Growing, Faltering, Changing, Growing: Lessons From Kay WalkingStick

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2018-06-08 01:53Z by Steven

Growing, Faltering, Changing, Growing: Lessons From Kay WalkingStick

The New York Times
2018-06-07

Holland Cotter, Co-chief Art Critic


Kay WalkingStick’s “New Mexico Desert,” 2011, in which bands of Navajo patterning float across scrub land and mesas as if surveying and protecting them.
National Museum of the American Indian

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — An artist’s career retrospective, if shaped with care, is more than a look at a life of labor. It’s also a record of contingent lives, cultural changes and a political passage in time. This is true of “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist,” an era-spanning survey of this 83-year-old painter at the Montclair Art Museum here. Yet what powers the chronologically arranged show, first and last, is the personal: the sense it gives of one worker growing, changing, faltering, then growing and changing more.

Born in 1935 in Syracuse, Ms. WalkingStick was the child of a biracial marriage: “Syracuse Girl Weds Cherokee Indian” was the headline on the report of her parents’ wedding in the local newspaper. As it turned out, she saw little of her father over the years, though her mother, Scottish-Irish by descent, made a point of instilling pride in her daughter’s Native American heritage.

Ms. WalkingStick studied painting in college, and as a young wife and mother in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s, she continued to paint, keeping a close eye on what was happening in Manhattan. Among the earliest pieces in the show, from 1971, are two crisp, Pop-ish silhouette images in bright colors of female nudes. The artist herself was the model, and feminism — or at least the loosened-up spirit of it — a spur…

Read the entire article here.

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A French-Rwandan Rap Star Turned Novelist From Burundi

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2018-05-30 02:31Z by Steven

A French-Rwandan Rap Star Turned Novelist From Burundi

The New York Times
2018-05-29

Tobias Grey


Small Country,” by Gaël Faye, is about a boy, living in Burundi during the war between the Hutus and Tutsis, who loses his innocence in spite of desperately wanting to cling onto it.
Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

PARIS — “It felt like an injustice to me,” said the rapper and novelist Gaël Faye, about having to leave civil-war-torn Burundi in 1995 to come live in France. Mr. Faye, who was 13 at the time, had to contend with the shock of a new culture and moving with his younger sister into the cramped space of his mother’s apartment in Versailles.

Months went by without unpacking his suitcases. “When I went to school I used to take what I needed and put it back afterward,” the 36-year-old author said in a recent interview in Paris. “I’d convinced myself that any day my father would ring up and tell us that the war had ended and we could come back. But the war ended up lasting until 2005 by which time I was an adult.”

In his first novel, “Small Country” — a huge hit in France when it was published in 2016 and where it sold 700,000 copies — Mr. Faye wrote with a rare and subtle yearning about his youthful escapades in and around Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. It has now been translated from French into English by Sarah Ardizzone and is being released by Hogarth on June 5.

“Small Country,” which in its original language shares the title of one of Mr. Faye’s most popular songs, “Petit Pays,” is told from the perspective of Gabriel, a 10-year-old boy with a French father and a Rwandan mother (the same mixed-race parentage as Mr. Faye). He is part of a gang of young boys sneaking beers in cabaret bars and stealing mangoes from local gardens to sell on the black market…

Read the entire article here.

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We Are the Original Southerners

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, United States on 2018-05-28 01:09Z by Steven

We Are the Original Southerners

The New York Times
2018-05-22

Malinda Maynor Lowery, Associate Professor; Director, Center for the Study of the American South (and Lumbee Indian)
University of North Carolina


An Indian delegation visited the White House Conservatory in 1863 during the Civil War. The story of American Indians during that period is largely overlooked in the contemporary struggle over statues of Confederate soldiers and politicians.
Mathew Brady/Buyenlarge, via Getty Images

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The people clamoring over whether to keep or remove Confederate monuments agree on one thing: This is a black-white issue. Last month, a graduate student doused the University of North Carolina’s Confederate monument in a mixture of her own blood and red ink. The monument, she said, “is the genocide of black people.”

