American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race [Oliver Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2019-01-22 18:54Z by Steven

American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race [Oliver Review]

Race, Politics, Justice
2018-06-01

Pamela Oliver, Conway-Bascom Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Angel Adams Parham’s book American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race (Oxford, 2017, available in hardcover and as an ebook from many vendors) is an exciting work that makes a novel and important contribution to our understanding of race in the US. The “racial palimpsest” idea is that different racial systems layer over each other and can coexist as different groups struggle over their identity and position in society. Parham’s case is the refugees who fled the revolution in St. Domingue (present-day Haiti) and joined the Louisiana Creoles between 1791 and 1810. This migration almost doubled the population and left New Orleans blacker, more African, and with a larger proportion of free people of color. New Orleans and Louisiana had been governed first by the Spanish and then the French and had operated with a tri-partite racial system that permitted open relations between free people of color and whites and the accumulation of wealth by free people of color; allowed mixed-race offspring to inherit; treated whiteness as a matter of appearance and status, not purity; and both provided more possibilities for slaves to become free and permitted slaves more freedom to congregate than the Anglo-American system. When the United States acquired Louisiana in 1803, this French racial system was viewed as dangerous by the white Anglo-Americans and the two systems came into confrontation…

Read the entire view here.

Tags: , ,

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…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The report from the Board delegation concluded, ‘[F]rom information received, through Parents and Citizens … more or less colored children have been smuggled into the schools set apart for the education of white children’ (OPSB, pp. 327-8).

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-01-05 21:28Z by Steven

‘More or Less Colored Children’

After the OPSB [Orleans Parish School Board] meeting, [William O.] Rogers charged a delegation of Board members to investigate the allegations of race mixing at Bayou Road. He also instructed [Stephanie] Bigot to have each child ‘reputed to be of mixed race’ deliver to their parent or guardian ‘without delay’ written requests for ‘such documentary evidence or testimony of sworn witnesses as will serve to establish the Status, in point of color of said pupil’ (OPSO [Orleans Parish Superintendent’s Office], 1868:298). Without proper documentation, the student would be dismissed promptly from the Bayou Road School (OPSO, 1868:299). Of the twenty-nine students investigated, five had been dismissed. The report from the Board delegation concluded, ‘[F]rom information received, through Parents and Citizens … more or less colored children have been smuggled into the schools set apart for the education of white children’ (OPSB, pp. 327-8). The investigations into the racial and class positions occupied by each of the families in question raised concerns about the dangers of middle-class claims by racial outsiders and the need for rigidly enforced boundaries.

The Daily Picayune noted that two students ‘who bore evidences of African descent’ were, according to both Rogers’ and Bigot’s testimonies, admitted into the school by conventional means: ‘the first upon a certificate of birth in France, and the other at the request of the father, a white citizen of the Second District’ (New Orleans Daily Picayune, 1868, May 22, p. 1). Although each of the girls had been recorded as ‘white’ in the Orleans Parish Register of Births, other records revealed ambiguity about their families’ racial backgrounds (State of Louisiana, n.d.). Both parents of Alice and Anais Meilleur, for example, appeared as ‘white’ in the 1860 census but their father, whose birthplace was listed as France, was identified as ‘mulatto‘ in the 1850 census. These findings, combined with the fact that the fathers of all five girls were employed as white-collar workers,1 confirmed white fears about the threat black social mobility posed to race and class boundaries in light of the postbellum South’s changing social dynamics. Without upper class wealth, the city’s middle-class families relied upon perceived respectability to reproduce social position. Bigot’s carelessness had put their social position at risk by undermining familial claims to racial purity.

Joseph O. Jewell, “Other(ing) People’s Children: Social Mothering, Schooling, and Race in Late Nineteenth Century New Orleans and San Francisco,” Race, Gender & Class, Volume 21 , Number 3-4, (2014). https://www.jstor.org/stable/43496989.

