Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2019-09-04 02:43Z by Steven

Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Blog of the APA
The American Philosophical Association
2019-08-14

Desiree Valentine, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In October of 2014, news outlets began reporting on a case of a lesbian couple suing a sperm bank for receiving the wrong donor’s sperm. As the lawsuit Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank alleged, not only did the couple receive the wrong donor’s sperm, but they had specifically chosen a white donor with blonde hair and blue eyes and the sperm they received had been from a black donor. Both women were white. The couple gave birth to a black/mixed-race child in 2012 and claimed that their daughter’s race posed particular challenges for their family, from facing prejudice in their nearly all-white community to difficulties dealing with their daughter’s hair. The couple sued for “wrongful birth” and “breach of warranty,” citing emotional and economic difficulties.

Clearly, there are legal issues at stake—the particular sperm bank was negligent in their handling of the transaction. But the claim of ‘wrongful birth’ brings up myriad sociopolitical and ethical concerns as well. Effectively, the plaintiff was alleging that her daughter’s blackness generated emotional suffering and economic burdens for Cramblett, and moreover, that she should be compensated for ‘damages’.

Unsurprisingly, many commentators reacted with outrage, disbelief, and dismay—outrage that a mother would sue on account of having a non-white, but healthy child, disbelief that this claim could even be legally articulable, and dismay at the fact that one day this child would learn that her mother implicitly claimed that she should have never been born because she was black/mixed race.

While obviously problematic (the case was thrown out by an Illinois Circuit Court Judge in 2015), the fact that this case was legally and thus on some level, socially and culturally intelligible, sets the stage for an array of philosophical interventions. For my purposes here, I’ll focus primarily on the problems and possibilities of various conceptualizations of race and disability that are illuminated by a politically-aware and historically-situated reading of Cramblett

Read the entire article here.

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Investigating Identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2019-08-26 00:30Z by Steven

Investigating Identity

City Scene
Columbus, Ohio
2013-04-02

Cindy Gaillard

CSNov2012VisualsRotating.jpg

Exploration of womanhood inspires painter

To this day, a family secret has shaped Jesse Chandler’s work.

Her mother, Carlene Bochino, was African-American, but passed for white. It was the early 1960s and the stakes were high.

The secret was so buried that rumors and whispers swirled around Chandler’s home life, but the truth was never clear.

“She looked like Lena Horne,” says Chandler. “I missed it. I don’t know how I missed it.”…

Read the entire article here.

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In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2019-08-20 13:39Z by Steven

In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won

Smithsonian Magazine
September 2019

W. Caleb McDaniel, Associate Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Verdict slip collage
No image of Henrietta Wood survives today, but her story is recorded in court filings, including the verdict slip above. (Illustration by Cliff Alejandro; Source material: W. Caleb McDaniel; New York Public Library (3))

The $2,500 verdict, the largest ever of its kind, offers evidence of the generational impact such awards can have

On April 17, 1878, twelve white jurors entered a federal courtroom in Cincinnati, Ohio, to deliver the verdict in a now-forgotten lawsuit about American slavery. The plaintiff was Henrietta Wood, described by a reporter at the time as “a spectacled negro woman, apparently sixty years old.” The defendant was Zebulon Ward, a white man who had enslaved Wood 25 years before. She was suing him for $20,000 in reparations.

Two days earlier, the jury had watched as Wood took the stand; her son, Arthur, who lived in Chicago, was in the courtroom. Born into bondage in Kentucky, Wood testified, she had been granted her freedom in Cincinnati in 1848, but five years later she was kidnapped by Ward, who sold her, and she ended up enslaved on a Texas plantation until after the Civil War. She finally returned to Cincinnati in 1869, a free woman. She had not forgotten Ward and sued him the following year.

The trial began only after eight years of litigation, leaving Wood to wonder if she would ever get justice. Now, she watched nervously as the 12 jurors returned to their seats. Finally, they announced a verdict that few expected: “We, the Jury in the above entitled cause, do find for the plaintiff and assess her damages in the premises at Two thousand five hundred dollars.”

Though a fraction of what Wood had asked for, the amount would be worth nearly $65,000 today. It remains the largest known sum ever granted by a U.S. court in restitution for slavery…

But Wood’s name never made it into the history books. When she died in 1912, her suit was already forgotten by all except her son. Today, it remains virtually unknown, even as reparations for slavery are once again in the headlines.

I first learned of Wood from two interviews she gave to reporters in the 1870s. They led me to archives in nine states in search of her story, which I tell in full for the first time in my new book, Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Read the entire article here.

