Katherine Johnson, Va. woman at center of ‘Hidden Figures,’ calls calculation ‘piece of cake’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Virginia, Women on 2017-01-16 02:20Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, Va. woman at center of ‘Hidden Figures,’ calls calculation ‘piece of cake’

CBS 6, WTVR-TV
Richmond Virginia
2017-01-13

HAMPTON, Va. — It is the untold story that has been hidden in Hampton for decades.

The box office hit “Hidden Figures” highlights the black female mathematicians at NASA who’s brain power helped launch the first Americans into space.

“It feels good,” said 98-year-old former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Johnson, portrayed in the film by Taraji P. Henson, calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  Johnson also confirmed, by hand, the launch calculations for John Glenn, the first American to circle the globe in 1962…

Read the entire article and watch the story here.

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Farewell to the chief

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-01-16 01:35Z by Steven

Farewell to the chief

The Times of London
2017-01-15

Trevor Phillips


April 22, 2013: the president pauses for a moment of silence in honour of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings
PETE SOUZA

After eight years in the White House, Barack Obama relinquishes the top job this Friday. Trevor Phillips criticises his legacy on race, while the White House photographer Pete Souza shares candid portraits of the outgoing president

Most of the 40,000 graves in New York’s Flushing Cemetery are marked by neat marble headstones, mostly white or grey, occasionally black. A few bear elaborate tombs, but for the most part they display the quiet restraint of immigrants for whom the American dream means exchanging a precarious existence in a developing country for a steady blue-collar job in the world’s greatest metropolis.

These modest memorials also tell the story of the borough where America’s flamboyant president-elect, himself the son of a Scottish immigrant, was born and raised. Queens claims to be the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. The tombstones carry thousands of names charting two centuries of ceaseless migration: English Quakers, German Protestants, Italian and Korean Catholics, African-American and Caribbean Episcopalians. Under a tree close to the cemetery’s southern boundary lies one marked “Marjorie Eileen Phillips”. My mother.

I always make a point of running over the family’s news for her benefit. We sometimes also talk politics. Last time I was there, shortly after the presidential election, we reflected on Obama’s tenure. I was keen to know what the wise matriarch thought the legacy would be of America’s first black president, who steps down this Friday…

Read the entire article here.

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How Black America Saw Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-01-16 00:32Z by Steven

How Black America Saw Obama

The New York Times
2017-01-14

Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Sociology
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

I stood in Grant Park on election night 2008, along with more than 200,000 other people, and watched as a man I’d known as a fellow member of a Chicago church, a man I’d worked to help get elected, took to the stage. He would be the first black president of the United States of America. My joy at the surreal scene was transcendent. The jumbotron flashed the face of the civil rights stalwart the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, with tears streaming down his cheeks, an image that evoked the profound elation of black America at the election of Barack Obama.

But his weeping visage summoned a darker prospect for me, one that cast a shadow over Mr. Obama the moment he announced he would make a run for the Oval Office: They might shoot him. Mr. Jackson had been present when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met his violent end on a balcony in Memphis. As I viewed Mr. Jackson’s watery eyes, I couldn’t help but associate him with Dr. King and the fear that our newly elected president might be assassinated.

Black America has held its collective breath during every second of Barack Obama’s presidency. I remember stumping early for the Illinois senator, only to have black people I met on the campaign trail tell me that they couldn’t possibly vote for my man. Not only was he not as well known, or beloved, as his opponent Hillary Clinton, but didn’t I know that he’d be harmed if he even got close to the White House? “You know they’re going to shoot him.”…

…President Obama’s historic tenure ends as the nation celebrates what would have been Martin Luther King’s 88th birthday. As I see it, Mr. Obama is the only figure to ever give Dr. King a run for his money as Greatest Black Man in American history. More than a gentle rivalry for supremacy in the history books joins the two. They are tethered by death, too — if not by its actual occurrence, then by its looming possibility….

Read the entire article here.

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No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them)

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-15 22:17Z by Steven

No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them)

The New York Times
2017-01-14

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, HKS Suzanne Young Murray Professor
Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard University

We can’t create a more just nation simply by dressing up institutions in more shades of brown. Now we must confront structural racism.

In a moving farewell speech before an enormous crowd in Chicago last week, President Obama evoked the American creed of unity and aspiration as the foundation of our democracy. He has always embraced a vision of America as a “melting pot.”

