Racism Comes Full Circle: America as the Harbinger of the Nazis’ Race Laws

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Virginia on 2017-08-15 19:00Z by Steven

Racism Comes Full Circle: America as the Harbinger of the Nazis’ Race Laws

Haaretz
2017-08-15

Oded Heilbronner, Lecturer in Cultural and Historical Studies
Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Shenkar College of Engineering and Design


Demonstrators carry confederate and Nazi flags during the Unite the Right free speech rally at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA on August 12, 2017. Emily Molli / NurPhoto

James Q. Whitman, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017)

Nazi sentiment was very much influenced by the American experience including the Jim Crow legislation in the South, Yale’s James Q. Whitman says in new book

A recent study has joined the constant flow of research on the Third Reich, an original work that sheds more light on a subject we thought we knew everything about: Nazi racism. It’s a subject all the more current after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

Countless books have been written on the sources of Nazi racism. Some reconstruct 500 years of German history, since the days of Martin Luther, and find the source of the Nazis’ murderous worldview. Others see Nazi ideology as a historical accident whose roots are to be found only in the few years before the rise of the Third Reich.

Others invoke European contexts: the Eastern European or French anti-Semitism on the eve of the 20th century, and the Communist revolution, whose shock waves included murderous anti-Semitism in Europe. We also must not ignore the biographical-psychological studies that focus on the pathological anti-Semitism developed by the Nazis, with Hitler at their head.

The unique work of Prof. James Q. Whitman of Yale Law School, whose previous book explored the growing divide between criminal law and punishment in America compared to Europe, belongs to a long series of research noting the global contexts in which decisions are made and events occurred both regionally and domestically…

…Based on a long series of modern studies, Whitman says the Nuremberg Laws were crafted so as to create citizenship laws based on racial categories. The main motive for the legislation was to prevent mixed marriages, which would lead to the birth of mixed-race children and “racial pollution.” At the center of the debate that preceded the Nuremberg Laws was the aspiration to construct a legal code that would prevent such situations. American precedents, which were meant to make African-Americans, Chinese and Filipinos second-class citizens, provided inspiration for the Nazis…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and sovereignty, a story of the body

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Religion, Social Justice on 2017-08-10 01:05Z by Steven

Race and sovereignty, a story of the body

National Catholic Reporter
2017-05-03

La Reine-Marie Mosely, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore, Maryland


Brian Bantum (Jessica Wood)

THE DEATH OF RACE: BUILDING A NEW CHRISTIANITY IN A RACIAL WORLD
By Brian Bantum
Published by Fortress Press, 182 pages, $16.99

In The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World, Brian Bantum explores the practical consequences of race in our world: Those who have inherited sovereignty have long organized the world according to the belief that whiteness is the paragon of existence, while black and brown bodies are deficient and suspect. It is this misconstrued and dangerous understanding of race that Bantum believes must die if followers of Jesus Christ want to live a meaningful embodied life in the spirit of their Savior.

Bantum is a biracial person who married a Korean-American woman. His life story is woven throughout the book as he explains the manner in which he came to racial consciousness.

It began with a choice. When the author was 6 years old, his mother was filling out a government document. Under the category of race, she asked her son to select the race that best captured his identity: white or black. Bantum selected “white” because of his love of his mother and the physical characteristics he shared with her. His brother, on the other hand, chose black because of the physical characteristics he shared with his father. Early in his life, Bantum began to realize the complexity of race in the U.S...

Read the entire review here.

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Danzy Senna’s New People Explores Race, Love, and Gentrification

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-10 00:47Z by Steven

Danzy Senna’s New People Explores Race, Love, and Gentrification

Elle
2017-08-03

Lisa Shea

The Caucasia author returns to her home ground: the personal and political dynamics of race.

In her latest novel, New People (Riverhead), Danzy Senna bores into the dynamics of race, identity, heritage, poverty, and privilege in contemporary America, exposing the pride and promises of change therein, as well as the pitfalls and pathologies. Agile and ambitious, the novel is also a wild-hearted romance about secrets and obsessions, a dramedy of manners about the educated black middle-class—the “talented tenth”—that is Senna’s authorial home ground. One critic, in reviewing Senna’s 2009 memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night?, about her writer parents’ marriage and divorce, and her father’s disappearance from her life, called her trenchant observations on America’s fixation with race “nod-inducingly brilliant.”

