Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

Posted in Africa, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery on 2022-01-24 02:03Z by Steven

Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

Harvard University Press
2022-03-22
320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
21 photos, 1 table
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674244269

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alfonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor; Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Andrew S. Curran, William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

The first translation and publication of sixteen submissions to the notorious eighteenth-century Bordeaux essay contest on the cause of “black” skin—an indispensable chronicle of the rise of scientifically based, anti-Black racism.

In 1739 Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences announced a contest for the best essay on the sources of “blackness.” What is the physical cause of blackness and African hair, and what is the cause of Black degeneration, the contest announcement asked. Sixteen essays, written in French and Latin, were ultimately dispatched from all over Europe. The authors ranged from naturalists to physicians, theologians to amateur savants. Documented on each page are European ideas about who is Black and why.

Looming behind these essays is the fact that some four million Africans had been kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic by the time the contest was announced. The essays themselves represent a broad range of opinions. Some affirm that Africans had fallen from God’s grace; others that blackness had resulted from a brutal climate; still others emphasized the anatomical specificity of Africans. All the submissions nonetheless circulate around a common theme: the search for a scientific understanding of the new concept of race. More important, they provide an indispensable record of the Enlightenment-era thinking that normalized the sale and enslavement of Black human beings.

These never previously published documents survived the centuries tucked away in Bordeaux’s municipal library. Translated into English and accompanied by a detailed introduction and headnotes written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Andrew Curran, each essay included in this volume lays bare the origins of anti-Black racism and colorism in the West.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: Who’s Black and Why?
  • Note on the Translations
  • I
    • Introduction: The 1741 Contest on the “Degeneration” of Black Skin and Hair
    • 1. Blackness through the Power of God
    • 2. Blackness through the Soul of the Father
    • 3. Blackness through the Maternal Imagination
    • 4. Blackness as a Moral Defect
    • 5. Blackness as a Result of the Torrid Zone
    • 6. Blackness as a Result of Divine Providence
    • 7. Blackness as a Result of Heat and Humidity
    • 8. Blackness as a Reversible Accident
    • 9. Blackness as a Result of Hot Air and Darkened Blood
    • 10. Blackness as a Result of a Darkened Humor
    • 11. Blackness as a Result of Blood Flow
    • 12. Blackness as an Extension of Optical Theory
    • 13. Blackness as a Result of an Original Sickness
    • 14. Blackness Degenerated
    • 15. Blackness Classified
    • 16. Blackness Dissected
  • II
    • Introduction: The 1772 Contest on “Preserving” Negroes
    • 1. A Slave Ship Surgeon on the Crossing
    • 2. A Parisian Humanitarian on the Slave Trade
    • 3. Louis Alphonse, Bordeaux Apothecary, on the Crossing
  • Select Chronology of the Representation of Africans and Race
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Index
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The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2022-01-20 02:29Z by Steven

The Devil’s Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail

Seal Press (an imprint of Basic Books)
2022-04-12
352 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781541675636
eBook ISBN-13: 9781541675629
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781549193354

Kristen Green

The inspiring true story of an enslaved woman who liberated an infamous slave jail and transformed it into one of the nation’s first HBCUs

In The Devil’s Half Acre, New York Times bestselling author Kristen Green draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary and little-known story of young Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the “Devil’s Half Acre.” When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into “God’s Half Acre,” a school where Black men could fulfill their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America’s first Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A sweeping narrative of a life in the margins of the American slave trade, The Devil’s Half Acre brings Mary Lumpkin into the light. This is the story of the resilience of a woman on the path to freedom, her historic contributions, and her enduring legacy.

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Black Americans on the Way to Sainthood: Henriette Delille

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States, Women on 2022-01-18 02:32Z by Steven

Black Americans on the Way to Sainthood: Henriette Delille

St. Charles Borromeo Church
Brooklyn, New York
2021-02-13

Josephine Dongbang

Henriette Delille, (1812-1862), founder of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“For the love of Jesus Christ, she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.”

