EXCLUSIVE: Afro-Latina Slam Poet, Elizabeth Acevedo, Debuts First Novel ‘Poet X’

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-03-20 01:51Z by Steven

EXCLUSIVE: Afro-Latina Slam Poet, Elizabeth Acevedo, Debuts First Novel ‘Poet X’

Latina
2018-03-05

Jenifer Calle, Politics and Culture Writer


@acevedowrites/Instagram

Elizabeth Acevedo has been empowering Afro-Latinas for years by bringing attention to the various experiences of women of color through her powerful words in poetry.

As a Latina, you might remember a certain poem or a book that changed your life, a verse so precise it gave you chills. Acevedo’s debut novel, Poet X, will do just that with its raw emotions that are universal to all young girls, wrapped up in beautiful lyrical verses.

Poet X is a Young Adult novel that follows the story of an unapologetic 15-year-old girl, Xiomara Batista, growing up in Harlem. As a Dominican-American teen stepping into adulthood she takes to her journal to deal with the emotions and frustrations she feels at home and at school. In this three-part novel, Xiomara struggles with her conservative mother, an absent father, her faith in God, her sexuality, and much more. Xiomara’s awakening through slam poetry helps her find her voice but her journey of self-discovery doesn’t come easy…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Incognegro: Renaissance #1

Posted in Articles, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:31Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance #1

Dark Horse Comics
2018-02-07
32 pages
b&w, Miniseries
UPC: 7 61568 00235 5 00111

Writer: Mat Johnson
Artist: Warren Pleece
Editor: Karen Berger

After a black writer is found dead at a scandalous interracial party in 1920s New York, Harlem’s cub reporter Zane Pinchback is the only one determined to solve the murder. Zane must go ”incognegro” for the first time–using his light appearance to pass as a white man–to find the true killer, in this prequel miniseries to the critically acclaimed Vertigo graphic novel, now available in a special new 10th Anniversary Edition.

With a cryptic manuscript as his only clue, and a mysterious and beautiful woman as the murder’s only witness, Zane finds himself on the hunt through the dark and dangerous streets of ”roaring twenties” Harlem in search for justice.

A page-turning thriller of racial divide, Incognegro: Renaissance explores segregation, secrets, and self-image as our race-bending protagonist penetrates a world where he feels stranger than ever before.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:12Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White

Comics
Gizmodo
2018-02-12

Charles Pulliam-Moore


Dark Horse

In Dark Horse’s Incognegro: Renaissance, Zane Pinchback—a young black journalist and New York transplant by way of Tupelo, Mississippi—finds himself smack dab in the middle of Harlem at the height of its Renaissance during the 1920s. Zane, like Incognegro: Renaissance creator Mat Johnson, is a black man with a light enough complexion that people are sometimes unsure or entirely unaware of his race.

To those who know him, Zane’s identity isn’t a question, but for many of the new people he encounters in New York—particularly the white ones—Zane is able to pass as white, and thus move through certain spaces that other black people can’t. Drawn by Warren Pleece, Incognegro: Renaissance opens on a very taboo and illegal book party in Harlem where black and white people co-mingle as the champagne flows freely.

When a black guest suddenly turns up dead of an apparent suicide, the authorities show up on the scene to shut the gathering down, but have zero interest in investigating whether the death may be a homicide because the man is black. Realizing that his ability to pass (and willingness to do work others won’t) might allow him to dig deeper into the potential crime, Zane sets out on a mission to uncover the truth.

When I spoke with Johnson recently about his inspiration for the new series, he explained that much of the core premise is based on his own experiences and a life-long love of Walter Francis White, the civil rights activist who was the head of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955. But what Johnson really wants readers to get out of the series, he said, was a better understanding of the fact that identity in all its forms is fluid…

Read the entire interview here.