I recognize my blood on these statues, too.

When people see Southern history in black and white, where are American Indians? Most people believe that the American Indian genocide took place long ago. But it wasn’t completely successful. There are over six and a half million American Indians, and many of them live in the South. North Carolina is home to the Lumbee Tribe, the largest tribe of American Indians east of the Mississippi (55,000 strong), of which I am a member. We are the original Southerners, and we shaped and continue to shape Southern history.

And yet even the most progressive Americans don’t seem to realize this. The coalition organized to oppose the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August did not invite any representatives of Virginia’s seven American Indian tribes to participate…

…Indian communities defied the logic of racial segregation; their very existence belied whites’ insistence that there were two races, never to be mixed. In 1924, the Virginia legislature passed the Racial Integrity Act, which outlawed interracial marriage, in part by reclassifying American Indians as “colored.” The act erased the distinct identity that people like Chief Branham are still today trying to protect…

Read the entire article here.

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Meghan Markle and the Bicultural Blackness of the Royal Wedding

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-21 14:33Z by Steven

Meghan Markle and the Bicultural Blackness of the Royal Wedding

The New York Times
2018-05-20

Salamishah Tillet, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their wedding ceremony in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.
Pool photo by WPA

“Who are your people?” is the question that repeatedly came to me as I watched Doria Ragland, Meghan Markle’s mother, sitting a few feet away from her daughter at Saturday’s royal wedding. A common expression among southern African-Americans when greeting a stranger, it is never simply a matter of bloodline or individual biography. Rather, responses like “I’m the daughter of so and so” or “My family comes from here by way of there” serves the greater purpose of attesting to one’s place in history and potential bonds of kinship.

Despite Ms. Ragland’s being the sole member of Ms. Markle’s family at the wedding, we still know so little about her. In contrast to the media obsession with Ms. Markle’s father and his children from his first marriage, Ms. Ragland is a bit of a mystery who rarely gives interviews. As a result of her silence, we are left to deduce meaning from her physical image. As she sat across from the British monarchy in her pale green Oscar de la Renta dress and coat, it was the symbolism of her long dreadlocks, quietly tucked underneath her hat, that spoke volumes as it reminded us that black women’s natural hair is regal too.

Among the group of black women with whom I watched the ceremony early Saturday morning in New Jersey, she was a source of pride. Yet out of a sense of sisterly protection, we were also worried about her as she sat there alone, without siblings or friends. The wedding itself helped alleviate our fears, for even if none were not physically present at St. George’s Chapel, the ceremony was filled with gestures, big and small, that explicitly celebrated her “people” and the various black worlds in which she raised Ms. Markle.

But it was “what are you?” — a substantially more alienating question than “who are your people?” — that Meghan Markle recalls hearing almost every day of her life. In a 2015 essay for Elle magazine, she wrote, “I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook and a firm believer in handwritten notes. A mouthful, yes, but one that I feel paints a pretty solid picture of who I am.” But such an answer is insufficient. Ms. Markle went on, “But here’s what happens: they smile and nod politely, maybe even chuckle, before getting to their point, ‘Right, but what are you? Where are your parents from?’ I knew it was coming, I always do.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Adrian Piper: The Thinking Canvas

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-04-23 00:34Z by Steven

Adrian Piper: The Thinking Canvas

The New York Times
2018-04-19

Holland Cotter, Co-Chief Art Critic


Adrian Piper’s “Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features,” 1981. In all of her work, our critic writes, “her aim is not to assert racial identity but to destabilize the very concept of it.”
The Eileen Harris Norton Collection, via Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin

She’s an artist and scholar, and at “A Synthesis of Intuitions” you see thinking — about gender, racism, art — happening before your eyes.

Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965-2016” at the Museum of Modern Art is a clarifying and complicating 50-year view of a major American artist’s career. It is also an image-altering event for MoMA itself. It makes the museum feel like a more life-engaged institution than the formally polished one we’re accustomed to.

