Escape From Blackness: Once Upon a Time in Creole America

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-10-29 01:55Z by Steven

Escape From Blackness: Once Upon a Time in Creole America

The Village Voice
2019-12-04

Originally published on 1994-12-08 as “Fade to Black: Once Upon a Time in Multi-Racial America”

Joe Wood

“Growing up in New Orleans,” you told me later, “it would be impossible to see race as anything but socially constructed. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

“METTÉ MILATE
ENHAUT CHOUAL,
LI VA DÎ NÉGRESSE PAS
SO MAMAN.”

“JUST PUT A
MULATTO ON HORSEBACK,
AND HE’LL TELL
YOU HIS MOTHER WASN’T
A NEGRESS.”

—Creole proverb, as translated
by Lafcadio Hearn, 1885

NEW ORLEANS — It was late and the show was finished. We were hungry and drunk. Adolph said Mulé’s was probably closed by now but he knew a place to eat on the other side of town. “Maybe you’ll see some of them over there, too,” he said. Adolph is a scholar of African American history and politics, and he was raised in New Orleans and knew how they looked and where they ate. They liked Mulé’s, a seventh-ward diner that serves the best oyster rolls in the city. The other place, Adolph said, was also good for observations, but far below seventh-ward culinary standards. It turned out to be an all-night fast-food joint, lighted too brightly, with a listless crowd of party people waiting in broken lines for some uninspired fried fare.

For a moment I forgot entirely about them and they. I wanted to try an oyster roll but there were none left, so I ordered a chicken sandwich “dressed” with lettuce and tomato and mayonnaise. The woman at the cash register seemed bored by my enthusiasm, and sighed, and in response I noted her skin color. She was dark. I turned my head and checked out two sleepy-eyed girls in the next line. They looked tired in their frilly prom dresses; their skin was waxen, the sad pale finish of moonlight. I knew — oh, I hesitated a moment, because I could see how a hasty eye might have thought them white, but I knew. Turning to Adolph I whispered “creole” and made giant drunken nod in their direction. Adolph looked and confirmed it: they were, in fact, them

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“Yes, I’m mixed-race. There’s girls who look like me and glorify being exotic. I have a responsibility to my Blackness.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-06-29 21:32Z by Steven

“I’m a Brown Afro-indigenous woman. That makes people uncomfortable as it is. The folks that have a problem with me and say, ‘You still live with privilege. You not fully Black.’ I can’t win and I can’t lose, so I’ma just keep going.” She smiles. “Yes, I’m mixed-race. There’s girls who look like me and glorify being exotic. I have a responsibility to my Blackness.” —Princess Nokia (Destiny Frasqueri)

Ivie Ani, “Princess Nokia Is Ready to Reign,” The Village Voice, March 29, 2017. https://www.villagevoice.com/2017/03/29/princess-nokia-is-ready-to-reign/.

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Princess Nokia Is Ready to Reign

Posted in Articles, Arts, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-29 00:54Z by Steven

Princess Nokia Is Ready to Reign

The Village Voice
2017-03-29

Ivie Ani


ioulex

I meet up with Destiny Frasqueri — the 24-year-old Nuyorican alternative hip-hop artist known variously as Princess Nokia, Wavy Spice, or simply Destiny — in the East Village. I’m running late; she’s even later, so I get to the Astor Place cube first. Fifteen minutes later she walks up, dressed, as she’d indicated in a text apologizing for being behind schedule, in a beige duster coat and sweats to match, carrying a cherry-print Louis V bag. She’s wearing oversize shades, no makeup, just a touch of mascara. Her dark hair blows in the breeze, caressing a diamond-studded choker.

Frasqueri has appeared in Vogue, modeled for Calvin Klein, and had her song “Tomboy” used for an Alexander Wang runway show. But what makes her a figure of fascination for music aficionados in their teens and early twenties is the way she celebrates the beauty of imperfection, building a hero’s identity out of being a self-described “fucked-up kid.” She’s stunning yet still rough around the edges, rhyming about wearing dirty sneakers, smoking blunts in the stairwell, and proclaiming the power in her heritage. For her followers, her attractiveness lies in her contrasts. “Eczema so bad I’m bleeding,” she raps on “Bart Simpson,” the first track on 1992, the album she put up on SoundCloud last September. Sure enough, I look down and her irritated hands are bleeding slightly.

