Afro-German Women are Still Upholding the Legacy of May Ayim

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2020-09-13 01:55Z by Steven

Afro-German Women are Still Upholding the Legacy of May Ayim

Catapult
2020-09-10

Tari Ngangura


May Ayim with Audre Lorde/Photograph via audrelordeberlin.com

There have always been people suffering from anti-Blackness. And May Ayim highlights the continuity of the Black experience—not only her own, but those before her as well.

In 1986, Afro-German author and poet May Opitz—better known as May Ayim—co-edited the anthology, Showing Our Colours: Afro-German Women Speak Out. The book carries the stories of Afro-German women and their volatile, often violent experiences with anti-Blackness, belonging, and sexism in the European nation. Showing Our Colours remains a seminal offering in works that claim the existence and legitimacy of Black history within Europe, and also examines Germany’s specific role in the nineteenth century colonization of Africa—including the genocide in Namibia, which saw over one hundred thousand of the Herero, Nama, and San people killed by the German regime from 1904 until 1908.

Those who survived the genocide were locked in concentration camps, a precursor to those that would be utilized in the Holocaust. Showing Our Colours is as much about claiming space as it is about holding Germany accountable to its imperial history and its effects on the contemporary realities of Black immigrants living in the country. The book also outlines political shifts through the ages that saw terms like Moor, Negro, and African morph into racial epithets that would later be used by pseudoscientists to justify anti-Black racism, fascism, and medical bias.

Ayim died by suicide in 1996, and in her life and death, I see a testament to the resilience of Black women, and an indictment of insidious white supremacy that makes Black life a fragile negotiation between visibility and erasure. Since her death, Ayim’s work has been revisited most often by young Afro-Germans searching for the language and tools to explore their Blackness and womanhood alongside a European history that interrupted their ancestry and systematically destabilizes their present. For Afro-Germans, and especially the youth who have lived through global Black Lives Matter conversations, who witnessed police brutality on both a national and global scale, it is not enough to be simply German. It’s in this space that Ayim’s work is finding new eyes…

I spoke with Marny Garcia Mommertz, a Black-German researcher born in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, about how the late author’s work has been something of a map, detailing similar experiences of othering, and a reminder that her contemporary reality is not simply of her own making, but part of a larger structural legacy of oppression…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Global ‘Mixed Race’ Studies: Global Perspectives on ‘Mixed Race’, Citizenship and Immigration (CULANTH 220FS – 01)

Posted in Course Offerings, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2020-08-26 20:42Z by Steven

Global ‘Mixed Race’ Studies: Global Perspectives on ‘Mixed Race’, Citizenship and Immigration (CULANTH 220FS – 01)

Duke University
Asian American & Diaspora Studies
Fall 2020

Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, Senior Research Scholar
Duke Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference (GRID), Durham, North Carolina

By exploring pioneering and controversial writings from both the social and the biological sciences as well as the humanities, this course will situate debates on ‘race’, ‘mixed race’ and social hierarchies within broader global, comparative, and historical contexts. These comparative examples shed light on the the different social, social, and historical meanings attached to ‘race’ and ‘mixed race’ and address social and cultural variations in the symbolic rules which determine the social status of ‘mixed race’ communities.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , ,

Blue Beneath My Skin, Alchemist Theatre Co. (Streamed Broadcast)

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2020-08-25 23:56Z by Steven

Blue Beneath My Skin, Alchemist Theatre Co. (Streamed Broadcast)

Breaking The Fourth Wall: Michael Davis’ thoughts on theatre and the Arts.
2020-06-27

Michael Davis

The second entry in Alchemist Theatre’sWriters On Hold’ series, Blue Beneath My Skin continues to explore the themes of racial identity and feminimity. Written and performed by Macadie Amoroso, the monologue focuses on a 17-year-old mixed race girl, who after she was abandoned as a baby by a canal, was found and later raised by an all-white family.

While ‘Canal Baby’ (Amoroso’s character) has a ‘comfortable’ existence, domestic life does have its tensions. She’s still close to her ‘father’, but he and her ‘mother’ are no longer a couple. Living in an all-female household (with ‘mother’ and ‘sister’), far from having many things in common, even neutral interests such as fashion are a divisive subject, where they seldom see eye-to-eye. Regardless of this, it is the one avenue where Amoroso’s character feels she can express her individuality, irrespective of her family’s opinions and tastes.

