Author Joseph Boyden defends indigenous heritage after investigation

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2016-12-31 01:03Z by Steven

Author Joseph Boyden defends indigenous heritage after investigation

The Toronto Star

Nicole Thompson
The Canadian Press

Author responds after investigation by Aboriginal Peoples Television Network into his background.

A celebrated Canadian author who writes about First Nations heritage and culture is defending himself on Twitter after his ancestry was questioned.

In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Joseph Boyden said he is of “mostly Celtic heritage,” but he also has Nipmuc roots on his father’s side and Ojibway roots on his mother’s.

Boyden has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and his work was nominated for the Governor General’s award. He is a member of the Order of Canada and was an honorary witness at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He made his remarks in response to an Aboriginal Peoples Television Network investigation by award-winning reporter Jorge Barrera.

The investigation digs into the different claims of indigenous ancestry Boyden has made throughout his life, and the evidence — or lack thereof — to back it up.

Barrera wrote that the author is predominantly Celtic and has also referred to having Metis, Ojibway, Mi’kmaq and Nipmuc heritage.

He said Boyden sometimes referred to himself as Anishinabe, which includes the “culturally related” Ojibway, Odawa and Algonquin peoples.

In his statement, Boyden said that he mistakenly said he was Metis, which is traditionally applied to descendants of French traders and trappers and indigenous women in the Canadian northwest…

Read the entire article here.

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Some Obamaphiles bristle at the idea that he should be thought of principally as a black president—assessed in a segregated category of one. Yet race has been essential to his career, as well as to his finest oratory.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-12-31 00:42Z by Steven

Some Obamaphiles bristle at the idea that he should be thought of principally as a black president—assessed in a segregated category of one. Yet race has been essential to his career, as well as to his finest oratory. The emergency remarks he made, in 2008, after the circulation of radical comments by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, anticipated his address on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march. In both he advanced a dialectical view of history that transmuted racial traumas into occasions for collective progress, the landmarks of black liberation into milestones in America’s pursuit of perfection. If the story of race is America’s story, his trailblazing role in it must rank among his most lasting contributions.

A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency,” The Economist, December 24, 2016.

Chan by Hannah Lowe

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-12-30 23:59Z by Steven

Chan by Hannah Lowe

The London Magazine

Amanda Merritt

Hannah Lowe’s latest collection of poetry Chan (Bloodaxe, 2016) revisits the characters and stories from her first collection, Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013), which won the Michaels Murphy memorial Award for Best First Collection, and was short-listed for the Forward, Aldeburgh and Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prizes. Named one of the 20 Next Generation poets, the bar variably has been set for her second collection. With remarkable ease Chan surpasses all expectations. Dealing directly with the issues of poverty, (im)migration and marginalisation, Lowe braids the experiences of famous jazz musicians, her own family and newly arrived British immigrants of the 1950s throughout this musically accomplished narrative that spans continents and generations.

The collection is divided into three parts. The first, What I Play is Out the Window, pays homage to the lives of  jazz musicians Joe Harriott, Charles Mingus, Shake Keane and Phil Seamen. Lowe opens the book with the personification of her mother, who had once been Joe Harriott’s girlfriend. By introducing the connection between her family and the world of jazz in this way, Lowe achieves a subtle tone of nostalgia while also painting the backdrop against which the life of Joe Harriott, and his cousin, nick-named ‘Chan’, plays:

Those days decades in history
when men like Joe and my father were shadows
on English streets…

Yet, instead of simply imagining the part of her mother or father in events that predate her, Lowe also introduces her own, lived experience in ‘Partita, 1968’, not only exploring the relationship between music and memory, but also excavating the layers of family narrative left behind by each generation—material that features predominantly in her work…

Read the entire review here.

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Still ‘Krazy’ after all these years: A life of George Herriman, pioneering comic writer and N.O. exile

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-30 23:17Z by Steven

Still ‘Krazy’ after all these years: A life of George Herriman, pioneering comic writer and N.O. exile

The New Orleans Advocate

Susan Larson, Host, The Reading Life
WWNO-FM, New Orleans

George Herriman, from Michael Tisserand’s Krazy Kat bio of George Herriman

For Michael Tisserand, as for most of us, the love of comics came early in childhood.

His mother took him to the library, where he discovered 741.59, the beloved Dewey Decimal System classification where comics were shelved. Years later, during his post-Katrina exile in Chicago, Tisserand would take his own young son to an exhibit of comics at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

“I was carrying my son in my arms then — he’s 6′-4″ now — and reading the captions out loud. I was feeling the New Orleans exile at that point, and I could imagine the way Herriman felt as a 10 year-old in Los Angeles, and I was looking for a New Orleans story. This was a story about New Orleans that I could tell from Chicago.”

