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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Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala – review

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United Kingdom on 2018-05-28 14:39Z by Steven

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala – review

The Guardian
2018-05-20

Afua Hirsch

Akala on stage
Akala: ‘a disruptive, aggressive intellect’. Photograph: Rob Baker Ashton/BBC/Green Acre Films

In a powerful, polemical narrative, the rapper charts his past and the history of black Britain

In 2010, UK rap artist Akala dropped the album DoubleThink, and with it, some unforgettable words. “First time I saw knives penetrate flesh, it was meat cleavers to the back of the head,” the north London rapper remembers of his childhood. Like so much of his work, the song Find No Enemy blends his life in the struggle of poverty, race, class and violence, with the search for answers. “Apparently,” it continues, “I’m second-generation black Caribbean. And half white Scottish. Whatever that means.”

Any of the million-plus people who have since followed Akala – real name Kingslee Daley – know that the search has taken him into the realm of serious scholarship. He is now known as much for his political analysis as for his music, and, unsurprisingly, his new book, Natives, is therefore long awaited. What was that meat cleaver incident? What was his relationship with his family and peers like growing up? How did he make the journey from geeky child, to sullen and armed teenager, to writer, artist and intellectual?.

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…

Read the entire article here.

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Akala: ‘As I grew up, I became embarrassed by my mother’s whiteness’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-05-27 20:13Z by Steven

Akala: ‘As I grew up, I became embarrassed by my mother’s whiteness’

The Guardian
2018-05-26

Akala (Kingslee James Daley)

Akala
Akala: ‘From that day, my relationship with my mother was not just that of mother and son, but of a white mother to a black son.’ Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Guardian

At five, the hip-hop poet was racially abused at school. Could his mother ever really understand?

One day in 1988, at the age of five, I returned home from school upset. My mum tried to work out why but I was reluctant to tell her. After some coaxing, I told her that a boy in the playground had called me a particularly nasty name. As I was about to spill the beans, a strange thing occurred. I said, “Mum, the white boy… ” and trailed off before I could complete the sentence. A profound realisation hit me. With a hint of terror and accusation, I said, “But you’re white, aren’t you, Mummy?”

Before this, my mum was just my mum, a flawless superhero, as any loving parent is in a five-year-old’s eyes. I sensed that something about that image was changing in the moment, something we could never take back. I wanted to un-ask the question. My mother’s expression was halfway between shock and resignation: she’d known this day would come, but the directness of the question still took her aback.

She thought for a moment and then, using one of her brilliant if unintentional psychological masterstrokes, replied something to the effect of: “Yes, I’m white, but I’m German and they’re English.” It didn’t matter that my mum was not really German – she was born in Germany but brought up in Hong Kong – or that I was technically English: my mum had created a safety valve for me, so that I could feel comfortable reporting racist abuse to her without having to worry that I was hurting her feelings. Even at five, I knew instinctively that whiteness, like all systems of power, preferred not to be interrogated…

Read the entire article here.

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Jesmyn Ward: ‘Black girls are silenced, misunderstood and underestimated’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2018-05-19 22:54Z by Steven

Jesmyn Ward: ‘Black girls are silenced, misunderstood and underestimated’

The Guardian
2018-05-11

Lisa Allardice, Editor
Guardian Review

Jesmyn Ward: ‘I fought from the very beginning.’
Jesmyn Ward: ‘I fought from the very beginning.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The author of Sing, Unburied, Sing, had a tough childhood in Mississippi, survived Hurricane Katrina, and became the first woman to win two US national book awards for fiction

If Jesmyn Ward’s fiction tends towards the epic, that is maybe because her life has been marked by monumental events. “I fought from the very beginning”, she says. Born prematurely at just 26 weeks, she was badly attacked by her father’s pit bull as a small child, her younger brother was killed at 19, and, along with several generations of her family, she sheltered from Hurricane Katrina in a truck. Yet today she is the first woman to win the US national book award for fiction twice, hailed by a leading reviewer as “one of the most powerfully poetic writers in the country”. And on the morning we meet, it has just been announced that she has been shortlisted for the Women’s prize for fiction for her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing

