Rhiannon Giddens Is Reclaiming the Black Heritage of American Folk Music

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-02-26 02:34Z by Steven

Rhiannon Giddens Is Reclaiming the Black Heritage of American Folk Music

TIME
2019-02-21

John Lingan


Shahar Azran—WireImage/Getty Images

In early 2018, folk-music torchbearer Rhiannon Giddens decamped to Breaux Bridge, La., with minstrelsy on her mind. In her early work with the Grammy-winning bluegrass band the Carolina Chocolate Drops and across two solo albums and a role in the TV series Nashville, Giddens has been as much a historian as a singer and banjoist. She’s won acclaim, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, for her attention to America’s folk traditions, but she felt that minstrelsy, with its troubled history, remained relatively unexplored…

..For the Louisiana trip, she enlisted three of her favorite contemporary musicians: Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah, all, like Giddens, black women with a focus on the banjo and early American string-music traditions. All four brought original songs to the sessions, and their collaboration quickly expanded beyond its initial historical focus. The resulting album, Songs of Our Native Daughters, which comes out on Feb. 22, has one foot in acoustic minstrel sounds but is also a tribute to the strength and resilience of black women in the antebellum era

Read the entire article here.

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The “Miscegenation” Troll

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-02-23 21:23Z by Steven

The “Miscegenation” Troll

JSTOR Daily
2019-02-20

Mark Sussman

The Miscegenation Troll
via Wikimedia Commons

The term “miscegenation” was coined in an 1864 pamphlet by an anonymous author.

In 1864, a pamphlet entitled “Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro” began to circulate on the streets of New York. The title certainly would have given New Yorkers pause. No one had ever seen the word “miscegenation” before. In fact, the pamphlet’s anonymous author invented it, giving the reason that “amalgamation”—then the most common term used to describe “race mixing”—was a “poor word, since it properly refers to the union of metals with quicksilver.” The term “miscegenation”—from the Latin miscere (to mix) and genus (race)—had only one definition.

Besides introducing a new word into the English language, the pamphleteer was also responsible for what appeared to be one of the most fearless documents in the archive of nineteenth century abolitionist writing. Among many other claims and political recommendations, the pamphlet notes that, “the miscegenetic or mixed races are much superior, mentally, physically, and morally, to those pure or unmixed;” that “a continuance of progress can only be obtained through a judicious crossing of diverse elements;” that “the Caucasian, or white race… has never yet developed a religious faith on its own;” that “the true ideal man can only be reached by blending the type man and woman of all the races of the earth;” that “the most beautiful girl in form, feature, and every attribute of feminine loveliness [the pamphleteer] ever saw, was a mulatto.” Most provocatively, the writer claimed that “the Southern beauty… proclaims by every massive ornament in her shining hair, and by every yellow shade in the wavy folds of her dress, ‘I love the black man.’”

At the time, Miscegenation was radical. Even among the most radical abolitionists of the day, interracial marriage was tolerated, but rarely explicitly encouraged. (Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner and prominent abolitionist Wendell Phillips were exceptions.) Eurocentric racial hierarchies were often deeply ingrained in their thinking…

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The Arresting Eye: Race and the Anxiety of Detection

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Passing on 2019-02-23 02:57Z by Steven

The Arresting Eye: Race and the Anxiety of Detection

University of Virginia Press
May 2015
224 pages
6×9 inches
Cloth ISBN: 9780813937014
Paper ISBN: 9780813937021
Ebook ISBN: 9780813937038

Jinny Huh, Associate Professor of English
University of Vermont

In her reading of detective fiction and passing narratives from the end of the nineteenth century forward, Jinny Huh investigates anxieties about race and detection. Adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, she examines the racial formations of African Americans and Asian Americans not only in detective fiction (from Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan to the works of Pauline Hopkins) but also in narratives centered on detection itself (such as Winnifred Eaton’s rhetoric of undetection in her Japanese romances). In explicating the literary depictions of race-detection anxiety, Huh demonstrates how cultural, legal, and scientific discourses across diverse racial groups were also struggling with demands for racial decipherability. Anxieties of detection and undetection, she concludes, are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent on each other’s construction and formation in American history and culture.

