The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-13 03:06Z by Steven

The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

The Guardian
2018-10-02

Caleb Gayle


Rhonda Grayson, with an image of her great-great grandfather Willie Cohee. Photograph: Brett Deering for the Guardian

Their ancestors were black slaves owned by Native Americans. Now they’re suing the Creek nation to fully restore their citizenship

Johnnie Mae Austin and her grandson, Damario Solomon-Simmons, can tell you everything about their ancestry. They can go back as far as 1810, the year Solomon-Simmons’ great-great-great-great-grandfather, Cow Tom, was born. With undeniable pride, they recount the man’s feats of bravery during the civil war, and his leadership within Oklahoma’s Creek population.

In fact, they are so determined to let the world know exactly who Cow Tom was that they’re suing the Creek nation to make sure his descendants aren’t forgotten.

Solomon-Simmons and his grandmother are black, but they argue they’re also Creek, and they’re fighting to reclaim their identity…

Red the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 21:42Z by Steven

Review: Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2018-06-02

Vanessa Holden, Assistant Professor of History and African American and Africana Studies
University of Kentucky

Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

At the opening of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America, Sharon Block poses two provocative questions: “What were the meanings of black, white, and red in the colonial eighteenth century; and how did Anglo-American colonists describe people’s appearance?” (1) To answer these queries Block presents a cultural history race in Britain’s 18th century American colonies. She makes a careful study of the descriptors advertisers and editors used in missing colonial persons adds for runaway African descent and their European and Native American servants.

Block argues that the terms “black”; “white”; “red”; and “yellow” did not have static meanings that neatly corresponded to racial identities for 18th-century Anglo-colonists. Those terms evolved into markers of racial difference right alongside American constructions of race that would not become commonplace until the 19th century. Block challenges readers to understand how humoral theory influenced European colonists’ ideas about physical appearance and how the form of the missing person ad reflected and shaped the meanings of signifiers like age, height, and health for colonial subjects.

Block engages thirty-nine colonial newspapers from all over the across colonial America for her study, drawing from them both quantitative and qualitative data to support her arguments. From their pages, she gleans categories and descriptors used by 18th-century subjects to describe other 18th century subjects. “Through a range of descriptive choices,” she writes, “advertisers communicated the features they deemed significant for readers to know and revealed shared assumptions about bodily norms.”(5) Block remains very critical of her sources throughout and highlights both the form and the content of the ads she analyzes. She is well aware that the ads are part of an archive of mastery and makes sure to note this throughout. Block remains clear that the norms she excavates from these advertisements are norms for Anglo-colonizers and takes care to acknowledge African and Native American understandings of physiology. That the descriptors and signifiers she analyzes allow Anglo-colonists to flatten individual human experiences and bolster colonial systems of power is precisely her point.

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , ,

Making Race in British Colonial North America

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 20:53Z by Steven

Making Race in British Colonial North America

Black Perspectives
2018-11-08

Elise A. Mitchell, Ph.D. Candidate in Atlantic World History and Caribbean and Latin American History
Department of History
New York University


Uncle Sam challenging the interference of John Bull, the personification of Great Britain, in the Civil War, 1861 (Photo: Library of Congress).

When confronted with three eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements seeking a missing man from Connecticut named Ishmael Mux of “a white Complexion,” a missing Pennsylvanian named John Daily who had a “black Complexion, bushy Hair,” and a man who went missing on his way to North Carolina named Andrew Vaughan with a “red” complexion, most readers would presume that their complexions, “white,” “black,” and “red,” indicated their race. However, as Sharon Block shows in her latest book, Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America, to eighteenth-century readers:

White, black, and red complexion did not automatically parallel European, African, and Native American heritages, respectively. In fact, Ishmael was described as mulatto; John as Irish; and Andrew was listed as an infantryman in the British 40th regiment, was born in Philadelphia, with no nationality or ethnicity specified. Skin and hair appearance were features related to, but not constitutive of, ethnic or national background (60-61).

