“Blaxicans of LA” challenges racial binaries and unpacks the complexities of intersectional identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-07 00:55Z by Steven

“Blaxicans of LA” challenges racial binaries and unpacks the complexities of intersectional identity

The Occidental Weekly
Los Angeles, California
2017-04-04

Mallory Leeper


Photograph by Walter Thompson-Hernández

Walter Thompson-Hernández, multimedia journalist and current doctoral student at UCLA, visited Occidental College Monday, March 27 to discuss his research, which aims to bridge the gap between academia and photography and popular culture. Thompson-Hernandez’s lecture explored the historical framework of brown and black relations including anti-black sentiments within the Latinx community. Thompson-Hernández sought to highlight the experiences of Angelenos facing issues of racial classification and assumed singular ethnic identity.

The Latino/a & Latin American Studies department at Occidental College and the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles (ISLA) co-sponsored the Blaxicans of LA lecture in Fowler 202. As a part of their spring speaker series, Professor Raul Villa, department chair, explained that the event is a part of an educational and promotional campaign to bring awareness about the stdy of Latinxs across the hemisphere to Occidental. According to Villa, Latinx representation is an important component in a global education.

Three years ago, Thompson-Hernández started the Instagram page Blaxicans of LA to address the complexity of intersectional experiences — especially those of “Blaxican,” a combination of African and Mexican heritage…

Read the entire article here.

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Number of Interracial Marriages, Multiracial Americans Growing Rapidly

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2017-03-07 01:34Z by Steven

Number of Interracial Marriages, Multiracial Americans Growing Rapidly

VOA News
Voice of America
2017-03-04

Elizabeth Lee, West Coast Bureau Reporter

LOS ANGELES — Delia Douglas’ experience growing up has been different from the rest of her schoolmates.

“In any of the storybooks that I was reading growing up, I remember the families always looked a certain way. Both parents matched,” she said. “Even it seemed like in many of the storylines that were about animal families, both bears kind of looked the same, and the baby bear looked the same.”

These storybooks did not reflect her family. Douglas’ father is African American and American Indian. Her mother is white. And Douglas is married to William Haight, who is white. They have a 5-year-old daughter who is fair skinned, with light hair.

“Especially in the first three years of my daughter’s life, people often would stop and ask me if I was the nanny. There were days when that would be incredibly frustrating,” Douglas recalled…

…“In the year 2000, the U.S. Census actually allowed for individuals to check more than one box, so now each person was able to see, for instance, I’m Mexican and black, so I was able to check more than one box. And so we’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of multiracial folks,” Smith-Kang said…

Read the entire article here. View the story here.

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An Artist Reinvents Herself to Mine the Fictions of America

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 02:24Z by Steven

An Artist Reinvents Herself to Mine the Fictions of America

Hyperallergic
2017-01-09

Alicia Eler

Genevieve Gaignard makes the personal political while also creating new American mythologies.

LOS ANGELES — In the lead-up to a Trump presidency, the worst possible outcome for an America that has come so far in the past 100 years in terms of social progress and civil rights, it’s not insane to think that conservatives could take us back to a pre–Roe v. Wade era, to a time when all race-based hate crimes were labeled as basically normal. Not to mention that the environment and the economy will go to hell. This is not our country, and this is not the new normal — this is a time for refusal, a time to resist rather than to hallucinate into some sort of feeble complacency.

The election was certainly on my mind when I saw LA artist Genevieve Gaignard’s exhibition Smell the Roses at the California African American Museum. The characterizations that she creates in her work mine the intersections of race, class, and gender, portraying some of the vulnerable Americans who will be most affected by the next four years (or fewer, if Trump gets impeached like Michael Moore is predicting!).

