Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, Women on 2018-05-22 02:17Z by Steven

Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2018
pages 197-204
DOI: 10.1353/jnc.2018.0015

Christine “Xine” Yao, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
University of British Columbia

In “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian,” Edith Maude Eaton, writing as Sui Sin Far, reflects on her time in Jamaica as a white-passing mixed-race woman.1 Rumor of her Chinese ancestry provokes a white English naval officer to seek her out for sexual favors, a scenario still all too familiar to women, particularly women of color, today: a predatory conversation sheathed in friendly euphemisms. At first Far believes his visit has to do with her work as a journalist, but his repeated “silly and offensive laugh” suggests otherwise.2 When she attempts to dismiss him, he laughs again, “There’s always plenty of time for good times. That’s what I am here for.”3 After commenting on her “nice little body,” he invites her to sail with him where “I will tell you all about the sweet little Chinese girls I met when we were at Hong Kong. They’re not so shy!”4 The officer’s framing of her presumed affective and sexual availability, and the foregrounding of his own sexual and social prerogative, are an everyday life manifestation of what Lisa Lowe names a “‘political economy’ of intimacy … a particular calculus governing the production, distribution, and possession of intimacy” predicated on empire and settler colonialism.5 The man’s proposition to Far is a demand for her friendliness because those other Chinese girls in Hong Kong are “not so shy.” In her rejection of his desire for intimacy, she risks the dangerous backlash that attends injured white masculinity along with broader social consequences that could impact the relative privilege of her personal and professional life in the Caribbean. Still, instead of a “friendly” relationship to whiteness, Sui Sin Far seeks alternative intimacies. In the same section of her memoir she juxtaposes this incident with musings about her position as a white-passing mixed-race Chinese woman in relation to her observations about antiblackness in the West Indies. Despite the warnings of the English who tell her to fear the “‘brown boys’ of the island,” the writer considered the mother of Asian North American literature affirms a sense of transnational solidarity between peoples of color in her affective racial identifications. “I too am of the ‘brown people’ of the earth,” she confides to her readers, prefiguring, in this assertion, the anti-colonial alliance between African and Asian nations that would be formalized in 1955 at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia.6

Intimacy operates, here, as a heuristic for understanding how the racialized and gendered pressures of domesticity, sentimentality, and sexuality are imbricated with the projects of empire. These exploitative relations undergird the transnational violences of settler colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude—systems which, as Lowe argues, enable the liberal fictions of white Western individuals, who are able to claim intimacy as one of the privileges associated with the private sphere, as a property of their citizenship in modern civil society. In the shift from the late nineteenth-century threatening “Yellow Peril” to modern-day deserving “model minority,” Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian descent, are lured by false promises of inclusion into this liberal fiction on the basis of intimate affiliation with whiteness. Among the processes of comparative racialization that emerge from transnational intimacies, Ellen Wu traces how Asian Americans were complicit in the anti-black creation of the “model minority” category in the American cultural imaginary.7 Nonetheless, the solidarity work of activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama, along with studies of earlier black-Asian cultural and political engagements by scholars like Edlie Wong and Julia H. Lee, indicates an alternative genealogy of counterintimacies that disrupts those aligned with the afterlife of imperial exploitation.8 In defiance of the coercive pressures made manifest through sexual violence and emotional labor, the mixed-race Asian and black women of Sui Sin Far’s fiction and nonfiction writings reorient these indices of transnational power relations away from their focus on whiteness and toward the possibility of resistance through affective connections that center peoples of color.

In Far’s rediscovered Jamaican stories and journalism…

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Legacies of Postwar Japan’s “War Bride” Era

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, United States, Women on 2018-05-21 15:10Z by Steven

Legacies of Postwar Japan’s “War Bride” Era

Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012
Telephone: (213) 625-0414
2018-06-30, 09:00-17:30 PDT (Local Time)

Presented in partnership with the Hapa Japan Project at USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

During and shortly after the US-Allied Occupation of Japan, the Japanese women who fraternized with soldiers often met opposition from their families and were shunned by other Japanese. Many mixed-raced children faced severe prejudice for being “impure” and born from the former enemy.

This symposium brings together various stakeholders to tell the stories of the war brides and their children. By focusing on the memories, realities, and legacies of this community, this groundbreaking gathering will create opportunities for listening, discussing, healing, and empowering attendees.

