An Intellectual History of Black Women

Posted in Africa, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-08-02 20:06Z by Steven

An Intellectual History of Black Women

Katharine Cornell Theater
54 Spring Street
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 02568
Sunday, 2015-08-02, 19:00-20:30 EDT (Local Time)

Moderator:

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Discussants:

Farah J. Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies
Columbia University

Mia Bay, Professor of History and Director of Center for Race and Ethnicity
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan School of Law

Barbara D. Savage, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania

The Vineyard Haven Public Library presents a panel discussion celebrating intellectuals previously neglected because of race and gender. Moderated by Evelyn Higginbotham, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African American Studies at Harvard. Featuring all 4 editors of the new book Toward and Intellectual History of Black Women.  Join us for what should be a lively and stimulating discussion.

For more information, click here.

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On The Cherokee Rose, Historical Fiction, and Silences in the Archives

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-05-27 01:44Z by Steven

On The Cherokee Rose, Historical Fiction, and Silences in the Archives

Process: a blog for american history
2015-05-26

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan


Martha S. Jones

Martha S. Jones is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan on the faculties in Afroamerican and African studies, history, and law. She is also a codirector of the university’s Program in Race, Law, and History. The author of the forthcoming Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), she is at work on a new book entitled “Riding the Atlantic World Circuit: Slavery and Law after the Haitian Revolution.” She is also an OAH Distinguished Lecturer.

The Cherokee Rose, the debut novel by historian Tiya Miles, caught me in the middle of a longstanding argument. I had pre-ordered the book from its publisher John F. Blair, and so it arrived unexpectedly, as if unsummoned. It was March, a busy moment in the term. Still, I stole time that Saturday, reading it nearly cover-to-cover in one sitting. I left the last chapter until the next day, just to savor the experience. Miles is my colleague at the University of Michigan, and that hints at why I’d let my email pile up just to read a work of fiction. Generally, I’m the sort that lets a stack of books accumulate for later summer reading. But there was more. As I said, I was trying to settle an argument and thought The Cherokee Rose might help.

Many of us know Miles for her award-winning works of history: Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family (University of California Press, 2006), The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), and Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era (also coming from UNC Press this fall). Miles’ insight into the intimate dynamics of slavery at the crossroads of Native American and African American experience has won her professional accolades and an eager readership. In this sense, while The Cherokee Rose is fiction, it is no sharp departure. Miles builds upon what she had already taught us, including her exploration of Georgia’s Chief Vann House, to provide a new vantage point from which to explain the past…

Read the entire review here.

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Checking Boxes: A close look at mixed-race identity and the law

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-05 21:21Z by Steven

Checking Boxes: A close look at mixed-race identity and the law

Macomb County Leagal News
Mt. Clemens, Michgan
2015-02-05

Jenny Whalen, ‎Web Communications Specialist
School of Law
University of Michigan

Professor Martha S. Jones has long struggled with the idea of checking more than one box. Her reluctance to do so has been influenced by a lifetime of changing perceptions about her own identity. Born to an interracial couple a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the legality of such a relationship in Loving v. Virginia, Jones, who co-directs the Program in Race, Law & History at U-M, crossed the color line at birth.

As the featured speaker for Michigan Law’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day lecture last month, Jones reflected on her mixed-race experience to open up an understanding of how legal culture has wrestled with the idea that Americans might check more than one box of racial identity.

“Today I’m going to be asking myself, ‘How does it feel to be a problem?’” Jones said, looking to address the same question contemporaries of W.E.B. Du Bois asked him at the dawn of the 20th century.

For Jones, the answer to this question starts with Loving v. Virginia

Read the entire article here. View Professor Jones’ presentation here.

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The Children of Loving v. Virginia: Living at the Intersection of Law and Mixed-Race Identity

Posted in Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-01-21 02:27Z by Steven

The Children of Loving v. Virginia: Living at the Intersection of Law and Mixed-Race Identity

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Special Lecture
University of Michigan
2015-01-19

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan

University of Michigan Law School Prof. Martha S. Jones, who codirects the Program in Race, Law & History​, addresses her own experience as a mixed race woman and explores issues facing contemporary society as the featured speaker at Michigan Law’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 19, 2015.

