Historian Victoria Bynum on the inaccuracies of the New York Times 1619 Project

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Mississippi, Passing, Religion, United States, Women on 2019-11-20 02:21Z by Steven

Historian Victoria Bynum on the inaccuracies of the New York Times 1619 Project

World Socialist Web Site
2019-10-30

Eric London


Victoria Bynum

An interview with the author of The Free State of Jones

Historian Victoria Bynum, author of The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2001) and Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Control in the Old South (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), spoke to the World Socialist Web Site’s Eric London on the historical falsifications involved in the New York Times’1619 Project.”

The 1619 Project, launched by the Times in August, presents American history in a purely racial lens and blames all “white people” for the enslavement of 4 million black people as chattel property.

Bynum is an expert on the attitude of Southern white yeomen farmers and impoverished people toward slavery. Her book The Free State of Jones studied efforts by anti-slavery and anti-confederate militia leader Newton Knight, who abandoned the Confederate army and led an armed insurrection against the Confederacy during the Civil War. It was adapted for the big screen in Gary Ross’s 2016 film Free State of Jones.

* * *

WSWS: Hello Victoria, it is a pleasure to speak to you. The New York Times writes that slavery is “America’s national sin,” implying that the whole of American society was responsible for the crime of slavery.

But [Abraham] Lincoln said in his second inaugural address in 1865 that the Civil War was being fought “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” What was the attitude of the subjects of your study toward slavery? Is it possible to separate those attitudes from the economic grievances that many white farmers and poor people harbored against the Confederate government of the slavocracy?

Victoria Bynum: Direct comments about the injustice of slavery are rare among plain Southern farmers who left few written records. Knowing this at the outset of my research, I was delighted to find clear and strong objections to slavery expressed by the Wesleyan Methodist families of Montgomery County, North Carolina, which I highlighted in my first book, Unruly Women. In 1852, members of the Lovejoy Methodist Church invited the Rev. Adam Crooks, a well-known abolitionist, to address their church…

WSWS: Do you see parallels between the New York Times’ references to genetics (the historic “DNA” of the United States) and the argument, advanced by the slavocracy, that “one drop” of black “blood” was enough to count a light-skinned person in the expanded the pool of slave labor. Can you expand on this?

VB: The frequent correlation of identity with ancestral DNA continues to mask the historical economic forces and shifting constructions of class, race and gender that have far more relevance to one’s identity than one’s DNA can ever reveal. Historically, race-based slavery required legal definitions of whiteness and blackness that upheld the fiction that British/US slavery was reserved for Africans for whom the institution “civilized.” From the earliest days of colonization, however, both forced and consensual sexual relations created slaveholding and non-slaveholding households that were neither “black” nor “white,” but rather were mixed-race. The frequent rape of enslaved women by slaveholders produced multitudes of such children, but so also were many mixed-race children born to whites and free blacks. Slave law dictated that the child of an enslaved woman was also a slave—and therefore “black”—regardless of who fathered the child. Conversely, deciding the race of children born to free women who crossed the color line was not so easy, and became even more difficult after slavery was abolished. In the segregated South, where one’s ability to work, live, love, travel and enjoy the full benefits of American citizenship depended on one’s perceived race, such questions might end up in court, as was the case in 1946 for Newt Knight’s mixed-race great-grandson, Davis Knight, after he married a white woman. While custom dictated that Davis Knight was “black” based on his great-grandmother Rachel’s mixed-race status, state laws required more precise evidence. Under Mississippi law, unless one was proved to have at least one-fourth African ancestry, one was legally—though not socially—white. On this basis, Davis Knight went free…

Read the entire interview here.

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My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-11-19 21:22Z by Steven

My Jamaican dad was an RAF hero. Why did no one believe me?

The Guardian
2019-11-16

Hazel Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University


Hazel Carby: ‘I learned that I was not considered British.’ Photograph: Michel Huneault/The Guardian

My Welsh mother met my father during the war. From childhood, I have grown to dread the question: ‘Where are you from?’

I was in primary school the first time it happened. The boy who sat at the desk to my right – the one who used to pinch my arm whenever the teacher’s back was turned – finished talking about his father’s war experience of heat and flies and deserts while driving tanks across Egypt, and looked at me smugly as if to say, “Beat that.” It was my turn to describe my father’s contribution to the war effort. I stated clearly that my father served in the RAF. On the piano at home stood a photograph of a young man in RAF uniform, with an enigmatic smile, head tilted at a slightly rakish and daredevil angle, holding a pipe in his hand. In my eyes he was the epitome of wartime British heroism.