Symposium Schedule

9:00am – 9:30am Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Duncan Williams (USC Shinso Ito Center and Hapa Japan Project)
  • Fredrick Cloyd (author of Dream of the Water Children)

9:30am – 10:40am Session 1 – Occupation/Migration: Women, Children and the U.S. Military Presence

  • Etsuko Crissey (author of Okinawa’s GI Brides: Their Lives in America)
  • Mire Koikari (University of Hawai‘i; author of Cold War Encounters in US-Occupied Okinawa: Women, Militarized Domesticity, and Transnationalism in East Asia)
  • Elena Tajima Creef (Wellesley College; author of Imaging Japanese America: The Visual Construction of Citizenship, Nation, and the Body and Following Her Own Road: The Life and Art of Mine Okubo)

10:40am – 11:50am Session 2 – Difference and Other: War-Bride and Mixed-race Children’s Representations

  • Margo Okazawa-Rey (Fielding Graduate University; Professor Emeritus, San Francisco State University)
  • Sonia Gomez (University of Chicago; Visiting Scholar, MIT; author of From Picture Brides to War Brides: Race, Gender, and Belonging in the Making of Japanese America)

11:50am – 1:15pm LUNCH BREAK

1:15pm – 2:45pm Session 3 — Book Launch of “Dream of the Water Children: Memory & Mourning in the Black Pacific”

  • Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd (author of Dream of the Water Children)
  • Curtiss Takada Rooks (Loyola Marymount University)
  • Angela Tudico (Archives Specialist, National Archives at New York City)

2 :45pm – 3 :00pm COFFEE/TEA BREAK

3 :00pm – 5 :30pm Session 4 – Film and Discussion of “Giving Voice, The Japanese War Brides”

  • Miki Crawford (Producer/author of Giving Voice, The Japanese War Brides)
  • Kathryn Tolbert (Washington Post; Producer/Director of Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up: The Japanese War Brides)

5:30pm Closing Remarks: Fredrick Cloyd

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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In the Wake of His Damage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-05-19 23:46Z by Steven

In the Wake of His Damage

The Rumpus
2018-05-12

Shreerekha
New York, New York


Rumpus original art by Aubrey Nolan

All the sleeping women
Are now awake and moving.
Yosano Akiko (1911)

For all women who already know this narrative;
For all women touched by the Great Writers, named, unnamed, and some listed as letters;
For all who commune in the trauma and healing promised herein;
For all who believe in the power of radical transgressive border-crossing love;
For my Happiness, and my son and my daughter, so that you may walk differently;
For the ex with whom love remains the last transgression —

The Autobiographical

The year after I started teaching in Texas, his novel came out. Ten years after the event of our relationship, ten tortured years where we continued to communicate, a sort of communication that involved him reaching out, letting me know I made all the wrong decisions in my life, and then, asking for forgiveness and another chance, I thought I should teach his novel in my classes. The novel itself was important, won the Pulitzer, and by teaching it enough times, I thought it would do the trick. The classroom is sacral: all that goes through it turns magical and I would emerge whole. I would finally be rid of my ghost-love and I could sanitize our past through the distance offered by teaching and making a monument of his work for my students. Somehow, that plan failed.

What I do is teach, write, and think on, most often, feminist texts and theories. Such a pedagogy has not just carried me through the classrooms over the decades, but become a mooring post in life. It offers me a vision and a strategy, a way to love radically, think fearlessly, and keep renewing, as I can, the bridges between projects of feminism and social justice. Gloria Anzaldua’s vision, a vision that has carried many a woman through a dark day, has been valuable in thinking through the rubble of this event in my life. In Borderlands, Anzaldua offers a prophetic amalgam that helps women identify the productive potential of the mestiza way, the middle spaces she calls the nepantla. For women of the many elsewheres, women who continually travel and cross borders, Anzaldua’s psychic restlessness gives a fist bump of legitimacy, an anchor in the cultural collisions many of us remain mired in. Rather than a counter stance, she speaks of developing a position that is inclusive, inaugurating for us the amasamiento, a creature of both light and darkness.

