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’

Richmond Virginia

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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An Artist Reinvents Herself to Mine the Fictions of America

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 02:24Z by Steven

An Artist Reinvents Herself to Mine the Fictions of America


Alicia Eler

Genevieve Gaignard makes the personal political while also creating new American mythologies.

LOS ANGELES — In the lead-up to a Trump presidency, the worst possible outcome for an America that has come so far in the past 100 years in terms of social progress and civil rights, it’s not insane to think that conservatives could take us back to a pre–Roe v. Wade era, to a time when all race-based hate crimes were labeled as basically normal. Not to mention that the environment and the economy will go to hell. This is not our country, and this is not the new normal — this is a time for refusal, a time to resist rather than to hallucinate into some sort of feeble complacency.

The election was certainly on my mind when I saw LA artist Genevieve Gaignard’s exhibition Smell the Roses at the California African American Museum. The characterizations that she creates in her work mine the intersections of race, class, and gender, portraying some of the vulnerable Americans who will be most affected by the next four years (or fewer, if Trump gets impeached like Michael Moore is predicting!).

This is Gaignard’s first solo museum show, which follows her solo exhibition Us Only last year at Shulamit Nazarin Gallery in Venice, California. Here, Gaignard continues her exploration of the space between performance and the reality of race, class, and gender through different personas or avatars, domestic spaces, and collections of Americana kitsch and knickknacks, toeing the line between high and low culture, between fiction and personal history. As the fair-skinned daughter of a black father and a white mother, her work speaks to being mixed race, discussing issues of visibility and invisibility. She mixes highbrow and lowbrow aesthetics — a major influence is John Waters, who similarly indulges in camp and kitsch. Gaignard’s arrangements of objects ranging from books and records to family photographs mix the familial and the political in a way that’s reminiscent of Rashid Johnson’s post-minimalist, cold domestic “shelves.” The difference is that in Gaignard’s work, every object emanates warmth. It’s fitting that her exhibition deals heavily with the emotional experience of loss on both a personal and political level…

Read the entire article here.

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La Negra Blanca

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 01:45Z by Steven

La Negra Blanca

The Collagist: Online literature from Dzanc Books
Issue Three (October 2009)

Roxanne Gay, Associate Professor of English
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

At the club, Sarah goes by Sierra. The manager gave her the name the day she was hired four years earlier. He asked if she had a preference but she shrugged, took a sip of warm soda, told him to knock himself out. He looked her up and down and up again. “Sierra,” he said. “So you’ll turn your head when your name is called.”

Sometimes, when she’s opening the refrigerator, or reaching into a drawer for a pair of shorts, Sarah will catch herself swiveling her hips and arching her back. Even when she’s not on the pole, she’s dancing around it. She takes a lot of Advil because even at home she’s always hearing the thump thump thump of the bass line.

Candy, her best friend at work, took one look at Sarah on her first day and told Sarah to dance to black girl booty shaking music because guys love to see white girls with juicy asses shake their stuff. Sarah blushed, and pivoted to get a better look at her ass. She said, “My ass is juicy?”

Candy laughed and grabbed a handful of Sarah’s ass, but Sarah already knew she had a juicy ass and where it came from. Her mother is black and her father is white but for years people have assumed she’s a white girl because she has green eyes and straight blonde hair. She’s not ashamed of who she is but in Baltimore it’s easier to be a white girl with a black girl’s ass than to be a black girl who looks white or any other kind of black girl for that matter…

Read the short story here.

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In Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, you’re either difficult or you’re dead

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 01:36Z by Steven

In Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, you’re either difficult or you’re dead


Constance Grady, Culture Writer

When Roxane Gay picks up a label, she’ll play with it, rip it apart a little, break it down, and finally embrace it. She did it in 2014 with her essay collection, Bad Feminist, which explored what it means to be a committed feminist who also likes to dance to “Blurred Lines,” who is not beholden to an ideological purity. And now she’s doing it again in her new short story collection, Difficult Women.

A difficult woman, in these stories, is usually a woman who has been hurt, typically by living under the patriarchy and under white supremacy. The injuries vary, ranging in scope from the blunt force of unimaginable trauma to the death-by-a-thousand-papercuts of daily microaggressions.

In “I Will Follow You,” the difficult woman was kidnapped by a child molester when she was 10 years old. In “La Negra Blanca,” she’s a mixed-race med student who moonlights as a stripper and is constantly fetishized by men who think of her as a white girl with a black girl’s ass. In “Best Features,” she’s a fat woman who is quietly furious at how worthless the world considers her to be…

Read the entire review here.

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The unbelievable life of the forgotten genius who turned Americans’ space dreams into reality

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 01:10Z by Steven

The unbelievable life of the forgotten genius who turned Americans’ space dreams into reality

Business Insider

Meghan Bartels

There’s no protocol for women attending,” says a white man in a suit holding a sheaf of papers.

“There’s no protocol for a man circling the Earth either, sir,” Taraji P. Henson retorts in my favorite line from the new trailer for the movie “Hidden Figures,” due theaters this January.

Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a brilliant mathematician at NASA working on the space program in its earliest days, beginning in the 1950s. Many of NASA’s first missions were made possible by Johnson’s intrepid, unparalleled calculations.

