Elizabeth Warren’s Native American problem goes beyond politics

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2018-01-22 01:21Z by Steven

Elizabeth Warren’s Native American problem goes beyond politics

The Boston Globe
2018-01-19

Annie Linskey, Chief national correspondent


Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
Senator Elizabeth Warren says now, as she has from the first days of her public life, that she based her assertions about her heritage on her reasonable trust in what she was told about her ancestry as a child.

WASHINGTON — There’s a ghost haunting Elizabeth Warren as she ramps up for a possible 2020 presidential bid and a reelection campaign in Massachusetts this year: her enduring and undocumented claims of Native American ancestry.

Warren says now, as she has from the first days of her public life, that she based her assertions on family lore, on her reasonable trust in what she was told about her ancestry as a child.

“I know who I am,” she said in a recent interview with the Globe.

But that self-awareness may not be enough, as her political ambitions blossom. She’s taken flak from the right for years as a “fake Indian,” including taunts from President Trump, who derisively calls her “Pocahontas.’’ That clamor from the right will only grow with her increasing prominence…

…Warren’s family has ties to Oklahoma dating from the end of the 19th century — before it was a state. Oklahoma is now home to more than 35 federally recognized tribes, and it’s common for people there to claim Native American ancestry, often based on little more than family mythology. That’s partially because there is, for some, a certain mystique in popular culture associated with American Indian ties and many families liked to include those ties in their lore.

But claiming Native blood without evidence cuts to the very core of Native American identity because it usurps the rights American Indians have to define their own people and nations, according to native advocates.

“The problem with Elizabeth Warren is she is not the average wannabe,” said David Cornsilk, a Cherokee historian and genealogist. “She is an academic. She has a higher level of aptitude to examine these issues. And a higher responsibility to examine them, and accept the research that is done, or to counter it with alternative research.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A ‘people’s princess’ unbound by race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-03 02:29Z by Steven

A ‘people’s princess’ unbound by race

The Boston Globe
2017-12-01

Renée Graham, Associate Editor and Columnist


Meghan Markle greets wellwishers in Nottingham, England, with Prince Harry, on Dec. 1.
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

All it took for Meghan Markle to “become” black was a proposal from a prince.

Black American Princess. Palace about to be lit,” a black woman tweeted hours after an official announcement of Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry. Another posted, “So I’ve seen a black president of the United States, and now I’ll see a black woman joining the British royal family. What a time to be alive.”

There’s just one caveat: Throughout her public life, Markle, the daughter of an African-American mother and a white father, has referred to herself as biracial or mixed-race…

Read the entire article here.

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Saga of biracial elite couple offers a fresh take on identity, race, and class

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-08-01 18:09Z by Steven

Saga of biracial elite couple offers a fresh take on identity, race, and class

The Boston Globe
2017-07-28

Rebecca Steinitz, Globe Correspondent


Danzy Senna

Danzy Senna, New People, A Novel (New York: Riverhead, 2017)

It is 1996 in gentrifying Brooklyn, and Maria, the less-than-heroic heroine of “New People,’’ Danzy Senna’s sharp new novel, perches on the cusp of triumphant adulthood. Almost finished with her dissertation, “an ethnomusicology of the Peoples Temple” in Jonestown, Guyana, she is planning her Martha’s Vineyard wedding to aspiring Internet entrepreneur Khalil, her college boyfriend and perfect match: “She is the one he has been waiting for his whole life . . . He is the one she needs, the one who can repair her . . . Their skin is the same shade of beige.”

Products of “the Renaissance of Interracial Unions” at the end of the ’60s, the two are avatars of the “tangle of mud-colored New People who have come to carry the nation — blood-soaked, guilty of everything of which it has been accused — into the future,” so “perfect” they have been asked to star in “New People,’’ the documentary…

…Like Senna’s previous two novels “Caucasia’’ and “Symptomatic,’’ “New People’’ explores the fraught social and emotional world of the biracial elite. This is Senna’s world — “Caucasia’’ was built on the foundation of her 1970s Boston childhood, and Maria and Khalil attend Stanford in the early ’90s, as she did…

Read the entire review here.

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‘Krazy Kat,’ and all that jazz

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-07-19 02:50Z by Steven

‘Krazy Kat,’ and all that jazz

The Boston Globe
2017-06-23

Matthew Guerrieri, Globe Correspondent

This Sunday is the anniversary of the end of one of the greatest comic strips of all time. On June 25, 1944, the final installment of “Krazy Kat” was published, two months after the death of its creator, George Herriman. In various forms since 1910, the strip’s essential paradox — Ignatz, a mouse, forever beans Krazy with bricks, who nevertheless loves him back — yielded seemingly inexhaustible variations.

