Dark secrets: The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett, reviewed

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-07-27 00:46Z by Steven

Dark secrets: The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett, reviewed

The Spectator
2020-07-18

Rabeea Saleem


Brit Bennett. Credit: Getty Images

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half, A Novel (New York: Riverhead Books, 2020)

Bennett’s compelling novel explores the fraught subject of what it means to ‘pass for white’ in a black community

Passé Blanc is the Creole expression — widely used in the US — for black people ‘passing for white’ to seek social and economic privileges otherwise denied them. Brit Bennett has a panoptic approach to racial passing in this intergenerational family saga, which takes us on a 20-year journey into the lives of twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes.

We meet them in the 1950s as children living in Mallard, a small town in the Deep South known for its light-skinned negroes. For Desiree, the local obsession with skin colour makes little sense, since being light-skinned didn’t save her father from being lynched by white men. In their teens, the twins run away to New Orleans, but their paths soon diverge: ‘Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.’

Fourteen years later Desiree is spotted back in Mallard with a ‘blueblack’ child in tow called Jude. She is an anomaly in a town where ‘nobody married dark’, adhering to the strict colour code of its mixed-race founder, who was determined that the town would see ‘each generation lighter than the one before’. Stella, meanwhile, remains estranged from her family and now lives a life of luxury with her white husband and their daughter Kennedy in an affluent, all-white neighbourhood in LA. She has kept her past a secret from them, with her daughter realising how Stella would cite lack of money as an excuse not to discuss her background — ‘as if poverty were so unthinkable to Kennedy that it could explain everything’. Eventually, Jude’s and Kennedy’s paths cross, dismantling Stella’s carefully constructed façade…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , ,

Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

Posted in Africa, Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-07-24 03:03Z by Steven

Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

The New York Times
2020-07-23

Christine Kenneally


An 1823 cross-section diagram of a ship used to carry enslaved people. incamerastock/Alamy

Scientists from the consumer genetics company 23andMe have published the largest DNA study to date of people with African ancestry in the Americas.

More than one and a half centuries after the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended, a new study shows how the brutal treatment of enslaved people has shaped the DNA of their descendants.

The report, which included more than 50,000 people, 30,000 of them with African ancestry, agrees with the historical record about where people were taken from in Africa, and where they were enslaved in the Americas. But it also found some surprises.

For example, the DNA of participants from the United States showed a significant amount of Nigerian ancestry — an unexpected finding, as the historical record does not show evidence of enslaved people taken directly to the United States from Nigeria.

At first, historians working with the researchers “couldn’t believe the amount of Nigerian ancestry in the U.S.,” said Steven Micheletti, a population geneticist at 23andMe who led the study…

…The 23andMe project found this general pattern, but also uncovered a startling difference in the experience of men and women between regions in the Americas.

The scientists calculated that enslaved women in the United States contributed 1.5 times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than enslaved men. In the Latin Caribbean, they contributed 13 times more. In Northern South America, they contributed 17 times more.

What’s more, in the United States, European men contributed three times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than European women did. In the British Caribbean, they contributed 25 times more…

Read the entire article here.

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

Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas

Posted in Africa, Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-07-24 02:41Z by Steven

Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas

The American Journal of Human Genetics
Published: 2020-07-23
37 pages
DOI:10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.06.012

Steven J. Micheletti
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Kasia Bryc
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Samantha G. Ancona Esselmann
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

William A. Freyman
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Meghan E. Moreno
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

G. David Poznik
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Anjali J. Shastri
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

23andMe Research Team
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Sandra Beleza
University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom

Joanna L. Mountain
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California


GettyImages

According to historical records of transatlantic slavery, traders forcibly deported an estimated 12.5 million people from ports along the Atlantic coastline of Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries, with global impacts reaching to the present day, more than a century and a half after slavery’s abolition. Such records have fueled a broad understanding of the forced migration from Africa to the Americas yet remain underexplored in concert with genetic data. Here, we analyzed genotype array data from 50,281 research participants, which—combined with historical shipping documents—illustrate that the current genetic landscape of the Americas is largely concordant with expectations derived from documentation of slave voyages. For instance, genetic connections between people in slave trading regions of Africa and disembarkation regions of the Americas generally mirror the proportion of individuals forcibly moved between those regions. While some discordances can be explained by additional records of deportations within the Americas, other discordances yield insights into variable survival rates and timing of arrival of enslaved people from specific regions of Africa. Furthermore, the greater contribution of African women to the gene pool compared to African men varies across the Americas, consistent with literature documenting regional differences in slavery practices. This investigation of the transatlantic slave trade, which is broad in scope in terms of both datasets and analyses, establishes genetic links between individuals in the Americas and populations across Atlantic Africa, yielding a more comprehensive understanding of the African roots of peoples of the Americas.


