Recalling and Reimagining Vietnam: A Conversation with Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2021-09-14 18:10Z by Steven

Recalling and Reimagining Vietnam: A Conversation with Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith

World Literature Today
2019-08-12

Mary E. Adams, Associate Professor of English
University of Louisiana, Monroe

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and raised in California. His first book, The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives, won the 2015 Indie Book Award for best poetry collection. His other works include The Land South of the Clouds and The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born. He earned an MFA from McNeese State University and has taught creative writing at Louisiana Tech University since 1999.

Mary E. Adams: Your first book, The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives, focuses on your grandfather’s life, loves, and, ultimately, his years of hard labor in a reeducation camp. Why did you need to tell his story?

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith: I learned by the age of thirty just how much of his life was kept from me, the hardships he had to go through. Lý Loc was once rich, powerful, and all of that was gone after the fall of Saigon. You’re looking at a man who owned so much land, who had seven houses, seven wives, twenty-seven children, who was a major commander for the South Vietnamese army. To have to write a letter to my mom in America begging for money is a lowly place to be. All of the sudden, out of your twenty-seven children, you have one in America who works at a sweatshop making dresses, blouses, and slacks for fifty cents per item stitched, and you’re asking her for money in order to eat, in order to be clothed. That’s the thing I had to deal with growing up, knowing he lived the rest of his life as a poor person…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Story Of J.P. Morgan’s ‘Personal Librarian’ — And Why She Chose To Pass As White

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-09-14 14:38Z by Steven

The Story Of J.P. Morgan’s ‘Personal Librarian’ — And Why She Chose To Pass As White

Code Switch
National Public Radio
2021-08-31

Karen Grigsby Bates, Senior Correspondent


Marie Benedict (left) and Victoria Christopher Murray
Phil Atkins

This summer on Code Switch, we’re talking to some of our favorite authors about books that taught us about the different dimensions of freedom. In our last installment, we talked to author Julia Alvarez about her poetry collection The Woman I Kept to Myself and how difficult it can be to share your many selves with the world. Next up, a conversation with authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray on their book The Personal Librarian.

At the turn of the 20th century, financier J.P. Morgan amassed a rich collection of antique objects related to the power of the written word: manuscripts, books, artwork. He did it all with the idea of enjoying his collection privately. But shortly after his death, Morgan’s personal librarian, a woman named Belle da Costa Greene, convinced J.P. Morgan’s son, Jack Morgan, to make the library a gift to New York City.

The Morgan, as it is now known, welcomes thousands of visitors each year — scholars, researchers, tourists and art lovers — to enjoy the collection. What most don’t know is this: For more than four decades, the library’s collections were acquired and curated by a Black woman. Belle da Costa Greene was quietly passing as white in order to work for one of the most powerful men in the United States

Read the story here.

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Defying Categories: An Interview with Hollay Ghadery

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Interviews, Media Archive on 2021-09-14 02:25Z by Steven

Defying Categories: An Interview with Hollay Ghadery

White Wall Review
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2021-09-13

Rosabel Smegal and Isobel Carnegie, Managing Editors

“A lot of people are saying I’m brave for writing this,” Hollay Ghadery tells us, grinning through the screen. “But I wish it wasn’t seen as so brave. I wish it was the way everyone was, or felt comfortable being.”

Brave is just one of the words that Ghadery’s memoir Fuse has been called since its publication by Guernica Editions in May 2021. Other words include: edgy, powerful, raw, and profoundly honest. Written in short, thematic vignettes, Fuse follows the experiences of a young woman of Iranian and British Isle descent growing up in a biracial and bicultural household in small-town Ontario. Ghadery is as honest as her prose is lyrical, unpacking her mental health journey and lifelong struggles with substance abuse, eating disorders, and anxiety. The memoir jumps back and forth through time as Ghadery tells powerful stories from her first (and only) night in a brothel to being unable to fluently communicate with her Farsi-speaking aunts and living with OCD. Meditating on the complexities of the biracial female body, Ghadery challenges traditional, clear-cut ideas about identity, motherhood, and family.

