The “Real” Mrs. William Travilla – Dona Drake

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-03-28 01:34Z by Steven

The “Real” Mrs. William Travilla – Dona Drake

Travilla’s Legacy: Keeping True Fashion Alive
2013-11-07

In 1944, [William] Travilla met and married starlet Dona Drake, who at the time was more famous than he was having been in the entertainment industry for eleven years under several different names. Dona Drake, born Eunice Westmoreland, on November 5, 1914 to Joseph and Novella Westmoreland in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville was a major port on the East Coast shipping lanes and due to it’s balmy weather, a vacation destination for Northerners seeking to escape the cold winters.

From 1907 until 1918, it also thirty permanent film studios. Known as “The Winter Film Capital of the World” and where Oliver Hardy got his start and until politicians, plus other factors forced the film makers to California, was a leading industry in the city. Life was good for most of Jacksonville’s residents, but not for the Westmorelands, as segregation was strictly enforced and though Dona claimed Latin heritage throughout her personal and professional career, Eunice Westmoreland was negro. Referred to as such in both 1920 and 1930 census records. Both parents were interchangeably referred to as negro and mulatto in the early 1900 censuses.

By 1930, Eunice’s family has relocated to Philadelphia with her father working in a chili parlor and her older brother enrolled in college. Eunice helped at the restaurant, but soon quit to pursue her life long dream of singing and dancing. By 1933 she had moved to New York City with her mother and another waitress named Rene Villion. Changing her name to Una, she and Rene formed a “sister act” and the pair found work at the Paradise Club on Broadway. Earl Carroll spotted her on stage one night and cast her in his production of Murder at The Vanities. When that ended, the girls toured until Rene left to get married and Una continued solo, performing in packaged tours headed by Rudy Vallée and Harry Richman. Returning to New York City, Una began dating a local Brooklyn mobster named [Louis] “Pretty” Amburg. In October of 1934, Amburg’s nude body was found in the trunk of a burning car. At the time, Una was in Hollywood, with a new name, Rita Rio, and filming her first movie, Strike Me Pink with Eddie Cantor

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I Am a Descendant of James Madison and His Slave

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-03-22 02:26Z by Steven

I Am a Descendant of James Madison and His Slave

Zora
Medium
2020-03-17

Bettye Kearse


Illustration: Sophia Zarders

My whole life, my mother told me, ‘Always remember — you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.’

President Madison did not have children with his wife, Dolley. Leading scholars believe he was impotent, infertile, or both. But the stories I have heard since my childhood say that James Madison, a Founding Father of our nation, was also a founding father of my African American family.

In my childhood, whenever I whined or squirmed or got into trouble, my mother repeated the refrain: “Always remember — you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.” This is my family’s credo, the statement that has guided us for 200 years.

Though many in our family have heard we descend from President Madison and his slaves, only the griots — the one-in-a-generation oral historians in the family — know the full account of our ancestors, White and Black, in America. Gramps had told me many stories, but the detailed family history was Mom’s responsibility to convey to me when I became the next griotte.

The night my mother passed those stories on to me, I understood for the first time why some of the details of our family history were passed only from the griot of one generation to that of the next. Not only were some of the stories intimate, but this tradition safeguarded their accuracy, truth, and longevity. I sank into the sofa with my mother and listened with a new awareness of the significance of her words and what they meant to me. She began…

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The Famous Fultz Quads

Posted in Articles, Biography, Economics, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2020-03-22 02:18Z by Steven

The Famous Fultz Quads

Stanford University Press Blog
February 2020

Andrea Freeman, Associate Professor of Law
William S. Richardson School of Law
University of Hawai’i, Mānoa


Pet Milk ad featuring the Fultz quadruplets. Their doctor sold the rights to use the sisters for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company.

“Four Little Babies.” Pet Milk, “Four Little Babies Become Four Little Ladies,” advertisement, Pittsburgh Courier, October 22, 1949, 5. Public Domain.

The origin of America’s first surviving set of identical quadruplets.

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice » by Andrea Freeman.

