Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-08-31 20:23Z by Steven

Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

The Washington Post
2018-09-11

Susan Pearson, Associate Professor of History
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois


(Bigstock) (ziimmytws/Bigstock)

Policing the color line through vital documents.

The Trump administration’s decision to revive and expand the Bush and Obama-era practice of denying U.S. passports to Latinos born in South Texas should come as no surprise. From his assault on Barack Obama’s citizenship to his allegations that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists to his promise to institute a Muslim ban, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he believes the only true Americans are white.

But long before Trump rode to prominence promoting birtherism, birth certificates were an important instrument for policing the racial boundaries of citizenship. In the Jim Crow era, states used these seemingly innocuous public records to ensure that the rights of citizenship were accessible to white Americans — and no one else.

The best example of this comes from the career of Walter Plecker. Plecker, the state registrar of vital statistics in Virginia from 1912 to 1946, worked with the white-supremacist Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America to persuade the state legislature to pass the 1924 Racial Integrity Act

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Passing in Twenty-First Century Literature: Complicating Color in the African-American Fin-de-Siècle Novel

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-31 19:51Z by Steven

Racial Passing in Twenty-First Century Literature: Complicating Color in the African-American Fin-de-Siècle Novel

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
December 2014

Pamela S. Richardson, Chief of Staff & Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives
Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Florida

A Dissertation Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and Research in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy

This dissertation focuses on how racial passing can be a critical strategy for defining and validating a nuanced conceptualization of blackness in twenty-first century African-American Literature. Specifically in the works of Sapphire, Danzy Senna, and Colson Whitehead, the historical moment of passing yet endures into the future. Scholars have thoroughly analyzed racial passing in African American literature according to a standard definition of narratives written primarily in the early twentieth-century. These texts are steeped in sentimentality and tragedy about the abandonment of the black body and social identity. However, the popularity of post-racial discourse at the turn of the twenty-first century marks a shift in racial passing as a millennial concept, creating a space for the expansion of what constitutes a passing narrative. These millennial narratives address and parallel the changing social-political American racial climate. This research is an attempt to trace the shifts of the racial passing construct that allow for questions of representation, resistance, agency, and power relative to race and race relations in an ever increasingly, but arguably, post-racial society. Furthermore, passing narratives at the turn of the century critique the importance of maintaining fixed racial identities in order to empower the individual through redefining, reconnecting, and reclaiming one’s blackness.

Read the introduction here.

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Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 382 pp.

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-31 18:13Z by Steven

Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 382 pp.

49th Parallel: an interdisciplinary journal of North American Studies
Issue 37 (2015)
pages 66-68

Christopher Allen Varlack, Lecturer
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Popularized in part during the Harlem Renaissance of the early to midtwentieth century, the passing novel, including James Weldon Johnson’s 1912 The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Walter White’s 1926 Flight, and Jessie Redmon Fauset’s 1928 Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral, has received a wide range of scholarship. Elaine K. Ginsberg’s 1996 study, Passing and the Fictions of Identity explores the politics of passing from the early experiences of African slaves through the present day while Gayle Wald’s 2000 Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture explores cinematic and literary representations of passing produced in the United States. Together, these works reveal the struggle of an African-American community marginalized and disenfranchised within an American society defined by its Jim Crow culture and racial hierarchy. Under these circumstances, racial passing is most often an attempt to obtain what Cheryl L. Harris terms “whiteness as property” as a result of the very limited opportunities and restricted social mobility afforded to blacks. Such scholarship provides insight into the historical function of passing and the ways in which the passing novel brings to the forefront of the American consciousness an increased awareness of its changing socio-racial landscape.

