Betty Reid Soskin: The extraordinary life of the nation’s oldest park ranger

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-04-21 21:39Z by Steven

Betty Reid Soskin: The extraordinary life of the nation’s oldest park ranger

Berkeleyside
Berkeley, California
2022-04-01

Daphne White

Betty Soskin in her living room. Photo: Daphne White

In this 2018 interview with Soskin who retired Thursday at the age of 100, the nation’s oldest park ranger said she considers herself “an absolutely ordinary extraordinary person.”

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in February 2018. We’re resharing it because Betty Reid Soskin, the nation’s oldest active park ranger, retired Thursday at the age of 100.

Betty Reid Soskin, 96, considers herself “an absolutely ordinary extraordinary person.”

Soskin has dated Jackie Robinson, co-founded Reid’s Records in Berkeley with her first husband, served as a “bag lady” (delivering cash) for the Black Panthers, and hobnobbed with the leaders of the human potential movement as a faculty wife with her second husband.

She also served in a Jim Crow segregated union hall in Richmond during World War II, experienced redlining in Berkeley when she tried to build her first house, moved to a racially-hostile Walnut Creek in the 1950s, and accidentally catapulted to fame in her 80s, as she brought her lived experience as a non-Rosie to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park

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‘We Are Black. We Just Speak Spanish’: Why Some Afro Latinos Want More Visibility During Black History Month

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive on 2022-03-11 16:21Z by Steven

‘We Are Black. We Just Speak Spanish’: Why Some Afro Latinos Want More Visibility During Black History Month

KQED News
San Fransisco, California
2022-02-18

Blanca Torres

Novelist Aya de Leon (left), Nelson German, head chef and owner of alaMar, and Jacqueline Garcel, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation. All three are Afro Latinos who live in the Bay Area. (Blanca Torres/KQED)

Nelson German, the chef and owner of alaMar, a seafood restaurant in Oakland, remembers the day a Black family asked a staffer about the Black owner they had heard about.

“This isn’t a Black-owned restaurant,” he recalled the staffer telling the family. “This is a Dominican-owned restaurant.”

Hearing about that interaction was a turning point for German. As a Black Dominican American, German, 41, realized he hadn’t done enough to educate those around him about his Blackness and the importance of it.

“We are Black. We are part of the African diaspora. We just speak Spanish,” German said. “The African continent influenced the world. We should embrace that, and really give tribute to it now, because there’s a lot of people who had to shed their blood and sacrifice their lives for us to be in this position. We should show them some respect.”

“So, I always say Afro Latino,” he said…

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Betty Reid Soskin shares forgotten histories as a national park ranger

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-02-22 23:17Z by Steven

Betty Reid Soskin shares forgotten histories as a national park ranger

The San Francisco Chronicle
2021-06-02

Brittany Bracy
Las Positas College, Livermore, California

Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle

The nation’s oldest ranger is hopeful for tomorrow: ‘I get a feeling that change is going to come’

At age 85, Betty Reid Soskin started a new career. She took a job as a park ranger at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, sharing her story and the story of Black women’s and men’s efforts during World War II with visitors who are often familiar with the white “We Can Do It!” propaganda figure — and little else.

Soskin grew up in Oakland in the 1920s and ’30s, and well before she became the country’s oldest park ranger, she found ways to contribute to her community. She has been a record store owner, a fundraiser for the Black Panthers and a political aide during her “ordinary extraordinary” life.

Now 99, Soskin has used her platform with the National Park Service to educate the public about crucial moments in history and highlight the sacrifices of those whose names are often left out of the retellings. As she approaches her 100th birthday this year, Soskin’s wisdom and courage continues to have a positive impact on California residents and institutions.

This interview is part of Lift Every Voice, a series that connects young Black journalists with Black elders in our communities to celebrate and learn from their life experiences. The San Francisco Chronicle has joined Hearst newspapers, magazines and television stations to publish dozens of profiles as part of the project…

Read the entire interview here.

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I Hear the Train: Reflections, Inventions, Refractions

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2021-12-06 20:00Z by Steven

I Hear the Train: Reflections, Inventions, Refractions

University of Oklahoma Press
October 2001
282 pages
6 X 9
12 B&W Photos
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806133546
Paperback ISBN: 9780806190143

Louis Owens (1948-2002), Professor of English and Native American Studies
University of California, Davis

In this innovative collection, Louis Owens blends autobiography, short fiction, and literary criticism to reflect on his experiences as a mixedblood Indian in America.

In sophisticated prose, Owens reveals the many timbres of his voice—humor, humility, love, joy, struggle, confusion, and clarity. We join him in the fields, farms, and ranches of California. We follow his search for a lost brother and contemplate along with him old family photographs from Indian Territory and early Oklahoma. In a final section, Owens reflects on the work and theories of other writers, including Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Gerald Vizenor, Michael Dorris, and Louise Erdrich.

