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

Read the entire article here.

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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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How Should I Think About Race When Considering a Sperm Donor?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2020-06-23 17:55Z by Steven

How Should I Think About Race When Considering a Sperm Donor?

The Ethicist
The New York Times Magazine
2020-06-16

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Law
New York University


Illustration by Tomi Um

I am an American woman, of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and I strive to live my life as an active agent against racism and white supremacy. I am beginning to consider having children and am open to bearing a child as a single mother. It is possible to sort through sperm donors by race, eye color, education level and so on. If I choose a donor of color, am I condemning my child to be born into a system designed not to serve them? Or can I use my white privilege to help them fight that system? Would my future child of color feel separated from their heritage with me as their mother? If I choose a white donor, am I succumbing to racist ideas of what traits are “desirable,” or taking the “easy road” in knowing my child will look more like me? What do you think? Name Withheld

Women have been making choices about their children’s possible appearance and identity from the beginning of human history. Long before genetics, people knew that parental characteristics show up in their offspring. With modern technologies, the prospects for trying to fix your child’s heritable characteristics are expanding, raising plenty of ethical issues. Race, however, is not a biological fact but a social fact — a social fact that, for example, Americans who are known to have African ancestry are regarded as African-American. What’s more, having an African-American donor doesn’t tell you what your child’s skin or hair will look like. You can be socially black without looking black, like Walter White, the longtime head of the N.A.A.C.P.

I’m spelling all this out because your question about having a child with a sperm donor of color presupposes that it will produce a child who won’t look “white,” and that’s not necessarily the case. Suppose you have a white-looking son with an African-American sperm donor. Then you and your child will have a choice to make about whether he or she should identify as African-American. Some people think that failing to do so — “passing for white” — is somehow dishonest. Yet to hold that you must identify as black in those circumstances would be to accede to a longstanding American notion (“the one-drop rule”) that one black ancestor makes you black. You could reasonably reject that notion, which is rooted in the history of slavery and the nonsensical racial theories that grew up with it…

Read the entire article here.

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The Confederate Flag Didn’t Bother Bubba Wallace. Until It Did.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-06-22 00:05Z by Steven

The Confederate Flag Didn’t Bother Bubba Wallace. Until It Did.

The New York Times
2020-06-19

Juliet Macur


Barry Cantrell

The only black driver in NASCAR’s top tier, he has emerged as an impassioned activist who got the flag banned at races in the largely white sport after years of putting up with it.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., the only black driver in NASCAR’s top racing series, has drawn widespread attention and acclaim for his principled stand that got the Confederate flag banned from races in a largely white sport.

Yet, after years of often quiet acceptance of the sport’s “racist label,” as he put it, nobody was more surprised than his mother that he had become a central figure in the sports world’s upheaval regarding race.

“I was shocked,” his mother, Desiree Wallace, said in a telephone interview. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, is this my son? The one who doesn’t really care about anything but getting in the car and driving?’ I’m tripping that he’s gone from being a racecar driver to becoming a daggone activist. Who does that? Not Bubba.”

Yet a series of events, particularly the killing of a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, while he was jogging in a predominantly white neighborhood in Georgia, flipped a switch in Wallace, he and those who know him said…

Read the entire article here.

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Who Is Bubba Wallace?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2020-06-14 20:10Z by Steven

Who Is Bubba Wallace?

The New York Times
2020-06-12

Victor Mather


Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

He is the only African-American driver in NASCAR’s top-flight racing series, and this week got the organization to bar the Confederate flag at its events.

Bubba Wallace, who instigated NASCAR’s banning of the Confederate flag, is the racing series’ only black driver. That has put him in the spotlight in a sport whose owners, drivers, crews and fans have historically been predominantly white.

What is the history of black drivers in NASCAR?

Wendell Scott was the pioneer, driving on the circuit from 1961 to 1973. Despite regularly facing discrimination, he won a race in 1963 in Jacksonville, Fla., that remains the only one at NASCAR’s top level to be won by an African-American driver. Scott died in 1990.

Although a handful of African-American drivers got into a race or two over the years since, no other black driver had a full-time ride in NASCAR’s top series until Wallace…

Read the entire article here.

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Emma Amos, Painter Who Challenged Racism and Sexism, Dies at 83

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2020-06-14 00:38Z by Steven

Emma Amos, Painter Who Challenged Racism and Sexism, Dies at 83

The New York Times
2020-05-29

Holland Cotter, co-chief art critic


The artist Emma Amos with her 2006 work “Head First.” Her paintings often depicted women flying or falling. Becket Logan

Early in her career she created brightly colored scenes of black middle-class domestic life. Her later work was increasingly personal and experimental.

Emma Amos, an acclaimed figurative artist whose high-color paintings of women flying or falling through space were charged with racial and feminist politics, died on May 20 at her home in Bedford, N.H. She was 83.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said the Ryan Lee Gallery in Manhattan, which represents her.

A key event in Ms. Amos’s career came in 1964. A 27-year-old graduate student in art education at New York University, she was invited to join a newly formed artists group called Spiral.

Its members, all African-American, included Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis and the muralist Hale Woodruff — midcareer artists with substantial reputations. Organized in response to the 1963 March on Washington, the group was formed to discuss and debate the political role of black artists and their work…

…Emma Veoria Amos was born on March 16, 1937, in Atlanta from a lineage that was, by her own account, “African, Cherokee, Irish, Norwegian and God knows what else.” Her parents, India DeLaine Amos and Miles Green Amos, were cousins. Her father, a graduate of Wilberforce University in Ohio, was a pharmacist; her mother, who had a degree in anthropology from Fisk University in Nashville, managed the family-owned Amos Drug Store…

Read the obituary here.