In its day, “Krazy Kat” was more a critical than a popular favorite, though publisher William Randolph Hearst, a fan, continued to give Herriman carte blanche despite the strip’s sometimes meager readership. But its dreamlike artwork, linguistic fantasy, and self-referential tinkering with comic-strip form influenced numerous other art forms — music included.

The dense, idiosyncratic argot of Herriman’s dialogue and his precisely-dashed linework and zig-zagging scenery (a stylization of Herriman’s beloved southwestern landscapes) found its musical counterpart in syncopation. As early as 1911 — only a year after Krazy and Ignatz first appeared in the margins of Herriman’s strip “The Dingbat Family” — a New York composer-pianist named Ben Ritchie published “Krazy Kat Rag,” with a Herriman illustration on the cover. In later years, saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra (which included such jazz luminaries as Bix Beiderbecke, Eddie Lang, and Joe Venuti), expatriate bandleader Sam Wooding, and clarinetist Artie Shaw all recorded “Krazy Kat” tributes.

Most ambitious was composer John Alden Carpenter’s “Krazy Kat” ballet, subtitled “A Jazz Pantomime.” First performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1921, and first staged in 1922 — choreographed by Russian-born Adolph Bolm, with scenery designed by Herriman himself (he also illustrated the sheet music) — the ballet was well-received, but Carpenter’s score (possibly the first concert work to include the word “jazz” in the title) was soon overshadowed by more overt rapprochements between jazz and classical music. Carpenter’s version of jazz was tame, owing more to the “sweet” jazz of white dance bands than the “hot” jazz of their African-American counterparts. But the composer effectively mined jazz’s capacity for charm and whimsy…

Read the entire article here.

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Onstage — and in life — an actress explores her racial identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-06-12 15:24Z by Steven

Onstage — and in life — an actress explores her racial identity

The Boston Globe
2017-06-12

Sally Jacobs


Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, who grew up in Cambridge and is biracial, has spent much of her life grappling with her racial identity through story and performance.

As a child, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni had a cherished birthday ritual. It wasn’t cake or a favorite pancake breakfast. It was her mother’s retelling of her birth story, intended to reassure her about the details of her origins and her parents’ marriage, about which she had nagging questions.

In a way, she still does.

“I had this belief growing up that I’m not theirs,” explained DiGiovanni, 47, who grew up in Cambridge and now lives in Los Angeles. “I always tried to make Mom prove that she actually gave birth to me. So, I always started with, ‘When did you and Dad first kiss?’ I really couldn’t imagine them being together at all. Still can’t.”…

…“One Drop,” in which she plays 16 roles, examines the ever-changing racial classifications in the US Census through the lens of her own family experience. DiGiovanni is one of two children born to Winston and Trudy Cox, who were married in 1966 in California, a year before the Loving ruling but in a state where interracial marriage was legal.

As a couple, they collided head-on with racial discrimination. Winston Cox, a Jamaican, was barred from bathrooms, kicked out of restaurants, and humiliated. After he and his wife settled in Washington, D.C., their interests swiftly diverged. Winston joined the Black Panthers while his wife turned to the women’s movement. Now 80, Winston believes that race was the main reason the marriage ended.

“I couldn’t foresee the problems that would take place,” he said.

Trudy Cox, 74, who lives in an assisted-living facility in Boston, agrees race was a part of what divided them. “He just hated it that I was white,” she said. Not only did many of the Panthers’ meetings exclude white people, but Winston himself was growing increasingly uncomfortable around them…

Read the entire article here.

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Walsh says race backlash in part led to Trump win

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-22 19:43Z by Steven

Walsh says race backlash in part led to Trump win

The Boston Globe
2016-12-20

Meghan E. Irons, Reporter

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, taking on a contentious issue rippling across the country, said Tuesday that he believes the election of Donald Trump was in part due to a backlash against the nation’s first black president.

“I would hope [that] as a country we have gone beyond that,’’ the mayor said, adding that the election exposed economic and racial divisions. “But I’m afraid that is not the case.”

Walsh took on race and other thorny issues during an hourlong interview, vowing to continue the city’s [Boston’s] race dialogues to heal “deep wounds.” The mayor discussed the cloud of federal indictments looming over his administration, laid out the posture the city aims to take with the incoming Trump administration, and made his case for his reelection, saying Boston is much better off than when he took office three years ago…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Negroland’ by Margo Jefferson

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-09 18:53Z by Steven

‘Negroland’ by Margo Jefferson

The Boston Globe
2015-09-05

Donna Bailey Nurse

While a student at University High in Chicago in the early 1960s, Margo Jefferson was introduced to the essays of James Baldwin. The future New York Times drama critic and Pulitzer Prize winner was struck by passages in “Notes of a Native Son’’:

“‘One must say that the Negro in America does not really exist except in the darkness of our minds.’