In her critical work, appropriately titled, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, Allyson Hobbs seeks to add a new dimension to this existing conversation, her book is “an effort to recover those lives” lost in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as “countless African Americans [knowingly] passed as white, leaving behind families, friends, and communities without any available avenue for return” (4). Hobbs‟ work, a welcomed addition to the field, thus uses the lives of the everyday participants of passing to show not only what they gained from assuming their white identities—economic opportunity, social mobility, increased acceptance, etc.—but also what they lost along the way—the all-important connection to family and community that had long sustained the African-American people in the midst of cultural oppression. Because racialization exists all around us and “[r]ace is reproduced . . . at every level of society, including in our everyday lives”, the concerns that Hobbs advances in what proves a vital study of racial passing in American life will certainly remain, even despite the growing number of claims (which Hobbes disputes) that America has transitioned into a post-racial society (277).

Read the entire review here.

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Racial Reassignment Surgery and the Dissolution of the Color Line: Afrofuturist Satire in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Jess Row’s Your Face in Mine

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-30 23:55Z by Steven

Racial Reassignment Surgery and the Dissolution of the Color Line: Afrofuturist Satire in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Jess Row’s Your Face in Mine

Third Stone: devoted to Afrofuturism and other modes of the Black Fantastic
Volume 1, Issue 1 (2019)
Article 17
12 pages

Christopher A. Varlack, Lecturer
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Racial passing, during the antebellum period, was a way in which African-American peoples sought to escape the throes of slavery and the physical and psychological abuse associated with the plantation tradition. In time, racial passing became a way of obtaining the social, economic, and political opportunities denied people of color in the discriminatory and racially-biased United States. This study, however, examines a specific form of racial passing–that of racial reassignment surgery–as explored in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Jess Row’s Your Face in Mine as a way to test the theory that assimilation and miscegenation would one day resolve the color line that had left generations of African-American peoples disenfranchised and dispossessed. At the same time, this study examines the Afrofuturist sensibilities in these two key works of the Harlem Renaissance era and present day to understand how such authors not only counter the troubling histories of their time but also propose counter-futures that would otherwise have been buried beneath the cultural oppression of Jim Crow and other more modern forms of racism.

Read the entire article here.

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The Fiction of Race

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-08-30 16:15Z by Steven

The Fiction of Race

The American Scholar
2019-08-07

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Flickr/lyonora
Flickr/lyonora

When will we recognize it as such?

Almost every summer, my wife and I, now with two kids in tow, spend a couple of weeks in Italy. We first fell in love with the Ligurian coast just beyond France and Monaco, then with the Tuscan countryside around Florence, and for the past several summers, the islands off Naples. This year, we went farther south, into the instep of the boot, and are staying at a family-run agriturismo on the Mediterranean coast of Calabria. Along with several other friends, my brother and his blond-haired, tan-skinned half-Russian five-year-old daughter have joined us. This morning, the two of us drove into the small seaside village down the hill from where we’re staying to pick up some pizzas. I went inside and fumbled my way through the somewhat complicated order that demanded anchovies, artichokes, and for one picky eater, a tomato-less pizza…

Read the entire article here.

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Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Philosophy on 2019-08-30 15:53Z by Steven

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

W. W. Norton
2019-10-15
192 pages
5.5 Ă— 8.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60886-1

Thomas Chatterton Williams

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

“It is not that I have come to believe that I am no longer black or that my daughter is white,” Williams writes. “It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of us.” Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

Note from Steven F. Riley: See Chatterton Williams’ article “Black and Blue and Blond” in the Volume 91, Number 1 (Winter 2015) edition of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

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Blackness and Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-29 01:01Z by Steven

Blackness and Whiteness

Our Human Family: Conversations on achieving equality
2019-05-07

Emily Cashour
Oakland, California


The author and her mother

Growing up as mixed-race alongside my white mother

Growing up, I was unaccustomed to discussions about race. For most of my life, the color of my skin was something simple, a fact that became more or less apparent alongside the changing seasons. When it started to become impossible to ignore, as a young child, I pushed to downplay my color difference. I sat in the shade with my white cousins at the beach to prevent the sun from reaching me, complained with a gentle fierceness each time my mother took me to get my hair braided, said quiet “thank-yous” with no further explanation to people who gleefully oohed and ahhed at my beautiful tan.