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The Healing Power of ‘Steven Universe’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2020-04-01 01:00Z by Steven

The Healing Power of ‘Steven Universe’

The New York Times

2020-03-28

Nicole Clark

Steven Universe is raised by the Crystal Gems: Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl, female-presenting, nonbinary aliens. Cartoon Network

The hit cartoon series has helped me process my biracial identity.

For most of my life, Taiwan was a place that lived in my head. My mother told me her origin stories like a series of tall tales, full of pitched, tin roofs and fields of underbrush that my grandmother used to drive through on her moped, lifting her legs to avoid snake bites.

Her stories felt like aphorisms I could attach to the idea of being Taiwanese, something I knew I was, but felt no particular ability to locate outside the life I lived in California. I could not get past the differences of our childhoods, the disparities in our means, the foreign topography. It would take me years to realize I’d inherited her cultural traditions and perspectives growing up — and even longer to separate my identity from the need to demonstrate proficiency in it, as if it were a set of actions committed to memory.

When I began watching Rebecca Sugar’s musical cartoon series “Steven Universe” and its limited series spinoff “Steven Universe Future” — which aired its final episodes on Friday — it immediately fit like a familiar sweater. So much of Steven’s coming-of-age story mapped onto my own: We both come from two distinct cultures, the most dominant of which can feel inscrutable….

Read the entire article here.

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This Artist Got His Start as an I.C.U. Nurse

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2020-03-22 01:35Z by Steven

This Artist Got His Start as an I.C.U. Nurse

The New York Times
2020-03-19

Siddhartha Mitter


Nate Lewis at his studio in the Bronx. Ike Edeani for The New York Times

Nate Lewis developed a visual language in the rhythms of EKGs. Now, his intricate works on paper take the scalpel to society.

The artist Nate Lewis left his job as a nurse three years ago, but life on the neurocritical intensive care unit produces memories that don’t readily fade.

The patients battling strokes, seizures, and head injuries. The specialists debating treatment based on test numbers and images. The anxious families keeping watch, looking to the nurse for explanation and reassurance.

“I would show up and these families are giving me everything, telling me their life stories,” Mr. Lewis, 34, recalled of his years at a hospital near Washington, D.C. “I realized what an honor it was to take care of them at this time in their lives.”

One high-stakes drill became familiar: When a patient’s brain, heart or lung functions exceeded the safe range, an alarm would sound, and the monitor would start printing out the relevant graph until the situation was addressed…

…A self-described jock, Mr. Lewis grew up obsessed with basketball, boxed a little and practices capoeira. He implicates his own body in his work, making self-portraits by the same method as portraits of his friends.

They are black, as is he — he grew up in Pennsylvania, the son of a mixed-race couple — and he fielded some criticism at first, he said, for seeming to mutilate black bodies. The accusations of “trauma porn” took him aback. “At that time, I was still thinking in the hospital sense,” he said…

Read the entire article here.

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My Daughter Passes for White

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-03-06 16:08Z by Steven

My Daughter Passes for White

The New York Times
2020-02-29

Seema Jilani, Pediatrician and Humanitarian Aid Worker
Washington, D.C.


Sally Deng

She belongs in a way I never could. I’m comforted — and worried.

I stand in the aisle of the school bus while the other seventh graders snicker and block me from sitting next to them, as they have for the entire school year. Taking my seat next to the bus driver, I look out to the road with resignation. My great-aunt, adorned in a colorful sari, waves goodbye to me while the entire school bus looks on. I want to disappear into the dingy brown vinyl bus seats. With the newfound cruelty of adolescence, I scoff and loudly tell my classmates, “That crazy lady is just my maid.”

I am still ashamed of how I treated my great-aunt. I also know it was a form of preteen self-preservation. I desperately wanted what so many other children that age do: to be as bland and vanilla as possible, just so that I could get through the day without being ostracized.

I now find myself in a mixed marriage, mother to a 3-year-old mixed-race girl who easily passes for white. Her fair skin, auburn hair and light brown eyes do not even hint at her Pakistani background. When I tell people at gatherings that I speak Urdu at home, some are very concerned about whether my daughter will be confused. Yet some are the same families clamoring for their children to get accepted into French-immersion kindergartens. Strangers have asked me whether I am her real mother or have assumed that I’m her nanny. It’s not their belief about my profession that’s disturbing — it’s their certainty that my daughter and I can’t be related because of the colors of our skin…

Read the entire article here.

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Katherine Johnson Dies at 101; Mathematician Broke Barriers at NASA

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2020-02-24 15:55Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson Dies at 101; Mathematician Broke Barriers at NASA

The New York Times
2020-02-24

Margalit Fox


Katherine Johnson, part of a small group of African-American women mathematicians who did crucial work at NASA, in 1966.
NASA/Donaldson Collection, via Getty Images

She was one of a group of black women mathematicians at NASA and its predecessor who were celebrated in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures.”

They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.

Wielding little more than a pencil, a slide rule and one of the finest mathematical minds in the country, Mrs. Johnson, whose death at 101 was announced on Monday by NASA, calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth.

A single error, she well knew, could have dire consequences for craft and crew. Her impeccable calculations had already helped plot the successful flight of Alan B. Shepard Jr., who became the first American in space when his Mercury spacecraft went aloft in 1961.

The next year, she likewise helped make it possible for John Glenn, in the Mercury vessel Friendship 7, to become the first American to orbit the Earth.

Yet throughout Mrs. Johnson’s 33 years in NASA’s Flight Research Division — the office from which the American space program sprang — and for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name…

Read the entire obituary here.

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