After Years of Searching, I Finally Found My Black Indian Community

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2019-08-20 19:36Z by Steven

After Years of Searching, I Finally Found My Black Indian Community

Zora
2019-08-19

Shonda Buchanan, Literary Editor
Harriet Tubman Press

The blood of two peoples runs in us, and we want everyone to know we are still here

Dropping off a book at the Hampton Public Library, I glance at the counter and see a licorice-red flyer that says, “Come Join the Weyanoke Association: African Americans Honoring Our American Indian Heritage.” I look around. Is someone playing a joke on me?

In August 2004, my daughter and I moved to Hampton, Virginia, for my job at a Historically Black College. Our first year was hard and lonely, and we desperately missed our communities back in Los Angeles and in the Los Padres National Forest.

“I hate it here,” Afiya said at least once a week as she tried to make friends in the ninth grade. I tried to placate her with the proverbial “give it time” talks, but I had moved her away from her friends at 14, just as she was about to start high school. We had many “I hate it here” fights, but the truth was I was having a hard time finding my people, too. I missed the African American, African-centered communities, and the American Indian groups that had become my family over the years. This flyer seemed to be a sign: Little did I know I was about to find a space where both sides of my heritage combined…

Read the entire article here.

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Breaking the Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Reconciliation

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice on 2019-08-20 18:17Z by Steven

Breaking the Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Reconciliation

House of Anansi Press
2019-08-20
280 pages
8.5 in × 5.5 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781487006471
Ebook ISBN: 9781487006488

Annahid Dashtgard

Cover of Breaking the Ocean

Annahid Dashtgard was born into a supportive mixed-race family in 1970s Iran. Then came the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ushered in a powerful and orthodox religious regime. Her family was forced to flee their homeland, immigrating to a small town in Alberta, Canada. As a young girl, Dashtgard was bullied, shunned, and ostracized by both her peers at school and adults in the community. Home offered little respite as her parents were embroiled in their own struggles, exposing the sharp contrasts between her British mother and Persian father.

Determined to break free from her past, Dashtgard created a new identity for herself as a driven young woman who found strength through political activism, eventually becoming a leader in the anti–corporate globalization movement of the late 1990s. But her unhealed trauma was re-activated following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Suffering burnout, Dashtgard checked out of her life and took the first steps towards personal healing, a journey that continues to this day.

Breaking the Ocean introduces a unique perspective on how racism and systemic discrimination result in emotional scarring and ongoing PTSD. It is a wake-up call to acknowledge our differences, offering new possibilities for healing and understanding through the revolutionary power of resilience. Dashtgard answers the universal questions of what it means to belong, what it takes to become whole, and ultimately what is required to create change in ourselves and in society.

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They Call Me “Negro”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-20 17:35Z by Steven

They Call Me “Negro”

Embrace Race: Raising A Brave Generation
2019-08-18

Dr. Ruth L. Baskerville

Picture
Early family photo in 1951. The author is on the bottom right.

In 1943 in Manhattan, NY, a 46-year old African- and Native-American man who was a renowned band director and jazz composer marries a 19-year old naive European-American woman of Jewish Ukrainian descent, who wants to sing professionally. I’m the second of five children.

At age four, I overhear Mommy telling her Mom she won’t leave Daddy and me in order to come back home with my whiter looking brother. Every year of our growing up, Mommy takes the whitest looking child to find new housing, and our unwanted family moves in the middle of the night. We’re in new schools, too.

There are no “Mulattos” in our neighborhoods, and I’m constantly asked, “Where are you from? I mean, what are you?” The questioners have distorted faces, uncomfortable with their ambivalence about my ethnicity. Even today, they need to fit me into a race category before they can utter their next sentence! “You’re Saudi – Moroccan – Indian – Spanish – Italian – definitely foreign!” I’m from New York!…

Read the entire article here.

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‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-17 01:27Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

The Chicago Tribune
2019-08-14

Julia M. Klein

'When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity
Sarah Valentine’s intriguing memoir, “When I Was White,” considers the meaning of racial identity. (St. Martin’s)

“For a long time,” Sarah Valentine writes, “I felt like a bundle of fragments, and I wanted to be whole. I wanted to be able to write a family history that answered all my questions and filled in all the blanks, but all I got were different versions of the past and an incomplete, unfulfilling present.”

This revelatory admission comes near the close of Valentine’s intriguing, if never entirely satisfying, memoir, “When I Was White.” But it could well have served as its opening — a warning to readers that neither a slick solution to the puzzle of racial identity nor a definitive unraveling of the specific mystery of Valentine’s origins would be forthcoming.

A former visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Northwestern University, Valentine grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs, the bright, athletic, dark-hued child of two white parents. To many observers, she was self-evidently of mixed racial heritage. But her family regarded her as simply their (white) daughter — so much so that when black classmates asked her out, her mother cautioned her against “interracial” dating…

Read the entire review here.