This is Gaignard’s first solo museum show, which follows her solo exhibition Us Only last year at Shulamit Nazarin Gallery in Venice, California. Here, Gaignard continues her exploration of the space between performance and the reality of race, class, and gender through different personas or avatars, domestic spaces, and collections of Americana kitsch and knickknacks, toeing the line between high and low culture, between fiction and personal history. As the fair-skinned daughter of a black father and a white mother, her work speaks to being mixed race, discussing issues of visibility and invisibility. She mixes highbrow and lowbrow aesthetics — a major influence is John Waters, who similarly indulges in camp and kitsch. Gaignard’s arrangements of objects ranging from books and records to family photographs mix the familial and the political in a way that’s reminiscent of Rashid Johnson’s post-minimalist, cold domestic “shelves.” The difference is that in Gaignard’s work, every object emanates warmth. It’s fitting that her exhibition deals heavily with the emotional experience of loss on both a personal and political level…

Read the entire article here.

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Towne Street Theatre Announces Special Events During the Limited Engagement Run of PassingSOLO

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-29 01:04Z by Steven

Towne Street Theatre Announces Special Events During the Limited Engagement Run of PassingSOLO

BroadwayWorld.com
Los Angeles
2016-09-21

Towne Street Theatre, L.A.’s premiere African-American Theatre Company, is proud to announce that there will be a number of special events during the limited engagement run of “PassingSOLO.” The production, which runs for three weeks only from October 8 – 23 at the Stella Adler Theatre, will offer theatre-goers receptions, special presentations, and talkbacks.

Nancy Cheryll Davis’ acclaimed one-woman show is adapted from Nella Larsen’s 1927 novella and the Towne Street Theatre play “Passing.” “PassingSOLO” will be in L.A. for a limited engagement before she takes it to Germany this fall, where it will be presented at the University of Duisburg in Essen, Germany.

It’s the height of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and like a moth to a flame, Irene Westover Redfield is drawn to childhood friend Clare Kendry Bellew, who’s suddenly reappeared in her life. Both share a secret. Their birth certificates read “Negro” but both can – and do – pass as white. In fact, Clare’s been married to a wealthy, white racist for twenty years. Now she’s sought out Irene as she flirts with her roots. A memory play, “PassingSOLO” explores the conflicting demands of race and friendship; the slippery line between trust and deception – always with the danger of discovery. Nancy Cheryll Davis portrays both Irene and Clare, as their renewed friendship exposes the price we pay in a society where freedom is bought with deceit. Check out this video on Youtube to learn more about PassingSOLO

Read the entire article here.

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LA poets document the city in ‘Coiled Serpent’ anthology

Posted in Articles, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-29 20:18Z by Steven

LA poets document the city in ‘Coiled Serpent’ anthology

Los Angeles Daily News
2016-03-25

Richard Guzman, Arts and Entertainment Reporter
Long Beach Press Telegram

As students take part in a guitar workshop inside his Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in Sylmar, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez grabs a copy of the latest book published by his nonprofit organization.

He walks outside to a small table and sets down his blue Winnie the Pooh coffee cup, exposing a faded forearm tattoo of a long-haired indigenous woman as he flips through the pages of “Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles.”

“I love the beauty of it. The poems really stand out, and I think it’s really reflective of the city. The city is beautiful in so many weird ways,” says the poet and novelist, who is perhaps best known for his memoir “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.

Rodriguez, who was named poet laureate by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014, has long been an advocate for the city, its poetry and the power of words to change lives.

And the new book exemplifies those tenets with a collection of poems that capture the experiences, cultures and even the weirdness that intertwine — and at times collide — to create the fabric of the city.

The anthology includes the voices of more than 160 L.A. poets who are part of the sweeping 371-page tome…

Read the entire article here.

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The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Media Archive, Poetry, United States on 2016-04-22 01:34Z by Steven

The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles

Northwestern University Press
2016-04-15
250 pages
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1882688524

Edited by:

Daniel A. Olivas

Neelanjana Banerjee

Ruben J. Rodriguez

This anthology features the vitality and variety of verse in the City of Angels, a city of poets. This is more about range then representation, voice more than volume. Los Angeles has close to 60 percent people of color, 225 languages spoken at home, and some of the richest and poorest persons in the country. With an expansive 502.7 square miles of city (and beyond, including the massive county of 4,752.32 square miles), the poetry draws on imagery, words, stories, and imaginations that are also vast, encompassing, a real “leaves of grass.”

