Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2016-12-07 01:20Z by Steven

Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary

Haymarket Books
February 2013
282 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781608462131

Carolyn Ashbaugh

The life and times of Lucy Parsons, early American radical and labor organizer, told definitively here.

Lucy Parsons’ life energy was directed toward freeing the working class from capitalism. She attributed the inferior position of women and minority racial groups in American society to class inequalities and argued, as Eugene Debs later did, that blacks were oppressed because they were poor, not because they were black. Lucy favored the availability of birth control information and contraceptive devices. She believed that under socialism women would have the right to divorce and remarry without economic, political and religious constraints; that women would have the right to limit the number of children they would have; and that women would have the right to prevent “legalized” rape in marriage.

“Lucy Parsons’ life expressed the anger of the unemployed workers, women, and minorities against oppression and is exemplary of radicals’ efforts to organize the working class for social change.” —From the preface

Lucy Parsons, who the Chicago police considered “more dangerous than a thousand rioters,” was an early American radical who defied all the conventions of her turbulent era as an outspoken woman of color, writer, and labor organizer. Parsons’ life as activist spanned the era of the Robber Barons through the Great Depression, during which she actively campaigned and organized for the emancipation of the working class from wage slavery. Parsons courageously led the defense campaign for the “Haymarket martyrs,” including her husband Albert Parsons. Ashbaugh’s biography takes a giant leap toward reinterpreting the role of women in American history.

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Black People Have Every Right to Distrust You For Being Light Skinned

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2016-10-18 23:43Z by Steven

Black People Have Every Right to Distrust You For Being Light Skinned

Radical Faggot
2016-10-17

rad fag (Benjamin Hart)

My dad is Black and from the US. My mom is Scottish-Irish. I came out very light skinned. For most of my early childhood I was universally read as white. It wasn’t until I hit puberty and entered into a largely Puerto Rican middle school that I started being seen as Latino—a shock both because I am not, but also because I had rarely been identified by others as a person of color before.

Though I grew up in a somewhat racially and economically diverse neighborhood, my family is wealthy. My class status in addition to my light skin called my Blackness into constant question in class, in my after school program, and wherever else I met other Black people. Most of the slang and cultural cues I picked up to help me fit in were learned from friends, neighbors and Black popular culture, because they were not present in my household.

In Chicago where I currently live, other Black people usually do not acknowledge me. On my way to the train, passing folks on the sidewalk, there is usually no eye contact made, no attempt at a connection. Only when I am walking with my roommate, or another Black friend are the acknowledgements—head nods, handshakes, good afternoons—directed towards me through proximity. The racial context I inhabit changes quickly based on who I’m standing with, talking to, or whose arm is linked in mine.

In the youth work I do—both professionally and as an independent community member—I often reach out to other light-skinned, half-white and white-passing young people. I see them grappling with identity, self-acceptance, with where they fit into the larger Black community, and the struggles currently renting that community apart. I try my best to hold their pain, make room for their confusion, while also underlining the most important thing I can teach them: Being light skinned is a privilege, not a struggle…

Read the entire article here.

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For You Were Strangers: A Hanley & Rivka Mystery

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2016-06-17 01:24Z by Steven

For You Were Strangers: A Hanley & Rivka Mystery

Allium Press of Chicago
2015
320 pages
6″ x 9″
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9890535-9-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9967558-0-1

D. M. Pirrone [Diane Piron-Gelman]
Chicago, Illinois

On a spring morning in 1872, former Civil War officer Ben Champion is discovered dead in his Chicago bedroom—a bayonet protruding from his back. What starts as a routine case for Detective Frank Hanley soon becomes anything but, as his investigation into Champion’s life turns up hidden truths best left buried. Meanwhile, Rivka Kelmansky’s long-lost brother, Aaron, arrives on her doorstep, along with his mulatto wife and son. Fugitives from an attack by night riders, Aaron and his family know too much about past actions that still threaten powerful men—defective guns provided to Union soldiers, and an 1864 conspiracy to establish Chicago as the capital of a Northwest Confederacy. Champion had his own connection to that conspiracy, along with ties to a former slave now passing as white and an escaped Confederate guerrilla bent on vengeance, any of which might have led to his death. Hanley and Rivka must untangle this web of circumstances, amid simmering hostilities still present seven years after the end of the Civil War, as they race against time to solve the murder, before the secrets of bygone days claim more victims.