Henriette Delille was born in 1812 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a loving Catholic family. While Henriette was born a free woman, she was descended from an enslaved African woman and white slave owner. Thus, following the tradition of the females in her family, she was groomed to form a monogamous relationship with wealthy white men under the plaçage system. She was trained in French literature, music, and dance, and expected to attend balls to meet men who would enter into such civil unions. Most of these agreements often ended up with the men later marrying white women in “official” marriages and/or abandoning their promises of support for the women and their mixed-race children. As a devout Catholic, Henriette opposed such system, believing it went against the Catholic sacrament of marriage…

Read the entire article here.

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Overlooked No More: Elizabeth A. Gloucester, ‘Richest’ Black Woman and Ally of John Brown

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2022-01-11 18:12Z by Steven

Overlooked No More: Elizabeth A. Gloucester, ‘Richest’ Black Woman and Ally of John Brown

The New York Times
2019-09-18

Steve Bell, Senior Staff Editor

Elizabeth Gloucester amassed a fortune from running more than 15 boardinghouses, including the Remsen House in Brooklyn, which drew an elite clientele.

Overlooked is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

She ran boardinghouses whose lodgers included members of New York’s elite, raised money for an orphan asylum and was active in the abolitionists’ cause.

With a fortune built largely from operating boarding homes in Brooklyn and beyond, Elizabeth A. Gloucester was considered by many to be the richest black woman in America at her death at age 66 on Aug. 9, 1883.

Attending her funeral was “a congregation of people such as has seldom come together,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, made up of “richly dressed white ladies, fashionably attired gentlemen and a number of well-known colored people.”

Whether her fortune of about $300,000 (the equivalent of about $7 million today) actually made her the nation’s wealthiest black woman may be impossible to prove. Some white women were much richer; the financial whiz Hetty Green was then building a net worth that might rival or exceed that held by President Trump today.

But Gloucester was notable for more than just her money. She was linked — for a time dangerously so — to the antislavery firebrand John Brown, whom some blamed for leading the nation into the Civil War. She also led efforts to raise money for New York’s Colored Orphan Asylum, which would be set afire in the deadly draft riots of 1863. In her final year she even managed to land a cameo role in a high-society scandal that made headlines across the country…

Read the entire article here.

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The Recovered Life of Isaac Anderson

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2022-01-04 18:11Z by Steven

The Recovered Life of Isaac Anderson

University Press of Mississippi
2021-12-15
256 pages
16 b&w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496835147
Paperback ISBN: 9781496835130

Alicia K. Jackson, Associate Professor of History
Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia

The story of an enslaved man who became a Georgia state senator, helped found a church, and led his people to promise and hope

Owned by his father, Isaac Harold Anderson (1835–1906) was born a slave but went on to become a wealthy businessman, grocer, politician, publisher, and religious leader in the African American community in the state of Georgia. Elected to the state senate, Anderson replaced his white father there, and later shepherded his people as a founding member and leader of the Colored Methodist Episcopal church. He helped support the establishment of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, where he subsequently served as vice president.

Anderson was instrumental in helping freed people leave Georgia for the security of progressive safe havens with significantly large Black communities in northern Mississippi and Arkansas. Eventually under threat to his life, Anderson made his own exodus to Arkansas, and then later still, to Holly Springs, Mississippi, where a vibrant Black community thrived.

Much of Anderson’s unique story has been lost to history—until now. In The Recovered Life of Isaac Anderson, author Alicia K. Jackson presents a biography of Anderson and in it a microhistory of Black religious life and politics after emancipation. A work of recovery, the volume captures the life of a shepherd to his journeying people, and of a college pioneer, a CME minister, a politician, and a former slave. Gathering together threads from salvaged details of his life, Jackson sheds light on the varied perspectives and strategies adopted by Black leaders dealing with a society that was antithetical to them and to their success.

