‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-17 01:27Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

The Chicago Tribune
2019-08-14

Julia M. Klein

'When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity
Sarah Valentine’s intriguing memoir, “When I Was White,” considers the meaning of racial identity. (St. Martin’s)

“For a long time,” Sarah Valentine writes, “I felt like a bundle of fragments, and I wanted to be whole. I wanted to be able to write a family history that answered all my questions and filled in all the blanks, but all I got were different versions of the past and an incomplete, unfulfilling present.”

This revelatory admission comes near the close of Valentine’s intriguing, if never entirely satisfying, memoir, “When I Was White.” But it could well have served as its opening — a warning to readers that neither a slick solution to the puzzle of racial identity nor a definitive unraveling of the specific mystery of Valentine’s origins would be forthcoming.

A former visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Northwestern University, Valentine grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs, the bright, athletic, dark-hued child of two white parents. To many observers, she was self-evidently of mixed racial heritage. But her family regarded her as simply their (white) daughter — so much so that when black classmates asked her out, her mother cautioned her against “interracial” dating…

Read the entire review here.

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Effa Manley

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-08-16 20:09Z by Steven

Effa Manley

Ebbets Field Flannels
2019

Joe Swide


c. 1938. Wonderful image of Effa in a dress and wearing a Newark Eagles ball cap while being instructed on how to hold a bat by one of her players.

The most powerful woman in baseball

In the summer of 1947, the most powerful woman in baseball received a call from Bill Veeck, the owner of the Cleveland Indians. Veeck had spent the last five years scouting the Negro Leagues for the right ballplayer to integrate the American League and shortly after the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League had broken baseball’s color line by acquiring Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs, Veeck set his eyes on Larry Doby of the Newark Eagles. However, whereas the Dodgers managed to acquire Robinson without paying a cent to the Monarchs, Veeck found himself in a very different sort of negotiation with the owner of the Eagles, Effa Manley.

Manley was born into a biracial family in Philadelphia in 1897. Her mother was a white seamstress who was married to a black man but had an affair with her white employer, leading many to believe that he was Manley’s biological father. In any case, Manley was raised in a predominantly black community with a biracial identity like that of her siblings, and her ability to pass as either black or white enabled her to navigate both sides of the country’s racial divide…

Read the entire article here.

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Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-08-15 20:15Z by Steven

Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
2018-05-08
342 pages
Softcover ISBN: 978-1-946160-19-5

Elista Istre
Lafayette, Louisiana

Creoles established themselves in South Louisiana long before Acadian exiles reached the shores of the Bayou State. Boasting a mélange of African, European, and North American roots, Creoles converged on Louisiana’s prairies and created their own distinct cuisine, language, and musical style.

In Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong, Dr. Elista Istre invites her readers to enter the Creole world—a place where cooks tempt taste buds with gumbo and crawfish, storytellers mesmerize young and old with tales tied to three continents, and musicians and dancers pulsate to the rhythms of accordions and rubboards.

Despite inside pressure to isolate and outside pressure to assimilate, Creoles from all walks of life continue to forge new identities while preserving and celebrating traditional elements of their rich heritage. They are adaptable. They are resilient. They are strong.

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Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Judaism, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2019-08-15 17:41Z by Steven

Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Alma
2019-08-15

Emily Burack, Associate Editor

Natasha Díaz was 9 years old when she and her mom went on Oprah to talk about the experience of being a multiracial family. Díaz, who has a Jewish father and a Liberian and Brazilian mom, had recently been featured in a documentary called Between Black & White. When Oprah asked her a question, young Natasha froze up (you can watch the video here).

Well, she is freezing up no longer — Díaz’s debut YA novel, Color Me In, fictionalizes her childhood and tells the coming-of-age story of Navaeh Levitz. Navaeh is a Black Jewish teenager whose father forces her to have a belated bat mitzvah at age 16. Navaeh’s parents are in the midst of a divorce, and the bat mitzvah is her father’s way of having her stay connected to his family. Meanwhile, Navaeh is struggling to figure out her identity, her relationship to her blackness, her privilege, a blossoming relationship, and her family. It’s a compelling and timely read.

We had the chance to chat with Díaz about writing Color Me In, #OwnVoices in young adult literature, and connecting with her Jewish identity.

How close does the protagonist Naveah’s experience as a Black Jewish teenager mirror your own?

I would say in a lot of ways it’s similar, and in a lot of ways it’s very different.

We have very similar backgrounds, racially and religiously. I am multiracial, she’s biracial. I’m Brazilian, Liberian, and Jewish, where she’s just half-Black and half-Jewish. And my parents separated, similar to her, although mine separated when I was much younger than she was. And, as a result of my parents’ divorce, it was literally in the divorce papers that I had to be raised Jewish.

