The Black Violinist Who Inspired Beethoven

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2020-09-11 02:13Z by Steven

The Black Violinist Who Inspired Beethoven

The New York Times
2020-09-04

Patricia Morrisroe


The violinist George Bridgetower has, like so many other Black artists, been largely forgotten by a history that belongs to those who control the narrative. The Trustees of the British Museum, via Art Resource, NY

George Bridgetower, the original dedicatee of the “Kreutzer” Sonata, was a charismatic prodigy but faded into history.

Six months after Beethoven contemplated suicide, confessing his despair over his increasing deafness in the 1802 document known as the Heiligenstadt Testament, he was carousing in taverns with a charismatic new comrade, George Polgreen Bridgetower. This biracial violinist had recently arrived in Vienna, and inspired one of Beethoven’s most famous and passionate pieces, the “Kreutzer” Sonata.

Beethoven even dedicated the sonata to Bridgetower. But the irritable composer — who would later remove the dedication to Napoleon from his Third Symphony — eventually took it back.

While Napoleon didn’t need Beethoven to secure his place in history, this snub reduced Bridgetower to near obscurity. Though his name was included in Anton Schindler’s 1840 biography of Beethoven, he was described inaccurately as “an American sea captain.” Like so many Black artists prominent in their lifetimes, he has been largely forgotten by a history that belongs to those who control the narrative.

Bridgetower was born on Aug. 13, 1778, in eastern Poland, and christened Hieronymus Hyppolitus de Augustus. His father, Joanis Fredericus de Augustus, was of African descent; his mother, Maria Schmid, was German-Polish, making Bridgetower what was then known as a mulatto, a person of mixed race. (The poet Rita Dove’s 2008 book “Sonata Mulattica,” an imagined chronicle of Bridgetower’s life, has helped raise his profile a bit in recent years.)…

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Black, Native American and Fighting for Recognition in Indian Country

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2020-09-11 01:10Z by Steven

Black, Native American and Fighting for Recognition in Indian Country

The New York Times
2020-09-08

Jack Healy, Rocky Mountain correspondent


Ron Graham’s father, Theodore Graham, center, as a youth with his youngest sibling, Rowena, on his lap, in a photograph from around 1912. Mr. Graham spent decades assembling documentation showing that he is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. via Ron Graham

Enslaved people were also driven west along the Trail of Tears. After a historic Supreme Court ruling, their descendants are fighting to be counted as tribal members.

OKMULGEE, Okla. — Ron Graham never had to prove to anyone that he was Black. But he has spent more than 30 years haunting tribal offices and genealogical archives, fighting for recognition that he is also a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“We’re African-American,” Mr. Graham, 55, said. “But we’re Native American also.”

His family history is part of a little-known saga of bondage, blood and belonging within tribal nations, one that stretches from the Trail of Tears to this summer of uprisings in America’s streets over racial injustice.

His ancestors are known as Creek Freedmen. They were among the thousands of African-Americans who were once enslaved by tribal members in the South and who migrated to Oklahoma when the tribes were forced off their homelands and marched west in the 1830s…

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Journalist Quits Kenosha Paper in Protest of Its Jacob Blake Rally Coverage

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-09-03 18:29Z by Steven

Journalist Quits Kenosha Paper in Protest of Its Jacob Blake Rally Coverage

The New York Times
2020-08-31

Marc Tracy


The journalist Daniel J. Thompson resigned in protest from his job at The Kenosha News after objecting to its coverage of a rally in support of Jacob Blake. Daniel J. Thompson

Daniel Thompson, an editor at The Kenosha News, resigned over a headline that highlighted a speaker who made a threat during a peaceful protest.

A journalist resigned on Saturday from his job at The Kenosha News after objecting to the headline of an article that chronicled a rally in support of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a white Kenosha police officer.

The journalist, Daniel J. Thompson, a digital editor who said he was the only full-time Black staff member at the paper, which covers southeastern Wisconsin, said the headline did not accurately sum up the article and gave a false impression of the rally itself, which he attended. The rally for Mr. Blake, who was left paralyzed by the shooting on Aug. 23, included calls for unity from his father, Jacob Blake Sr., and Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes, the article said.

The headline, which appeared on the Kenosha News website on Saturday, highlighted a remark from one rally participant: “Kenosha speaker: ‘If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.’” The online version of the article included a 59-second video showing the person who spoke those words, a Black man who was not identified by name.

