How Moving to France and Having Children Led a Black American to Rethink Race

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2019-10-15 00:07Z by Steven

How Moving to France and Having Children Led a Black American to Rethink Race

The New York Times
2019-10-14

Andrew Solomon


Eiko Ojala

SELF-PORTRAIT IN BLACK AND WHITE: Unlearning Race
By Thomas Chatterton Williams

Thomas Chatterton Williams is the son of a black father and a white mother, but grew up identifying as black on the basis that even one drop of black blood defines a person as belonging to that often besieged minority. His father claimed that his mother was a black woman at heart, and brought up his son to oppose the implicit racism of passing, though Williams has a complexion more tanned than sub-Saharan, and is often mistaken for an Arab in France, where he lives. Williams married a white woman and both their children were born with blond hair and blue eyes. Are they, too, black by the one-drop rule? In questioning their determinative race, he has plumbed not only his own but also the complexity of racial identity for people outside the prevalent white/nonwhite binary.

Williams, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, is well educated, intellectually sophisticated and prosperous, and he tries to limn the complex relationship between race and class, to figure out where racism is classism and where classism is racism, an almost Escher-like maze as snobbery casts a thin veil over racial hatred and vice versa. Williams can say, “I do not feel myself to be a victim — not in any collectively accessible way.” He is unabashedly the product of a society that champions diversity and encourages people of color to think in terms of identity politics, but he opposes racial essentialism and is an exponent of compromise on some of the niceties of political correctness. He fears the integration that will be available to his blond daughter, Marlow, enabling her to erase aspects of her identity, but he also decries the segregating intolerances that come from both the majority and the minorities…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , ,

Book Reviews: Self-Portrait in Black and White

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2019-09-26 01:31Z by Steven

Book Reviews: Self-Portrait in Black and White

Tablet
2019-09-24

Daniel Oppenheimer

Curtain Gradient

The rewards of subordinating racial or ethnic identity, in the new memoiristic essay by the author of ‘Losing My Cool

Thomas Chatterton Williams’ new book, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, is a few things. It’a memoiristic follow-up to his first book, Losing My Cool: Love, Literature, and a Black Man’s Escape from the Crowd; a meditation on what it means for a black man to discover that he’s fathered white children; and an impassioned argument for rejecting the whole modern paradigm of black and white.

It’s also, I think, an effort to answer for himself one of the essential questions that many older liberals, who were formed before the rise of identity politics, simply can’t answer or even adequately ask. What does one get in return for subordinating one’s racial or ethnic identity? Folks like Mark Lilla, Francis Fukuyama, Sam Harris, Laura Kipnis, Andrew Sullivan, Jonathan Chait, and Jonathan Haidt are on the front lines of the present culture war making compelling arguments that our society needs shared values and narratives to sustain itself, that collectively it is in our best interests to privilege our commonalities over our differences. They’re not, however, providing interesting or persuasive psychological answers to why any given individual would be moved to let his or her racial or ethnic identity attenuate when it is actively providing strength and solace. Or why young people, not yet fully formed, would abstain from the identities that are not just au courant but manifestly powerful in their capacity to compel deference or compliance from the establishment. They’re not offering a new synthesis that incorporates some of the insights and aesthetics of identity politics. They’re mostly arguing for a return to the previous liberal synthesis…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , ,

In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre–Civil War New Orleans

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Economics, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-06-10 23:55Z by Steven

In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre–Civil War New Orleans

Historic New Orleans Collection
2010
128 pages
70 color images, 7 b/w images
8″ × 9½”
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-917860-57-7

Edited and with an introduction by Erin M. Greenwald, with essays by William Keyse Rudolph and Patricia Brady

Julien Hudson, born in 1811 in New Orleans, was the son of a property-owning free woman of color and a white English merchant, ironmonger, and ship chandler. Hudson began painting in the mid-1820s, training first in New Orleans and later in Paris. Little is known about his personal life, outside of scattered details found in a handful of public documents and a pair of early-twentieth-century reminiscences by former student George Coulon and prominent Creole of color Rodolphe Desdunes. This carefully researched volume is the most thorough examination to date of Julien Hudson and his world.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“In France, we have a very different relationship in terms of defining blackness. I’m not called black — I’m called a Frenchwoman.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-05-13 15:45Z by Steven

[Mati] Diop’s father (jazz musician Wasis Diop) is from Senegal and her mother is French. Diop was born and raised in Paris, although she visited Senegal often as a child. In France, we have a very different relationship in terms of defining blackness. Im not called black — I’m called a Frenchwoman, she says. “But I have noticed that in America, as soon as you have a little — even 10 or 20 percent of blackness — you become black. Being black is not something I think about every day when I wake up. I don’t think of myself as white or as black. I just think about me as me.”