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

The Signifyin(g) Saint: Encoding Homoerotic Intimacy in Black Harlem

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Religion on 2017-03-15 01:36Z by Steven

The Signifyin(g) Saint: Encoding Homoerotic Intimacy in Black Harlem

Black Perspectives
2017-03-14

James Padilioni Jr, Ph.D Candidate and Teaching Fellow in American Studies (Africana-affiliated)
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

On June 25, 1942, Edward Atkinson arrived at 101 Central Park West to sit for a photo shoot in the home studio of Carl Van Vechten. Van Vechten, author of the infamous 1926 novel Nigger Heaven, was a white patron of the Harlem Renaissance and amateur photographer who took hundreds of photographs of Black Harlem’s who’s who such as Paul Robeson, Billie Holiday, and James Weldon Johnson. Atkinson, an off-Broadway actor no stranger to playing a role, transformed himself into Martin de Porres (1579-1639), a Peruvian friar who became the first Afro-American saint when the Vatican canonized him in 1962 as the patron of social justice. I trace Martin’s iconography and ritual performances across Black communities in Latin and Anglo America to reveal the historical relations of power that structure and materialize the networks harnessed by Black peoples to mobilize resources in their varied yet persistent efforts to create meaningful lives out of the fragments of the Middle Passage

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On Jerusalem Walls, Artist Memorializes Hebrew Israelite Rabbi from Harlem

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-04-01 00:56Z by Steven

On Jerusalem Walls, Artist Memorializes Hebrew Israelite Rabbi from Harlem

The Assimilator: Intermarrying high and low culture
Forward
2016-03-31

Sam Kestenbaum, Staff Writer


Wikicommons / Solomon Souza / YouTube

When Rabbi Mordecai Herman would visit the Lower East Side of the 1920s, then teeming with Jewish immigrants from Europe, he cut an intriguing figure.

He was a wizened black rabbi and former sailor from Harlem who spoke Hebrew, some Yiddish, and was a pioneering spiritual leader of the early black Hebrew Israelite movement.

Now, nearly a century after his life’s work, Herman has been memorialized on the streets of Jerusalem — a Jewish homecoming for a forgotten religious figure.

This is thanks to Solomon Souza, an Israeli artist who has transformed Jerusalem’s central Mehane Yehudah market into a pop-up art gallery, emblazoning the enclosed market’s shuttered metal doors with over 150 graffiti portraits of iconic figures like Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the biblical prophet Moses

Read the entire article here.

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

Uptown Girls

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2013-09-25 21:11Z by Steven

Uptown Girls

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2013-09-22

Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor of History
Princeton University

Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance, by Carla Kaplan Illustrated. 505 pp. Harper.

Time hasn’t been kind to the white women who participated in the Harlem Renaissance. As philanthropists and activists, authors and patrons, they sought a place for themselves in that remarkable outpouring of African-American art during the 1920s and ’30s. Some, constrained by social expectations, effaced the records of their work. Others made it difficult for historians to treat them with much seriousness. What, after all, can we do with someone like Nancy Cunard, a British steamship heiress raised on a remote English estate, who felt no shame in proclaiming “I speak as if I were a Negro myself”?

“Miss Anne” — the dismissive collective name given to white women — makes bit appearances in the literature of the era as a dilettante or imperious patron; later, she’s depicted as a thrill-seeking “slummer.” Always, she lurks in the shadows of her male counterparts in scholarly studies of the movement. But she was there, encouraging writers, underwriting cultural institutions, supporting progressive political causes. And many leading Harlem Renaissance figures — including Langston Hughes, Alain Locke and Nella Larsen — had reason to be grateful to her. At least for a while. Like everything else about Miss Anne, those relationships got complicated…

…The book is full of fresh discoveries. ­Kaplan learns that Lillian Wood, author of the radical 1920s anti-lynching novel “Let My People Go,” was actually white, not black, as other scholars have imagined…