Now, years after chasing the story across the country, Tisserand has produced the first full-length biography of a great New Orleans character and an original American artist in “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White” (HarperCollins, $35).

Herriman (1880-1944) was born in New Orleans to a Creole family, free people of color who moved to California in search of better educational opportunities. There, Herriman began to pass as white, which he did for the rest of his life…

Read the entire article here.

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Call For Papers: Spaniards, Natives, Africans, and Gypsies: Transatlantic Malagueñas and Zapateados in Music, Song, and Dance

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2016-12-30 22:04Z by Steven

Call For Papers: Spaniards, Natives, Africans, and Gypsies: Transatlantic Malagueñas and Zapateados in Music, Song, and Dance


K. Meira Goldberg, Visiting Research Scholar
Foundation for Iberian Music
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016

Prof. Walter Clark, Director
The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music
Department of Music
University of California
900 University Avenue
Riverside, California 92521

Antoni Pizà, Director
Foundation for Iberian Music
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016

The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California at Riverside, and the Foundation for Iberian Music at The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center will host a conference on the transatlantic circulation of malagueñas and zapateados at University of California, Riverside on April 6–7, 2017.

In the inaugural conference in this series, Spaniards, Indians, Africans, and Gypsies: The Global Reach of the Fandango in Music, Song, and Dance, we gathered in New York to explore the fandango as a mestizaje, a mélange of people, imagery, music and dance from America, Europe, and Africa, whose many faces reflect a diversity of exchange across what were once the Spanish and Portuguese Empires. At that conference, we considered the broadest possible array of the fandango across Europe and the Americas, asking how the fandango participated in the elaboration of various national identities, how the fandangos of the Enlightenment shed light on musical populism and folkloric nationalism as armaments in revolutionary struggles for independence of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and how contemporary fandangos function within the present-day politics of decolonialization and immigration. We asked whether and what shared formal features—musical, choreographic, or lyric—may be discerned in the diverse constituents of the fandango family in Spain and the Americas, and how our recognition of these features might enhance our understanding of historical connections between these places. We hoped with that pioneering effort to gather international, world-renowned scholars to open new horizons and lay the foundation for further research, conferences, and publications. We are immensely proud of that 2015 gathering, and of the two published editions of its proceedings: in bilingual form in the Spanish journal Música Oral del Sur (vol. 12, 2015) and in English (forthcoming 2016 from Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

But the inaugural conference merely set the first stone. All of the participants in the 2015 meeting agreed that conversations should continue, relationships should develop, and that many questions and avenues of research remain. We are therefore pleased to issue a call for papers for the upcoming conference on two nineteenth-century forms related to the fandango—at least in their standing as iconic representations of Spanishness: malagueñas and zapateados.

How do these forms comprise a “repertoire” in performance theorist Diana Taylor’s sense of the term as enacting “embodied memory” and “ephemeral, nonreproducible knowledge,” allowing for “an alternative perspective on historical processes of transnational contact” and a “remapping of the Americas…following traditions of embodied practice”? The Center and the Foundation invite interested scholars, graduate students, and practitioners including musicians and dancers to propose presentations on all subjects related to malagueñas and zapateados. Although we are not limited to them, we expect to gain special insight into the following topics:

  1. From their virtuoso elaborations in flamenco song, to the solo guitar rondeñas of “El Murciano,” from the 1898 La malagueña y el torero filmed by the Lumière brothers to Denishawn’s 1921 Malagueña, from Isaac Albéniz’s iconic pianistic malagueñas to the interpretation by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona which, as Walter Clark observes, became a global pop tune, how do malagueñas address the aspirations of growing middle-class concert audiences on both sides of the Atlantic?
  2. How do they reflect and crystalize prevailing yet contested notions of what is “Spanish”?
  3. How, in the transgressive ruckus and subversive sonorities of Afro-Latin zapateados circulating through, as performance scholar Stephen Johnson says, the ports, waterways, and docks of the Black Atlantic may we describe the race mimicry inherent in nineteenth-century performance?
  4. What is the relationship of zapateado with tap and other forms of percussive dance in American popular music?
  5. And how in the roiled and complicated surfaces of these forms may we discern the archived rhythmic and dance ideas of African and Amerindian lineage that are magical, or even sacred?
  6. How do zapateado rhythms express the tidal shift in accentuation of the African 6/8 from triple to duple meter described by Rolando Perez Fernandez?
  7. How did the zapateados danced in drag, in bullrings and ballets, resist nineteenth-century gender codes?
  8. What secrets are held in the zapateados performed on a tarima planted in the earth and tuned by ceramic jugs in Michoacán?
  9. In light of compelling research by Andrés Reséndez and Benjamin Madley into the devastating history of enslavement and genocide of indigenous peoples of the Americas, what new considerations arise with regard to best practices for historiographically aware nomenclature? How should we view and use words like “Indian,” “Native,” “mestizo,” “criollo,” etc.?