Well-known poets include Holly Prado, Ruben Martinez, traci kato-kiriyama, and Lynne Thompson. Many strong new voices, however, makes this a well-rounded collection for any literary class, program, bookstore, or event.

The image of the coiled serpent appears in various forms in mythologies throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, India, and America. In pre-conquest times, Quetzalcoatl—the Precious Serpent—served as a personification of earth-bound wisdom, the arts and eldership in so-called Meso-America, one of seven “cradles of civilization” that also includes China, Nigeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and Peru.

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Coiled Serpent: Poems that Protect, in New Anthology

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-12 02:13Z by Steven

Coiled Serpent: Poems that Protect, in New Anthology

KCET
Burbank, California
2016-04-01

Mike Sonksen


The coiled serpent serves as a poetic totem to protect the City of Angels. Published by Tia Chucha Press

Over the last five years, a number of books and anthologies have been published to spotlight literary Los Angeles and its rich landscape of poets and writers. The newest anthology is the most extensive yet. Tia Chucha Press has just released, “Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles.” Edited by Neelanjana Banerjee, Daniel A. Olivas and Ruben J. Rodriguez, this collection includes 160 poets from well-known seasoned scribes like Wanda Coleman, Kamau Daaood, Michael C. Ford, California State Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, Peter J. Harris, Ruben Martinez, S. Pearl Sharp, Amy Uyematsu and Terry Wolverton to up-and-coming younger bards like Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, F. Douglas Brown, Jessica Ceballos, Chiwan Choi, Francisco Escamilla, William Gonzalez, Douglas Kearney, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Teka Lark, Karineh Mahdessian, Jeffrey Martin, Luivette Resto and Vickie Vertiz.

The book is dedicated to three great writers who have died in the last few years: Wanda Coleman, John Trudell and Francisco Alarcon. The volume’s four-page “Introduction,” is written by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez and it goes a long way to describe the collection’s spirit…

Read the entire review here.

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The Coiled Serpent: An Interview with the Poetry Anthology’s Creators

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-30 01:49Z by Steven

The Coiled Serpent: An Interview with the Poetry Anthology’s Creators

La Bloga
Monday, 2016-03-28

Daniel A. Olivas

As already discussed here on La Bloga in a lovely review by Olga García Echeverría, Tía Chucha Press will publish this week a landmark poetry anthology, The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles. I am blessed to be one of the editors of this new book along with the very talented Neelanjana Banerjee and Ruben J. Rodriguez. The Coiled Serpent includes a powerful, eloquent introduction by the press’s founder, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez. Of course, without the vision and poetic reach of Luis, this anthology would not have been born.

Of this anthology, Ohio State Professor Frederick Luis Aldama observes: “The dexterous hands of this high-octane trio of editors pull together in one exquisite volume LA’s finest of polymorphous polyglot poetic voices. The 150-plus poets disparately drop us into the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch of our planet’s capital: the megalopolis of LA with its hybrid, polylingual, and interstitial peoples. As we brush up with and enter into the lives of the young and old, workers and artists, border crossers and code-shifters…. Persians, Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and all sorts in between, great seismic quakes of creativity invite us to feel life at its most sand-dirt blasting harshness as well as its most soothing and sweet. With The Coiled Serpent we feel the cyclonic force of poetic talent at the epicenter of change in the making of tomorrow’s planetary republic of letters.”

The Coiled Serpent will have its formal release event on March 30 at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles the week of AWP’s annual conference (more on the conference below).

In honor of The Coiled Serpent’s release, I posed two questions to Neelanjana Banerjee, Ruben J. Rodriguez and Luis J. Rodriguez. Here are their responses:

Which poems particularly touched you and why?

Read the entire interview here.

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Viewing Los Angeles Through a Creole Lens

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-21 21:20Z by Steven

Viewing Los Angeles Through a Creole Lens

The New York Times
2016-01-21

Farai Chideya

The pulse of the train on the tracks sets a rhythm as its passenger cars seem to skim over Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. These six miles of nothing but sky above and water below are the gateway into the city by rail. Next come the cemeteries at the edge of New Orleans, and all of a sudden, a day and a half of travel ends at the Amtrak terminal in the business district. I had just completed the first leg of my cross-country journey by sleeper train, starting in New York, and was beginning the second: a foray into the cultural ties between the Crescent City and California.

