Separated at birth: Was my mother given away because she looked white?

Posted in Africa, Articles, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, Passing, South Africa on 2019-12-01 23:57Z by Steven

Separated at birth: Was my mother given away because she looked white?

Stories
BBC News
2019-12-01

Vibeke Venema, Senior Broadcast Journalist

Margaret as a young woman
Nathan Romburgh

When a health emergency prompted Nathan Romburgh and his sisters to look into their family history, decades after the end of apartheid, they uncovered a closely guarded secret that made them question their own identity.

Cape Town, 29 September 1969 – at 10pm the city is rocked by a huge earthquake. Margaret Buirski is working as a First Aid nurse in the Alhambra cinema and, for once, her medical skills are really needed. A woman has fallen from the balcony and Margaret is tending to her injuries in the chaos.

A young man walks past, very drunk, and notices the nurse’s shapely legs. Despite his inebriation, he offers to drive the women to hospital. This is the start of the romance between Margaret and Derek Romburgh…

…”Then there was this big question – what would make someone give away only one of her twins? It just didn’t make sense,” says Nathan.

He soon formed a theory – it was based on photographs Alan had shared, which showed that Margaret was fairer than her sister Norma.

“My mother had olive skin, but she passed for white in apartheid South Africa,” says Nathan. “I don’t think Norma could have.”

Although Mary Francis, Nathan’s grandmother, was registered as “European”, she was in fact mixed-race. Mary’s father, James Francis, was British, and her mother, Christina, was of Malaysian origin, from the island of St Helena. Mary was the youngest of their six children…

Read the entire article here.

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“My mama would go around town, pushing my sister and I in a cart to the grocery store, and people would actually come up to her and lecture her. They would say, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?'”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-09-26 01:45Z by Steven

Her [Brittany Howard’s] most striking lyrics come on Goat Head [in her album Jaime], as she discusses growing up as the child of a poor, interracial couple in rural Alabama.

“When I was born – or rather when my sister was born in 1984 – that was like the first wave of mixed babies, little brown babies,” she says.

“My mama would go around town, pushing my sister and I in a cart to the grocery store, and people would actually come up to her and lecture her. They would say, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?'”

In the song, she recalls an incident that happened when she was a baby, but was told about later, where “someone cut off a goat’s head, and they put it in the back of my dad’s car and slashed his tyres, and smeared blood all over his car”.

“It’s always been a part of me, that story,” says Howard. “Because Athens was a beautiful, peaceful country place, where people are neighbours and we really care about each other. But there’s a racial line, or there was at least, and that’s why I wanted to write that song. Just to explain where I was coming from.”

Mark Savage, “Brittany Howard finds freedom after Alabama Shakes,” BBC News, September 25, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-49808839.

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Brittany Howard finds freedom after Alabama Shakes

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2019-09-26 00:28Z by Steven

Brittany Howard finds freedom after Alabama Shakes

BBC News
2019-09-25

Mark Savage, BBC music reporter

Brittany Howard
Brittany Howard: “If I was going to make a solo record, I knew it had to be something true.” Brantley Gutierrez

In the middle of making her new album, Brittany Howard decided to record the air conditioner.

Holding a microphone to ceiling, she captured the unit’s electromagnetic pulse, turned it into a tape loop, then transposed it onto a keyboard.

“In the end, I think we were overly ambitious,” she reflects. “Because it turned out to be terrible.”

The experiment may have been scrapped, but it illustrates the sense of freedom Howard felt as she made her first solo album…

Read the entire article here.

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Being black in Nazi Germany

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2019-05-22 00:29Z by Steven

Being black in Nazi Germany

BBC News
2019-05-21

Damian Zane

A slide used on lectures on genetics at the State Academy for Race and Health in Dresden, Germany, 1936. Original caption: "Mulatte child of a German woman and a Negro of the French Rhineland garrison troops, among her German classmates
This photo was used in genetics lectures at Germany’s State Academy for Race and Health Library of Congress

Film director Amma Asante came across an old photograph taken in Nazi Germany of a black schoolgirl by chance.

Standing among her white classmates, who stare straight into the camera, she enigmatically glances to the side.

Curiosity about the photograph – who the girl was and what she was doing in Germany – set the award-winning film-maker off on a path that led to Where Hands Touch, a new movie starring Amandla Stenberg and George MacKay.

It is an imagined account of a mixed-race teenager’s clandestine relationship with a Hitler Youth member, but it is based on historical record…

Racist caricatures

The derogatory term “Rhineland bastards” was coined in the 1920s to refer to the 600-800 mixed-race children who were the result of those relationships.