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Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2019-02-21 02:12Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
June 2019
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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Episode 4

Posted in Arts, Audio, Communications/Media Studies, History, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-02-16 03:00Z by Steven

Episode 4

Shade Podcast: UK culture and news podcast focused on the mixed race experience
2019-02-15

Laura Hesketh, Co-Host
Liverpool, England

Lou Mensah, Co-Host
London, England

With special guest, Steven F. Riley, founder of MixedRaceStudies.org!

Neneh Cherry on being mixed race in the music industry, controversial new Netflix Show ‘Always a Witch’, Viola Davis and the Liam Neeson controversy, Queen Ifrica on colourism, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by IbI Zoboi, Grace Wales Bonner, plus more.

Listen to the episode (00:36:55) here. Download the episode here.

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Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-02-15 20:49Z by Steven

Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62

The Guardian
2019-02-15

Richard Lea


Andrea Levy, in Edinburgh in 2010: ‘My heritage is Britain’s story too.’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Award-winning author of Small Island and The Long Song had cancer

The writer Andrea Levy, who explored the experience of Jamaican British people in a series of novels over 20 years has died, aged 62, from cancer.

After starting to write as a hobby in her early 30s, Levy published three novels in the 1990s that brought her positive reviews and steady sales. But her fourth novel, Small Island, launched her into the literary big league, winning the 2004 Orange prize, the Whitbread book of the year and the Commonwealth Writers’ prize, selling more than 1m copies around the world and inspiring a 2009 BBC TV adaptation.

On Friday, authors including Candice Carty-Williams, Linda Grant and Malorie Blackman paid tribute, with Blackman remembering a “warm, funny and generous spirit.”…

…After studying textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic, Levy worked briefly as a designer, a dresser and a receptionist. But it was not until she was 26 that a racial awareness session with colleagues at an Islington sex education project gave her a “rude awakening”.

“We were asked to split into two groups, black and white.” Levy wrote. “I walked over to the white side of the room. It was, ironically, where I felt most at home – all my friends, my boyfriend, my flatmates, were white. But my fellow workers had other ideas and I found myself being beckoned over by people on the black side. With some hesitation I crossed the floor.”

As someone who was “scared” to call herself a black person, the experience was shocking enough to send her to bed for a week. But the writing course she had begun part-time came to her rescue, sending her back to explore the shame and denial that had marked her childhood and to rediscover her Jamaican roots…

Read the entire article here.

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Obituary: Andrea Levy

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-02-15 16:29Z by Steven

Obituary: Andrea Levy

BBC News
2019-02-15

Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy, who has died of cancer at the age of 62, told the stories of the Windrush generation with humour and compassion.

As Britain struggled to revive its post-war economy, invitations were extended to citizens of the Empire. “Come and make your lives in the Mother Country,” the advertisements said.

Levy’s books chart the experiences – and disappointments – of the first Caribbean immigrants and their children.

Her Jamaican father, Winston, was aboard the Empire Windrush, the first ship to dock at Tilbury in 1948.

The open arms which the 492 men expected were not forthcoming. Racism and rejection, small rooms and chilly receptions awaited instead.

Her writing could have been angry and preachy, but it wasn’t. It was witty, humane and often moving, and full of richly drawn characters.

She brought ignored and forgotten stories back to public consciousness. And she drew on her own mixed-race, working class experience to enrich her themes of family and displacement…

Read the entire article here.

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Finding Edna Ferber’s Showboat

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-14 01:23Z by Steven

Finding Edna Ferber’s Showboat

David Cecelski: New writing, collected essays, latest discoveries
2018-03-10

David Cecelski

Souvenir program from the world premier of the first Showboat movie in 1929. Courtesy, Beinecke Library, Yale University
Souvenir program from the world premier of the first Showboat movie in 1929. Courtesy, Beinecke Library, Yale University

I don’t know how the great American novelist, short story writer and playwright Edna Ferber heard about the little river town of Winton, N.C.

But I know she did. In a collection of her research notes that I found at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale when I was in New Haven, Conn. last summer, she scratched the following:

Winton, N.C.—The Croatans, relic of the lost Roanoke Island

settlement. Tar River. White negroes.

