Descendants Tell Stories of Free People of Color

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2019-03-14 17:12Z by Steven

Descendants Tell Stories of Free People of ColorDescendants Tell Stories of Free People of Color

The New York Times
2019-03-12

Katy Reckdahl


Dwight and Beverly Stanton McKenna on the porch of the museum. “In this area, free people of color left their fingerprints on everything,” Ms. McKenna said. “This is who we are. This is our story.”
Erica Christmas for The New York Times

NEW ORLEANSLe Musée de f.p.c. is devoted to the story of the free people of color of New Orleans, as told by their descendants.

Kim Coleman, 29, a curator at the museum whose grandmother was born three blocks from Le Musée, says that she sees it as a “reminder of who built the city culturally, politically and economically,” even as the black population of the surrounding Tremé-Lafitte neighborhood dropped to 64 percent from 92 percent after Hurricane Katrina.

Before the Civil War, free people of color made up a higher proportion of the population in New Orleans than anywhere else in the United States. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, free black residents made up about 20 percent of the city’s population, largely because French and Spanish officials had allowed enslaved people to purchase their freedom.

Le Musée de f.p.c. is on the first floor of a grand, white-pillared mansion on Esplanade Avenue. Two hundred years ago, French-speaking Afro-Creole free people of color owned much of the property along Esplanade, a broad boulevard shaded by massive, gnarled live oak trees…

Read the entire article here.

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NASA Renames Facility After Katherine Johnson of ‘Hidden Figures’ Fame

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-02-25 01:25Z by Steven

NASA Renames Facility After Katherine Johnson of ‘Hidden Figures’ Fame

The New York Times
2019-02-23

Elisha Brown


Katherine Johnson, left, and Christine Darden, two of the first African-American women to work as mathematicians at NASA. The agency named a facility in Ms. Johnson’s honor on Friday. Chet Strange for The New York Times

NASA on Friday officially renamed a facility in West Virginia after Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician and centenarian whose barrier-breaking career was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.”

The 2016 film, based on a book released earlier that year, depicted the struggle of Ms. Johnson and other black women for equality at NASA during the height of the space age and segregation. The mathematician tracked the trajectories of crucial missions in the 1960s.

“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, said Friday in a statement. A dedication ceremony is to be held at a later time.

The newly renamed facility, which is in Fairmont, W.Va., will now be known as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility. The program housed at the facility monitors the software used to track high-profile NASA missions, according to the agency’s website…

Read the entire article here.

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How My Southeast L.A. Culture Got to Japan

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-19 19:15Z by Steven

How My Southeast L.A. Culture Got to Japan

The New York Times
2019-02-19

Walter Thompson-Hernández

I grew up with Chicano and Chicana culture in Los Angeles and heard it had spread to Japan. I wondered: Is this cultural appropriation?

I grew up in southeast Los Angeles, the son of an African-American father and Mexican mother, and the concept of identity is a theme that has been central to my life and a thread that weaves through many of my stories. I heard a rumor that lowrider culture — a community with an affinity for cars, outfit with intricate designs, multicolored lights and heavily tinted windows that can be traced in Southern California to as far back as the 1940s — had traveled to Japan. Apparently a Japanese journalist came to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to cover a lowrider event and returned to Japan with photos and stories to share…

Read the story here and watch the video here.

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In This Ingenious Satire, a Father Goes to Extremes to Protect His Son From Racism

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-15 21:03Z by Steven

In This Ingenious Satire, a Father Goes to Extremes to Protect His Son From Racism

Book Review
The New York Times
2019-02-13

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


Maurice Carlos Ruffin Clare Welsh

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow, A Novel (New York: One World, 2019)

Good questions breathe life into the world. “We Cast a Shadow,” Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, asks some of the most important questions fiction can ask, and it does so with energetic and acrobatic prose, hilarious wordplay and great heart.

“We Cast a Shadow” is the story of a black lawyer in a version of the American South. We are dropped into a future where the country is even more willing than now to follow its worst, most racist inclinations. The unnamed narrator describes how, in the next state over, black people must wear tracking devices.

The novel draws its power from this unnamed man’s love for his family, particularly for his biracial son, Nigel. The narrator loves his son so much it seems he can’t even see him. What he does see is the boy’s figure outlined and defined by all the lurking dangers to his person and his potential. Our narrator is especially worried because of the metastasizing birthmarks that cover his son’s body: differently sized tokens of color that remind the world that Nigel is black, a fate as unfortunate as any in the mind of his father…

Read the entire review here.