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Jane Marchant: A Century of Progress

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-15 17:06Z by Steven

Jane Marchant: A Century of Progress

Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
2016-06-13

Jane Marchant

Uncovering the story of a grandmother’s racial passing and its effect on following generations.

It is winter here and there are no leaves in sight. I am standing in front of what was once 684 East 39th Street, once part of Chicago’s Ida B. Wells housing projects. Gray dust swirls to the sides of the roads; it also covers cars. Gray light shines through gray clouds and gray glass litters Bronzeville’s streets, in the South Side. The Chicago Housing Authority demolished my Grandma Barbara’s first home. In place of the two-bedroom apartment that housed my Grandma Barbara, her two siblings, and their mother – and generations after them, as the city’s public housing projects shifted from idyllic dream to dangerous nightmare – are three-story apartment buildings for rent or sale. Demolition of the Ida B. Wells Homes began in 2002 and construction for the Oakwood Shores replacement development is nearly complete. A manufactured park cuts the new housing development in two, Lake Michigan breaks against the shore barely a mile east, and skyscrapers rise in the distance. Barely five months ago, I did not know my Grandma Barbara grew up in Chicago’s first housing projects segregated for black residents. She kept many things hidden from me, and the outside world. Among Grandma Barbara’s secrets was that her mother was black.

I love my Grandma Barbara. I loved her as I grew up in a predominantly-white neighborhood; I loved her when I wasn’t allowed to play with her hair, when she ate peanuts and jelly beans at our dining-room table, and when I understood she and my mother were somehow different from the white mothers around us, but I did not understand why. I loved Grandma Barbara in her hospital bed, as she told the nurses she was from Spain, as she lay dying. I love her as she rests in a jar on my aunt’s mantelpiece. But Grandma Barbara told her children and grandchildren lies about who we are.

I find myself, repeatedly, asking, Why? Slavery’s dangers do not exist anymore. The segregation of Grandma Barbara’s youth does not legally exist anymore. When she was on her deathbed in 2007, she was no longer called a mulatto, my mother no longer called a quadroon; I am not called an octoroon, my children will not be named mustifees and my grandchildren will not be mustifinos. We are not in the French Southern States of the 1800s and my great-grandchildren will never be called quarterons, and their children sang-meles. Our one drop will no longer enslave us all. So what was Grandma Barbara hiding from?…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilema

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-12-05 19:55Z by Steven

Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilema

Third World Press
February 2009
199 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0883783092

Rickey Hendon

Foreword by: Hermene D. Hartman

Barack is caught between two worlds and struggles for acceptance by either side-Black enough? White enough? It’s a fine line that he must walk, writes Illinois state Senator Rickey Hendon, in Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilemma, a personal memoir of the historic 2008 presidential election. Hendon, an African American senator from Chicago’s blighted West Side, was a veteran politico firmly aligned with other Black leaders when the man who would go on to become the golden presidential hopeful was an upstart balancing atop America’s cultural fence in one the most notoriously segregated cities in the nation. This newcomer was of a different stock than Chicago’s old guard, which boasted icons such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, late Mayor Harold Washington and Minister Louis Farrakhan, and was initially eyed with some suspicion-even by Hendon himself as the two served side by side in the Illinois state Senate. And as Hendon explains in this book, the phenomenon that became Barack Obama, the audacious presidential hopeful, was created not just by wooing America’s whites, but also by winning acceptance by America’s Blacks.