Winton is a no-stoplight town in Hertford County, on the Chowan River (not the Tar River), in a rural part of northeastern N.C., between the Albemarle Sound and the Great Dismal Swamp.

I was a surprised to find a reference to Winton in the notes of a New York writer like Edna Ferber.

I was also a little surprised to discover a reference to Winton in an archive like the Beinecke Library, a sleek, modern, glass-walled vault of literary and historical treasures in the heart of Yale’s campus.

So of course I had to wonder: why was Edna Ferber interested in Winton? And what did the Croatan Indians and the “lost Roanoke settlement”—the Lost Colony—have to do with anything? And last but not least, what did she mean by “white negroes”?

In today’s post, I’d like to explore those questions. By the end of considering them, I hope we will understand northeastern N.C.’s history a little better and understand where Edna Ferber found at least some of the inspiration for her most popular and enduring literary work…

Read the entire article here.

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What Miyazaki’s Heroines Taught Me About My Mixed-Race Identity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-06 01:17Z by Steven

What Miyazaki’s Heroines Taught Me About My Mixed-Race Identity

Catapult
2017-10-16

Nina Coomes

Miyazaki tells us something about bodies in flux: There is no easy answer; only the conflict, the question.”

One summer day when I was nine, I climbed into a hair stylist’s chair and asked them to cut my hair to my ears. Until that point, I’d always had a head of long hair tumbling over my shoulder, useful for coquettish tossing when I imagined myself as Snow White or Cinderella. I had never worn short hair, had never wanted it; I’d always thrived on girliness that fed into my obsession with imitating what I perceived to be the ultra-feminine Disney princess archetype. But that summer, sitting in a chair too tall for me, I asked the friendly lady with the scissors to take it all. After a moment of thought, I told her, “Short—like a princess raised by wolves.”

I was referencing San, from Hayao Miyazaki’s Mononoke-hime or Princess Mononoke. In the film, San is a human girl left as a sacrifice to the gods of the mountain by her human parents, raised by the very god to whom she was sacrificed—Moro, a wolf-like Inu gami—and convinced, as a result, that she too is a wolf. When the viewer meets San for the first time, her small face is pressed to an open wound in her wolf-mother’s flesh. She turns her head toward the viewer, momentarily breaking the fourth wall, her face smeared in bright red. She spits a jet of blackening blood and rubs her fist along the edge of her chin, as if to wipe the stain of blood from her face. The utter humanness of this gesture, paired with her clear physical intimacy with the wolf-god, immediately casts her identity into conflict—a theme to be played over and over throughout the movie. Is San a wolf? Is she a girl? Is she neither, or both, or something in between?…

Read the entire article here.

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Outside the Comfort Zone

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-05 02:52Z by Steven

Outside the Comfort Zone

The New Republic
2018-05-30

Jillian Steinhauer
New York, New York


Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features, 1981. Courtesy of The Eileen Harris Norton Collection/MOMA

Adrian Piper’s art plays with identity and confronts defensiveness.

In 2012, the artist Adrian Piper made an announcement. The news was posted on her archive’s web site, with a cheerful portrait of her, head tilted, eyes warm and open, smiling. The photo would look like an ordinary head shot if it were not for the unnatural coloring—Piper’s hairline is orange, and her skin is an eggplant shade of purple. At the bottom, she included a note:

Dear Friends,

For my 64th birthday, I have decided to change my racial and nationality designations. Henceforth, my new racial designation will be neither black nor white but rather 6.25% grey, honoring my 1/16th African heritage. And my new nationality designation will be not African American but rather Anglo-German American, reflecting my preponderantly English and German ancestry. Please join me in celebrating this exciting new adventure in pointless administrative precision and futile institutional control!

Artwork Thwarted Projects, Dashed Hopes, A Moment of Embarrassment,2012 by Adrian Piper

She signed and dated it below.

On first reading, this announcement—which as an artwork is titled Thwarted Projects, Dashed Hopes, A Moment of Embarrassment—appears absurd: A person can’t retire their official identity and endow themselves with a new one simply by writing a note; Piper points to the futility of such an endeavor in her last line. But, like so much of her work, Thwarted Projects throws a challenge to the viewer: What new and liberating possibilities might appear if we took this conceptual exercise seriously?…

Read the entire article here.

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