Kit de Waal: ‘Make room for working class writers’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-02-11 20:15Z by Steven

Kit de Waal: ‘Make room for working class writers’

The Guardian

Kit de Waal

‘A writing career never entered my head.’ … Kit de Waal. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

When Kit de Waal was growing up in 1970s Birmingham, no one like her – poor, black and Irish – wrote books. Forty years on, the author asks, what has changed?

Reading at school was agony. A slow, child by child rotation around the class, six pages each. Great Expectations. Vanity Fair. The Mill on the bloody Floss. The boys with their flatline monotones. The girls, careful not to stumble and be humiliated. English was my best subject, so this process was painful. I wanted to race ahead and get to the end of the story. Yet the idea of taking that book home to read later and finish, that never occurred to me. Not when we owned the ultimate big novel: the Bible. We were Jehovah’s Witnesses and three times a week we’d sit in a draughty hall on the backstreets of Sparkbrook in Birmingham, wrapped around a paraffin heater discussing the 66 books that made up the Old and the New Testaments. I’ve read it cover to cover at least five times.

Leviticus and Numbers were hard going, all that counting and recounting, all those laws and exhortations, but there were very beautiful passages, too. The Song of Solomon, Psalms, Proverbs. The Gospels, too, four different takes on one big adventure. They had the ingredients of a good thriller with a hero, a call to arms, a savage tragedy. Without realising it, I was learning what you had to do to write well, how to characterise, how to keep your reader turning the page without the threat of eternal damnation as an incentive.

But writing as a career? That never entered my head. The only writers I knew were dead. And apart from Enid Blyton, they were dead men. And white. And posh. Even when I began to read widely in my 20s, it was still a case of: if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. No one from my background – poor, black and Irish – wrote books. It just wasn’t an option…

Read the entire article here.

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Barack Obama [Recent Acquisition of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery]

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-11 17:28Z by Steven

Barack Obama [Recent Acquisition of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery]

National Portrait Gallery
Washington, D.C.

Title: Obama “HOPE” Portrait
Artist: Shepard Fairey, born 1970
Copy After: Mannie Garcia, born 1953
Sitter: Barack Hussein Obama, born 4 Aug 1961
Date: 2008
Type: Collage
Medium: Hand-finished collage, stencil, and acrylic on heavy paper
Dimensions: Sheet: 176.7 x 117.5 cm (69 9/16 x 46 1/4″)
Frame: 187.3 x 127 x 5.1 cm (73 3/4 x 50 x 2″)
Credit Line: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection in honor of Mary K. Podesta
Rights: ©Shepard Fairey/
Object number: NPG.2008.52
Culture: Barack Hussein Obama: American\African American
Exhibition Label: Forty-fourth president
Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama Hope poster became the iconic campaign image for the first African American president of the United States. Early in 2008, the Los Angeles–based graphic designer and street artist designed his first Obama portraits, with a stenciled face, visionary upward glance, and inspiring captions. The artist’s intention that the image be widely reproduced and “go viral” on the Internet exceeded his greatest expectations. Campaign supporters and grassroots organizations disseminated tens of thousands of T-shirts, posters, and small stickers; Fairey himself produced mural-sized versions; and a free, downloadable graphic generated countless more repetitions. In this fine-art version of that unprecedented and powerful campaign icon, Fairey incorporated the familiar heroic pose and patriotic color scheme. But he translated the portrait into a collage with a rich, elegant surface of decorative papers and old newsprint.
Data Source: National Portrait Gallery

For more information, click here.

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Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2018-02-11 06:25Z by Steven

The Loving Generation: A Topic Original Documentary Series

February 2018

Directed and Produced by Lacey Schwartz and Mehret Mandefro
Executive Produced by Ezra Edelman and Anna Holmes

4 films | 10 min

In 1967, the Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia overturned all laws outlawing interracial marriage. The Loving Generation tells the story of a generation of Americans born to one black parent and one white parent. Their narratives provide a fascinating and unique window into the borderland between “blackness” and “whiteness”, and, in some cases, explode fixed ideas about race and identity.

View the films here.