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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All? Colourism and light skinned privilege

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Oceania on 2019-08-15 18:12Z by Steven

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All? Colourism and light skinned privilege

The Pin
2018-02-11

Elodie Silberstein, Artist & Scholar
Brooklyn, New York

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All? Colourism and light skinned privilege
Image Credit: Elodie Silberstein

Footscray station. Fifteen minutes by train from the city centre and here I am, in the multicultural melting pot of Melbourne. I feel thrilled. I want to sense the buzzing atmosphere of the market, and to replenish the stock of hair products that I use to enhance my natural curls. Some friends advised me to look for the requisite articles in the numerous shops of the East African community. Being new to Australia, I struggle to find products in mainstream stores that are suitable for my textured hair inherited from my Cameroonian father and French mother. The first beauty salon I encounter sets the scene. The flagship products in the window display immediately grab my attention: skin-lightening body lotions, whitening soaps… you name it, they have it. Smiley models display their charms all over the packaging promising to women of colour a lighter skin tone. A few applications, et voilà! Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Faced with this extravaganza of skin-whitening products I am suddenly brought back to my childhood in Cameroon, and I cannot help but feel my heart sinking.

Growing up mixed-race in Douala was a peculiar experience. Interracial unions were rare in the 1970s. My parents were a bit of a curiosity. I became used to being called chocolat au lait (milk chocolate) by my neighbours. It did not take me long to realise the obvious advantages that my lighter hue provided me over my dark chocolate counterparts in the white, but also in the black community…

Read the entire article here.

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Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, United States, Women on 2019-08-12 01:27Z by Steven

Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

New York University Press
March 2020
280 pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781479800292
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479881086

Edited by:

Nikki Khanna, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Vermont

Whiter

Heartfelt personal accounts from Asian American women on their experiences with skin color bias, from being labeled “too dark” to becoming empowered to challenge beauty standards

“I have a vivid memory of standing in my grandmother’s kitchen, where, by the table, she closely watched me as I played. When I finally looked up to ask why she was staring, her expression changed from that of intent observer to one of guilt and shame. . . . ‘My anak (dear child),’ she began, ‘you are so beautiful. It is a shame that you are so dark. No Filipino man will ever want to marry you.’” —“Shade of Brown,” Noelle Marie Falcis

How does skin color impact the lives of Asian American women? In Whiter, thirty Asian American women provide first-hand accounts of their experiences with colorism in this collection of powerful, accessible, and brutally honest essays, edited by Nikki Khanna.

Featuring contributors of many ages, nationalities, and professions, this compelling collection covers a wide range of topics, including light-skin privilege, aspirational whiteness, and anti-blackness. From skin-whitening creams to cosmetic surgery, Whiter amplifies the diverse voices of Asian American women who continue to bravely challenge the power of skin color in their own lives.

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La nueva tocaya

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Texas, United States on 2019-08-11 02:42Z by Steven

La nueva tocaya

Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures
Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2019 (Intersecting Latinx Lives: The Politics of Race)
pages 147-150
DOI: 10.2979/chiricu.3.2.14

Jessie D. Turner, Social Justice Educator, Academic and Creative Writer, Program Manager
Goleta, California

We were parked in their northwestern Vermont gravel driveway, on our way somewhere, but not yet gone. The autumn leaves glowed the color of cardinals and marigolds and honeycomb and mud, colors common to many seasons; it’s the mosaic, rather than any uniqueness in the colors themselves, that invites worship, each dying leaf fitted one against the next. My stepmother looked at my father as he turned from the front seat, looked at me, and admitted, “Becky thinks it’s important that you know . . .” My stepmother knew my love of and skill at Spanish, which I was taking in high school. She knew how much I missed the southern Arizona desert, where I lived twice as a child with my mother. Adding this knowledge together, she knew that I might value knowing that my paternal grandfather was Mexican. I had never heard of this grandfather before, never even wondered if I had one; why would I, when having moved back to Vermont just three years earlier, I was still grappling to intersect with my father?

After that month’s weekend visit with him and my stepmother, I took the return bus two hours southeast to where I lived with my mother in the Upper Valley. On Monday, I showed a slightly yellowed newspaper clipping to my art teachers, Pete and Elizabeth. We stood between their desks, gray metal veiled by gray camera equipment cabinets, and the printing press that hulked beneath the half-windowed whitewashed wall. My aunt—my dad’s half-sister and unrelated to my grandfather—had inherited that yellowed clipping and another half photograph from my grandmother. My aunt had excavated them from her farmhouse bedroom closet after they’d been in my family forty-five years. She had passed them on to me. “Look! This article mentions my dad’s father, who was a Golden Gloves boxer in the 50s!” I enthused. As I shared the photo, I stared into this heavily secreted face, this face now reborn. This face, this face, it belonged to a father who mine had never seen. As such, this new paper ancestor’s boxing face may have settled into my consciousness, but his race dissolved completely beyond it. That he was Mexican remained absolutely external to me. I was sixteen.

