The Hidden History of Black Argentina

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2021-02-10 02:05Z by Steven

The Hidden History of Black Argentina

The New York Review
2021-02-08

Uki Goñi


Allsport via Getty Images
Diego Maradona (front, center) with family and friends in Villa Fiorito, Argentina, 1980

A century of European immigration brought with it a comprehensive effort to erase the country’s multiracial past. Only recently has that been reversed.

Erika Denise Edwards, Hiding in Plain Sight: Black Women, the Law, and the Making of a White Argentine Republic (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2020).

“This country has no tradition of its own,” Argentina’s master writer, Jorge Luis Borges, told me in an interview in 1975. “There’s no native tradition of any kind since the Indians here were mere barbarians. We have to fall back on the European tradition, why not? It’s a very fine tradition.” The words grate to modern ears, but they seemed true to Borges’s world. His own grandmother, Frances Anne Haslam, had come from Staffordshire, England. And by 1920, when Borges turned twenty-one, over half the population of his native Buenos Aires had been born in Europe, the result of a vast wave of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century immigration.

According to this idea of Argentina’s roots, our capital city of Buenos Aires is “the Paris of South America,” and “we are all descendants from Europe,” as then President Mauricio Macri said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2018. A corollary of this claim is one made by an earlier president, Carlos Menem, to a Dutch audience at Maastricht University in 1993 that, because Argentina had abolished slavery as early as 1813, “we don’t have blacks.” At a later lecture—bizarrely enough, at Howard University in Washington, D.C.—Menem added, “that is a Brazilian problem.”

For me, the myth of a European-only Argentina reached its breaking point last November, with the death of the soccer star Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest player who ever lived. He transcended the world of sports to become a figure of hope and defiance for millions of Argentines…

Read the entire review here.

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A Family History of British Empire

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2021-02-10 01:42Z by Steven

A Family History of British Empire

Black Perspectives
2021-02-05

Mary Hicks, Assistant Professor of Black Studies and History
Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts

“Where are you from?”—The deceptively simple question looms over the sprawling narrative of Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands, the newest work by Black feminist theorist, literary critic, and historian Hazel Carby. This historical and existential query frames Carby’s gripping exploration of her ambivalent relationship to idealized “Britishness” as the child of a white, working-class Welsh mother and a Black, Jamaican father born in 1940s London. The omnipresent demand by strangers that she produce a satisfying account of her origins exemplifies her experiences as an unlocatable and thus unimaginable subject (98). Her own emotionally charged childhood memories ground Carby’s evocative examination of the intertwined nature of intimacy, race, and labor in the British Empire, stretching from the period following World War II back to the revolutionary wars of the late eighteenth century.

Imperial Intimacies begins with the Gramscian imperative to reconstruct, and at times invent, one’s personal genealogy, not only in fact but in feeling…

Read the entire review here.

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He became the nation’s ninth vice president. She was his enslaved wife.

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, United States on 2021-02-09 18:19Z by Steven

He became the nation’s ninth vice president. She was his enslaved wife.

The Washington Post
2021-02-07

Ronald G. Shafer


Richard Mentor Johnson became vice president in 1837. (Library of Congress)

Her name was Julia Chinn

She was born enslaved and remained that way her entire life, even after she became Richard Mentor Johnson’s “bride.”

Johnson, a Kentucky congressman who eventually became the nation’s ninth vice president in 1837, couldn’t legally marry Julia Chinn. Instead the couple exchanged vows at a local church with a wedding celebration organized by the enslaved people at his family’s plantation in Great Crossing, according to Miriam Biskin, who wrote about Chinn decades ago.

Chinn died nearly four years before Johnson took office. But because of controversy over her, Johnson is the only vice president in American history who failed to receive enough electoral votes to be elected. The Senate voted him into office.

The couple’s story is complicated and fraught, historians say. As an enslaved woman, Chinn could not consent to a relationship, and there’s no record of how she regarded him. Though she wrote to Johnson during his lengthy absences from Kentucky, the letters didn’t survive.

Read the entire article here.

