Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2021-10-28 16:54Z by Steven

Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

Washington Independent Review of Books
2021-02-05

Alice Stephens

A transracial adoptee reveals her struggle to build a Black identity in a world of white privilege.

Rebecca Carroll, Surviving the White Gaze, A Memoir (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021)

In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) issued a position statement that took a “vehement stand against the placement of Black children in white homes for any reason.” The document eloquently and forcefully explains this stance as crucial to the child’s healthy formation of identity in a society intent on the erasure of Blackness.

Around that time, David and Laurette Carroll formally adopt Rebecca, whom they had been raising since infancy. Rebecca is the mixed-race child of Tess, a white high school student of David’s. Uninterested in Black life and culture, the Carrolls were likely unaware of NABSW’s stance. As Rebecca Carroll vividly reveals in her searing memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, her adoptive parents were woefully unprepared to raise a Black child, clueless to the challenges she faced as the only Black resident of their rural New Hampshire town.

Like many progressive people of that era who adopted outside of their race, the Carrolls, who already had two biological children of their own, “believed in Zero Population Growth, and so…didn’t want to bring another child into the world.”

They first thought of adopting a Native American child, no doubt influenced by the Indian Adoption Project, a federal program that was heralded as a beacon of enlightened adoption practices for placing brown babies with white families. But then, 16-year-old Tess offers the Carrolls the opportunity to adopt her baby, fathered by a Black man. As Tess is a friend of the family, the adoption is open…

Read the entire review here.

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Surviving the White Gaze, A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2021-02-05 01:26Z by Steven

Surviving the White Gaze, A Memoir

Simon & Schuster
2021-02-02
320 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781982116255
eBook ISBN-13: 9781982116323
Audio Book ISBN-13: 9781797119380

Rebecca Carroll, Host, Managing Editor and Cultural Critic
WNYC Radio, New York, New York

A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America.

Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.

Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen black family, she was able to heal.

Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.

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Finding oneself in ‘Surviving the White Gaze’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2021-01-30 22:57Z by Steven

Finding oneself in ‘Surviving the White Gaze’

The Boston Globe
2021-01-28

Blaise Allysen Kearsley, Globe Correspondent


Judith Rudd for The Boston Globe

Surviving The White Gaze: A Memoir
By Rebecca Carroll
Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $26

The core function of tween- and teen-hood is the lofty job of figuring out who we are, as if puberty isn’t harrowing enough. Human nature forces us to make sense of our childhood experiences, how we feel about the way others perceive us, and to chart the topography of our own voice.

But for Black and brown kids, there’s the added hurdle of the white gaze. Foundational to the centering and elevation of whiteness in America, the white gaze sees Blackness only within the context of comparison and alterity. It’s the shallow lens of privilege, ingrained bias, and misrepresentation that creates both violent acts and micro-aggressive behaviors. It’s the white police officer brutalizing Black citizens without cause or provocation, the white educator who instinctively adjusts their expectations for a Black student, and in Rebecca Carroll’s unflinching memoir “Surviving the White Gaze,” it’s the fifth grade teacher who tells her she’s “pretty for a Black girl,” and the heritage her family never talks about…

Read the entire review here.

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New Hampshire: Beyond Black & White

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2019-11-10 03:40Z by Steven

New Hampshire: Beyond Black & White

Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire
2019-2020 Elinor Williams Hooker Expanded Tea Talk Series
Keene State College
Young Student Center
Mountain View Room
229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435
Sunday, 2019-11-10, 14:00 EST

Contact information:
JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director
603-570-8469

Panelists: David Watters, Darrell Hucks, & (TBA)
Moderator: Dottie Morris

Moving beyond rigid racial identities, this talk will explore the contemporary as well as historic intersection between Black and Indigenous communities, the presence of “passing” mixed race individuals, and the most recent immigrant experience within a New England context. These complex interactions, connections conflicts, experiences, and resistant efforts of Black, white and multi-racial citizens will be explored through scholarly research and an analysis of the film Lost Boundaries.

For more information, click here.

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History Matters: The story behind ‘Lost Boundaries’

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-03-06 21:11Z by Steven

History Matters: The story behind ‘Lost Boundaries’

The Portsmouth Herald (Seacoast Online)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
2018-03-05

J. Dennis Robinson

Albert Johnston Jr. was 16 when he found out he was black. His fair-skinned African-American parents had been “passing” as white, they told him, since moving from Chicago to rural Gorham, New Hampshire, and later to Keene. Albert’s father had been the town’s country doctor with 2,500 white patients and an active member of the school board, the Masons and the Rotary. His mother, Thyra, was a two-time president of the Gorham Women’s Club and active in the Congregational Church.

