Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-02-15 20:49Z by Steven

Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62

The Guardian
2019-02-15

Richard Lea


Andrea Levy, in Edinburgh in 2010: ‘My heritage is Britain’s story too.’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Award-winning author of Small Island and The Long Song had cancer

The writer Andrea Levy, who explored the experience of Jamaican British people in a series of novels over 20 years has died, aged 62, from cancer.

After starting to write as a hobby in her early 30s, Levy published three novels in the 1990s that brought her positive reviews and steady sales. But her fourth novel, Small Island, launched her into the literary big league, winning the 2004 Orange prize, the Whitbread book of the year and the Commonwealth Writers’ prize, selling more than 1m copies around the world and inspiring a 2009 BBC TV adaptation.

On Friday, authors including Candice Carty-Williams, Linda Grant and Malorie Blackman paid tribute, with Blackman remembering a “warm, funny and generous spirit.”…

…After studying textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic, Levy worked briefly as a designer, a dresser and a receptionist. But it was not until she was 26 that a racial awareness session with colleagues at an Islington sex education project gave her a “rude awakening”.

“We were asked to split into two groups, black and white.” Levy wrote. “I walked over to the white side of the room. It was, ironically, where I felt most at home – all my friends, my boyfriend, my flatmates, were white. But my fellow workers had other ideas and I found myself being beckoned over by people on the black side. With some hesitation I crossed the floor.”

As someone who was “scared” to call herself a black person, the experience was shocking enough to send her to bed for a week. But the writing course she had begun part-time came to her rescue, sending her back to explore the shame and denial that had marked her childhood and to rediscover her Jamaican roots…

Read the entire article here.

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The interracial love story that stunned Washington — twice! — in 1867

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2019-02-15 20:32Z by Steven

The interracial love story that stunned Washington — twice! — in 1867

The Washington Post
2019-02-13

Jessica Contrera


Eli S. Parker, a Seneca Indian who worked for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was engaged to Minnie Sackett, a young white woman, in 1867. (The History Collection/Alamy) (The History Collection/Alamy Stock Photo/The History Collection/Alamy Stock Photo)

When Ely Parker married Minnie Sackett, “the creme de la creme of Washington society” came to gawk

The wedding was a shock before it even began. In 1867, the nation’s capital learned that Minnie Sackett, the daughter of a prominent Civil War colonel, was engaged. Sackett was considered to be “one of the most beautiful women in the District,” according to the New York Tribune, with her high-neck lace collars and brunette ringlets piled atop her head.

Her soon-to-be husband, 39-year-old Ely S. Parker, had served in the Union Army as the private secretary to then-Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. It was Parker who drafted the terms of surrender that ended the war in 1865. So close was their friendship that Grant himself planned to escort the bride, whose father had died, down the aisle at Washington’s Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

Why was their betrothal controversial? “It may not be generally known that Col. Parker is a full-blooded Indian,” the Tribune reported. “A near relative to the famous Red Jacket and of the present Chief of the six nations Cherokees.”

One hundred years before the Supreme Court would make interracial marriage legal throughout the country, a white woman was marrying an Indian man…

Read the entire article here.

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We Cast a Shadow, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2019-02-15 19:28Z by Steven

We Cast a Shadow, A Novel

One World (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2019-01-29
336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9780525509066
Ebook ISBN: 9780525509080
Audiobook ISBN: 9780525637363

Maurice Carlos Ruffin

“You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body—if you can afford it.

In this near-future Southern city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, more and more residents are turning to this experimental medical procedure. Like any father, our narrator just wants the best for his son, Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go to protect his son? And will he destroy his family in the process?

This electrifying, hallucinatory novel is at once a keen satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. At its center is a father who just wants his son to thrive in a broken world. Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s work evokes the clear vision of Ralph Ellison, the dizzying menace of Franz Kafka, and the crackling prose of Vladimir Nabokov. We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Explains Her Race and Ethnicity

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-02-15 16:43Z by Steven

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Explains Her Race and Ethnicity

DiversityInc
2019-02-14

Keka Araujo


Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

“I am the descendant of African slaves. I am the descendant of Indigenous people. I am the descendant of Spanish colonizers,” explained Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an MSNBC interview.

Conversations around race and ethnicity have been prominent in the media because of the onslaught of diverse newly elected public officials. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is one of them. In an interview on MSNBC, she addressed her heritage with respect to her race.

It’s no secret that throughout the Latino community there are three major racial influences: African, European, and Indigenous.

And depending on a person’s country of origin, it has been well-established that one of these influences can be dominant or they can be equal.

Ocasio-Cortez is Nuyorican (a person of Puerto Rican-descent, born and raised in New York). In the interview, she talked about her heritage citing: “My identity is the descendant of many different identities. I am the descendant of African slaves. I am the descendant of Indigenous people. I am the descendant of Spanish colonizers… I am a descendant of all sorts of folks. That doesn’t mean I’m Black, that doesn’t mean I’m Native, but I can tell the story of my ancestors.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Obituary: Andrea Levy

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-02-15 16:29Z by Steven

Obituary: Andrea Levy

BBC News
2019-02-15

Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy, who has died of cancer at the age of 62, told the stories of the Windrush generation with humour and compassion.

