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.

Rhiannon Giddens and What Folk Music Means

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 23:29Z by Steven

Rhiannon Giddens and What Folk Music Means

The New Yorker
2019-05-13

John Jeremiah Sullivan


Giddens plays and records what she describes as “black non-black music,” reviving a forgotten history. Photograph by Paola Kudacki for The New Yorker

The roots musician is inspired by the evolving legacy of the black string band.

To grasp the significance of what the twenty-first-century folksinger Rhiannon Giddens has been attempting, it is necessary to know about another North Carolina musician, Frank Johnson, who was born almost two hundred years before she was. He was the most important African-American musician of the nineteenth century, but he has been almost entirely forgotten. Never mind a Wikipedia page—he does not even earn a footnote in sourcebooks on early black music. And yet, after excavating the records of his career—from old newspapers, diaries, travelogues, memoirs, letters—and after reckoning with the scope of his influence, one struggles to come up with a plausible rival.

There are several possible reasons for Johnson’s astonishing obscurity. One may be that, on the few occasions when late-twentieth-century scholars mentioned him, he was almost always misidentified as a white man, despite the fact that he had dark-brown skin and was born enslaved. It may have been impossible, and forgivably so, for academics to believe that a black man could have achieved the level of fame and success in the antebellum slave-holding South that Johnson had. There was also a doppelgänger for scholars to contend with: in the North, there lived, around the same time, a musician named Francis Johnson, often called Frank, who is remembered as the first black musician to have his original compositions published. Some historians, encountering mentions of the Southern Frank, undoubtedly assumed that they were merely catching the Northern one on some unrecorded tour and turned away.

There is also the racial history of the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, where Johnson enjoyed his greatest fame. In 1898, a racial massacre in Wilmington, and a subsequent exodus of its black citizens, not only knocked loose the foundations of a rising black middle class but also came close to obliterating the deep cultural memory of what had been among the most important black towns in the country for more than a century. The people who might have remembered Johnson best, not just as a musician but as a man, were themselves violently unremembered.

A final explanation for Johnson’s absence from the historical record may be the most significant. It involves not his reputation but that of the music he played, with which he became literally synonymous—more than one generation of Southerners would refer to popular dance music simply as “old Frank Johnson music.” And yet, in the course of the twentieth century, the cluster of styles in which Johnson specialized––namely, string band, square dance, hoedown––came to be associated with the folk music of the white South and even, by a bizarre warping of American cultural memory, with white racial purity. In the nineteen-twenties, the auto magnate Henry Ford started proselytizing (successfully) for a square-dancing revival precisely because the music that accompanied it was not black. Had he known the deeper history of square dancing, he might have fainted…

…Giddens’s father, David, who is white, taught music and then worked in computer software for most of his career. “As a teacher, he got all of the hardened kids,” she said, meaning behaviorally challenged students. He met Rhiannon’s mother, Deborah Jamieson, when they were both students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Theirs was a rare interracial marriage in a city where, cultural diversity aside, the Klan murdered five civil-rights activists in 1979. Rhiannon’s parents divorced when she was a baby, around the time that her mother came out as a lesbian…

…Giddens talks about her “black granny” and her “white granny.” At one point, her black grandfather and her white grandmother were both working at the Lorillard Tobacco factory in Greensboro. Once, when her white granny needed help with her taxes, she went to Giddens’s black grandfather to get it. But Giddens dismissed the idea that her life was defined by a two-sidedness. “It’s the South, isn’t it?” she said. “The point is that they are different—but the same.”…