Tags: , , , ,

Other(ing) People’s Children: Social Mothering, Schooling, and Race in Late Nineteenth Century New Orleans and San Francisco

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Economics, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States, Women on 2019-01-05 20:01Z by Steven

Other(ing) People’s Children: Social Mothering, Schooling, and Race in Late Nineteenth Century New Orleans and San Francisco

Race, Gender & Class
Volume 21, No. 3/4, RGC Intersectionalilty, Race, Gender, Class, Health, Justice Issues (2014)
pages 138-155

Joseph O. Jewell, Associate Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M University

Social mothering—women’s carework in the public sphere—played an important role in whites’ responses to racial minorities’ claims to middle-class mobility and identity in the late nineteenth century. In New Orleans and San Francisco, two cities where racial minorities used public education to achieve and reproduce middle-class position, white women principals were central figures in struggles over schooling that contributed to the de jure segregation of black and Asian children. I analyze two historical cases to show how racialized constructions of social mothering helped to maintain links between race and class. In both incidents, public opinion held white professional women responsible for ensuring the racial purity of white children’s public spaces and social identities. I argue that analyses of the race-class intersection should more carefully consider how the economic domination of racial minorities is maintained through various gendered forms of reproductive labor.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Tisserand: “Krazy Kat and the Poetics of Passing” | Talks at Google

Posted in Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2018-12-01 03:50Z by Steven

Michael Tisserand: “Krazy Kat and the Poetics of Passing” | Talks at Google

Talks at Google
2018-06-26

Michael discusses his book, “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White,” winner of the 2017 Eisner Award for best comics-related book, and a finalist in both the National Book Critics Circle Awards for Biography and the PEN America/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. Krazy was also selected as a Kirkus Best Nonfiction Book of 2016 and as one of Vanity Fair‘s “Must-Read Books of the Holiday Season.”

Tisserand’s previous books include THE KINGDOM OF ZYDECO, an exploration of Louisiana music that received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for music writing, and the Hurricane Katrina memoir SUGARCANE ACADEMY. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. When not writing, he coaches scholastic chess and is a member of The Laissez Boys, a Mardi Gras parading organization.

More information about Tisserand and his work can be found at www.MichaelTisserand.com.

Moderated by Camille Gennaio.

Tags: , , , , ,

In visit to Kenyon, author illuminates history of racial passing in America

Posted in Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-11-13 04:28Z by Steven

In visit to Kenyon, author illuminates history of racial passing in America

Kenyon College
Gambier, Ohio
2018-11-09

Mary Keister, Director of News Media Relations
Telephone: 740-427-5592

GAMBIER, Ohio — Award-winning author Gail Lukasik will speak about her book “White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing” at Kenyon College on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. The event, free and open to the public, will be held in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater, 101 ½ College Drive.

Lukasik’s memoir chronicles her journey to uncover her mother’s racial lineage and traces her family back to 18th-century colonial Louisiana. Her mother was born into a black family in New Orleans and eventually left the Jim Crow South, moving north and marrying a white man. She passed as white for the rest of her life.

In 1995, as Lukasik, who identifies as white, was exploring Louisiana census records, she learned that her mother’s father and his entire family were designated black. The shocking discovery changed her sense and understanding of white identity.

When Lukasik tried to ask her mother questions about her family’s black heritage, her mother refused to speak about the matter and told her daughter to not share the secret. In the 17 years Lukasik kept her mother’s secret, the author of mystery novels started to retrace her memories in order to better understand her mother, sorting out fiction from truth to solve her own real-life mystery. Was this why, growing up, Lukasik never really visited her mother’s side of the family or saw pictures of her grandfather?…

Read the entire press release here.

Tags: , , ,

The Notorious, Mixed-Race New Orleans Madam Who Turned Her Identity Into a Brand

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-10-08 02:42Z by Steven

The Notorious, Mixed-Race New Orleans Madam Who Turned Her Identity Into a Brand

Zócalo Public Square
2018-10-01

Emily Epstein Landau, Teacher [and author of Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans]
Georgetown Day School, Washington, D.C.


Lulu White, the most notorious madam in the turn-of-the-century Big Easy. Courtesy of the Collections of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. All rights reserved.

By Repackaging the Myths of the Tragic Octoroon and the Self-Made Woman, Lulu White Crafted a Persona That Haunts Beyoncé’s “Formation

In 2016, music and pop-culture idol Beyoncé released the album Lemonade to rapturous reviews. As a historian of New Orleans, I was especially intrigued by the video for one of the songs on the album, “Formation.” The video includes iconic images of the city: Katrina flood waters and post-flood graffiti; “second-lines”; marching bands; crawfish eating; and even a dancing “Mardi Gras Indian.” As we move through various neighborhoods, we visit a church service, a St. Charles Avenue mansion, and, in what appears to be a move through time into the city’s past, a bordello.