The female protagonist of New People, Maria, shares some of Senna’s biographical outlines: Maria refers to herself as a “quadroon” adopted and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by a single mom, Gloria, who struggled for years but never was able to complete her dissertation at Harvard. Maria meets Khalil—who “grew up in a liberal, humanist, multiracial family, oblivious to his own blackness,” when they are students at Stanford—after he’d broken up with his white girlfriend. “Maria liked to joke that she was his transitional object,” Senna writes. “He was morphing into a race man before her very eyes.”

Now it is 1996, and they’re engaged and living together in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. “Interspersed among the old guard—the Jamaican ladies with their folding chairs, the churchy men in their brown polyester suits—are the ones who have just arrived. It is subtle, this shift, almost imperceptible. When Maria blurs her eyes right it doesn’t appear to be happening. They dance together at house parties in the dark. If I ruled the world they sing, their voices rising as one, Imagine that. I’d free all my sons.“…

Read the entire review here.

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Danzy Senna’s New Black Woman

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-09 14:41Z by Steven

Danzy Senna’s New Black Woman

The New Yorker
2017-08-07

Doreen St. Félix


In Danzy Senna’s latest novel, “New People,” the ugliness of segregation has given way to a class of upwardly mobile light-skinned black people.
Agence Opale / Alamy Stock Photo

In an essay published in 2006, the novelist Paul Beatty recalled the first book he’d ever read by a black author. When the Los Angeles Unified School Board—“out of the graciousness of its repressive little heart”—sent him a copy of Maya Angelou’sI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” he made it through a few “maudlin” pages before he grew suspicious, he wrote. “I knew why they put a mirror in the parakeet’s cage: so he could wallow in his own misery.” Observing that the “defining characteristic of the African-American writer is sobriety,” Beatty described his own path toward a black literary insobriety, one that would lead to the satirical style of his novels “White Boy Shuffle” and “The Sellout.” Along the way, he discovered a select canon of literary black satire, including Zora Neale Hurston’s freewheeling story “The Book of Harlem” and Cecil Brown’sThe Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger.”

Danzy Senna, Beatty’s friend and fellow novelist, makes an appearance in that essay, smiling “wistfully” as she shows him “the cover of Fran Ross’s hilarious 1974 novel, ‘Oreo.’” As Senna later wrote in the foreword to the novel’s reissue, “Oreo,” about a biracial girl searching for her itinerant white father, manages to probe “the idea of falling from racial grace” while avoiding “mulatto sentimentalism.” Since her 1998 début novel, “Caucasia,” a stark story about two biracial sisters, Senna, like Ross before her, has developed her own kind of insobriety, one focussed on comically eviscerating the archetype of the “tragic mulatto”—that nineteenth-century invention who experiences an emotional anguish rooted in her warring, mixed bloods. Both beautiful and wretched, the mulatto was intended to arouse sympathy in white readers, who had magnificent difficulty relating to black people in literature (to say nothing of life). Senna, the daughter of the white Boston poet Fanny Howe and the black editor Carl Senna, grew up a member of the nineties Fort Greene “dreadlocked élite”; her light-skinned black characters, who dodge the constraints of post-segregation America, provide an excuse for incisive social satire. Thrillingly, blackness is not hallowed in Senna’s work, nor is it impervious to pathologies of ego. Senna particularly enjoys lampooning the search for racial authenticity. Her characters, and the clannish worlds they are often trying to escape, teeter on the brink of ruin and absurdity.

Senna’s latest novel, the slick and highly enjoyable “New People,” makes keen, icy farce of the affectations of the Brooklyn black faux-bohemia in which Maria, a distracted graduate student, lives with her fiancé among the new “Niggerati.” Maria and Khalil Mirsky—the latter’s name a droll amalgamation of his black and white Jewish parentage—are the “same shade of beige.”…

Read the entire review here.

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Danzy Senna Doesn’t Mind If Her New Novel Makes You Uncomfortable

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-08-07 02:41Z by Steven

Danzy Senna Doesn’t Mind If Her New Novel Makes You Uncomfortable

Vogue
2017-08-03

Julia Felsenthal, Senior Culture Writer

“I feel my role as a writer is to complicate, to leave more questions, to destabilize whatever seems set in stone,” says novelist Danzy Senna. “There’s been this whole conversation about trigger warnings. My half-joking thing is: I really want to trigger people. I want to read work that’s going to trigger me. I’m very committed to writing things that move people to a more uncomfortable place.”

Uncomfortable—and I mean this in the best way possible—is a pretty good descriptor of Senna’s latest novel, New People. The year is 1996. The place is Brooklyn. Our protagonist is Maria, a Columbia University doctoral student struggling to finish her dissertation on modes of resistance in the hymns and songs recorded by the Peoples Temple, the religious cult led by Jim Jones (and ultimately wiped out in 1978, when its leader ordered nearly 1,000 of those who had followed him to the Guyanese settlement of Jonestown to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid).