This trip had been inspired partly by the travel writer and blogger Greg Gross, who grew up in New Orleans and California. “I had a great-uncle who ran away at 15 to become a Pullman porter,” he said. These black men served a predominately white customer base as sleeping-car porters, often simply called “George” by their customers. Their union became a powerful force during the civil rights movement. Mr. Gross’s great-uncle Ellis Pearson worked on the Sunset Limited train from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

He was something like an usher for Mr. Gross’s family, which is full of cross-country transplants, including his parents and a deceased uncle who played jazz trumpet. When black New Orleans families like his moved to California, “They brought their food with them, their music,” he said. “They brought an energy, an attitude with them. ‘We survived there; we can make it here.’ They brought it to their churches and their neighbors.” It’s a refrain I hear many times as I speak to members of this diaspora.

The Grosses weren’t the only ones. The migration of black and Creole families moving to California from Louisiana began as a trickle in 1927, in the wake of that year’s great flood, and grew to a mass migration from the 1930s to 1960, years that encompassed the Depression, World War II and the growth of employment opportunities for blacks, and Jim Crow. While many families went from the South to the North, the train lines led many in New Orleans to the West instead. The better part of a century after its start, some migrants resettled in California after Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to follow the path that others had, to trace a thread of our cultural lineage, however faint. I wanted to see both cities through a black Bayou and Creole lens, to see if they’d drifted apart or were overlapping, remixing culture in the same way that Creoles originally had…

…Once in Los Angeles, I headed to the venerable Creole restaurant Harold and Belle’s on Jefferson Boulevard to meet up with Roger Guenveur Smith, an actor, writer and producer, and the actor and musician Mark Broyard. The dining room — scheduled to reopen next month after a renovation — was filled with locals wearing fleur-de-lis T-shirts or other symbols of their fealty to Louisiana. Mr. Broyard and Mr. Smith have known each other since childhood, and collaborated on a play called “Inside the Creole Mafia,” staged several times over the course of two decades. I got a taste of their razor-sharp banter over my gumbo.

Mr. Broyard explained how his family left Louisiana during the Jim Crow years because, “as my mother said many times,” he said, “she was not going to fight the civil rights movement with her children. We, the Creole kids, the light-skinned kids, we had been integrating schools for a lot longer because we weren’t dark. So we had been in and out of all these white institutions for years, with a tacit understanding that these people were colored, but it was O.K. that they were here because maybe they had half of one drop or something.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Blaxican: The Revolutionary Identity of Black Mexicans

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-29 22:08Z by Steven

Blaxican: The Revolutionary Identity of Black Mexicans

teleSUR
2015-07-29


“The Afro-Latino term felt like home. There was finally a term that described what all of this was. It was a group of people who felt like I was feeling. I was finally able to identify with a group of people and it was a relief.”

Walter Thompson-Hernandez shares with teleSUR English the often-forgotten faces and stories of Black Mexicans, or Blaxicans, in the United States.

Walter Thompson-Hernandez often sees a reflection of himself in the stories his camera captures. Boldly staring into the lens of his camera, Black Mexican, or Blaxican, men and women slowly unveil a bit of themselves to him.

“I ethnically identify as Afro-Mexican. Racially, I embrace my Blackness as here in LA that is typically how I am read and what my experience is,” reads one of the photo stories now available on Instagram gallery known as “Blaxicans of Los Angeles.”

“The identity of Afro-Mexican acknowledges my African roots as well as the land we live on, though claimed by America, belongs historically to indigenous Mexican peoples.”

As the child of an African-American father and a non-black Mexican mother, the stories resonate with Thompson-Hernandez who started the Instagram page as an academic research project for the University of South Carolina, but found himself personally drawn to the project to understand the complexities of race and ethnicity in a country that often sees both as one and the same thing…

Read the entire article here.

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