A Death in Harlem, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2019-10-07 00:44Z by Steven

A Death in Harlem, A Novel

TriQuarterly Books (an imprint of Northwestern University Press)
2019-09-15
248 pages
Trim size 6 x 9
Trade Paper ISBN: 978-0-8101-4081-3
E-Book ISBN: 978-0-8101-4082-0

Karla FC Holloway, James. B. Duke Professor Emerita of English and Law
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

In A Death in Harlem, famed scholar Karla FC Holloway weaves a mystery in the bon vivant world of the Harlem Renaissance. Taking as her point of departure the tantalizingly ambiguous “death by misadventure” at the climax of Nella Larsen’s Passing, Holloway accompanies readers to the sunlit boulevards and shaded sidestreets of Jazz Age New York. A murder there will test the mettle, resourcefulness, and intuition of Harlem’s first “colored” policeman, Weldon Haynie Thomas.

Clear glass towers rising in Manhattan belie a city where people are often not what they seem. For some here, identity is a performance of passing—passing for another race, for another class, for someone safe to trust. Thomas’s investigation illuminates the societies and secret societies, the intricate code of manners, the world of letters, and the broad social currents of 1920s Harlem.

A Death in Harlem is an exquisitely crafted, briskly paced, and impeccably stylish journey back to a time still remembered as a peak of American glamour. It introduces Holloway as a fresh voice in storytelling, and Weldon Haynie Thomas as an endearing and unforgettable detective.

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When W. E. B. Du Bois Made a Laughingstock of a White Supremacist

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-09-02 19:58Z by Steven

When W. E. B. Du Bois Made a Laughingstock of a White Supremacist

The New Yorker
2019-08-19

Ian Frazier, Staff Writer


In the Du Bois-Stoddard debate, one man was practically laughed off the stage.
Illustration by Christian Northeast

Why the Jim Crow-era debate between the African-American leader and a ridiculous, Nazi-loving racist isn’t as famous as Lincoln-Douglas.

W. E. B. Du Bois, the twentieth century’s leading black intellectual, once lived at 3059 Villa Avenue, in the Bronx. He moved to a small rented house there with his wife, Nina Gomer Du Bois, and their daughter, Yolande, in about 1912. When I’m walking in that borough I sometimes stop by the site. It’s just off Jerome Avenue, not far from the Bedford Park subway station. The anchor business at that intersection seems to be the Osvaldo #5 Barber Shop, which flies pennants advertising services for sending money to Africa and to Bangladesh. All kinds of people pass by. You hear Spanish and Chinese and maybe Hausa spoken on the street. The first time I went to Du Bois’s old address, I wondered if I might find a plaque, but the house is gone, and 3059 Villa is now part of a fenced-in parking lot. Maple and locust trees shade the front stoops, and residents wait at eight-twenty on Tuesday mornings to move their cars for the street-sweeping truck. A fire hydrant drips, slowly enlarging a hole in the sidewalk. Even unmemorialized, 3059 Villa is a not-unpleasant spot from which to contemplate the great man’s life.

About a forty-minute walk away is the Bronx Zoo. In 1912, it was called the New York Zoological Park, and it was run by a patrician named Madison Grant from an old New York family. Though he and Du Bois lived and worked within a few miles of each other for decades, I don’t know if the two ever met. As much as anyone on the planet, Grant was Du Bois’s natural enemy. Grant favored a certain type of white man over all other kinds of humans, on a graded scale of disapproval, and he reserved his vilest ill wishes and contempt for blacks.

As Du Bois would have remembered, in 1906 the zoo put an African man named Ota Benga on display in the primate cages. Ota Benga belonged to a tribe of Pygmies whom the Belgians had slaughtered in the Congo. A traveller had brought him to New York and to the zoo, where huge crowds came to stare and jeer. A group of black Baptist ministers went to the mayor and demanded that the travesty be stopped. The mayor’s office referred them to Grant, who put them off. He later said that it was important for the zoo not to give even the appearance of having yielded to the ministers’ demand. Eventually, Ota Benga was moved to the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, in Brooklyn, and he ended up in Virginia, where he shot himself…

…In March, 1929, the Chicago Forum Council, a cultural organization that included white and black members, announced the presentation of “One of the Greatest Debates Ever Held.” According to the Forum’s advertisement, the debate was to take place on Sunday, March 17th, at 3 p.m., in a large hall on South Wabash Avenue. The topic was “Shall the Negro Be Encouraged to Seek Cultural Equality?”