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Overlooked No More: Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-02-09 02:33Z by Steven

Overlooked No More: Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds

The New York Times
2019-02-06

Alexis Clark, Adjunct Faculty
Columbia Journalism School, New York, New York


Mabel Grammer, who started the Brown Baby Plan to help mixed-race children in Germany. She adopted 12, and found homes for 500 others. Associated Press

Since 1851, many remarkable black men and women did not receive obituaries in The New York Times. This month, with Overlooked, we’re adding their stories to our archives.

Grammer’s self-run adoption agency made it possible for unwanted mixed-race children in Germany to find homes after World War II.

They were called “brown babies,” or “mischlingskinder,” a derogatory German term for mixed-race children. And sometimes they were just referred to as mutts.

They were born during the occupation years in Germany after World War II, the offspring of German women and African-American soldiers. Their fathers were usually transferred elsewhere and their mothers risked social repercussions by keeping them, so the babies were placed in orphanages.

But when Mabel Grammer, an African-American journalist, became aware of the orphaned children, she stepped in. She and her husband, an army chief warrant officer stationed in Mannheim, and later Karlsruhe, adopted 12 of them, and Grammer found homes for 500 others…

Read the entire article here.

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Why You Should Dig Up Your Family’s History — and How to Do It

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-04 18:09Z by Steven

Why You Should Dig Up Your Family’s History — and How to Do It

The New York Times
2019-02-03

Jaya Saxena


Sally Deng

Learning your history is forced reckoning, asking you to consider whose stories you carry with you and which ones you want to carry forward.

My middle name is the name of a Confederate soldier.

Before that it was Scottish, the name of an indentured servant who came here when America wasn’t a country, when he was just one of many who were brought over. The name stayed on the Atlantic coast, passing through my Confederate ancestors, onto my loving grandmother who taught me how to birdwatch, finally landing on me, a mixed-race woman with a Jewish partner living in New York City. Somehow I don’t think that soldier would be too happy about that.

In America, the question of “Where am I from?” usually means, “Where did my family live before they arrived/were forcibly shipped to America?” Recently, there’s been a push to answer that question through DNA tests — Ancestry.com sold 1.5 million kits on Black Friday in 2017 — which claim they can tell us exactly what percentage Norwegian or Nigerian we are. But there are catches. The tests can compromise our privacy, with the possibility that our genetic information would be sold to third parties without our knowledge, and they don’t truly reveal our origins so much as reveal who has similar DNA right now. Also, and perhaps more important: Culture does not come from DNA. It comes from lived experience, traditions and stories passed down, from actual people who shape our perceptions of the world.

This is why I’ve enjoyed learning about my family through good old-fashioned genealogy research. Scrolling through pages of old newspapers or deciphering handwriting on a census is how I found out I’m descended, on my white side, both from Union and Confederate soldiers, from slave-owners and abolitionists, and possibly from witches (I’m still trying to verify that one). And it was in doing this I learned that, on my Indian side, Yeats wrote a very patronizing poem inspired by my third great-uncle.

These are more than facts. They’re the myths that are a part of the story of yourself, whether you like them or not. Learning your history is forced reckoning, asking you to consider whose stories you carry with you and which ones you want to carry forward.

Genealogical research can be daunting, no matter how chipper those Ancestry.com ads seem. And while a DNA test can help, there’s probably more to your story. Here’s how to start…

Read the entire article here.

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Backlash Over Ad Depicting Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Apology

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2019-01-22 16:36Z by Steven

Backlash Over Ad Depicting Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Apology

The New York Times
2019-01-22

Daniel Victor


At left, a cartoon version of Naomi Osaka in an ad for Nissin, a Japanese instant-noodle brand; at right, the real Ms. Osaka at the Australian Open this month.
Nissin; Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Naomi Osaka, the half-Haitian, half-Japanese tennis champion, is the star of a new Japanese anime-style advertisement.

The problem? The cartoon Ms. Osaka bears little resemblance to her real, biracial self.

Her skin was unmistakably lightened, and her hair style changed — a depiction that has prompted criticism in Japan, where she has challenged a longstanding sense of cultural and racial homogeneity.

The ad — unveiled this month by Nissin, one of the world’s largest instant-noodle brands — features Ms. Osaka and Kei Nishikori, Japan’s top-ranked male tennis player, in a cartoon drawn by Takeshi Konomi, a well-known manga artist whose series “The Prince of Tennis” is popular in Japan…

Mr. Konomi and Ms. Osaka, who faces Elina Svitolina in an Australian Open quarterfinal match on Wednesday, have not publicly commented on the backlash to the ad…

Read the entire article here.