Presenting “The Children of Loving v. Virginia: Living at the Intersection of Law and Mixed-Race Identity,” Jones uses lived experience to open up an understanding of how legal culture has wrestled with the idea that Americans might check more than one box.

View the video (00:37:05) here.

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INTERVIEW: Martha S. Jones, University of Michigan Professor

Posted in Anthropology, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-12-14 23:25Z by Steven

INTERVIEW: Martha S. Jones, University of Michigan Professor

Impolite Conversations
2014-12-10

John L. Jackson Jr., Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Anthropology, and Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

Impolite Conversations is a fascinating collection of essay that captures a set of exchanges between journalist Cora Daniels and cultural anthropologist John L. Jackson, Jr. I make an appearance in Jackson’s chapter titled “All my best friends are light skinned women.” You’ll have to read the book to see how I fare. But check out my brief exchange with John about how I think about the question of skin color today here. This episode is part of their Impolite Conversations Web Series.

View the interview here. Download the interview here.

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Female Slaves and the Law

Posted in History, Law, Slavery, United States, Videos, Women on 2014-12-08 21:16Z by Steven

Female Slaves and the Law

C-SPAN: Created by Cable
Lectures in History
2014-10-21

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

Professor Martha Jones talked about the mid-19th century court case of Celia, a female slave who killed her master after repeated sexual assaults. Topics included what options Celia may have had, and the involvement of her fellow slaves and her master’s white neighbors in her court case.

View the lecture here (01:21:40). See also, “Celia, A Slave, Trial (1855): An Account” by Douglas O. Linder (2011).

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Who Here Is A Negro?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-20 20:20Z by Steven

Who Here Is A Negro?

Michigan Quarterly Review
Volume 53, Issue 1 (Winter 2014)

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

Last fall I made a migration south. The promise of a year’s sabbatical and an escape from the demands of teaching and administration lured me from my Midwestern academic post. “North Carolina?” my friends queried, their pursed lips conveying disapproval. I understood. Recently, North Carolina had earned distinction as the state most reviled by the left (edging out Arizona.) Deservedly so. We decried the legislature as it eviscerated what remained of the state’s liberal policies. North Carolina was quick to act when the US Supreme Court green-lighted the gutting of voting rights protections. “For shame,” my friends chided. I did not disagree.

But that was not my North Carolina, I insisted. My North Carolina was the land of my forbears. The Joneses had called Alamance and Guilford counties home since at least the 1820s, nearly two centuries. My North Carolina was the bucolic lawns and magnolia trees of a black college campus. It was afternoons in the hammock with a new comic book. My North Carolina was a cool bowl of orange sherbet on the steps of the back porch. It was fireflies dancing across the lawn at dusk. It was friends and neighbors, black men and women, who raised me up. It was my grandmother—Musie to us—who loved me fiercely. My North Carolina was heart. It was home.

In late July, just weeks before making the trek down I-95, memories of my summers spent in Greensboro came tiptoeing back. Had I brushed off too easily my friends’ trepidations? North Carolina was home, but perhaps over time I had idealized the place. Summers in the South were not always easy. My mother and father never said why they’d shipped me off from New York each June as elementary school ended. I thought they were mostly eager for a respite. Off went their three high-spirited kids to grandmother for a spell. I imagined them breathing a sigh, raising a glass, and grabbing a nap just as soon as we were out the door. It was a holiday for everyone. But, it was also the occasion for lessons about how I, a mixed-race girl, fit into a world fractured into black and white. Instructions about race, its politics and its etiquette, awaited us at Musie’s house…

Read the entire essay here.