Paper presentations will be 20 minutes, with 10 minutes of discussion. We also welcome workshop-style presentations incorporating dance, music, and song. Please send a title and a 150-200 word abstract to K. Meira Goldberg at by December 31, 2016.

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A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-30 20:18Z by Steven

A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency

The Economist

Barack Obama’s presidency lurched between idealism and acrimony but some of his accomplishments will endure

1 “A skinny kid with a funny name”

Watch it again. He is unusually stilted at the beginning, as you might expect of a debutant on the autocue and the national stage. But soon he finds his rhythm, those crescendos alternating with electric pauses, ecclesiastical notes chiming with his scholarly charisma in a musical voice. Grippingly, he recounts the story of his life, in his telling a parable of unity in diversity—a moral he was still pushing 12 hard, disillusioning years later. “We are Americans first,” he urged in the Rose Garden on the day after Donald Trump was elected.

In fact, by the standards Barack Obama subsequently set—in a presidency defined by its speeches, and perhaps to be best remembered for them—his turn at the Democratic convention in 2004 was mundane. But his ascent will still be dated from the moment he loped onto that stage in Boston, with the rangy gait that became as familiar as his smile: an unknown politician from Illinois, soon to be the country’s only African-American senator, before, in short order, becoming its first black president. The paean he offered to America, a country that had embraced him as “a skinny kid with a funny name”, was also a kind of dare; the self-deprecation camouflaged a boast, since many in his audience saw the obstacles he faced as clearly as he did. “I’m the African-American son of a single mother,” Mr Obama reportedly told Binyamin Netanyahu when, years later, Israel’s prime minister lectured him on the world’s hazards, “and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House.”

His presidency will be counted in speeches because its trials proved harder to overcome than the barriers he scaled to attain it. Often he spoke as no other president could, becoming, through his identity and eloquence, a receptacle for the hopes of Americans and of—and for—the world. Think of his speech in Berlin in 2008, when he extolled multilateralism and the rule of law, or his now-defunct conciliation in Cairo the following year. Think of his eulogy after the Charleston killings. Yet posterity might score him higher on a broader metric had he been as effective in the more intimate persuasions of Congress, as consistent in projecting empathy as at exhortation, or more resolute abroad; had he been as adept at championing legislation or facing down tyrants as he could be at stirring hearts…

Read the entire article here.


Leona Amosah, the Founder of SWIRL, Talks Diversity and Identity

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-30 18:34Z by Steven

Leona Amosah, the Founder of SWIRL, Talks Diversity and Identity

Study Breaks

Molly Flynn
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Celebrating Students with Interracial Legacies (SWIRL)

Amosah, a high-achieving senior at UNC Chapel Hill, created the organization to provide a community for students with multiracial and mixed-race identities.

While many college students occupy their time with binge-watching Netflix, binge-drinking at parties and binge-eating at their campus diners, Leona Amosah has chosen to indulge in things much more productive.

Amosah, a senior at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, seems to be involved in a little bit of everything. As a double major in Russian and Global Studies, Amosah spends her time not only in the books, but also involved in a wide range of campus groups. She actively participates in organizations such as Tarheel Outreach Program, Harmonyx A Capella group, Easing Students Abroad Entry (EASE), APPLES Service-Learning Program and Buckley Public Service Scholars, just to name a few.

But, her brainchild, as she calls it, is an organization that she started in August 2015. This past week, I had the opportunity to speak directly with Amosah and learn a little but more about SWIRL, which stands for Students with Inter-Racial Legacies.

Molly Flynn: What inspired you to start SWIRL?

Leona Amosah: I came up with the idea for starting SWIRL after watching a documentary called “Little White Lie.” It told the story of a Jewish woman [Lacey Schwartz] who grew up with a white identity, until she discovered that her biological father was black.

Throughout the film, she grapples with her mixed-race identity, discussing how she felt when she identified as white versus how she felt when she identified as black. I very much connected with the film as a person of mixed-race, and was sobbing by the end of it…

Read the entire interview here.

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Joseph Boyden, where are you from?

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2016-12-30 02:51Z by Steven

Joseph Boyden, where are you from?

The Globe And Mail

Hayden King, Assistant Professor
School of Public Policy
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

My name is Hayden King. I am the son of Hayden (Sr.) and Carol. On my father’s side I am Anishinaabe, Ojibwe from my grandmother Eleanor and Potawatomi from my grandfather, Rufus. Through blood and adoption we can trace our roots back seven generations. But eventually threads of this lineage were woven together on the sandy shores of Gchi’mnissing, or Beausoleil First Nation (Christian Island), in southern Georgian Bay.

I offer this orientation as a matter of custom. Among Anishinaabeg, it is an expected response to the standard greeting-question, “Where are you from?” For we are a people of renewal, a people seeking each other out in our century-long reclamation of culture, language, family and identity. We are a people bound by our relationships.