Newspaper cutting in the Frankfurter Volksblatt says "600 Bastards Accused, the legacy of black crimes against the Rhinelanders"
The 1936 headline in the Frankfurter Volksblatt says: “600 Bastards Accused, the legacy of black crimes against the Rhinelanders” Robbie Aitken

The term spoke to some people’s imagined fears of an impure race. Made-up stories and racist caricatures of sexually predatory African soldiers were circulated at the time, fuelling concern…

Read the entire article here.

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The ‘Brown Babies’ who were left behind

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-20 16:37Z by Steven

The ‘Brown Babies’ who were left behind

BBC News
2019-05-17

Charlie Jones

children in a children's home
Many of the babies were put in children’s homes, such as Holnicote House in Somerset
Leslie York

When Babs Gibson-Ward was born in 1944, her mother’s navy officer husband did not question whether he was her father.

“He honestly believed I was his child, I think because my complexion at that time was very fair. It took six months for it to change,” she said.

She was one of 2,000 mixed race babies born to white British women and black American GIs during World War Two.

The children were dubbed “Brown Babies” by the media and many had troubled childhoods.

When Mrs Gibson-Ward’s skin darkened, her mother’s lie was revealed – her real father was a black US Airforce engineer…

…”Many British people had never seen a black person before. They were charming and less arrogant than the white officers.

“They met women at dance halls or pubs, on evenings which were designated ‘blacks only’,” Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History at Anglia Ruskin University, said.

But relationships were forbidden and their children were often kept secret. Most had never shared their stories until Prof Bland found 45 of them for her book, titled Britain’s Brown Babies

Read the entire article here.

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Belgium apology for mixed-race kidnappings in colonial era

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2019-04-05 17:56Z by Steven

Belgium apology for mixed-race kidnappings in colonial era

BBC News
2019-04-04

Audience members watch Mr Michel speak in parliament
Many mixed-race people were in parliament to watch Mr Michel apologise

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has apologised for the kidnapping of thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during colonial rule in Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda.

The “métis” children born to Belgian settlers and local women were forcibly taken to Belgium and fostered by Catholic orders and other institutions.

About 20,000 children are believed to have been affected.

Most fathers refused to acknowledge the paternity of their children.

The children were born in the 1940s and 1950s and taken to Belgium from 1959 until the independence of each of the three colonies.

Some of the children never received Belgian nationality and remained stateless.

Speaking in the Belgian parliament, Mr Michel said the country had breached the children’s basic human rights, seeing them as a threat to the colonial system.

It had, he said, stripped them of their identity, stigmatised them and split up siblings…

Read the entire article here.

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‘I’m from more cultures than you!’

Posted in Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos on 2019-03-07 19:58Z by Steven

‘I’m from more cultures than you!’

BBC News
2019-03-07

One Culture: two generations, where we speak to British families and explore the differences between first- and second-generation immigrants.

Of the 1.2 million mixed race people in England and Wales, 0.5% of them identify as ‘Mixed other’. Bilal, who is of both Jamaican and South Asian Kenyan descent, has an open conversation with his parents Colleen and Asif about the pressures, and the positives of being mixed with two minority groups.

A part of #CrossingDivides – a BBC season bringing people together. For more stories like this go to bbc.co.uk/crossingdivides.

Produced and edited by Elizabeth Ashamu
Directed by Cebo Luthuli
Executive produced by Karlene Pinnock

Watch the video 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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‘I’m mixed-race, is Cambridge University right for me?’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-01-22 16:17Z by Steven

‘I’m mixed-race, is Cambridge University right for me?’

BBC News
2019-01-22

Anoushka looking round Cambridge University

Anoushka Mutanda Dougherty has been offered a place at Cambridge University, but she’s mixed-race and from a state school – and only 3% of students who started at Cambridge in 2017 were black, or mixed-race with black heritage. So is it the best place for her? At this point, she’s not sure.

Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world. Cambridge is the fourth-oldest surviving university in the world. Cambridge has produced, so far, 90 Nobel prize winners – and Cambridge, this educational powerhouse, just might not be where I want to go. At least, that’s how I feel right now, a week after finding out that I got a place…

Read the entire article here.

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What it’s like to be Black and Argentine

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice, Videos on 2019-01-19 02:36Z by Steven

What it’s like to be Black and Argentine

BBC News
2018-12-31

Reporter: Celestina Olulode
Produced by Hannah Green and Hannah Gelbart for the BBC News at Ten.

Black people have had a huge influence on Argentina’s history, but now they make up only one percent of the population of Buenos Aires.

Afro-Argentines, whose families descended from the slave trade, often feel like they’ve been written out of history and are mistaken for foreigners in their own country.

Watch the story here.

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