I identify in a category not formalized or accepted in colonial census charts or western ways of understanding the other, as a black South Asian. I am an Indian who lays claim to the global community of black consciousness, and I reside between so many worlds of belonging and unbelonging. In racializing colorism and politicizing my own experience of antipathy witnessed toward the color of my skin, I crafted my own passport into marooned and shapeshifting black communities that gave credence to ontologies and a posteriori narratives over normative constructions of race, ethnicities, and nationalities…

Read the entire article here.

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Adventures in Black and White

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States, Women on 2018-05-13 15:45Z by Steven

Adventures in Black and White

2Leaf Press
2018-05-28 (originally published in 1960)
324
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-940939-77-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-940939-89-6

Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967)

Edited and with a critical introduction by:

Tara Betts, Lecturer
University of Illinois, Chicago; Chicago State University

Adventures in Black and White, a memoir-travelogue, was first published by world-renown child prodigy Philippa Duke Schuyler in 1960. In this first revised edition of Adventures in Black and White since its initial publication, scholar Tara Betts provides a critical introduction to this updated volume, including minor edits, and annotations of the original text. Recognized as a prodigy at an early age, Schuyler was heralded as America’s first internationally-acclaimed mixed race celebrity. Her father, a conservative African American journalist, and her mother, a white Texan heiress, dedicated Schuyler’s development to the cause of integration with the claim that racial mixing could produce a superior hybrid human, a claim that Schuyler resisted, but would nonetheless hurl her into a destructive identity crisis that consumed her throughout her life. When the transition from child prodigy to concert pianist proved challenging in America, like many black performers before her, she went abroad during the 1950s for larger audiences. Schuyler’s witnessing first-hand the dissemblage of European colonies in Africa and the Middle East, is the focus of Adventures in Black and White. Luckily, this narrative connects the twenty-first century to right after the Harlem Renaissance, and the prelude to the forthcoming Civil Rights Movement at a time when interracial identity was just becoming part of a public conversation in America. As Schuyler begins to write about Africa—”the homeland of her ancestors”—readers can begin to understand how the young musician would eventually find her way as an author and a journalist, and the books that followed.

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The Markle effect: black women see the royal wedding as workplace inspiration

Posted in Articles, Economics, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2018-05-12 17:31Z by Steven

The Markle effect: black women see the royal wedding as workplace inspiration

The Guardian
2018-05-12

Rory Carroll, Shenelle Wallace and Edward Helmore

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Westminster Abbey in London on 25 April.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Westminster Abbey in London on 25 April. Photograph: Eddie Mulholland/AFP/Getty Images

As the royal wedding approaches, some are hoping it will lead to a greater acceptance of African American women in business

As final arrangements are set for the wedding of the US actor Meghan Markle to Prince Harry Windsor, hopes are mounting among some that the Markle effect will have unexpected impacts, including improving opportunities for African American women in the workplace.

“It’s exciting for black women, and I think it’s going to be inspirational,” said Camille Newman, a 38-year-old Brooklyn entrepreneur. Newman expressed deep-felt enthusiasm in the union as a symbolic marker for the acceptance of black or biracial women in society and said other women of color she knew felt the same way.

“We’re claiming her for a black woman’s right to be in there like everybody else,” she said.

One anticipated spin-off, she told the Guardian, could be the greater acceptance of black women across all sectors of society, including business. “As an entrepreneur I face so many challenges to find funding for my business. We’re going to claim her and look to her for inspiration as an African American entrepreneur,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Women on 2018-05-11 15:38Z by Steven

Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba

University Press of Mississippi
2018-08-15
248 pages (approx.)
58 color illustrations
6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496814432

Alison Fraunhar, Associate Professor of Art and Design
Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois

A vivid exploration of the key role played by multi-racial women in visualizing and performing Cuban identity

Repeatedly and powerfully throughout Cuban history, the mulata, a woman of mixed racial identity, features prominently in Cuban visual and performative culture. Tracing the figure, Alison Fraunhar looks at the representation and performance in both elite and popular culture. She also tracks how characteristics associated with these women have accrued across the Atlantic world. Widely understood to embody the bridge between European subject and African other, the mulata contains the sensuality attributed to Africans in a body more closely resembling the European ideal of beauty.