As a teenager, I embraced wholeheartedly the idea of tan equaling beautiful, at least so far as in the context of tan being simply a new shade of whiteness, rather than brownness. I was a tan white person. At least, that is what everyone in my town assumed me to be, and rather than fight the simplicity of that label, I allowed it to begin defining me.

My mom, a white woman and single mother, was quiet during these years. If I had questions, she would answer them willingly, but quite honestly, I rarely ever asked her anything. Sometimes, when she took me to Baltimore, we drove home the long way, observing dilapidated neighborhoods and houses with wooden boards with holes in them where windows should’ve been. The sidewalks and the weeds in the place of gardens made these communities look tired, winded. It was clear that places like this were worlds away from where my mom and I lived; yet we were both keen outsiders, desperate for a deeper understanding. There’s something funny about an obviously white woman and an obviously brown child alone together, trying to find a community. On those trips to Baltimore, my mother and I had not quite identified our community yet…

Read the entire article here.

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What Does It Mean to Be “Black Enough”?

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-28 21:21Z by Steven

What Does It Mean to Be “Black Enough”?

Electric Lit
2019-08-15

Brian Gresko

Chris L. Terry’sBlack Card” grapples with biracial identity

Chris L. Terry’s Black Card is a fascinating meditation on race, with a head-nodding soundtrack that moves from funk LPs to punk CDs, Guns N’ Roses to Outkast. The novel follows an unnamed protagonist, a college drop-out who works as a barista in Richmond, Virginia, and plays bass in a punk band. His bandmates are white, along with the majority of the punks he encounters at house parties and shows, but he’s mixed-race, with a white mother and Black father.

All his life he’s been unsure of his Black identity due to his light skin tone and red hair, attributes that read to white people as “racially ambiguous.” His father tells him not to doubt his Blackness, yet this confirmation comes off more as a warning not to get too comfortable around white people, and, like most kids when receiving advice from a parent, he doesn’t really take it to heart…

Read the entire interview here.

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A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the Politics of Performance during the New Negro Renaissance.

Posted in Biography, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Statements, United States, Women on 2019-08-28 00:26Z by Steven

A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the Politics of Performance during the New Negro Renaissance.

NEH banner
National Endowment for the Humanities
400 7th Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20506
Grant number: HB-263199-19
2019-08-14

Grantee: Laurie Avant Woodard, Assistant Professor of History
CUNY Research Foundation, City College (New York, New York)

Grant Period: 2019-09-01 through 2020-08-31
$60,000 USD (approved), $60,000 USD (awarded)

Research and writing a biography of Fredi Washington (1903-1994), a civil rights activist and a performing artist active in the Harlem Renaissance.

Focusing upon the life and career of performing artist and civil rights activist Fredi Washington, this project places an African American female performing artist at the center of the narrative of the New Negro Renaissance; illuminates the vital influence of performing artists on the movement; and demonstrates the ways in which Washington and the New Negro Renaissance are central components of the long civil rights narrative and our understanding of the African American quest for civil and human rights. The manuscript will consist of six chapters and a prologue and epilogue.

For more information, click here.

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Black Card: A Novel

Posted in Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Novels, United States, Virginia on 2019-08-27 01:53Z by Steven

Black Card: A Novel

Catapult
2019-08-13
272 pages
5.8 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781948226264

Chris L. Terry

Black Card: A Novel by Chris L. Terry

Chris L. Terry’s Black Card is an uncompromising examination of American identity. In an effort to be “black enough,” a mixed-race punk rock musician indulges his own stereotypical views of African American life by doing what his white bandmates call “black stuff.” After remaining silent during a racist incident, the unnamed narrator has his Black Card revoked by Lucius, his guide through Richmond, Virginia, where Confederate flags and memorials are a part of everyday life.

Determined to win back his Black Card, the narrator sings rap songs at an all-white country music karaoke night, absorbs black pop culture, and attempts to date his black coworker Mona, who is attacked one night. The narrator becomes the prime suspect and earns the attention of John Donahue, a local police officer with a grudge dating back to high school. Forced to face his past, his relationships with his black father and white mother, and the real consequences and dangers of being black in America, the narrator must choose who he is before the world decides for him.

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