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , ,

Race and Media: Critical Approaches

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, United States on 2020-08-12 00:43Z by Steven

Race and Media: Critical Approaches

New York University Press
December 2020
320 pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
11 b/w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479895779
Paperback ISBN: 9781479889310

Edited by:

Lori Kido Lopez, Associate Professor in Media and Cultural Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

A foundational collection of essays that demonstrate how to study race and media

From graphic footage of migrant children in cages to #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite, portrayals and discussions of race dominate the media landscape. Race and Media adopts a wide range of methods to make sense of specific occurrences, from the corporate portrayal of mixed-race identity by 23andMe to the cosmopolitan fetishization of Marie Kondo. As a whole, this collection demonstrates that all forms of media—from the sitcoms we stream to the Twitter feeds we follow—confirm racism and reinforce its ideological frameworks, while simultaneously giving space for new modes of resistance and understanding.

In each chapter, a leading media scholar elucidates a set of foundational concepts in the study of race and media—such as the burden of representation, discourses of racialization, multiculturalism, hybridity, and the visuality of race. In doing so, they offer tools for media literacy that include rigorous analysis of texts, ideologies, institutions and structures, audiences and users, and technologies. The authors then apply these concepts to a wide range of media and the diverse communities that engage with them in order to uncover new theoretical frameworks and methodologies. From advertising and music to film festivals, video games, telenovelas, and social media, these essays engage and employ contemporary dialogues and struggles for social justice by racialized communities to push media forward.

Contributors include: Mary Beltrán, Meshell Sturgis, Ralina L. Joseph, Dolores Inés Casillas, Jennifer Lynn Stoever, Jason Kido Lopez, Peter X Feng, Jacqueline Land, Mari Castañeda, Jun Okada, Amy Villarejo, Aymar Jean Christian, Sarah Florini, Raven Maragh-Lloyd, Sulafa Zidani, Lia Wolock, Meredith D. Clark, Jillian M. Báez, Miranda J. Brady, Kishonna L. Gray, and Susan Noh.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2020-08-12 00:40Z by Steven

No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

University Press of Mississippi
November 2020
208 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496830708
Paperback ISBN: 9781496830692

Andre E. Johnson, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

A critical study of the career of the nineteenth-century bishop

No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner is a history of the career of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915), specifically focusing on his work from 1896 to 1915. Drawing on the copious amount of material from Turner’s speeches, editorial, and open and private letters, Andre E. Johnson tells a story of how Turner provided rhetorical leadership during a period in which America defaulted on many of the rights and privileges gained for African Americans during Reconstruction. Unlike many of his contemporaries during this period, Turner did not opt to proclaim an optimistic view of race relations. Instead, Johnson argues that Turner adopted a prophetic persona of a pessimistic prophet who not only spoke truth to power but, in so doing, also challenged and pushed African Americans to believe in themselves.

At this time in his life, Turner had no confidence in American institutions or that the American people would live up to the promises outlined in their sacred documents. While he argued that emigration was the only way for African Americans to retain their “personhood” status, he also would come to believe that African Americans would never emigrate to Africa. He argued that many African Americans were so oppressed and so stripped of agency because they were surrounded by continued negative assessments of their personhood that belief in emigration was not possible. Turner’s position limited his rhetorical options, but by adopting a pessimistic prophetic voice that bore witness to the atrocities African Americans faced, Turner found space for his oratory, which reflected itself within the lament tradition of prophecy.