This symbol bears far-reaching implications, with shifting, contradictory cultural meanings in Cuba. Fraunhar explores these complex paradigms, how, why, and for whom the image was useful, and how it was both subverted and asserted from the colonial period to the present. From the early seventeenth century through Cuban independence in 1899 up to the late revolutionary era, Fraunhar illustrates the ambiguous figure’s role in nationhood, citizenship, and commercialism. She analyzes images including key examples of nineteenth-century graphic arts, avant-garde painting and magazine covers of the Republican era, cabaret and film performance, and contemporary iterations of gender.

Fraunhar’s study stands out for attending to the phenomenon of mulataje not only in elite production such as painting, but also in popular forms: popular theater, print culture, later films, and other media where stereotypes take hold. Indeed, in contemporary Cuba, mulataje remains a popular theme with Cubans as well as foreigners in drag shows, reflecting queerness in visual culture.

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Enterprising Women: Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom, Women on 2018-04-29 20:41Z by Steven

Enterprising Women: Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

University of Georgia Press
2015-01-15
240 pages
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4455-3
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-5387-6

Kit Candlin, Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
The University of Newcastle, Australia

Cassandra Pybus, Professor of History
University of Sydney

Recovered histories of entrepreneurial women of color from the Caribbean

In the Caribbean colony of Grenada in 1797, Dorothy Thomas signed the manumission documents for her elderly slave Betty. Thomas owned dozens of slaves and was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would make her the richest black resident in the nearby colony of Demerara. What made the transaction notable was that Betty was Dorothy Thomas’s mother and that fifteen years earlier Dorothy had purchased her own freedom and that of her children. Although she was just one remove from bondage, Dorothy Thomas managed to become so rich and powerful that she was known as the Queen of Demerara.

Dorothy Thomas’s story is but one of the remarkable acounts of pluck and courage recovered in Enterprising Women. As the microbiographies in this book reveal, free women of color in Britain’s Caribbean colonies were not merely the dependent concubines of the white male elite, as is commonly assumed. In the capricious world of the slave colonies during the age of revolutions, some of them were able to rise to dizzying heights of success. These highly entrepreneurial women exercised remarkable mobility and developed extensive commercial and kinship connections in the metropolitan heart of empire while raising well-educated children who were able to penetrate deep into British life.

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Meet the Viscountess Transforming the Idea of British Aristocracy

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2018-04-26 02:10Z by Steven

Meet the Viscountess Transforming the Idea of British Aristocracy

Vanity Fair
2018-04-25 (May 2018 Issue)

David Kamp, Contributing Editor


Photograph by Simon Upton.
Emma Thynn, the Viscountess Weymouth, on the roof of Longleat House, in Wiltshire, England

Emma Thynn, an extraordinary cook and mother who is positioned to become Britain’s first black marchioness, has recast the mold of aristocracy with her stylish, entrepreneurial spirit—despite a strained relationship with her in-laws.

So there we were, the future ninth Marquess of Bath and me, on a boat patrolling a lake on his family’s estate, each of us holding a plastic cup full of sprats. All at once, some sea lions surfaced starboard, barking expectantly, their whiskery maws wide open. We hustled to the boat’s railing, emptying our cups, tossing the silvery fish to the appreciative beasts. The marquess-to-be took to this task with particular relish, unsqueamish about getting his fingers slimy and barking back at the sea lions, “Urt! Urt! Urt!” As was only appropriate: he is three and a half years old.

The boy’s mother, Emma, Viscountess Weymouth, was leading me on a tour of the estate, Longleat, which includes a drive-through safari park open to the public. John, my fish-tossing comrade and the elder of Emma’s two sons, was tagging along. The park’s animals include tigers, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, red pandas, gorillas, monkeys, rhinos, hippopotamuses, and an Asian elephant, Anne, who was restored to good health after years of abuse in a circus and now lives at Longleat in her own purpose-built facility with a trio of companion goats. There are also walk-through enclosures where visitors can feed smaller animals, such as tamarins and rainbow lorikeets, and there is the boat ride, where a cup of sprats usually goes for £1, a fee that was waived for his lordship and his adult guest…

Emma McQuiston was born in 1986 to a Nigerian father and an English mother. When her husband, Ceawlin, Viscount Weymouth, assumes the title held at the moment by his 86-year-old father, Alexander, the current, and seventh, Marquess of Bath, Emma will become Britain’s first black marchioness. In the ranks of British peerage, a marquess and marchioness are second only to a duke and duchess. And someday, young John, a sweet and precociously eloquent boy with caramel skin and loose black curls, will assume his father’s title and become the United Kingdom’s first marquess of color…

Read the entire article here.

