Q&A with Clinician Turned Novelist, John Vercher ’16MFA

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-18 21:50Z by Steven

Q&A with Clinician Turned Novelist, John Vercher ’16MFA

Southern New Hampshire University
Newsroom
2019-08-06

Rebecca LeBoeuf, Staff Writer

John Vercher and the text John Vercher '16MFA, Mountainview Low-Residency MFA in Fiction.

John Vercher ’16MFA didn’t think he had what it takes to make a career out of writing, so he went to school to be a clinician instead. After spending more than a decade feeling unhappy in his role, he decided to revisit his passion for writing.

Since Vercher hadn’t written regularly in a while, he knew going back to school was a smart move. Not only would it immerse him in the discipline and craft again, but it could even result in a publishable book.

And it did. Three years after Vercher graduated from Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) Mountainview Low-Residency MFA program, he published his thesis and debut novel, “Three-Fifths,” out this September…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Gap Toothed Banister: A Tale of Anglo-India

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2019-08-18 14:54Z by Steven

The Gap Toothed Banister: A Tale of Anglo-India

Niyogi Books
2013-09-16
297 pages
5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN: 978-9381523711

Juliette Banerjee

The Gap-Toothed Banister – A Tale of Anglo-India is a close, compassionate look by Juliette Banerjee, an Anglo-Indian, at her community facing the challenges of change. It portrays with clarity the lives of Anglo-Indians in Calcutta during the 60s and 70s. In a shabby apartment block in Central Calcutta, four families, the Renshaws, the D’Cruzes, the Johnsons and the Vincents live in harmony. This smooth tempo changes forever one humid night when one of the families’ children are singled out, one lauded, the other randomly attacked. Tragedy and horror seem to haunt the apartment block. The next day a resident is raped by a servant. The social fabric has been rent in a way that tilts this world. It brings together all the other families of the ‘mansion’, as this block of flats is wryly nicknamed. The Gap-Toothed Banister is a love story, not in kindergarten hues but with softer colours of hope and faith. It is a story of a people more confused than disloyal, puzzled by a lack of appreciation for their myriad talent and fuelled by an anger at what is perceived as scornful rejection. The Gap-Toothed Banister will be of immense interest to all curious about the mores and magic of Anglo-India.

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‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-17 01:27Z by Steven

‘When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity

The Chicago Tribune
2019-08-14

Julia M. Klein

'When I Was White’: Sarah Valentine’s memoir considers the meaning of racial identity
Sarah Valentine’s intriguing memoir, “When I Was White,” considers the meaning of racial identity. (St. Martin’s)

“For a long time,” Sarah Valentine writes, “I felt like a bundle of fragments, and I wanted to be whole. I wanted to be able to write a family history that answered all my questions and filled in all the blanks, but all I got were different versions of the past and an incomplete, unfulfilling present.”

This revelatory admission comes near the close of Valentine’s intriguing, if never entirely satisfying, memoir, “When I Was White.” But it could well have served as its opening — a warning to readers that neither a slick solution to the puzzle of racial identity nor a definitive unraveling of the specific mystery of Valentine’s origins would be forthcoming.

A former visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Northwestern University, Valentine grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs, the bright, athletic, dark-hued child of two white parents. To many observers, she was self-evidently of mixed racial heritage. But her family regarded her as simply their (white) daughter — so much so that when black classmates asked her out, her mother cautioned her against “interracial” dating…

Read the entire review here.

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Effa Manley

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-08-16 20:09Z by Steven

Effa Manley

Ebbets Field Flannels
2019

Joe Swide


c. 1938. Wonderful image of Effa in a dress and wearing a Newark Eagles ball cap while being instructed on how to hold a bat by one of her players.

The most powerful woman in baseball

In the summer of 1947, the most powerful woman in baseball received a call from Bill Veeck, the owner of the Cleveland Indians. Veeck had spent the last five years scouting the Negro Leagues for the right ballplayer to integrate the American League and shortly after the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League had broken baseball’s color line by acquiring Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs, Veeck set his eyes on Larry Doby of the Newark Eagles. However, whereas the Dodgers managed to acquire Robinson without paying a cent to the Monarchs, Veeck found himself in a very different sort of negotiation with the owner of the Eagles, Effa Manley.

Manley was born into a biracial family in Philadelphia in 1897. Her mother was a white seamstress who was married to a black man but had an affair with her white employer, leading many to believe that he was Manley’s biological father. In any case, Manley was raised in a predominantly black community with a biracial identity like that of her siblings, and her ability to pass as either black or white enabled her to navigate both sides of the country’s racial divide…

Read the entire article here.

