Ahamefule J. Oluo: Susan

Posted in Arts, Biography, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, United States, Women on 2020-01-24 01:16Z by Steven

Ahamefule J. Oluo: Susan

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
University of Maryland
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park, Maryland 20742-1625
2020-02-07 and 2020-02-08, 20:00 EST (Local Time)

After moving audiences at The Clarice in 2017, trumpeter, composer and comedian Ahamefule J. Oluo returns with “Susan,” a memoir delivered through wry comedic monologue and live, grand-scale big-band and jazz.

When Susan Hawley was a sophomore in college, she fell in love with a doctoral student from Nigeria. They got married, had two children, and just as their dream life seemed like it was coalescing, her husband went back to Nigeria to visit his family and never contacted her again—leaving her a Midwestern white lady with two African babies. They were desperately poor; Susan began gaining weight rapidly, soon reaching 400 pounds. These were the cards she was dealt. Ahamefule J. Oluo’s theatrical work, Susan, tells his mother’s story as a means to tell the story of millions of women. It is a tangible crystallization of how race, class and size affect people all over the world every day. Despite all that darkness, Susan will be funny. It’s a collection of wry, black, but humane monologues, interspersed with live, grand-scale orchestral music.

This vulnerable theatrical work about his childhood tells the story of how his Midwestern mother was left to raise two bi-racial babies after the sudden departure of her husband. There’s obvious chemistry between Oluo’s singular voice and the grand creation of the music; at times, when the story is too painful for him, the ensemble carries the show. “Susan” is a category-defying reflection on how race, class, and appearance impact everyone—and how we play the hand that we’re dealt.

In 2002, after being selected as Town Hall Seattle’s first-ever artist-in-residence, Oluo realized he wanted to do something different. After years of performing and recording with prominent musicians like John Zorn, Hey Marseilles, Wayne Horvitz and Macklemore, Oluo knew he had his own story to tell—and the diverse set of skills to do it. During his time in residency, he began experimenting with blending big-band, jazz, standup and memoir to formulate a new musical and theatrical identity.

For more information, click here.

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All at Sea

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2019-12-01 02:06Z by Steven

All at Sea

4th Estate (an imprint of HarperCollins)
2016-04-07
240 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0008142162

Decca Aitkenhead

In May 2014, on a hot still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aikenhead’s life changed irrevocably. First her four year old son Jake, pootling by the water’s edge in his pyjamas, was dragged out to sea on a riptide. Then Tony, her partner and Jake’s father, dived in to save him, but drowned in the process.

Tony – a Northern, mixed race former prisoner, drug dealer and crack addict – “Black” and “Decca” – a prize-winning Guardian journalist from the West Country – had always made an improbable couple. For years they tried to find a way to come together from very different starting places. Tony reformed himself, got an education, and then a job. Decca bore him two sons and they bought a medieval farmhouse in Kent and set about transforming it. A decade on, lying in the sand in their favourite place in the world, young, strong, fit and with their children playing at their feet, they were congratulating themselves on their achievements when everything was ripped away.

Bookended by the deaths of her mother in childhood, and Tony this year, All at Sea looks at class, race, privilege and prejudice through the prism of Decca’s life and these deaths. It stares into the dark chasm of our worst nightmare – a random accidental tragedy – and somehow finds the light on the other side.

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Noel Ignatiev’s Long Fight Against Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-11-22 23:06Z by Steven

Noel Ignatiev’s Long Fight Against Whiteness

The New Yorker
2019-11-15

Jay Caspian Kang


Noel Ignatiev, the author of “How the Irish Became White,” believed that whiteness was a fiction, and that true stories could dispel it. Photograph by Pekah Pamella Wallace

In 1995, Noel Ignatiev, a recent graduate of the doctoral program in history at Harvard, published his dissertation with Routledge, an academic press. Many such books appear, then disappear, subsumed into the endless paper shuffling of the academic credentialling process. But Ignatiev was not a typical graduate student, and his book, “How the Irish Became White,” was not meant to stay within the academy. A fifty-four-year-old Marxist radical, Ignatiev had come to the academy after two decades of work in steel mills and factories. The provocative argument at the center of his book—that whiteness was not a biological fact but rather a social construction with boundaries that shifted over time—had emerged, in large part, out of his observations of how workers from every conceivable background had interacted on the factory floor. Ignatiev wasn’t merely describing these dynamics; he wanted to change them. If whiteness could be created, it could also be destroyed.