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Black With (Some) White Privilege

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2018-02-11 06:08Z by Steven

Black With (Some) White Privilege

Sunday Review
The New York Times

Anna Holmes, Editorial Director

Credit Illustration by Anthony Gerace; Photographs by SensorSpot, via Getty Images

When I was in my early 30s, I started making a list of every child I could think of who had a black parent and a white parent and was born between 1960 and the mid- to late 1980s. It was a collection of people like me, who grew up and came of age after the Supreme Court decision in 1967 that overturned the laws in more than a dozen states that outlawed interracial marriage.

I was thinking of people I knew or had heard of, so of course the list included actors like Tracee Ellis Ross (born 1972) and Rashida Jones (1976); athletes like Derek Jeter (1974) and Jason Kidd (1973); singers like Mariah Carey (1969) and Alicia Keys (1981); and, eventually, politicians and public servants like Adrian Fenty (1970) and Ben Jealous (1973).

It occurred to me, looking at the names I’d gathered, that what I was making was not just a snapshot of a particular generation but an accounting of some of the most notable, successful, widely recognized black people in American public life — cultural, political, intellectual, academic, athletic.

It made sense: The people I could think of were the people who were the most publicly visible. But what did it mean about race and opportunity in the United States that many of the most celebrated black people in American cultural life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries happened to have been born to one white parent? What if my and my cohort’s achievements as African-Americans, especially in fields to which we historically had little access, were more about how we benefited from having one white parent in a racist society than our hard work?…

…Of course, to be a black American is to be, by definition, mixed: According to a study released in 2014, 24 percent of the genetic makeup of self-identified African-Americans is of European origin. Colorism, which places black people in an uncodified but nevertheless very real hierarchy, with the lighter-skinned among us at the top, was a fact of American life long before Loving v. Virginia. Light-skinned black Americans, even those with two black parents, have, for centuries, been considered to be closer to white people, closer to white ideals about, well, most everything…

Read the entire article here.

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Lena Horne Honored With A Stamp From the United States Postal Service

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, History, United States on 2018-02-11 05:35Z by Steven

Lena Horne Honored With A Stamp From the United States Postal Service

WBGO Journal
WBGO 88.3 FM
Newark, New Jersey

Ang Santos

Lena Horne
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lena Horne is remembered as an all-around entertainer, Hollywood actress, Grammy Award winning singer, and a Tony Award winning Broadway star. But equally important to her legacy was a willingness to use fame as a platform to promote Civil Rights in the 1960s.

Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley believes her mother would be proud to be put alongside the other members of the USPS Black Heritage Stamp Series.

Stamp photographer Christian Steiner, Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley (with family members), USPS Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, and WBGO President Amy Niles shared personal memories and stories during the Lena Horne stamp unveiling.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story (00:02:57) here.

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Frederick Douglass: a multi-racial trailblazer

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-02-11 05:14Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: a multi-racial trailblazer

The Baltimore Sun

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law

Gregory Morton purchased Frederick Douglass’ home in Fells Point and makes it available to rent on Airbnb. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Last year President Trump made statements that left the impression he believed that abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive. In some respects, he still is. This month marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth, and his racial justice work continues to be relevant today. In fact, after President Trump was informed that Douglass died in 1895, the president signed into law the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act to organize events to honor the bicentennial anniversary of Douglass’s birth.

While slave records mark Douglass’ birth month as February — he was born in a plantation on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Talbot County — his status as a slave meant he had no information about the exact day he was born. As an adult he chose Feb. 14th for himself as a birth date. He was also never told who his father was, but circumstances lead him to conclude that it was his white slave owner.

Despite his mixed-race heritage and likely connection to his owner, Douglass was separated from his mother at an early age and exposed to physical abuse from his owners…

Read the entire article here.

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When It Comes To Diversity, The Fashion and Beauty Industry Are The Absolute Worst

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-11 04:32Z by Steven

When It Comes To Diversity, The Fashion and Beauty Industry Are The Absolute Worst


Ezinne Ukoha

These are some of the top fashion magazine covers of 2017

Including the sexy magazines that can’t stand dark-skinned models with puffy hair

As a child — I endured the casual comments from family friends who couldn’t help expressing how much I looked like my mother with the exception of her lighter skin — which I unfortunately didn’t inherit. This practice of exaggerating how my dark-skin didn’t measure up continued with my boarding school mates — who once compared my looks to one of the popular girls — and concluded that even though we looked alike — she was prettier.