Aside from that, I would say we’re completely different. I was raised very immersed in my culture, especially on my mom’s side, which is where the Black and Brazilian side is. My parents had split custody [over me], so I spent time with both families, but I’m closer to my mom’s family because a lot of my dad’s family doesn’t live in New York City. Where Naveah was sheltered from her identity, I was very immersed in mine.

It doesn’t mean that we haven’t, at times, shared a lot of the same insecurities, like feeling you don’t really fit in in either world, or you’re not really sure what part of yourself you have a right to claim or own. I’ve never had an extremely religious connection to Judaism. Culturally, though, especially growing up in New York City, there’s a lot of Jewish cultural things that I connect to on a personal level…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Law According to Rachael Rollins

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-08-12 01:50Z by Steven

The Law According to Rachael Rollins

Boston Magazine
2019-08-06

Catherine Elton


Portrait by Diana Levine

The charismatic new district attorney is Boston’s greatest hope to bring the criminal justice system into the wide, woke 21st century. What’s at stake? Only the future of law and order in our city.

The first thing I notice when I walk into Rachael Rollins’s downtown corner office is the impressive wraparound windowsill jam-packed with plaques, diplomas, statuettes, and a little engraved glass prism that catches the afternoon light shining through the window. Everyone from Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly to the Cambridge branch of the NAACP and a Dorchester football team has contributed an object to her collection.

“Wow, you have a lot of awards,” I say.

“See,” Rollins says, looking up from her desk. “There are people who like me.”

The second thing I notice is that the city’s top prosecutor is already on the defensive.

At first blush, it seems a little odd that the woman who recently won a landslide election with 185,133 votes (a number she mentions with striking regularity) would feel the need to remind me that there are people who actually like her. Then again, ever since winning the job of Suffolk County district attorney on a promise to reform criminal justice, reduce racial biases in the system, and essentially reinvent the role of DA, Rollins has become a lightening rod for Boston’s law enforcement and political establishments. She has received more attention and public ridicule than any other DA in the state—probably more than all of the rest combined—for policies her critics warn are a threat to public safety. She has taken heat from the cops, feuded publicly with Governor Charlie Baker, and been hammered by a fellow DA. She’s also been thumped by her fellow progressives for not yet making good on some campaign promises and has been featured in more unflattering photos in the Herald than she has spent months on the job. And she’s losing experienced prosecutors by the droves…

…One of the foremost reasons that early supporters thought she should run is the rare mix of personal experiences she could bring to the campaign trail. The eldest of five children of a mixed-race couple, Rollins identifies as black but, thanks to her father, says she is “fluent in white Irish male.” She grew up with tight finances in a working-class family, but a scholarship allowed her to attend school at the tony Buckingham Browne & Nichols. “I am everything that people don’t think I am,” she tells me, “and that’s my superpower.”

Race and class aren’t the only divides Rollins has straddled in her personal life. On one hand, she is an accomplished lawyer who worked at the U.S. attorney’s office and served as general counsel at Massport and the MBTA. On the other hand, one of her siblings has served time in federal prison on drug and weapons charges. And Rollins is candid when talking about how another has had his own run-ins with the law, and a third has battled an opioid addiction. As the result of some of these entanglements with the criminal justice system, Rollins is the guardian and has custody of two of her siblings’ children, in addition to having her own teenage girl. It was these contradictions that made her the most distinctive candidate vying for the job of the county’s top law enforcement officer. “There is no one out there with such a wide range of experiences,” Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell told me, explaining why she was one of those dozens of people who flooded Rollins’s phone with messages urging her to run. “She gets the story from both sides.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Women on 2019-08-12 01:38Z by Steven

Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South

Yale University Press
2019-09-24
352 pages
6⅛ x 9¼
9 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300242607

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

Born in the late nineteenth century into an affluent family of mixed race—black, white, and CherokeeAdella Hunt Logan (1863–1915) was a key figure in the fight to obtain voting rights for women of color. A professor at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and a close friend of Booker T. Washington, Adella was in contact with luminaries such as Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Despite her self-identification as an African American, she looked white and would often pass for white at segregated suffrage conferences, gaining access to information and political tactics used in the “white world” that might benefit her African American community.

Written by Adella’s granddaughter Adele Logan Alexander, this long-overdue consideration of Adella’s pioneering work as a black suffragist is woven into a riveting multigenerational family saga and shines new light on the unresolved relationships between race, class, gender, and power in American society.

