Two Lessons in Prejudice

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-08-26 23:00Z by Steven

Two Lessons in Prejudice

The New York Times
2017-08-26

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh


Niedring/Drentwett – MITO images, via Getty Images

What I know of rural white America mostly begins and ends with the three times I went at the age of 8 to visit a friend’s farm in Butler County, Pa., about an hour north of Pittsburgh, where I grew up. I recall vast farmland, ample sunshine and no black people — or Hispanics or Jews, or for that matter, half-Iranian, half-Jewish people like me. There was, however, my friend’s father, who found it amusing to make fun of my name over dinner, coming up with a wide variety of ways to mispronounce it each time. I did my best to politely correct him each time, until it finally became apparent to me that I was participating in a game in which there was no chance of winning, and I ran from the table and out of the house and cried among the farmland.

It is, of course, unfair to judge an entire county with a population of almost 200,000 on the behavior of one man 40 years ago, but I hope you can understand my disbelief when on a dark night last November, I watched on television as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign tried to assure her supporters that little Butler County was going to come through for her in the 11th hour and overtake Donald Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania, and by extension the Electoral College. Now, I thought, is as good a time as any to turn off the television and go bury my head under the pillow

Read the entire article here.

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Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2017-04-12 21:18Z by Steven

Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Atria (an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
February 2017
272 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781501126390
eBook ISBN: 9781501126437

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Black Studies and History
University of Delaware

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked everything to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary and eight slaves, including Ona Judge, about whom little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

With impeccable research, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

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‘To be black doesn’t have to mean anything more than what I already am’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 20:43Z by Steven

‘To be black doesn’t have to mean anything more than what I already am’

The Philadelphia Inquirer
2016-02-06

Sofiya Ballin, Staff Writer


Sonia Galiber, Director of Operations at Urban Creators
Michael Bryant

For Black History Month, we’re exploring history and identity through the lens of joy. Black joy is the ability to love and celebrate black people and culture, despite the world dictating otherwise. Black joy is liberation.

Sonia Galiber, 25, Director of Operations
Philly Urban Creators, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My high school was pretty segregated. As a biracial kid, I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t black enough or Asian enough. That’s when I developed an inferiority complex.

Throughout all of this, I’m also dealing with needing to be Japanese enough. My mother’s family didn’t approve of my parents’ marriage. My grandparents got to know my dad, but there are some extended family members that I’m just meeting.

It was a motivating force for me. I went to Japanese school every Saturday from third grade to high school. That was an identity I was chasing in the same way that I was chasing blackness…

Read the entire article here.

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Even today, being biracial in America is not always easy

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-18 23:31Z by Steven

Even today, being biracial in America is not always easy

Observer-Reporter
Washington County News
Washington, Pennsylvania
2016-12-17

Karen Mansfield, Staff Writer


Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter
Dontae Monday, a student at Washington & Jefferson College, stands in front of Old Main recently.

Koron Harris is used to strangers sneaking glances at her, and she knows why.

“They’re trying to figure out if I’m black or I’m white.”

The daughter of a black father and white mother, Harris has encountered curiosity and fascination about her biracial heritage since she was in elementary school.

“I don’t really think about it at this point, but everybody else does. I’ve had people ask me whether I think I’m black or I’m white, and I honestly don’t see it that way,” said Harris, 19, of Washington. “I just think of me as being Koron.”…

Read the entire article here.

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While Trump Won York County, Pa., Republican Cal Weary Backed Clinton

Posted in Audio, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-15 13:45Z by Steven

While Trump Won York County, Pa., Republican Cal Weary Backed Clinton

Morning Edition
National Public Radio
2016-12-15

Steve Inskeep catches up with Cal Weary, an ex-art teacher from York, who spoke about race and politics as part of the York Project in 2008. Weary, an African-American, is a registered Republican.

Download the story (00:05:34) here.

