological Interpretations in the Early Twentieth Century
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2: Chocolat the Clown: Not Just Black
    • Chocolat and Footit: Partners in Contrast
    • The Auguste Chocolat
    • The Give and Take of Chocolat and Footit
    • Chocolat and Footit at the Nouveau Cirque
    • Chocolat as Brand Image
    • Beneath the Surface
    • Chocolat as Mixed Animal
    • Chocolat the Contaminant
    • Impure Chocolat(e)
    • Chocolat, That Special Ingredient: The Racially Mixed Object of Desire
    • Complicating Notions of Minstrelsy
    • Lip Interventions
    • Representations Through Clothing
    • Sexualizing Black Dandies
    • Assimilating the Latin
    • Beyond the Circus
    • Chocolat, Object of Gay Desire
    • Chocolat and the Elite and the Virile
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3: Alfonso Teofilo Brown: Agency and Impositions of Blackness and Europeanness
    • Sport and the Imagined Ideal Male Body
    • Black Boxers in Turn-of-the-Century France
    • Gangly Brown
    • The Purity and Hybridity of Gangly Brown
    • Brown the Gentleman
    • Images of Black Difference
    • Brown the Philanthropist
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4: Figari’s Blacks: Negotiating French and Southern Cone Blackness
    • Figari and Paris
    • Contested Whiteness and the Black Body
    • Conceptualizing Regional Identity
    • Through the Anthropological Gaze
    • Candombe as Framing Device
    • Gender and Race in Candombe
    • Objects as Markers
    • Figari as “Naïf” Painter
    • Increasing Latin American Presence in Paris
    • Perceptions of Black Uruguayans
    • Figari’s Evolution in Paris
    • Contradictions and Contrasts between Figari’s Paintings and Written Work
    • Conclusion
  • Coda
  • Select Bibliography
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Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba by Alison Fraunhar (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2019-11-03 03:21Z by Steven

Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba by Alison Fraunhar (review)

The Americas
Volume 76, Number 4, October 2019
pages 727-728

Mey-Yen Moriuchi, Assistant Professor of Art History
LaSalle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba. By Alison Fraunhar. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018. Pp. 262. $70.00. Cloth.

Alison Fraunhar discerningly examines how the mulata has been represented and performed in Cuban visual culture from the nineteenth century to the present. She analyzes a variety of visual media, from prints and paintings to film and photography, to demonstrate how the identity and stereotypes of the mulata developed within popular culture and the national imagination.

Considered a bridge between European subject and African other, the mulata was “European enough to be visible and beautiful to the white male subject, and African enough to be typologized as sexual, primitive, desirable, and available” (4). Invoking Antonio Benítez-Rojo’s notion of “The Repeating Island,” Homi Bhabha’s concept of colonial mimicry, Stuart Hall’s model of identity based on ambivalence, and Judith Butler’s performativity of identity, along with the work of other theorists, Fraunhar investigates how performance and representation of the mulata and mulataje (performativity of the mulata) are intertwined. The study is not focused on actual life experiences of mulatas but rather their visual representation across media.

Fraunhar begins her analysis through the lens of costumbrismo, a literary and artistic movement popular in Spain and the Americas that represented scenes and types from everyday life. The figure of the desirable mulata, though in existence since the seventeenth century, was cemented during the nineteenth century with costumbrismo. An interesting manifestation of this occurs in marquillas cigarreras, small chromolithographed papers in which cigarettes for the Cuban domestic market were bundled. In this fascinating medium, Fraunhar shows how marquillas served as sites of cubanidad (Cuban identity). Fraunhar argues that the images of mulatas on marquillas demonstrate colonial anxiety and the inability to clearly define racial, social, and spatial boundaries. Unfortunately, the images presented in this chapter were all misnumbered, disrupting the fluidity of the text.