…But the focus of the book remains squarely on the larger issues of racial identity raised by Miss Anne’s deep personal identification with African-American life. Miss Anne wanted to suggest that race was a constructed ideal, yet she stumbled over the internal contradictions of her impulses. She fought against racial essentialism and the perverse logic of America’s one-drop rule, which proclaimed that even a trace of African heritage made one black, but she also celebrated the seeming vitality and distinctiveness of black culture. Josephine Cogdell Schuyler wrote in her diary the night before her wedding: “To my mind, the white race, the Anglo-Saxon especially, is spiritually depleted. America must mate with the Negro to save herself.” In a similar expression of romantic racialism, the philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason lauded “the creative impulse throbbing in the African race.” As Kaplan suggests, white men could sometimes get away with ideas like this; a dose of black culture offered a useful inoculation against the debilitating sterility of the industrial world. But white women who sought an intimate connection with African-­American life were seen as traitors to the race, even sexual deviants.

What was race anyway? That’s the big question Miss Anne’s actions raised. If race was simply a myth or fiction, could one reimagine racial identity as something based on affiliation rather than blood? Some of the writers of the Harlem Renaissance asked much the same thing. In Nella Larsen’s “Passing” and James Weldon Johnson’sAutobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” for example, light-skinned protagonists of African-American heritage successfully pass as white, demonstrating that racial identity could hinge on voluntary association and careful self-presentation. Their radical acts blur the color line and expose the absurdity of the one-drop rule. Approaching the color line from the other side, Miss Anne reframed the issues. If race wasn’t determined by biology, why couldn’t a white woman feel black? Why couldn’t she repudiate her own culture to embrace another?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2013-09-25 03:06Z by Steven

Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance

HarperCollins Publishers
2013-09-10
544 pages
Trimsize: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 9780060882389; ISBN10: 0060882387
eBook ISBN: 9780062199126; ISBN10: 0062199129

Carla Kaplan, Stanton W. and Elisabeth K. Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature
Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts

New York City in the Jazz Age was host to a pulsating artistic and social revolution. Uptown, an unprecedented explosion in black music, literature, dance, and art sparked the Harlem Renaissance. While the history of this African-American awakening has been widely explored, one chapter remains untold: the story of a group of women collectively dubbed “Miss Anne.”

Sexualized and sensationalized in the mainstream press—portrayed as monstrous or insane—Miss Anne was sometimes derided within her chosen community of Harlem as well. While it was socially acceptable for white men to head uptown for “exotic” dancers and “hot” jazz, white women who were enthralled by life on West 125th Street took chances. Miss Anne in Harlem introduces these women—many from New York’s wealthiest social echelons—who became patrons of, and romantic participants in, the Harlem Renaissance. They include Barnard College founder Annie Nathan Meyer, Texas heiress Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, British activist Nancy Cunard, philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason, educator Lillian E. Wood, and novelist Fannie Hurst—all women of accomplishment and renown in their day. Yet their contributions as hostesses, editors, activists, patrons, writers, friends, and lovers often went unacknowledged and have been lost to history until now.

In a vibrant blend of social history and biography, award-winning writer Carla Kaplan offers a joint portrait of six iconoclastic women who risked ostracism to follow their inclinations—and raised hot-button issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality in the bargain. Returning Miss Anne to her rightful place in the interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance, Kaplan’s formidable work remaps the landscape of the 1920s, alters our perception of this historical moment, and brings Miss Anne to vivid life.

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

Skin Bleach And Civilization: The Racial Formation of Blackness in 1920s Harlem

Posted in Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-02 03:58Z by Steven

Skin Bleach And Civilization: The Racial Formation of Blackness in 1920s Harlem

The Journal of Pan African Studies
Voume 4, Number 4 (June 2011)
pages 47-80

Jacob S. Dorman, Assistant Professor of African American History and American Studies
University of Kansas