Ward’s subject is what it means to be poor and black in America’s rural south, where “life is a hurricane”. Modern Mississippi, she says, “means addiction, ground-in generational poverty, living very closely with the legacy of slavery, of Jim Crow, of lynching and of intractable racism”. In her first novel, Where the Line Bleeds (2008), she felt she “protected” her characters from these brutal realities, because she knew and cared about them too much: “So I kept pulling my punches. And later I realised that was a mistake. Life doesn’t spare the kind of people who I write about, so I felt like it would be dishonest to spare my characters in that way.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Markle effect: black women see the royal wedding as workplace inspiration

Posted in Articles, Economics, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2018-05-12 17:31Z by Steven

The Markle effect: black women see the royal wedding as workplace inspiration

The Guardian
2018-05-12

Rory Carroll, Shenelle Wallace and Edward Helmore

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Westminster Abbey in London on 25 April.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Westminster Abbey in London on 25 April. Photograph: Eddie Mulholland/AFP/Getty Images

As the royal wedding approaches, some are hoping it will lead to a greater acceptance of African American women in business

As final arrangements are set for the wedding of the US actor Meghan Markle to Prince Harry Windsor, hopes are mounting among some that the Markle effect will have unexpected impacts, including improving opportunities for African American women in the workplace.

“It’s exciting for black women, and I think it’s going to be inspirational,” said Camille Newman, a 38-year-old Brooklyn entrepreneur. Newman expressed deep-felt enthusiasm in the union as a symbolic marker for the acceptance of black or biracial women in society and said other women of color she knew felt the same way.

“We’re claiming her for a black woman’s right to be in there like everybody else,” she said.

One anticipated spin-off, she told the Guardian, could be the greater acceptance of black women across all sectors of society, including business. “As an entrepreneur I face so many challenges to find funding for my business. We’re going to claim her and look to her for inspiration as an African American entrepreneur,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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“You can’t be a white Australian writer and spend your whole life ignoring the greatest, most important aspect of our history, and that is that we – I – have been the beneficiaries of a genocide.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-02-12 02:07Z by Steven

A Long Way from Home, Peter Carey’s 14th novel, uses the story of a light-skinned Indigenous Australian who has been brought up white to address the country’s brutal history of racism. It seems strange at first that Carey – surely Australia’s greatest living novelist, even if he hasn’t dwelled there for decades – has taken so long to get around to the subject. In a recent interview in the Australian, he said that he’d always felt that it was not the place of a white writer to tell this tale. Then something changed: “You can’t be a white Australian writer and spend your whole life ignoring the greatest, most important aspect of our history, and that is that we – I – have been the beneficiaries of a genocide.”

Alex Preston, “A Long Way from Home review – Peter Carey’s best novel in decades,” The Guardian, January 15, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/15/a-long-way-from-home-peter-carey-review.

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Kit de Waal: ‘Make room for working class writers’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-02-11 20:15Z by Steven

Kit de Waal: ‘Make room for working class writers’

The Guardian
2018-02-10

Kit de Waal


‘A writing career never entered my head.’ … Kit de Waal. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

When Kit de Waal was growing up in 1970s Birmingham, no one like her – poor, black and Irish – wrote books. Forty years on, the author asks, what has changed?

Reading at school was agony. A slow, child by child rotation around the class, six pages each. Great Expectations. Vanity Fair. The Mill on the bloody Floss. The boys with their flatline monotones. The girls, careful not to stumble and be humiliated. English was my best subject, so this process was painful. I wanted to race ahead and get to the end of the story. Yet the idea of taking that book home to read later and finish, that never occurred to me. Not when we owned the ultimate big novel: the Bible. We were Jehovah’s Witnesses and three times a week we’d sit in a draughty hall on the backstreets of Sparkbrook in Birmingham, wrapped around a paraffin heater discussing the 66 books that made up the Old and the New Testaments. I’ve read it cover to cover at least five times.