“How the Irish Became White” quickly broke out of the academic-publishing bubble. Writing in the Washington Post, the historian Nell Irvin Painter called it “the most interesting history book of 1995.” Mumia Abu-Jamal, the activist and death-row inmate, provided an enthusiastic back-cover blurb. Today, many of the ideas Ignatiev proposed or refined—about the nature of whiteness, and about the racial dynamics that unfold among immigrant workers—are taken for granted in classrooms; they influence films, literature, and art. But Ignatiev found it hard to accept the academic rewards that came with his book’s success. Committed to radicalism, he spent much of his time in academia doing what he had done on the factory floor: publishing leaflets and zines about the possibilities of revolutionary change…

Read the entire article here.

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My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-11-19 21:22Z by Steven

My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?

The Guardian
2019-11-16

Hazel Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University


Hazel Carby: ‘I learned that I was not considered British.’ Photograph: Michel Huneault/The Guardian

My Welsh mother met my father during the war. From childhood, I have grown to dread the question: ‘Where are you from?’

I was in primary school the first time it happened. The boy who sat at the desk to my right – the one who used to pinch my arm whenever the teacher’s back was turned – finished talking about his father’s war experience of heat and flies and deserts while driving tanks across Egypt, and looked at me smugly as if to say, “Beat that.” It was my turn to describe my father’s contribution to the war effort. I stated clearly that my father served in the RAF. On the piano at home stood a photograph of a young man in RAF uniform, with an enigmatic smile, head tilted at a slightly rakish and daredevil angle, holding a pipe in his hand. In my eyes he was the epitome of wartime British heroism.

Before I could describe the photograph, I was interrupted by the teacher who told me to sit and listen carefully. I sat. The entire class was stunned. Silenced by her anger, they stared at me, the culprit, as the teacher issued a warning about the dire consequences of telling lies. She insisted that there were no “coloured” people in Britain during the war, that no coloured people served in any of the armed services, and certainly not in the RAF, the most elite branch of the British military.

Speaking in the slow and deliberate tone of voice that she adopted when she would brook no opposition, she declared that coloured people were not British, but immigrants who arrived on these shores after the war had been fought and won. We all shifted back in our seats, and I cowered in shock and humiliation…

Read the entire article here.

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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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Genealogy & Racial Passing; Author Mary Doria Russell

Posted in Audio, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-11-12 20:47Z by Steven

Genealogy & Racial Passing; Author Mary Doria Russell

The Sound of Ideas
ideastream
Cleveland, Ohio
2019-11-11

Rachel Rood, Producer


Credit: MeganBrady/shutterstock

Parma native and award winning author, Gail Lukasik discovered in 1995 that her mother had kept a deep family secret from her. Her mother was half-black, but was passing as a white woman, and begged Gail not to reveal her true identity. Lukasik will be speaking about her family’s story, which she turned into a book in 2017, this week in Lakewood, and we’ll discuss the complicated waters of genealogy and race, on The Sound of Ideas. Later, Lyndhurst author, Mary Doria Russell, talks about her new historical novel: The Women of the Copper Country.

Listen to the episode (00:49:56) here.

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Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-11-12 16:35Z by Steven

Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

The Los Angeles Times
2019-11-11

Sewell Chan, Deputy Managing Editor, News

Noel Ignatiev
Noel Ignatiev’s 1995 book “How the Irish Became White” was influential and controversial, touching off a firestorm of debate.

Noel Ignatiev, a former steelworker who became a historian known for his work on race and class and his call to abolish “whiteness,” died at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson on Saturday. He was 78. The cause was an intestinal infarction, according to Kingsley Clarke, a longtime friend.

Ignatiev’s best-known book, “How the Irish Became White,” was immediately influential and controversial upon its publication in 1995. It touched off a firestorm of debate at the time at academic conferences and in the pages of newspapers. In time his view that whiteness is a social and political construction — and not a phenomenon with a biological basis — has become mainstream. The resurgence of white identity politics and white nationalism in recent years made Ignatiev’s arguments relevant to a new generation of readers who argued the notion that race is more about power and privilege rather than about ancestry, or even identity.

The book detailed how the Irish, who had first come to North America as indentured servants and were reviled by the more settled populations of English and Dutch Americans, became, by the mid-19th century, accepted as white. Sadly, Ignatiev argued, the Irish became incorporated into whiteness just before the Civil War, through support for slavery and violence against free African Americans. To become white, Ignatiev wrote, did not mean to be middle class, much less rich, but rather to be accepted as equal citizens and to have access to the same neighborhoods, schools and jobs as others…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Racial Passing in America

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-11-10 03:59Z by Steven

Racial Passing in America

Yale University Press Blog
2019-11-04

Adele Logan Alexander, Emeritus Professor of History
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Over the years, the practice of “passing” for white has variously been considered wicked, cowardly, deceptive, essential, all or none of the above by much of the African American community. Certainly, it was and is controversial.