Despite the show’s retrospective cast, we find fiery issues of the present — racism, misogyny, xenophobia — burning in MoMA’s pristine galleries. The reality that art and its institutions are political to the core — both for what they do and do not say — comes through. And the museum, for once, seems intent on asserting this. For the first time it has given over all of its sixth floor special exhibition space to a single living artist. The artist so honored is a woman, who has focused on, among many other things, the hard fact of racism and the fiction of race.

Ms. Piper was born in New York City in 1948 to parents of mixed racial background. (Her father held two official birth certificates. In one he was designated white, in the other octoroon, one-eighth black.) Raised in a cosmopolitan environment, she studied at the Art Students League in her teens, and in 1966 enrolled at the School of Visual Arts. The MoMA show opens with a salon-style hanging of figurative paintings, including self-portraits, from that time, influenced by 1960 psychedelic graphics and by her youthful experiences with LSD

Read the entire review here.

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Review: With ‘Dougla,’ Dance Theater of Harlem Recalls Past Glory

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-11 20:46Z by Steven

Review: With ‘Dougla,’ Dance Theater of Harlem Recalls Past Glory

The New York Times
2018-04-08

Brian Seibert


Alicia Mae Holloway, center, and fellow members of Dance Theater of Harlem performing in “Dougla.”
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The enthusiastic applause for Dance Theater of Harlem’s revival of “Dougla,” at the New York City Center on Friday, started as soon as the curtain rose. The opening image was of a stage full of proudly posed men and women, all in floor-length skirts decorated with little red pom-poms. More of those pom-poms crowned their heads like rooster combs.

Geoffrey Holder, who choreographed “Dougla” in 1974 (and died in 2014), also designed its costumes, and the dance is largely a costume pageant. But it wasn’t just the spectacle that people were cheering.

Long a staple of Dance Theater of Harlem’s repertory, “Dougla” has not been performed by the company since 2004. That year, debt forced the troupe into hiatus, and when the company re-emerged in 2013, its roster had shrunk by more than half…

…“Dougla” is a rather old-fashioned work. The title is a word used, especially in Mr. Holder’s native Trinidad, to label people of mixed South Asian and African descent. As part of its representation of such people, the choreography indulges in a kind of cartoon imitation of Indian dance. While wood blocks crack, heads nod and wobble like the tops of bobblehead dolls. The motion is theatrically effective — that’s why it’s repeated even during the bows — but close to caricature…

Read the entire review here.

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How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Letters, Media Archive on 2018-03-31 02:37Z by Steven

How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

BuzzFeed
2018-03-30


Micah Baldwin / Via Flickr: micahb37

Race has long been a potent way of defining differences between human beings. But science and the categories it constructs do not operate in a political vacuum.

This open letter was produced by a group of 68 scientists and researchers. The full list of signatories can be found below.

In his newly published book Who We Are and How We Got Here, geneticist David Reich engages with the complex and often fraught intersections of genetics with our understandings of human differences — most prominently, race.

He admirably challenges misrepresentations about race and genetics made by the likes of former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade and Nobel Laureate James Watson. As an eminent scientist, Reich clearly has experience with the genetics side of this relationship. But his skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups.

As a group of 68 scholars from disciplines ranging across the natural sciences, medical and population health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, we would like to make it clear that Reich’s understanding of “race” — most recently in a Times column warning that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’” — is seriously flawed…

Read the entire letter here.