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‘Majority Minority’ America? Don’t Bet on It

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2021-02-09 17:52Z by Steven

‘Majority Minority’ America? Don’t Bet on It

The Wall Street Journal
2021-02-05

John J. Miller


Illustration: Ken Fallin

How a Census Bureau error led Democrats to assume they were on the right side of inexorable demographic trends.

Remember the “coalition of the ascendant”? National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein invented the phrase in 2008 to describe the “growing elements of American society” that had elected Barack Obama and given Democrats commanding majorities in both congressional houses: “young people, Hispanics and other minorities, and white upper-middle-class professionals.”

Republican successes in 2010, 2014 and 2016 called the coalition’s durability into question. But the 2020 election—Joe Biden’s victory notwithstanding—may provide the greatest reason to doubt it. Compared with 2016, President Trump and congressional Republicans improved their standing significantly among Hispanic voters and made smaller strides among other groups, such as Asian-Americans, blacks and Muslims.

“The majority minority narrative is wrong,” says sociologist Richard Alba, referring to the idea that nonwhite Americans will outnumber whites by 2050 or so. In his recent book, “The Great Demographic Illusion,” Mr. Alba, 78, shows that many “nonwhites” are assimilating into an American mainstream, much as white ethnic groups did before them. Government statistics have failed to account for this complex reality, partly for political reasons, and in doing so they’ve encouraged sloppy thinking about the country’s future…

Read the entire article here.

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Camila Pitanga on people questioning her blackness: “It’s as violent as if I was barred from a restaurant or a hotel because of my color.”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive, Women on 2021-02-09 17:38Z by Steven

Camila Pitanga on people questioning her blackness: “It’s as violent as if I was barred from a restaurant or a hotel because of my color.”

Black Brazil Today
2012-02-11

Marques Travae

Having captured the hearts of millions of Brazilians with her portrayals of several memorable characters in Brazil’s ever popular novelas, Camila Pitanga has earned her wings as a top actress and one of the most visible black actresses on the air. Her success is the fruit of hard work, an early start (appearing in the film Quilombo at age 6 in 1984) and having a famous father couldn’t have hurt (father Antônio Pitanga is a long-time actor). Of her role as Rose, an ex-domestic in the novela, Cama de Gato, Pitanga says: “I identify myself with Rose because she is a fighter and I have this reference in my family. My father is a man of humble origins from Bahia, he was a mailman and it was the arts that created his identity. Rose will not become an artist but she has a dignity that I identify with.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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Surviving the White Gaze, A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2021-02-05 01:26Z by Steven

Surviving the White Gaze, A Memoir

Simon & Schuster
2021-02-02
320 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781982116255
eBook ISBN-13: 9781982116323
Audio Book ISBN-13: 9781797119380

Rebecca Carroll, Host, Managing Editor and Cultural Critic
WNYC Radio, New York, New York

A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America.

Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.

Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen black family, she was able to heal.

Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.

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The True Story of Jess Krug, the White Professor Who Posed as Black for Years—Until It All Blew Up Last Fall

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-05 01:24Z by Steven

The True Story of Jess Krug, the White Professor Who Posed as Black for Years—Until It All Blew Up Last Fall

The Washingtonian
2021-01-27

Marisa Kashino


Photograph courtesy of YouTube

She fabricated harrowing personal backstories, peddled gross caricatures, and spoke from perspectives she had no right to claim. And nobody stopped her.

“Iam a coward.”

Jessica Krug’s confession started ricocheting across screens one brutally muggy afternoon in late-summer Washington. “For the better part of my adult life,” it began, “every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies.” Krug, a faculty member at George Washington University, had taken to Medium, the online forum, to reveal a stunning fabrication. Throughout her entire career in academia, the professor of African history—a white woman—had been posing as Black and Latina.

“I have thought about ending these lies many times over many years, but my cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics. I know right from wrong. I know history. I know power. I am a coward,” she wrote. “You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.”

The statement, posted September 3, 2020, went viral immediately, unleashing a tidal wave of Oh, my Gods across the text chains of Krug’s GW colleagues and other academics. “We were all blindsided,” says GW history-department chair Daniel Schwartz. Distraught emails from Krug’s students—less than a week into a virtual semester already upended by the coronavirus pandemic—began piling up in faculty in-boxes. Meanwhile, an online mob went to work churning up old photos of Krug and tanking the Amazon ratings of her book. By the end of the day, a now-infamous video of Krug calling herself “Jess La Bombalera” and speaking in a D-list imitation Bronx accent was all over the internet….