In smaller letters, the ad asked, “Has the Negro the Same Intellectual Possibilities As Other Races?” and below that the answer “Yes!” appeared with a photograph of Du Bois, who would be arguing the affirmative. Alongside the answer “No!” was a photograph of Lothrop Stoddard, a writer, who would argue the negative. In the picture, Stoddard projects a roguish, matinée-idol aura, with slicked-down hair and a black mustache. The ad identified him as a “versatile popularizer of certain theories on race problems” who had been “spreading alarm among white Nordics.”

The Forum Council did not oversell its claim. The Du Bois-Stoddard debate turned out to be a singular event, as important in its way as Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon. The reason more people don’t know about it may be its asymmetry. The other historic matchups featured rivals who disagreed politically but wouldn’t have disputed their opponent’s right to exist. Stoddard had written that “mulattoes” like Du Bois, who could not accept their inferior status, were the chief cause of racial unrest in the United States, and he looked forward to their dying out…

Read the entire article here.

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They Call Me “Negro”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-20 17:35Z by Steven

They Call Me “Negro”

Embrace Race: Raising A Brave Generation
2019-08-18

Dr. Ruth L. Baskerville

Picture
Early family photo in 1951. The author is on the bottom right.

In 1943 in Manhattan, NY, a 46-year old African- and Native-American man who was a renowned band director and jazz composer marries a 19-year old naive European-American woman of Jewish Ukrainian descent, who wants to sing professionally. I’m the second of five children.

At age four, I overhear Mommy telling her Mom she won’t leave Daddy and me in order to come back home with my whiter looking brother. Every year of our growing up, Mommy takes the whitest looking child to find new housing, and our unwanted family moves in the middle of the night. We’re in new schools, too.

There are no “Mulattos” in our neighborhoods, and I’m constantly asked, “Where are you from? I mean, what are you?” The questioners have distorted faces, uncomfortable with their ambivalence about my ethnicity. Even today, they need to fit me into a race category before they can utter their next sentence! “You’re Saudi – Moroccan – Indian – Spanish – Italian – definitely foreign!” I’m from New York!…

Read the entire article here.

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Color Me In, A Novel

Posted in Books, Judaism, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Religion, United States on 2019-08-20 13:28Z by Steven

Color Me In, A Novel

Delacorte Press (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2019-08-20
384 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780525578239
eBook ISBN: 9780525578246
Audiobook ISBN: 9781984889140

Natasha Díaz

Color Me In

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

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Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Judaism, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2019-08-15 17:41Z by Steven

Natasha Díaz on Turning Her Black Jewish Childhood Into a YA Novel

Alma
2019-08-15

Emily Burack, Associate Editor

Natasha Díaz was 9 years old when she and her mom went on Oprah to talk about the experience of being a multiracial family. Díaz, who has a Jewish father and a Liberian and Brazilian mom, had recently been featured in a documentary called Between Black & White. When Oprah asked her a question, young Natasha froze up (you can watch the video here).

Well, she is freezing up no longer — Díaz’s debut YA novel, Color Me In, fictionalizes her childhood and tells the coming-of-age story of Navaeh Levitz. Navaeh is a Black Jewish teenager whose father forces her to have a belated bat mitzvah at age 16. Navaeh’s parents are in the midst of a divorce, and the bat mitzvah is her father’s way of having her stay connected to his family. Meanwhile, Navaeh is struggling to figure out her identity, her relationship to her blackness, her privilege, a blossoming relationship, and her family. It’s a compelling and timely read.

We had the chance to chat with Díaz about writing Color Me In, #OwnVoices in young adult literature, and connecting with her Jewish identity.

How close does the protagonist Naveah’s experience as a Black Jewish teenager mirror your own?

