A Queer, Biracial Coming-of-Age Memoir Is Equal Parts Pain and Pleasure

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-20 01:57Z by Steven

A Queer, Biracial Coming-of-Age Memoir Is Equal Parts Pain and Pleasure

The New York Times
2019-04-19

Tessa Fontaine


Janice Chang

T Kira Madden, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019)

The tribe of fatherless girls that make up T Kira Madden’s titular chapter are three high school friends bonded by loss, lust, recklessness and love. But the tribe extends much further, shape-shifting throughout the memoir from youthful friendships to romantic partners, from a nuclear family to a revision of that family history. Though the tribe expands, Madden’s devoted, imperfect relationships with girls and women form the centrifugal force around which her story spins. This is a fearless debut that carries as much tenderness as pain. The author never shrinks from putting herself back into the world after every hurt, and we are lucky for it.

The memoir is told in fragmented chapters, many of which read like self-contained essays. They are arranged into three mostly chronological sections that follow Madden’s life from early memories to the death of her father when she is 27. Madden renders her mourning viscerally: “My hands — they are never not shaking,” and yet still, when she falls asleep, “it’s the women who come first.”…

Read the entire book review here.

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I could imagine the disapproval he would have shown for my future husband and son simply because they are black. The thought was unbearable.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-04-20 01:06Z by Steven

I could imagine the disapproval he [my stepfather] would have shown for my future husband and son simply because they are black. The thought was unbearable. Determined not to let a deceased man’s ideas control my life, I decided I would gather my immediate family to be open with them about my love and my pregnancy.

Tina Chang, “With the Birth of My Son, I Stopped Hiding,” The New York Times, April 19, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/19/style/modern-love-no-more-hiding-my-son-or-my-love.html.

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With the Birth of My Son, I Stopped Hiding

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-19 18:12Z by Steven

With the Birth of My Son, I Stopped Hiding

Modern Love
The New York Times
2019-04-19

Tina Chang, Poet Laureate of Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn, New York


Brian Rea

Fearing judgment of her interracial relationship and mixed-race child, a woman keeps both from her family. Until she doesn’t.

My son, Roman, turned to me from his book and said, “Mom, can you throw me a blanket? This is my favorite part in the book and I don’t want to stop.”

When I look at my son, I see myself: the inability to tolerate pain, even from the smallest of physical hurts; the deep fear of the dark, of the deserted street, of that strange insect on the ceiling; and the intense, abiding love of reading.

Most of all, I see myself in his face, the eyes like mine, left slightly larger than right, especially when he’s tired, and the toothy smile that breaks through the most serious situations. All of it: me.

Yet when he and I walk along the street, so many people feel the need to tell me how much he isn’t like me, how incredibly unalike we appear, how he looks just like his father. They say it with such authority.

My son is biracial. His father is Haitian-American and I’m of Chinese descent; Often, I have to work to prove that my son is mine. On our daily subway commute to school, at least one person will look at me, then at him, and then back again. I am forced to see what they see: His skin is darker and his hair wavy, while I’m fair, prone to freckling, with hair that won’t hold a curl. If their eyes happen to meet mine, they’ll catch me glaring, holding them accountable for what I deem to be their silent judgment…

Read the entire article here.

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Liana by Martha Gellhorn (1944)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2019-04-18 19:30Z by Steven

Liana by Martha Gellhorn (1944)Liana by Martha Gellhorn (1944)

Literary Ladies Guide: Inspiration for Readers and Writers from Classic Women Authors
2018-11-25

Taylor Jasmine

Liana by Martha Gellhorn

Martha Gellhorn was married to Ernest Hemingway when Liana, her fifth novel, was published in 1944. She had already made quite a name for herself as a war correspondent by that point and it rankled her to be described as “Mrs. Ernest Hemingway” in reviews of her books.

Though her fiction varied in its quality and critical acclaim, her book of linked stories titled The Trouble I’ve Seen (1936), based on her actual observations as a journalist during the Depression, earned her a great deal of respect.

Her brief marriage to Hemingway was already in jeopardy the year that Liana appeared. In her capacity as a war correspondent, Gellhorn wanted to cover the action, wherever it happened to be…

…The story centers on Liana, who is described as a mulatto, or what we now call mixed-race. She marries Marc Royer, a wealthy white man on a fictional French Caribbean island called Saint Boniface.

For his part, he marries her mainly to spite another woman, and so, Liana is marked by a kind of tragedy in this sense, becoming a prisoner in his home, and a partner to a man who doesn’t fully love her…

Read the entire review here.

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I don’t need a DNA test to tell me that I come from everywhere. Creoles are the original American racial mélange of black and European — French and Spanish mostly — and frequently Native American.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-04-18 01:14Z by Steven

I don’t need a DNA test to tell me that I come from everywhere. Creoles are the original American racial mélange of black and European — French and Spanish mostly — and frequently Native American. But this mélange has hardly been celebrated. Instead, it was the measuring stick for the limits to which Jim Crow laws had to go to police racial lines in Louisiana and the wider South (see one-drop rule, tragic mulatto, Plessy v. Ferguson). Creole multiracialism has been viewed not as quintessentially American but as something that undermines what quintessentially American should mean. Both blacks and whites viewed Creoles with special contempt and more than a little suspicion, as if we were trying to join a club we could never belong to, because of our color.

Erin Aubry Kaplan, “I Don’t Need a DNA Test to Tell Me How Black I Am,” The New York Times, April 16, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/16/opinion/dna-test-23andme-race.html.

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I Don’t Need a DNA Test to Tell Me How Black I Am

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-17 14:08Z by Steven

I Don’t Need a DNA Test to Tell Me How Black I Am

The New York Times
2019-04-16

Erin Aubry Kaplan, Contributing Opinion Writer


Simone Noronha

Tests like 23andMe are a fad that distracts us from the reality of race in America.