Before I could describe the photograph, I was interrupted by the teacher who told me to sit and listen carefully. I sat. The entire class was stunned. Silenced by her anger, they stared at me, the culprit, as the teacher issued a warning about the dire consequences of telling lies. She insisted that there were no “coloured” people in Britain during the war, that no coloured people served in any of the armed services, and certainly not in the RAF, the most elite branch of the British military.

Speaking in the slow and deliberate tone of voice that she adopted when she would brook no opposition, she declared that coloured people were not British, but immigrants who arrived on these shores after the war had been fought and won. We all shifted back in our seats, and I cowered in shock and humiliation…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and “The American Negro”

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-11-19 21:15Z by Steven

Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and “The American Negro”

University of Georgia Press
2019-11-15
416 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-5626-6

John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

The classic biography of the infamous black Negrophobe William Hannibal Thomas, with a new preface by the author

William Hannibal Thomas (1843-1935) served with distinction in the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War (in which he lost an arm) and was a preacher, teacher, lawyer, state legislator, and journalist following Appomattox. In many publications up through the 1890s, Thomas espoused a critical though optimistic black nationalist ideology. After his mid-twenties, however, Thomas began exhibiting a self-destructive personality, one that kept him in constant trouble with authorities and always on the run. His book The American Negro (1901) was his final self-destructive act.

Attacking African Americans in gross and insulting language in this utterly pessimistic book, Thomas blamed them for the contemporary “Negro problem” and argued that the race required radical redemption based on improved “character,” not changed “color.” Vague in his recommendations, Thomas implied that blacks should model themselves after certain mulattoes, most notably William Hannibal Thomas.

Black Judas is a biography of Thomas, a publishing history of The American Negro, and an analysis of that book’s significance to American racial thought. The book is based on fifteen years of research, including research in postamputation trauma and psychoanalytic theory on self-hatred, to assess Thomas’s metamorphosis from a constructive race critic to a black Negrophobe. John David Smith argues that his radical shift resulted from key emotional and physical traumas that mirrored Thomas’s life history of exposure to white racism and intense physical pain.

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Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-11-12 16:35Z by Steven

Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

The Los Angeles Times
2019-11-11

Sewell Chan, Deputy Managing Editor, News

Noel Ignatiev
Noel Ignatiev’s 1995 book “How the Irish Became White” was influential and controversial, touching off a firestorm of debate.

Noel Ignatiev, a former steelworker who became a historian known for his work on race and class and his call to abolish “whiteness,” died at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson on Saturday. He was 78. The cause was an intestinal infarction, according to Kingsley Clarke, a longtime friend.

Ignatiev’s best-known book, “How the Irish Became White,” was immediately influential and controversial upon its publication in 1995. It touched off a firestorm of debate at the time at academic conferences and in the pages of newspapers. In time his view that whiteness is a social and political construction — and not a phenomenon with a biological basis — has become mainstream. The resurgence of white identity politics and white nationalism in recent years made Ignatiev’s arguments relevant to a new generation of readers who argued the notion that race is more about power and privilege rather than about ancestry, or even identity.

The book detailed how the Irish, who had first come to North America as indentured servants and were reviled by the more settled populations of English and Dutch Americans, became, by the mid-19th century, accepted as white. Sadly, Ignatiev argued, the Irish became incorporated into whiteness just before the Civil War, through support for slavery and violence against free African Americans. To become white, Ignatiev wrote, did not mean to be middle class, much less rich, but rather to be accepted as equal citizens and to have access to the same neighborhoods, schools and jobs as others…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Racial Passing in America

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-11-10 03:59Z by Steven

Racial Passing in America

Yale University Press Blog
2019-11-04

Adele Logan Alexander, Emeritus Professor of History
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Over the years, the practice of “passing” for white has variously been considered wicked, cowardly, deceptive, essential, all or none of the above by much of the African American community. Certainly, it was and is controversial.

In years, decades, and centuries past, a number of light-skinned African Americans “passed,” either briefly, permanently, or situationally. Their stories are legion. This certainly has been the case for several members of my own family…

…But there are alternative stories too. In the Jim Crow South, my light-skinned grandmother sometimes wore a raceless mask to attend “all-white” suffrage conferences in the pre-Nineteenth Amendment years. Then she brought the information she gleaned back to share with her African American friends and peers who hoped to acquire the vote for women. On occasion, she also manipulated the racial apartheid system to acquire the best possible medical care for herself and her children. Would anyone argue with her choices in those instances?…

Read the entire article here.