As Britain struggled to revive its post-war economy, invitations were extended to citizens of the Empire. “Come and make your lives in the Mother Country,” the advertisements said.

Levy’s books chart the experiences – and disappointments – of the first Caribbean immigrants and their children.

Her Jamaican father, Winston, was aboard the Empire Windrush, the first ship to dock at Tilbury in 1948.

The open arms which the 492 men expected were not forthcoming. Racism and rejection, small rooms and chilly receptions awaited instead.

Her writing could have been angry and preachy, but it wasn’t. It was witty, humane and often moving, and full of richly drawn characters.

She brought ignored and forgotten stories back to public consciousness. And she drew on her own mixed-race, working class experience to enrich her themes of family and displacement…

Read the entire article here.

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Finding Edna Ferber’s Showboat

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-14 01:23Z by Steven

Finding Edna Ferber’s Showboat

David Cecelski: New writing, collected essays, latest discoveries
2018-03-10

David Cecelski

Souvenir program from the world premier of the first Showboat movie in 1929. Courtesy, Beinecke Library, Yale University
Souvenir program from the world premier of the first Showboat movie in 1929. Courtesy, Beinecke Library, Yale University

I don’t know how the great American novelist, short story writer and playwright Edna Ferber heard about the little river town of Winton, N.C.

But I know she did. In a collection of her research notes that I found at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale when I was in New Haven, Conn. last summer, she scratched the following:

Winton, N.C.—The Croatans, relic of the lost Roanoke Island

settlement. Tar River. White negroes.

Winton is a no-stoplight town in Hertford County, on the Chowan River (not the Tar River), in a rural part of northeastern N.C., between the Albemarle Sound and the Great Dismal Swamp.

I was a surprised to find a reference to Winton in the notes of a New York writer like Edna Ferber.

I was also a little surprised to discover a reference to Winton in an archive like the Beinecke Library, a sleek, modern, glass-walled vault of literary and historical treasures in the heart of Yale’s campus.

So of course I had to wonder: why was Edna Ferber interested in Winton? And what did the Croatan Indians and the “lost Roanoke settlement”—the Lost Colony—have to do with anything? And last but not least, what did she mean by “white negroes”?

In today’s post, I’d like to explore those questions. By the end of considering them, I hope we will understand northeastern N.C.’s history a little better and understand where Edna Ferber found at least some of the inspiration for her most popular and enduring literary work…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Thought and Sexual Politics: An Interview with Guy Emerson Mount

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-14 00:40Z by Steven

Black Thought and Sexual Politics: An Interview with Guy Emerson Mount

Black Perspectives
2019-01-17

Chris Shell, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
Michigan State University


Guy Emerson Mount

In today’s post, Christopher Shell, a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University, interviews historian Guy Emerson Mount about his chapter in New Perspectives on Black Intellectual Tradition, edited by Keisha N. Blain, Christopher Cameron, and Ashley D. Farmer. Guy Emerson Mount is an Assistant Professor of African American History at Auburn University and currently an Associate Editor of Black Perspectives. His work focuses on Black transnationalism, American empire, and the legacies of slavery. Previously he has conducted research on Black sexual politics, masculinity, interracial marriage, mixed race identities, Black religion, and Black radical politics. His current book project seeks to tell a global history of empire and emancipation through the everyday lives of transnational Black workers who jettisoned the Atlantic World for a new life in the Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @GuyEmersonMount.

Christopher M. Shell: Please briefly summarize the main argument in your essay.

Guy Emerson Mount: The main argument is that postemancipation Black thought regarding interracial marriage and sexuality has experienced a case of what I call “historical ventriloquy” over the past century and a half. By historical ventriloquy, I mean that knowledge producers in a given era tend to look back on prior Black thinking and, instead of wrestling with the true complexity of Black thought in a particular moment, put words in the mouths of prior Black people to make those subjects say what they want them to say. This is different from presentism—where events in the past are simply interpreted through the lens of present-day political concerns. Historical ventriloquy changes the facts altogether. It crafts a fiction that does real violence to the ideas of prior Black thinkers.

In this case, Black thought about Frederick Douglas’s interracial marriage to Helen Pitts has been absolutely butchered over time. When it happened in 1884, Black communities were overwhelmingly in support of it. Even Black people who questioned Douglass’ decision to marry a white woman demanded his absolute right to make that decision as part of a commitment to freedom and equality. Yet beginning with Booker T. Washington (and accelerating through a narrowly drawn pop-cultural Black nationalism that has slowly crept into the academy), I trace how historical ventriloquy took hold and began to imagine that seemingly all Black people in 1884 (including somehow Douglass’s children) must have been universally against interracial marriage in general, and Douglass’s marriage specifically. This enormous gap between the primary historical record, and how historians and everyday people imagine that historical record, is what this chapter is all about…

Read the entire interview here.

