AIA Evening Lecture: An Overlooked Chapter in the History of Egyptology: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey & Pauline Hopkins

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, United States on 2017-03-25 15:57Z by Steven

AIA Evening Lecture: An Overlooked Chapter in the History of Egyptology: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey & Pauline Hopkins

Penn Museum
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
Thursday, 2017-03-30, 18:00-19:00 EDT (Local Time)

Vanessa Davies, Visiting Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, speaks at this Archaeological Institute of America Philadelphia Society lecture. Three prominent black writers of the early 20th century—W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Pauline Hopkins—incorporated ancient Egyptian culture into their writings. Attacking a common theory of their day, DuBois and Garvey used ancient Egyptian culture to argue for the humanity of black people, marshaling evidence of Egypt’s glorious past to inspire black people in the Americas with feelings of hope and self-worth. They also engaged with the contemporary work of prominent archaeologists, a fact lost in most histories of Egyptology. Hopkins’ novel Of One Blood places the reality of the racial discrimination and the racial “passing” of her day against the backdrop of ancient Egypt. Like Du Bois, she advocates for the education of black Americans, and like Garvey, she constructs an African safe haven for her novel’s protagonist. Understanding these three writers’ treatments of ancient Egypt, Davies argues, provides a richer perspective on the history of the discipline of Egyptology. Reception with opportunity to meet the speaker follows.

For more information, click here.

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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.

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Reflections: An Anthology of African-American Philosophy, 1st Edition

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Science, United States, Women on 2012-02-06 05:26Z by Steven

Reflections: An Anthology of African-American Philosophy, 1st Edition

Cengage Learning
2000
464 pages
Paperback ISBN-10: 0534573932  ISBN-13: 9780534573935

Edited by:

James Montmarquet, Professor of Philosophy
Tennessee State University

William Hardy, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion
Tennessee State University

This anthology provides the instructor with a sufficient quantity, breadth, and diversity of materials to be the sole text for a course on African-American philosophy. It includes both classic and more contemporary readings by both professional philosophers and other people with philosophically intriguing viewpoints. The material provided is diverse, yet also contains certain themes which instructors can effectively employ to achieve the element of unity. One such theme, the debate of the “nationalist” focus on blackness vs. the many critics of this focus, runs through a great number of issues and readings.

Table of Contents

  • Preface.
  • Introduction.
  • PART ONE: FOUNDATIONS-RACE AND RACISM.
    • 1. W.E.B. DuBois: From The Souls of Black Folk.
    • 2. Molefi K. Asante: Racism, Consciousness, and Afrocentricity.
    • 3. Kwame Anthony Appiah: Racisms.
    • 4. J. L. A. Garcia: The Heart of Racisms. Contemporary Issue: Views on “Mixed Race”.
    • 5. Naomi Zack: Mixed Black and White Race and Public Policy.
    • 6. Lewis R. Gordon: Race, Biraciality, and Mixed Race-In Theory.
  • PART TWO: MORAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY-NATIONALISM, SEPARATISM, AND ASSIMILATION.
    • 7. Martin R. Delaney: The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored Peoples of the United States.
    • 8. Frederick Douglass: The Future of the Negro, The Future of the Colored Race, The Nation’s Problem, and On Colonization.
    • 9. Marcus Garvey: From Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
    • 10. Maulana Karenga: The Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Their Meaning and Message.
    • 11. Molefi K. Asante: The Afrocentric Idea in Education.
    • 12. Cornel West: The Four Traditions of Response. Contemporary Issue: “Ebonics”.
    • 13. Geneva Smitherman: Black English/Ebonics: What it Be Like?
    • 14. Milton Baxter: Educating Teachers about Educating the Oppressed. Feminism, Womanism, and Gender Relations.
    • 15. Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?
    • 16. Patricia Hill Collins: The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought.
    • 17. bell hooks: Reflections on Race and Sex.
    • 18. Angela P. Harris: Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory.
    • 19. Charles W. Mills: Do Black Men Have a Moral Duty to Marry Black Women? Contemporary Issue: Women’s Rights and Black Nationalism.
    • 20. E. Francis White: Africa on My Mind: Gender, Counterdiscourse, and African American Nationalism.
    • 21. Amiri Baraka: Black Woman. Violence, Liberation, and Social Justice.
    • 22. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
    • 23. Malcolm X: Message to the Grass Roots.
    • 24. Howard McGary: Psychological Violence, Physical Violence, and Racial Oppression.
    • 25. Laurence M. Thomas: Group Autonomy and Narrative Identity. Contemporary Issue: Affirmative Action.
    • 26. Bernard Boxill: Affirmative Action.
    • 27. Shelby Steele: Affirmative Action. Ethics and Value Theory.
    • 28. Alain Locke: Values and Imperatives.
    • 29. Michele M. Moody-Adams: Race, Class, and the Social Construction of Self-Respect.
    • 30. Laurence M. Thomas: Friendship.
    • 31. Cornel West: Nihilism in Black America.
    • 32. Katie G. Cannon: Unctuousness as a Virtue: According to the Life of Zora Neale Hurston. Contemporary Issue: A Classic Question of Values, Rights, and Education.
    • 33. Booker T. Washington: Atlanta Exposition Address.
    • 34. W.E.B. DuBois: The Talented Tenth.
  • PART THREE: PHILOSOPHY AND RELATED DISCIPLINES.
    • 35. Patricia J. Williams: Alchemical Notes: Reconstructing Ideals from Deconstructed Rights.
    • 36. Regina Austin: Sapphire Bound!
    • 37. Derrick Bell: Racial Realism-After We’re Gone: Prudent Speculations on America in a Post-Racial Epoch.
    • 38. John Arthur: Critical Race Theory: A Critique. Contemporary Issue: Racist Hate Speech.
    • 39. Charles Lawrence and Gerald Gunther: Prohibiting Racist Speech: A Debate. Aesthetics.
    • 40. James Baldwin: Everybody’s Protest Novel.
    • 41. Larry Neal: The Black Arts Movement.
    • 42. Angela Y. Davis: Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”: Music and Social Consciousness.
    • 43. Ralph Ellison: Blues People. Contemporary Issue: Rap Music.
    • 44. Crispin Sartwell: Rap Music and the Uses of Stereotype.
    • 45. Kimberle Crenshaw: Beyond Racism and Misogyny: Black Feminism and 2 Live Crew. Philosophy and Theology.
    • 46. David Walker: David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United stated.
    • 47. James H. Cone: God and Black Theology.
    • 48. Victor Anderso: Ontological Blackness in Theology.
    • 49. Anthony Pinn: Alternative Perspectives and Critiques. Contemporary Issue: Womanist Theology and the Traditionalist Black Church.
    • 50. Cheryl J. Sanders: Christian Ethics and Theology in a Womanist Perspective.
    • 51. Delores Williams: Womanist Reflections on “the Black Church,” the African-American Denominational Churches and the Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church.
  • SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING.
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