West Point Cadet, Simone Askew, Breaks a Racial and Gender Barrier

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-08-16 14:28Z by Steven

West Point Cadet, Simone Askew, Breaks a Racial and Gender Barrier

The New York Times
2017-08-14

Emily Cochrane


Simone Askew became the first African-American woman to hold the highest student position at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As a 6-year-old child camping in the Virginia woods, Simone Askew marched for fun, wielding a plastic gun and leading her young sister and friends in formation. A few years later, the sight of Navy midshipmen striding across an Annapolis football field solidified her desire to be the person who led troops.

“What does it take,” she asked her mother at the football game, pointing to the cadets, “to lead that?”

On Monday, more than a decade after her pretend marches in the woods, Cadet Askew, now 20, led the freshmen Army cadets for 12 miles — the first African-American woman to hold the highest student position at the United States Military Academy. As the West Point corps of cadets first captain, the Northern Virginia resident will not only be at the forefront of every academy event, but she will set the class agenda and oversee the roughly 4,400 students…

…Cadet Askew’s mother, who works to develop affordable housing, is white and is divorced from Cadet Askew’s father, who is African-American. The mother is nervous about the pressure she knows her daughter will put on herself, aware of the spotlight she’s under at West Point.

“I look forward to the end of her term in this position where many say she was an amazing first captain, not just she was an amazing African-American female first captain,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Felton is in many ways a historical hiccup, a throwback to a bygone racial trope: the “tragic mulatto” of books like Mark Twain’s “Pudd’nhead Wilson” and William Faulkner’s “Light in August.” Like so many terrorists, he was a man at war not just with the government but with history itself.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-08-16 02:10Z by Steven

[Leo] Felton’s subterranean journey into whiteness came during a historical moment in which many Americans, particularly those of his generation, were redefining their races in a very different way from the way Felton did: identifying themselves, in growing numbers, as multiracial. Multiracial activism flourished during the 90’s, with marches in Washington, magazines dedicated to interracial couples and a successful lobbying effort to include more complicated definitions of race on the 2000 Census form. (Seven million Americans ultimately chose to identify themselves by more than one race in that census.) Felton is in many ways a historical hiccup, a throwback to a bygone racial trope: the “tragic mulatto” of books like Mark Twain’sPudd’nhead Wilson” and William Faulkner’sLight in August.” Like so many terrorists, he was a man at war not just with the government but with history itself.

Paul Tough, “The Black Supremacist,” The New York Times Magazine, May 25, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/25/magazine/the-black-supremacist.html.

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The Black Supremacist

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-16 01:49Z by Steven

The Black Supremacist

The New York Times Magazine
2003-05-25

Paul Tough

Leo Felton walked out of prison on Jan. 28, 2001, looking like a man ready to take his place in American society. He had spent 11 years in the custody of the state, but now, at 30, he had served his time and seemed ready to settle down. He moved into the apartment that his wife, Lisa, had found for them in Ipswich, an old-fashioned New England town north of Boston. He got a decent job doing construction. It was a cold winter, but Lisa and Leo took walks in the woods together and rode their bicycles all over town.

Felton managed to stay free for only three months. He is back in prison now, beginning a 21-year sentence for crimes he committed after his release. The prosecutor in the case said in court that Felton was a racial terrorist, that he had been “plotting to use violent terrorist actions, like blowing up the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in the hope and belief that such actions would spark and ignite a racial war, a racial holy war, that would bring about this new, all-white nation.” In a letter that Felton wrote to the judge, after he was found guilty, he confirmed that his ultimate goal was to establish “a politically and territorially autonomous White nation somewhere in North America.” He wrote that given the way things had looked to him at the time he got out of prison, he wasn’t able to see any path that seemed like “an honorable alternative to armed revolt.”…

I recently went to visit Felton in prison in Massachusetts (the only time we met face to face over the course of several months of conversation by phone), and we talked for half an hour through an inch-thick slice of Plexiglas, each of us with a phone held up to an ear. Felton is a lean, tall, imposing man with tattoos up and down each arm and the word “skinhead” inked into his shaved scalp in inch-high Gothic letters. His gaze was intent, and his vivid, expressive face shifted rapidly from humor to anger and back again; his voice was loud and deep, and his speech carried within it all the contradictions of the jailhouse autodidact. He swore frequently, turning venomous when talking about the “maggots” guarding the maximum-security wing of the prison where he was being held. But when our conversation shifted to politics or books or an article he had enjoyed in the latest New Yorker, his vocabulary blossomed with words like “aegis” and “Weltanschauung” and references to Dostoevsky.

If you know Leo Felton’s story, it is difficult, when you first meet him, to concentrate on anything other than his appearance. It’s not just the tattoos. He has spent many years devoted to the idea of racial separation, to the belief that Americans should be divided by the color of their skin. But his own appearance is hard to define. His skin is olive-colored. His features are angular. It’s not hard to believe what he wrote in a letter to a racist friend just before he got out of prison, that he is “¼ English and ¾ Italian.”

