Emeli Sandé is done worrying what other people think

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-09-19 22:32Z by Steven

Emeli Sandé is done worrying what other people think

gal-dem
2019-09-18

Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff

The first time I met Emeli Sandé was on a wild night out. Age 19 and at the only hip-hop club night in Edinburgh, my friends and I were dancing when a group of men led us off the dancefloor and into a VIP area, where Emeli was socialising. As it turned out, one of those men was Emeli’s husband. We spent the night shimmying and doing shots and I remember wondering how she was going to get on stage the next day. It was a late one. But when, on the band’s invitation, we attended her concert, her voice soared across one of Edinburgh’s most opulent venues. “If someone can sing like that on a hangover,” I thought, “I have no choice but to stan”.

On this, our second meeting then, I feel obligated to bring up our first. “That was fun! I remember that night,” Emeli says. We’re sitting in a small, Ethiopian restaurant in Camden called The Queen of Sheba, settling down to eat a vast platter of injera with accompanying stews and sauces and talk about Emeli’s new album, Real Life. After a complimentary glass of Ethiopian honey wine, we settle straight in.

This album comes three years after her last outing, Long Live the Angels and seven years after her debut album catapulted the 32-year-old singer to fame. “This time it was really different. Like I built a studio in my house,” she says. “I finally had the freedom of ‘a room of one’s own’.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Indian: A Memoir by Shonda Buchanan

Posted in Anthropology, Autobiography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2019-09-18 01:46Z by Steven

Black Indian: A Memoir by Shonda Buchanan

Wayne State University Press
2019-08-26
352 pages
7 black-and-white photos
Size: 6×9
Paperback ISBN: 9780814345801
Ebook ISBN: 9780814345818

Shonda Buchanan, Literary Editor
Harriet Tubman Press

Black Indian, searing and raw, is Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple meets Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony—only, this isn’t fiction. Beautifully rendered and rippling with family dysfunction, secrets, deaths, alcoholism, and old resentments, Shonda Buchanan’s memoir is an inspiring story that explores her family’s legacy of being African Americans with American Indian roots and how they dealt with not just society’s ostracization but the consequences of this dual inheritance.

Buchanan was raised as a Black woman, who grew up hearing cherished stories of her multi-racial heritage, while simultaneously suffering from everything she (and the rest of her family) didn’t know. Tracing the arduous migration of Mixed Bloods, or Free People of Color, from the Southeast to the Midwest, Buchanan tells the story of her Michigan tribe—a comedic yet manically depressed family of fierce women, who were everything from caretakers and cornbread makers to poets and witches, and men who were either ignored, protected, imprisoned, or maimed—and how their lives collided over love, failure, fights, and prayer despite a stacked deck of challenges, including addiction and abuse. Ultimately, Buchanan’s nomadic people endured a collective identity crisis after years of constantly straddling two, then three, races. The physical, spiritual, and emotional displacement of American Indians who met and married Mixed or Black slaves and indentured servants at America’s early crossroads is where this powerful journey begins.

Black Indian doesn’t have answers, nor does it aim to represent every American’s multi-ethnic experience. Instead, it digs as far down into this one family’s history as it can go—sometimes, with a bit of discomfort. But every family has its own truth, and Buchanan’s search for hers will resonate with anyone who has wondered “maybe there’s more than what I’m being told.”

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Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Philosophy on 2019-09-18 01:45Z by Steven

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

W. W. Norton
2019-10-15
192 pages
5.5 × 8.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60886-1

Thomas Chatterton Williams

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

“It is not that I have come to believe that I am no longer black or that my daughter is white,” Williams writes. “It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of us.” Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

Note from Steven F. Riley: See Chatterton Williams’ article “Black and Blue and Blond” in the Volume 91, Number 1 (Winter 2015) edition of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

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My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2019-09-18 00:39Z by Steven

My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

The New York Times Magazine
2019-09-17

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Thomas Chatterton Williams at home in Paris this summer with his wife and children, from left, Marlow, Valentine and Saul.
Thomas Chatterton Williams at home in Paris this summer with his wife and children, from left, Marlow, Valentine and Saul.
Christopher Anderson/Magnum, for The New York Times

My father was raised under Jim Crow. My children could pass for white. Where does that leave me?

I left the cafeteria where my brother, Clarence, was racing the wooden kit car he built with the older Boy Scouts, and made my way down the long corridor to the restroom. The building was virtually empty on a Saturday and charged with that faint lawlessness of school not in session. When I finished, I fixed myself in the mirror and, on the way out, ran and leapt to swing from the high bar joining the metal stalls to the tiled wall. In third grade, this was hard to do, a feat of superior athleticism that I savored even in the absence of a witness. The bounce in my legs linked me with my favorite athletes. I wore my hair like them, too, shaved low on the sides and back and slightly higher on top with a laser-sharp part engraved on the left. As my feet thrust forward, the door shot open and B. stepped in. An eighth grader, the eldest of three freckled, blond, almost farcically preppy brothers — Irish Catholic but still WASPier than the sons of Italians, Poles and Ukrainians who formed the backbone of the student body at our parochial school — he watched me dismount. In his costume of boat shoes and Dockers, B. was far from an intimidating sight, but he was bigger than me, and he smiled at me strangely.