Maria is biracial, adopted at birth by a single black mother, a graduate student who brought her daughter up on a steady diet of Audre Lorde and Roots, and bemoaned that the light skin and straight hair with which Maria was born never darkened or kinked. (The baby was a “one-dropper,” writes Senna, “that peculiarly American creation, white in all outside appearances but black for generations to come.”) Now Maria is engaged to her college boyfriend, Khalil, whose skin is her exact same “shade of beige,” but who was raised by globe-trotting mixed parents in upper-middle-class bourgeois bohemian splendor, brought up to think of himself as a citizen of the world. Khalil is launching a company, Brooklyn Renaissance, a sort of proto-Facebook for “like-minded souls,” and happily planning his life with Maria: their Martha’s Vineyard wedding; the Brooklyn brownstone they’ll eventually buy and fill with artwork by Lorna Simpson, with children named Indigo and Cheo, with a dog named Thurgood…

Read the entire review here.

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The Ineradicable Color-Line: Danzy Senna’s “New People”

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-05 21:41Z by Steven

The Ineradicable Color-Line: Danzy Senna’s “New People”

Los Angeles Review of Books
2017-08-01

Gabrielle Bellot

Danzy Senna, New People, A Novel (New York: Riverhead, 2017)

IN LONDON IN JULY, at the dawn of a new century, W. E. B. Du Bois spoke in front the Pan-African Conference about the challenges of the era to come. “[T]he problem of the Twentieth Century,” he said, in a statement that would later appear in and come to define his epochal collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, “is the problem of the color-line.” The idea of describing American antiblack racial segregation by the simple, if not even deceptively charming, term color-line, had appeared two decades earlier in the title of Frederick Douglass’s 1881 essay, “The Color Line,” but it would come to be associated particularly with The Souls of Black Folk. So seductive was the phrase for Du Bois that he used it two more times to bookend an essay in the book, “Of the Dawn of Freedom,” but it was, of course, more than a memorable line. The color-line was as explicit as it was psychic, delineated in signs, denials, and public executions as much as it was in one’s choice of path, one’s footfalls, one’s bones and dreams. Racism is merely obvious when it becomes visible; its potential existence follows us, invisibly and phantasmally, when we’ve come to expect it…

New People is a paean to the psychosocial complexities of being racially mixed, and, as a result, color-lines, passing, and double-consciousness are everywhere. The book follows Maria, who is on the cusp of marriage to her college love, Khalil. Obsessive and unreliable herself, she is doing her dissertation on Jonestown, a notorious historical example of fanaticism and deception. It is 1996 in Brooklyn, though much of it still feels atmospherically like 2017, only without social media. In her past, “Maria could honestly say she hated white people”; her mother, Gloria, astutely notes that Maria possesses “that particular rage of the light-skinned individual.” Khalil is Jewish and black with light skin; the first time Maria sees him, he looks “both entirely black and entirely white.” Like Maria, but with less self-torment, Khalil learns to embrace his mixed-race status shortly after beginning to date Maria. However, Maria does not feel any fire in her when she is with Khalil. (So cold is their romantic relationship, at least to her, that she wonders as she kisses him if she is really more attracted to women than Khalil.) The one who bewitches her is the black man who opens the book: an unnamed poet whose show she and Khalil have gone to see…

Read the entire review here.

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We Wear The Mask: 15 Stories About Passing in America (edited by Brando Skyhorse & Lisa Page) [Review]

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-01 18:29Z by Steven

We Wear The Mask: 15 Stories About Passing in America (edited by Brando Skyhorse & Lisa Page) [Review]

Kirkus Reviews
2017-07-24

Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page (eds.), We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories about Passing in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 2017)

Writers explore how and why the phenomenon of “passing” both shocks and fascinates.