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How to Talk About ‘Race’ and Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2018-03-31 02:17Z by Steven

How to Talk About ‘Race’ and Genetics

The New York Times
2018-03-30

David Reich, Professor of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
also, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Angie Wong

In a Sunday Review essay last weekend, David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard, argued that science is changing how we think about “race” and urged a candid discussion of the findings, whatever they may be. Hundreds of readers left comments, many expressing worry about the possibility that the results could be misinterpreted or nefariously applied. Here are Dr. Reich’s responses to some of the comments. — The Editors…

…From my point of view, it should be possible for everyone to hold in their heads the following six truths:

  1. “Race” is fundamentally a social category — not a biological one — as anthropologists have shown.
  2. There are clear genetic contributors to many traits, including behavior.
  3. Present-day human populations, which often but not always are correlated to today’s “race” categories, have in a number of instances been largely isolated from one another for tens of thousands of years. These long separations have provided adequate opportunity for the frequencies of genetic variations to change.
  4. Genetic variations are likely to affect behavior and cognition just as they affect other traits, even though we know that the average genetic influences on behavior and cognition are strongly affected by upbringing and are likely to be more modest than genetic influences on bodily traits or disease.
  5. The genetic variations that influence behavior in one population will almost certainly have an effect on behavior in others populations, even if the ways those genetic variations manifest in each population may be very different. Given that all genetically determined traits differ somewhat among populations, we should expect that there will be differences in the average effects, including in traits like behavior.
  6. To insist that no meaningful average differences among human populations are possible is harmful. It is perceived as misleading, even patronizing, by the general public. And it encourages people not to trust the honesty of scholars and instead to embrace theories that are not scientifically grounded and often racist…

Read the entire article here.

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Census Bureau’s Own Expert Panel Rebukes Decision to Add Citizenship Question

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-31 01:51Z by Steven

Census Bureau’s Own Expert Panel Rebukes Decision to Add Citizenship Question

The New York Times
2018-03-30

Michael Wines, National Correspondent


A Census Bureau panel denounced the decision this week to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, saying it would depress the response.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The Trump administration’s decision to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census, already the target of lawsuits and broad criticism by statistics authorities, drew a new opponent on Friday: the experts who advise the Census Bureau itself.

Those experts — prominent demographers, economists, engineers and others who make up the Census Scientific Advisory Committee — said in a statement that the decision was based on “flawed logic,” could threaten the accuracy and confidentiality of the head count and likely would make it more expensive to conduct.

In the statement, addressed to the acting Census Bureau director, Ron Jarmin, the committee also said it worried about the “implications for attitudes about the Census Bureau,” an allusion to fears that the latest move jeopardized the bureau’s nonpartisan reputation…

Read the entire article here.

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The Americans Our Government Won’t Count

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-30 19:42Z by Steven

The Americans Our Government Won’t Count

Sunday Review
The New York Times
2018-03-30

Alex Wagner, Contributing Editor
The Atlantic


Monica Ramos

Racially speaking, the United States is zero percent Hispanic. This is confusing — especially for America’s nearly 58 million Hispanics.

The United States census breaks our country into six general racial categories: White; Black; Asian; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; American Indian or Alaska Native; and Some Other Race. “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin” is treated not as a race but as an ethnicity — a question asked separately. So someone may be White (Hispanic) or Black (Hispanic) but not simply Hispanic. As a result, many Hispanics check “White” or, increasingly, “Some Other Race.” This ill-defined category is what mixed-race Americans, like me — half Burmese, half Luxembourgian-Irish — often check. It might just as well be called “Generally Brown.” Today, the third-largest racial group in America is “Some Other Race” — and it is made up overwhelmingly of Hispanics.

Equally obscured are America’s estimated 3.7 million residents of Arab descent. With neither a racial nor an ethnic category to call their own, they most often opt for a racial designation of “White.” But to count Yemenis and Syrians as generically white is a complicated proposition these days, when whiteness confers power, and men and women from the Arab world are instead the subjects of travel bans and national security debates.

Nearly four years ago, the Census Bureau began researching how to more accurately represent these populations and decided to combine the race and ethnicity questions into one, and to add two new categories: one for residents of Middle Eastern/North African origin and one for those of Hispanic origin. Many advocates within those groups celebrated the reforms, and the broad expectation was that the next census, in 2020, would incorporate these changes. After all, the bureau itself concluded that they were necessary to “produce the highest quality statistics about our nation’s diverse population.”…

Read the entire article here.

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