I made to pass him on the way out, but he blocked me, his smile turning menacing. “What?” I managed, confused. We’d been in school together for years without ever having exchanged a word. “Monkey,” he whispered, still smiling, and my whole body froze: I was being insulted — in an ugly way, I could sense from his expression more than from what was said — but I couldn’t fully grasp why. I’d been swinging like a monkey, it was true, but this was something else. I tried again to step around him, at a loss for words; he blocked my way again, looming over me, still with that smirk. “You little [expletive] monkey,” he repeated with deliberate calm, and to my astonishment I realized that, although I could not understand why, there was, however vague and out of place, suddenly the possibility of violence. Out of nothing more than instinct, I shoved past him with all the determination an 8-year-old can gather.

He let me go, but I could hear his laughter behind me as I made my way back to the cafeteria, my heart pumping staccato, my face singed with the heat of self-awareness, my inexperienced mind fumbling for the meaning behind what had just transpired. But I knew enough to know that I could not tell my father what happened. I could see his reaction — see him shoot from his leather desk chair where he spent a majority of weekends as well as weekdays bent over a book. “Let’s go,” he would say in a clipped tone, with that distant expression, as if he were looking at something else, not at me, and by that time he would already be at the hall closet throwing his dark gray overcoat around his broad shoulders, keys jangling in his strong hand.

If I had told him what that white boy said to me in the restroom, Pappy — as we called my father, in a nod to his Southern roots — would have descended into an indescribable fury, the memory of which can tense me up to this day. He would have lost a week of work and concentration — that was as certain as two and two is four. But I also knew that he would be shot through with pain, unable to sleep, up at his desk in the dark, transported to his past, agonizing over this awful proof of what he’d always suspected: that no matter how strong he was, he was not strong enough to shield — not fully — his sons from the psychological warfare of American racism that whispers obscenities at little boys when they find themselves alone…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Like Me: A Pittsburgh native’s memoir of racial identities lost and found

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-09-11 01:09Z by Steven

Black Like Me: A Pittsburgh native’s memoir of racial identities lost and found

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2019-08-30

Bill O’Driscoll

Sarah Valentine, author of
Sarah Valentine

Of all the racist things people do, living out white privilege might be the most insidious. White privilege is not just the assumptions that get white people treated better by employers and loan officers. It’s also the mental architecture that permits white people to avoid thinking of themselves as “white” — even as whiteness is assumed as the norm, and everyone who lacks it as “other.” White privilege is most potent when it goes unconsidered.

It will be nearly impossible to avoid considering white privilege after reading “When I Was White: A Memoir.” Author Sarah Valentine is that rare person who has lived both with white privilege and without it, and her account is moving and analytically rigorous.

Literature has given us light-skinned blacks who “passed” as white, from famed critic Anatole Broyard to figures in the poetry of Pittsburgh-based poet Toi Derricotte. Ms. Valentine’s story is something else again. She was born in 1977, and grew up mostly in the North Hills, one of three children in a tightly knit Catholic family. Her parents were white, and so, therefore, was she — until she learned, at age 27, that her biological father, whom she never knew, was African American…

Read the entire article here.

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

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2019-09-09 00:15Z by Steven

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

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
2019-07-02
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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Emma Dabiri on the Politics of Black Hair

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-09-09 00:13Z by Steven

Emma Dabiri on the Politics of Black Hair

Sotheby’s
African Modern & Contemporary Art
2019-09-03

Mariko Finch, Deputy Editor, Deputy Director
London, United Kingdom

Emma Dabiri wearing Nigerian Yoruba suku braids

Emma Dabiri is a broadcaster, author and academic who recently published Don’t Touch My Hair — a book that charts the shifting cultural status of black hair from pre-colonial Africa through to Western pop culture and beyond. Ahead of the Modern & Contemporary African Art sale in London on 15 October, in which a number of works depicting traditional African hair are offered, we sat down with her to discuss the history of hairstyles.

Mariko Finch: When did you decide that you wanted to turn your research into a book?

Emma Dabiri: In around 2016. The conversation about black hair had been happening for a while at that stage but I was finding it often quite repetitive. There is so much more to engage with through hair, so I wanted to do that research. There is so much more to engage with through hair; social history, philosophy, metaphysics, mathematical expression, coding, maps…

This topic has recently made it to the mainstream media; through Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, Kim Kardashian and the issue of cultural appropriation. It is very timely to have that debate anchored in something historical.