Hendon begins Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilemma with Obama’s announcement of his presidential bid on February 10, 2007, and follows his entire campaign in a journal-like fashion, all the way to the November 4, 2008 election. This running account is peppered with Hendon’s own observations, insights, inside information, and personal anecdotes of his long history with Barack Obama. Hendon pulls no punches and offers a warts-and-all look at how Obama’s campaign tiptoed across a tightrope to gain the confidence of white Americans without angering African Americans-the latter not always being successful. Since the book was compiled from a journal that Hendon kept of events as they were unfolding during the marathon campaign, we find ourselves transported back to Super Tuesday to race endlessly against a tenacious Senator Hillary Clinton, dodge scandals involving militant pastors and terrorist friends, to play running mate roulette with Republican opponent Senator John McCain. Some of the discussion deals with issues and incidents that have long since been resolved, and perhaps even forgotten, however, the memory of the uncertainty, the tough choices, the curve balls, the dirty tricks, the surprise game changers, and most of all, the nail biting stress, is preserved just as we should all want to remember it-when we were there!

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The Old Neighborhood, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2015-11-27 21:46Z by Steven

The Old Neighborhood, A Novel

Curbside Splendor Publishing
April 2014
502 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1940430003

Bill Hillmann

Bill Hillmann’s debut novel, The Old Neighborhood, is the story of teenager Joe Walsh, the youngest in a large, mixed-race family living in Chicago. After Joe witnesses his older brother commit a gangland murder, his friends and family drag him down into a pit of violence that reaches a bloody impasse when his elder sister begins dating a rival gang member. The Old Neighborhood is both a brutal tale of growing up tough in a mean city, and a beautiful harkening to the heartbreak of youth.

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Vanishing Eden: White Construction of Memory, Meaning, and Identity in a Racially Changing City

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-04 18:08Z by Steven

Vanishing Eden: White Construction of Memory, Meaning, and Identity in a Racially Changing City

Temple University Press
November 2015
198 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-1-43991-119-8
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-43991-118-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-43991-120-4

Michael T. Maly, Associate Professor of Sociology; Director of the Policy Research Collaborative
Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois

Heather M. Dalmage, Professor of Sociology; Director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation
Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois

For many whites, desegregation initially felt like an attack on their community. But how has the process of racial change affected whites’ understanding of community and race? In Vanishing Eden, Michael Maly and Heather Dalmage provide an intriguing analysis of the experiences and memories of whites who lived in Chicago neighborhoods experiencing racial change during the 1950s through the 1980s. They pay particular attention to examining how young people made sense of what was occurring, and how this experience impacted their lives.

Using a blend of urban studies and whiteness studies, the authors examine how racial solidarity and whiteness were created and maintained—often in subtle and unreflective ways. Vanishing Eden also considers how race is central to the ways social institutions such as housing, education, and employment function. Surveying the shifting social, economic, and racial contexts, the authors explore how race and class at local and national levels shaped the organizing strategies of those whites who chose to stay as racial borders began to change.

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Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-10-26 00:54Z by Steven

Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President

Bloomsbury Press
2010
288 pages
5 1/2″ x 8 1/4″
Hardback ISBN: 9781608190607

Edward McClelland

Barack Obama’s inspirational politics and personal mythology have overshadowed his fascinating history. Young Mr. Obama gives us the missing chapter: the portrait of the politician as a young leader, often too ambitious for his own good, but still equipped with a rare ability to inspire change. The route to the White House began on the streets of Chicago’s South Side.

Edward McClelland, a veteran Chicago journalist, tells the real story of the first black president’s political education in the capital of the African American political community. Obama’s touch wasn’t always golden, and the unflappable and charismatic campaigner we know today nearly derailed his political career with a disastrous run for Congress in 2000.

Obama learned from his mistakes, and rebuilt his public persona. Young Mr. Obama is a masterpiece of political reporting, peeling away the audacity, the T-shirts, and the inspiring speeches to craft a compelling and surpassingly readable account of how local politics shaped a national leader.

