The interracial love story that stunned Washington — twice! — in 1867

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2019-02-15 20:32Z by Steven

The interracial love story that stunned Washington — twice! — in 1867

The Washington Post
2019-02-13

Jessica Contrera


Eli S. Parker, a Seneca Indian who worked for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was engaged to Minnie Sackett, a young white woman, in 1867. (The History Collection/Alamy) (The History Collection/Alamy Stock Photo/The History Collection/Alamy Stock Photo)

When Ely Parker married Minnie Sackett, “the creme de la creme of Washington society” came to gawk

The wedding was a shock before it even began. In 1867, the nation’s capital learned that Minnie Sackett, the daughter of a prominent Civil War colonel, was engaged. Sackett was considered to be “one of the most beautiful women in the District,” according to the New York Tribune, with her high-neck lace collars and brunette ringlets piled atop her head.

Her soon-to-be husband, 39-year-old Ely S. Parker, had served in the Union Army as the private secretary to then-Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. It was Parker who drafted the terms of surrender that ended the war in 1865. So close was their friendship that Grant himself planned to escort the bride, whose father had died, down the aisle at Washington’s Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

Why was their betrothal controversial? “It may not be generally known that Col. Parker is a full-blooded Indian,” the Tribune reported. “A near relative to the famous Red Jacket and of the present Chief of the six nations Cherokees.”

One hundred years before the Supreme Court would make interracial marriage legal throughout the country, a white woman was marrying an Indian man…

Read the entire article here.

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‘I am who I am’: Kamala Harris, daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, defines herself simply as ‘American’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2019-02-03 04:47Z by Steven

‘I am who I am’: Kamala Harris, daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, defines herself simply as ‘American’

The Washington Post
2019-02-02

Kevin Sullivan, Senior Correspondent


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), center, sings the Alpha Kappa Alpha hymn at the sorority’s annual “Pink Ice Gala” on Jan. 25 in Columbia, S.C. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg News)

SAN FRANCISCO — In early 2010, an Indian American couple hosted a fundraiser in their elegant Pacific Heights home for Kamala Harris, then a Democratic candidate for California attorney general.

Harris had been San Francisco’s high-profile district attorney for more than six years, but Deepak Puri and Shareen Punian had only recently learned that Harris was, as Punian said, “one of our peeps,” a woman whose mother was an Indian immigrant.

They had always assumed Harris was African American, and so did most of the 60 or 70 Indian American community leaders at the event, many of whom asked Puri and Punian why they had been invited.

“At least half of them didn’t know she was Indian,” said Punian, a business executive and political activist.

Harris, 54, now a U.S. senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, would be several firsts in the White House: the first woman, the first African American woman, the first Indian American and the first Asian American. The daughter of two immigrants — her father came from Jamaica — she would also be the second biracial president, after Barack Obama.

Obama’s soul-searching quest to explore his identity, as the son of a white mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father who was largely absent from his life, was well-documented in his autobiography.

But when asked, in an interview, if she had wrestled with similar introspection about race, ethnicity and identity, Harris didn’t hesitate:

“No,” she said flatly…

Read the entire article here.

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A mixed-race woman’s long quest to prove her Native American ancestry

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2019-01-05 20:47Z by Steven

A mixed-race woman’s long quest to prove her Native American ancestry

The Washington Post
2019-01-04

Neely Tucker, Contributing reporter


Darnella Davis, center, with her siblings and their parents, John and Mary, in 1955. Mary was Muscogee Creek, and John said he had Cherokee blood; a grandfather received a land allotment for Native Americans. But Darnella’s Indian heritage was later disputed. (University of New Mexico Press; courtesy of Lafayette West)

When Darnella Davis was a shy, “sandy-colored and sandy-haired” teenager growing up in Detroit in the 1960s, she knew she was “part Indian.” It wasn’t entirely clear what that meant. In that era of Motown, the civil rights movement and the devastating 1967 riot/rebellion that wrecked that city, she knew that her Oklahoma-based family was not culturally kin to the black neighbors who’d fled sharecropping and the Deep South. As a standout arts student at the city’s premier (and racially mixed) high school, Cass Tech, she knew she wasn’t white, either.

Her dad talked of growing up as a Cherokee kid; people sometimes called her Muscogee Creek mom “Pocahontas,” and the family drove 19 hours to their ancestral spot in northeast Oklahoma every summer and school holiday. Her grandfather, Crugee Adams, had once grown rich there, drawing on the mineral rights of his land allotment for Native Americans dating back to the late 19th century.

So imagine her surprise when she applied for a post-graduate scholarship in Boston reserved for Native Americans and was told, both by the state of Massachusetts and the Cherokee Nation, that she wasn’t Indian, either. The resulting, decades-long experience of white and Native American bureaucrats telling her what percentage of Indian blood she must possess to qualify as a certified member of the tribe proved to be the background for “Untangling a Red, White, and Black Heritage: A Personal History of the Allotment Era.”…

Read the entire article here.