“I’m just ghetto as hell,” she says once we’ve settled in at San Loco for some chicken nachos. “That’s the only way that I know how to just be myself.”…

…Frasqueri’s mom passed by the time she was nine, and she grew up living in various homes across the Bronx, Harlem, and the Lower East Side. She experienced abusive foster care, life in the projects, and brief escapes to camp with wealthy kids from the Upper West Side. She’d skip class but bury herself in books, digging deep into the Black literary canon. (“I am Black Harlem Renaissance,” she says. “I am Walter Dean Myers and Langston Hughes, baby.”) She taught herself, studying Kemetic philosophy, practicing brujería and Santería, claiming her inheritance of Yoruba and Taíno cultures, and falling in love with New York City. Pissy project elevators and breezy summer barbecues in the street suffuse Frasqueri’s memories. She represents a specific kind of New York, what she describes as her own “urban realism.” “What makes life beautiful?” she muses at one point. “The ghetto makes life beautiful. Black people make life beautiful.”…

…“I’m a Brown Afro-indigenous woman. That makes people uncomfortable as it is. The folks that have a problem with me and say, ‘You still live with privilege. You not fully Black.’ I can’t win and I can’t lose, so I’ma just keep going.” She smiles. “Yes, I’m mixed-race. There’s girls who look like me and glorify being exotic. I have a responsibility to my Blackness.”…

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The Afro-Latino Festival NYC Celebrates A Culture That’s Ready To Be Heard

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-28 18:04Z by Steven

The Afro-Latino Festival NYC Celebrates A Culture That’s Ready To Be Heard

The Village Voice
2017-06-27

Siddhartha Mitter


Two revelers dance at last year’s festival Source: New Visual Collective

At 26, Amara La Negra, the Dominican-American singer, has a string of energetic tropical-funk hits in Spanish, fierce dance moves, a fashion line, hundreds of thousands of social media followers, and rising star power in her hometown of Miami and back in the Dominican Republic. But Amara is also Afro-Latina — a visibly, unapologetically Black woman making her career in worlds where colorism still runs rampant, among them the D.R. with its social hierarchy and the international Latin entertainment industry. With her dark skin, exuberant Afro, and in-your-face “La Negra” stage name, Amara is making a point.

“Change would be more Afro-Latinos in Hollywood, more on magazine covers,” Amara says. “It would be main roles in novelas, which we don’t yet have. They’ll cast you to be either a slave, a gangster, or a prostitute. They stereotype us.” Last year, a light-skinned beauty queen put on blackface and butt pads to parody Amara on Dominican TV. “We’re still a long way [from] seeing big change,” Amara says. “But we’re being more vocal.”…

…In New York City, the flagship venue for the new cultural reassertion is the Afro-Latino Festival, which holds its fifth edition on July 7 and 8. A grassroots project led by Mai-Elka Prado Gil and Amilcar Priestley, a Panamanian couple in Brooklyn, it has ballooned since 2013 from an outdoor afternoon party to a two-day international summit gathering musicians, filmmakers, activists, scholars, and partygoers….

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A Profound Documentary, Little White Lie Follows a Woman’s Search for Her Identify

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-11-28 21:47Z by Steven

A Profound Documentary, Little White Lie Follows a Woman’s Search for Her Identify

The Village Voice
New York, New York
2014-11-26

Diana Clarke

In Woodstock, New York, at the end of the 20th century, Lacey Schwartz was raised in an affluent Jewish household where something was slightly off. Darker-skinned than her mother and father, Schwartz fielded probing questions about her race from a young age, but refused to entertain the possibility that she was not the biological offspring of her two white parents. When Lacey was in high school, her parents’ marriage collapsed, and so did the veneer of her identity. Schwartz’s subsequent investigation resulted in this profound and engaging documentary

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What DNA Says About Human Ancestry—and Bigotry

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2012-06-26 13:29Z by Steven

What DNA Says About Human Ancestry—and Bigotry

The Village Voice
1997-10-28
pages 34-35

Mark Schoofs, Senior Editor
ProPublica

Race and genetics form their own double helix, twisting together through history. The Nazis, as everyone knows, justified the death camps on the grounds that Jews and Gypsies were genetically inferior—but what is less known is that the Nazis took their cue from eugenics legislation passed in the United States. Here, race is defined primarily by skin color. Since that’s a genetic trait, the logic goes, race itself must be genetic, and there must be differences that are more than skin deep.

But that’s not what modern genetics reveals. Quite the contrary, it shows that race is truly skin deep. Indeed, genetics undermines the whole concept that humanity is composed of ”races”—pure and static groups that are significantly different from one another. Genetics has proven otherwise by tracing human ancestry, as it is inscribed on DNA.

Demystifying race may be the most important accomplishment of this research, but it has also solved some of the most intriguing mysteries of human history…

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