The bordello scenes in the video recall famous photographs from Storyville, New Orleans’s notorious red-light district, which flourished from 1898 to 1917. And while the song is clearly about Beyoncé, the persona she embodies in it resonates with an earlier iconic black female: Lulu White, the self-styled “Diamond Queen” of New Orleans’s turn-of-the-century demimonde. Knowing Lulu White’s story helps us see Beyoncé’s artistic creation within a complex historical framework, for in it are woven together threads of American history: stories of sexual slavery and prostitution; revolution and exile; and, not least, capitalism and the American Dream.

Lulu White was the most notorious madam in Storyville. She earned fame and fortune as the “handsomest octoroon” in the South, and her bordello, Mahogany Hall, featured “octoroon” prostitutes for the pleasure of wealthy white men during one of America’s most virulently—and violently—racist periods. It was also the dawn of consumer culture and the beginning of modern advertising. Thus, Lulu White crafted a persona for herself through stories that had long circulated in New Orleans; she repackaged those stories to create what today we would recognize as her brand…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Multicultural Cities in Frank Yerby

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-08 00:12Z by Steven

Multicultural Cities in Frank Yerby

Interminable Rambling
2018-03-16

Matthew Teutsch, Instructor
Department of English
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Throughout his oeuvre, Frank Yerby works to deconstruct myths of the Old South and historical misinformation. Along with these goals, he also dismantles the dichotomy of Black and White; instead, he populates his works with individuals and scenes that defy a simplistic characterization. In this manner, Yerby shows that race is not a biological fact; rather, it is a social construct. One of the key ways that Yerby accomplishes this, especially in regard to the commingling of individuals, is through his descriptions of cities and the multitude of different people that populate the space. Today, I want to look at a couple of scenes where he does this from his first novel The Foxes of Harrow (1946) and his seventh novel The Saracen Blade (1952). I chose these two texts because the first takes place in antebellum New Orleans and the second occurs in thirteenth century Italy. Both, though, comment on issues of class and race during the mid-twentieth century.

Walking through the Vieux Carre to catch a glimpse of the Marquis de Lafayette in The Foxes of Harrow, Andre LeBlanc gives Stephen Fox an education in the rules, customs, and racial stratification of New Orleans, a stratification that does not fall easily into the dichotomy of Black and White…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Grappling With the Memory of New Orleans

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-01-07 23:01Z by Steven

Grappling With the Memory of New Orleans

The Atlantic
2015-10-25

Mark Charles Roudané


Christian Senger / Flickr

A family’s story traces the roots of the eclectic city, the country’s first black daily newspaper, and the evolution of racial injustice.

My father is listed as white on his birth certificate. His great-grandfather was the founder of America’s first black daily newspaper. But when I tell the story of my family, inextricably linked to the narrative of New Orleans and, in fact, to the country, I do not start with either of them.

Aimée Potens, my third great-grandmother, stares at me. Holding a daguerreotype from the 1840s, I am transfixed by her eyes. I try to imagine what they had seen. Aimée’s eyes are my window to the world that made New Orleans, a world that seems impenetrable, lost somewhere in a gauzy historical memory of tangled white, free-black, and enslaved cultures…

…I was raised to be a white person in Jim Crow New Orleans. The past was hidden from me, and I grew up not knowing that this history was my history, too. When Reconstruction collapsed, the loss of hope for people of color was devastating. As I reflect on the ways the past has shaped the social construct of race and my own identity, I wonder what my story would be like had the Tribune’s crusade succeeded. Would my family have claimed its remarkable heritage instead of passing as white?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-21 03:34Z by Steven

My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

The Washington Post
2017-11-20

Gail Lukasik


The author’s mother, Alvera Fredric, was born into a black family in New Orleans but spent her life passing as white. (Family photo)

I’d never seen my mother so afraid.

“Promise me,” she pleaded, “you won’t tell anyone until after I die. How will I hold my head up with my friends?”

For two years, I’d waited for the right moment to confront my mother with the shocking discovery I made in 1995 while scrolling through the 1900 Louisiana census records. In the records, my mother’s father, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, and his entire family were designated black.

The discovery had left me reeling, confused and in need of answers. My sense of white identity had been shattered.

My mother’s visit to my home in Illinois seemed like the right moment. This was not a conversation I wanted to have on the phone.

But my mother’s fearful plea for secrecy only added to my confusion about my racial identity. As did her birth certificate that I obtained from the state of Louisiana, which listed her race as “col” (colored), and a 1940 Louisiana census record, which listed my mother, Alvera Frederic, as Neg/Negro, working in a tea shop in New Orleans. Four years later, she moved north and married my white father…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,