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As a mixed child of a Latin American couple, I could be seen as socially undetermined — part of a mestizo/mulato muddle, yet embraced as part of a Puerto Rican national identity. But in the United States, my fate has been to be inexorably drawn to the identity of my darker parent.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-10-15 00:40Z by Steven

As a mixed child of a Latin American couple, I could be seen as socially undetermined — part of a mestizo/mulato muddle, yet embraced as part of a Puerto Rican national identity. But in the United States, my fate has been to be inexorably drawn to the identity of my darker parent. Like Pedro Pietri penning the obituary of the passive Puerto Rican, I accept and cherish that embrace, but hope to end the silence of the dear negro in me. It’s time to let go, and embrace the blackness at the core of my being that I’ve always known.

Ed Morales, “‘Mi negro’: Embracing my blackness as a Puerto Rican man,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/09/14/mi-negro-embracing-my-blackness-as-a-puerto-rican-man.

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‘Mi negro’: Embracing my blackness as a Puerto Rican man

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-10-14 01:35Z by Steven

‘Mi negro’: Embracing my blackness as a Puerto Rican man

The Washington Post
2018-09-14

Ed Morales, Adjunct Professor
Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University, New York, New York

Several years ago, at the height of New York’s stop-and-frisk policing policy, two officers stopped me at West 125th Street and Broadway and insisted that I was carrying a knife. I was walking from Columbia University’s campus, where I’ve taught seminars on Latinx identity since 2010, after picking up a couple books at the library. Because I wasn’t teaching that day, I was wearing a backward baseball cap, worn-out jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, attire that apparently made me look like a criminal suspect.

The officers were Latinx with complexions similar to mine, but in that moment, they made a racialized judgment about how I represented a culture of criminality often associated with black and Latinx people. They stared at me with insistent eyes, demanding that I hand over a weapon that I didn’t have. They had been signaled by my unkempt appearance and the furtive movement of my hand toward a keychain holder protruding from my right front pocket, a plastic Puerto Rican flag in the shape of an island. They were operating in the context of 125th Street, a dividing line between the largely white collegiate neighborhood of Morningside Heights and the predominantly black gentrifying neighborhood of Harlem.

The officers looked blankly at my university ID and reluctantly questioned me for several agonizing minutes, then decided I was not who they were looking for. But the experience reminded me that I can never escape my racial identity: In a society ruled by a binary perception of race, my complexion classifies me as “other,” but at any point in time, what I’m wearing, where I’m standing and how the sunlight hits my skin will color how I’m judged…

Read the entire article here.

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Biracial in ethnic derivation, nonbinary in gender identification, gay in sexual orientation, multi-hyphenate in creative aspiration, [Amandla] Stenberg embodies a similar blurring of boundaries.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-10-08 03:03Z by Steven

Biracial in ethnic derivation, nonbinary in gender identification, gay in sexual orientation, multi-hyphenate in creative aspiration, [Amandla] Stenberg embodies a similar blurring of boundaries. She grew up in Los Angeles with her African American mother and Danish father, commuting from their modest Leimert Park neighborhood to the far tonier Wildwood School. Her first movie role was in “Colombiana,” as a young version of Zoe Saldana. “The Hunger Games” — just her second film — was seen by tens of millions of people around the world. But it was a video she made for history class in 2015 that became a watershed: Called “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” the 4-minute-30-second tutorial explained the most offensive dynamics of cultural appropriation. After Stenberg posted the video on Tumblr, it became a viral sensation.

Ann Hornaday, “Her way. The new way.The Washington Post, October 4, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/lifestyle/amandla-stenberg-looks-a-lot-like-the-future-of-celebrity.

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Her way. The new way.

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-10-08 00:22Z by Steven

Her way. The new way.

The Washington Post
2018-10-04

Ann Hornaday, Movie Critic


Amandla Stenberg, the 19-year-old star of “The Hate U Give.” (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Amandla Stenberg is redefining fame for a time when the personal, the professional and the political have never been more fused.

On a recent visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, actress Amandla Stenberg made a beeline for “Watching Oprah,” an exhibit dedicated to the TV-icon-turned-all-of-it-icon.

Oprah was very integral in my household,” she said, peering at the biographical information on the walls. “My mom used to be a journalist. . . . She worked at Elle magazine and then moved into celebrity journalism. The irony is not lost on me.”…

…Biracial in ethnic derivation, nonbinary in gender identification, gay in sexual orientation, multi-hyphenate in creative aspiration, Stenberg embodies a similar blurring of boundaries. She grew up in Los Angeles with her African American mother and Danish father, commuting from their modest Leimert Park neighborhood to the far tonier Wildwood School. Her first movie role was in “Colombiana,” as a young version of Zoe Saldana. “The Hunger Games” — just her second film — was seen by tens of millions of people around the world. But it was a video she made for history class in 2015 that became a watershed: Called “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” the 4-minute-30-second tutorial explained the most offensive dynamics of cultural appropriation. After Stenberg posted the video on Tumblr, it became a viral sensation…

Read the entire article here.