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Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2018-04-24 13:49Z by Steven

Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Ph.D.
2017-06-28

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Global Diaspora Studies
Michigan State University

Michelle Cliff (Nov. 2, 1942-June 12, 2016) was an award-winning Jamaican novelist, essayist, critic, poet, scholar, and teacher. An influential author in Caribbean, feminist, and lesbian writings, some of her notable works include: Abeng, No Telephone to Heaven, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise, Free Enterprise, If I Could Write This In Fire, and The Land of Look Behind. Cliff’s work reflected many parts of her identity, contemporary sociopolitical concerns stemming from colonialism, and a critical investment in the Caribbean and her diasporas. Her works examine the complexities of identity politics, lesbianism, colorism, colonialism/post-colonialism and revolution – both of the personal variety and the political. On June 22, 2017, we gathered at the Caribbean Philosophical Association Annual Meeting in NYC to honor her life and writing. This post includes the work of the roundtable participants. The roundtable, titled “‘Writing in Fire’: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff” marked the second year that the Chair of Afro-Diasporic Literatures (me) and the Chair of the Initiative on Gender, Race, and Feminisms (Xhercis Mendez) joined together to propose roundtables to honor Caribbean women writers at the CPA (at the 2016 we celebrated the 10th/11th publication anniversary of M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing). This year two Ph.D. students – Keishla Rivera (Rutgers Newark) and Briona Jones (Michigan State) – joined moderator Xhercis Mendez and I to reflect on the rich inheritance Michelle Cliff has left us. Below are excerpts from the reflections which engendered a powerful and generative dialogue across several topics, fields, and interests…

Read the entire article here.

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A Girl Full of Smartness

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-04-24 02:25Z by Steven

A Girl Full of Smartness

The Paris Review
2017-06-02

Edward White


Mary Ellen Pleasant

As an entrepreneur, civil-rights activist, and benefactor, Mary Ellen Pleasant made a name and a fortune for herself in Gold Rush–era San Francisco, shattering racial taboos.

They did things differently in the Old West. On the morning of August 14, 1889, Stephen J. Field, a justice of the Supreme Court, was eating breakfast at a café in Lathrop, California, when David S. Terry, a former bench colleague, stopped by Field’s table and slapped him twice across the face.

This was not unprecedented behavior. Despite having risen to the rank of chief justice of the Supreme Court of California, Terry was described by one contemporary as an “evil genius” with an “irrepressible temper,” who once stabbed a man for being an abolitionist and killed a Congressman wedded to the Free Soil movement. His gripe with Stephen Field, however, had nothing to do with slavery. In 1883, Terry’s wife had filed a lawsuit (Sharon vs. Sharon) against the multimillionaire U.S. Senator William Sharon, claiming she had been married to him in secret some years ago and that, having been callously discarded by the womanizing senator, she was owed a divorce settlement. After five years the case ended up at a federal circuit court, where Field found in favor of William Sharon; there would be no divorce settlement. Terry was livid and promised to exact revenge.

It was only the latest twist in what had been a bizarre case. On the first day of the trial, William Sharon’s attorney asserted that his client was the victim of a plot involving an elderly black woman who had used voodoo to steal Sharon’s hard-earned fortune. That woman was known to the San Francisco public as “Mammy Pleasant,” around whom sinister rumors had swirled for years. Some accused her of being a murderess, a madam, and a practitioner of black magic who befriended white families only to curse them and bleed them dry; a nightmarish image of “the mammy gone wrong,” to quote one historian. But just as many—especially among the black community—knew her as Mary Ellen Pleasant: an ingenious entrepreneur, pioneering civil-rights activist, and beloved benefactor who broke racial taboos and played a singular role in the early years of San Francisco…

Even within her lifetime, there were several competing stories about Pleasant’s origins. One version has her born into slavery in Georgia; another says she was the daughter of a wealthy Virginian planter who had a fling with a voodoo priestess from the Caribbean. In her published reminiscences she claimed to have been born in Philadelphia in 1812, to a Hawaiian father and “a full-blooded Louisiana negress.” Racial mixing and ethnic ambiguity, themes that would repeat over and again throughout Pleasant’s life, appear to have been part of her identity from the start…

Read the entire article here.

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