Tags: , ,

“Is There a Self in This Text? Satire, Passing, and Life in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia”

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-07-19 03:50Z by Steven

“Is There a Self in This Text? Satire, Passing, and Life in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Published online 2020-06-25
DOI: 10.1080/00111619.2020.1784083

Myers Enlow
University of Memphis , Memphis, Tennessee

In this paper, I argue that Danzy Senna’s Caucasia is a satirical passing narrative that exposes the tragedy of traditional passing novels as archaic for relying on racial binaries and perpetuating white desirability. I draw on the existing scholarship surrounding satire and traditional passing narratives and apply it to Senna’s work to analyze the ways this novel differs from traditional, early 20th-century passing narratives to comment on the absurdity of white desirability and the racial binary through the American Dream. Specifically, I look at Caucasia as a location in which the main characters – biracial Birdie and Cole Lee; their white mother, Sandy; and their black father, Deck – must find a way to live. The all-white space the characters are forced to inhabit informs their racial identities and desires and leads to a double consciousness within the narrator, Birdie. Ultimately, Senna’s satire illuminates the tragic passing narrative as complicit in upholding and reinforcing assumptions of a binary world. Additionally, Senna shows the double consciousness African Americans and biracial individuals embody because of America’s fixation on the white, American Dream that manifests itself as life in Caucasia.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , ,

Part of a Larger Battle: A Conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2020-07-17 14:44Z by Steven

Part of a Larger Battle: A Conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams

Los Angeles Review of Books
2020-07-16

Otis Houston
Portland, Oregon


Thomas Chatterton Williams

I FIRST INTERVIEWED Thomas Chatterton Williams for the Los Angeles Review of Books in the spring of 2019. We discussed his then-forthcoming book, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, as well as the state of the discussion about race in in the United States, including the popular movements for social justice born of the increased visibility of the killings of black Americans by police.

I recently spoke with Thomas again about what has changed in the way we talk about race and identity. We also discussed the effects of the collision of social justice theories with art and institutions, and the best-selling books that are now influencing the national mood and tracing the borders of generational and ideological difference in the United States in 2020.

Thomas is a contributing editor at The New York Times and a columnist at Harper’s. He spoke to me by phone from his home in Paris, France. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

OTIS HOUSTON: At about this time last year we discussed Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. One of your main arguments was that, in order to transcend racism and the social hierarchies it imposes, we have to commit to rejecting the very concept of race and its centrality in determining our identities.

One year later, in a time of mass protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, it seems to me like we’re seeing the media and some of the most prominent voices in the antiracism movement moving further away from the view of race and identity you’ve been advocating for. Increasingly, they argue that effective opposition to racism requires racial identity to always be foremost in our minds, both in the way we view politics and society and in our daily interactions with one another. This ideological movement is perhaps most visible in the books How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, which have topped best-seller lists for weeks now. How would you describe this shift in thinking?

THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS: I see that as kind of a lamentable movement, actually. The two books that have dominated the conversation — and I mean dominated — are books that brook no middle ground and occlude any nuance. Robin DiAngelo’s central thesis, for instance, is that white people function not as individuals, but as a category, as a monolith that is inherently racist. According to her, to deny that you’re racist as a white person is proof of your racism, and to admit that you’re racist as a white person is proof of your racism, and the circular logic is airtight…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Shilling for U.S. Empire: The Legacies of Scientific Racism in Puerto Rico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2020-06-26 01:10Z by Steven

Shilling for U.S. Empire: The Legacies of Scientific Racism in Puerto Rico

The Abusable Past
Radical History Review
2020-06-22

R. Sánchez-Rivera
Department of Sociology
University of Cambridge


Pablo Delano, A Group of newly made Americans at Ponce, Porto Rico, (detail from the conceptual art installation The Museum of the Old Colony, 2016-ongoing). Source: Stereocard published by M. H. Zahner, Niagara Falls, New York, 1898. Photographer not identified.

Recently, a published, peer-reviewed article caused a great deal of controversy when it circulated among many academic Facebook pages such as Latinx Scholars, Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA), and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA)-Puerto Rico Section. This article, “Economic Development in Puerto Rico after US Annexation: Anthropometric Evidence,” written by Brian Marein, a PhD student in economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, brings together data to show that the average height of men in Puerto Rico increased by 4.2cm after the U.S. “annexation” (a euphemism for colonization). The author uses anthropometrics to argue that U.S. colonialism was actually beneficial to Puerto Ricans “in contrast to the prevailing view in the literature.” His main conclusion is that because U.S. officials brought in resources, food, and education, the life of Puerto Ricans improved (inferred by the increased height of men) as a result of colonization.