But, in fact, he is the product of a short-lived and idealistic late-60’s marriage between a white former nun named Corinne Vincelette and a black architect named Calvin Felton. That is Leo Felton’s biological reality, despite his elaborate attempt, over the last decade, to rebel against it. It is a reality that he blames for many of the wrong turns that his life has taken, a reality that he successfully shielded from his brothers in the movement for years, a reality that only now, back in prison, is he trying to understand in a new way…

Read the entire article here.

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Mike Tirico Would Like to Talk About Anything but Mike Tirico

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-07-18 20:36Z by Steven

Mike Tirico Would Like to Talk About Anything but Mike Tirico

The New York Times
2017-07-15

Juliet Macur


Mike Tirico in the NBC booth before calling the Belmont Stakes. Tirico will take over for Bob Costas as the host of the Winter Olympics next year but prefers to avoid talking about himself and his background.
Credit Uli Seit for The New York Times

BALTIMORE — Don’t pay any attention to Mike Tirico, even if you’ll be seeing much more of him, and soon.

Tirico has been a fixture in sports broadcasting for nearly three decades, his voice a prominent and familiar soundtrack for football and basketball and soccer and tennis and — actually, you name the sport, and he has probably worked it.

This week, he’ll host his 21st British Open. In the fall, he will take over Al Michaels’s spot on “Thursday Night Football.” Next February, he will replace Bob Costas as the host of NBC’s Olympics coverage, a not-so-subtle hint that he also is the network’s choice as the new face of NBC Sports.

Yet don’t mind Tirico. He insists. When he was in Baltimore in May to call the Preakness Stakes for NBC, he explained why he wants it that way.

In contrast to the yelling, preening and debating in vogue on sports shows, Tirico said, he strives to be an invisible narrator. It is an old-school notion, but Tirico’s shtick is that he doesn’t have a shtick — and that might just be why he appeals to such a broad audience…

…Those questions stem from a 1991 profile of him in The Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., when he was just starting his career. In that article, Tirico said he wasn’t sure if he was black.

Ever since, perhaps regretting offering even that small peek into his private life, he has preferred to avoid the subject. Though he once described his relatives as “as white as the refrigerator I’m standing in front of right now,” a Washington Post article in 1997 described Tirico as “the first black play-by-play man (with a little Italian heritage in the family tree) to handle a golf telecast.”

But these days, at a time when the nation is transfixed by a discussion of race relations, Tirico just doesn’t want to go there. He told me to say he was mixed race, and that was that…

Read the entire article here.

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A Long, Long Look at Obama’s Life, Mostly Before the White House

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-06-13 17:30Z by Steven

A Long, Long Look at Obama’s Life, Mostly Before the White House

Books of The Times
The New York Times
2017-05-01

Michiko Kakutani, Chief Book Critic

RISING STAR
The Making of Barack Obama

By David J. Garrow
1,460 pages. William Morrow. $45.

Rising Star,” the voluminous 1,460-page biography of Barack Obama by David J. Garrow, is a dreary slog of a read: a bloated, tedious and — given its highly intemperate epilogue — ill-considered book that is in desperate need of editing, and way more exhausting than exhaustive.

Many of the more revealing moments in this volume will be familiar to readers of Obama’s own memoir, “Dreams From My Father”; a host of earlier books about Obama and his family; and myriad profiles of the former president that have appeared in newspapers and magazines over the years. Garrow has turned up little that’s substantially new — save for identifying and interviewing an old girlfriend from Obama’s early Chicago years, who claims that by 1987, “he already had his sights on becoming president.”

In the absence of thoughtful analysis or a powerful narrative through line, Garrow’s book settles for barraging the reader with a cascade of details — seemingly in hopes of creating a kind of pointillist picture. The problem is that all these data points never connect to form an illuminating portrait; the book does not open out to become the sort of resonant narrative that Robert A. Caro and Ron Chernow have pioneered, in which momentous historical events are deftly recreated, and a subject’s life is situated in a time and a place. Instead, Garrow has expended a huge amount of energy — his bibliography, including interviews with more than a thousand people, runs to 35 pages — on giving us minutely detailed accounts of early chapters of Obama’s life, like his years at Harvard Law School, his time in Chicago as a community organizer, and his work in the Illinois State Senate. Garrow gets to Obama’s presidency only in an epilogue…

…It’s odd that Garrow should seize on one former lover’s anger and hurt, and try to turn them into a Rosebud-like key to the former president’s life, referring to her repeatedly in his epilogue. He even tries to turn her perception — about Obama’s having willed himself into being — into a pejorative, when the act of self-invention, as other biographers have noted, was the enterprising and existential act of a young man who essentially had been abandoned by both his black father and white mother, and who found himself caught between cultures and trying, as he wrote in “Dreams,” “to raise myself to be a black man in America.”…

Read the entire review here.

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Malcolm Gladwell Polishes His Podcast in a Brooklyn Studio

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-13 00:35Z by Steven

Malcolm Gladwell Polishes His Podcast in a Brooklyn Studio

Encounters
The New York Times
2017-06-10

Erin Geiger Smith


The New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell recording his podcast, “Revisionist History,” in Downtown Brooklyn.
Credit Andrew White for The New York Times

It was a windy spring afternoon, though that’s not why Malcolm Gladwell’s hair was standing straight up as he hurried into a recording studio in Downtown Brooklyn.