Mr. Obama embodied for many Americans the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom we celebrate on Monday. Our national memory of Dr. King has, for nearly 50 years, reinforced the belief that America, unlike any other nation, could extend opportunity to everyone regardless of his or her identity. In Dr. King’s name, assimilation and aspiration have been the keywords of the post-civil rights era, and diversity and inclusion its currency. And Mr. Obama has symbolized more than anyone in American history the idea that racial representation and the content of one’s character were the perfect antidote to racism.

It’s true that, in fulfilling the duties of the presidency with great dignity, Mr. Obama represents the highest expression of the goal of assimilation. But for African-Americans, he was also the ultimate lesson in how this antidote alone is insufficient to heal the gaping wounds of racial injustice in America. It’s clear that black leadership, in itself, isn’t enough to transform the country. So we must confront the end of an era and the dawn of a new one…

Read the entire article here.

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The fourth Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2017-01-15 01:36Z by Steven

The fourth Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia

Critical Mixed Race Studies Association
2016-12-08

Laura Kina
Telephone: 773-325-4048; E-Mail: cmrsmixedrace@gmail.com

LOS ANGELES, CA – The fourth Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, “Explorations in Trans (gender, gressions, migrations, racial) Fifty Years After Loving v. Virginia,” will bring together academics, activists, and artists from across the US and abroad to explore the latest developments in critical mixed race studies. The Conference will be held at The University of Southern California from February 24-26, 2017 at the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center, 3607 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089 and is hosted by the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

The conference will include over 50 panels, roundtables, and caucus sessions organized by the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association as well as feature film screenings and live performances organized by the non-profit Mixed Roots Stories. The conference is pleased to run concurrently with the Hapa Japan Festival February 22- 26, 2017.

The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which declared interracial marriage legal. With a focus on the root word “Trans” this conference explores interracial encounters such as transpacific Asian migration, transnational migration from Latin America, transracial adoption, transracial/ethnic identity, the intersections of trans (gendered) and mixed race identity, and mixed race transgressions of race, citizenship, and nation…

Read the entire press release here. View the program guide here.

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A Blaxican’s Journey through Fresno’s Racial Landscape

Posted in Articles, Biography, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-01-15 00:49Z by Steven

A Blaxican’s Journey through Fresno’s Racial Landscape

Tropics Of Meta: historiography for the masses
2017-01-13

Raymond A. Rey

In the summer of 1973, DJ Kool Herc tried something new on the turntables: by extending the beat, breaking and scratching the record, he allowed people to dance longer and entertained them with his rhymes as an MC. After that moment, everything changed. The sound that emerged out of the South Bronx in New York City led to a cultural movement that changed the lives of generations around the world. For Phillip Walker, a mixed race kid from Fresno, California, hip-hop not only served as the soundtrack of his youth, but provided a way to understand his neighborhood and build a multiethnic community.

Phillip Ernest Walker Jr. was born on January 28, 1976 in Fresno, California. He is the son of a Black father from Camden, Tennessee and a Mexican mother from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. While coming from different countries, both families had backgrounds in agriculture and both found their way to the Central San Joaquin Valley and eventually Fresno’s west side. The Walkers from Tennessee migrated to California slowly after uncle James Walker completed his service in the United States Navy. He was stationed for a time at Naval Air Station in Lemoore and upon completing his service in 1967, he convinced his brother Phillip Walker Sr. to join him in the Central Valley. There, the two black men found a lifestyle not too different from what they had experienced in Tennessee: wide open spaces, vast acres of farmland, and a slow pace.  The sons of a skilled mechanic, they set down roots in Fresno.

Meanwhile, the Magdalenos crossed a border and multiple state lines before settling in the Valley. Milagros, Phillip’s mother, was the daughter of Gregoria and Genaro Magdaleno. Genaro was also a mechanic and moved his family across the Southwest in search of work on farm labor camps. The tragic loss of Genaro’s beloved wife led the family to the Central Valley. They arrived in Delano, where Genaro’s brother and sister helped raise his children, and then they moved to Fresno. For a time the Magdalenos settled in the “golden west side,” a place that the Walkers from Tennessee already called home…

Read the entire article here.

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Jolted by Deaths, Obama Found His Voice on Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-14 14:09Z by Steven

Jolted by Deaths, Obama Found His Voice on Race

The New York Times
2017-01-15

Michael D. Shear, White House Correspondent

Yamiche Alcindor, National Reporter

Tensions across the country prompted the president to abandon his early reticence on race again and again.