‘One’: a pronoun even more adroitly insidious than ‘we.’ An ‘I’ made ubiquitous. ‘Our’: say it slowly, voluptuously. Baldwin has coupled and merged us in syntactical miscegenation.’’

Jefferson devotes the first chapters of her memoir to explaining the secret of that group’s success, which has a lot to do with the privileges their light skin bestowed. Like Betsey Keating, for example, who was freed by her master before giving birth to his five children. He died leaving money to educate his black sons, setting them up for the future.

She also tells of a biracial slave named Frances Jackson Coppin whose aunt purchased her freedom. Eventually Frances was able to work, save money, and attend Oberlin College. These mostly mixed-race blacks became teachers, writers, artisans, and abolitionists. They were careful to intermarry, establishing a color line between themselves and darker members of the race.

Jefferson herself is a descendant of slaves and slave masters from Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi, individuals who clawed their way into the elite milieu she calls Negroland

Read the entire book review here.

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Naming this era of racial contradictions

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-31 20:16Z by Steven

Naming this era of racial contradictions

The Boston Globe
2015-08-01

Farah Stockman

We’re entering a new era of race relations in America — a crazy, conflicting, potentially explosive era yet to be named.

Maybe it’s an era of white insecurity about racial identity as the country moves toward a nonwhite majority. Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black people in a church, and Rachel Dolezal, who declared herself black on national television, could be two sides of that coin.

Or maybe it’s an era of increasing black confidence. What’s unprecedented about the spate of black people who’ve died in police custody is not the deaths themselves — those are sadly not new — but rather the fact that they’re being covered prominently on national news.

There’s something else notable about our conversations on race today: the disconnect between where we are in 2015 and where we thought we’d be. The half-finished project of racial equality in the United States leaves us with a parade of endless contradictions.

We overwhelmingly support the idea of integration. Yet, 75 percent of white people don’t have a single black friend, and 66 percent of black people don’t have a white one.

In a city like Boston, poor kids tend to go to poor schools, and wealthy kids to affluent schools.

We elected a black president. Yet we still incarcerate blacks at nearly six times the rate of whites. We’ve had not one but two black secretaries of state. Yet, a study shows that women with “black-sounding” names — like Lakisha and Aisha — still have a hard time getting hired as secretaries.

Read the entire article here.

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Dolezal, Jenner raise fundamental questions about identity

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-07-06 01:20Z by Steven

Dolezal, Jenner raise fundamental questions about identity

The Boston Globe
2015-06-16

Farrah Stockman, Globe Staff

Finally, Rachel Dolezal — the self-identified black daughter of two Caucasian parents — has spoken. And finally, she was asked a question I’ve been wondering for days: When did it start?

“At a very young age,” she replied. “About 5 years old, I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon.”

It’s impossible not to be reminded of how Bruce — now Caitlyn — Jenner answered a similar question: When did you know? Jenner talked about sneaking into her mother’s closet as an 8-year-old boy to dress up in her clothes.

Comparisons between Jenner, who recently appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair as a woman, and Dolezal, who just resigned as a local leader of the NAACP after her parents outed her as white, have spawned a cottage industry of jokes and memes.

But I have yet to read a real answer to the underlying challenge these two people pose to identity in America today: If we accept that gender is fluid — a reflection of some inexplicable spiritual thing inside of us — why not race? Why do we police the boundaries of blackness more rigorously than we police womanhood?

The general consensus seems to be that as much as we want to do away with racial differences and as deeply as we believe in race as a social construct, we can’t accept Dolezal as a black woman trapped in a spray-tanned blonde’s body…

Read the entire article here.

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‘One Drop’ at Cambridge Rindge & Latin

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-03 20:30Z by Steven

‘One Drop’ at Cambridge Rindge & Latin

The Boston Globe
2015-02-03

Meredith Goldstein, Entertainment Reporter


From left: Junot Díaz, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, and Kate Ellis. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Actor-producer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni brought her one-woman show, “One Drop of Love,” to the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School on Friday night. The play, co-produced by famous Rindge alums Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is about family, race, class, and reconciliation. DiGiovanni stuck around to talk about the big themes with a panel that included Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and MIT professor Junot Díaz and educator Donald Burroughs. The evening benefited the school’s Kimbrough Scholars Program.

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