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Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, United States, Women on 2019-08-12 01:27Z by Steven

Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

New York University Press
March 2020
280 pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781479800292
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479881086

Edited by:

Nikki Khanna, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Vermont

Whiter

Heartfelt personal accounts from Asian American women on their experiences with skin color bias, from being labeled “too dark” to becoming empowered to challenge beauty standards

“I have a vivid memory of standing in my grandmother’s kitchen, where, by the table, she closely watched me as I played. When I finally looked up to ask why she was staring, her expression changed from that of intent observer to one of guilt and shame. . . . ‘My anak (dear child),’ she began, ‘you are so beautiful. It is a shame that you are so dark. No Filipino man will ever want to marry you.’” —“Shade of Brown,” Noelle Marie Falcis

How does skin color impact the lives of Asian American women? In Whiter, thirty Asian American women provide first-hand accounts of their experiences with colorism in this collection of powerful, accessible, and brutally honest essays, edited by Nikki Khanna.

Featuring contributors of many ages, nationalities, and professions, this compelling collection covers a wide range of topics, including light-skin privilege, aspirational whiteness, and anti-blackness. From skin-whitening creams to cosmetic surgery, Whiter amplifies the diverse voices of Asian American women who continue to bravely challenge the power of skin color in their own lives.

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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 2019-08-12 01:26Z 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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Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and “The American Negro”

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2019-08-12 01:24Z 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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Hollywood at the Intersection of Race and Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Passing, Social Science, United States, Women on 2019-08-12 01:23Z by Steven

Hollywood at the Intersection of Race and Identity

Rutgers University Press
2019-11-15
314 pages
31 b-w photographs
6 x 9
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8135-9931-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-9932-8
PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-9935-9
EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8135-9935-9

Edited by:

Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett, Professor of English, Cinema/American/Women’s Studies
University of New Hampshire, Durham

Contributions by: Ruth Mayer, Alice Maurice, Ellen C. Scott, Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett, Jonna Eagle, Ryan Jay Friedman, Charlene Regester, Matthias Konzett, Chris Cagle, Dean Itsuji Saranillio, Graham Cassano, Priscilla Peña Ovalle, Ernesto R Acevedo-Muñoz, Mary Beltrán, Jun Okada, and Louise Wallenberg.

Hollywood at the Intersection of Race and Identity explores the ways Hollywood represents race, gender, class, and nationality at the intersection of aesthetics and ideology and its productive tensions. This collection of essays asks to what degree can a close critical analysis of films, that is, reading them against their own ideological grain, reveal contradictions and tensions in Hollywood’s task of erecting normative cultural standards? How do some films perhaps knowingly undermine their inherent ideology by opening a field of conflicting and competing intersecting identities? The challenge set out in this volume is to revisit well-known films in search for a narrative not exclusively constituted by the Hollywood formula and to answer the questions: What lies beyond the frame? What elements contradict a film’s sustained illusion of a normative world? Where do films betray their own ideology and most importantly what intersectional spaces of identity do they reveal or conceal?

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Hollywood Formulas: Codes, Masks, Genre, and Minstrelsy
    • Daydreams of Society: Class and Gender Performances in the Cinema of the Late 1910s / Ruth Mayer
    • The Death of Lon Chaney: Masculinity, Race, and the Authenticity of Disguise / Alice Maurice
    • MGM’s Sleeping Lion: Hollywood Regulation of the Washingtonian Slave in The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) / Ellen C. Scott
    • Yellowface, Minstrelsy, and Hollywood Happy Endings: The Black Camel (1931), Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), and Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937) / Delia Malia Konzett
  • Genre and Race in Classical Hollywood
    • “A Queer, Strangled Look”: Race, Gender, and Morality in The Ox-Bow Incident / Jonna Eagle
    • By Herself: Intersectionality, African American Specialty Performers, and Eleanor Powell / Ryan Jay Friedman
    • Disruptive Mother-Daughter Relationships: Peola’s Racial Masquerade in Imitation of Life (1934) and Stella’s Class Masquerade in Stella Dallas (1937) / Charlene Regester
    • The Egotistical Sublime: Film Noir and Whiteness / Matthias Konzett
  • Race and Ethnicity in Post-World War II Hollywood
    • Women and Class Mobility in Classical Hollywood’s Immigrant Dramas / Chris Cagle
    • Orientalism, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Go for Broke! (1951) / Dean Itsuji Saranillio
    • Savage Whiteness: The dialectic of racial desire in The Young Savages (1961) / Graham Cassano
    • Rita Moreno’s Hair / Priscilla Peña Ovalle
  • Intersectionality, Hollywood, and Contemporary Popular Culture
    • “Everything Glee in ‘America’”: Context, Race, and Identity Politics in the Glee Appropriation of West Side Story / Ernesto R. Acevedo-Muñoz
    • Hip Hop “Hearts” Ballet: Utopic Multiculturalism and the Step Up Dance Films / Mary Beltrán
    • Fakin da Funk (1997) and Gook (2017): Exploring Black/Asian Relations in the Asian American Hood Film / Jun Okada
    • “Let Us Roam the Night Together”: On Articulation and Representation in Moonlight (2016) and Tongues Untied (1989) / Louise Wallenberg
  • Acknowledgments
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index
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