Annie Mae Fultz could not afford to let anything go wrong with her pregnancy. Her doctor, Fred Klenner, had detected three tiny heartbeats inside her. It was 1946. Annie Mae was a tall, strong, thirty-seven-year-old half-Black, half-Cherokee woman from Tennessee.1 Dr. Klenner, although originally from Pennsylvania, happily adhered to southern racial norms.2 He had separate waiting rooms for Blacks and Whites in his downtown Reidsville, North Carolina, office. The old-fashioned decor of his practice matched his dated views. His segregated waiting rooms gave way to treatment rooms full of ancient furniture and unusual medical instruments.3 His walls displayed White supremacist literature and, later, a “Vote for George Wallace” poster.4 He vigorously defended Hitler as misunderstood to anyone who would listen.5 The local hospital where he delivered babies, Annie Penn Memorial, relegated Black mothers to the basement.6 Despite his unapologetic racism, Annie Mae had faith in Dr. Klenner’s medical abilities…

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This Artist Got His Start as an I.C.U. Nurse

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2020-03-22 01:35Z by Steven

This Artist Got His Start as an I.C.U. Nurse

The New York Times
2020-03-19

Siddhartha Mitter


Nate Lewis at his studio in the Bronx. Ike Edeani for The New York Times

Nate Lewis developed a visual language in the rhythms of EKGs. Now, his intricate works on paper take the scalpel to society.

The artist Nate Lewis left his job as a nurse three years ago, but life on the neurocritical intensive care unit produces memories that don’t readily fade.

The patients battling strokes, seizures, and head injuries. The specialists debating treatment based on test numbers and images. The anxious families keeping watch, looking to the nurse for explanation and reassurance.

“I would show up and these families are giving me everything, telling me their life stories,” Mr. Lewis, 34, recalled of his years at a hospital near Washington, D.C. “I realized what an honor it was to take care of them at this time in their lives.”

One high-stakes drill became familiar: When a patient’s brain, heart or lung functions exceeded the safe range, an alarm would sound, and the monitor would start printing out the relevant graph until the situation was addressed…

…A self-described jock, Mr. Lewis grew up obsessed with basketball, boxed a little and practices capoeira. He implicates his own body in his work, making self-portraits by the same method as portraits of his friends.

They are black, as is he — he grew up in Pennsylvania, the son of a mixed-race couple — and he fielded some criticism at first, he said, for seeming to mutilate black bodies. The accusations of “trauma porn” took him aback. “At that time, I was still thinking in the hospital sense,” he said…

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Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice

Posted in Biography, Books, Family/Parenting, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, Women on 2020-03-10 18:07Z by Steven

Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice

Stanford University Press
December 2019
304 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503601123
Digital ISBN: 9781503610811

Andrea Freeman, Associate Professor of Law
William S. Richardson School of Law
University of Hawai’i, Mānoa

Born into a tenant farming family in North Carolina in 1946, Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine were medical miracles. Annie Mae Fultz, a Black-Cherokee woman who lost her ability to hear and speak in childhood, became the mother of America’s first surviving set of identical quadruplets. They were instant celebrities. Their White doctor named them after his own family members. He sold the rights to use the sisters for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company. The girls lived in poverty, while Pet Milk’s profits from a previously untapped market of Black families skyrocketed.

Over half a century later, baby formula is a seventy-billion-dollar industry and Black mothers have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Since slavery, legal, political, and societal factors have routinely denied Black women the ability to choose how to feed their babies. In Skimmed, Andrea Freeman tells the riveting story of the Fultz quadruplets while uncovering how feeding America’s youngest citizens is awash in social, legal, and cultural inequalities. This book highlights the making of a modern public health crisis, the four extraordinary girls whose stories encapsulate a nationwide injustice, and how we can fight for a healthier future.


President John F. Kennedy visits with Mary Alice Fultz, Mary Louise Fultz, Mary Anne Fultz, and Mary Catherine Fultz, a set of quadruplets from Milton, North Carolina, 2 August 1962.
Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, 1962-08-02.