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Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2019-08-06 20:51Z by Steven

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Oxford University Press
2019-08-05
288 Pages
28 b/w images, 2 maps
6-1/8 x 9¼ inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780190846992

W. Caleb McDaniel, Associate Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

  • The epic, unique, and haunting story an enslaved woman and her quest for justice
  • Incorporates recent scholarship on slavery, reparations, and the ongoing connection between slavery and incarceration of black Americans
  • McDaniel received a Public Scholar fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities that enabled him to write this book

Born into slavery, Henrietta Wood was taken to Cincinnati and legally freed in 1848. In 1853, a Kentucky deputy sheriff named Zebulon Ward colluded with Wood’s employer, abducted her, and sold her back into bondage. She remained enslaved throughout the Civil War, giving birth to a son in Mississippi and never forgetting who had put her in this position.

By 1869, Wood had obtained her freedom for a second time and returned to Cincinnati, where she sued Ward for damages in 1870. Astonishingly, after eight years of litigation, Wood won her case: in 1878, a Federal jury awarded her $2,500. The decision stuck on appeal. More important than the amount, though the largest ever awarded by an American court in restitution for slavery, was the fact that any money was awarded at all. By the time the case was decided, Ward had become a wealthy businessman and a pioneer of convict leasing in the South. Wood’s son later became a prominent Chicago lawyer, and she went on to live until 1912.

McDaniel’s book is an epic tale of a black woman who survived slavery twice and who achieved more than merely a moral victory over one of her oppressors. Above all, A Sweet Taste of Liberty is a portrait of an extraordinary individual as well as a searing reminder of the lessons of her story, which establish beyond question the connections between slavery and the prison system that rose in its place.

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BOOK REVIEW: “White Like Her” by Gail Lukasik, Reviewed By C. Ellen Connally

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-08-03 02:22Z by Steven

BOOK REVIEW: “White Like Her” by Gail Lukasik, Reviewed By C. Ellen Connally

Cool Cleveland
2019-07-16

Former Clevelander and author Gail Lukasik named her recently published memoir White Like Her. Subtitled My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing, Lukasik tells the story of her mother, Alvera Frederic Kalina, who changed her racial identity from black to white when she married in 1944 and moved to Cleveland. With that move, she abandoned her black family and racial heritage and in her mind, became white like the man she married.

Alvera hid her secret from the world until her daughter made the discovery when she was tracing her family tree. Her mother’s birth certificate and that of her grandfather and other relatives ,along with census records, showed that her mother and other relatives were black. When confronted with such concrete evidence, Alvera refused to admit her mixed-race heritage. In her mind, her life as a black person was over when she married and left New Orleans, the city of her birth. She begged her daughter not to reveal her secret. For 17 years, until her mother’s death, Lukasik continued her research but did not reveal her findings outside her immediate family.

Stories of passing — a term used to define the process of abandoning one’s cultural identity and adopting another — are traditionally associated with a light-skinned black person who assumes a white identity. People of color living as white have been the theme for many literary works in the late 19th and 20th century. Clevelander Charles W. Chesnutt, a black man who could have easily passed for white, wrote a significant number of stories about black people passing for white around the turn of the 20th century. Many of the stories take place in Cleveland which he fictionalized to be Groveland, Ohio…

Read the entire review here.

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Mother of Orphans: The True and Curious Story of Irish Alice, A Colored Man’s Widow

Posted in Biography, Books, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2019-07-30 16:57Z by Steven

Mother of Orphans: The True and Curious Story of Irish Alice, A Colored Man’s Widow

2Leaf Press
July 2019
250 pages
6 x 9
Print ISBN: 978-1-940939-78-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-940939-87-2

Dedria Humphries Barker

Introduction by:

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Professor of English; Professor of Asian/Asian American Studies
University of Connecticut

Mother of Orphans is the compelling true story of Alice, an Irish-American woman who defied rigid social structures to form a family with a black man in Ohio in 1899. Alice and her husband had three children together, but after his death in 1912, Alice mysteriously surrendered her children to an orphanage. One hundred years later, her great-grand daughter, Dedria Humphries Barker, went in search of the reasons behind this mysterious abandonment, hoping in the process to resolve aspects of her own conflicts with American racial segregation and conflict.

This book is the fruit of Barker’s quest. In it, she turns to memoir, biography, historical research, and photographs to unearth the fascinating history of a multiracial community in the Ohio River Valley during the early twentieth century. Barker tells this story from multiple vantage points, frequently switching among points of view to construct a fragmented and comprehensive perspective of the past intercut with glimpses of the present. The result is a haunting, introspective meditation on race and family ties. Part personal journey, part cultural biography, Mother of Orphans examines a little-known piece of this country’s past: interracial families that survived and prevailed despite Jim Crow laws, including those prohibiting mixed-race marriage. In lyrical, evocative prose, this extraordinary book ultimately leaves us hopeful about the world as our children might see it.