In years, decades, and centuries past, a number of light-skinned African Americans “passed,” either briefly, permanently, or situationally. Their stories are legion. This certainly has been the case for several members of my own family…

…But there are alternative stories too. In the Jim Crow South, my light-skinned grandmother sometimes wore a raceless mask to attend “all-white” suffrage conferences in the pre-Nineteenth Amendment years. Then she brought the information she gleaned back to share with her African American friends and peers who hoped to acquire the vote for women. On occasion, she also manipulated the racial apartheid system to acquire the best possible medical care for herself and her children. Would anyone argue with her choices in those instances?…

Read the entire article here.

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A powerful look into the invisible world of children and mothers who are rejected by their nations because of mixed lineage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-31 19:41Z by Steven

A powerful look into the invisible world of children and mothers who are rejected by their nations because of mixed lineage

International Examiner
Seattle, Washington
2019-10-29

Midori Friedbauer

Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd makes a powerful debut with Dream of the Water Children, a book which transcends genres and enlightens readers with ethereal beauty and judicious use of research in a memoir which recounts his relationship with his family.

Kakinami Cloyd is the child of a Japanese war bride and an African American soldier, and in his book, he offers readers a glimpse into the invisible world of the children and mothers rejected by their nations because of their mixed lineage.

One of the many legacies of World War II are the children of unions between occupiers and the occupied, and all too often these children have been forgotten. Kakinami Cloyd has gifted the world with the knowledge he gathered through survival. He has also uncovered the circumstances of mixed-race children who did not survive the U.S. occupation of Japan; including children who were killed by their own mothers…

Read the entire review here.

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Who Was the Real James Young Deer?

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2019-10-24 17:28Z by Steven

Who Was the Real James Young Deer?

Bright Lights Film Journal
Issue May 2013 (2013-04-30)
10 pages

Angela Aleiss, Full Time Lecturer, Information Systems
California State University, Long Beach

James Young Deer, 1909, at Bison

The Mysterious Identity of the Pathè Producer Finally Comes to Light

“With his acting experience and technical know-how, Young Deer soon advanced to one of Pathé’s leading filmmakers. His Indian identity served him well: no one in the cast or crew at that time would have taken orders from a black man.”

Few in Hollywood knew that James Young Deer, general manager of Pathé Frères West Coast Studio from 1911 to 1914, was really an imposter. After all, Young Deer had earned a reputation as the first Native American producer and had worked alongside D. W. Griffith, Fred J. Balshofer, and Mack Sennett. As one of Hollywood’s pioneer filmmakers, Young Deer oversaw the production of more than 100 one-reel silent Westerns for Pathé, the world’s largest production company with an American studio in Edendale in Los Angeles.

Young Deer was married to Lillian St. Cyr, a Winnebago Indian from Nebraska known as “Princess Red Wing” and star of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1914 classic The Squaw Man. He boasted of a full-blooded Winnebago heritage similar to his wife: his birthplace became Dakota City, Nebraska, and his father was “Green Rainbow” from the Winnebago reservation. He claimed he attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, the first off-reservation Indian boarding school.

In a 2010 BBC Radio 3 segment, “James Young Deer: The Winnebago Film-Maker,” no one — including this author — could unscramble Young Deer’s murky past. Young Deer was elusive, and a search in his background leads to a maze of contradictions and discrepancies. But after ten months of poking through dusty archives and faded vital records and tracking down Lillian’s relatives, the identity of this mysterious filmmaker finally came to light. His real name: James Young Johnson, born about April 1, 1878, in Washington, D.C., to mulatto parents George Durham Johnson and Emma Margaret Young.

“If Young Deer claimed to be Winnebago, he was lying to himself and others to promote himself,” says David Smith, Winnebago historian, author, and former director of Indian Studies at Little Priest Tribal College in Nebraska. Smith has heard endless stories about Young Deer’s supposed Winnebago heritage, and he’s had enough. His reaction is understandable: Native American identity is an especially sensitive issue, and no Indian tribe wants their name appropriated by some wannabe.

Little did anyone know that Young Deer’s true heritage lies hidden within the small mid-Atlantic community of whites, African Americans, and Native Americans once known as the “Moors of Delaware.” So secluded were these people that the late historian Clinton A. Weslager referred to them as “Delaware’s Forgotten Folk.”…

Read the entire article here.

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