Mr. Thompson, who joined the paper’s newsroom three years ago, said he found the headline off-base. “The story is about the entire reaction of all the speakers and people in attendance, and that quote is one outlier falling within a flood of positive ones,” he said in an interview…

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Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

Posted in Africa, Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-07-24 03:03Z by Steven

Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

The New York Times
2020-07-23

Christine Kenneally


An 1823 cross-section diagram of a ship used to carry enslaved people. incamerastock/Alamy

Scientists from the consumer genetics company 23andMe have published the largest DNA study to date of people with African ancestry in the Americas.

More than one and a half centuries after the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended, a new study shows how the brutal treatment of enslaved people has shaped the DNA of their descendants.

The report, which included more than 50,000 people, 30,000 of them with African ancestry, agrees with the historical record about where people were taken from in Africa, and where they were enslaved in the Americas. But it also found some surprises.

For example, the DNA of participants from the United States showed a significant amount of Nigerian ancestry — an unexpected finding, as the historical record does not show evidence of enslaved people taken directly to the United States from Nigeria.

At first, historians working with the researchers “couldn’t believe the amount of Nigerian ancestry in the U.S.,” said Steven Micheletti, a population geneticist at 23andMe who led the study…

…The 23andMe project found this general pattern, but also uncovered a startling difference in the experience of men and women between regions in the Americas.

The scientists calculated that enslaved women in the United States contributed 1.5 times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than enslaved men. In the Latin Caribbean, they contributed 13 times more. In Northern South America, they contributed 17 times more.

What’s more, in the United States, European men contributed three times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than European women did. In the British Caribbean, they contributed 25 times more…

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The Man Striving to Be the ‘Canadian Obama’

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2020-07-17 16:15Z by Steven

The Man Striving to Be the ‘Canadian Obama’

The New York Times
2020-07-10

Dan Bilefsky, Canada Correspondent


“The abuse of power has plagued brown and Black people, and we have had enough,” Balarama Holness said. Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times

Balarama Holness, 36, a law student and community organizer who once played professional Canadian football, is becoming a leading voice against systemic racism in his country.

MONTREAL — For Balarama Holness, the defining moment of his life happened four years before he was born. It was at a Bob Marley concert in Montreal, when the eyes of his Québécois mother and his Jamaican father interlocked as the singer wailed, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!

It was the final year of the freewheeling 1970s, and his adventurous Francophone mother and ascetic Anglophone father were strangers in a sprawling hockey arena. But Mr. Holness said barriers of language and race momentarily collapsed as the Marley anthem washed over the crowd — a rare alchemy that he said he had spent his whole life chasing.

“The music dissolved fictitious divisions in society,” Mr. Holness said, “and somewhere between the dreadlocks, the Jamaican patois and Québécois French, the seeds of my existence were sowed, along with my future as a rebel.”

Educator, broadcaster, law student and former championship-winning professional Canadian football player, Mr. Holness, 36, aspires to be a “Canadian Obama” — another “biracial lawyer,” he observes, who cut his teeth as a community organizer. His other role model is Colin Kaepernick, the Black quarterback whose kneeling during the American national anthem before N.F.L. games became a potent symbol against racial and social injustice.

Mr. Holness’s outsized swagger and ambition are perhaps inevitable — he noted that because of his parents’ respect for Hindu tradition, they named him Balarama, considered by some a god with extraordinary strength. A first cousin, Andrew Holness, is Jamaica’s prime minister.

In Balarama Holness’s case, he has grabbed Canadian headlines after mobilizing a grass-roots movement over the past two years that pushed Montreal’s City Hall to hold hearings on systemic racism. That is no small accomplishment in Quebec, a French-majority province where the government has repeatedly denied the existence of systemic racism

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Today, one in four Latin Americans self-identify as having African ancestry, according to a recent World Bank report (approximately 645 million people live in Latin America and the Caribbean).

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2020-07-08 18:58Z by Steven

Today, one in four Latin Americans self-identify as having African ancestry, according to a recent World Bank report (approximately 645 million people live in Latin America and the Caribbean). But, as the report explains, Afro-descendants are “underrepresented in decision-making positions, both in the private and the public sector,” and they “are 2.5 times more likely to live in chronic poverty than whites or mestizos.”

Jorge Ramos, “A Hard Conversation for the Latino Community,” The New York Times, July 3, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/03/opinion/ramos-afro-latinos-racism.html.

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A Hard Conversation for the Latino Community

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-07-07 02:21Z by Steven

A Hard Conversation for the Latino Community

The New York Times
2020-07-03

Jorge Ramos, Television Anchor
Univision


Ilia Calderón onstage during Univision’s Premio Lo Nuestro 2020 at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, in February. Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Racism is deeply rooted in America’s social system, putting Afro-Latinos at a constant disadvantage.

