The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Judaism, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2019-10-16 02:10Z by Steven

The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Agate Bolden (an imprint of Agate Publishing)
2019-11-12
256 pages
5.25 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781572842755

Marra B. Gad, Inde­pen­dent Film and Tele­vi­sion Producer
Los Angeles, California

9781572842755.jpg

An unforgettable memoir about a mixed-race Jewish woman who, after fifteen years of estrangement from her racist great-aunt, helps bring her home when Alzheimer’s strikes

In 1970, three-day-old Marra B. Gad was adopted by a white Jewish family in Chicago. For her parents, it was love at first sight—but they quickly realized the world wasn’t ready for a family like theirs.

Marra’s biological mother was unwed, white, and Jewish, and her biological father was black. While still a child, Marra came to realize that she was “a mixed-race, Jewish unicorn.” In black spaces, she was not “black enough” or told that it was OK to be Christian or Muslim, but not Jewish. In Jewish spaces, she was mistaken for the help, asked to leave, or worse. Even in her own extended family, racism bubbled to the surface.

Marra’s family cut out those relatives who could not tolerate the color of her skin—including her once beloved, glamorous, worldly Great-Aunt Nette. After they had been estranged for fifteen years, Marra discovers that Nette has Alzheimer’s, and that only she is in a position to get Nette back to the only family she has left. Instead of revenge, Marra chooses love, and watches as the disease erases her aunt’s racism, making space for a relationship that was never possible before.

The Color of Love explores the idea of yerusha, which means “inheritance” in Yiddish. At turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming, this is a story about what you inherit from your family—identity, disease, melanin, hate, and most powerful of all, love. With honesty, insight, and warmth, Marra B. Gad has written an inspirational, moving chronicle proving that when all else is stripped away, love is where we return, and love is always our greatest inheritance.

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From Mississippi to Chicago to Belarus, ancestors guide her way

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-07 01:56Z by Steven

From Mississippi to Chicago to Belarus, ancestors guide her way

Berkeley News
Berekeley, California
2019-10-03

Gretchen Kell, Director of Special Projects and Outreach
Office of Communications and Public Affairs
University of California, Berkeley

Tina Sacks, assistant professor of social welfare
“My ancestors give me a sense of profound empathy and also a sense that humans have dealt with racism, xenophobia, for so long. … It makes me both deeply sad and activated to try and do whatever I can to interrupt that,” says Tina Sacks, assistant professor of social welfare. (Photo by Carlos Javier Ortiz)

During the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the English colonies, we’re highlighting members of the campus community whose personal stories, often marked by racism and discrimination, inform their life’s work. We begin with Tina Sacks, UC Berkeley assistant professor of social welfare, who tells of the struggles, self-determination and achievements of her African American and Jewish ancestors.

“Like many young people, when I was growing up I didn’t think much about my mother’s origins. I knew she was from Mississippi, and she had a strong Southern accent, but it washed over me. Most of the black people I knew in Chicago sounded like her, because the vast majority of them were Southerners who were part of the Great Migration.

My mom, Bette Parks Sacks, was born in 1939 and came of age at a difficult time. She was the middle child of 10 kids; one was stillborn, and her brother died when he was only 7 years old. When she was 13, her mother, Lucille, died. My grandfather, J.B. Parks, and his family were sharecroppers in the town of Walnut, about an hour south of the Mississippi/Tennessee border. My mom talked all the time about their deep, deep poverty, the hunger, the cold. She talked all the time about being hungry and cold. She didn’t have shoes — she may have had one pair of shoes a year, but often walked barefoot. By the time she was 6, she was picking cotton and could drag 100 pounds of it behind her. She described having a long burlap bag that she put cotton in. It hooked around her arm and trailed behind her. Sometimes, in the fields, it was so hot that she said she’d literally vomit, and then just keep going…

…The story of my dad, Stanley, is also one of movement. His people were Jewish and came from a different part of the world. They’re less known to me, because my father doesn’t know much about them. But I was very close to my dad’s mother, Dora. She did not read or write in English. Yiddish was her first language. Once I learned to drive, I would take her to the grocery store, and she had her list written in Yiddish. I heard bits and pieces about her life in the Old Country, now probably Belarus, in a shtetl outside of Minsk. As a teenager, she survived many programs [pogroms?]  before World War II that essentially were ethnic cleansing, and she once hid in a barn under hay for a week while soldiers looted and burned. She was 19 when she came to the U.S. on a ship with my paternal grandfather. They had met in Belarus, but got married here. Many of my grandmother’s relatives died in the camps during World War II. She never saw her parents again. But she would never talk about it. Only once she spoke about one of her cousins, whose infant was shot by an SS guard in front of her, and she is said to have died of a heart attack, right there…

Read the entire article here.

