White Women’s Role in School Segregation

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States, Women on 2019-01-07 01:45Z by Steven

White Women’s Role in School Segregation

JSTOR Daily
2019-01-04

Livia Gershon
Nashua, New Hampshire

A classroom of white students in the 19th century
via Flickr

White American women have long played significant roles in maintaining racist practices. One sociologist calls the phenomenon “social mothering.”

In recent years, many public conversations about American racism have focused on white women—their votes for Trump, their opposition to school desegregation, their calls to the police about black people doing innocuous things. As sociologist Joseph O. Jewell points out, however, this is nothing new. White women have long played a role in maintaining institutional racism in this country.

Jewell focuses on two nineteenth-century incidents involving school segregation. The post-Civil War era was a time of changing racial and gender ideologies. White Anglo-Protestant families in U.S. cities viewed the growing visibility of upwardly mobile racial outsiders as a threat. Meanwhile, public schools and other institutions serving children were growing, creating new roles for middle-class white women—what Jewell calls “social mothering.”

In 1868, a white New Orleans engineer and Confederate army veteran learned there were nonwhite students attending his daughter’s school. When questioned, the school’s principal, the ironically-named Stephanie Bigot, provided a list of twenty-eight students “known, or generally reputed to be colored”—presumably girls whose appearances were passably “white.” Bigot claimed that she had no knowledge of their racial backgrounds but that there were rumors among the student body that they were not white.

Jewell writes that the enrollment of racially ambiguous girls posed a particular threat to white New Orleans families. “Allegations of racial passing compromised the entire student body’s ability to secure either marriage into a ‘good’ family or ‘respectable’ employment,” he writes…

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Alaska’s Unique Civil Rights Struggle

Posted in History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, United States on 2018-04-01 02:53Z by Steven

Alaska’s Unique Civil Rights Struggle

JSTOR Daily
2018-03-26

Matthew Wills


Native Alaskan woman and child, 1929.
via Wikimedia Commons

A generation before the Civil Rights movement gained national attention, the struggle against Jim Crow was being fought…in Alaska. And women were at the forefront of the struggle.

Modern Alaskans, writes historian Terrence M. Cole, are “surprised and shocked to learn that racial segregation and Jim Crow policies towards Alaska natives were standard practice throughout much of Alaska” until the mid-1940s. Stores, bars, and restaurants posted “No Natives Allowed.” Movie theaters had “For Natives Only” seating. (Nome’s theater’s balcony was segregated for natives, commonly called “Eskimos,” and designated “Nigger Heaven” by whites.) And, by law and custom, Alaskans attended segregated schools…

…In the midst of the legislative battle over the equal rights bill, Alberta Schenck, a seventeen-year old with a white father and a native mother, was arrested for sitting in the “whites only” section of Nome’s movie theater in March 1944. (This was eleven years before Rosa Parks’s famous refusal to sit in the back of a Montgomery bus.) The furor over the incident galvanized support for Gruening’s bill after an earlier version had been stopped by an 8-8 vote in the Alaska House. The unprecedented election of two Tlingit legislators in late 1944 helped as well…

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Barack Obama and the Nommo Tradition of Afrocentric Orality

Posted in Africa, Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-08-26 23:40Z by Steven

Barack Obama and the Nommo Tradition of Afrocentric Orality

JSTOR Daily: Where News Meets Its Scholarly Match
2017-08-23

Shannon Luders-Manuel


President Obama delivers the State of the Union in 2011
via Flickr/White House

Black actors, entertainers, and everyday citizens often have a particular cadence to their voices that others can identify as “black,” whether or not the listeners can see the individual speaking. Popular culture seems to think that black men sound wise simply by their voices alone, leading to black actors narrating myriad commercials, including Dennis Haysbert for Allstate Insurance and Samuel L. Jackson for Capital One. In an article for Guernica, John McWhorter breaks down this speech pattern: “It differs from standard English’s sound in the same way that other dialects do, in certain shadings of vowels, aspects of intonation, and also that elusive thing known as timbre, most familiar to singers—degrees of breathiness, grain, huskiness, ‘space.’”

While sound influences dialect, black oration goes back much further, to the idea of nommo, which is rooted in West African tradition. Through both dialect and nommo, former President Barack Obama was able to inspire black and white audiences, altering his word choice and patterns accordingly…

Scholarship of nommo is wanting. However, in the Journal of Black Studies, Sheena C. Howard defines it in the following manner: “Nommo, the creative power of the word, is a delivery style that is unique to African Americans. Nommo is manifested in characteristics of African orality.” She focuses on four characteristics of nommo: rhythm, call and response, mythication, and repetition, and she analyzes their use in two of Obama’s speeches: one at Howard University and the other at Southern New Hampshire University, both in 2007…

Read the entire article here.

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