When my sister called me a few months ago to say, a little breathlessly, that she had gotten back her results from 23andMe, I snapped at her, “I don’t want to know!” She kept trying to share, but I kept shutting her down, before saying I had to go and hanging up. Afterward I felt a little shaky, as if I’d narrowly escaped disaster.

I’ve never been interested in DNA tests. I have nothing against people discovering they’re 18 percent German or 79 percent Irish, but I think the tests are a fad that distracts us from the harsh realities of race and identity in America. They encourage us to pretend that in terms of shaping who we really are, individual narratives matter more than the narrative of the country as a whole. There is no test for separation and tribalism, and yet they are baked into our cultural DNA.

But that didn’t explain the panic I felt during that phone call. I was a little embarrassed that I couldn’t take the news, whatever that news turned out to be. And then I realized that was it: I didn’t want to “turn out to be” anything more than what I was. I didn’t want my blackness divvied up or deconstructed any more than it has already been, not just in my lifetime but in the history of the Creole people of Louisiana I descend from…

Read the entire article here.

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Descendants Tell Stories of Free People of Color

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2019-03-14 17:12Z by Steven

Descendants Tell Stories of Free People of ColorDescendants Tell Stories of Free People of Color

The New York Times
2019-03-12

Katy Reckdahl


Dwight and Beverly Stanton McKenna on the porch of the museum. “In this area, free people of color left their fingerprints on everything,” Ms. McKenna said. “This is who we are. This is our story.”
Erica Christmas for The New York Times

NEW ORLEANSLe Musée de f.p.c. is devoted to the story of the free people of color of New Orleans, as told by their descendants.

Kim Coleman, 29, a curator at the museum whose grandmother was born three blocks from Le Musée, says that she sees it as a “reminder of who built the city culturally, politically and economically,” even as the black population of the surrounding Tremé-Lafitte neighborhood dropped to 64 percent from 92 percent after Hurricane Katrina.

Before the Civil War, free people of color made up a higher proportion of the population in New Orleans than anywhere else in the United States. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, free black residents made up about 20 percent of the city’s population, largely because French and Spanish officials had allowed enslaved people to purchase their freedom.

Le Musée de f.p.c. is on the first floor of a grand, white-pillared mansion on Esplanade Avenue. Two hundred years ago, French-speaking Afro-Creole free people of color owned much of the property along Esplanade, a broad boulevard shaded by massive, gnarled live oak trees…

Read the entire article here.

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NASA Renames Facility After Katherine Johnson of ‘Hidden Figures’ Fame

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-02-25 01:25Z by Steven

NASA Renames Facility After Katherine Johnson of ‘Hidden Figures’ Fame

The New York Times
2019-02-23

Elisha Brown


Katherine Johnson, left, and Christine Darden, two of the first African-American women to work as mathematicians at NASA. The agency named a facility in Ms. Johnson’s honor on Friday. Chet Strange for The New York Times

NASA on Friday officially renamed a facility in West Virginia after Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician and centenarian whose barrier-breaking career was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.”

The 2016 film, based on a book released earlier that year, depicted the struggle of Ms. Johnson and other black women for equality at NASA during the height of the space age and segregation. The mathematician tracked the trajectories of crucial missions in the 1960s.

“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, said Friday in a statement. A dedication ceremony is to be held at a later time.

The newly renamed facility, which is in Fairmont, W.Va., will now be known as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility. The program housed at the facility monitors the software used to track high-profile NASA missions, according to the agency’s website…

Read the entire article here.

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How My Southeast L.A. Culture Got to Japan

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-19 19:15Z by Steven

How My Southeast L.A. Culture Got to Japan

The New York Times
2019-02-19

Walter Thompson-Hernández

I grew up with Chicano and Chicana culture in Los Angeles and heard it had spread to Japan. I wondered: Is this cultural appropriation?

I grew up in southeast Los Angeles, the son of an African-American father and Mexican mother, and the concept of identity is a theme that has been central to my life and a thread that weaves through many of my stories. I heard a rumor that lowrider culture — a community with an affinity for cars, outfit with intricate designs, multicolored lights and heavily tinted windows that can be traced in Southern California to as far back as the 1940s — had traveled to Japan. Apparently a Japanese journalist came to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to cover a lowrider event and returned to Japan with photos and stories to share…

Read the story here and watch the video here.

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In This Ingenious Satire, a Father Goes to Extremes to Protect His Son From Racism

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-15 21:03Z by Steven

In This Ingenious Satire, a Father Goes to Extremes to Protect His Son From Racism

Book Review
The New York Times
2019-02-13

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


Maurice Carlos Ruffin Clare Welsh

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow, A Novel (New York: One World, 2019)

Good questions breathe life into the world. “We Cast a Shadow,” Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, asks some of the most important questions fiction can ask, and it does so with energetic and acrobatic prose, hilarious wordplay and great heart.

“We Cast a Shadow” is the story of a black lawyer in a version of the American South. We are dropped into a future where the country is even more willing than now to follow its worst, most racist inclinations. The unnamed narrator describes how, in the next state over, black people must wear tracking devices.

The novel draws its power from this unnamed man’s love for his family, particularly for his biracial son, Nigel. The narrator loves his son so much it seems he can’t even see him. What he does see is the boy’s figure outlined and defined by all the lurking dangers to his person and his potential. Our narrator is especially worried because of the metastasizing birthmarks that cover his son’s body: differently sized tokens of color that remind the world that Nigel is black, a fate as unfortunate as any in the mind of his father…

Read the entire review here.

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