I would say in a lot of ways it’s similar, and in a lot of ways it’s very different.

We have very similar backgrounds, racially and religiously. I am multiracial, she’s biracial. I’m Brazilian, Liberian, and Jewish, where she’s just half-Black and half-Jewish. And my parents separated, similar to her, although mine separated when I was much younger than she was. And, as a result of my parents’ divorce, it was literally in the divorce papers that I had to be raised Jewish.

Aside from that, I would say we’re completely different. I was raised very immersed in my culture, especially on my mom’s side, which is where the Black and Brazilian side is. My parents had split custody [over me], so I spent time with both families, but I’m closer to my mom’s family because a lot of my dad’s family doesn’t live in New York City. Where Naveah was sheltered from her identity, I was very immersed in mine.

It doesn’t mean that we haven’t, at times, shared a lot of the same insecurities, like feeling you don’t really fit in in either world, or you’re not really sure what part of yourself you have a right to claim or own. I’ve never had an extremely religious connection to Judaism. Culturally, though, especially growing up in New York City, there’s a lot of Jewish cultural things that I connect to on a personal level…

Read the entire interview here.

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Harmless Like You: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2019-05-04 01:52Z by Steven

Harmless Like You: A Novel

W. W. Norton
February 2017
320 pages
5.9 × 8.6 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-324-00074-7

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother’s abandonment of him when he was only two years old.

The novel opens when Yuki is sixteen and her father is posted back to Japan. Though she and her family have been living as outsiders in New York City, Yuki opts to stay, intoxicated by her friendship with the beautiful aspiring model Odile, the energy of the city, and her desire to become an artist. But when she becomes involved with an older man and the relationship turns destructive, Yuki’s life is unmoored. Harmless Like You is a suspenseful novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships, and familial bonds that asks—and ultimately answers—how does a mother desert her son?

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Remembering Jane Bolin, the first African-American female judge in the U.S.

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-04-12 02:12Z by Steven

Remembering Jane Bolin, the first African-American female judge in the U.S.

New Haven Register
2019-02-27

David L. Goodwin, Staff Attorney
Appellate Advocates, New York, New York

Van C. Tran, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Columbia University, New York, New York

Judge Jane Bolin shown at her home in New York after she was sworn in as a family court judge on July 22, 1939. She was the nation’s first black female judge and the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School. She died in 2007 at age 98. Photo: Associated Press File Photo / AP
Judge Jane Bolin shown at her home in New York after she was sworn in as a family court judge on July 22, 1939. She was the nation’s first black female judge and the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School. She died in 2007 at age 98. Photo: Associated Press File Photo

The struggle for inclusion and diversity in politics has ensued for decades, but for the first time in U.S. history, the rising political power of black women took center stage in the 2018 election. Last November, Harris County [Texas] made history by electing 17 black female judges to the bench — a group of candidates widely known as “Black Girl Magic.”

Their victory was extraordinary and unprecedented. Black female judges were the exception, not the norm, in the judiciary. In 1966, Judge Constance Baker Motley, appointed to the Southern District of New York by President Lyndon Johnson, became the first black woman to serve as a federal district judge. In 1979, Judge Amalya Kearse, appointed to the Second Circuit by President Carter, was the first black woman to be appointed to a federal Court of Appeals.

Three decades before these “first” appointments, Judge Jane Bolin (1908-2007) held the honor of being the first African-American female judge in the United States

Read the entire article here.

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Ninth Avenue

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2019-04-12 00:52Z by Steven

Ninth Avenue

Avon Publishing Company
1951 (originally published in 1926)
267 pages

Maxwell Bodenheim (1892-1954)

He Loved Her Too Much To Marry Her — Without Telling Of His Negro Blood!

Ninth Avenue is about a poor hard-ass Irish-Catholic family in Hell’s Kitchen New York, who’s daughter, through all the racist trials and tribulations, falls in love with a black man and they go off to marry and live happily ever after.” —Michael Sampson Sweeney, HOBOHEMIA – The Life and Writings of Maxwell Bodenheim.