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“Why should we separate out based on this thing, this race thing? If we have grown them and they speak Lumbee the way we speak Lumbee, and they’ve gone to Lumbee schools and Lumbee churches and we’ve fed them and nourished them, they’re Lumbee.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-08-22 03:46Z by Steven

Some Lumbees have red hair and freckles, others have tight blond curls, and others have sleek, dark hair and mocha skin. No one is kicked out of the tribe because of their skin tone — and that concept is hard for the BIA to accept, according to Mary Ann Jacobs, chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at UNC-Pembroke. “They don’t like the fact that we refuse to put people out who look too white or look too black. If they’re our people, we keep them.” Jacobs laughed, as if the idea of doing anything else were absurd. “We refuse to give them back. Why should we separate out based on this thing, this race thing? If we have grown them and they speak Lumbee the way we speak Lumbee, and they’ve gone to Lumbee schools and Lumbee churches and we’ve fed them and nourished them, they’re Lumbee.”

Lisa Rab, “What Makes Someone Native American?The Washington Post Magazine, August 20, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/style/wp/2018/08/20/feature/what-makes-someone-native-american-one-tribes-long-struggle-for-full-recognition.

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What Makes Someone Native American?

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-08-21 03:27Z by Steven

What Makes Someone Native American?

The Washington Post Magazine
2018-08-20

Story by Lisa Rab
Photos by Travis Dove


Brittany Hunt (Travis Dove)

One tribe’s long struggle for full recognition

In March 2012, Heather McMillan Nakai wrote a letter to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs asking the agency to verify that she was Indian. She was seeking a job at the Indian Health Service and wanted to apply with “Indian preference.” Nakai knew this might be difficult: As far as she was aware, no one from her North Carolina tribe — the Lumbee — had ever been granted such preference.

Her birth certificate says she’s Indian, as did her first driver’s license. Both of her parents were required to attend segregated tribal schools in the 1950s and ’60s. In Nakai’s hometown in Robeson County, N.C., strangers can look at the dark ringlets in her hair, hear her speak and watch her eyes widen when she’s indignant, and know exactly who her mother and father are. “Who’s your people?” is a common question in Robeson, allowing locals to pinpoint their place among the generations of Lumbee who have lived in the area for nearly 300 years.

Yet in the eyes of the BIA, the Lumbee have never been Indian enough. Responding to Nakai the following month, tribal government specialist Chandra Joseph informed her that the Lumbee were not a federally recognized tribe and therefore couldn’t receive any federal benefits, including “Indian preference.” Invoking a 1956 law concerning the status of the Lumbee, Joseph wrote: “The Lumbee Act precludes the Bureau from extending any benefits to the Indians of Robeson and adjoining counties.” She enclosed a pamphlet titled “Guide to Tracing Indian Ancestry.”…

…In the Jim Crow South, white ancestry was acceptable for indigenous people, but black blood was not. When the United States was dividing up reservations and providing land “allotments” to Indians, a government commission told the Mississippi Choctaw that “where any person held a strain of Negro blood, the servile blood contaminated and polluted the Indian blood.” Many Native Americans internalized these racial politics and adopted them as a means of survival. After North Carolina established a separate school system for Indians in Robeson County in the late 1880s, some Lumbees fought to exclude a child whose mother was Indian and whose father was black.

In their segregated corner of North Carolina, Lumbees enjoyed more power and privileges than their black neighbors, but this was not the case for Native Americans in every state. In Virginia in the 1920s, Indians were required to classify themselves as “colored,” whereas Oklahoma considered Indians to be white — prompting Creek Indians to reject tribal members with black ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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Jefferson’s Monticello finally gives Sally Hemings her place in presidential history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2018-06-14 17:00Z by Steven

Jefferson’s Monticello finally gives Sally Hemings her place in presidential history

The Washington Post
2018-06-13

Philip Kennicott, Art and architecture critic


A view of Monticello. (Jack Looney)

You cannot see Thomas Jefferson’s mansion, Monticello, from the small room burrowed into the ground along the south wing of his estate. When the door is closed, you can’t see anything at all, because it is a windowless room, with a low ceiling and damp walls. But this was, very likely, the room inhabited by Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman who bore six of Jefferson’s children, a woman about whom little is known, who lived her life as Jefferson’s property, was considered his concubine, was a source of scandal and a political liability, and yet who might be considered the first lady to the third president of the United States if that didn’t presume her relationship to Jefferson was voluntary.

On Saturday, Monticello will open the room to the public, with a small exhibition devoted to the life of Hemings and the Hemings family. Reclaiming this space, which previously had been used as a public restroom, marks the completion of a five-year plan called the Mountaintop Project, which has seen significant changes to the beloved estate of the founding father. Using archaeology and other evidence, Monticello curators have restored Mulberry Row, where enslaved people lived and labored, and made changes (including to the wallpaper, paint and furnishings) inside the mansion, restored the north and south wings, and opened the upstairs rooms to the public on special tours. But symbolically and emotionally, the restoration of the Hemings room is the heart of the new interpretation of Monticello, and it makes tangible a relationship that has been controversial since rumors of “Dusky Sally” became part of American political invective in the early 19th century…

Read the entire article here.

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