Ghadery studied English Literature and holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. For several years, she worked in freelance and corporate writing but now, as a mother of four, she devotes her time to writing creatively. Her poetry, short stories, and non-fiction have been published in various literary journals including The Malahat Review, Grain, Understorey, The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, and Room. She has also written for White Wall Review, publishing a review of Anna Van Valkenber’s Queen and Carcass in April 2021 that you can read here.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with Ghadery over Zoom this summer and chat about writing authentically, navigating Biracial Identity Disorder, and defying categories. Much like her memoir, she was open and honest and so willing to share…

Read the entire interview here.

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In Our Blood: A People, Divided

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2021-08-30 22:44Z by Steven

In Our Blood: A People, Divided

a LATTO thought: An immersive audio documentary series that dismantles post-racial myths about mixed race identities.
2021-08-28

CA Davis, Host

Marilyn Vann, Doug Kiel, Ariela Gross, Leetta Osborne-Sampson and Kim TallBear

The conclusion of a LATTO thought’s first miniseries traces how Indigenous kinship has been damaged by centuries of racist and colonial American policies. Marilyn Vann (Cherokee Nation) and LeEtta Osborne-Sampson (Seminole Nation) share the painful fight that the descendants of Indigenous Freedmen have waged for civil rights within their own nations. Genocide in slow motion and the lack of one equal citizenship created a zero sum game that, left a people—a family—divided.

But… that may not be the case for much longer.

Listen to the episode (01:11:00) here.

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What Does It Mean To Be Latino? The ‘Light-Skinned Privilege’ Edition

Posted in Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-08-21 03:46Z by Steven

What Does It Mean To Be Latino? The ‘Light-Skinned Privilege’ Edition

Code Switch
National Public Radio
2021-07-14

Shereen Marisol Meraji, Co-host/ Senior Producer

Kumari Devarajan, Producer

Leah Donnella, Editor


Maria Hinojosa (left) and Maria Garcia.
Krystal Quiles for NPR

Maria Garcia and Maria Hinojosa are both Mexican American, both mestiza, and both relatively light-skinned. But Maria Hinojosa strongly identifies as a woman of color, whereas Maria Garcia has stopped doing so. So in this episode, we’re asking: How did they arrive at such different places? To find out, listen to our latest installment in this series about what it means to be Latino.

Listen to the story (00:37:15) here.

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Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: “I’m one part of the universe, trying to figure out another part of the universe.”

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive on 2021-08-18 01:56Z by Steven

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: “I’m one part of the universe, trying to figure out another part of the universe.”

Guernica
2021-08-02

Lacy M. Johnson

On quarks, leptons, and the patriarchy.

​“Articulating scientific questions is social,” Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein writes in The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, a fascinating and hard-to-classify book that blends clear and cogent writing about the science of theoretical physics with piercing critiques of the cultures in which that science occurs. In her work as a theoretical physicist, Prescod-Weinstein articulates scientific questions about dark matter and space-time, as well as social ones about who gets to do physics and the power relations involved in how it’s done. In The Disordered Cosmos, Prescod-Weinstein brings these scientific and social questions together. Informed by Black feminism, she moves from discussions of quarks and leptons to explanations of the roots and history of patriarchy, from hidden figures to the insights of observational astronomy.

One of the few Black women in her field, Prescod-Weinstein has had a remarkable career. Originally from East Los Angeles, she is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Hampshire, where she is also core faculty in women’s and gender studies. She has held research positions at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics & Space Research and the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT, as well as a postdoctoral fellowship at the Observational Cosmology Lab at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. For a time, she was editor-in-chief at the online experimental literary magazine The Offing.

She brings this varied and multifaceted background to bear on The Disordered Cosmos, which is part science book, part personal narrative, part cultural critique. But this work is more than the sum of its parts. The Disordered Cosmos calls on us to consider the harmful power relations far too many of us are far too willing to accept, and — through its probing inquiries into who gets to ask scientific questions and do scientific work — offers a compelling vision of a more expansive and inclusive universe. Early in the book she offers two big dreams for Black children: “to know and experience Blackness as beauty and power” and “to know and experience curiosity about the night sky, to know it belonged to their ancestors.” She writes, “That, too, is freedom.”