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The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, Social Science on 2021-12-23 20:51Z by Steven

The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization

University of California Press
January 2022 (Originally published 1986)
676 pages
Trim Size: 6.14 x 9.21
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520367005
Paperback ISBN: 9780520337060

Gilberto Freyre (1900-1987)

Introduction by: David H. P. Maybury-Lewis (1929-2007)

This title is part of UC Press’s Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1986.

Table of Contents

  • Frontmatter
  • Preface to the first English-Language Edition
  • Preface to the Second English-language Edition
  • Translator’s Acknowledgments
  • Author’s Preface to the Paperback Edition
  • Introduction to the Paperback Edition
  • I General Characteristics of the Portuguese Colonization of Brazil: Formation of an Agrarian, Slave-Holding and Hybrid Society
  • II The Native in the Formation of the Brazilian Family
  • III The Portuguese Colonizer: Antecedents and Predispositions
  • IV The Negro Slave in the Sexual and Family Life of the Brazilian
  • V The Negro Slave in the Sexual and Family Life of the Brazilian (continued)
  • Plans showing Big House of the Noruega Plantation
  • Glossary of the Brazilian Terms Used
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Subjects
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The ways Afro-Indigenous people are asked to navigate their communities

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-27 22:19Z by Steven

The ways Afro-Indigenous people are asked to navigate their communities

High Country News
2021-10-28

Alaina E. Roberts

Two leading scholars discuss the complex relationship between Black and Native people.

African American history and Native American history have long been considered kindred by those who see the original sin of the United States as twofold, a dual theft by European settlers: the taking of Indigenous lives and land, and the seizure of Black bodies and labor. Both groups suffered the loss of language, culture and freedom.

There are many ways the two peoples’ histories have overlapped since they first came into contact over 500 years ago. In African American popular culture, those early interactions often take the form of romanticized tales: Native people working with Black people to battle the colonial system, or a Native ancestor who sheltered runaway slaves and bequeathed her long straight Black hair to her descendants. But there are others who seek to center Black lives by overlooking the shared historical experiences of the two groups and ignoring the modern-day Native encounter with issues of poverty, racism and police violence. Meanwhile, in many Native American communities, African Americans are viewed through a prejudicial lens similar to the kind that many white Americans use: as a people who may have been hurt by racism through enslavement, at one point, but who refuse to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, as it were.

The real history between African Americans and Native Americans is complex and requires acknowledging both the times and places in which they joined together to resist oppression as well as the times they participated in that oppression. It’s these deep complexities that shape the ideas Black and Native people have of one another today…

Read the entire interview here.

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I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-27 22:13Z by Steven

I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native

University of Pennsylvania Press
2021
224 pages
10 b/w
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 9780812253030

Alaina E. Roberts, Assistant Professor of History
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Winner of the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, in the Historical Era category, granted by the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage

Perhaps no other symbol has more resonance in African American history than that of “40 acres and a mule“—the lost promise of Black reparations for slavery after the Civil War. In I’ve Been Here All the While, we meet the Black people who actually received this mythic 40 acres, the American settlers who coveted this land, and the Native Americans whose holdings it originated from.

In nineteenth-century Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), a story unfolds that ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, their Black slaves, and African Americans and whites from the eastern United States fought military and rhetorical battles to lay claim to land that had been taken from others.