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Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-08-15 20:15Z by Steven

Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
2018-05-08
342 pages
Softcover ISBN: 978-1-946160-19-5

Elista Istre
Lafayette, Louisiana

Creoles established themselves in South Louisiana long before Acadian exiles reached the shores of the Bayou State. Boasting a mélange of African, European, and North American roots, Creoles converged on Louisiana’s prairies and created their own distinct cuisine, language, and musical style.

In Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong, Dr. Elista Istre invites her readers to enter the Creole world—a place where cooks tempt taste buds with gumbo and crawfish, storytellers mesmerize young and old with tales tied to three continents, and musicians and dancers pulsate to the rhythms of accordions and rubboards.

Despite inside pressure to isolate and outside pressure to assimilate, Creoles from all walks of life continue to forge new identities while preserving and celebrating traditional elements of their rich heritage. They are adaptable. They are resilient. They are strong.

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Bridge of Triangles

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Oceania on 2019-08-15 19:52Z by Steven

Bridge of Triangles

University of Queensland Press
1994
140 pages
ISBN: 978 0 7022 2639 7

John Muk Muk Burke

Bridge Of Triangles

1993 David Unaipon award-winning novel about exile and longing in a mixed-race community. It explores identity issues in an inner-city environment devoid of values and family heritage. Inevitable conflict as the protagonist must cross the bridge into the landscape of his Wiradjuri ancestors. This striking new edition features a haunting cover photograph symbolising the loneliness and single-mindedness of the central character’s plight.

Chris Leeton is tormented but also sustained by his growing need to cross over into the landscape of his aboriginal ancestors. After the night of the flood, his Wiradjuri mother resolves to take her four children away from their riverbank home and her unhappy life with Chris’s white father. In the struggle to keep the family together in Sydney’s grim commission housing, schoolboy Chris is tender witness to poverty and despair. In time he comes to understand that they are exiles in their own land. He senses that it is his generation which must cross the bridge back to that landscape which defines his people’s existence.

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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All? Colourism and light skinned privilege

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Oceania on 2019-08-15 18:12Z by Steven

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All? Colourism and light skinned privilege

The Pin
2018-02-11

Elodie Silberstein, Artist & Scholar
Brooklyn, New York

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All? Colourism and light skinned privilege
Image Credit: Elodie Silberstein

Footscray station. Fifteen minutes by train from the city centre and here I am, in the multicultural melting pot of Melbourne. I feel thrilled. I want to sense the buzzing atmosphere of the market, and to replenish the stock of hair products that I use to enhance my natural curls. Some friends advised me to look for the requisite articles in the numerous shops of the East African community. Being new to Australia, I struggle to find products in mainstream stores that are suitable for my textured hair inherited from my Cameroonian father and French mother. The first beauty salon I encounter sets the scene. The flagship products in the window display immediately grab my attention: skin-lightening body lotions, whitening soaps… you name it, they have it. Smiley models display their charms all over the packaging promising to women of colour a lighter skin tone. A few applications, et voilà! Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Faced with this extravaganza of skin-whitening products I am suddenly brought back to my childhood in Cameroon, and I cannot help but feel my heart sinking.

Growing up mixed-race in Douala was a peculiar experience. Interracial unions were rare in the 1970s. My parents were a bit of a curiosity. I became used to being called chocolat au lait (milk chocolate) by my neighbours. It did not take me long to realise the obvious advantages that my lighter hue provided me over my dark chocolate counterparts in the white, but also in the black community…

Read the entire article here.

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Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Judaism, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2019-08-15 17:41Z by Steven

Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Alma
2019-08-15

Emily Burack, Associate Editor

Natasha Díaz was 9 years old when she and her mom went on Oprah to talk about the experience of being a multiracial family. Díaz, who has a Jewish father and a Liberian and Brazilian mom, had recently been featured in a documentary called Between Black & White. When Oprah asked her a question, young Natasha froze up (you can watch the video here).

Well, she is freezing up no longer — Díaz’s debut YA novel, Color Me In, fictionalizes her childhood and tells the coming-of-age story of Navaeh Levitz. Navaeh is a Black Jewish teenager whose father forces her to have a belated bat mitzvah at age 16. Navaeh’s parents are in the midst of a divorce, and the bat mitzvah is her father’s way of having her stay connected to his family. Meanwhile, Navaeh is struggling to figure out her identity, her relationship to her blackness, her privilege, a blossoming relationship, and her family. It’s a compelling and timely read.

We had the chance to chat with Díaz about writing Color Me In, #OwnVoices in young adult literature, and connecting with her Jewish identity.

How close does the protagonist Naveah’s experience as a Black Jewish teenager mirror your own?

I would say in a lot of ways it’s similar, and in a lot of ways it’s very different.