Born in 1925, growing up skiing the White Mountains of the Granite State, Albert had only a single black acquaintance in high school. In an era of widespread racial segregation and discrimination, Albert felt a seismic shift as he adapted from a dark-skinned Caucasian to a light-skinned “Negro.”

Then Albert took a road trip. Two decades before Ken Kesey and Easy Rider, with only a few dollars in their pockets, Albert and an old school chum named Walt hitchhiked and hopped freight trains from New Hampshire to California. For Albert, it was a spiritual journey into the homes of his long-lost African-American relatives and into the roots of black culture. For Walt, who was white, it was a great adventure with a good friend. Albert eventually found his way home. Renewed and focused, he enrolled in the well-regarded music program at the University of New Hampshire.

And here, in a UNH college lounge in front of 20 fellow students, Albert Johnston Jr. finally laid his burden down. During a seminar on the “race problem” in America, the topic turned to “cross-bred” people. He could offer some insight on that topic, Albert told his classmates, because he, himself, was a Negro.

The room got very still, he later recalled, like the sudden silence after the climax of a concerto. The Johnston family secret was about to explode, first into the pages of Reader’s Digest magazine, and then as a controversial book and feature film called “Lost Boundaries.”…

Read the entire article here.

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In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-09-08 13:02Z by Steven

In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington

The New York Times
2017-02-06

Jennifer Schuessler


Erica Armstrong Dunbar, the author of “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va.
Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

MOUNT VERNON, Va. — The costumed characters at George Washington’s gracious estate here are used to handling all manner of awkward queries, whether about 18th-century privies or the first president’s teeth. So when a visitor recently asked an African-American re-enactor in a full skirt and head scarf if she knew Ona Judge, the woman didn’t miss a beat.

Judge’s escape from the presidential residence in Philadelphia in 1796 had been “a great embarrassment to General and Lady Washington,” the woman said, before offering her own view of the matter.

“Ona was born free, like everybody,” she said. “It was this world that made her a slave.”

It’s always 1799 at Mount Vernon, where more than a million visitors annually see the property as it was just before Washington’s death, when his will famously freed all 123 of his slaves. That liberation did not apply to Ona Judge, one of 153 slaves held by Martha Washington.

But Judge, it turned out, evaded the Washingtons’ dogged (and sometimes illegal) efforts to recapture her, and would live quietly in New Hampshire for another 50 years. Now her story — and the challenge it offers to the notion that Washington somehow transcended the seamy reality of slaveholding — is having its fullest airing yet…

Ms. Dunbar, the author of “Never Caught,” first came across Ona Judge in the late 1990s, when she was a graduate student at Columbia researching free black women in Philadelphia. One day in the archives, she noticed a 1796 newspaper ad offering $10 for the return of “a light Mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy hair” who had “absconded” from the president’s house.

“I said to myself: ‘Here I am, a scholar in this field. Why don’t I know about her?’” Ms. Dunbar recalled…

Read the entire article here.

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Portsmouth’s Ona Judge is famous at last

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2017-04-13 00:04Z by Steven

Portsmouth’s Ona Judge is famous at last

The Portsmouth Herald
2017-04-03

J. Dennis Robinson


Recently thrust into celebrity, Ona Judge was enslaved by George and Martha Washington. Ona quietly escaped the President’s House in Philadelphia in 1796 and lived as a seamstress in Greenland, New Hampshire. Washington described the runaway in a newspaper as “a light mulatto girl, much freckled.” This illustration by Emily Arnold McCully appears on the cover of her children’s book, “The Escape of Oney Judge,” published by Scholastic Press.
[Courtesy photo]

It’s about time America learned her name. Enslaved by George and Martha Washington, a young Ona Judge fled to Portsmouth in 1796. A skilled seamstress, Ona Judge lived the rest of her long life in the shadows — impoverished, independent and defiant. Her presumed burial site remains obscure and unmarked on private land in nearby Greenland. But the story of a young black woman who resisted a president is finally being told — and told again.

Today you can read about Ona Judge (1773-1848) in The New York Times. You can hear her story on National Public Radio, watch her on a National Geographic special, or find her on popular websites like History.com and CNN. Ona is featured in “Lives Bound Together,” a special exhibit of more than 300 enslaved Africans at Mount Vernon. She is portrayed by re-enactors from New Hampshire to Virginia, and her story is told at the site of the President’s House in Philadelphia, where she made her daring solo escape from the Washingtons at age 20.

The big news for Ona, and for American history, is the success of a runaway bestseller titled “Never Caught, The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge.” Author Erica Armstrong Dunbar, examines the first president’s use of “human property” from the slave’s point of view…

Read the entire article here.