The balcony of my first apartment at age twenty-four reached deep enough for exactly one folding chair, which I angled toward the southeast for a clear view of the US-Mexico border. Each weekend morning I sat out there sipping chamomile tea, learning palm-frond melodies, and looking for hints of movement. I looked past the opera house and wide basin of parallel train tracks. Past the stores lining South El Paso Ave., the ones offering cheap shoes, bra and panty sets, and household items to those privileged enough to cross north for the day. Past layers and layers and layers of chain-link fencing and razor wire and video cameras. Past the Rio Bravo tamed into an empty cement wash. At 9 AM the line of cars waiting to cross into the US still stood relatively short; by noon it would triple. From my perch four blocks north of this international border crossing, the cars looked like Hot Wheels sliding effortlessly along a predetermined track: JuárezEl Paso, Juárez–El Paso.

On a Saturday afternoon in late January, I flowed through the city’s arteries and veins. I wound past the art museum where I had seen Cheech Marin’s Chicano Visions exhibit, past the ongoing restoration of the Plaza Theater. I wound past San Jacinto Plaza, lined with people waiting for city buses that themselves stood waiting for their timetables. Past El Segundo Barrio murals honoring La Virgen and Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, past corner stores selling international phone cards and Bimbo brand bread, past brown children squealing joy at a tiny puppy. At the Armijo Branch Library, southeast of my apartment and barely a breath’s sweep from la linea I found my weekly writing group waiting. That day I would share a recent reflection, short in length but nothing short of a revelation:..

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‘When I Was White’ Centers On The Formation Of Race, Identity And Self

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-08 23:33Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’ Centers On The Formation Of Race, Identity And Self

National Public Radio
2019-08-08

Hope Wabuke


When I Was White: A Memoir by Sarah Valentine, Hardcover, 292 pages

When one thinks of American blackness, there is the unsaid ugly truth that nearly all American blacks who have descended from the historical African diaspora in America have one (or several) rapacious white slave owners in their family tree at some point.

Here, in the early days of the United States, was the invention of racism for economic necessity. From 1619 until 1865, white male Americans chose to breed a black enslaved workforce through the state-sanctioned rape of black women to build the new nation and support their white supremacist class. Race became the single unifying identifier — determining everything about one’s life starting with this most basic division: enslaved or free.

The American law was that the “condition of the child followed that of the mother,” backed up by the “one drop rule,” the legal framework that dictated even one drop of blackness made an individual black, never white. The idea of blackness as a pollutant, a taint that would erode the purity of whiteness, was seized by politicians around the world then — and now.

Because of this legacy of sexual violence and anti-blackness, black and white mixed individuals have long been considered black in America.

To a much larger degree than many people would like to admit, race still determines a vast part of one’s life — social networks and mobility, birth and other medical care, employment opportunities and so on. Indeed, there is an entire genre of literature and film, popularized in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, composed of blacks “passing” for white to avoid this racism. Some of the most famous examples are Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing; James Weldon Johnson’s 1912 opus, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; and the 1959 film The Imitation of Life.

Sarah Valentine, the author of the memoir When I Was White, did not choose to pass for white; her mother made the choice for her. So Valentine was raised as white by white parents in white middle-class communities — only to discover as a young woman that her biological father was actually black. As Valentine endeavors to explore what her new identity means to her, she searches for ways to connect to her blackness. For Valentine, learning that she is black is to reject whiteness; she cannot comprehend how the privileges of whiteness can be held hand in hand with the racism the black body is subject to…

Read the entire review here.

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When I Was White, A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2019-08-08 23:08Z by Steven

When I Was White, A Memoir

St. Martin’s Press (an imprint of Macmillan)
2019-08-06
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781250146755

Sarah Valentine

The stunning and provocative coming-of-age memoir about Sarah Valentine’s childhood as a white girl in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and her discovery that her father was a black man.

At the age of 27, Sarah Valentine discovered that she was not, in fact, the white girl she had always believed herself to be. She learned the truth of her paternity: that her father was a black man. And she learned the truth about her own identity: mixed race.

And so Sarah began the difficult and absorbing journey of changing her identity from white to black. In this memoir, Sarah details the story of the discovery of her identity, how she overcame depression to come to terms with this identity, and, perhaps most importantly, asks: why? Her entire family and community had conspired to maintain her white identity. The supreme discomfort her white family and community felt about addressing issues of race–her race–is a microcosm of race relationships in America.

A black woman who lived her formative years identifying as white, Sarah’s story is a kind of Rachel Dolezal in reverse, though her “passing” was less intentional than conspiracy. This memoir is an examination of the cost of being black in America, and how one woman threw off the racial identity she’d grown up with, in order to embrace a new one.

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Red Dust Road

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, United Kingdom on 2019-08-06 20:50Z by Steven

Red Dust Road

National Theatre of Scotland
2019-08-10 through 2019-09-21


Elaine C. Smith and Sasha Frost

Based on the soul-searching memoir by Scots Makar Jackie Kay, adapted by Tanika Gupta, and directed by Dawn Walton.

“You are made up from a mixture of myth and gene. You are part fable, part porridge

Growing up in 70s’ Scotland as the adopted mixed raced child of a Communist couple, young Jackie blossomed into an outspoken, talented poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents…

From Nairn to Lagos, Red Dust Road takes you on a journey full of heart, humour and deep emotions. Discover how we are shaped by the folk songs we hear as much as by the cells in our bodies.

Opening at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019, and at HOME, Manchester in September 2019

Touring to Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness in autumn 2019.

For more information, click here.

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