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New Hampshire: Beyond Black & White

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2019-11-10 03:40Z by Steven

New Hampshire: Beyond Black & White

Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire
2019-2020 Elinor Williams Hooker Expanded Tea Talk Series
Keene State College
Young Student Center
Mountain View Room
229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435
Sunday, 2019-11-10, 14:00 EST

Contact information:
JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director
603-570-8469

Panelists: David Watters, Darrell Hucks, & (TBA)
Moderator: Dottie Morris

Moving beyond rigid racial identities, this talk will explore the contemporary as well as historic intersection between Black and Indigenous communities, the presence of “passing” mixed race individuals, and the most recent immigrant experience within a New England context. These complex interactions, connections conflicts, experiences, and resistant efforts of Black, white and multi-racial citizens will be explored through scholarly research and an analysis of the film Lost Boundaries.

For more information, click here.

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Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2019-11-04 17:54Z by Steven

Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932

Bloomsbury
2019-02-21
232 pages
9 colour and 37 bw illus
229 x 152 mm
Hardback 9781501332357

Lyneise E. Williams, Associate Professor of Art History
University of North Carolina

Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932

Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932 examines an understudied visual language used to portray Latin Americans in mid-19th to early 20th-century Parisian popular visual media. The term ‘Latinize’ is introduced to connect France’s early 19th-century endeavors to create “Latin America,” an expansion of the French empire into the Latin-language based Spanish and Portuguese Americas, to its perception of this population.

Latin-American elites traveler to Paris in the 1840s from their newly independent nations were denigrated in representations rather than depicted as equals in a developing global economy. Darkened skin, etched onto images of Latin Americans of European descent mitigated their ability to claim the privileges of their ancestral heritage. Whitened skin, among other codes, imposed on turn-of-the-20th-century Black Latin Americans in Paris tempered their Blackness and rendered them relatively assimilatable compared to colonial Africans, Blacks from the Caribbean, and African Americans.

After identifying mid-to-late 19th-century Latinizing codes, the study focuses on shifts in latinizing visuality between 1890-1933 in three case studies: the depictions of popular Cuban circus entertainer Chocolat; representations of Panamanian World Bantamweight Champion boxer Alfonso Teofilo Brown; and paintings of Black Uruguayans executed by Pedro Figari, a Uruguayan artist, during his residence in Paris between 1925-1933.

Table of contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
    • The Term “Latin American”
    • Why Paris?
    • Much More Than Primitivism
    • Reduced to Latin Americans
    • Parisian Figurations of Blackness from the Mid-Nineteenth to the Early Twentieth Century
    • Overview of the Study
  • Chapter 1: Playing Up Blackness and Indianness; Downplaying Europeanness
    • Editing Francisco Laso: Racializing Spanish and Portuguese Americans
    • Performing Rastaquerismo
    • Justified by Anthropology: Quatrefages, Hamy, and the Casta Paintings
    • Latin American Self-Representation
    • The Shifting Rastaquouère
    • Maintaining Anthropological Interpretations in the Early Twentieth Century
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2: Chocolat the Clown: Not Just Black
    • Chocolat and Footit: Partners in Contrast
    • The Auguste Chocolat
    • The Give and Take of Chocolat and Footit
    • Chocolat and Footit at the Nouveau Cirque
    • Chocolat as Brand Image
    • Beneath the Surface
    • Chocolat as Mixed Animal
    • Chocolat the Contaminant
    • Impure Chocolat(e)
    • Chocolat, That Special Ingredient: The Racially Mixed Object of Desire
    • Complicating Notions of Minstrelsy
    • Lip Interventions
    • Representations Through Clothing
    • Sexualizing Black Dandies
    • Assimilating the Latin
    • Beyond the Circus
    • Chocolat, Object of Gay Desire
    • Chocolat and the Elite and the Virile
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3: Alfonso Teofilo Brown: Agency and Impositions of Blackness and Europeanness
    • Sport and the Imagined Ideal Male Body
    • Black Boxers in Turn-of-the-Century France
    • Gangly Brown
    • The Purity and Hybridity of Gangly Brown
    • Brown the Gentleman
    • Images of Black Difference
    • Brown the Philanthropist
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4: Figari’s Blacks: Negotiating French and Southern Cone Blackness
    • Figari and Paris
    • Contested Whiteness and the Black Body
    • Conceptualizing Regional Identity
    • Through the Anthropological Gaze
    • Candombe as Framing Device
    • Gender and Race in Candombe
    • Objects as Markers
    • Figari as “Naïf” Painter
    • Increasing Latin American Presence in Paris
    • Perceptions of Black Uruguayans
    • Figari’s Evolution in Paris
    • Contradictions and Contrasts between Figari’s Paintings and Written Work
    • Conclusion
  • Coda
  • Select Bibliography
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Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2019-11-03 03:05Z by Steven

Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art

Pennsylvania State University Press
2018
180 pages
8″ × 10″
31 color/29 b&w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-07907-3

Mey-Yen Moriuchi, Assistant Professor of Art History
LaSalle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Cover image for Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art By Mey-Yen Moriuchi

The years following Mexican independence in 1821 were critical to the development of social, racial, and national identities. The visual arts played a decisive role in this process of self-definition. Mexican Costumbrismo reorients current understanding of this key period in the history of Mexican art by focusing on a distinctive genre of painting that emerged between 1821 and 1890: costumbrismo.

In contrast to the neoclassical work favored by the Mexican academy, costumbrista artists portrayed the quotidian lives of the lower to middle classes, their clothes, food, dwellings, and occupations. Based on observations of similitude and difference, costumbrista imagery constructed stereotypes of behavioral and biological traits associated with distinct racial and social classes. In doing so, Mey-Yen Moriuchi argues, these works engaged with notions of universality and difference, contributed to the documentation and reification of social and racial types, and transformed the way Mexicans saw themselves, as well as how other nations saw them, during a time of rapid change for all aspects of national identity.

Carefully researched and featuring more than thirty full-color exemplary reproductions of period work, Moriuchi’s study is a provocative art-historical examination of costumbrismo’s lasting impact on Mexican identity and history.

Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Racialized Social Spaces in Casta and Costumbrista Painting
  • 2. Traveler-Artists’ Visions of Mexico
  • 3. Literary Costumbrismo: Celebration and Satire of los tipos populares
  • 4. Local Perspectives: Mexican Costumbrista Artists
  • 5. Costumbrista Photography
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Shape Shifters: Journeys across Terrains of Race and Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Identity Development/Psychology on 2019-10-26 03:07Z by Steven

Shape Shifters: Journeys across Terrains of Race and Identity

University of Nebraska Press
January 2020
444 pages
8 photos, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0663-3

Edited by:

Lily Anne Y. Welty Tamai, Curator of History
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, California

Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly, Professor of History
University of La Verne, Point Mugu, California

Paul Spickard, Distinguished Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Shape Shifters

Shape Shifters presents a wide-ranging array of essays that examine peoples of mixed racial identity. Moving beyond the static “either/or” categories of racial identification found within typical insular conversations about mixed-race peoples, Shape Shifters explores these mixed-race identities as fluid, ambiguous, contingent, multiple, and malleable. This volume expands our understandings of how individuals and ethnic groups identify themselves within their own sociohistorical contexts.

The essays in Shape Shifters explore different historical eras and reach across of the globe, from the Roman and Chinese borderlands of classical antiquity to Medieval Eurasian shape-shifters, the Native peoples of the missions of Spanish California, and racial shape-shifting among African Americans in the post–civil rights era. At different times in their lives or over generations in their families, racial shape-shifters have moved from one social context to another. And as new social contexts were imposed on them, identities have even changed from one group to another. This is not racial, ethnic, or religious imposture. It is simply the way that people’s lives unfold in fluid sociohistorical circumstances.

With contributions by Ryan Abrecht, George J. Sanchez, Laura Moore, and Margaret Hunter, among others, Shape Shifters explores the forces of migration, borderlands, trade, warfare, occupation, colonial imposition, and the creation and dissolution of states and empires to highlight the historically contingent basis of identification among mixed-race peoples across time and space.

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Opinion: The pernicious myth of a Caucasian race

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2019-10-26 03:06Z by Steven

Opinion: The pernicious myth of a Caucasian race

The Los Angeles Times
2019-09-11

Joel Dinerstien, Professor of English
Tulane University, New Orleans Louisiana

Anthropologists have for centuries studied human skulls and drawn conclusions about human origins — some of them inaccurate.
Anthropologists have for centuries studied human skulls and drawn conclusions about human origins — some of them inaccurate. (Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

How did a female skull lead to “Caucasians”?

In the vocabulary of ethnicity, some designations are obvious. African Americans are of African descent; Latinos have Latin American roots. But what about Caucasians? If a Native American told a Caucasian to “go back where you came from,” where would that person go?

Geographically, Caucasia is a region of Russia, a place from which few white Americans come. Yet the term Caucasian remains in wide use as a synonym for a white person.

The classification dates back to 1795, when Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a respected German physician and anthropologist, conducted research in which he measured skulls, a then-common practice for comparing disparate human groups…

Read the entire article here.

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