Sugarwork: The Gastropoetics of Afro-Asia After the Plantation

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2019-05-19 00:18Z by Steven

Sugarwork: The Gastropoetics of Afro-Asia After the Plantation

Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas
Volume 5: Issue 1-2 (2019-04-11) Special Issue: Expressions of Asian Caribbeanness edited by Andil Gosine, Sean Metzger, and Patricia Mohammed
DOI: 10.1163/23523085-00501003

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies; Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Cover Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

The politics and the poetics of sugar and its production have long connected African and Asian diasporas as the material legacy of the Caribbean plantation. This article considers the repurposing of sugar as art and the aesthetic of artists of Afro-Chinese descent, Andrea Chung and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. Part of a diasporic tradition of employing sugar as a medium that I call sugarwork, their artwork evokes the colonial entanglements of nutrition and labour on the plantation, centered in the belly. The womb makes, and the stomach unmakes. This practice, employing the materiality of foodstuffs, is part of a gastropoetics, wherein centering the sensorium opens alternative forms of knowledge production to the European colonial archive. As the descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Chinese, Campos-Pons and Chung metabolize sugar in ways that grapple with the futurity of the plantation to form a new intertwined genealogy of black and Chinese womanhood.

Read or purchase the article here.

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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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Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners

Posted in Africa, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, South Africa, Women on 2019-05-15 14:33Z by Steven

Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin LightenersBeneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners

Duke University Press
January 2020
376 pages
85 illustrations (incl. 39 in color)
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0642-8
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0538-4

Lynn M. Thomas, Professor of History
University of Washington

Beneath the Surface

For more than a century, skin lighteners have been an ubiquitous feature of global popular culture—embraced by consumers even as they were fiercely opposed by medical professionals, consumer health advocates, and antiracist thinkers and activists. In Beneath the Surface, Lynn M. Thomas constructs a transnational history of skin lighteners in South Africa and beyond. Analyzing a wide range of archival, popular culture, and oral history sources, Thomas traces the changing meanings of skin color from precolonial times to the postcolonial present. From indigenous skin-brightening practices and the rapid spread of lighteners in South African consumer culture during the 1940s and 1950s to the growth of a billion-dollar global lightener industry, Thomas shows how the use of skin lighteners and experiences of skin color have been shaped by slavery, colonialism, and segregation, as well as consumer capitalism, visual media, notions of beauty, and protest politics. In teasing out lighteners’ layered history, Thomas theorizes skin as a site for antiracist struggle and lighteners as a technology of visibility that both challenges and entrenches racial and gender hierarchies.

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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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Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States, Women on 2019-05-04 20:27Z by Steven

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
September 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN 13: 9781534440838
eBook ISBN 13: 9781534440852

Katherine Johnson

The inspiring autobiography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped launch Apollo 11.

Throughout Katherine Johnson’s extraordinary career, there hasn’t been a boundary she hasn’t broken through or a ceiling she hasn’t shattered. In the early 1950s, she joined the organization that would one day become NASA, and which had only just begun to hire black mathematicians. Her job there was to analyze data and calculate the complex equations needed for successful space flights. As a black woman in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges and often wasn’t taken seriously by the scientists and engineers she worked with. But her colleagues couldn’t ignore her obvious gifts—or her persistence. Soon she was computing the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s first flight and working on the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon. Katherine’s life has been a succession of achievements, each one greater than the last.

Katherine Johnson’s story was made famous in the bestselling book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Now in Reaching for the Moon she tells her own story for the first time, in a lively autobiography that will inspire young readers everywhere.

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Kiss Me Someone

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2019-05-04 01:11Z by Steven

Kiss Me Someone

Tin House Books
2017-09-12
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-941040-75-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-941040-76-8

Karen Shepard

From the author of The Celestials, a collection of stories that will appeal to readers of Lucia Berlin, Mary Gaitskill, and Mia Alvar.

Bold and unapologetic, Karen Shepard’s Kiss Me Someone is inhabited by women who walk the line between various states: adolescence and adulthood, stability and uncertainty, selfishness and compassion. They navigate the obstacles that come with mixed-race identity and instabilities in social class, and they use their liminal positions to leverage power. They employ rage and tenderness and logic and sex, but for all of their rationality they’re drawn to self-destructive behavior. Shepard’s stories explore what we do to lessen our burdens of sadness and isolation; her characters, fiercely true to themselves, are caught between their desire to move beyond their isolation and a fear that it’s exactly where they belong.

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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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Girl, Woman, Other

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-04-27 01:41Z by Steven

Girl, Woman, Other

Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin UK)
2019-05-02
464 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780241364901
Ebook ISBN: 9780241985007

Bernardine Evaristo

Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain, to black womanhood, to the ever-changing heart of London

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

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