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5 black Chicagoans who passed for white

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-07-06 01:59Z by Steven

5 black Chicagoans who passed for white

The Chicago Sun-Times
2015-06-16

Kim Janssen, Staff Reporter

A baseball player who broke baseball’s color line decades before Jackie Robinson was born.

A pioneering politician who has a West Side school named after him.

An Emmy-winning “blonde bombshell.”

A poet at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance.

And a brilliant novelist who wrote a noted novel on “passing.”

Unlike Rachel Dolezal — the white Spokane, Washington, NAACP head who has become the U.S.’s biggest viral news story after she was exposed for lying about her past to pose as a black woman — all five of these sometime Chicagoans were black. But just like Dolezal, they spent at least part of their lives pretending to be something they weren’t, historians now suspect.

Baseball player William Edward White, politician Oscar DePriest, bandleader Ina Ray Hutton, poet Jean Toomer and writer Nella Larsen all at times passed as white, it’s believed.

It’s part of the history that makes Dolezal’s masquerade so fascinating to many Americans: for centuries, African-Americans were far more likely to attempt to pass as white than the reverse. Writing in “Opportunity: The Journal of Negro Life” in 1927, one of Dolezal’s predecessors at the NAACP, William Pickens, vividly described how both the violent threat of racism and the lure of white privilege exacted a powerful pull toward passing for black Americans who were able:

“If passing for white will get a fellow better accommodations on the train, better seats in the theatre, immunity from insults in public places, and may even save his life from a mob, only idiots would fail to seize the advantage of passing, at least occasionally if not permanently.”

Passing, which had mostly died out by the latter part of the 20th century, also came with a series of heavy costs: families broken by one relative’s denial of their ties to another; the constant fear of exposure; and the psychological damage of denying one’s true identity. But for these five Chicagoans, it may have been a compromise they felt forced to make…

Read the entire article here.

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Chicago’s Jazz Age still lives in Archibald Motley’s art

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-21 23:43Z by Steven

Chicago’s Jazz Age still lives in Archibald Motley’s art

The Chicago Tribune
2015-03-20

Howard Reich

Where does Chicago’s Jazz Age still live? In the paintings of Archibald Motley, on view in a new exhibition

Trumpets blared, saxophones thundered, singers belted and dancers swayed from nighttime to past sunup.

Walk along “the Stroll” — a very hot stretch of State Street from 31st to 35th streets — and you could hear and feel the music without so much as stepping inside any of the clubs, saloons, cafes, cabarets, theaters and whatnot. Nearby boulevards shook with the music, as well, for no place on Earth swung harder than the South Side of Chicago during the Jazz Age.

Roughly speaking, the epoch when Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Joe “King” Oliver and other jazz immortals lit up Chicago began in 1910, when Morton arrived from New Orleans, and extended into the 1950s.

Few of us around today were there in the Roaring ’20s heyday, but we’re fortunate that Archibald John Motley Jr. walked “the Stroll,” heard the music, ogled the dancers, treasured the proceedings and captured the scene for all time — on canvas. That glorious fact radiates from every corner of a newly opened exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist” (curated by Richard J. Powell and running through Aug. 31)…

…And though the subject is music, the theme surely is the meaning of race.

“In all my paintings where you see a group of people you’ll notice that they’re all a little different color,” Motley once said in an oral history interview. “They’re not all the same color, they’re not all black, they’re not as they used to say years ago, high yellow, they’re not all brown. I try to give each of them character as individuals.”

That respect for humanity issues from all of Motley’s jazz paintings and, of course, from the music itself. Like the range of complexions in Motley’s work, jazz emerged at the turn of the previous century as a heady mix of African-American and Creole cultures in New Orleans, these societies rubbing up against one another in church, in street parades and in the city’s Storyville vice district. The shuttering of that collection of brothels and other nightspots in 1917 drove Crescent City musicians north to Chicago, where Motley — who similarly was born in New Orleans and came to Chicago in his youth — was ready to see and hear them…

Read the entire article here.

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