Unlike previous scholarship on skin-bleaching advertisements conducted by scholars such as Lawrence Levine and Kathy Peiss, this paper finds those advertisements reflected a definite and widespread preference for light skin among African Americans in 1920’s Harlem. Newspaper records and historical archives demonstrate that tangible if permeable boundaries existed between “black,” “brown,” “light brown,” and “yellow” “Negroes” in 1920’s Harlem. Skin bleaching was far more than merely cosmetic: it was a profoundly micro-political form of self-masking and identity shifting mediated by the new mass market. The advertisements not only appealed to the desire to be beautiful but also to the desire to find a mate, get a better job, and associate oneself with the future, modernity, and progress. Skin bleaching was one practice in a universe of speech and speech-acts that constituted an African American version of the discourse of civilization. At one extreme, skin-bleaching represented part of a “Great White Hope” that lightskinned “New Negroes” might actually be able to escape their “Negro” past and become a new near-white “intermediate” race, as anthropologist Melville Herskovits pronounced them in 1927. Uncritical reconstructions of a unitary “black” subject position in 1920’s Harlem obscures the deep divides and antagonisms based on class and color that striated Harlem society. Recognizing these truths suggests that multiple “Negro” racial identities were constructed through quotidian actions both pedestrian and potent.

Introduction: Neither Simple Nor Sanguine

“To absorb a handful of Negroes in America and leave the unbleached millions of Africa in their savage blackness would be to deepen the gulf of racial cleavage as a world problem.” These were the words of Kelly Miller, Dean of Howard University, in a 1926 newspaper column entitled: “Is the American Negro to Remain Black or Become Bleached?” No outraged letters to the editor followed, nor were Miller’s views out of step with public opinion in the early decades of the twentieth century. Miller’s comment illustrates that the practice of skin bleaching was part of a much larger discourse of civilization, a discourse that incorporated the uplift of Africa’s “unbleached millions” and that allowed one of the most prominent African American commentators of the day to seemingly offensively entwine the words “unbleached,” “Africa,” “savage,” and “blackness.” “Bleaching” was a potent double entendre, referring either to lightening the skin through bleach or through racial “amalgamation.” In all senses, bleaching was complicated and far more than merely cosmetic.

Skin bleaching can’t be understood in simple or sanguine terms, and it repels efforts to pigeonhole it as either callow self-hatred or bold racial resistance. Rather, the argument of this article is that bleaching was part of seemingly contradictory ideas of progress, racial advancement, and civilization. African American skin bleaching practices in the 1920s constituted a profoundly micro-political form of self-masking and identity shifting mediated by both ideology and consumerism. The mask of face bleach exposes some of the other masks that Black folk assumed and fought over in that turbulent decade, as they struggled among themselves to define the boundaries and definitions of “the race.” Skin bleaching was thus a part of an embodied and everyday Black mass discourse of civilization that illuminates disagreements between titans such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey as well as the alchemy of racial transformations performed as everyday, private ablutions. If the formation of African American identity and the racial formation of Blackness proceeded not as a seamless natural evolution but through a series of incremental, politicized discourses, then skin bleaching helps to stain and delineate one chapter in the racial formation of African Americans…

…Racial Alchemy

Even, perhaps especially, the forward-thinking elites, the so-called “Talented Tenth,” were infected with this racial prejudice against blackness. Edgar M. Grey argued that “the abiding mental leftovers from slavery are still with us and we have not as yet grown out of the habit of estimating our values in terms of whiteness.” Some believed that bleaching could even affect a kind of racial alchemy, progressively lightening either a subset or the entirety of the race. This could happen in at least one of three ways. Without a doubt, skin bleaches aided tens of thousands of fair-skinned African Americans to pass as white. Because men were said to have an easier time passing as white than women, the light-skinned women who remained in the Black community would marry darker skinned men, gradually lightening the entire “Negro” population. Skin bleaches could also help an individual attract a fairer-skinned partner, thereby lightening or “raising” the color of one’s progeny. Kelly Miller predicted that the erasure of intra-racial color lines would precede an inevitable erasure of inter-racial color lines. “The rise and spread of the mixed element has…merely overlapped a like number of blacks. The lighter color gains upon the darker, like the illuminant upon the darkened surface of the waxing moon, without increasing the total surface of the lunar orb.” A third, and more surprising prediction was that skin bleaches might help a subset of “colored people” distinguish themselves as a nonblack race.