Chanda and I talked over Zoom in early June about dark matter, the season of Star Trek that’s “queer as fuck,” and why it’s important to be aware of whom you’re writing “not just for but to.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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Episode 154: Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriages and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2021-08-17 02:08Z by Steven

Episode 154: Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriages and the Meaning of Race

Black and Highly Dangerous
2020-12-13

Tyrell Connor, Co-host and Assistant Professor of Sociology
State University of New York, New Paltz

Daphne Michelle, Visiting fellow in Education
Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Science

For today’s episode, we explore how interracial couples navigate racial boundaries by interviewing Dr. Chinyere Osuji, an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University-Camden and author of Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race. During the conversation, we discuss her motivation for writing the book (43:10), her decision to conduct research in the U.S. and Brazil (45:50), and the notion of interracial marriage as a potential solution to racism (48:28). We also explore how her identity as a Black woman shaped her conversations with couples about interracial dating (52:25), trends related to why people pursued interracial relationships (55:30), how couples navigated public life and boundary policing (1:04:15), how interracial couples think about their children’s racial identity (1:11:00), and how couples navigate discussions about race (1:16:02). We close the interview by discussing her upcoming project (1:19:50).

Listen to the interview here.

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J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian had two identities. It took two authors to tell her story.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-07-20 02:20Z by Steven

J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian had two identities. It took two authors to tell her story.

The Washington Post
2021-06-28

Natachi Onwuamaegbu


“The Personal Librarian” co-authors Heather Terrell, writing as Marie Benedict, and Victoria Christopher Murray. (Phil Atkins)

Historical fiction writer Heather Terrell (who also writes under the name Marie Benedict) was introduced to Belle da Costa Greene between bookshelves at New York’s Morgan Library over 20 years ago. The docent — whom she has tried to find since — told her about a Black woman who passed as White and worked as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian in the early 1900s. Terrell wasn’t yet writing historical fiction about women — she was a lawyer — but the story lingered in the back of her head.

Once she read Black author Victoria Christopher Murray’s work two years ago, she knew she found the partner she was waiting for to tackle da Costa Greene’s story. To write about a Black woman who passed as non-Black with an author she had never met was a process, especially when the editing coincided with the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and a pandemic.

The Washington Post talked to Terrell and Murray about what it was like to work on “The Personal Librarian” when so much of the world was falling apart…

Read the entire interview here.

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Elizabeth Miki Brina: “The historical and the personal are intertwined.”

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2021-07-17 00:10Z by Steven

Elizabeth Miki Brina: “The historical and the personal are intertwined.”

Guernica
2021-05-10

Elizabeth Lothian, Digital Director


Photo credit: Thad Lee

The author of Speak, Okinawa talks about learning her family history, writing from guilt, and questioning her father’s values.

Elizabeth Miki Brina’s debut memoir Speak, Okinawa is a nuanced investigation of self, lineage, and inheritance. Born in the 1980s to an Okinawan mother and a white, American, ex-military father, Brina struggled with the duality of her identity. She connected more with her father—the dominant force in her family triad—often in an attempt to fit in with the 99 percent white suburb in which she grew up, and this made her feel distant from her already isolated mother.

It is only years later, after moving out of her parents’ enveloping orbit, that Brina comes to question why she feels so disconnected from her mother and Okinawan ancestry. She then sets out to explore her heritage—half that of the colonized and half that of the colonizer. We take this journey with her as she recounts the history of Okinawa. These chapters, voiced brilliantly in the first person plural “we,” tells the reader of Okinawa’s conquest by China and Japan, the horrors it faced in World War II—nearly a third of its population was killed in one battle alone—and the subsequent US military occupation of the island, which continues to this day.

As Brina learns the history of her maternal lineage, she comes to better understand not just her mother but herself. She is then forced to reckon with the role her father played in dictating her worldview and to try and unknot how America, as both a political entity and a cluster of ideals, has marginalized other ways of being…

Read the entire article here.

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Eartha Kitt’s daughter reveals what her mother taught her about race

Posted in Africa, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2021-07-09 01:08Z by Steven

Eartha Kitt’s daughter reveals what her mother taught her about race

TODAY
2021-04-23

Kitt Shapiro, daughter of the iconic actress and singer Eartha Kitt, discusses her mother’s experience with racism, recounting watching her being turned away at a “whites only” amusement park in South Africa. Shapiro says that as she’s gotten older, she has more understanding of her mother’s suffering and strength.

Watch the interview here.

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