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A Century Later, a Novel by an Enigma of the Harlem Renaissance Is Still Relevant

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-01-04 19:44Z by Steven

A Century Later, a Novel by an Enigma of the Harlem Renaissance Is Still Relevant

Books of The Times
The New York Times
2018-12-25

Parul Sehgal


Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times

He is American literature’s greatest, most enduring enigma.

In 1923, Jean Toomer — highborn but an orphan and a drifter, a young man with secrets — published the single, slender novel upon which his reputation rests. In bursts of poetry and prose, “Cane” tells of black life in the lethal rural South and in the loveless cities of the North. The narration has a kind of cosmic consciousness, entering the world of the characters, the whispering pine trees, the falling dusk, the soil. It is oracular, delirious and American — rich with the intensities of Melville, the expansiveness of Whitman and Toomer’s own bedeviling preoccupation with color.

Many stories meander through “Cane” (including one autobiographical section featuring a Northern writer in the South), but at its core the book is about six Southern women, including beautiful, chaotic Karintha; Carma, who slays her jealous husband; Becky, white and an outcast, the mother of two black sons. Their lives are brief, vivid, doomed — but each “a wild flash that told the other folks just what it was to live.”

“Cane” sold modestly but exerted a powerful influence over the Harlem Renaissance; it was, according to the sociologist Charles S. Johnson, “the most astonishingly brilliant beginning of any Negro writer of his generation.”…

…A fleeting feeling. Toomer forbade his publisher to mention his race in the marketing for “Cane.” (“My racial composition and my position in the world are realities which I alone may determine.”) Nor would he allow his work to be included in black anthologies, insisting he was part of a new, emergent race, simply called American…

Read the entire article here.

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Together for Four Decades, Married for Four Years

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2018-12-30 21:10Z by Steven

Together for Four Decades, Married for Four Years

The New York Times
2018-12-26

Alix Strauss


Paula Martiesian and Ken Carpenter in the yard of their home in Providence, R.I. The couple met in college at Rhode Island School of Design. She’s a painter, he’s a musician. Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Because marriage is an ever-evolving experience, we constantly shift, change and, in some cases, start over. In It’s No Secret, couples share thoughts about commitment and tell us what they have learned along the way.

Who Paula Martiesian, 64, and Ken Carpenter, 65.

Occupations She is a painter, he is a musician (mostly jazz) and composer.

Their Marriage 4 years, 2 months and counting.

Through the Years

The couple quietly married Oct. 20, 2014, in an unplanned ceremony in the living room of their house in Providence, R.I. A friend officiated. “Since 1975, we were considered married by common law in Rhode Island,” Mr. Carpenter said. “When same-sex law passed a few years ago, common law wouldn’t be accepted and we wouldn’t be considered married anymore. The government needed a certificate; we didn’t.” No photos were taken, and the wedding was a surprise to all.

They met in 1972 as students at the Rhode Island School of Design, from which both graduated. Ms. Martiesian was 18 at the time and Mr. Carpenter was 20. “He was really talented, hard working and so secure,” she said. “He was skinny and cute. We didn’t really date; we fell into each other. He was a musician and I drove him to a gig he was playing at. I consider that our first date.”

And that’s how it started. “A black man from Harlem and a white girl from Pawtucket; a painter and a musician,” Ms. Martiesian said. “Racism swirled around us everywhere we went.”…

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Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-12-29 02:39Z by Steven

Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

The New York Times
2018-12-26

Richard Goldstein


Sono Osato rehearsing a number from the Broadway musical “On the Town” with the show’s choreographer, Jerome Robbins, in 1944. It was one of two hit musicals in which Ms. Osato appeared in the 1940s.
Eileen Darby/Graphic House

Sono Osato, a Japanese-American dancer who toured the world with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, performed with the Ballet Theater in New York and then gained acclaim on Broadway in the World War II-era musicals “One Touch of Venus” and “On the Town,” was found dead early Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her sons, Niko and Antonio Elmaleh.

In the 1930s, Ms. Osato was a groundbreaking presence in Col. Wassily de Basil’s Ballets Russes, the world’s most widely known ballet company. She was the company’s youngest dancer when she joined, at 14; she was also its first performer of Japanese descent…

…Although she was born and raised in the Midwest, Ms. Osato seemed an incongruous choice to play Ivy Smith, billed as the “all-American girl,” in “On the Town.” Her father, Shoji, was a native of Japan, and her mother, Frances, was of French-Irish background…

Read the entire obituary here.

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