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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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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Lunchtime Lecture: Eleanor Kipping

Posted in Arts, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, United States on 2019-05-04 20:43Z by Steven

Lunchtime Lecture: Eleanor Kipping

SVA MFA Art Practice
335 West 16th Street
New York, New York 10011
Telephone: 212.592.2781
Tuesday, 2019-07-02, 12:30-14:00 EDT (Local Time)

Headshot_Kipping_by Mia Caballero.jpg
Without Borders Festival IV: Between You and Me, Lord Gallery (1200 Afro picks, gold leaf, rocking chair, book of poetry)

Eleanor Kipping is a socially engaged artist and educator. Her interdisciplinary creative practice is concerned with the Black female experience as Other in the United States regarding hair politics, colorism, and racial passing and how these topics may be explored at the intersection(s) of installation, performance, and social practice. She holds a BS from the New England School of Communications, an MFA from the University of Maine and has participated in residencies at Skowhegan and Gakko in Japan. Kipping is the 2019 Art Practice Artist-in-Residence.

For more information, click here.

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“I Will Not Say Nigger” excerpt

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2019-05-04 20:26Z by Steven

“I Will Not Say Nigger” excerpt

Vimeo
2017-09-25

Eleanor Kipping

The artist begins performance before audience enters the space. She writes i will not say nigger on a large sheet of charcoal covered brown paper. An hour passes. She begins her monologue by asking audience and herself who the word nigger belongs to, who has the right to use it, and who exactly is a nigger. She concludes that she is a nigger and begins to remove her eurocentric makeup and dress. She stands nude before the audience, revealing her natural hair and skin color and speaks in open confession on the reasons that her ‘light skin is not right skin’ and changes her entire outfit to that more stereotypical of a black female. She packs her white identity into a suitcase and returns to writing lines until she is alone.

The black female experience is heavily dominated by the constant need to navigate the spaces within and between dominant cultures. Many black and brown females are too familiar others monitoring their behavior, language, and appearance, and have to choose where and how they will relate to dominant standards. Despite their double-consciousness, they are still situated as ‘other’ within society. These experiences define their identities and sense of self.

“I Will Not Say Nigger” explores the language and exchanges that take place between dominant and minority cultures/races, but often go unaddressed. The unspoken is present in relationships, the workplace, and other social encounters. They are subtle, difficult to define, and are often brushed under the rug, yet reveal that we are far from the post-racial society that so many insist exists. The character that you in see this piece explores the spectrum of these experiences through her mixed-race identity and shares them in through a spoken and physical confession.

Photo and video shot by Amy Olivia Pierce, edited by Eleanor Kipping, audio recorded live at the University of Maine Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center.

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UMaine artist explores the many shades of colorism in exhibit

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-04 20:05Z by Steven

UMaine artist explores the many shades of colorism in exhibit

Bangor Daily News
2018-02-21

Emily Burnham

It wasn’t until she moved away from her home state of Maine, the whitest state in the country, that visual artist Eleanor Kipping realized it isn’t just her mixed race that affects the way she moves in the world — it’s also her lighter skin tone.

Discrimination toward people based on the shade of their skin, with favor given to fairer tones, is known as colorism — related to racism but often practiced within a specific community of people of color.

“I knew that I was a person of color, but it was in exploring that that I discovered colorism and my light skin in relation to that,” said Kipping, 29, a native of Old Town now back in Maine as a graduate student in the Intermedia MFA program at the University of Maine….

…The images are mounted on frames, on the backside of which is brown paper. The “brown paper bag test,” for which the installation is named, was a real “test” administered by among black people in the late 18th and 19th centuries, in which skin the same tone or lighter than a brown paper bag was deemed desirable for acceptance into black fraternities or social clubs, and darker was not…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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Carina E. Ray, Crossing the Color Line: race, sex, and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana [Aderinto Review]

Posted in Articles, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-05-03 19:18Z by Steven

Carina E. Ray, Crossing the Color Line: race, sex, and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana [Aderinto Review]

Africa
Volume 88, Issue 1 (February 2018)
pages 193-194
DOI: 10.1017/S0001972017000821

Saheed Aderinto, Associate Professor of History
Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina

Carina E. Ray, Crossing the Color Line: race, sex, and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana. Athens OH: Ohio University Press (hb US$80 – 978 0 8214 2179 6; pb US$32.95 – 978 0 8214 2180 2). 2015, 333 pp.

