Historian, master storyteller

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-07-10 18:15Z by Steven

Historian, master storyteller

PUNCH Magazine
March 2019
pages 30-34

Sheri Baer, Editorial Director
Irene Searles, photography

Allyson Hobbs distinctly remembers the first time she saw Stanford University. After flying out from Chicago for a final interview in January 2008, she was chatting with a faculty member as they arrived on campus. “We were talking about Ohio State football and we turned down Palm Drive,” she recalls. “All of a sudden, my breath was taken away. I couldn’t believe the beauty of it. I thought to myself, ‘Wow! I desperately want to teach here.’”

Allyson secured the position and made the move. Now an associate professor of American History, she is also director of Stanford’s African and African American Studies program (AAAS), which is marking its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in 1969, AAAS was Stanford’s first ethnic studies program and the first of its kind at a private academic institution. “Many programs are having their 50th anniversary around this time,” Allyson notes, adding that it’s no coincidence. “These programs were created in response to student protests in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Originally from Morristown, New Jersey, Allyson says that she was raised in a very supportive community. “My parents really shielded me and gave me an idyllic childhood,” she says. “They always talked about how lucky we were to live in that kind of environment.” Allyson attended Harvard in the mid-’90s, where she was exposed to a broader perspective. “There was a robust conversation about race at that time in college, and I think that really ignited my interest.

Allyson especially appreciated the rich storytelling of her aunt, who served as the family historian. When Allyson came home fascinated by a story about racial passing, her aunt recounted the experiences of a distant cousin who had grown up on Chicago’s South Side in the ’30s and ’40s. According to her aunt, this cousin was very light-skinned and when she graduated from high school, her mother encouraged her to move to Los Angeles and pass as a white woman. “Her mother was insistent and believed that passing as white would give her daughter a better life,” Allyson was told.

That story inspired Allyson to write her first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, tracing the practice back to the late 18th century. “People who passed were able to access better jobs and live in better neighborhoods, but I wanted to uncover what it really meant to the people who walked away, what they had to give up,” Allyson says. “Writing the history of passing is really writing the history of loss.”…

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Claiming to be Cherokee, contractors with white ancestry got $300 million

Posted in Articles, Economics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-07-10 17:36Z by Steven

Claiming to be Cherokee, contractors with white ancestry got $300 million

The Los Angeles Times
2019-06-26

Adam Elmahrek, Investigative Reporter

Paul Pringle, Investigative Reporter

Two years ago, when the mayor’s office in St. Louis announced a $311,000 contract to tear down an old shoe factory, it made a point of identifying the demolition company as minority owned.

That was welcome news. The Missouri city was still grappling with racial tensions from the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, in nearby Ferguson. After angry protests, elected officials had pledged to set aside more government work for minority-owned firms.

There was only one problem…

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Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls [Review]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-07-10 17:17Z by Steven

Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls [Review]

Jewish Book Council
2019-07-04

Jessie Sza­lay

T Kira Madden, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019)

This stun­ning, com­pul­sive­ly read­able debut mem­oir tells the sto­ry of T Kira Madden’s com­ing-of-age in the swampy, sur­re­al world of wealthy Boca Raton, Flori­da. Despite her priv­i­lege wrought from her father’s shady deal­ings in gam­bling and stocks, young Mad­den faced crip­pling lone­li­ness and inse­cu­ri­ty. Her drug-addled par­ents were fre­quent­ly neglect­ful, strung out to what Mad­den calls ​“the oth­er place.” Though wealthy enough to attend prepara­to­ry school and own four hors­es, Mad­den fed her­self lit­tle but canned soup as a child. Her father rarely spoke to her and called her ​“son.” It’s no won­der that despite his phys­i­cal pres­ence for sub­stan­tial por­tions of her child­hood, Mad­den felt father­less. As a teenag­er, she fell into code­pen­dent friend­ships with oth­er ​“losers” who lacked sol­id parental sup­port. They found a sense of con­trol in drugs, eat­ing dis­or­ders, and sex, both enabling each oth­er in tox­ic behav­ior and being a lov­ing family.

It sounds like an aver­age ​“poor lit­tle rich girl” sto­ry. But Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls is much more than that, tak­ing tropes and ren­der­ing them with an undy­ing sense of com­pas­sion. The details of Madden’s ear­ly mem­o­ries are star­tling­ly vivid in a way that sug­gests she was in a per­sis­tent state of high alert, every pain etched in her brain for­ev­er. But for every men­tion of a ter­ri­fy­ing drug over­dose or her father leav­ing her at a base­ball game, there are sto­ries of her mother’s del­i­cate removal of lice from her daughter’s hair or her father’s ear­ly teach­ing of mag­ic tricks. Mad­den loves her fam­i­ly fierce­ly and in spite of it all, we nev­er doubt their deep-down love for her…

Read the entire review here.

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