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UT students, staff reflect on experiences with racial passing

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Texas, United States on 2021-12-06 03:23Z by Steven

UT students, staff reflect on experiences with racial passing

The Daily Texan: Serving the University of Texas at Austin Community Since 1900
2021-12-05

Sofia Treviño, Life & Arts Senior Reporter


Julius Shieh/The Daily Texan

Disliking her paler skin compared to other darker-complected Hispanics growing up, Rachel González-Martin spent hours lying under the sun willing herself to tan. Only burning and turning red, she grew frustrated. González-Martin wanted others to easily recognize her as Hispanic.

“There’s who we know we are and how we tell our own story, but we can never escape from what people see in us or read from our appearance,” the associate professor of Mexican American and Latina/o studies said.

Racial passing — a term used to describe those perceived as a member of another racial group than their own — can affect how closely people connect to and feel a part of their communities. For UT students and staff, the process of navigating different cultural stereotypes and learning to embrace their identities regardless of their appearance remains a lifelong project.

Growing up in Oakland, California, with very few fellow Hispanics, González-Martin felt she needed to physically show her identity. However, as she’s grown older, she said she’s learned to accept her own meaning of belonging to a community aside from outside biases…

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In Hip-Hop and Academia, Mystic Defines Her Own Success Story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 18:14Z by Steven

In Hip-Hop and Academia, Mystic Defines Her Own Success Story

KQED
San Francisco, California
2021-12-01

Nastia Voynovskaya, Associate Editor

Mystic surprised the world by walking away from a record deal after her successful debut album. But for her, it was all part of the plan to create and be of service, completely on her own terms. (Nastia Voynovskaya/KQED)

Mystic sits in her backyard on the kind of warm, autumn afternoon that makes people remark at how good it is to live in Oakland, California. Dappled light shines through a lush canopy of persimmon, fig and guava trees. Her pet lovebird chirps in the distance, and she’s snacking on almonds between Zoom calls with young musicians she mentors.

This is the veteran hip-hop artist’s little oasis, away from the unruliness of the city, where she ponders the changing seasons of life, love and art.

It’s a good time for reflection. The recent loss of her longtime close friend and Digital Underground collaborator, Shock G, shook her deeply. That, and the grief of living during a global pandemic, prompted her to listen inward and ask herself what would fulfill her soul right now.

“I mean, shouldn’t we be doing what we love? Isn’t it the time now?” she asks in her naturally poetic cadence, lowering her voice into a near-whisper. Then, she starts to get louder and more passionate, as if proclaiming a manifesto: “If we’re artists, and art is part of our healing journey, then we should all be making art right now, right? There should be art flooding our speakers and our museums and our buildings, right? Public art.”

And for Mystic, one of the roles of hip-hop as a public art form is to bring traumas out of darkness and into the light, where they can be examined and processed—maybe even let go—in communion with others. That’s the power of her classic album Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom, whose 20th anniversary Mystic is celebrating this year. She recently took ownership of the master recordings and put out a podcast series looking back at its creation. Now, she’s gearing up for a vinyl rerelease in December.

From the outside, it might look like Mystic is recommitting to her art after years of focusing on her other loves: academia and teaching. After Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom was released to great acclaim, she walked away from a record deal and took a different path that brought her to UC Berkeley and, eventually, the University of Oxford for her master’s degree in education. For years, she spent more time in kindergarten classrooms than on stage in front of fans. But to Mystic, these multiple pursuits are all part of one continuous quest to create, express and be of service.

“It takes life to make art,” she texts me after one of our conversations. “There are times of input and times of output. I take my time for input, and that includes healing, living, loving, working with children, school and community. When my art is ready to be born, that is output. That is all 😉.”…

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Review: Grafton Tyler Brown’s California scenes at Pasadena museum’s final show

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-05 17:15Z by Steven

Review: Grafton Tyler Brown’s California scenes at Pasadena museum’s final show

The Los Angeles Times
2018-06-30

Christopher Knight, Art Critic

Grafton Tyler Brown, “Cascade Cliffs, Columbia River,” 1885, oil on canvas (Pasadena Museum of California Art)

In 1879, Grafton Tyler Brown took a giant leap. A successful San Francisco businessman, then 38, he decided to become a Western scene painter. Brown sold his thriving lithography company and headed out to see the sights, brush in hand.