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They look white but say they’re black: a tiny town in Ohio wrestles with race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-07-25 18:14Z by Steven

They look white but say they’re black: a tiny town in Ohio wrestles with race

The Guardian
2019-07-25

Khushbu Shah


Roberta Oiler, center, stands with her daughters Janelle Stanley and Jessica Keaton in East Jackson, Ohio Photograph: Maddie McGarvey/The Guardian

Many residents in East Jackson were raised to identify as black. But what dictates race: where you live, your DNA, the history you’re taught?

The stale, smoky air around Clarice Shreck heaves. She takes a long hit of oxygen from the tube under her nose. She leans forward, shifting in her armchair, before releasing her raspy smoker’s laugh, which is smudged out a second later by her smoker’s cough.

The pale woman with frizzy grey-streaked hair commands her on-and-off partner of over 20 years, Jimmy – who is from one of the few white families in East Jackson – to fetch her purse. He plops it on to her lap; she struggles to get at an old piece of paper folded up in her wallet. She slowly unfolds it to present her birth certificate.

“Negro”, it reads, next to each of her parents’ names. She looks up triumphantly, victory in her periwinkle eyes. “It’s a legal document,” she says.

The last known full-blooded black person in her family was her great-great-grandfather Thomas Byrd, her parents told her. Photos of them, who both look white, adorn the wooden walls on either side of Shreck’s chair. Their stares follow her throughout their former home. They are the ones who told her she was black…

Note from Steven F. Riley: See the State of the Re:Union podcast “Pike County, Ohio – As Black as We Wish to Be” from 2012-09-28.

Read the entire article here.

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The Secret Album reveals how a powerful truth changed a family forever

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2019-05-22 21:03Z by Steven

The Secret Album reveals how a powerful truth changed a family forever

The Garage
HP (Hewlett-Packard)
2019-05-02

Patrick Rodgers

A novelist learns about her mother’s long-held secret by search for what’s missing from her family photo albums.

The Secret Album is part of HP’s original documentary project, History of Memory, which celebrates the power of printed photos.

We treasure family photos not only because they illuminate the past, but also because they can offer up an alternative narrative to the stories we tell — and retell — about our identities.

This is true for author Gail Lukasik, who was just as captivated by what was left out of her parents’ snapshots as by the faces and stories they portrayed. Growing up in suburban Ohio, Lukasik puzzled over why there were so few pictures of her mother’s side of the family. In the stack of family photo albums, there were only a handful of black-and-white prints of relatives from New Orleans, where her mother, Alvera (Frederic) Kalina, had lived in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. “I felt very close to my mother, but she had a certain mystery,” she says. “When I used to ask her about that she’d say, ‘Oh I just don’t have any,’ which I thought was strange.” Her mother’s guardedness about her own family’s origins were yet another layer to their already complex relationship…

…It took Lukasik two years to confront her mother, and the encounter didn’t go well. “I had never seen her so afraid,” says Lukasik, who tells the story in her memoir, White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing. “She said, ‘Promise me you won’t tell anyone until after I die.’”…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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Longtown Descendants Breathe New Life Into Historic Mixed-Race Community

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-06-05 00:32Z by Steven

Longtown Descendants Breathe New Life Into Historic Mixed-Race Community

WOSU Public Media
WOSU Radio
Columbus, Ohio
2017-05-31

Jerry Kenney


Kaiser family reunion at Longtown. Kaiser Family

In southwest Ohio, about a mile from the Indiana state line, a long-forgotten town with a special place in African American history is struggling to be reborn.

Longtown was established nearly 200 years ago in what is now Greenville. The settlement grew into a thriving mixed-race community and a major stop on the Underground Railroad.

Now, descendants of those pioneering settlers are working to bring Longtown back to life for others to experience.

Longtown’s Founding

In 1818, James Clemens, a freed slave from Rockingham County, Virginia, settled in Darke County, Ohio, with his wife Sophia Sellers and their five children, and began to farm.

“They were the sons and daughters of slave masters,” says historian and Longtown descendant Roane Smothers.

Smothers says some slave owners not only acknowledged the children they bore with slaves but also provided them with financial support. Such was the case with James and Sophia, who purchased land in Ohio with the help of Sellers’ father, he says…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story (00:05:45) 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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