Figure 1 Location of Individuals and Cohorts
Arrows highlight the general direction of the triangular trade routes between continents during the transatlantic slave trade. Pie charts indicate the documented number of enslaved people embarking out of regions of Africa (∼12.5 million total) and disembarking in regions of the Americas (∼10.5 million total) between 1515 and 1865. Representatives of regions of the Americas and Europe indicated that they each have four grandparents born within the same country or US state. Representatives of Atlantic Africa either indicated four grandparents born within or historical ties to a country. Points indicate the ∼16,000 unique grandparental geo-coordinates provided by participants. ∗Cape Verde is an Atlantic African island country that, in the 15th century, was colonized by the Portuguese and inhabited primarily by enslaved people from Senegambia.

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

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

The Black Lives Matter Movement As An Asian American

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-07-19 17:13Z by Steven

The Black Lives Matter Movement As An Asian American

Bozeman Magazine
Bozeman, Montana
2020-07-01

Cassie Pfannenstiel

The issue of race in America is complex. Many communities of varying cultures exist together often without accepting one another in a meaningful way. Growing up in a multicultural home as a mixed-race child, I often felt as a cultural outsider to either half of me. Around my white friends and family, I was the minority and with other Asians, I was “too white” to really fit in.

I had two different sides of me that were never really brought together. I wasn’t allowed to learn Tagalog from my mother growing up, which caused me to miss out on a lot of Filipino culture and deeper relationships. Even today, my mother and I have a strained relationship because of the language barrier between us. The lack of that half of my culture was filled by the other half of my upbringing: a mostly white-washed experience in which I still wasn’t fully accepted because of my mixed origins. As a child, I was unable to understand where I stood amongst the white kids with “normal” upbringings. When I looked at myself, I couldn’t tell if I even looked Asian or not. I became used to random strangers asking questions like: “What are you?” “What’s your heritage?” “Where are you from? No, originally.” These questions solidified my racial ambiguity. I became used to identifying as white and American first before my more prominent Asian culture. The questioning reminded me that although I had embraced and assimilated into white culture, I was not white…

Read the entire article here.

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: , ,

Born into Slavery, Joshua Johnson Became the First Black Professional Artist in the United States

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-07-17 21:06Z by Steven

Born into Slavery, Joshua Johnson Became the First Black Professional Artist in the United States

Artsy
2020-07-16

Jaelynn Walls, Curator and Writer
Houston, Texas


Joshua Johnson
Family Group, ca. 1800
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Historians know woefully little about Joshua Johnson, the first professional African American artist to work in the United States. An active painter in Maryland and Virginia from roughly the 1790s to 1825, Johnson was all but forgotten until the middle of the 20th century. In 1939, Baltimore genealogist and art historian J. Hall Pleasants attributed 13 paintings to Johnson and began the long journey of reconstructing his career through scraps of often contradictory information. Even the artist’s last name is uncertain, and many art historians are still debating whether it was spelled “Johnson” or “Johnston.”

Johnson was born into slavery in mid-18th-century Maryland to a white man and a Black slave woman owned by William Wheeler Sr. Chattel records note his race as mulatto, though Maryland had no legal definition for what constituted “Black” versus “mixed race” at the time. Pleasants located documents variously describing Johnson as a slave, a slave trained as a blacksmith, a Black servant afflicted with consumption, and an immigrant from the West Indies.

While much of Johnson’s history remains mysterious, his special place in art history is assured. The next renowned African American artists to emerge in the United States, Robert S. Duncanson and Henry Ossawa Tanner, followed Johnson by decades…

Read the entire article here.

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

How Patrick Mahomes Became the Superstar the NFL Needs Right Now

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-07-17 16:36Z by Steven

How Patrick Mahomes Became the Superstar the NFL Needs Right Now

GQ
2020-07-15

Clay Skipper, Staff Writer
Photography by: Pari Dukovic

After winning his first Super Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was supposed to have a straightforward summer: First sign a blockbuster new contract. Then prepare to repeat. But when a pandemic gave way to a protest movement that implicated the NFL, the game’s brightest star began to find his voice—and prove that he’s as adroit off the field as he is on it.

Patrick Mahomes calls right on time. When my phone rings, the area code flashes “Tyler, Texas,” where the young Kansas City Chiefs quarterback grew up. It’s early June and a pivotal point in an already momentous off-season. Whatever he might have expected as he walked off the field in February—a first-time Super Bowl winner, coronation complete, celebration on the horizon—was upended by a generational pandemic. And now, historic protests roil the country. Two weeks have passed since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and the 24-year-old Mahomes is still trying to make sense of the moment.