Over the course of the next dozen years, he produced picturesque portraits of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Gorge along the Columbia River and the geysers of the newly anointed National Park at Yellowstone. A sliver of what he saw on those wide-ranging travels is now on view in “Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California,” a modest exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

Two other Brown exhibitions have been done — the first at the Oakland Museum in 1972, which focused on his commercial lithographs, and a 2003 survey of 49 paintings at the California African American Museum. (The painting show traveled to Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum.) One wishes that the Pasadena show had managed a full overview of his entire output, lithographs and paintings alike. That’s long overdue…

…Much more deserves to be known about Brown, the first African American artist believed to have been working in 19th century California. Light-skinned, he began to pass as white sometime after moving west from Harrisburg, Penn.

He launched G.T. Brown & Co. just as the Civil War was ending — perhaps a sign of candid optimism — and the business prospered throughout the Reconstruction era. But with patrons such as Benjamin Franklin Washington, editor of the then-openly racist San Francisco Examiner, Brown lived with the grinding daily risk of exposure. One cannot help but wonder whether the fitful end of Reconstruction in 1877, with its troubled aftermath for black Americans, might have propelled his decision to head out into the wilderness to paint scenic landscapes…

Read the entire review here.

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Colin Kaepernick Netflix Series ‘Colin in Black and White’ Drops New First-Look Clip

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2021-09-27 19:38Z by Steven

Colin Kaepernick Netflix Series ‘Colin in Black and White’ Drops New First-Look Clip

Variety
2021-09-25


COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Netflix has released a new first-look clip of “Colin in Black and White,” which tells the story of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick during his high school years growing up in central California.

The clip was released as part of the Netflix Tudum fan event. Kaepernick explained during his introduction of the clip that the six-part narrative drama produced with Ava DuVernay focuses on his high school years growing up in Turlock, Calif., a mid-sized city 60 miles east of San Jose, as the Black adopted son of white parents in a largely white community. As depicted in the clip, in high school Kaepernick set his sights set on becoming a professional baseball player.

The half-hour series is set to debut on Netflix on Oct. 29. Jaden Michael will star as a young Kaepernick, with the real Kaepernick appearing throughout as the narrator…

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She became a park ranger at 85 to tell her story of segregation. Now 100, she’s the oldest active ranger.

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-09-27 19:21Z by Steven

She became a park ranger at 85 to tell her story of segregation. Now 100, she’s the oldest active ranger.

The Washington Post
2021-09-24

Sydney Page


Betty Reid Soskin at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif. Soskin is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service. (Luther Bailey/NPS photo)

When asked how it feels to be 100 years old, Betty Reid Soskin gave a subtle shrug, smiled and said: “The same way I felt at 99.”

But she’s not just any centenarian: Soskin is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service, and after celebrating her birthday on Sept. 22, she’s still going strong.

Seated in the study of her apartment in Richmond, Calif., dressed proudly in her park ranger uniform, Soskin reflected on her life.

When it comes to sharing her story, Soskin is not shy. As a park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, she spends her days recounting her rich and complicated history, in the hope that her firsthand account will resonate with people, and encourage them to share their own stories.

“I think everyone’s story is very important. There is so much diversity,” Soskin said. “It’s in that mix that the great secret of a democracy exists.”…

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Genevieve Gaignard’s Timely Work Documents Racial Injustice and Calls for Change

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2021-09-23 01:36Z by Steven

Genevieve Gaignard’s Timely Work Documents Racial Injustice and Calls for Change

Artsy
2020-10-13

Dominique Clayton


Genevieve Gaignard, ​Trailblazer (A Dream Deferred)​, 2017. ©Genevieve Gaignard. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

In a period when many are glued to their devices, waiting for the latest updates on the upcoming election or ongoing pandemic, it’s hard for creatives to focus on new projects and work. Yet for artists like Genevieve Gaignard, who retreated to an artist residency shortly after the onset of the pandemic, this time has served as the catalyst for continuing to create groundbreaking work that speaks to our past, present, and future.

Gaignard recently returned to Los Angeles, where she is based, after spending roughly five months at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts. There, she completed the inaugural Artist’s Laboratory residency program and opened a new exhibition at MCLA Gallery 51, titled “A Long Way From Home.” Both initiatives are led by the director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center Erica Wall, a Black gallerist and curator who previously ran her own space in Santa Ana, California. “Genevieve is such a deep and amazingly prolific artist, whose work reflects her laser focus and commitment to documenting and illuminating racial injustice in the U.S. over time, in real time,” Wall said. “Social media can hardly keep up with her!”

While the effects of COVID-19 caused all of the programming around the residency and the exhibition to move online, Gaignard and Wall made virtual magic happen by pivoting to a series of workshops, sessions, and a lovely exhibition opening via Zoom. There, alongside other artists and supporters, I witnessed the big reveal of Gaignard’s latest work, which brought on a combination of laughter and tears…

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