‘Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White’: A life as unorthodox as his comic strip

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-03-12 02:21Z by Steven

‘Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White’: A life as unorthodox as his comic strip

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wayne Wise

Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White” by Michael Tisserand.

Ignatz Mouse: “Hey, this isn’t black coffee!!!”

Krazy Kat: “Sure it is. Look unda the milk.”

Krazy Kat,” created by George Herriman, is one of the most influential comic strips of all time. Centered around the iconic love triangle of Krazy, Ignatz Mouse and Offisa Pupp, the feature ran as a syndicated newspaper strip from 1913 to 1944. To a modern audience the strip can be difficult to understand, if not impenetrable. The pacing and sense of humor of 100 years ago feel foreign to current trends. There are references that were common at the time that are lost to us now. The language used is an idiosyncratic patois of nonsense poetry.

The backgrounds, while beautifully rendered, are a constantly changing surreal backdrop. Characters frequently broke the fourth wall, commenting directly on their status as cartoons. The title character, Krazy Kat, was of indeterminate gender, referred to with shifting pronouns, sometimes within the same sentence. As a whole, Krazy Kat was an ongoing challenge to the reader’s perception of definitions and boundaries.

Creator George Herriman was born in New Orleans in 1880. In the latter part of the 19th century his family moved to Los Angeles where his father worked as a tailor and George began his art career, eventually becoming one of the most famous and celebrated cartoonists in history. This is a distinction that would not have been possible if the truth of his life had been known at the time.

In 1971, while researching Mr. Herriman for an entry in the Dictionary of American Biography, professor Arthur Berger discovered a previously unknown fact. On his birth certificate Mr. Herriman was listed as “colored.” It had always been assumed that he was a white man. Mr. Herriman, to use the terminology of the time, “passed for white” his entire life, at a time when his color would have prevented him from many, if not all, of the achievements he is known for…

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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

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…

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Clarion University forced to cancel play over actors’ race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-12 21:42Z by Steven

Clarion University forced to cancel play over actors’ race

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bill Schackner, Higher Education Writer

Student actors and the stage crew at Clarion University arrived Tuesday evening for one of the final rehearsals before next week’s campus opening of “Jesus in India” only to learn the off-Broadway production they had spent months on had been canceled.

The reason they were given was race: theirs.

Three of the five characters in the production are Indian, but on the mostly white state university campus, two of those characters were to be played by white student actors and a third was being portrayed by a mixed-race student.

Lloyd Suh, the playwright, told the university through his literary agent Monday that he was uncomfortable with any notion that he supported Caucasians portraying Indian characters in his play, said Bob Levy, chairman of the visual and performing arts department at Clarion.

“He felt they should be of Asian descent,” Mr. Levy said Wednesday.

The Korean-American playwright wanted the parts recast, Mr. Levy said, and ultimately pulled the university’s right to stage the production after being told that finding Asian replacements was not practical given the play was to open next Wednesday on a campus in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where Asian or Pacific Islander students account for 0.7 of 1 percent of the university’s 5,368 students.

The mixed-race actor was not of Asian descent, Mr. Levy said. He said the Indian characters portrayed by the non-Indians are Gopal, Sushil and Mahari…

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‘Remnants of Slavery’ column shows racial ignorance

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-09-21 02:07Z by Steven

‘Remnants of Slavery’ column shows racial ignorance

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rebecca Keller
O’Hara Township, Pennsylvania

I’m greatly troubled by Jack Kelly’s historically flawed column “Remnants of Slavery” (Sept. 13) because it falsely enables an often unhearing percentage of the white majority to tell people of color that our modern-day experiences with racism are an illusion.

As a biracial woman who was adopted into a white family and has been raised in white-dominant environments, I have a unique perspective on both racism and white privilege: two things that undeniably exist…

Read the entire letter here.

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Let’s Learn From the Past: Cumberland Posey Jr.

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-04 20:03Z by Steven

Let’s Learn From the Past: Cumberland Posey Jr.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Michele Sneddon, History Center Communications Assistant

As a standout player, manager and owner, Cumberland Willis Posey Jr. built the Homestead Grays into one of the most successful franchises in Negro League baseball history.

Born on June 20, 1890, Posey grew up in a wealthy African-American household in Homestead. His father, Cumberland “Cap” Posey Sr., was general manager for the Delta Coal Co., president of Diamond Coal and Coke, and president of the Pittsburgh Courier Publishing Co., which became one of the nation’s most influential African-American newspapers.

At Homestead High School, Posey starred as a power-hitting right fielder on the baseball diamond, a fullback on the football field and a dominant guard on the basketball court. Posey attended Penn State University and then the University of Pittsburgh before landing at the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost, now Duquesne University. He played basketball there and led his team in scoring for three years as “Charles Cumbert,” a fake name used to gain eligibility as a “white” player. While Posey never graduated from college, he established a reputation as one of the region’s top athletes…

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“I’m biracial,” she says. “I will fight somebody who calls me black.”

Posted in Barack Obama, Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-08-30 04:20Z by Steven

Ms. [Heather] Curry thinks Mr. Obama identifying as African-American could be confusing to mixed-race children, making them feel they have to choose or making them think, “If Obama says he’s black, does this mean I’m black?” She thinks biracial people shouldn’t choose one race over the other because they are both.