Meet the First Black Female Director in the Cannes Competition, The Hollywood Reporter, May 9, 2019. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mati-diop-being-first-black-female-director-cannes-lineup-1208189.

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A French-Rwandan Rap Star Turned Novelist From Burundi

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2018-05-30 02:31Z by Steven

A French-Rwandan Rap Star Turned Novelist From Burundi

The New York Times
2018-05-29

Tobias Grey


Small Country,” by Gaël Faye, is about a boy, living in Burundi during the war between the Hutus and Tutsis, who loses his innocence in spite of desperately wanting to cling onto it.
Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

PARIS — “It felt like an injustice to me,” said the rapper and novelist Gaël Faye, about having to leave civil-war-torn Burundi in 1995 to come live in France. Mr. Faye, who was 13 at the time, had to contend with the shock of a new culture and moving with his younger sister into the cramped space of his mother’s apartment in Versailles.

Months went by without unpacking his suitcases. “When I went to school I used to take what I needed and put it back afterward,” the 36-year-old author said in a recent interview in Paris. “I’d convinced myself that any day my father would ring up and tell us that the war had ended and we could come back. But the war ended up lasting until 2005 by which time I was an adult.”

In his first novel, “Small Country” — a huge hit in France when it was published in 2016 and where it sold 700,000 copies — Mr. Faye wrote with a rare and subtle yearning about his youthful escapades in and around Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. It has now been translated from French into English by Sarah Ardizzone and is being released by Hogarth on June 5.

“Small Country,” which in its original language shares the title of one of Mr. Faye’s most popular songs, “Petit Pays,” is told from the perspective of Gabriel, a 10-year-old boy with a French father and a Rwandan mother (the same mixed-race parentage as Mr. Faye). He is part of a gang of young boys sneaking beers in cabaret bars and stealing mangoes from local gardens to sell on the black market…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Lesec, from Brave Mulato into Blackness?: Defection to France and Spanish Racial Regression

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2018-04-04 02:33Z by Steven

Lesec, from Brave Mulato into Blackness?: Defection to France and Spanish Racial Regression

Age of Revolutions
2018-04-02

Charlton W. Yingling, Assistant Professor of History
University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky


“El ciudadano Hedouville habla al mentor de los negros…,” Jean-Louis Dubroca, Vida de J. J. Dessalines, gefe de los Negros de Santo Domingo (Mexico, 1806), University of Virginia Slavery Images Database, JCB_67-270-3. This well-known image is cropped to draw attention away from the figures’ faces and to their façades.

In May 1794, Governor Joaquín García of Spanish Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic) praised the “brave spirit” of “Carlos Gabriel Lesec, mulato,” a term denoting European and African heritage. As an officer in Spain’s Black Auxiliaries, Lesec had just repulsed troops of the French Republic in a resounding victory at Santa Susana on the border with Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). As the third anniversary of the Haitian Revolution approached, thousands of ex-slaves had expanded their liberatory war under Spanish flags and occupied nearly half of Saint-Domingue.[1] These “Black Auxiliaries” of Spain enjoyed limited manumissions and material support in their war against the French, their former exploiters. Their leaders, Jean-François and Georges Biassou, represented some of the earliest participants in the initial slave revolts of 1791. Those who ascended later, such as Toussaint Louverture and his officer Charles Lesec, seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at upward mobility by punishing their former French oppressors. Despite these victories, García was dismayed by the “disunion that reigns between the black chiefs Biassou and Toussaint,” who along with Jean-François were Lesec’s superiors.[2] Six months earlier French commissioner Léger-Félicité Sonthonax had begun tactical, practical emancipations, in part to attract black supporters due to desperation over his opponents’ successes…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Race, Identity, and the Boundaries of Blackness”

Posted in Articles, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2017-11-16 22:55Z by Steven

“Race, Identity, and the Boundaries of Blackness”

U.S. Embassy & Consulates In Germany
2017-11-07

Thomas Chatterton Williams, fellow at the American Academy Berlin, read from his thought-provoking essay “Black and Blue and Blond” published in the Virginia Quarterly Review and anthologized in The Best American Essays 2016 which is now the basis of a book project. With journalist Rose-Anne Clermont he pursued the question where race fits in the construction of modern identity. Both reflected upon their own biographies and what it means living in Germany, France and the U.S. as a mixed-race family. The mainly young high-school age audience engaged in a lively, well informed discussion on defining and questioning identity, challenging stereotypes and expanding our notions of family and community.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Provenance: A Novel

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2017-09-21 19:28Z by Steven

Provenance: A Novel

Creative Cache
2015-09-16
334 pages
5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
ISBN-13: 978-0991614325

Donna Drew Sawyer

  • Winner of the 2017 Maryland Writers’ Association Annual Book Award for Historical Fiction
  • Selected for the 2017 “Go On Girl Book Club” reading list
  • Finalist for 2016 “Phillis Wheatley Award for First Fiction.”