We did sort of resemble each other — but she wasn’t prettier. She was just light-skinned. That same rhetoric was responsible for the infatuation and fascination assigned to the biracial students who almost always won beauty competitions and anything else that required the adulation of their prized features.

Interestingly enough — I never pressured myself into sourcing ways to solve the issue of my dark skin — the way other Nigerian women have resolved to do — at the risk of their health. Skin bleaching was a dirty secret when I was growing up — because even though it was glaringly obvious that Mrs. Kalu was indulging in potent solutions that couldn’t quite penetrate her knuckles, elbows or feet — we had to act as if her new complexion wasn’t weird as fuck.

My mother did an excellent job boosting my ego — and as a result there was hardly a time when I stared at the mirror and imagined how much more desirable I would be if the gods had been a little more miserly with the strokes of deep chocolate.

However — when I moved to the States to pursue my college degree — I was greeted with hard truths of what it means to be a “regular Black girl” — during an era when such a disposition was guaranteed to get you nowhere — especially in industries that catered to fashion and entertainment…

Read the entire article here.

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My whole life people have tried to tell me who I am or who I’m supposed to be. My whole life people have tried to measure my proximity to whiteness, always asking, WHAT ARE YOU?

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-02-11 04:16Z by Steven

I’m Afro-Boricua. I’m biracial—my mother is white and my father is black, both Puerto Rican. Sometimes people don’t know that I’m black, but I’m black. I was raised in a black family, by my father and grandmother, both unapologetically black and unapologetically Boricua. My sister and I look brown, and our brother looks white. Our white grandmother was racist and threw around the n-word even when referring to us, me and my sister, her grandchildren. She made us feel like we were not part of her white family. But my brother, with his blond hair and his blue eyes, she loved to claim.

My whole life people have tried to tell me who I am or who I’m supposed to be. My whole life people have tried to measure my proximity to whiteness, always asking, What are you?

Jaquira Díaz, “You Do Not Belong Here,” KR Online: Kenyon Review, September 2017.

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“I have Navajo, Chippewa, Greek and Spanish blood lines,” said Mr. Tórrez, who calls himself a mestizo, a term referring to mixed ancestry. “I can’t say I’m indigenous any more than I can say I’m Greek, but it’s both fascinating and disturbing to see how various cultures came together in New Mexico.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-02-11 04:07Z by Steven

…Many Hispanic families in New Mexico have long known that they had indigenous ancestry, even though some here still call themselves “Spanish” to emphasize their Iberian ties and to differentiate themselves from the state’s 23 federally recognized tribes, as well as from Mexican and other Latin American immigrants.

But genetic testing is offering a glimpse into a more complex story. The DNA of Hispanic people from New Mexico is often in the range of 30 to 40 percent Native American, according to Miguel A. Tórrez, 42, a research technologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of New Mexico’s most prominent genealogists.

…“I have Navajo, Chippewa, Greek and Spanish blood lines,” said Mr. Tórrez, who calls himself a mestizo, a term referring to mixed ancestry. “I can’t say I’m indigenous any more than I can say I’m Greek, but it’s both fascinating and disturbing to see how various cultures came together in New Mexico.”…

Simon Romero, “Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It.The New York Times, January 28, 2018.

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U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team Includes First Black Player In 98-Year History

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-11 04:00Z by Steven

U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team Includes First Black Player In 98-Year History

The Huffington Post

Andy McDonald

Mike Blake / Reuters
At 6 feet, 5 inches and 238 pounds, Jordan Greenway will be the biggest player on the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team.

“I just think I’m another kid going to play in the Olympics.”

Boston University hockey player Jordan Greenway will make history in Pyeongchang, South Korea, becoming the first African-American ever to be selected for the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team.

Breaking that 98-year color barrier, which began in the 1920 Winter Games in Antwerp, Belgium, when men’s ice hockey was first included, is a significant achievement, but Greenway tells NBC Sports that he is just “another kid going to play in the Olympics.”

Greenway says he’s happy to be first and hopes it will inspire young minorities to give hockey a shot.

“I don’t think a lot of African-Americans play hockey at a high level,” said Greenway. “I’m just trying to get more and more of those kids to try and go out and do something different.”…

Read the entire article here.

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