The idea that colored Americans were turning into a new, non-black race had some currency in the 1920’s, especially among the so-called “New Negroes.” In another of his studies from that decade, presented of all places at the 1927 Pan-African Congress, anthropologist Melville Herskovits stated that physical measurements of the “New Negro” demonstrated that they formed an intermediate race between Africans and white men. Furthermore, he predicted that the Negro would eventually be absorbed into the white population. The work was discussed approvingly on the women’s page of The New York Amsterdam News, the kind of forum usually devoted to recipes, beauty tips, and lengthy lists of hostesses and hosts of society gatherings. In a column titled “The Feminist Viewpoint,” the progressive, forward-thinking author wrote, “Isn’t it good to know that we who are called the American Negro are a new race? This mixture of three great primary races—white [sic], Negro and Mongoloid (Indian)—makes us neither white [sic], Negro nor Indian, but a whole new race.” Kelly Miller concurred, arguing that the numbers of “unadulterated negro types” and “the other extremes which cannot be easily detected from white” were diminishing, while the “average of the race is approaching a medium of yellowish brown rather than black.” In another version of the same essay, Miller wrote, “A new sub-race is forming under our very eyes.” Miller, like others, expected “pure blooded Negroes” to disappear outside the rural South. “The near whites will have crossed the line or bred backward on the color scale. A new Negroid race will have arisen.” Edward R. Embree’s 1931 Brown Americans: The Story of a New Race repeated the theme that “Negroes” constituted a new race. The author began his volume with the bold statement: “A new race is growing up in America. Its skin is brown. In its veins is the blood of the three principal branches of man—black, white, yellow-brown. …The group is new in its biological make-up; in its culture it is almost entirely cut off from the ancient African home.” For many the New Negro constituted a new Negro race, and light skin was the physical marker of this new racial destiny…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

20 years after riots, Crown Heights is now a mixed racial haven

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Judaism, Media Archive, United States on 2011-08-21 04:59Z by Steven

20 years after riots, Crown Heights is now a mixed racial haven

New York Daily News
2011-08-14

Simone Weichselbaum, Staff Writer

Crown Heights has become a mixed race mecca.

The Brooklyn neighborhood infamous for the 1991 riot between blacks and Jews has the second-most residents who identify as being both black and white, the latest Census figures show.

Crown Heights had 635 people in 2010 who said they were born to one black parent and one white. Harlem led the city with 776.

The neighborhood’s new population includes mixed race hipsters and young biracial families moving from pricier neighborhoods. Others identify as Jewish with a black parent who want a multi-cultural area to call home…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

The Skin Between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2009-12-27 01:16Z by Steven

The Skin Between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging

W. W. Norton
May 2006
240 pages
5.8 × 8.6 in
ISBN: 978-0-393-05890-1

Kym Ragusa, Professor of Nonfiction &  Professor Writing
Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina
Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Massachusetts Inistitute of Technology

A memoir of astonishing delicacy and strength about race and physical beauty.

Kym Ragusa’s stunningly beautiful, brilliant black mother constantly turned heads as she strolled the streets of West Harlem. Ragusa’s working-class white father, who grew up only a few streets (and an entire world) away in Italian East Harlem, had never seen anyone like her. At home their families despaired at the match, while in the streets the couple faced taunting threats from a city still racially divided—but they were mesmerized by the differences between them.

From their volatile, short-lived pairing came a sensitive child with a filmmaker’s observant eye. Her two powerful grandmothers gave her the love and stability to grow into her own skin. Eventually, their shared care for their granddaughter forced them to overcome their prejudices. Rent parties and religious feste, baked yams and baked ziti—Ragusa’s sensuous memories are a reader’s delight, as they bring to life the joy, pain, and inexhaustible richness of a racially and culturally mixed heritage.

Tags: , ,