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Theaster Gates on how his new show was inspired by the eviction of 45 people from an island in Maine

Posted in Arts, Europe, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-11 01:14Z by Steven

Theaster Gates on how his new show was inspired by the eviction of 45 people from an island in Maine

The Art Newspaper
2019-02-01

Anna Swansom

Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates ©Theaster Gates; Photo: Julian Salinas

The Chicago-based artist’s exhibition in Paris examines the forced removal in 1911 of the inhabitants of Malaga Island

The US artist Theaster Gates has taken the eviction of a mixed-race community from a small island in Maine as the starting point for his first solo exhibition in France, opening this month at the Palais de Tokyo. In 1912, 45 people from Malaga Island were evicted by the state authorities and eight of them were committed to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded following the state’s purchase of the island in 1911. The island, a poor fishing village of black, white and mixed-race people, was ridiculed in a Maine newspaper as a “strange community” of “peculiar people”; its eviction has recently been described by a US documentary as having been motivated by economics, racism, eugenics and political retribution.

Through new works including sculptures, a film and a video, the Chicago-based artist has developed the wide-ranging project and exhibition, Amalgam, which explores the complexity of interraciality and migratory histories. The show has been organised by Katell Jaffrès and has received support from Regen Projects, Richard Gray Gallery and White Cube.

The Art Newspaper: How did you become interested in the history of Malaga Island and how did this lead to Amalgam?

Theaster Gates: I had started a residency in 2017 at Colby College in Maine and was visiting a friend who said there was this important, not well-known history about this island that used to have black and mixed-race people that were evicted. We were in a boat and he suggested having lobsters on the adjacent island before checking it out. So I learned of it quite leisurely and then started to do research.

The idea of interracial mixing led to the creation of a sculptural form, “amalgam”: a by-product of what happens when one artistic form from history meets another one to create a new kind of work. I wanted to create a bridge that would make people more curious about this island and for people who are of mixed race and from backgrounds where their parents are of different religions, I wanted Malaga to be a place where all mixes felt that they had a home. The beauty of mixing is one of the cornerstones of the exhibition…

Read the interview article here.

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Bristol school drops Colston name and replaces it with African-American, female mathematician’s

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2019-02-10 23:35Z by Steven

Bristol school drops Colston name and replaces it with African-American, female mathematician’s

The Bristol Post
Bristol, United Kingdom
2019-02-10

Tristan Cork, Senior Reporter


An 18th century engraving of Edward Colston

All the other house names have been dropped in favour of more diverse role models

One of Bristol’s oldest state schools has decided to ditch the names of its houses – including one named after Edward Colston – in favour of more inspiring names who are better role models.

St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School has a house system with five houses, all named after historic figures from the school’s, and Bristol’s, past.

That system has operated for decades, but from the start of the next academic year in September, they will be replaced.

The school, which is the only Church of England secondary school in the Diocese of Bristol, has come under pressure for its links to the controversial slave trader Edward Colston in recent years, and that included calls to rename one of the five school ‘houses’ which is named after him.

The school groups students into five houses, from when they start in Year 7 to Year 11.

Pupils start in James House in Year 7, before being split into four different houses until they take their GCSEs

Colston House will become Johnson House


Katherine Johnson

Edward Colston is one of the most prominent and divisive figures in Bristol’s history. A Bristol-born merchant, he effectively ran the Royal Africa Company in London, before helping to open it up for Bristol.

As well as a statue of him in The Centre, there are roads, buildings, schools and homes named after him, with the use of his name across Bristol increasingly controversial.

Katherine Johnson was an African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of America’s first manned spaceflights.

She effectively worked out how man could land on the moon during the Apollo missions, and her calculations also were essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle programme. She was portrayed in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.

Read the entire article here.

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Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-02-10 22:57Z by Steven

Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance

The New Press
May 2018
288 pages
5½ x 8¼
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-62097-186-4

Alexis Clark, Adjunct Faculty
Columbia Journalism School, New York, New York

Enemies in Love

A true and deeply moving narrative of forbidden love during World War II and a shocking, hidden history of race on the home front

This is a love story like no other: Elinor Powell was an African American nurse in the U.S. military during World War II; Frederick Albert was a soldier in Hitler’s army, captured by the Allies and shipped to a prisoner-of-war camp in the Arizona desert. Like most other black nurses, Elinor pulled a second-class assignment, in a dusty, sun-baked—and segregated—Western town. The army figured that the risk of fraternization between black nurses and white German POWs was almost nil.

Brought together by unlikely circumstances in a racist world, Elinor and Frederick should have been bitter enemies; but instead, at the height of World War II, they fell in love. Their dramatic story was unearthed by journalist Alexis Clark, who through years of interviews and historical research has pieced together an astounding narrative of race and true love in the cauldron of war.

Based on a New York Times story by Clark that drew national attention, Enemies in Love paints a tableau of dreams deferred and of love struggling to survive, twenty-five years before the Supreme Court’s Loving decision legalizing mixed-race marriage—revealing the surprising possibilities for human connection during one of history’s most violent conflicts.

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