We have very similar backgrounds, racially and religiously. I am multiracial, she’s biracial. I’m Brazilian, Liberian, and Jewish, where she’s just half-Black and half-Jewish. And my parents separated, similar to her, although mine separated when I was much younger than she was. And, as a result of my parents’ divorce, it was literally in the divorce papers that I had to be raised Jewish.

Aside from that, I would say we’re completely different. I was raised very immersed in my culture, especially on my mom’s side, which is where the Black and Brazilian side is. My parents had split custody [over me], so I spent time with both families, but I’m closer to my mom’s family because a lot of my dad’s family doesn’t live in New York City. Where Naveah was sheltered from her identity, I was very immersed in mine.

It doesn’t mean that we haven’t, at times, shared a lot of the same insecurities, like feeling you don’t really fit in in either world, or you’re not really sure what part of yourself you have a right to claim or own. I’ve never had an extremely religious connection to Judaism. Culturally, though, especially growing up in New York City, there’s a lot of Jewish cultural things that I connect to on a personal level…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Law According to Rachael Rollins

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-08-12 01:50Z by Steven

The Law According to Rachael Rollins

Boston Magazine
2019-08-06

Catherine Elton


Portrait by Diana Levine

The charismatic new district attorney is Boston’s greatest hope to bring the criminal justice system into the wide, woke 21st century. What’s at stake? Only the future of law and order in our city.

The first thing I notice when I walk into Rachael Rollins’s downtown corner office is the impressive wraparound windowsill jam-packed with plaques, diplomas, statuettes, and a little engraved glass prism that catches the afternoon light shining through the window. Everyone from Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly to the Cambridge branch of the NAACP and a Dorchester football team has contributed an object to her collection.

“Wow, you have a lot of awards,” I say.

“See,” Rollins says, looking up from her desk. “There are people who like me.”

The second thing I notice is that the city’s top prosecutor is already on the defensive.

At first blush, it seems a little odd that the woman who recently won a landslide election with 185,133 votes (a number she mentions with striking regularity) would feel the need to remind me that there are people who actually like her. Then again, ever since winning the job of Suffolk County district attorney on a promise to reform criminal justice, reduce racial biases in the system, and essentially reinvent the role of DA, Rollins has become a lightening rod for Boston’s law enforcement and political establishments. She has received more attention and public ridicule than any other DA in the state—probably more than all of the rest combined—for policies her critics warn are a threat to public safety. She has taken heat from the cops, feuded publicly with Governor Charlie Baker, and been hammered by a fellow DA. She’s also been thumped by her fellow progressives for not yet making good on some campaign promises and has been featured in more unflattering photos in the Herald than she has spent months on the job. And she’s losing experienced prosecutors by the droves…

…One of the foremost reasons that early supporters thought she should run is the rare mix of personal experiences she could bring to the campaign trail. The eldest of five children of a mixed-race couple, Rollins identifies as black but, thanks to her father, says she is “fluent in white Irish male.” She grew up with tight finances in a working-class family, but a scholarship allowed her to attend school at the tony Buckingham Browne & Nichols. “I am everything that people don’t think I am,” she tells me, “and that’s my superpower.”

Race and class aren’t the only divides Rollins has straddled in her personal life. On one hand, she is an accomplished lawyer who worked at the U.S. attorney’s office and served as general counsel at Massport and the MBTA. On the other hand, one of her siblings has served time in federal prison on drug and weapons charges. And Rollins is candid when talking about how another has had his own run-ins with the law, and a third has battled an opioid addiction. As the result of some of these entanglements with the criminal justice system, Rollins is the guardian and has custody of two of her siblings’ children, in addition to having her own teenage girl. It was these contradictions that made her the most distinctive candidate vying for the job of the county’s top law enforcement officer. “There is no one out there with such a wide range of experiences,” Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell told me, explaining why she was one of those dozens of people who flooded Rollins’s phone with messages urging her to run. “She gets the story from both sides.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Women on 2019-08-12 01:38Z by Steven

Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South

Yale University Press
2019-09-24
352 pages
6⅛ x 9¼
9 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300242607

Adele Logan Alexander, Emeritus Professor of History
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Born in the late nineteenth century into an affluent family of mixed race—black, white, and CherokeeAdella Hunt Logan (1863–1915) was a key figure in the fight to obtain voting rights for women of color. A professor at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and a close friend of Booker T. Washington, Adella was in contact with luminaries such as Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Despite her self-identification as an African American, she looked white and would often pass for white at segregated suffrage conferences, gaining access to information and political tactics used in the “white world” that might benefit her African American community.

Written by Adella’s granddaughter Adele Logan Alexander, this long-overdue consideration of Adella’s pioneering work as a black suffragist is woven into a riveting multigenerational family saga and shines new light on the unresolved relationships between race, class, gender, and power in American society.

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