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The “Miscegenation” Troll

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-02-23 21:23Z by Steven

The “Miscegenation” Troll

JSTOR Daily
2019-02-20

Mark Sussman

The Miscegenation Troll
via Wikimedia Commons

The term “miscegenation” was coined in an 1864 pamphlet by an anonymous author.

In 1864, a pamphlet entitled “Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro” began to circulate on the streets of New York. The title certainly would have given New Yorkers pause. No one had ever seen the word “miscegenation” before. In fact, the pamphlet’s anonymous author invented it, giving the reason that “amalgamation”—then the most common term used to describe “race mixing”—was a “poor word, since it properly refers to the union of metals with quicksilver.” The term “miscegenation”—from the Latin miscere (to mix) and genus (race)—had only one definition.

Besides introducing a new word into the English language, the pamphleteer was also responsible for what appeared to be one of the most fearless documents in the archive of nineteenth century abolitionist writing. Among many other claims and political recommendations, the pamphlet notes that, “the miscegenetic or mixed races are much superior, mentally, physically, and morally, to those pure or unmixed;” that “a continuance of progress can only be obtained through a judicious crossing of diverse elements;” that “the Caucasian, or white race… has never yet developed a religious faith on its own;” that “the true ideal man can only be reached by blending the type man and woman of all the races of the earth;” that “the most beautiful girl in form, feature, and every attribute of feminine loveliness [the pamphleteer] ever saw, was a mulatto.” Most provocatively, the writer claimed that “the Southern beauty… proclaims by every massive ornament in her shining hair, and by every yellow shade in the wavy folds of her dress, ‘I love the black man.’”

At the time, Miscegenation was radical. Even among the most radical abolitionists of the day, interracial marriage was tolerated, but rarely explicitly encouraged. (Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner and prominent abolitionist Wendell Phillips were exceptions.) Eurocentric racial hierarchies were often deeply ingrained in their thinking…

Read the entire article here.

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Part I: The DNA Trail from Madagascar to Manhattan

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Oceania, Slavery, United States on 2019-02-16 02:35Z by Steven

Part I: The DNA Trail from Madagascar to Manhattan

Radiant Roots, Boricua Branches: Musings on My Tri-racial Black and Puerto Rican Ancestry.
2015-01-27

Teresa Vega


Map of Indian Ocean Countries

This blog post is dedicated to my M23 Malagasy ancestors who survived the Middle Passage and made it to New York and New Jersey. This is Part I of a two part series and is focused on my family’s Malagasy ancestry. My next blog post will discuss how my ancestors arrived in New York based on the actions of unscrupulous NY merchants and pirates.

About Madagascar and DNA

Over the past decade, there have been numerous studies done that describe the origins of the Malagasy, the people of Madagascar. For example, in 2005, Hurles et al. discussed the dual origins of the Malasy people as being Southeast Asian and East African. His study was followed by one done in 2009 by Sergio Tofanelli et al. In this article, they wrote:

“Our results confirm that admixture of Malagasy was due to the encounter of people surfing the extreme edges of two of the broadest historical waves of language expansion: the Austronesian and Bantu expansions. In fact, all Madagascan living groups show amixture of uni-parental lineages typical present in African and Southeast Asian populations with only a minor contribution of Y lineages with different origins. Two observations suggest that the Y lineages with “another origin” entered the island in recent times: 1) they are particularly frequent in the Tanosy area (Fort Dauphin), and around Antananarivo, where commercial networks and the slave trade had a focus; 2) they matched with haplogroups typical of present Indo-European (Europeans) and Arabic speaking (Somali) people.”.

In addition, a 2012 study by Cox, et al. noted that most Malagasy people can trace their mtDNA back to 30 Indonesian women who made up the founding population of Madagascar. Given the fact that Southeast Asian Y-DNA was also found among the Malagasy, it is assumed that there were also some Indonesian men among this group of women. These women went on to have children with the Indonesian men present as well as men from Africa. Later migrations from Africa also included Southeast African Bantu mtDNA haplogroups from north of the Zambezi River. In 2013, Melanie Capredon et al. also discussed the Arab-Islamic contribution to the Malagasy gene pool as a result of Indian Ocean slave trade…

Read the entire article here.

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