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The natural separation of the races is therefore an undeniable fact, and all social organizations which lead to their amalgamation are repugnant to the law of nature.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-07-03 17:04Z by Steven

In this connection the language of Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the case of Philadelphia & West Chester Railway Company vs. Miles, 93 American Dec., 747, is well worth considering. It is as applicable to the Chinese and the Japanese as it is to the negro:

“The danger to the peace engendered by the feeling of aversion between individuals of the different races cannot be denied. If a negro takes his seat beside a white man or his wife or daughter, the law cannot repress the anger or conquer the feeling of aversion which some will feel. However unwise it may be to indulge the feeling, human infirmity is not always proof against it. It is much wiser to avert the consequences of this repulsion of race by separation than to punish afterwards the breach of the peace it may have caused. * * *

The question is one of difference, not of superiority, or inferiority. Why the Creator made one black and the other white, we know not; but the fact is apparent, and the races distinct, each producing its own kind, and following the peculiar law of its constitution. Conceding equality, with natures as perfect and rights as sacred, yet God has made them dissimilar, with those natural instincts and feelings which He always imparts to His creatures when He intends that they shall not overstep the natural boundaries He has assigned to them. The natural law which forbids their intermarriage, and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of the races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to them different natures. The tendency of intimate social intermixture is to amalgamation, contrary to the law of races. The separation of the white and black races upon the surface of the globe is a fact equally apparent. Why this is so, it is not necessary to speculate; but the fact of a distribution of men by race and color is as visible in the providential arrangement of the earth as that of heat and cold. The natural separation of the races is therefore an undeniable fact, and all social organizations which lead to their amalgamation are repugnant to the law of nature. From social amalgamation it is but a step to illicit intercourse, and but another to intermarriage. But to assert separateness is not to declare inferiority in either; it is not to declare one a slave and the other a freeman,—that would be to draw the illogical sequence of inferiority from difference only. It is simply to say that following the order of Divine Providence, human authority ought not to compel these widely separate races to intermix. The right of such to be free from social contact is as clear as to be free from intermarriage. The former may be less repulsive as a condition, but not less entitled to protection as a right. When, therefore, we declare a right to maintain separate relations, so far as is reasonably practicable, but in a spirit of kindness and charity, and with due regard to equality of rights, it is not prejudice, nor caste, nor injustice of any kind, but simply to suffer men to follow the law of races established by the Creator himself, and not to compel them to intermix contrary to their instincts.”

The American Law Register, Volume 54, (From January to December 1906), (Philadelphia: 1906), 702. https://books.google.com/books?id=RzLBgPFFjGMC&pg=PA702.

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Former Duquesne, Penn State athlete Cumberland Posey elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-16 20:08Z by Steven

Former Duquesne, Penn State athlete Cumberland Posey elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2016-04-05

Stephen J. Nesbitt, Beat Writer


Courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, N.Y.

Will become only person inducted into both professional basketball, baseball halls of fame

The grass-roots campaign to get Cumberland “Cum” Posey enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame began one day in 2002 when two men met at a Starbucks in Pittsburgh and drafted a plan to unearth the story of one of the best athletes the area has seen.

On Monday, 14 years later, Claude Johnson and Rob Ruck were together again to celebrate the campaign’s joyous conclusion. Mr. Posey will be inducted in September, the hall announced.

Mr. Posey, who was born in Homestead in 1890 and died in 1946, was the first black athlete at Penn State and Duquesne and was a player, manager and owner of the Homestead Grays baseball team. He will be the first to be voted into both the professional basketball and baseball halls of fame.

“Today, we honor a man who could be called Pittsburgh’s forgotten champion,” said Duquesne president Charles Dougherty at a ceremony Monday night on Duquesne’s campus, with a number of Mr. Posey’s descendants in attendance.

Mr. Posey is best known for helping build the Grays into a national power, and his basketball prowess seemed lost to history until Mr. Ruck, a history professor at Pitt, wrote the book “Sandlot Seasons,” which told of prominent people and places in Pittsburgh’s black sports history…

…While leading Duquesne in scoring every season from 1916-18, Mr. Posey played under the alias “Charles Cumbert.” There are a few theories as to why — eligibility concerns is one — but Mr. Johnson said Mr. Posey tried passing as white because opponents would refuse to play a black person…

Read the entire article here.

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What an 1887 murder and dismemberment tells us about race relations today

Posted in Arts, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-03-24 00:24Z by Steven

What an 1887 murder and dismemberment tells us about race relations today

The Philadelphia Inquirer
2016-02-17

Samantha Melamed, Staff Writer

On the freezing-cold morning of Feb. 17, 1887, a Bensalem carpenter walking by an ice pond noticed a parcel wrapped in brown paper and marked “handle with care.” Inside, he found a male torso of indeterminate race. The limbs and head were nowhere in sight.