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Opinion: Supreme Court ruling upholds America’s mixed view

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-25 07:16Z by Steven

Opinion: Supreme Court ruling upholds America’s mixed view

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-04-24

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

(CNN) — I didn’t expect to find the specter of the mixed-race person making an appearance in Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision that upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action.

But there it was.

In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the plurality, cast doubt upon the court’s capacity to deliberate over race cases — and mixed-raced people were said to be the culprits.

Kennedy wrote that “not all individuals of the same race think alike.” Fair enough. But then he went on to suggest that mixed-race people confound the court’s capacity to “define individuals according to race.”

He continued (PDF), “In a society in which those lines are becoming more blurred, the attempt to define race-based categories also raises serious questions of its own.”

When we blur the lines, as mixed-race people like me are said to do, are we really undermining the court’s capacity to determine questions about the equal protection of the laws?

Kennedy’s view feels familiar: There is nothing new about regarding mixed-race people as a problem in the United States.

We can trace this idea to the earliest lawmaking in British colonial America. The first laws to regulate race were those that prohibited sex and marriage across the color line…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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When it Comes to Diversity, Who Counts?

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-27 15:19Z by Steven

When it Comes to Diversity, Who Counts?

The Huffington Post
The Blog
2014-03-26

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

When talking diversity at colleges and universities, the numbers count. Still, when it comes to mixed-race students, too often they do not count at all. This is a missed opportunity. University leaders rely upon statistics for a measure of where students of color stand on campus. Data on those who self-identify as Black, Latino and Native American are said to reflect how well diversity goals are being met. What about those who check more than one box? Their numbers and their contributions to campus diversity are largely overlooked.

On my campus, the University of Michigan, numbers matter. This past fall, student activists set off a debate. Their movement began with a Twitter speak-out known by its hashtag #BBUM, Being Black at the University of Michigan. The declining number of Black students has been much discussed, and with good reason. Black students were 7.8 percent of the student body in 2004. Ten years later, their number has dropped to 4.8 percent. As we respond to this challenge, administrators, faculty, staff and students all recognize that the numbers reflect a diminishment in campus diversity. And as student testimony makes plain, there is a correlation between dropping enrollments and the increasing marginalization of Black students.

At Michigan, we also count mixed-race students. Since 2010, students have had the opportunity to check more than one box when reporting their race. The numbers have remained steady. 3.3 percent of the university’s 37,000 students report that they are mixed-race. This new demographic parallels what we know from the United States census. There, in the year 2000, respondents were given the option of checking more than one box for the first time. By 2010, over 9 million people self-identified as more than one race, nearly three percent of the population. By these numbers mixed-race people have become visible…

Read the entire article here.

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What’s in a name? ‘Mixed,’ ‘biracial,’ ‘black’

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-02-24 20:24Z by Steven

What’s in a name? ‘Mixed,’ ‘biracial,’ ‘black’

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-02-19

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan

(CNN) — When the census listed Negro as a race option in 2010, a controversy erupted.

My students at the University of Michigan were eager to denounce the term’s use: “Negro? It has to go!”

To their ears, “Negro” was derogatory, too close in tone to the other, more infamous n-word. I played devil’s advocate, to test their thinking: “But some black elders still self-identify as Negroes.” “It’s preferable to its predecessor, colored.”

“Don’t some of you belong to the National Council of Negro Women chapter?”

I could not shake their thought.

I was confronting a generational divide. For my grandmother, “Negro” was a term of respect. To my students, it was an epithet…

…My CNN essay “Biracial and also black” generated a debate about the words we use to describe African-Americans. I called myself mixed-race, a phrase that includes identities rooted in multiple races.

Another term, biracial, some readers pointed out, assumes one identity borne out of two. It is, perhaps, too narrow for a discussion about identity in the 21st century.

Some readers also rejected the phrase “African-American,” deeming it awkward and inaccurate. Renee wrote: “We are not from Africa, I was born here in the U.S. I don’t know anyone there, can’t even say my ancestors are from there.”…

Read the entire article here.

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