This is but one of many examples Sharon Block uses to illustrate how the relationships between bodily descriptions, ethnicities, and racial meaning are not transhistorical, but developed through contextually specific discourses that have changed over time (83). Block, a digital humanist and historian of race, gender, rape, sexuality, and the body, examined thirty-nine British North American colonial newspapers published between 1750 and 1775 and analyzed over 4000 advertisements for missing enslaved and free people. Her ambitious study of these advertisements reveals how British North American colonists constructed race through quotidian discourses. Colonial Complexions is a crucial contribution to the history of race and a noteworthy model for digital age historical methodology…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , ,

Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 19:55Z by Steven

Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America

University of Pennsylvania Press
2018
232 pages
17 illus.
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 9780812250060

Sharon Block, Professor of History
University of California, Irvine

In Colonial Complexions, historian Sharon Block examines how Anglo-Americans built racial ideologies out of descriptions of physical appearance. By analyzing more than 4,000 advertisements for fugitive servants and slaves in colonial newspapers alongside scores of transatlantic sources, she reveals how colonists transformed observable characteristics into racist reality. Building on her expertise in digital humanities, Block repurposes these well-known historical sources to newly highlight how daily language called race and identity into being before the rise of scientific racism.

In the eighteenth century, a multitude of characteristics beyond skin color factored into racial assumptions, and complexion did not have a stable or singular meaning. Colonists justified a race-based slave labor system not by opposing black and white but by accumulating differences in the bodies they described: racism was made real by marking variation from a norm on some bodies, and variation as the norm on others. Such subtle systemizations of racism naturalized enslavement into bodily description, erased Native American heritage, and privileged life history as a crucial marker of free status only for people of European-based identities.

Colonial Complexions suggests alternative possibilities to modern formulations of racial identities and offers a precise historical analysis of the beliefs behind evolving notions of race-based differences in North American history.

Tags: , ,

Was Interracial Love Possible in the Days of Slavery? Descendants of One Couple Think So

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-10-21 14:45Z by Steven

Was Interracial Love Possible in the Days of Slavery? Descendants of One Couple Think So

The New York Times
2018-10-21

Adeel Hassan


Paula Wright, a seventh-generation descendant of an interracial couple, has documented over 500 images that chronicle her family’s history.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

He was buried in a white cemetery. She was buried in a black cemetery. Their marriage was unheard-of at the time.

Both William Ramey and his wife, Kittie Simkins, were born and raised in Edgefield, S.C., or “Bloody Edgefield,” a town known for its grisly murder rate in the antebellum South. Their relationship defied convention, and yet it survived war and bitter family resentment.

Mr. Ramey, born in 1840, came from a prominent white family. Ms. Simkins was born a slave in 1845, most likely on a property called Edgewood owned by Francis Pickens, who would become a Confederate governor.

The love affair could have been lost if not for Paula Wright, a seventh-generation descendant of the couple who inherited vintage photographs documenting eight generations of her family, dating to 1805. Ms. Wright, a New York Times reader, shared her family’s story with Race/Related earlier this year…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-10-12 13:56Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Simon & Schuster
2018-10-02
864 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781416590316

David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

Tags: , , ,

A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-08-28 14:24Z by Steven

A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Yale University Press
2018-08-28
352 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
25 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300225556

Brooke N. Newman, Associate Professor of History; Associate Director of the Humanities Research Center
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Focusing on Jamaica, Britain’s most valuable colony in the Americas by the mid-eighteenth century, Brooke Newman explores the relationship between racial classifications and the inherited rights and privileges associated with British subject status. Weaving together a diverse range of sources, she shows how colonial racial ideologies rooted in fictions of blood ancestry at once justified permanent, hereditary slavery for Africans and barred members of certain marginalized groups from laying claim to British liberties on the basis of hereditary status.

Tags: , , ,

Slavery graphic novel goes to schools to shed light on Scots history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Teaching Resources, United Kingdom on 2018-08-21 03:05Z by Steven

Slavery graphic novel goes to schools to shed light on Scots history

The National
2018-08-09

Kirsteen Paterson

The work is an 'ambitious collaboration' between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University
The work is an ‘ambitious collaboration’ between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University

EVERY third year pupil in Scotland is to be schooled on Scotland’s slave past thanks to a new graphic novel.