So begins Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, the new book by historian and African studies scholar Kali Nicole Gross.

It’s the type of tale you don’t often hear during Black History Month: the biography of an antiheroine who made her way in the world through violence, deception, and adultery. It’s also a true-crime story told nearly 130 years after the fact—culminating in the century-late exoneration of a man who, Gross argues, was framed for murder.

Most of all, the story of Tabbs, the Philadelphia woman who left the torso by the pond in the first place—and of Wakefield Gaines, her victim and much-younger lover, and George Wilson, the “weak-minded” 18-year-old she accused of the crime – is an encapsulation of issues that resonate today, of racial bias in policing, coerced confessions, and unreliable eyewitnesses.

“Tabbs’ story sheds this unprecedented light,” Gross said, “into just how long these issues around urban crime and police brutality have been around in our society.”

Gross, 43, a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, began the work eight years ago, while she was living in Philadelphia. (She attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Drexel University.)…

…In uncovering the story, she shed light on the tense race relations of the time: Tabbs’ vulnerable place under the law as a black woman, and Wilson’s still-more-tenuous status as a light-skinned interracial man.

“People were very concerned about black people infiltrating white society. Wilson is really the sum of all fears,” Gross said. “Police home in on him despite the fact he had no real motive.”

Wilson, known to be “dim” and impressionable, was beaten in custody—until, Gross concludes, he made a false confession. (He was sentenced to 12 years in solitary confinement.)…

Read the entire article here.

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Ordinary Yet Infamous: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-16 00:59Z by Steven

Ordinary Yet Infamous: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso

Not Even Past: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner
2016-02-01

Kali Nicole Gross, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

Adapted from Kali Nicole Gross’s new book: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America (Oxford University Press, 2016).


Rogues’ Gallery Books (1887) Courtesy of the Philadelphia City Archives.

The discovery of a headless, limbless, racially ambiguous human torso near a pond outside of Philadelphia in 1887, horrified area residents and confounded local authorities. From what they could tell, a brutal homicide had taken place. At a minimum, the victim had been viciously dismembered. Based on the circumstances, it also seemed like the kind of case to go unsolved. Yet in an era lacking sophisticated forensic methods, the investigators from Bucks County and those from Philadelphia managed to identify two suspects: Hannah Mary Tabbs, a black southern migrant, and George Wilson, a young mulatto that Tabbs implicated shortly after her arrest. The ensuing trial would last months, itself something of a record given that most criminal hearings wrapped up in a week or so. The crime and its adjudication also took center stage in presses from Pennsylvania to Illinois to Missouri

Read the entire article here.

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Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2016-02-15 22:07Z by Steven

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America

Oxford University Press
2016-02-03
232 pages
10 illustrations
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780190241216

Kali Nicole Gross, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

  • A true crime account that offers a glimpse of the racially volatile world of post-Reconstruction Philadelphia
  • Unearths historical experiences of traditionally marginalized, taboo subjects
  • Combines narrative prose with rigorous historical research

Shortly after a dismembered torso was discovered by a pond outside Philadelphia in 1887, investigators homed in on two suspects: Hannah Mary Tabbs, a married, working-class, black woman, and George Wilson, a former neighbor whom Tabbs implicated after her arrest.

As details surrounding the shocking case emerged, both the crime and ensuing trial-which spanned several months-were featured in the national press. The trial brought otherwise taboo subjects such as illicit sex, adultery, and domestic violence in the black community to public attention. At the same time, the mixed race of the victim and one of his assailants exacerbated anxieties over the purity of whiteness in the post-Reconstruction era.

In Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, historian Kali Nicole Gross uses detectives’ notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and other archival documents to reconstruct this ghastly whodunit crime in all its scandalous detail. In doing so, she gives the crime context by analyzing it against broader evidence of police treatment of black suspects and violence within the black community.

A fascinating work of historical recreation, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso is sure to captivate anyone interested in true crime, adulterous love triangles gone wrong, and the racially volatile world of post-Reconstruction Philadelphia.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue
  • Chapter 1: “Handle With Care”
  • Chapter 2: “The Woman Found”
  • Chapter 3: “To Do Him Bodily Harm”
  • Chapter 4: “Wavy Hair and Nearly White Skin”
  • Chapter 5: “Held for Trial”
  • Chapter 6: “The Defense Opens”
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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