Through chapters that chart cycles of dispossession, land seizure, and settlement in Indian Territory, Alaina E. Roberts draws on archival research and family history to upend the traditional story of Reconstruction. She connects debates about Black freedom and Native American citizenship to westward expansion onto Native land. As Black, white, and Native people constructed ideas of race, belonging, and national identity, this part of the West became, for a short time, the last place where Black people could escape Jim Crow, finding land and exercising political rights, until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

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Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 22:01Z by Steven

Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Columbia University and Slavery
Columbia University, New York, New York
2018

Ciara Keane

Discussions of racial passing have never been simple, as racial passing involves the traversing of social systems and the manipulation of power structures in a way that is often unsettling. Racial passing, according to Randall Kennedy, is a “deception that enables a person to adopt certain roles or identities from which he would be barred by prevailing social standards in the absence of his misleading conduct”.1 The most typical form of passing that has historically occurred in the United States is that of a black person passing as a white person; in other words, a person who has black ancestry that would societally deem him to be black moving throughout society identifying and performing as a white person. It is important to distinguish between a passer and a person who is not aware of their racial ancestry; while a passer is actively cognizant of their background and intentionally living as another race, many individuals are simply unaware of their race and fully believe themselves to be of the race they are living as, even though the facts of their racial ancestry would classify them as a different race than the one they identify as.2 The reasons for racial passing vary, but individuals usually decide to pass in order to reap the benefits that come with being of the race they are passing as. For example, a person may pass in order to access better job prospects, receive a higher level of education, or to occupy any other space that was typically off limits for their race.3

In a society like that of the United States which exists as a social hierarchy stratified by race and class, racial passers have been considered a significant threat to the structures that uphold white supremacy. For white people in America, “the core of ‘the American national character’ was a denial of legitimacy and privilege based exclusively on descent”.4 In other words, American society was and is inherently structured based on the hoarding of privilege by the white race and the denial of this privilege to minority groups, which above all applies to African-Americans. Therefore, minorities who pass as white pose a grave threat to the maintenance of this structure, as the act of passing blurs the barrier between the privileged elite and the oppressed. Although the infamous one-drop rule was not formally adopted until the 1920s5, the American South’s desire to hold onto the racial caste created by slavery led the entire nation to spend the years of 1850 to 1915 “turning from a society in which some blackness in a person might be overlooked to one in which no single iota of color was excused”.6 States like North Carolina and Virginia had laws prior to the solidification of the one-drop rule within the 18th and 19th century that defined as white those with less than one-fourth, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth African “blood”, but these rules were always overridden by rules of slavery which could deem even a person with one-sixty-fourth black “blood” to be black if their mother was a slave.7 By time the one-drop rule was written into law, which classified a person as black if they had any hint of African “blood” no matter how small and no matter their phenotypical appearance, any advantage that Mulattos may have enjoyed post-slavery that elevated them slightly above Black people without any white “blood” had long disappeared, and Mulattoes had been solidified as indistinguishable from any other member of the black race.8

Read the entire article here.

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The Shields Family: A Dichotomy of Race in US Society through Two Family Lines

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 20:28Z by Steven

The Shields Family: A Dichotomy of Race in US Society through Two Family Lines

Methods of Historical Research: Spring 2021
Texas A&M University, San Antonio
April 2021
18 pages

Joseph C. Platt

We spent the entirety of our Spring 2021 semester on Zoom, as our communities continued to struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of TAMUSA librarian Deirdre McDonald, we added the students’ research papers to the Digital Commons collection on Black San Antonio history we created the previous year.

The history of the Shields families of North and South Carolina, beginning with William Bryant Shields Sr. and Moses Shields respectively, offer dichotomous responses to American racial hierarchies over the decades. Generations of race mixing within the Shields family has its roots in the sons of Irish immigrants pursuing relationships with enslaved women. The one-sided nature of the power dynamic in these relationships takes on different dimensions in the lives of the mixed-race children of William Bryant Shields Sr. and the lives of Moses’ son, Henry Wells Shields, Henry’s slave Melvinia Shields, and her children. Both family lines take efforts to repress their black ancestry, one primarily through dilution through marriage and the other through a refusal of formal acknowledgement, which ironically enabled some of their children to flourish in African American society. The permeability of race can be gleaned through these two Shields family lines both in how they went about repressing their ties to enslaved black women and how these culminated in the present-day Shields descendants, Roseanne Cash and Michelle Obama.

Read the entire article here.

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