Just a few days earlier, Mahomes had joined more than a dozen other Black NFL stars—Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas, and Saquon Barkley among them—in a powerful 71-second video, calling on their employer to condemn racism. It shouldn’t have been a bold assertion. But, of course, it was. While nearly every big American corporation was addressing the significant work to be done on racial justice and equality, the NFL was being asked to address a particularly egregious track record. This is a league in which 70 percent of players are Black but only three coaches, two general managers, and zero majority owners are; a league in which the response to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality was to promptly run him out of a job.

This time, though, the reaction was different. Less than a day after the players’ video, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell filmed a clip of his own, offering a point-by-point affirmation of the players’ requests. According to a report from ESPN, a key factor in his swift response was the participation of one young player in particular: Patrick Mahomes…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Man Striving to Be the ‘Canadian Obama’

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2020-07-17 16:15Z by Steven

The Man Striving to Be the ‘Canadian Obama’

The New York Times
2020-07-10

Dan Bilefsky, Canada Correspondent


“The abuse of power has plagued brown and Black people, and we have had enough,” Balarama Holness said. Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times

Balarama Holness, 36, a law student and community organizer who once played professional Canadian football, is becoming a leading voice against systemic racism in his country.

MONTREAL — For Balarama Holness, the defining moment of his life happened four years before he was born. It was at a Bob Marley concert in Montreal, when the eyes of his Québécois mother and his Jamaican father interlocked as the singer wailed, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!

It was the final year of the freewheeling 1970s, and his adventurous Francophone mother and ascetic Anglophone father were strangers in a sprawling hockey arena. But Mr. Holness said barriers of language and race momentarily collapsed as the Marley anthem washed over the crowd — a rare alchemy that he said he had spent his whole life chasing.

“The music dissolved fictitious divisions in society,” Mr. Holness said, “and somewhere between the dreadlocks, the Jamaican patois and Québécois French, the seeds of my existence were sowed, along with my future as a rebel.”

Educator, broadcaster, law student and former championship-winning professional Canadian football player, Mr. Holness, 36, aspires to be a “Canadian Obama” — another “biracial lawyer,” he observes, who cut his teeth as a community organizer. His other role model is Colin Kaepernick, the Black quarterback whose kneeling during the American national anthem before N.F.L. games became a potent symbol against racial and social injustice.

Mr. Holness’s outsized swagger and ambition are perhaps inevitable — he noted that because of his parents’ respect for Hindu tradition, they named him Balarama, considered by some a god with extraordinary strength. A first cousin, Andrew Holness, is Jamaica’s prime minister.

In Balarama Holness’s case, he has grabbed Canadian headlines after mobilizing a grass-roots movement over the past two years that pushed Montreal’s City Hall to hold hearings on systemic racism. That is no small accomplishment in Quebec, a French-majority province where the government has repeatedly denied the existence of systemic racism

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Why Kamala Harris’ Afro-Asian Identity Matters | Opinion

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2020-07-17 15:56Z by Steven

Why Kamala Harris’ Afro-Asian Identity Matters | Opinion

Newsweek
2020-07-09

Oneka Labennett, Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California

Front-runner. Black woman. Afro-Asian? A favorite to become Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris is in the homestretch of the most consequential veepstakes of our lifetime. With cries for racial justice and police reform gripping the nation, we know Harris’ Blackness matters to a Democratic ticket led by a white male septuagenarian—but so does her Asian identity.

As the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, Harris’ Afro-Asian heritage puts her at the crux of the coronavirus crisis. Just as the pandemic has cast a stark light on the lethality of systemic anti-Black racism in the United States, it has also exposed discrimination and xenophobia against Asian communities and other immigrants. Still, a Black cop and an Asian cop are among the officers charged with aiding and abetting George Floyd’s murder. Speaking to Black and Asian constituencies now would be a powerful acknowledgment that could further galvanize political coalition building while tending to the wounds of division.

Of course, the senator’s Afro-Asian heritage is muted in part because of the American one-drop rule“a drop of Black blood” makes an individual Black. In her book The Truths We Hold, Harris recounts that her mother understood that America would view her daughters as Black, so she raised them as such

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s not your mixed race friends’ responsibility to coach you through the Black Lives Matter movement

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United Kingdom, United States on 2020-07-17 15:39Z by Steven

It’s not your mixed race friends’ responsibility to coach you through the Black Lives Matter movement

MetroUK
2020-06-15

Miranda Larbi


It’s not our job to help you through this awakening (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

These past few weeks have been hard for everyone linked to the black community.

On top of the collective trauma that comes from the murder of yet another black man, it’s as if the whole world has suddenly woken up to the realities of racism.

This white awakening has had a real emotional impact on many ethnic minorities. After all, imagine having to deal with racism on a near-daily basis for generations only for you to be believed now. But the unexpected result of all this – for me at least – has been the almighty load put on me by my white friends.

Those of us who are black and white (and no doubt, other mixes too) seem to have become tools to enlighten, comfort and placate white angst…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,