Southern civility turns savage when Hank Whitaker’s dying words reveal the unimaginable. No one—not his socialite wife, Maggie, or young son, Lance—ever suspected the successful businessman, husband, and father they knew and loved was a black man passing for white. In 1931, in the segregated South, marriage between whites and blacks is illegal. Maggie is now a criminal facing jail. When Lance receives death threats to atone for his father’s betrayal, the family flees the U.S. for the racial freedom of Paris.

Still grieving Hank’s death and fearful of their uncertain future as Europe marches toward war, Lance and Maggie mourn the lives they loved but lost. As they struggle to create new lives and identities for themselves, they find a surprising community of artists and American expats that are on the same journey and show them a different way to live and to love. Provenance is a sweeping historical saga about love, betrayal, tragedy, triumph, passion, privilege and the universal desire for acceptance—regardless of who you are or where you’re from.

Tags: , , ,

Mixed Race Cinemas Multiracial Dynamics in America and France

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2017-09-16 21:43Z by Steven

Mixed Race Cinemas Multiracial Dynamics in America and France

Bloomsbury
2017-09-07
216 pages
10 bw illus
6″ x 9″
Hardback ISBN: 9781501312458
EPUB eBook ISBN: 9781501312489
PDF eBook ISBN: 9781501312465

Zélie Asava, Lecturer and Programme Director of Video and Film
Dundalk Institute of Technology, Louth, Ireland

Using critical race theory and film studies to explore the interconnectedness between cinema and society, Zélie Asava traces the history of mixed-race representations in American and French filmmaking from early and silent cinema to the present day. Mixed Race Cinemas covers over a hundred years of filmmaking to chart the development of (black/white) mixed representations onscreen. With the 21st century being labelled the Mulatto Millennium, mixed bodies are more prevalent than ever in the public sphere, yet all too often they continue to be positioned as exotic, strange and otherworldly, according to ‘tragic mulatto‘ tropes. This book evaluates the potential for moving beyond fixed racial binaries both onscreen and off by exploring actors and characters who embody the in-between. Through analyses of over 40 movies, and case studies of key films from the 1910s on, Mixed Race Cinemas illuminates landmark shifts in local and global cinema, exploring discourses of subjectivity, race, gender, sexuality and class. In doing so, it reveals the similarities and contrasts between American and French cinema in relation to recognising, visualising and constructing mixedness. Mixed Race Cinemas contextualizes and critiques raced and ‘post-race’ visual culture, using cinematic representations to illustrate changing definitions of mixed identity across different historical and geographical contexts.

Contents

  • Introduction
    • 1. Race and Ideology
    • 2. Mixed-Race Cinema Histories
    • 3. Interrogating Terminology
    • 4. Methodology and Frameworks
    • 5. Mixed-Race Spaces in French and American Cinema
    • 6. Franco-American Narratives and Beur Cinema
    • 7. Summary of Chapters
  • Chapter One: the Mixed Question
    • 1. Language, Representation and Casting
    • 2. The Historical Mulatta Screen Stereotype in America
    • 3. The Historical Mulatta Screen Stereotype in France
  • Chapter Two: Hollywood’s ‘Passing‘ Narratives
    • 1. ‘Passing’ Representations as Ideological Construct
    • 2. The Dichotomies of Post-War Mixed-Race Women Onscreen
    • 3. Gender, ‘Passing’ and Love
  • Chapter Three: The Limits of the Classic Hollywood ‘Tragic Mulatta’
    • 1. Imitation of Life (1934): Interrogating Mixed Identities
    • 2. Casting and Representation
    • 3. Shadows and the Interracial Family
    • 4. Imitation of Life, 1959: Gender, Difference and Voiced Rebellion
    • 5. Performative Identities: Sara Jane, Dandridge and Monroe
  • Chapter Four: Cultural Shifts: New Waves in Racial Representation
    • 1. Representing ‘Mixed-Race France’
    • 2. Reimagining the Nation: Mixed Families
    • 3. Questioning Mixed Masculinity: Les Trois frères
    • 4. Melodrama, Motherhood and Masks: Métisse
    • 5. Racial-Sexual Mythology and the Interracial Family
  • Chapter Five: Transnational Families in Drôle de Félix
    • 1. A Search for Identity on the Road
    • 2. Citizenship, Violence and Scopophilia
    • 3. Trauma and Redemption
    • 4. Destabilising the Primary Authority of the Father
    • 5. Reuniting Transnational Families
  • Conclusion
    • 1. ‘Post-Race’ Politics in America and France
    • 2. Enduring Stereotypes
    • 3. Mixed-Race Sci-Fi
    • 4. Mixed Representational Potentials
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Tags: , ,