The movie is based on a nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, who grew up near NASA’s Langley Research Center, where Johnson and her colleagues worked.

Johnson still lives near Langley in Hampton, Virginia, where she’ll be celebrating her 98th birthday later this month. Keep scrolling to learn the true story of her incredible life…

Read the entire article here.

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Who Is Katherine Johnson?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-08 20:17Z by Steven

Who Is Katherine Johnson?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Heather S. Deiss
NASA Educational Technology Services

Denise Miller
NASA Educational Technology Services

Katherine Johnson
Credits: Katherine Johnson

This article is part of the NASA Knows! (Grades 5-8) series.

Katherine Johnson is an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA from 1953 until 1986. She was a human computer. In a time when minorities held very few jobs in mathematics and science, Johnson was a trailblazer. Her work in calculating the paths for spaceships to travel was monumental in helping NASA successfully put an American in orbit around Earth. Then her work helped to land astronauts on the moon.

What Was Katherine Johnson’s Early Life Like?

Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. As a very young girl, she loved to count things. She counted everything, from the number of steps she took to get to the road to the number of forks and plates she washed when doing the dishes.

Johnson was born with a love for mathematics. At a young age, she was very eager to go to school. Now in her 90s, Johnson can vividly remember watching her older siblings go to school, wishing so much that she could go with them. When Johnson finally did start school, she so excelled that by age 10, she was in high school. By age 15, she’d started college!…

Read the entire article here.

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Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 21:03Z by Steven

Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”


Yara Simón, Trending Editor

Photo: Emily Jan/NPR

In the world of American ballet, Misty Copeland is the exception. As the first black woman to become a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland knows what it’s like to be one of the few women of color to break through. That’s why when President Barack Obama asked her to visit Cuba as part of a sports envoy program designed to further strengthen relations between the United States and the Caribbean nation, Misty felt struck by the number of brown bodies she saw at the prestigious Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

“Just the imagery of seeing a room full of Cuban women and men with brown skin, doing classical ballet, and it’s not even a question for them,” she told The Undefeated. “It’s like, ‘No, this is what we do and this is what we look like.’ That’s something that will forever stick with me.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Misty Copeland En Pointe

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 17:30Z by Steven

Misty Copeland En Pointe

The Undefeated

Kelley L. Carter, Senior Culture Writer

Photographs by Brent Lewis
Videos by Lois Nam, Senior Digital Producer

America’s most famous prima ballerina heads to Cuba to represent female athleticism. (Yes, athleticism.)


Misty Copeland is at the barre.

She’s demonstrating a battement tendu to a group of ballerinas at a dance magnet school.

The dancers — all girls ages 15 to 17, all in black leotards, white tights and pointe shoes, and all with their hair pulled up into impeccable topknots — listen intently.

All eyes are focused on her. Copeland is speaking in English. The teen dancers only understand Spanish.

There is a language translator — Maria Luz Pereya, a former dancer herself, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina — and she offers at one point to bring a corded microphone toward Copeland and translate. Copeland quickly shakes her head, declining her assistance in this moment. This is, after all, Havana, the capital of Cuba, an island in the northern Caribbean where, as they say, the three languages spoken and understood by all are: Spanish, baseball and dance.

And Copeland, a groundbreaking ballerina — as well as author, and newlywed — who made history last year when she became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history, happens to be fluent in the art of motion. “Sport and art and dance unify people,” Copeland said later, sitting on the rooftop of Havana’s The Saratoga — the same place Beyoncé and Jay Z spent their 2013 wedding anniversary. “It’s a language and a culture that people from everywhere, all over the world, can relate to, and understand, and come together for.”…

Misty Danielle Copeland got her start in ballet on the basketball court…

Read the entire article here.

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The Photograph That Helped Misty Copeland Realize Her Responsibility as a Black Woman in Ballet

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 17:08Z by Steven

The Photograph That Helped Misty Copeland Realize Her Responsibility as a Black Woman in Ballet

Vanity Fair

Misty Copeland

Ahead of her new book, the first African-American female principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre reveals the power of seeing a portrait of Raven Wilkinson, who broke color barriers in ballet more than 50 years ago.

“I saw this image of dancer Raven Wilkinson for the first time in Ballets Russes, the 2005 documentary. I cried upon hearing a history I didn’t know much about. As a black woman in the classical-ballet world, I realized then that, although things have evolved in the 50 years since Raven faced severe racism while performing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, black women still face an uphill battle finding their place as professionals in classical ballet…

Read the entire article here.

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China Machado, Breakthrough Model Until the End, Dies at 86

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-12-21 17:59Z by Steven

China Machado, Breakthrough Model Until the End, Dies at 86

The New York Times
On The Runway

Vanessa Friedman

China Machado, the first non-Caucasian to appear in the pages of an American glossy fashion magazine and a model who broke not only the race barrier but also the age barrier, died on Sunday in Brookhaven, N.Y., on Long Island. She was 86.

Her family said the cause was cardiac arrest.

Ms. Machado (whose first name was pronounced CHEE-na) lived a colorful life: She was born Noelie de Souza Machado on Christmas Day 1929, in Shanghai; fled the country with her parents in 1946, after the Japanese occupation; had an affair with Luis Dominguín, the Spanish bullfighter, who left her for Ava Gardner; and socialized with François Truffaut

Read the entire obituary here.

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