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Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2019-09-04 02:43Z by Steven

Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Blog of the APA
The American Philosophical Association
2019-08-14

Desiree Valentine, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In October of 2014, news outlets began reporting on a case of a lesbian couple suing a sperm bank for receiving the wrong donor’s sperm. As the lawsuit Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank alleged, not only did the couple receive the wrong donor’s sperm, but they had specifically chosen a white donor with blonde hair and blue eyes and the sperm they received had been from a black donor. Both women were white. The couple gave birth to a black/mixed-race child in 2012 and claimed that their daughter’s race posed particular challenges for their family, from facing prejudice in their nearly all-white community to difficulties dealing with their daughter’s hair. The couple sued for “wrongful birth” and “breach of warranty,” citing emotional and economic difficulties.

Clearly, there are legal issues at stake—the particular sperm bank was negligent in their handling of the transaction. But the claim of ‘wrongful birth’ brings up myriad sociopolitical and ethical concerns as well. Effectively, the plaintiff was alleging that her daughter’s blackness generated emotional suffering and economic burdens for Cramblett, and moreover, that she should be compensated for ‘damages’.

Unsurprisingly, many commentators reacted with outrage, disbelief, and dismay—outrage that a mother would sue on account of having a non-white, but healthy child, disbelief that this claim could even be legally articulable, and dismay at the fact that one day this child would learn that her mother implicitly claimed that she should have never been born because she was black/mixed race.

While obviously problematic (the case was thrown out by an Illinois Circuit Court Judge in 2015), the fact that this case was legally and thus on some level, socially and culturally intelligible, sets the stage for an array of philosophical interventions. For my purposes here, I’ll focus primarily on the problems and possibilities of various conceptualizations of race and disability that are illuminated by a politically-aware and historically-situated reading of Cramblett

Read the entire article here.

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Secrets of famous 1930s ‘blonde bombshell of rhythm’ revealed with help from UW library

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-02-20 21:01Z by Steven

Secrets of famous 1930s ‘blonde bombshell of rhythm’ revealed with help from UW library

UW News
University of Washington
2012-03-27

Molly McElroy

We all have things in our past that we gloss over. Some secrets might just be embarrassing or unflattering. But others may be more serious, and people who conceal these truths may fear that revealing them would undermine their livelihoods.

Such was likely the case with an Emmy-winning female bandleader who rose to fame in the 1930s and led bands until the 1960s. Known as “the blonde bombshell of rhythm,” this sex symbol hailing from Chicago had security to protect her from the men who mobbed her performances.

See why they were so enchanted:

Ina Ray Hutton, who died in 1984 at age 67, also had a secret that could have damaged her stardom. A reporter from KUOW radio, with help from the UW libraries, recently revealed the secret. It turns out that the blonde bombshell had more than hair-dye to hide…

Read the entire article here.

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Self-identification or tribal membership: Different paths to your heritage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2019-02-16 23:26Z by Steven

Self-identification or tribal membership: Different paths to your heritage

Medill Reports Chicago
Medill News Service
2019-02-12

Lu Zhao, News Reporter
Medill Reports


Jasmine Gurneau made their wedding clothes by herself. “You have to wear it more than once,” Jasmine said to her husband. The arch behind them represents the four colors of four directions, which was made by Jasmine’s mother, Pam. (Provided by Jasmine)

It was a surprise for the 8-year-old girl when she first learned she is a Native American many years ago. Pamala Silas still remembers that day. She had transferred to a new school. Huddling in the chair, sitting beside her younger sister, Pam was introduced by the teacher as an “American Indian.” She couldn’t believe what she heard.

“What? Why did she say that?” Pam, in her 50s and proud of her heritage, said she harbored as a child stereotypes of Native Americans that, all too often, people saw on TV. “They’re all naked and crazy!”

Pam went home and asked her foster mother why they called her an Indian at school.

“Well, you are,” her foster mother said. She took out an encyclopedia, went to the American Indian section and showed Pam a picture of a man with a headdress on a horse. “You’re an Indian.”

“You are Menominee and you are Oneida,” Pam’s older sister said.

Pam had to write down the tribal names but didn’t even know how to spell them at that time…

Read the entire article here.

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More cities add Barack Obama’s name to landmarks, highways

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2019-01-19 05:12Z by Steven

More cities add Barack Obama’s name to landmarks, highways

USA TODAY
2019-01-13

Chris Woodyard, Los Angeles Bureau Chief

LOS ANGELESBarack Obama hasn’t been the president for nearly two years, but his fame is still spreading – at least when it comes to naming things after him.

The nation’s first African-American president need not go far around the country these days to find something that carries his name. There’s Barack Obama Way in New Albany Township, Indiana, and Barack Obama Boulevard in Pahokee, Florida. There’s a long list of schools now named for him, like Barack Obama Academy for Academic & Civic Development in Plainfield, New Jersey, and Barack Obama Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia.

Obama even has animal species named after him, like placida barackobamai, a sea slug

Read the entire article here.

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What do Meghan Markle and Chicago woman who wrote ‘Passing’ have in common?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-02-25 23:47Z by Steven

What do Meghan Markle and Chicago woman who wrote ‘Passing’ have in common?

The Chicago Tribune
2018-02-23

Christopher Borrelli


Nella Larsen, author of “Passing.” (Carl Van Vechten)

Nella Larsen was a mystery in life, and a mystery after her death in 1964. According to biographers, when she died her half sister inherited the $35,000 that remained in Larsen’s savings, then said she didn’t know she had a half sister.