Leviticus and Numbers were hard going, all that counting and recounting, all those laws and exhortations, but there were very beautiful passages, too. The Song of Solomon, Psalms, Proverbs. The Gospels, too, four different takes on one big adventure. They had the ingredients of a good thriller with a hero, a call to arms, a savage tragedy. Without realising it, I was learning what you had to do to write well, how to characterise, how to keep your reader turning the page without the threat of eternal damnation as an incentive.

But writing as a career? That never entered my head. The only writers I knew were dead. And apart from Enid Blyton, they were dead men. And white. And posh. Even when I began to read widely in my 20s, it was still a case of: if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. No one from my background – poor, black and Irish – wrote books. It just wasn’t an option…

Read the entire article here.

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Phoebe Collings-James: the artist and model taking on tokenism

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-01-30 01:05Z by Steven

Phoebe Collings-James: the artist and model taking on tokenism

The Chain
The Guardian
2017-11-14

The British artist’s paintings, video and sculpture explore desire, sexuality and violence. She’s the second link in The Chain. Scroll down to see images from her day

British artist Phoebe Collings-James grew up a poster girl for teen-zine, mixed-race models. But rather than being the break-out star, she broke out of the industry. She was 18 and increasingly uncomfortable with the casting process and lingerie shows under the male gaze. “As a model, I have often felt very conflicted as a reluctant acceptable face of blackness,” the Hackney-born, Goldsmiths graduate in fine art told Nylon magazine last year. “I have been used as a token black woman purely because I am ‘not too dark’.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Long Way from Home review – Peter Carey’s best novel in decades

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing on 2018-01-25 04:32Z by Steven

A Long Way from Home review – Peter Carey’s best novel in decades

The Guardian
2018-01-15

Alex Preston

The acclaimed writer’s 14th novel is a nuanced story of racial identity set in postwar Australia

Writers are by nature chameleons, with each new character a new disguise to take on, a fresh skin to inhabit. It shouldn’t surprise, then, that racial passing has such a rich literary history. Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing, is a near-forgotten classic, telling of two mixed-race women, Clare and Irene, who identify as white and black respectively. More recently, we’ve had Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, in which the African American Coleman Silk attempts to pass for a Jewish academic. Then there’s Francis Spufford’s Golden Hill, whose concluding revelation about one of the characters’ racial identities does what all good end-of-book twists ought to, shedding new light on the entire novel.

A Long Way from Home, Peter Carey’s 14th novel, uses the story of a light-skinned Indigenous Australian who has been brought up white to address the country’s brutal history of racism. It seems strange at first that Carey – surely Australia’s greatest living novelist, even if he hasn’t dwelled there for decades – has taken so long to get around to the subject. In a recent interview in the Australian, he said that he’d always felt that it was not the place of a white writer to tell this tale. Then something changed: “You can’t be a white Australian writer and spend your whole life ignoring the greatest, most important aspect of our history, and that is that we – I – have been the beneficiaries of a genocide.”…

Read the entire review here.

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My resolution for 2018 is to trace the family who don’t yet know I exist

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-01-22 02:48Z by Steven

My resolution for 2018 is to trace the family who don’t yet know I exist

The Guardian
2017-12-30

Georgina Lawton

Two years ago I discovered I was not related to my white father. Now, I intend to find out the origins of my blackness

When it comes to setting new year’s resolutions, I am not that bothered about losing weight, exercising more, or becoming more productive (although it would be good to finally get a grip on all those things). Instead, I have decided to make 2018 the year in which I make a serious, wholehearted attempt to trace a family who don’t yet know I exist, and to find out once and for all, in as much detail as I can, the origins of my blackness.

No one realises the difficult nature of this task more than me. As I have previously written, I was raised by two white parents who always assured me that I was related to them both, which led me to identify as white until I was about 15.

The nadir of my life came almost two years ago, when my dad died and a subsequent DNA test confirmed my deepest fears, which had wrapped themselves around my life like the tendrils of a poisonous plant. I was not related to my fantastic father; my mother had been unfaithful with a man she knows little about. It had never been spoken about…

Read the entire article here.

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