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Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

Posted in Autobiography, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-02-20 02:17Z by Steven

Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

WGBH Radio
Boston, Massachusetts
2017-01-30

Sally Jacobs

My name is Sally Jacobs and I am a reporter doing a project for WGBH radio in Boston on interracial marriage in connection with the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the practice. I am looking for couples in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) who have a compelling story of challenge, triumph, passion, hardship or adventure.

I am also looking for some particular experiences:

  • Interracial couples who divorced in the mid 1980s.
  • Couples who married before interracial marriage became legal in 1967.
  • Young/millennial couples who met on an interracial dating website.
  • Those with a compelling story from any time period.

If you live in any of the six New England states, please e-mail me a description of your story, long or short, at sallyhjacobs@gmail.com.

Many thanks.

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Lost Boundaries (1949)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-21 20:25Z by Steven

Lost Boundaries (1949)

Turner Classic Movies
February 2016

David Kalat

This is not a joke, but it starts like one: two men walk into an office. They have come to pitch an idea to a Hollywood mogul, an idea for a blockbuster movie. Sort of. Their idea is a docu-drama on George Washington Carver.

Perhaps the idea doesn’t strike you as a winning one. But this was no ordinary mogul. His name was Louis De Rochemont, and he was the Academy Award-winning documentarian responsible for the March of Time newsreel series. He’d segued that success into an unprecedented contract with MGM giving him creative freedom to make whatever projects he wished, on his own turf. As a New Hampshire native, his own turf meant that state — and the projects he wished were ones rooted in reality. “The aim of any drama is to give the illusion of real things,” he explained, “So why not use real things in the first place?” These were not idle words, either–he was prepared to put his money where his mouth was, and always had. At the age of twelve, he’d sent away to Popular Mechanics for the blueprints of a motion picture camera, and then built his own according to the plans. With that, he then shot some film around his hometown and sold it to theaters. This hobby found him one day shooting footage of a submarine launch in Portsmouth, which was purchased by a newsreel company. The delighted kid took his earnings and used it–get this–to go to a New York theater and see his film on the big screen. Mr. De Rochemont was an earnest fellow, and that made him an ideal producer for a Carver bio-pic.

So, he sat and listened to the pitch, unconvinced but polite enough to not kick these two equally earnest kids out of his office, like so many other movie people would have done. De Rochemont looked at the two boys in front of him, one black and one white, and asked, “I understand why you want this film made… but what about you?” The white boy, an aspiring composer named Albert Johnston, Jr., smiled at the older man’s misapprehension. He explained that although many people mistake him for white, in fact he had been passing for years. Actually, he’d been passing his whole life, and only just learned the truth.

For contemporary readers, that term “passing” may cause some puzzlement. In the late 1940s, when this took place, however, it’s another matter. It was a time of rigid racial segregation, when even “one drop of Negro blood” was enough to consign a person to a permanent second-class status. Of course, “one drop of Negro blood” is a biologically ridiculous notion. I said it wasn’t a joke, but this part certainly is. There is no scientific way to distinguish one race from another–it isn’t a biological difference, merely a cultural illusion. And as a cultural illusion, it is built entirely atop what people look like. There are people whose lineage would identify them as “black,” but who do not look it. In the absence of some external proof of “Negro blood,” then, it becomes a question of the honor system whether these straddlers would choose to opt into the second class life that their racist society demanded. Little wonder, then, that there were some who were willing to be accepted as white…

Read the entire article here.

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Let Ohio Vote First

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-02-16 18:43Z by Steven

Let Ohio Vote First

The New York Times
2016-02-16

Emma Roller

We, as voters and election-obsessed bystanders, made it past the first two contests in this eons-long presidential primary, but seven candidates weren’t so lucky.

The winnowed-down field has now moved on to the warmer vote-seeking climes of Nevada and South Carolina. Before moving on too, I’d like to consider what this election has now proven: Iowa and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status is not only obsolete, it’s bad for our democratic process.

Ask people in Iowa or New Hampshire to justify their lock on early voting, and you hear this: “It’s cheap to campaign here.” “We take this job seriously.” “It’s part of our political heritage.” It can turn into a sort of Zen koan: We matter because we’re first, and we’re first because we matter. Inconveniently for them, none of these justifications are good enough.

That’s why, to help save our democracy, I would like to autocratically declare Ohio as the new first-in-the-nation primary state starting in 2020. It might not be a perfect idea, but it would be a lot better than our system now.

The main problem with Iowa and New Hampshire is a demographic one. Put simply, they are too white. Both states’ populations are roughly 90 percent white, while the United States population as a whole is 62 percent white. The United States is projected to become a minority-white country in roughly 30 years. This is where Ohio comes in

Read the entire article here.

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