Chapter 2 focuses on the performance of the mulata on the stages, dances, and streets of nineteenth-century Cuba. In popular theater, like teatro bufo and zarzuela, the mulata was one of several principal stock characters performed, along with the negrito (black boy) and the gallego (Spaniard). During this time, the connection between prostitution and mulataje became explicit, thus producing tension between the mulata as a symbol of the nation and desire. Several Cuban actresses found success outside of Cuba in Mexican cabaretera films, performing cultural and racial passing.

Chapter 3 considers the mulata as a sign of femininity, cosmopolitanism, and modernity. Fraunhar examines how the mulata was variously depicted on magazine covers and in avant-garde paintings by early twentieth-century artists such as Jaime Valls, Mario Carreño, Carlos Enríquez, and José Hurtado de Mendoza. Although an icon of modernity, representations of the mulata were still rooted in past tropes of desire and availability. After the revolution of 1959, women’s roles in society were debated as leaders struggled to redefine the nation.

In Chapter 4, Fraunhar investigates how the revolution sought to reform the mulata as a revolutionary citizen. Several Cuban films produced in the 1960s and 1970s have mulata protagonists, presented to showcase how Cuban revolutionary society was constructed upon utopian ideas of equality and community. The mulata became the “new (wo)man” of the revolution (157).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the beginning of the Período Especial, cultural production was disrupted, and economic crisis ensued. Cuba now positioned itself to foreign visitors as an exotic, nostalgic, tropical tourist destination. Mulatas resumed the role of the sensual, the desirable, and available body of the nation. The rise of jineterismo (hustling) and prostitution associated with the mulata became ubiquitous in Cuba in the 1990s, as did the emergence of drag and cross-gender performativity.

In Chapter 5, Fraunhar discusses the work of several photographers who capture the plight and agency of these mulata jinetera, gay, and trans performers.

A strength of this study is the wide range of popular visual culture that is included, though at times this means less in-depth analysis of specific…

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Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2019-11-03 03:05Z by Steven

Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art

Pennsylvania State University Press
2018
180 pages
8″ × 10″
31 color/29 b&w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-07907-3

Mey-Yen Moriuchi, Assistant Professor of Art History
LaSalle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Cover image for Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art By Mey-Yen Moriuchi

The years following Mexican independence in 1821 were critical to the development of social, racial, and national identities. The visual arts played a decisive role in this process of self-definition. Mexican Costumbrismo reorients current understanding of this key period in the history of Mexican art by focusing on a distinctive genre of painting that emerged between 1821 and 1890: costumbrismo.

In contrast to the neoclassical work favored by the Mexican academy, costumbrista artists portrayed the quotidian lives of the lower to middle classes, their clothes, food, dwellings, and occupations. Based on observations of similitude and difference, costumbrista imagery constructed stereotypes of behavioral and biological traits associated with distinct racial and social classes. In doing so, Mey-Yen Moriuchi argues, these works engaged with notions of universality and difference, contributed to the documentation and reification of social and racial types, and transformed the way Mexicans saw themselves, as well as how other nations saw them, during a time of rapid change for all aspects of national identity.

Carefully researched and featuring more than thirty full-color exemplary reproductions of period work, Moriuchi’s study is a provocative art-historical examination of costumbrismo’s lasting impact on Mexican identity and history.

Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Racialized Social Spaces in Casta and Costumbrista Painting
  • 2. Traveler-Artists’ Visions of Mexico
  • 3. Literary Costumbrismo: Celebration and Satire of los tipos populares
  • 4. Local Perspectives: Mexican Costumbrista Artists
  • 5. Costumbrista Photography
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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ENGL 205 Focus on: Passing and Performing Identity

Posted in Course Offerings, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, United States on 2019-11-03 02:29Z by Steven

ENGL 205 Focus on: Passing and Performing Identity

Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio
Spring 2020

Xavier University

Section 25 Online MCFARLANE HARRIS
Section 26 Online MCFARLANE HARRIS
CRN 13054 and 11004

EOAs part of the Core Curriculum’s Ethics / Religion and Society Requirement, Literature and the Moral Imagination is required for all undergraduate students. In broad terms, ENGL 205: Literature and the Moral Imagination focuses on personal and social ethical issues in literature. Individual sections feature specific topics.