WASHINGTON — Only weeks after 70 million Americans chose a black man for president, shattering a racial barrier that had stood for the entirety of the nation’s 232-year history, no one in the White House, especially the man in the Oval Office, wanted to talk about race.

President Obama had made a pragmatic calculation in January 2009, as the financial crisis drove communities across the United States toward economic collapse. Whatever he did for African-Americans, whose neighborhoods were suffering more than others, he would not describe as efforts to specifically help Black America.

Mr. Obama made the decision knowing how powerfully his election had raised the hopes of African-Americans — and knowing that no matter what he did, it would not be seen as enough.

“I remember thinking, ‘They are going to hate us one day,’” said Melody Barnes, who is black and served as Mr. Obama’s first domestic policy adviser, recalling her sadness when she stood in an auditorium in those early months as a crowd cheered for the success of the new president. “I knew that we couldn’t do everything that people wanted to meet those expectations.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Conversation With Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2017-01-13 20:52Z by Steven

A Conversation With Natalie Scenters-Zapico

The American Literary Review
2016-03-27

Sebastian Hasani Paramo, Poetry Contest Coordinator

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A. and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. She is the author of The Verging Cities, which won the 2016 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas FOCO Award, was featured as a top ten debut of 2015 by Poets and Writers, and named a Must-Read Debut by LitHub (Center For Literary Publishing, 2015). A CantoMundo fellow, her poems have appeared in American Poets, The Believer, Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Best American Poetry 2015, and more. She lives with her husband, border rhetorics scholar José Ángel Maldonado, in Salt Lake City.

Scenters-Zapico’s debut collection was recently named a top ten debut by Poets and Writers. Before that, her poetry was featured in American Poets, a publication by The Academy of American Poets, and was introduced by Dana Levin. That issue was my first introduction to her work and I eagerly anticipated her book. Many others have since applauded her aforementioned collection, The Verging Cities. Dana Levin writes that Scenters-Zapico “engages politically and personally charged material…with signature intimacy and fairy-tale strangeness.” In 2015, her book was featured on several top lists and included in Best American Poetry 2015. When I read her collection, I read it eagerly. Her poems in this collection are dark, visceral, haunting, and will echo for days in your mind. Here’s one of the most thought provoking lines in the collection:

I write of the boy I love gone missing, his father found with no teeth
In an abandoned car. Some say you have no right to talk about the dead.
So I talk of them as living, their bodies standing in the street’s bend.

Throughout, she builds and breaks down the boundaries of love, place, identity, and memory in ways that are unexpected, and uses them to great effect to write the political and engage us in the surreal violence of our time. I was fortunate to be able to interview her via email.

Sebastian Hasani Paramo: In reading The Verging Cities, I loved this idea of “verging” and the many forms it took. Your use of the Oxford English Dictionary as a guide for exploring this idea was very incredible. The relationship you created between the speaker and borders seemed to create much tension and conflict. Can you talk about this idea and how it culminates into the title poem?

Natalie Scenters-Zapico: When I started writing about El PasoCd. Juárez just about everyone had a reading list for me to take home. There are so many wonderful writers who have come before me who share the same love affair with the border. And yet, the more I read the more I felt that I had a very different relationship with the border than the ones I saw being described. So, I started talking about the border as verging—the beginning of one thing and the end of another in constant cycle. When I looked up the term “verge” in the OED I was fascinated by its long history and deeply masculine roots. So I set out to write poems that addressed the verging cities—being beaten by them, escaping them, returning to them. By the time we get to the title poem, “The Verging Cities,” I wanted the reader to get a sense that they are in fact one place, only to turn to that poem and hear two distinct voices, one from each city, in an abusive, violent, incestuous relationship. In it I turn to the history of border crossing into El Paso and the use of Zyklon-B, strip searches, etc. I wanted to point to how the use of these things continues. The past and the present are in constant cycle, there is no beginning or end…

SHP: What influences were important for you in writing about identity and what things do you say to young writers about feeling more comfortable writing about themselves? As a younger writer, I felt sometimes I didn’t always see myself in the writers I read, but when I started to–I saw many more possibilities for my writing.