As many as 12,000 copies of Freedom Bound, which draws from research into slavery in the 1700s, are to be distributed around the country within weeks.

The work is an “ambitious collaboration” between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University, with illustrations from veteran artist Warren Pleece, whose credits include DC Comics and 2000AD.

The result is 144 pages that tell the stories of three people brought to Scotland to serve white masters…

…Launching the online archive in June, Professor Simon Newman of Glasgow University, who worked on Freedom Bound, said the loss of slave stories from the national memory had been “accidental”, telling The National: “Because there weren’t huge numbers of these people, because they formed relationships with the white population, they just disappeared.

“I suspect there are a good number of us who have African DNA.”

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Complicated History Behind Beyoncé’s Discovery About the ‘Love’ Between Her Slave-Owning and Enslaved Ancestors

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-08-13 23:30Z by Steven

The Complicated History Behind Beyoncé’s Discovery About the ‘Love’ Between Her Slave-Owning and Enslaved Ancestors

TIME
2018-08-10

Arica L. Coleman

The Life of Sally Hemings exhibit at Monticello is pictured on June 16, 2018 in Charlottesville, Va. (Photo by /For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Life of Sally Hemings exhibit at Monticello is pictured on June 16, 2018 in Charlottesville, Va. (Photo by /For The Washington Post via Getty Images) Eze Amos—The Washington Post/Getty Images

With Beyoncé’s appearance on the cover of the September issue of Vogue, the magazine highlights three facets of the superstar’s character for particular focus: “Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage.” The words she shares are deeply personal, and that last component also offers a window into a complicated and misunderstood dynamic that affects all of American history. While opening up about her family’s long history of dysfunctional marital relationships, she hints at an antebellum relationship that defies that trend: “I researched my ancestry recently,” she stated, “and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave.”

She doesn’t elaborate on how she made the discovery or what is known about those individuals, but fans will know that Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is a native of Houston whose maternal and paternal forbears hailed from Louisiana and Alabama, respectively. Her characterization of her heritage stands out because those states, like others across the South, had stringent laws and penalties against interracial marriage. In fact, throughout the colonial and antebellum eras, interracial marriage would have been the exception — even though interracial sex was the rule…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Interview: ‘White people are so fragile, bless ’em’ … meet Rhiannon Giddens, banjo warrior

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-07-29 01:04Z by Steven

Interview: ‘White people are so fragile, bless ’em’ … meet Rhiannon Giddens, banjo warrior

The Guardian
2018-07-23

Emma John

‘I’m not here to be famous’ … Rhiannon Giddens, who is curating the Cambridge folk festival.
‘I’m not here to be famous’ … Rhiannon Giddens, who is curating the Cambridge folk festival. Photograph: Tanya Rosen-Jones

She pours fire and fury into powerful songs that target everything from police shootings to slavery. The musician reveals all about her mission to put the black back into bluegrass – and Shakespeare

‘We’re all racist to some degree,” says Rhiannon Giddens. “Just like we’re all privileged to some degree. I have privilege in my system because I’m light-skinned. I hear people say, ‘I didn’t have it easy growing up either.’ But when did it become a competition?”

As someone on a mission to bridge such divides, Giddens thinks about this stuff a lot. The Grammy-winning singer and songwriter was born to a white father and a black mother in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the late 1970s. Her parents married only three years after the landmark Loving v Virginia decision, which reversed the anti-miscegenation laws that had made interracial marriage illegal. Their union was still shocking enough that her father was disinherited.

While much has changed in the 40 years that Giddens has been alive, her latest album, Freedom Highway, is a powerful testament to the inequality and injustice that remain. It opens with At the Purchaser’s Option, a devastating track inspired by an 1830s advert for a female slave whose nine-month-old baby could also be included in the sale. “It was kind of a statement to put that one first,” says Giddens. “If you can get past that, you’ll probably survive the rest.”…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,