Which wasn’t true.

Yet, in many ways, it’s the response you expect.

Nella Larsen was born Nellie Walker in 1891, in Chicago.

Or Nella Larsen was born Nella Larsen, 1892, in Chicago.

Or Nella Larsen was born Nellye Larson, 1893, in Chicago.

Biographers have run across a few possibilities, and the agreed-upon details are this: Nella Larsen was born in 1891, in Chicago, as Nellie Walker. Larsen fudged her vitals on occasion, depending on who was asking and what form she was completing. She lived her life at times with a sort of concentrated vagueness — “in the shadows,” wrote George Hutchinson, one of her biographers. Just as her career was taking off, she broke ties with her closest friends, and she spent her last three decades working as a nurse, living in a relative, self-imposed anonymity. Which sounds melodramatic, yet Larsen — who had been a major star of the Harlem Renaissance after leaving Chicago (but never quite cast aside the rejection that she felt here) — lived a life that could fuel melodramas.

As it happens, she left great ones, slim novels that amount to 250 pages, combined. Indeed, “Quicksand” (1928) and “Passing” (1929) constitute most of her published work. Yet both are portraits of Chicago women who, like Larsen, navigated the blurriest of racial lines in the early 20th century, having been born to one black parent and one white parent. Both novels are about women who “passed” — that is, they presented themselves, day to day, as white. Her biographers say it’s unlikely Larsen herself did this, yet her protagonists are haunted by identity, frozen out by the black bourgeois, not at ease in white society, torn by the task of self-identifying in a binary-minded country…

Read the entire article here.

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Lucy Parsons bio reveals new facts about the birth, ethnicity of the ‘Goddess of Anarchy’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2017-11-20 01:58Z by Steven

Lucy Parsons bio reveals new facts about the birth, ethnicity of the ‘Goddess of Anarchy’

The Chicago Tribune
2017-11-15

Mark Jacob, Metro Editor


A new biography of Lucy Parsons reveals new facts about her life. Photo courtesy of the Lucy Parsons Project/Justice Design (/ LUCY PARSONS PROJECT)

Lucy Parsons, an anarchist firebrand who was one of the most enigmatic Chicagoans ever, might fit in better today than she did during her own time a century ago.

She was a black woman married to a white man. Scandalous then, no big thing now…

She favored an eight-hour workday and a social safety net, positions that made her a radical in the late 1800s but would qualify her for Congress today.

And Parsons had another trait of today’s politicians: She was a merchant of misinformation.

Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical” is an important new biography by University of Texas historian Jacqueline Jones that fact-checks Parsons’ made-up details about her own background, correcting errors existing in virtually every biographical sketch ever written about this amazing woman…

Read the entire article here.

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Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2017-09-06 04:20Z by Steven

Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art

University of Illinois Press
September 2017
248 pages
6 x 9 in.
8 color photographs, 34 black & white photographs

Phoebe Wolfskill, Assistant Professor
Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington

The painter’s struggle at the crossroads of artistic expression and social progress

An essential African American artist of his era, Archibald Motley Jr. created paintings of black Chicago that aligned him with the revisionist aims of the New Negro Renaissance. Yet Motley’s approach to constructing a New Negro–a dignified figure both accomplished and worthy of respect–reflected the challenges faced by African American artists working on the project of racial reinvention and uplift.

Phoebe Wolfskill demonstrates how Motley’s art embodied the tenuous nature of the Black Renaissance and the wide range of ideas that structured it. Focusing on key works in Motley’s oeuvre, Wolfskill reveals the artist’s complexity and the variety of influences that informed his work. Motley’s paintings suggest that the racist, problematic image of the Old Negro was not a relic of the past but an influence that pervaded the Black Renaissance. Exploring Motley in relation to works by notable black and non-black contemporaries, Wolfskill reinterprets Motley’s oeuvre as part of a broad effort to define American cultural identity through race, class, gender, religion, and regional affiliation…

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Review: Vic Mensa, ‘The Autobiography’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-28 15:41Z by Steven

Review: Vic Mensa, ‘The Autobiography’

First Listen: Hear Upcoming Albums in Their Entirety
NPR Music
National Public Radio
2017-07-20

Rodney Carmichael, Hip-Hop Reporter


Vic Mensa’s new album, The Autobiography, is out July 28.
Courtesy of the artist

When history ranks 2017 among hip-hop’s wonder years — and from the sounds of the previous six months it certainly qualifies — Vic Mensa’s long-awaited full-length debut will be a big part of the reason why. The Chi-town native has created a work in The Autobiography that’s equal parts confessional and confrontational, gut-wrenching and uplifting. Steeped in a personal story arc that envelopes Mensa’s hometown, it echoes with the pain of a generation.


Courtesy of the artist

It only makes sense that the LP is executive produced by No I.D., who’s already responsible for another of the year’s more revelatory LPs in Jay-Z’s 4:44

Read the entire review here.

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