What it took to finally confront my family about race and politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2018-11-21 21:18Z by Steven

What it took to finally confront my family about race and politics

The Guardian
2018-11-21

Sarah Menkedick

‘It is not about politics. It is about saying, ‘This is my life, and this is what I care about.’
‘It is not about politics. It is about saying, ‘This is my life, and this is what I care about.’ Illustration: Grace Helmer

As the mother of a mixed-race daughter, I was troubled by my white relatives’ views. Why was I terrified to speak up?

My four-year-old daughter has recently started to notice skin color. “Mommy,” she points out when we take a shower, “your skin is white, and my skin is brown, and Papi’s skin is brown!” With a four-year-old’s mania for classification, she lines up our arms in order of deepening darkness. She counts: “Two browns, and one white!”

The other day in the car when I said a curse word, she asked me why, and I said it was because Donald Trump was taking children away from their mothers at the border. “Why?” she asked. I tried to distill immigration down to a child’s logic: “Because where they live is not safe. So they come here to have a safer life. But some people get mad that they come here. They don’t want them here.”

“And he takes their kids away?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Her lip trembled. I once made the mistake of reading a library book about a hippo that lost its mother and she cried so hard I finally had to bust out a hidden stash of M&Ms.

I reiterated that some people don’t want these families here, and want to punish them. She did what she does with any situation that is incomprehensible: she just kept asking why, assuming there has to be an explanation that will make sense to her. Finally I said, “Because they have brown skin, like you and Papi. Donald Trump doesn’t like brown skin.”

“He doesn’t like brown skin?” she asked. I nodded.

“He doesn’t like me?” she asked…

Read the entire article here.

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Native American nations “have always had this fear, and a valid fear, that when they accept black people as part of their tribe they are seen as not ‘Indian first’.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-11-13 03:25Z by Steven

According to Alaina Roberts of the University of Pittsburgh, Native American nations “have always had this fear, and a valid fear, that when they accept black people as part of their tribe they are seen as not ‘Indian first’.”

Caleb Gayle, “The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity,” The Guardian, November 2, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/02/black-americans-native-creek-nation.

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The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-13 03:06Z by Steven

The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

The Guardian
2018-10-02

Caleb Gayle


Rhonda Grayson, with an image of her great-great grandfather Willie Cohee. Photograph: Brett Deering for the Guardian

Their ancestors were black slaves owned by Native Americans. Now they’re suing the Creek nation to fully restore their citizenship

Johnnie Mae Austin and her grandson, Damario Solomon-Simmons, can tell you everything about their ancestry. They can go back as far as 1810, the year Solomon-Simmons’ great-great-great-great-grandfather, Cow Tom, was born. With undeniable pride, they recount the man’s feats of bravery during the civil war, and his leadership within Oklahoma’s Creek population.

In fact, they are so determined to let the world know exactly who Cow Tom was that they’re suing the Creek nation to make sure his descendants aren’t forgotten.

Solomon-Simmons and his grandmother are black, but they argue they’re also Creek, and they’re fighting to reclaim their identity…

Red the entire article here.

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Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-12 03:26Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

The Guardian
2018-11-07

Lyndsey Winship, Dance Critic

‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland.
‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland. Photograph: Danielle Levitt for the Observer

She thinks ballet’s broken – and has a plan to fix it. The star of Disney’s Nutcracker reboot talks about racism, nude shoes and growing up bendy

Ballet was definitely my escape,” says Misty Copeland. “It was the first thing I’d ever experienced in my life that was mine – only mine, not my five other siblings’. It gave me a voice, made me feel powerful.”

When Copeland discovered ballet she was 13, living with her mother and siblings in a motel in California. She was a shy, slight child who rarely spoke and tried not to be noticed. Twenty-three years later, hers is the kind of transformation story even ballet might think far-fetched. In 2015, she became the first black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre – and with that a spokesperson, poster girl, and bona fide star. Barack Obama sought her out as an adviser, Prince invited her on tour, Spike Lee wants her in his films, and people queue up to meet her at the stage door of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

And now the latest chapter in her real-life fairytale has begun to unfold. Copeland is dancing in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a cinema revamp of the Christmas favourite starring Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman

Read the entire article here.