Mr. Gladwell, known aesthetically for his finger-in-the-light-socket hair and otherwise as a longtime writer for The New Yorker and a best-selling author many times over, was recording his popular podcast, “Revisionist History.”

The podcast, which examines historical events he deems “overlooked and misunderstood,” and things he has personally obsessed with, like a forgotten Elvis Costello song, now take up half of Mr. Gladwell’s year…

Read the entire article here.

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‘We Are Not Unusual Anymore’: 50 Years of Mixed-Race Marriage in U.S.

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-12 20:57Z by Steven

‘We Are Not Unusual Anymore’: 50 Years of Mixed-Race Marriage in U.S.

The New York Times
2017-06-11

Jennifer Medina, National Correspondent
Los Angeles, California


Rosina and Leon Watson last week in St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Oakland, Calif. They were married in the church in 1950, 17 years before Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court case allowing interracial marriage.
Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

OAKLAND, Calif. — For their first date, in 1949, Leon Watson and Rosina Rodriquez headed to the movie theater. But each entered separately. First went Ms. Rodriquez, a fair-skinned woman who traces her roots to Mexico. Mr. Watson, who is black, waited several minutes before going in and sitting next to her.

“We always did it,” Mr. Watson said one recent afternoon. “They looked at you like you were in a zoo. We just held our heads high and kept going. If we knew there would be a problem, we stayed away from it.”

When they married in Oakland in 1950, mixed-race marriage had just become legal in California, the result of a lawsuit that reached the State Supreme Court. They are among the oldest living interracial couples legally married in the United States. It would be nearly two decades before all couples like them across the country were allowed to marry.

On Monday, they will mark the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court case that overturned antimiscegenation laws nationwide. Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and a white man, had been sentenced to a year in a Virginia prison for marrying each other. The case would serve as a basis for the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage

Read the entire article here.

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Loving, 50 Years Later

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-12 16:10Z by Steven

Loving, 50 Years Later

The New York Times
2017-06-12


Barb and Matt Roose
Married: Medina, Ohio, July 18, 1992

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws restricting interracial marriage. Recently, we asked readers to share their experiences about being in a mixed-race relationship. We received more than 2,000 stories in just a few days.

Many people expressed profound ambivalence about the categories that drove antimiscegenation rules, while they described how their racial identity — or how others identified them — continued to shape their relationships and their social interactions. Some wrote about the resistance they faced from family and society, while others celebrated the particular richness of their lives. Here are some of those stories…

Read the entire article here.

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How Interracial Love Is Saving America

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-04 21:17Z by Steven

How Interracial Love Is Saving America

The New York Times
2017-06-03

Sheryll Cashin, Professor of Law
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.


Mildred and Richard Loving in 1965.
Credit Estate of Grey Villet

As a descendant of slaves and slaveholders, I embody uncomfortable incongruities — just as America does. In “Notes on the State of Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson wrote with anguish about the risks of amalgamation, or interracial sex, to a new nation. Whites were “stained” when they mixed with blacks, whom he speculated were inferior in mind and form.

There was a Strom Thurmond-esque artificiality to this cry for racial purity. Southern patriarchs made an art out of objecting to what was happening under their own noses — or pelvises. As history would prove, human urges, whether violent or amorous, inevitably muddy lines, and master-slave rape and coupling produced many mixed people.

Today, the “ardent integrators” who pursue interracial relationships are motivated by love and are our greatest hope for racial understanding. Although America is in a state of toxic polarity, I am optimistic. Through intimacy across racial lines, a growing class of whites has come to value and empathize with African-Americans and other minorities. They are not dismantling white supremacy so much as chipping away at it…

Read the entire article here.

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The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-18 19:53Z by Steven

The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

The New York Times
2017-05-18

Rogers Brubaker, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles


Rachel Dolezal in 2015. The controversy over her choice to identify as black has lingered.
Credit Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

Rogers Brubaker is a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities.”

The world of academic philosophy is ordinarily a rather esoteric one. But Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defense of Transracialism,” published in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia this spring, has generated a broad public discussion.

Dr. Tuvel was prompted to write her article by the controversy that erupted when Rachel Dolezal, the former local N.A.A.C.P. official who had long presented herself as black, was revealed to have grown up white. The Dolezal story broke just 10 days after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut, and the two discussions merged. If Ms. Jenner could identify as a woman, could Ms. Dolezal identify as black? If transgender was a legitimate social identity, might transracial be as well? Dr. Tuvel’s article subjected these public debates to philosophical scrutiny.

The idea of transracialism had been rejected out of hand by the cultural left. Some worried — as many cultural conservatives indeed hoped — that this seemingly absurd idea might undermine the legitimacy of transgender claims. Others argued that if self-identification were to replace ancestry or phenotype as the touchstone of racial identity, this would encourage “racial fraud” and cultural appropriation. Because race has always been first and foremost an externally imposed classification, it is understandable that the idea of people declaring themselves transracial struck many as offensively dismissive of the social realities of race…

Read the entire article here.

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