…The prospect of gaining a wider, and blacker, audience is, one imagines, always an option for Giddens, who could, if she really wanted to, cut a pop record and presumably ascend to a higher sales bracket. But she has been unwilling to compromise her quest, which is, in part, to remind people that the music she plays is black music. In 2017, she received a MacArthur “genius” grant, a validation that has reinforced her tendency to stick to her instincts. “You do what you’re given,” she told me on the phone recently. “I’m not gonna force something or fake something to try to get more black people at my shows. I’m not gonna do some big hip-hop crossover.” She paused, and remembered that she is about to do a hip-hop crossover, with her nephew Justin, a.k.a. Demeanor, a rapper who also plays the banjo. “Well,” she said, laughing, “not unless I can find a way to make it authentic.” She told me that she does not really like hip-hop. This threw me into the comical position of trying to sell her on the genre. “The stuff I like is the protest music,” she said. “I like Queen Latifah. But the over-all doesn’t speak to me. I’m not an urban black person. I’m a country black person.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Los Angeles has renamed a street after former President Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-05-15 23:48Z by Steven

Los Angeles has renamed a street after former President Obama

Cable News Network (CNN)
2019-05-05

Saeed Ahmed, Senior Editor

(CNN) The City of Los Angeles has renamed a nearly 4-mile stretch of road from “Rodeo Road” to “Obama Boulevard,” in honor of the country’s first African-American president.

The location is significant, the city said, because Obama held his first campaign rally in Los Angeles on February 20, 2007, at Rancho Cienega Park. The park sits on Rodeo Road, right across from W. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“For every child who will drive down this street and see the name of the first Black President of our country, this boulevard will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big,” tweeted City Council President Herb Wesson after the renaming Saturday.

Rodeo Road, which runs through a historic black neighborhood, is not the first strip to be named in honor of former presidents. The district where the road sits is also home to Washington Boulevard, Adams Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard….

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Q&A | Genevieve Gaignard

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-15 21:10Z by Steven

Q&A | Genevieve Gaignard

Flaunt
2019-05-02

Morgan Vickery, Contributing Editor

Black Swan
Black Swan

Early this April, Chicago welcomed artist Genevieve Gaignard for a solo exhibition with Monique Meloche gallery. The exhibition entitled “Black White and Red All Over” features Gaignard’s newest body of mixed media works on panel as well as a domestic installation.

The Los Angeles-based artist received an MFA in Photography from Yale University. However, Gaignard’s work spans across several mediums including mixed-media, sculpture, and installations. Her work has been showcased across the nation and has found permanent homes at such places as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the California African American Museum, the FLAG Art Foundation, New York, and the San Jose Museum of Art. Gaignard’s work examines issues of race, class, femininity and their various intersections. As the daughter of an interracial couple, identity has informed a large part of Gaignard’s work, in which she invites the viewer to examine their own assumptions on identity…

…Many of the collage works touch on the topics of beauty and femininity. Each of them were composed with vintage wallpaper and vintage magazine cutouts in many variations. The pieces A Shout Out To My Fan Girls and In Full Bloom depict the many-faces of black beauty, especially as it relates to hair. Gaignard connected these works to her own identity as a biracial woman saying, “These are all pictures from wig advertisements. So, talking about how as black women we are told tame our hair and fit into the norm which is presented to us as white. That’s what you’re supposed to strive for, even for me. My hair is straightened right now, so I totally pass in a different way. I think about this constantly.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Concept of “Race” Is a Lie

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2019-05-15 21:02Z by Steven

The Concept of “Race” Is a Lie

Scientific American
2019-05-14

Peter G. Prontzos, Faculty Emeritus
Langara College, Vancouver, British Columbia

The Concept of "Race" Is a Lie
Credit: Getty Images

Even the Ancient Greeks knew it

The plague of racism has, in many ways, been increasing in the last few years. Whether one looks at Hungary, Germany, Myanmar, India or Brazil, racists are becoming more visible and getting elected to public office.