In this course, we will read fiction and graphic novels that investigate the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States, whereby “black” persons light-skinned enough to appear “white” cross the color line to live as white people. Along the way, we will read a smattering of historical sources and cultural theory on the social construction of race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic class, religion, etc.

For more information, click here.

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The National Geographic Twins and the Falsehood of Our Post-Racial Future

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2019-10-27 16:59Z by Steven

The National Geographic Twins and the Falsehood of Our Post-Racial FutureThe National Geographic Twins and the Falsehood of Our Post-Racial Future

The New Yorker
2018-03-14

Doreen St. Félix, Staff Writer


National Geographic has made a rare, and refreshing, admission of past racism. But its most recent cover story undermines this corrective. Photograph Courtesy National Geographic

On Monday, National Geographic opened its April issue with a sombre letter from the editor, Susan Goldberg, presented with the even more sombre headline “For Decades, Our Coverage was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.” “The Race Issue,” which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inaugurates the magazine’s yearlong “Diversity in America” series. In the letter, Goldberg—who is the first woman and the first Jewish person in the top post since the magazine’s founding, in 1888—informs her readers that John Edwin Mason, a historian of photography and of the African continent, having studied the magazine’s archive, found that, through failures of omission, overwrought inclusions, a melodramatic tone, and other editorial choices, National Geographic had mismanaged its reportage on nonwhite cultures. As Goldberg summarized, “until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States . . . . Meanwhile it pictured ‘natives’ elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.”

The magazine’s admission is rare, and vindicates readers who, like me, have always had a visceral reaction to National Geographic’s covers and ethos. A recent project at the Times was similarly refreshing—offering obituaries for the indefatigable journalist Ida B. Wells, the writer Sylvia Plath, and thirteen other women who hadn’t been memorialized in the paper at the time of their deaths. The Times, which calls its project “Overlooked,” uses oddly passive language in presenting its past missteps: its archives offer “a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers,” the copy reads. Mason uses more pointed language: “National Geographic comes into existence at the height of colonialism . . . . and National Geographic was reflecting that view of the world.”…

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Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Nella Larsen’s Passing: An Exploration of Performed Identity

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, United States on 2019-10-24 16:38Z by Steven

Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Nella Larsen’s Passing: An Exploration of Performed Identity

President’s Writing Awards (2019)
Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
2019

Aly Sebright

Author in hoodie.
Aly Sebright

Currently in its 37th year, the President’s Writing Awards contest honors undergraduate writing at Boise State.

My name is Alyson Sebright. I was born in Boise and grew up in Nampa, where I still reside. I’m currently a Junior majoring in English with an emphasis in Literature here at Boise State, with plans to study abroad in Stirling, Scotland this coming Fall of 2019. I chose to study literature because of my deep passion for storytelling, not only in telling my own stories but better understanding those of others. I believe wholeheartedly that sharing stories can change the world and for that reason I study literature with the intention of one day working in the publishing field as a developmental fiction editor. After graduation I am planning to pursue a graduate degree, either through a Fulbright program or a graduate school here in the States. When I’m not studying, I can usually be found loitering around the Writing Center with my coworkers, doing photography around town, or working on my latest creative writing project.

Nella Larsen’s novel, Passing, centers around the experience of two biracial women whose identities are primarily performative as they navigate life with the privilege of “passing” as White. Through this narrative, Larsen suggests that both racial and gender/sexual identities are as largely performative as they are inherent. Passing explores the ideas of both these identities as they exist in a world where passing is possible. Larsen calls into question the very nature of such concepts and their intersections: how identity shapes the experiences of individuals, and how those individuals shape those identities in turn.