I felt somewhat exasperated by the way people’s frustrations around cultural appropriation by celebrities were being disregarded and dismissed as just something very superficial; as if those weren’t valid or legitimate concerns. I wanted to provide the historical context for why this anger exists. Let me show that it’s not just vacuous, or petty policing of culture. There are like very strong historical antecedents as to why these emotions run so high…

Read the entire interview here.

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#ArtistatCB: Genevieve Gaignard on “Black is Beautiful”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2019-09-04 22:53Z by Steven

#ArtistatCB: Genevieve Gaignard on “Black is Beautiful”

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art
Bentonville, Arkansas
2019-03-13

Genevieve Gaignard

“I photograph myself to talk about how we navigate through the world and how others see us.”

Genevieve Gaignard is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work focuses on photographic self-portraiture, sculpture, and installation to explore race, femininity, class, and their various intersections. The daughter of a black father and white mother, Gaignard’s youth was marked by a strong sense of invisibility. Was her family white enough to be white? Black enough to be black? Gaignard interrogates notions of “passing” in an effort to address these questions…

Read the entire article here.

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The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Judaism, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2019-09-01 03:29Z by Steven

The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Agate Bolden (an imprint of Agate Publishing)
2019-11-12
256 pages
5.25 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781572842755

Marra B. Gad, Inde­pen­dent Film and Tele­vi­sion Producer
Los Angeles, California

9781572842755.jpg

An unforgettable memoir about a mixed-race Jewish woman who, after fifteen years of estrangement from her racist great-aunt, helps bring her home when Alzheimer’s strikes

In 1970, three-day-old Marra B. Gad was adopted by a white Jewish family in Chicago. For her parents, it was love at first sight—but they quickly realized the world wasn’t ready for a family like theirs.

Marra’s biological mother was unwed, white, and Jewish, and her biological father was black. While still a child, Marra came to realize that she was “a mixed-race, Jewish unicorn.” In black spaces, she was not “black enough” or told that it was OK to be Christian or Muslim, but not Jewish. In Jewish spaces, she was mistaken for the help, asked to leave, or worse. Even in her own extended family, racism bubbled to the surface.

Marra’s family cut out those relatives who could not tolerate the color of her skin—including her once beloved, glamorous, worldly Great-Aunt Nette. After they had been estranged for fifteen years, Marra discovers that Nette has Alzheimer’s, and that only she is in a position to get Nette back to the only family she has left. Instead of revenge, Marra chooses love, and watches as the disease erases her aunt’s racism, making space for a relationship that was never possible before.

The Color of Love explores the idea of yerusha, which means “inheritance” in Yiddish. At turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming, this is a story about what you inherit from your family—identity, disease, melanin, hate, and most powerful of all, love. With honesty, insight, and warmth, Marra B. Gad has written an inspirational, moving chronicle proving that when all else is stripped away, love is where we return, and love is always our greatest inheritance.

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Blackness and Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-29 01:01Z by Steven

Blackness and Whiteness

Our Human Family: Conversations on achieving equality
2019-05-07

Emily Cashour
Oakland, California


The author and her mother

Growing up as mixed-race alongside my white mother

Growing up, I was unaccustomed to discussions about race. For most of my life, the color of my skin was something simple, a fact that became more or less apparent alongside the changing seasons. When it started to become impossible to ignore, as a young child, I pushed to downplay my color difference. I sat in the shade with my white cousins at the beach to prevent the sun from reaching me, complained with a gentle fierceness each time my mother took me to get my hair braided, said quiet “thank-yous” with no further explanation to people who gleefully oohed and ahhed at my beautiful tan.

As a teenager, I embraced wholeheartedly the idea of tan equaling beautiful, at least so far as in the context of tan being simply a new shade of whiteness, rather than brownness. I was a tan white person. At least, that is what everyone in my town assumed me to be, and rather than fight the simplicity of that label, I allowed it to begin defining me.

My mom, a white woman and single mother, was quiet during these years. If I had questions, she would answer them willingly, but quite honestly, I rarely ever asked her anything. Sometimes, when she took me to Baltimore, we drove home the long way, observing dilapidated neighborhoods and houses with wooden boards with holes in them where windows should’ve been. The sidewalks and the weeds in the place of gardens made these communities look tired, winded. It was clear that places like this were worlds away from where my mom and I lived; yet we were both keen outsiders, desperate for a deeper understanding. There’s something funny about an obviously white woman and an obviously brown child alone together, trying to find a community. On those trips to Baltimore, my mother and I had not quite identified our community yet…

Read the entire article here.

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