Then there were the horrors of the slaughters in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

In the United States, the president has denounced Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists, described some poor nations as, “shithole countries,” and failed to reject an endorsement from a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. He even went so far as to call at least some neo-Nazis, “very fine people.” One might be forgiven for thinking that what his campaign slogan really meant was “Make America White Again.”…

In combating this increase in racism, there are two primary aspects to consider…

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Republican, Fear, Love, Blood: The Many Meanings of Red

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, United States on 2019-05-15 20:07Z by Steven

Republican, Fear, Love, Blood: The Many Meanings of Red

Elephant
2019-04-29


In Full Bloom, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Genevieve Gaignard is invested in examining the cultural divide between being black and white in the US, navigating a place for all the incremental shades that exist in between. Her latest work brings identities, experiences, appearances and materials together in symbolic shades of black, white and red. Words by Charlotte Jansen

When I first saw Genevieve Gaignard‘s work, staged photographs she shot of herself in 2017, fresh out of Yale, I immediately identified. As biracial woman like Gaignard, my experiences growing up, too white within my family, too brown in my majority white school, I could relate to the pain of being projected onto, and never quite fitting in. Yet my experiences are quite different to hers, growing up in the south of the US, half black, half white, with red hair; listening to Billy Stewart and watching John Waters films. Music and drag have been major influences on her work, as well as her sense of family and femininity. America has always been louder, brasher and more confident than the UK when it comes to exploring race, for the good and the bad…

Can you tell me what your own relationship with magazines like Jet and Ebony has been?

I remember we had Jet and Ebony delivered to our house when I was growing up. My mother also held onto a lot of those magazines and had her own archive from years prior. Although I work with other magazines as well, such as Life, Women’s Day and McCall’s, it should be acknowledged that in those magazines, especially from the sixties and earlier, black people were not represented at all! It’s quite shocking to flip through an entire magazine from the forties or fifties and not see a single person of colour. It’s disturbing how white America refused to acknowledge an entire race of people. If black folks were present in all the magazines marketed to “Americans”, then I wouldn’t have had to make a point that I also source cut-outs from Jet and Ebony. My works aim to reflect a more inclusive view because that’s more like real life…

Read the entire interview here.

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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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‘Funnyhouse of a Negro’ gets under character’s skin

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-14 15:12Z by Steven

‘Funnyhouse of a Negro’ gets under character’s skin

KU Today
The University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
2019-05-01

Rick Hellman, KU News Service
Telephone: 785-864-8852

LAWRENCE – More than one white politician has landed in hot water this year after old photographs of them dressed in blackface surfaced. Clearly, racial stereotypes are still a touchy subject. So is it OK for minorities to dress in whiteface? What if it’s meant to represent an inner conflict among people of mixed-race identity?

“This question implies that there is such a thing as reverse racism, and I don’t think we can even ask that without discussing the systemic inequality and racial hierarchies that result in internalized racism experienced by historically underrepresented groups,” said Nicole Hodges Persley, University of Kansas associate professor of theatre.

Melting Pot Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, goes there this month when Hodges Persley directs an avant-garde play from 1964 titled “Funnyhouse of a Negro” by Adrienne Kennedy. The play, which opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, for a two-week run, is part of Hodges Persley’s exploration of the ways 20th-century black artists undermined racial and mixed-race stereotypes in their creative work.

For the past couple of years, Hodges Persley has been working on the first major biography of actress Fredi Washington (1903-1994), a woman of mixed racial background who fought against the racial stereotyping of her day while also working for black empowerment…

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Are you a halfie?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2019-05-12 23:37Z by Steven

Are you a halfie?

The Korea Times
2019-05-13

David Tizzard


Sunya (left), Loren (right) and their two children Anika and Neptune.

Since the mid-20th century, South Korea has clung to a message of homogeneity and race as a cornerstone of its national identity. It has advocated genetic purity (and at times superiority) as it looks in the geopolitical mirror and asks the most existential of questions.

Yet the story delivered through school text books and the broader public consciousness has often come into conflict with the reality of history. It also ignores the generations of halfies living both here and abroad, often the product of the tragic Korean War that tore the peninsula in two.

While that particular conflict is labeled “the forgotten war,” many see halfies as “the forgotten race.” Throughout the early years the first generations faced discrimination, sometimes growing up in single-parent households, orphaned, or simply socially reviled.

To be a halfie anywhere is difficult. To be a halfie in Korea is a tale unto itself…

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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…

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