In this creatively and brilliantly conceived book, Carina Ray uses the story of interracial sexual relationships between European men and African women in the Gold Coast and African men and European women in Britain as an entry point into a much broader history of racial and gender relations. Throughout, one learns about the interconnectedness of sexual and racial politics to the big question of colonial ‘civilization’. The author’s carefully sourced and previously untapped primary sources from both Ghana and Britain, combined with her ingenuity, give beauty to historical writing. Her detailed archival materials and oral interviews allow her to move from specific colonial trials of interracial affairs to big narratives on the transatlantic movement of ideas, practices and families, and anti-colonial struggles within the British Empire. The photographs of multiracial families strategically placed throughout further put a human face on her narratives, and bring readers another step closer to the lived experience of historical agents and the societies that produced them. The eight closely connected chapters introduce change and continuity in the politics of race and sex in both the Gold Coast and Britain, the factors responsible for change, and how social and political transformation of colonial legitimacy reshaped perceptions of interracial relationships across race, class, gender and location.

Any Africanist familiar with trends in the scholarship on race, gender, sexuality and empire would not contest the significant contributions of Ray’s Crossing the Color Line to African studies. For one thing, this book is another successful attempt at putting sexuality in its rightful place in the general history of the colonial encounter in Africa. Instead of following the established discourse of ‘sex peril’ or anxiety over the alleged rape of European women by African men in settler colonies of East and Southern Africa, Ray’s book presents convincing arguments and narratives that humanize socio-sexual relations and removes them from the margins of criminality and violence…

Read the entire article here.

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Color Her Conscious: Nathalie Emmanuel Is the Latest to Advocate for Accurately ‘Melanated’ Casting

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Women on 2019-05-03 18:58Z by Steven

Color Her Conscious: Nathalie Emmanuel Is the Latest to Advocate for Accurately ‘Melanated’ Casting

The Glow Up
The Root
2019-04-26

Maiysha Kai, Managing Editor

Nathalie Emmanuel arrives at HBO’s Post Emmy Awards Reception on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Nathalie Emmanuel arrives at HBO’s Post Emmy Awards Reception on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

She’s already won hearts as the endearing Missandei on Game of Thrones, but actress Nathalie Emmanuel may have won herself a few more since last Sunday’s episode, all due to a simple tweet.

As Shadow & Act reported on Thursday, Emmanuel recently became the latest light-skinned actress to turn down a role for a darker-skinned character—even if only in a hypothetical sense…

…In disavowing a role intended for a darker-complected actress, Emmanuel joined fellow colorblind casting-averse actors like Amandla Stenberg in affirming that simply being of color isn’t the sole criteria for every black role. Stenberg (who now uses they/them pronouns) famously backed out of the casting process for Black Panther’s beloved Shuri because they felt it inappropriate as a light-complected, biracial actor…

Read the entire article here.

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ABC Orders ‘Black-Ish’ Prequel ‘Mixed-Ish’ Starring Tika Sumpter, Renews Parent Series For Season 6

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-03 13:11Z by Steven

ABC Orders ‘Black-Ish’ Prequel ‘Mixed-Ish’ Starring Tika Sumpter, Renews Parent Series For Season 6

Shadow And Act
2019-05-02

black-ish has been renewed for Season 6 and ABC has also officially ordered a prequel series, mixed-ish.

The fact that mixed-ish has received an early series order ahead of upfronts shows the network’s heavy confidence in the second black-ish series following Freeform’s grown-ish. Initially set to air this season, the mixed-ish backdoor pilot will air as an episode of black-ish next season.

The official description for mixed-ish: Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ’80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves. Bow’s parents Paul and Alicia decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they’re perceived as neither black nor white. This family’s experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one’s own identity when the rest of the world can’t decide where you belong…

Read the entire article here.

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New documentary ‘Being Both’ explores mixed-race identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Mexico, United Kingdom on 2019-04-29 16:24Z by Steven

New documentary ‘Being Both’ explores mixed-race identity

METRO.co.uk
2019-04-29

Natalie Morris, Senior lifestyle Writer

The UK’s fastest-growing ethnic group is comprised of anyone with parents who have two of more different ethnicities – and the varieties within that group are almost endless.

The realities of being mixed-race are unique and often overlooked in mainstream narratives, but documentary maker Ryan Cooper-Brown wants to change that. His new short documentary film Being Both tackles issues that directly relate to the mixed-race experience, from displacement and family conflict to racism and fetishisation.

But the film is also brimming with hope and shines a light on the many positives that come with having mixed heritage.

The eight-minute film condenses a series of compelling stories from the mixed-race community. It is an intimate and uplifting short that captures the shared challenges, emotions and histories of mixed-race people from the UK, Denmark, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Japan

Read the entire article here.

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