Contents

  • 1. Introduction: A Formula for Discrimination
  • 2. The Famous Fultz Quads
  • 3. Black Breastfeeding in America
  • 4. The Bad Black Mother
  • 5. When Formula Rules
  • 6. Legalizing Breast Milk
  • 7. The Fultz Quads after Pet Milk
  • Conclusion: “First Food” Freedom
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White Colorism

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2020-03-10 17:41Z by Steven

White Colorism

Social Currents
Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2015
pages 13-21
DOI: 10.1177/2329496514558628

Lance Hannon, Professor of Sociology and Criminology
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

Perhaps reflecting a desire to emphasize the enduring power of rigidly constructed racial categories, sociology has tended to downplay the importance of within-category variation in skin tone. Similarly, in popular media, “colorism,” or discrimination based on skin lightness, is rarely mentioned. When colorism is discussed, it is almost exclusively framed in terms of intraracial “black-on-black” discrimination. In line with arguments highlighting the centrality of white racism, the present paper contends that it is important for researchers to give unique attention to white colorism. Using data from the 2012 American National Election Study, an example is presented on white interviewers’ perceptions of minority respondent skin tone and intelligence (N = 223). Results from ordinal logistic regression analyses indicate that African American and Latino respondents with the lightest skin are several times more likely to be seen by whites as intelligent compared with those with the darkest skin. The article concludes that a full accounting of white hegemony requires an acknowledgment of both white racism and white colorism.

Read or purchase the article here.

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To fight discrimination, the U.S. census needs a different race question

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2020-03-10 14:48Z by Steven

To fight discrimination, the U.S. census needs a different race question

Science News: Independent Journalism Since 1921
2020-03-08

Sujata Gupta, Social Sciences Writer


An accurate sense of racial diversity is hard to achieve with current U.S. census questions.
Delphine Lee

The government has asked people their race since 1790

Wendy Roth has been arguing for years that the U.S. Census Bureau should ask about race in a different way. The race box that people check for themselves on the census doesn’t always match the box someone else might have checked for them. And that, Roth says, is a problem.

Roth, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, began researching that mismatch in racial identification in the early 2000s. She recruited 60 New Yorkers who had been born in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, showed them the census race question and asked them how they would answer. The responses surprised her.

Consider the case of Salvador, a kitchen worker in the Bronx. “Many Americans observing him would consider him to be black,” Roth wrote in December 2010 in Social Science Quarterly. But Salvador told Roth that he checks “white.”

While attitudes in the mainland United States have been shaped by the long legacy of the “one-drop rule,” in which a single drop of “black blood” conferred “blackness,” Puerto Ricans believe the opposite — that even dark-skinned people can’t be black if they have “white blood.” Puerto Ricans use terms like mulatto or trigueño to describe those falling somewhere between white and black. But when presented with race checkboxes that offer no intermediate options, Salvador simply goes by what he knows…

A slippery sense of self

As minority groups fight for greater visibility, and the race question gets wound up in ideas about self-affirmation and group empowerment, the census data have been getting more difficult to decipher since the 1960 shift to self-identification.

With the power to check their own race box, many people previously identified as white have embraced a nonwhite or mixed-race identity. That’s evident in the American Indian numbers. From 1890 to 1960, the American Indian population grew from 248,000 to 524,000, with an average annual growth rate of just 1.1 percent. But over the next several decades, and coinciding with the shift to self-identification, that population grew to almost 2 million by 1990 — with an average annual growth rate of 4.3 percent. That meteoric growth extends well beyond what is possible through births alone, [Carolyn] Liebler says…

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Palmer Patton recognized as earliest identified African American graduate, faculty member at Oregon State

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-03-07 03:06Z by Steven

Palmer Patton recognized as earliest identified African American graduate, faculty member at Oregon State

OSU Today
Oregon State University
2020-02-20

Theresa Hogue, Public Info Representative


Palmer Patton

Oregon State University archivist Larry Landis was leafing through a 1919 Beaver Yearbook in 2018 as he did research on representations of blackface in old university publications. As he looked for examples, he came across a yearbook photo of a student who appeared to be African American.