“I’m biracial,” she says. “I will fight somebody who calls me black.”

L. A. Johnson, “Obama election stokes debate over what is biracial,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 3, 2009. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sectionfront/life/obama-election-stokes-debate-over-what-is-biracial-328436/

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Obama election stokes debate over what is biracial

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-05-12 00:09Z by Steven

Obama election stokes debate over what is biracial

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

L. A. Johnson

Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette

Heather Curry believes President Barack Obama is denying his white heritage by identifying himself as African-American.

“It’s great that he’s biracial,” says Ms. Curry, 19, a Point Park University advertising major who identifies herself as biracial. “I wish he would accept it a little bit more.”

The election of Mr. Obama—the son of a white woman from Kansas and a man from Kenya—has jump-started a national dialogue on race and racial identity as America’s view of multiracial people changes.

Mr. Obama always has acknowledged his biracial background but identifies himself as African-American. With Mr. Obama, people see who and what they want to see, says Joy M. Zarembka, the Washington, D.C.-based author of “The Pigment of Your Imagination: Mixed Race in a Global Society.” “And most everyone can relate to him — whether [they’re] white, black, rich, poor, foreign, American, etc.”…

…Ms. Curry thinks the media have helped define him as only black and fears that history will forget that America’s “first black president” actually is a biracial man.

“I feel like there are not enough [biracial] role models out there,” says Ms. Curry, whose father was white and mother is black. “We need to say we’re proud of our heritage.”

Her roommate, Erica Stewart, has a different view. Ms. Stewart has a white mother and a black father. Because her mother raised her, she identifies more with white culture than black culture, but she embraces aspects of both and often is mistaken for Hispanic.

“If [Obama] feels more African-American, I don’t have issues with that,” said Ms. Stewart, 19, an art major at the Community College of Allegheny County. “If I had grown up with [my father] instead of my mom, I would have identified more as an African American.”

Friends since middle school in Erie, the two young women recall how they struggled to figure out their own racial identity, routinely seeming too black to some whites and too white to some blacks…

…Ms. Curry thinks Mr. Obama identifying as African-American could be confusing to mixed-race children, making them feel they have to choose or making them think, “If Obama says he’s black, does this mean I’m black?” She thinks biracial people shouldn’t choose one race over the other because they are both.

“I’m biracial,” she says. “I will fight somebody who calls me black.”

Mr. Obama has a special resonance with African-American people, people of African descent, people of color in general and multiracial people.

“Because he identifies as African-American rather than multiracial … there’s a certain tension there,” says G. Reginald Daniel, a University of California, Santa Barbara, sociology professor and author of “More Than Black?: Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order.”

Elliott Lewis, a mixed-race man, journalist and author of “Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America,” finds the ongoing debate about whether Mr. Obama is black or biracial frustrating…

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Passing: How posing as white became a choice for many black Americans

Posted in Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2012-01-31 21:27Z by Steven

Passing: How posing as white became a choice for many black Americans

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Monica L. Haynes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The young unkempt woman still in her pajamas shuffled into her 8 a.m. college psychology class and sat down next to Barbara Douglass.

“I’m sure glad there are no niggers in this class ’cause I can smell them a mile away,” the young woman declared.

But Douglass, who lives in Wilkinsburg, is a 53-year-old black woman. She could pass for white but she has never tried, she said.

“Growing up, I knew of people who did, and I was even instructed not to say, at that time, that they were colored. In order to get their jobs, they had to say they were white.”

The new film “The Human Stain,” based on a novel of the same name by Philip Roth, provides a glimpse into the world of blacks so fair they can live undetected among whites.

Thelma Marshall knows that routine.

During the 1950s and early ’60s, she did what her mother before her had done. What her grandmother and aunts had done.

She passed for white.

“One time I told a woman I was black, colored in those days,” Marshall recalled. “She said, ‘You won’t get the job unless you pass for white.’ ”

So that’s what Marshall did.

“I passed for white on lots of jobs,” she said. “I had to be white to get the jobs.” …

…”We are a child of God first. We are human beings first,” Douglass remembered her mother saying.

In fifth grade, she learned that the United States is a melting pot, and she declared to her mother that she would be a melting pot.

Her mother decided it was the perfect definition, seeing as how her ancestors were Cherokee, black, Dutch, German and Irish.

Maybe all blacks would have defined themselves that way given the chance. Since black people first came to the New World in 1619, they’ve mingled and mixed with every race and ethnic group here.

It is not just the fair-skinned blacks who can lay claim to that melting pot definition. Those blacks who have the mark of Africa in their features and skin tone also have multicultural ancestry. They just can’t pass.

Most blacks were never afforded the luxury of defining themselves. After the Civil War, Southern whites, not wanting this swirling of races to get out of hand and seeking to keep the white race as pure and powerful as possible, instituted a rule that anyone with “one drop” of black blood was black.

That spurred even more fair-skinned blacks to cross over and escape Jim Crow laws that kept blacks in the shackles of second-class citizenship…

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