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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Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 19:39Z by Steven

Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Manchester University Press
May 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-3326-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-3327-4

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Britain’s ‘brown babies’

  • Provides a fascinating but little-known story of the 2,000 illegitimate children born to black GIs and British women in World War II – one consequence of the war missing from the history books
  • Gives personalised accounts from mixed-race people born in a (then) very white Britain before the 1948 arrival of the Windrush, charting the racism, stigma and acute sense of difference
  • Illuminates the difficulties facing mixed-race, illegitimate children in what was then, in the 1940s and early ’50s, a very white Britain
  • Makes an important contribution to the history of British mixed-race people
  • 50 black and white illustrations

This book recounts a little-known history of the estimated 2,000 babies born to black GIs and white British women in the second world war. The African-American press named these children ‘brown babies‘; the British called them ‘half-castes‘. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry their white girl-friends. Nearly half of the children were given up to children’s homes but few were adopted, thought ‘too hard to place’. There has been minimal study of these children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. The book will present the stories of over fifty of these children, their stories contextualised in terms of government policy and attitudes of the time. Accessibly written, with stories both heart-breaking and uplifting, the book is illustrated throughout with photographs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. British women meet black GIs
  • 2. Keeping the ‘brown babies’
  • 3. ‘Brown babies’ relinquished: experiences of children’s homes
  • 4. Adoption, fostering and attempts to send the babies to the US
  • 5. Secrets and lies: searching for mothers and fathers
  • 6. After the war and beyond
  • Appendix: the case study ‘brown babies’
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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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….

Read the entire article here.

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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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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…

Read the entire article here.

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Red Bone Woman, A Novel

Posted in Books, Louisiana, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2019-05-13 22:31Z by Steven

Red Bone Woman, A Novel

John Day Company
1950
314 pages

Carlyle Tillery (1904-1988)

The Stark Novel Of A Swamp Girl And A Lonely White Man — Carries The Wallop Of Faulkner And The Skills Of Caldwell

Literary Guidepost

Corsicana Daily Sun
Corsicana, Texas
page 18, column 2
Thursday, 1950-04-06

W. G. Rogers

Red Bone Woman, by Carlyle Tillery (John Day; $3.)

Son George packs up and goes off to a city job: daughter Molly is already married to Bill; wife Rose has died. That leaves Mr. Randall all by himself on the big Randall place in Louisiana, with a lot of his land exhausted, too much stock for one fellow to tend to and too many acres to plant.

A man can go from lonesome to shiftless to worse, or he can figure, as Mr. Randall does, that he isn’t finished just because he’s abandoned, and that if the first family he raised has left him, there’s time to raise a second.

For he isn’t so old, and he gets to thinking about the barefoot Red Bone girl down the road a piece. She is Temple Hamper, who stands day after day fishing in the creek near where he hoes. White women would rather live in the city, he has discovered; anyway, he isn’t young enough nor well enough off for a white woman. So though he knows how some folks in his neighborhood feel about the Red Bones, or Spanish white as they call themselves, he ups and asks Temple how she’d like to live in the big house with him.

She would, she says. After they settle down to the daily chores in the fields together, after he becomes used to her ways about his home, ho decides, though it seems unnecessary to her, to marry her. That’s pretty hard for George to take, and Molly won’t take it at all. These Red Bones, with skin darker than whites’ and lighter than negroes’, are almost illiterate. Temple, and Randall, too, are not educated enough to philosophize about race relations: they just solve them, for after all, they are intelligent. A determined couple, they make a happy life for themselves, a life so happy it is worth fighting for when a white-sheeted gang threatens it.

They are a rare couple, too, simple and honest, trying doggedly to master their personal and social problems. Sharing in their delights and appalled at their tragedy, the reader will remember them with a lasting affection. Tillery is a name to add to the large list of distinguished southern writers.

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The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, United States on 2019-05-12 17:47Z by Steven

The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

University of Nebraska Press
October 2019
320 pages
7 photos, 3 drawings, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0507-0

Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly, Professor of History
University of La Verne, Point Mugu, California

The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

In The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862–1916, Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly examines generations of mixed-race African Americans after the Civil War and into the Progressive Era, skillfully tracking the rise of a leadership class in Black America made up largely of individuals who had complex racial ancestries, many of whom therefore enjoyed racial options to identity as either Black or White. Although these people might have chosen to pass as White to avoid the racial violence and exclusion associated with the dominant racial ideology of the time, they instead chose to identify as Black Americans, a decision which provided upward mobility in social, political, and economic terms.

Dineen-Wimberly highlights African American economic and political leaders and educators such as P. B. S. Pinchback, Theophile T. Allain, Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass as well as women such as Josephine B. Willson Bruce and E. Azalia Hackley who were prominent clubwomen, lecturers, educators, and settlement house founders. In their quest for leadership within the African American community, these leaders drew on the concept of Blackness as a source of opportunities and power to transform their communities in the long struggle for Black equality.

The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862–1916 confounds much of the conventional wisdom about racially complicated people and details the manner in which they chose their racial identity and ultimately overturns the “passing” trope that has dominated so much Americanist scholarship and social thought about the relationship between race and social and political transformation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. “As a Negro I will be Powerful”: The Leadership of P.B.S. Pinchback
  • Chapter 2. Post-Bellum Strategies to Retain Power and Status: From Political Appointments to Property Ownership
  • Chapter 3. New Challenges and Opportunities for Leadership: From Domestic Immigration to “The Consul’s Burden”
  • Chapter 4. “Lifting as We Climb”: The Other Side of Uplift
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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