NSZ: As a young writer I often made the mistake of looking for myself in the writing of others. As though, only if they mirrored my identity or experience in some way could I learn something from them. This is a huge, embarrassing mistake on my part. Because how could I, with my hybrid, messy, one could argue “pocha” identity see myself in a piece of literature as a complete mirror reflection? This is impossible. I understand that some people have this “mirror” experience in reading the work of others, but I don’t think I ever will. However, when I stopped looking for a reflection and instead looked for refracted moments, or places where I could feel deep empathy, or ways of dealing with and examining trauma that I could apply to myself that is when I felt I could truly learn.

I also have to give a huge shout out to people who are doing great work when it comes to hybrid identity in our field. I’ll never forget when I was nineteen I went to a reading at the University of Texas at El Paso by Rosa Alcalá in which she read from her amazing collection Undocumentaries. Here was this woman who looked like me, who was bilingual like me, who was willing to call herself Latina, and was questioning our traditional notions of that word. I left that reading nearly in tears, because it felt like she was talking to me, it felt like she was making me see the world in a way that both empowered me and made me question my pain. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked Rosa for that moment, but it changed me deeply.

I also love the work that Rosebud Ben-Oni is doing in advocating for people who don’t fit the mold perfectly, people who question the use of strategic essentialism, whose very existence won’t allow for it because it’s just so damn complicated. And of course, I personally am very interested in liminal spaces, and the art that can come from existing in that space. I wrote more about that in my introduction to the liminal spaces interview series I did for The Best American Poetry blog. I think it’s important to recognize that to be Latinx is to be hybrid. There is no such thing as purity in Latinidad, if you even buy into this very American idea of Latinidad…

Read the entire interview here.

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In stark farewell, Obama warns of threat to U. S. democracy

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-01-13 18:31Z by Steven

In stark farewell, Obama warns of threat to U. S. democracy

The Washington Post
2017-01-10

Juliet Eilperin, White House Bureau Chief

Greg Jaffe, Reporter

CHICAGOPresident Obama used his farewell speech here on Tuesday to outline the gathering threats to American democracy and press a more optimistic vision for a country that seems more politically divided than ever.

Obama said goodbye to the nation against the backdrop of one of the most corrosive elections in U.S. history and a deep sense that the poisonous political environment has pitted Americans against each other.

“America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but malevolent,” Obama said. “We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.”

Obama fretted about anti-immigrant sentiment, racism and economic inequality.

“If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves,” Obama warned in an not-so-subtle jab at his successor, President-elect Donald Trump.

Obama, the first African American president, acknowledged the continuing difficulty of race relations in America.

“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic,” he said. “For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago — you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The complex issue of indigenous heritage

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2017-01-10 19:09Z by Steven

The complex issue of indigenous heritage

The Toronto Star
2017-01-10

Don Smith, Professor Emeritus of History
University of Calgary


Archie Belaney, famously known as Grey Owl until his dealth in 1938, is an example of the complex issue of indigenous identifcation. (TORONTO STAR ARCHIVES)

Acclaimed novelist Joseph Boyden faces controversy surrounding his heritage but there is a long history in North American of blurred lines.

The question of the indigenous identity of prize-winning novelist Joseph Boyden had raised great media attention. It is a complex issue.

Joseph-Louis Gill (1719-1798), one of the famous 18th century chiefs of the Abenaki First Nations, resident at Odanak, just west of Montreal, was “white.” But only in a biological sense, as both his parents had been captives adopted into Indian families and raised in Indian fashion.

Among the Red River Métis in the 19th century, the Métis patriot, André Nault (1830-1924), was born of French Canadian parents who had become fully integrated into the Red River Métis community in what is now southern Manitoba. The buffalo hunter and captain of the Métis stood by his first cousin Louis Riel in the Red River Resistance of 1869-70, serving in his provisional government. Three of Nault’s sons took part in the events of 1885 in Saskatchewan.

In Joseph Boyden’s case no evidence, to my knowledge, has emerged that he was raised in an indigenous community. He was not a Joseph-Louis Gill or André Nault. Instead, his Aboriginal connection relates to his distant indigenous ancestry on both his mother’s and father’s side. This enters into another realm entirely.

I have studied the life of Archie Belaney (1888-1938), the Canadian writer who presented himself as indigenous, as Grey Owl, the son of a Scot and an Apache woman. He died on April 13, 1938. The day after his death the Globe and Mail termed him, “the most famous of Canadian Indians.” Then, within just one week the story broke. It was revealed that he was actually born and raised in Hastings, England. His “racial” origins were a total fantasy…

Read the entire article here.

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