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The Hate U Give’s Amandla Stenberg on bringing Black Lives Matter to the box office

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-11-01 01:44Z by Steven

The Hate U Give’s Amandla Stenberg on bringing Black Lives Matter to the box office

The Guardian
2018-10-19

Steve Rose

Amandla Stenberg in The Hate U Give

Stenberg is the star of a new adaptation of the YA novel phenomenon. The actor, and the film’s director, discuss cinema’s new generation of resistance

Any resemblance between The Hate U Give and your average teen movie evaporates about 20 minutes in, when 16-year-old Starr Carter, played by Amandla Stenberg, witnesses a police officer shoot dead her friend Khalil at point-blank range. By this stage, Starr’s father has already given her The Talk, the time-honoured ritual where African-American parents instruct their children how to behave if stopped by the police: be polite, stay calm, put your hands where they can see them. When their car is pulled over, Starr follows the drill. Khalil reaches for a hairbrush. The police officer thinks it’s a gun. That’s all it takes.

The Hate U Give is fictional, but barely. To see the stricken expression on Stenberg’s face during the shooting scene is to recall Diamond Reynolds, partner of Philando Castile, who livestreamed the aftermath of Castile’s 2016 police shooting from the passenger seat while he bled to death beside her. The victims’ names have almost become a mantra: Castile, Freddie Gray, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland – all young African Americans killed by law enforcement, each an avoidable tragedy.

“I learned really early on what it feels like to be black in an environment in which no one looks like you,” she says, “And I learned how to be very intentional of how I presented myself in order to fit in.” Code-switching – that capacity to alter your behaviour according to the company you’re in – is something that people of colour are especially familiar with, she continues. “Because you have the cognisance that if you are completely transparent about who you are in a space that doesn’t accept you for who you are, it’ll be detrimental to your ability to succeed. That’s just a fact of growing up in a country that is still based on white institutions,” she says. It can work both ways, Stenberg points out: her mother is African American and her father is Danish. “He was one of the only white people in our neighbourhood, so what I was experiencing at school, he was experiencing at home.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The mixed-race experience: ‘There are times I feel like the odd one out’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-08-26 23:34Z by Steven

The mixed-race experience: ‘There are times I feel like the odd one out’

The Guardian
2018-08-26

Alex Moshakis

‘It has given people a sense of belonging’: photographer Tenee Attoh on her photography project.
‘It has given people a sense of belonging’: photographer Tenee Attoh on her photography project. Composite: Tenee Attoh

A series of portraits of mixed-race people from around the world has cast new light on how we see ourselves

Last year the photographer Tenee Attoh began taking portraits of multiracial friends and acquaintances against a mottled black background at the Bussey Building in Peckham, southeast London. Attoh is half-Dutch on her mother’s side, half-Ghanaian on her father’s, and identifies as mixed-race. Born in the UK, she spent most of the first 23 years of her life in Accra and Amsterdam, shuttling between cities and cultures, an experience she found enlightening but problematic. “On the one hand it allows you to develop a different understanding of the world,” she says of her duality. “But there’s still a lot of ignorance in society. People perceive you as either black or white, and you’re not – you’re mixed.”

Working in London, Attoh heard similar stories from other mixed-race people, and soon she began publishing her images online (at mixedracefaces.com and on Instagram) alongside small texts that allowed her subjects to share personal thoughts on identity, race and self, something they couldn’t do elsewhere. Following the death of her mother, to whom the series is dedicated, the project helped Attoh dissect her own multiracial experience – what it means to be connected to two worlds at once, and how society perceives that condition – but it has also sparked an open forum on diversity. “It’s not a topic people usually talk about,” Attoh says. “So the website has become a platform for people with mixed heritage. It’s given a lot of them a sense of belonging.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The [passing] genre overlooks questions of colourism, treats racial identity as rigid and fixed, and the complexities of the mixed-race experience are ignored.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-08-22 04:01Z by Steven

The [passing] genre overlooks questions of colourism, treats racial identity as rigid and fixed, and the complexities of the mixed-race experience are ignored. And then there is the issue of optics. It is tricky for the passing character to move from page to screen. [John M.] Stahl’s selection of [Fredi] Washington for the role of Peola [in Imitation of Life (1934)] was hugely progressive for the 1930s. Not only did he give an actor who identified as black a significant role, but the film’s monochrome palette meant that Washington really looked white, which petrified southern segregationists.