But earlier this week, after years of unclear answers to this question from celebrated Canadian author Joseph Boyden, APTN reporter Jorge Barrera, supported by independent researchers, investigated the author’s claims and couldn’t find evidence of either Nipmuc or Ojibwe heritage. It appears that Mr. Boyden has not been forthcoming about his indigenous identity, benefiting from a crafted ambiguity.

Mr. Boyden is just the latest. Last year prolific scholar Andrea Smith’s claims to Cherokee ancestry were debunked. Before Ms. Smith were academics Susan Taffe Reed and Ward Churchill, writers Margaret Seltzer and Archie Belaney (Grey Owl), actors Espera Oscar de Corti (Iron Eyes Cody), Johnny Depp and so on. There is a long tradition of playing Indian…

Read the entire article here.

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Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-12-30 02:32Z by Steven

Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

All Things Considered
National Public Radio

John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent, National Desk

Santo Tomas Catholic church in Abiquiu, N.M., is the site of an annual saint’s day celebration in late November that includes cultural elements of the genizaros, the descendants of Native American slaves.
John Burnett/NPR

Every year in late November, the New Mexican village of Abiquiu, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe, celebrates the town saint, Santo Tomas. Townfolk file into the beautiful old adobe Catholic church to pay homage its namesake.

But this is no ordinary saint’s day. Dancers at the front of the church are dressed in feathers, face paint and ankle bells that honor their forbears — captive Indian slaves called genizaros.

The dances and chants are Native American, but they don’t take place on a Pueblo Indian reservation. Instead, they’re performed in a genizaro community, one of several scattered across the starkly beautiful high desert of northern New Mexico.

After centuries in the shadows, this group of mixed-race New Mexicans — Hispanic and American Indian — is stepping forward to seek recognition…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:05:04) here.

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The Rumpus Interview with Emily Raboteau

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2016-12-30 02:16Z by Steven

The Rumpus Interview with Emily Raboteau

The Rumpus

Gina Prescott

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race is a collection of essays and poetry that takes its name from James Baldwin’s classic, The Fire Next Time. Jesmyn Ward, the collection’s editor and author of the National Book Award-winning novel, Salvage the Bones, was inspired to create the collection after finding solace in reading Baldwin in the wake of the seemingly never-ending killings of young black men covered by the media over the last few years.

In her introduction, Jesmyn writes “I needed words. The ephemera of Twitter, the way the voices of the outraged public rose and sank so quickly, flitting from topic to topic, disappointed me. I wanted to hold these words to my chest, take comfort in the fact that others were angry, others were agitating for justice, others could not get Trayvon’s baby face out of their heads.”

This slim collection achieves its intended purpose of both comforting its readers and expressing the pain and complexity of what it means to be black in the United States. It brings together a talented group of astute black writers, including Edwidge Danticat, Kiese Laymon, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, and Isabel Wilkerson. Their pieces, in turn, are reflective, angry, somber, humorous, informational, and cautiously hopeful. It is a necessary and beautiful collection, the kind of book that when you finish it, you are full of gratitude for its existence, bring it to your chest as Jesmyn hoped, and think, “Thank you, Thank you.”

Over email, I had the opportunity to interview one of the contributors, Emily Raboteau, author of the novel The Professor’s Daughter and the memoir Searching for Zion. Emily’s essay, “Know Your Rights!,” is about her struggle to determine when and how she should discuss police brutality and race with her two young children. She finds her answer in a series of murals and in the rehabilitation of the High Bridge

Rumpus: Jesmyn has stated that she was very broad when she solicited pieces, explaining that she wanted to keep it open. Can you describe your experience receiving Jesmyn’s invitation to write something for this collection. Did you know right away what you wanted to write about or was it overwhelming?

Raboteau: Initially, I planned to write a letter to my kids to prepare them for the tough stuff they’ll encounter as black Americans, just as Baldwin did by writing The Fire Next Time as a love letter to his nephew, James. I felt honored that Jesmyn asked me to participate in this project, but also overwhelmed by the assignment, not least of all because nobody writes as powerfully as Baldwin. More than that, I didn’t know what to say. The massacre in Charleston had just happened and the uprising in Ferguson was going on. My kids were, are, still really little. I felt and feel scared for their well-being—my son in particular had already been pathologized. He’s not yet in kindergarten. I felt helpless, angry, and tongue-tied. Then I ran across this mural in my neighborhood while walking with my family, and it felt like a small gift. Once I discovered that it was part of a larger series of murals in neighborhoods most plagued by police brutality, I decided to photograph them and structure my piece as a photo essay rather than a letter. The murals jogged me out of my stasis. Good art has the power to do that for us…

Read the entire interview here.

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