MIAMI — Every weeknight, I sit down next to my co-anchor Ilia Calderón to host the Spanish-language news program “Noticiero Univision.” Although our many viewers have come to know Ms. Calderón’s face, not many know how much she has had to overcome to sit in that chair. Her story, like that of many Latinos with African ancestry in the United States, is one of tremendous personal achievement, as well as astonishing perseverance in the face of deep-seated racism.

Ms. Calderón was born in the Chocó region of Colombia, a place she describes as “our little Black paradise.” When Ilia was 10, she left home to study in a Catholic school in Medellín, where one of the white students was so disgusted by the color of Ilia’s skin — and so proud of her own fair complexion — that she told Ilia, “You’re Black? Not even my horse is black!” That first encounter with racism in Latin America left a mark on Ilia — one she never forgot.

When she moved to Miami in 2001 to pursue a career in journalism, things weren’t much different. “I had to endure racism in Colombia,” she told me recently, “and it turns out that here I have to face the same thing. It’s how they look at you, how they behave when you are around. …It’s like you have to go through that experience twice: For being Hispanic and also for being Black.”

According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, 24 percent of the roughly 54 million Hispanics living in the United States at the time self-identified as Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean or as another, more specific Afro-Latino identity, such as Afro-Colombian. At the same time, 34 percent identified as “mestizo, mulatto or some other mixed race.”…

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Soledad O’Brien: A MeToo Moment for Journalists of Color

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2020-07-05 20:14Z by Steven

Soledad O’Brien: A MeToo Moment for Journalists of Color

The New York Times
2020-07-04

Soledad O’Brien


Soledad O’Brien Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

We’re finally feeling empowered to speak openly about racism in the newsroom.

Every journalist of color has a story.

My first job as an on-air reporter was at KRON in San Francisco from 1993 to 1996. I saw my new colleagues having a lively conversation and wanted to jump in. I discovered that they were talking about the “affirmative-action hire,” who turned out to be me. That’s how they saw me — it didn’t matter that I’d been a researcher and producer at NBC News or that I had gone to Harvard.

At that same job, the managers half-joked that they had taken their lives into their own hands when their morning commute was rerouted through Oakland. I was the bureau chief for the East Bay, which includes Oakland, and they would be signing off on my reports hours later.

So, as other journalists of color in these recent weeks have spoken up about their lack of representation and influence in newsrooms, and how that warps coverage, I know exactly what they’re talking about: how treatment leads to unfair coverage. What’s most disturbing, though, is how much their stories, in 2020, sound like mine from several decades ago…

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You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Justice, United States on 2020-06-26 18:10Z by Steven

You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument

The New York Times
2020-06-26

Caroline Randall Williams, poet


P.S. Spencer

The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them?

NASHVILLE — I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.

If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.

Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. It fortifies and heartens me to witness the protests against this practice and the growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants to redress it. But there are still those — like President Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell — who cannot understand the difference between rewriting and reframing the past. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective.

I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow

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Brit Bennett’s New Novel Explores the Power and Performance of Race

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-06-26 03:17Z by Steven

Brit Bennett’s New Novel Explores the Power and Performance of Race

The New York Times
2020-05-26

Parul Sehgal, Book Critic

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half, A Novel (New York: Riverhead Books, 2020)

No nation can lay lasting claim to a genre, save perhaps one. The story of racial passing is a uniquely and intensely American form. From its earliest avatars, the 19th-century novel “Clotel,” for example, to Langston Hughes’s short stories and Nella Larsen’s 1929 masterpiece, “Passing,” to the melodrama films of the 1950s, like “Pinky” and “Imitation of Life,” it is a story central to the American imagination, re-examined and retold so regularly it seems to enjoy a perpetual heyday.

In recent years, passing narratives have shed their sentimentality and turned surreal (Boots Riley’s film “Sorry to Bother You”), comic (Spike Lee’sBlacKkKlansman”) and playful (Mat Johnson’s novel “Loving Day”). Others have flipped the formula so that it is black identity that is coveted by characters who are racially ambiguous (in the fiction of Danzy Senna, for example) or plainly white (as in Nell Zink’s novel “Mislaid”).

Through all the ways the genre has been rewritten, its potency has remained — its singular ability to enact the notion of race as arbitrary, as a performance, as something seen through, all the while inscribing its power as a source of kinship, pain and pride. Certainly few transgressions are punished so severely in literature. To pass is to court moral ruin; it is an elective orphanhood (in “Imitation of Life,” passing results in actual matricide), depicted as a kind of amputation or suicide.

In her new novel, “The Vanishing Half,” Brit Bennett brings to the form a new set of provocative questions: What if passing goes unpunished? What if the character is never truly found out? What if she doesn’t die or repent? What then?…

Read the entire book review here.

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