Janine Bradbury, “‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege,” The Guardian, August 20, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/aug/20/passing-film-rebecca-hall-black-white-us-rac.

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‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-08-22 00:48Z by Steven

‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

The Guardian
2018-08-20

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

SUSAN KOHNER and JUANITA MOORE in Imitation of Life
Crossing the colour line … Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore as daughter and mother in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959). Photograph: www.ronaldgrantarchive.com

Rebecca Hall’sdirectorial debut is an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, a theme little seen since the likes of Show Boat and Pinky

Hollywood once loved films about passing. The genre was popular in the 1940s and 50s, when segregation was rife and the “one-drop rule” – which deemed anybody with even a trace of African ancestry to be black – prevailed. Box-office hits included Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949) and George Sidney’s musical Show Boat (1951), which featured light-skinned, mixed-race characters who passed for white in the hopes of enjoying the privileges whiteness confers. The secrets, the scandal and the sheer sensationalism of it all made for excellent melodrama.

Now Rebecca Hall, the star of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Red Riding, is revisiting the genre with her directorial debut, an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s seminal 1929 novel Passing. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga will feature in the project, which tells the story of childhood friends, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, who are both light-skinned enough to pass for white but choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line…

…How will Hall negotiate the tricky history of the genre? Even though it was a real-life phenomenon, most films about passing, including Pinky and Show Boat, have literary roots. William Wells Brown’s 1853 anti-slavery novel Clotel, which imagines the fate of Thomas Jefferson’s mixed race progeny, is perhaps the first American passing novel. Brown used passing to expose the arbitrary nature of white privilege. His mixed-race characters were a manifest symbol of the reality that many powerful, supposedly God-fearing white slaveholding men were coercing and raping enslaved black women and condemning their own children to a life in bondage (although, as Beyoncé recently revealed, not all unions were of this nature)…

Read the entire article here.

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Interview: ‘White people are so fragile, bless ’em’ … meet Rhiannon Giddens, banjo warrior

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-07-29 01:04Z by Steven

Interview: ‘White people are so fragile, bless ’em’ … meet Rhiannon Giddens, banjo warrior

The Guardian
2018-07-23

Emma John

‘I’m not here to be famous’ … Rhiannon Giddens, who is curating the Cambridge folk festival.
‘I’m not here to be famous’ … Rhiannon Giddens, who is curating the Cambridge folk festival. Photograph: Tanya Rosen-Jones

She pours fire and fury into powerful songs that target everything from police shootings to slavery. The musician reveals all about her mission to put the black back into bluegrass – and Shakespeare

‘We’re all racist to some degree,” says Rhiannon Giddens. “Just like we’re all privileged to some degree. I have privilege in my system because I’m light-skinned. I hear people say, ‘I didn’t have it easy growing up either.’ But when did it become a competition?”

As someone on a mission to bridge such divides, Giddens thinks about this stuff a lot. The Grammy-winning singer and songwriter was born to a white father and a black mother in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the late 1970s. Her parents married only three years after the landmark Loving v Virginia decision, which reversed the anti-miscegenation laws that had made interracial marriage illegal. Their union was still shocking enough that her father was disinherited.

While much has changed in the 40 years that Giddens has been alive, her latest album, Freedom Highway, is a powerful testament to the inequality and injustice that remain. It opens with At the Purchaser’s Option, a devastating track inspired by an 1830s advert for a female slave whose nine-month-old baby could also be included in the sale. “It was kind of a statement to put that one first,” says Giddens. “If you can get past that, you’ll probably survive the rest.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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In one of the most touching of many personal passages in the book, Akala retraces the steps by which he was racialised – as a mixed-race child – into blackness, and by which he realised that his mother, who fiercely protected her children’s pride in their heritage, enrolling them among other things in a Pan-African Saturday school, was racialised as white.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-30 02:56Z by Steven

Natives delivers the answers, and some of them are hard to hear. In one of the most touching of many personal passages in the book, Akala retraces the steps by which he was racialised – as a mixed-race child – into blackness, and by which he realised that his mother, who fiercely protected her children’s pride in their heritage, enrolling them among other things in a Pan-African Saturday school, was racialised as white.

Afua Hirsch, “Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala – review,” The Guardian, May 20, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/20/natives-akala-review-destroying-myths-of-race-afia-hirsch.

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