The novel evaluates racial identity in several ways, but centers upon the socially-enforced performative nature of biracialism. In one of the opening scenes, Irene is waited upon in a rooftop cafe where she is passing as White in order to exist within the space and receive the service she desires. Larsen explains of Irene: “Never, when she was alone, had they [White people] even remotely seemed to suspect that she was a Negro” (Larsen 8). This is one of the first moments in which the reader sees Irene engage in the activity of “passing”, and it emphasizes the nature of race as a performative identity in the case of “mulatto” or lighter skinned Black individuals, whose biracial identity is largely ignored, forcing such individuals to “choose” to perform one race or another. As one scholar explains: “the act of passing both subverts racial categories and reinforces them, employing the logic that people of mixed ancestry are ‘really’ black but pretend to be white” (Nisetich 350). In this moment, Irene’s choice to pass, while it does afford her the desired effect of being treated as a White citizen, necessitates her to temporarily deny her racial identity. This choice is inherently ironic, as Irene becomes obsessed with the idea of racial “loyalty” as the novel continues, in relation to her perceptions of Clare’s decision to pass as White…

Read the entire essay here.

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Refusing Historical Amnesia: Emily Raboteau, Danzy Senna, and the American South

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-24 13:36Z by Steven

Refusing Historical Amnesia: Emily Raboteau, Danzy Senna, and the American South

English Language Notes
Volume 57, Issue 2 (2019-10-01)
pages 99-113
DOI: 10.1215/00138282-7716184

Nicole Stamant, Associate Professor of English
Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia

Issue Cover

Performing what Michele Elam calls “a refusal of historical amnesia,” Danzy Senna and Emily Raboteau expose how social justice and hospitality are constructed in and around what Pierre Nora calls lieux de mémoire. Engaging particular sites of memory in the American South—places with national and personal significance—Raboteau and Senna negotiate and interrogate the interstitial spaces of racial ambiguity, liminality, and invisibility as they uncover different modes of commemoration and fend off historical forgetting. Writing about their experiences as biracial African Americans, Raboteau and Senna show readers how memorialization of black southern experience connects with communal or inherited familial memories. Their considerations of memory, and the attendant concerns about subjectivity and forgetting, demonstrate the central place of testimony to mnemonic restitution. In so doing, they also expose new ways to engage trauma: through the affect of what Lauren Berlant describes as “crisis ordinariness.”

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Can Americans Unlearn Race?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2019-10-16 01:51Z by Steven

Can Americans Unlearn Race?

American Interest
2019-10-15

Morten Høi Jensen


“Willie and Holcha” by William H. Johnson (Wikimedia Commons)

In his lucid new memoir, Thomas Chatterton Williams channels Albert Camus and James Baldwin—and offers a thoughtful counterpoint to the tired racial dogmas of both Right and Left.

Reflecting on why he decided to leave America for Europe, James Baldwin once explained that he wanted to “find out in what way the specialness of my experience could be made to connect me with other people instead of dividing me from them.” The racism of American society in the late 1940s prohibited him from doing so at home, where he was always “merely a Negro.” Only by going abroad could he find the freedom to really ask himself what it meant to be black, to be American, to be African-American. By encountering people so different from himself, Baldwin wrote, he felt at last “a shattering in me of preconceptions I scarcely knew I held.” The constraints of American notions of race and identity were loosened by the existence of entirely different notions. “The time has come,” Baldwin decided, “for us to examine ourselves, but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and try to find out what is really happening here.”

The American writer Thomas Chatterton Williams has followed in the footsteps of Baldwin’s Parisian emigration. Raised in suburban New Jersey by a white mother and black father, Williams grew up thinking of himself not as half-white or of mixed race but as “black, period.” In his literary debut, Losing My Cool (2010), he recounted an adolescence suffused with hip-hop culture and received ideas about a particular kind of black identity. In high school, in the mid-to-late 1990s, Williams strode the hallways with a sweatshop’s worth of flashy apparel, paid homage to the gods of BET, and lived by the dubious moral code of the Big Tymers and Master P. At the local basketball court, he was awestruck by a player known as RaShawn, who sipped Olde English before games, kept in his pocket a knot of bills “as thick and layered as a Spanish onion,” and often resorted to viciously beating up his opponents. “He was like a star to me,” Williams admitted…

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