As the director of the Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Landis knew that officially, Carrie Halsell was considered the earliest identified African American graduate of Oregon State (at that time Oregon Agricultural College) in 1926. But the man in the photos, Palmer Patton, graduated from OAC with his bachelor’s degree in 1918 and a master’s degree in 1920. Landis investigated further.. He combed the university archives, online historic newspapers, and even accessed information through his personal Ancestry.com account. He also made inquiries with archives at other universities – Montana State University, UC Davis and the University of Chicago – all of which provided or confirmed information on Patton. He spent part of an afternoon in the archives at Montana State while in Bozeman for a conference.

“Over the course of several months I pieced together Palmer Patton’s story,” Landis said. “The end result is a story of someone who was most likely bi-racial, who identified as white at times, and who was able to navigate through places and spaces that were predominantly white.”…

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Escaping Blackness

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2020-03-07 02:03Z by Steven

Escaping Blackness

New York Review of Books
2020-03-26

Darryl Pinckney


Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York City, 2019
Dominique Nabokov

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race
by Thomas Chatterton Williams
Norton, 174 pp., $25.95

The black individual passing for white in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American fiction by white writers is usually a woman, and usually when the truth emerges, the purity of the white race is saved. However, in An Imperative Duty (1891) by William Dean Howells, a Boston girl is ashamed to find out that legally she is colored, but her white suitor marries her anyway and takes her off to a life in Italy. In the beginning of Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900), a “high-bred” black man in North Carolina returns to his hometown to ask his sister to take his dead white wife’s place and bring up his son. A young aristocrat she meets in her new white life proposes marriage, but soon learns the truth of her origins. Literary convention, in the form of a fever, kills her. The white suitor realizes too late that love conquers all. He promises to keep the brother’s secret.

The secret was as radical as Chesnutt could get. From a North Carolina family of “free issue” blacks—meaning emancipated since colonial times—Chesnutt had blond hair and blue eyes. He wouldn’t pass for white, because if he became famous then he chanced someone appearing from his past. He preferred to pursue reputation as a black man. Chesnutt had cousins who crossed the color line and he never told on them, viewing passing as an act of “self-preservation,” a private solution to the race problem. The big escape from being black was an American tradition. Three of Sally Hemings’s six children ended up living as white people.

The nameless narrator of James Weldon Johnson’s novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), a widower and a father, says little about his life as a white man. He is interested instead in his past as a black person, his life with different classes of black people, his wanderings around Europe as a young musician. When he returned to the United States and went on a folk song–collecting tour of the South, he witnessed a lynching—a black man being burned alive. Terrified, he got himself across the color line. He didn’t want to belong to a racial group so utterly without power…

Thomas Chatterton Williams, who belongs to the hip-hop generation of multiculturalism and diversity, is willing to risk being a throwback in his memoir/essay Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. To speculate on the racial future, he goes back to the days when the black individual who could do so took the side exit from segregated life to personal freedom. He deals with passing for white, class privilege, and his hopes for the possibilities of race transcendence, knowing perfectly well that because he is light-skinned he can contemplate racial identity as being provisional, voluntary, situational, and fluid…

Read the entire review here.

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‘Passing’ led to new lives and safety

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-03-07 00:46Z by Steven

‘Passing’ led to new lives and safety

The Daily Progress
Charlottesville, Virginia
2020-02-08

Bryan McKenzie, News Reporter


Bryan McKenzie/The Daily Progress File
Catherine Kerrison explains to moderator Clarence Page and participant Lisa Page the mystery of what happened to Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Harriet after she ‘passed’ into white society. The three participated in a Monticello program on ‘passing’ on Saturday.

For more than two centuries, many African Americans left their families and identities behind, crossing into white society as a way of securing freedom, self-preservation and economic advancement, two university professors who have researched the phenomenon told a Monticello audience on Saturday.

Known as “passing,” many African Americans and Americans of mixed race chose to present themselves as white in order to attain privileges, freedoms and security. Passing often meant turning their backs on family, friends and hometowns, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

Lisa Page, co-editor of “We Wear The Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America,” joined Catherine Kerrison, author of “Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America” in the program. The panel is part of a slate of events and exhibitions by Monticello during Black History Month

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