Skyhorse (English/Indiana Univ.; Take This Man, 2014, etc.) and Page (Creative Writing and English/George Washington Univ.) assemble a collection of 15 authentic narratives about how people attempt to “win access to the specific life they want, the ultimate form of assimilation, the pure embodiment of the American Dream,” by assuming to be a class or race they are inherently not. Both of the editors know this particular form of “reinvention” well and contribute their perspectives in highly personal essays. Skyhorse, who received his name from his mother “after my Mexican biological father abandoned us,” opens with reflections on how he, as a Mexican-American with the surname Ulloa, passed himself as an American Indian on his college applications. Page chronicles how her black great-grandmother passed for white in Mississippi in order to get a college education. The editors agree that “each of us sometimes employs misdirection to let someone jump to a different conclusion about who we are.” Racial passing also plays a key role in Achy Obejas’ tender recollection of how her Cuban-born father reinvented his “Third World soul” to create a better future for his family in America and in Marc Fitten’s excavation of his familial roots as an urgent preventative tool against diseases predisposed to Asian culture, which his great-grandfather went to great lengths to blur…

Read the entire review here.

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Saga of biracial elite couple offers a fresh take on identity, race, and class

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-08-01 18:09Z by Steven

Saga of biracial elite couple offers a fresh take on identity, race, and class

The Boston Globe
2017-07-28

Rebecca Steinitz, Globe Correspondent


Danzy Senna

Danzy Senna, New People, A Novel (New York: Riverhead, 2017)

It is 1996 in gentrifying Brooklyn, and Maria, the less-than-heroic heroine of “New People,’’ Danzy Senna’s sharp new novel, perches on the cusp of triumphant adulthood. Almost finished with her dissertation, “an ethnomusicology of the Peoples Temple” in Jonestown, Guyana, she is planning her Martha’s Vineyard wedding to aspiring Internet entrepreneur Khalil, her college boyfriend and perfect match: “She is the one he has been waiting for his whole life . . . He is the one she needs, the one who can repair her . . . Their skin is the same shade of beige.”

Products of “the Renaissance of Interracial Unions” at the end of the ’60s, the two are avatars of the “tangle of mud-colored New People who have come to carry the nation — blood-soaked, guilty of everything of which it has been accused — into the future,” so “perfect” they have been asked to star in “New People,’’ the documentary…

…Like Senna’s previous two novels “Caucasia’’ and “Symptomatic,’’ “New People’’ explores the fraught social and emotional world of the biracial elite. This is Senna’s world — “Caucasia’’ was built on the foundation of her 1970s Boston childhood, and Maria and Khalil attend Stanford in the early ’90s, as she did…

Read the entire review here.

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Review: Vic Mensa, ‘The Autobiography’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-28 15:41Z by Steven

Review: Vic Mensa, ‘The Autobiography’

First Listen: Hear Upcoming Albums in Their Entirety
NPR Music
National Public Radio
2017-07-20

Rodney Carmichael, Hip-Hop Reporter


Vic Mensa’s new album, The Autobiography, is out July 28.
Courtesy of the artist

When history ranks 2017 among hip-hop’s wonder years — and from the sounds of the previous six months it certainly qualifies — Vic Mensa’s long-awaited full-length debut will be a big part of the reason why. The Chi-town native has created a work in The Autobiography that’s equal parts confessional and confrontational, gut-wrenching and uplifting. Steeped in a personal story arc that envelopes Mensa’s hometown, it echoes with the pain of a generation.


Courtesy of the artist

It only makes sense that the LP is executive produced by No I.D., who’s already responsible for another of the year’s more revelatory LPs in Jay-Z’s 4:44

Read the entire review here.

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Why You Should Think Twice About Those DNA-By-Mail Results

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History on 2017-07-07 20:36Z by Steven

Why You Should Think Twice About Those DNA-By-Mail Results

Cosmos & Culture: Commentary on Science and Society
National Public Radio
2017-07-06

Barbara J. King, Professor Emerita of Anthropology
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia


iStockphoto

In a new book, University of North Carolina, Charlotte anthropologist Jonathan Marks says that racism in science is alive and well.

This stands in sharp contrast to creationist thinking, Marks says, which is, like racism, decidedly evident in our society but most certainly not welcome in science.

In Is Science Racist? Marks writes:

“If you espouse creationist ideas in science, you are branded as an ideologue, as a close-minded pseudo-scientist who is unable to adopt a modern perspective, and who consequently has no place in the community of scholars. But if you espouse racist ideas in science, that’s not quite so bad. People might look at you a little askance, but as a racist you can coexist in science alongside them, which you couldn’t do if you were a creationist. Science is racist when it permits scientists who advance racist ideas to exist and to thrive institutionally.”

This is a strong set of claims, and Marks uses numerous examples to support them. For example, a 2014 book by science writer Nicholas Wade used genes and race to explain, as Michael Balter put it in Science magazine, “why some people live in tribal societies and some in advanced civilizations, why African-Americans are allegedly more violent than whites, and why the Chinese may be good at business.”…

Read the entire article here.

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