Read the entire article here.

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‘Passing’ Stars Talk Rebecca Hall’s Directorial Debut and the Complexity of Racial identity

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-02 04:05Z by Steven

‘Passing’ Stars Talk Rebecca Hall’s Directorial Debut and the Complexity of Racial identity

Variety
2021-02-01

Angelique Jackson

Rebecca Hall’s feature directorial debut “Passing” dives into the nuance of racial identity and the complex realities of racial passing, with Variety’s Sundance review touting Hall’s work: “This radically intimate exploration of the desperately fraught concept of ‘passing’ — being Black but pretending to be white — ought to be too ambitious for a first-time filmmaker, but Hall’s touch is unerring, deceptively delicate, quiet and immaculate.”

Intimate is a particularly choice word to describe the project, as the film’s story holds personal significance for all its cast — including stars Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, both of whom are mixed race — but the project is particularly connected to Hall’s personal story. Hall is the daughter of famed theater director Peter Hall and legendary opera singer Maria Ewing. And though the British actor presents as white, Hall in fact comes from a mixed-race background, with a generational history of passing on her maternal grandfather’s side.

“I don’t think that I really had language for passing. It was such a difficult area of conversation in my family,” Hall recalls, explaining her personal connection to the material in conversation at the Variety Sundance Studio presented by AT&T TV, just hours ahead of the film’s Sundance premiere…

Read the article and watch the video here.

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‘Passing’ Review: Rebecca Hall’s Subtle, Provocative Directorial Debut

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-02 03:38Z by Steven

‘Passing’ Review: Rebecca Hall’s Subtle, Provocative Directorial Debut

Variety
2021-01-31

Jessica Kiang


Eduard Grau

A superbly performed study of racialized longing and feminine dissatisfaction in 1920s New York, lit by searing intelligence and compassion.

t starts in sweltering heat; it ends in freezing weather. And in between, as the temperature gradually drops, Rebecca Hall’sPassing,” based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, calmly brings the diffuse racial landscape of prohibition-era New York City into crystalline, gorgeously shot focus. This radically intimate exploration of the desperately fraught concept of “passing” — being Black but pretending to be white — ought to be too ambitious for a first-time filmmaker, but Hall’s touch is unerring, deceptively delicate, quiet and immaculate, like that final fall of snow.

On a hot summer day, Irene (Tessa Thompson) is downtown on an errand. Her visible discomfort, the way she tries to retract into herself, to hide behind the gauzy brim of a hat that cuts her eyeline in two, is a silent evocation of how uncomfortable she is under the gazes of the white people around her. This time, anyway, she is mostly projecting: No one takes much notice, nothing too alarming happens. But then suddenly, stepping into the full beam of all that projection and sometimes catching the light, there’s Clare (Ruth Negga), a childhood friend visiting from Chicago, now unrecognizably glamorous, with a perfect swoop of blonde hair and arched, lightened brows framing silent-movie-It-Girl eyes…

Read the entire review here.

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North Carolina Free People of Color, 1715-1885 with Warren Eugene Milteer Jr.

Posted in Audio, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-01-30 22:12Z by Steven

North Carolina Free People of Color, 1715-1885 with Warren Eugene Milteer Jr.

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
2020-06-25

Bernice Bennett, Host

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. examines the lives of free persons categorized by their communities as negroes, mulattoes, mustees, Indians, mixed-bloods, or simply free people of color. From the colonial period through Reconstruction, lawmakers passed legislation that curbed the rights and privileges of these non-enslaved residents, from prohibiting their testimony against whites to barring them from the ballot box. While such laws suggest that most white North Carolinians desired to limit the freedoms and civil liberties enjoyed by free people of color, Milteer reveals that the two groups often interacted—praying together, working the same land, and occasionally sharing households and starting families. Some free people of color also rose to prominence in their communities, becoming successful businesspeople and winning the respect of their white neighbors.

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is the author of North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885.

Listen to the episode (00:45:57) here. Download the episode here.

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