Anthropometrics refers to the measuring of people’s bodies and skeletons to correlate their difference to “racial” and psychological traits that privileged Eurocentric ideas of beauty, intelligence, ableness, morality, among others. This stems from a long history of “race science” that surged from the polygenetic assumption that (1) “race” was a biological type and (2) “races” had distinct origins. Two major theories of human origins and heredity dominated during the nineteenth century: monogenism and polygenism. Thinkers who advocated for monogenism argued that all humans came from the same origin but were in different developmental stages (usually with Whites at the top and Black people at the bottom). However, during the second half of the nineteenth century polygenism, or the notion that the “races” had separate origins and should be considered as distinct and immutable species, became more widely accepted…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2020-06-18 00:16Z by Steven

Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays

University Press of Mississippi
2020-05-15
208 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496827821
Paperback ISBN: 9781496827838

Edited by:

Matthew Teutsch, Director, Lillian E. Smith Center
Piedmont College, Demorest, Georgia

The first book-length sounding of the major contributions of the first black American novelist to sell more than a million copies

Contributions by Catherine L. Adams, Stephanie Brown, Gene Andrew Jarrett, John Wharton Lowe, Guirdex Massé, Anderson Rouse, Matthew Teutsch, Donna-lyn Washington, and Veronica T. Watson

Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays is the first book-length study of Yerby’s life and work. The collection explores a myriad of topics, including his connections to the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances; readership and reception; representations of masculinity and patriotism; film adaptations; and engagement with race, identity, and religion. The contributors to this collection work to rectify the misunderstandings of Yerby’s work that have relegated him to the sidelines and, ultimately, begin a reexamination of the importance of “the prince of pulpsters” in American literature.

It was Robert Bone, in The Negro Novel in America, who infamously dismissed Frank Yerby (1916–1991) as “the prince of pulpsters. ” Like Bone, many literary critics at the time criticized Yerby’s lack of focus on race and the stereotypical treatment of African American characters in his books. This negative labeling continued to stick to Yerby even as he gained critical success, first with The Foxes of Harrow, the first novel by an African American to sell more than a million copies, and later as he began to publish more political works like Speak Now and The Dahomean.

However, the literary community cannot continue to ignore Frank Yerby and his impact on American literature. More than a fiction writer, Yerby should be put in conversation with such contemporaneous writers as Richard Wright, Dorothy West, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, Margaret Mitchell, and more.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Archives of Conjure: Stories of the Dead in Afrolatinx Cultures

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2020-03-06 18:05Z by Steven

Archives of Conjure: Stories of the Dead in Afrolatinx Cultures

Columbia University Press
March 2020
272 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780231194334
Hardcover ISBN: 9780231194327
E-book ISBN: 9780231550765

Solimar Otero, Professor of Folklore
Indiana University, Bloomington

Archives of Conjure

In Afrolatinx religious practices such as Cuban Espiritismo, Puerto Rican Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé, the dead tell stories. Communicating with and through mediums’ bodies, they give advice, make requests, and propose future rituals, creating a living archive that is coproduced by the dead. In this book, Solimar Otero explores how Afrolatinx spirits guide collaborative spiritual-scholarly activist work through rituals and the creation of material culture. By examining spirit mediumship through a Caribbean cross-cultural poetics, she shows how divinities and ancestors serve as active agents in shaping the experiences of gender, sexuality, and race.

Otero argues that what she calls archives of conjure are produced through residual transcriptions or reverberations of the stories of the dead whose archives are stitched, beaded, smoked, and washed into official and unofficial repositories. She investigates how sites like the ocean, rivers, and institutional archives create connected contexts for unlocking the spatial activation of residual transcriptions. Drawing on over ten years of archival research and fieldwork in Cuba, Otero centers the storytelling practices of Afrolatinx women and LGBTQ spiritual practitioners alongside Caribbean literature and performance. Archives of Conjure offers vital new perspectives on ephemerality, temporality, and material culture, unraveling undertheorized questions about how spirits shape communities of practice, ethnography, literature, and history and revealing the deeply connected nature of art, scholarship, and worship.

Tags: , ,