Jesmyn Ward, Heir to Faulkner, Probes the Specter of Race In the South

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2017-09-05 00:05Z by Steven

Jesmyn Ward, Heir to Faulkner, Probes the Specter of Race In the South

TIME
2017-08-24

Sarah Begley, staff writer


Ward, who teaches creative writing at Tulane, set her new novel in a coastal Mississippi town Beowulf Sheehan

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi” goes a line often attributed to William Faulkner. More than half a century later, Jesmyn Ward may be the newest bard of global wisdom.

The writer rocketed to literary fame in 2011 when she won the National Book Award for her second novel, Salvage the Bones, a lyrical Hurricane Katrina tale. As in her first novel, Where the Line Bleeds, the characters in Salvage live in the fictional Mississippi Gulf Coast hamlet of Bois Sauvage, which is based on Ward’s native DeLisle. Six years and two nonfiction books later, Ward has returned to fiction, and to Bois Sauvage, with Sing, Unburied, Sing, a mystical story about race, family and the long shadow of history.

Ward, 40, wrote her first two novels while moving around the country for writing programs and fellowships, but she has since returned home and started a family. Sing, Unburied, Sing is the first novel she’s written from there and the first she’s written as a mother. “The figurative language that I use is so informed by this place and by the things that I see and experience here,” she says, “that it helped me write Sing, because I’m able to observe and see these things and incorporate them into my writing.” Consider how nature relates to human behavior in this description of a grandfather on a difficult morning: “He matched the sky, which hung low, a silver colander full to leak.” Or when a mother watches her daughter cling to her son: “She sticks to him, sure as a burr: her arms and legs thorny and cleaving.”…

…Ward’s characters are informed of her own deep knowledge of a town like Bois Sauvage. For Sing, Ward asked herself what life would be like for a mixed-race boy like Jojo in contemporary Mississippi, a place where schools are still struggling with segregation and interracial dating has been a historic taboo. “I wanted to understand how he would navigate something of a coming of age in the modern South, where, yes, it is modern, but there are multiple waves of the past here,” she says…

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Please Don’t Ever Call Me Or My Family ‘Basically White’

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2017-06-13 17:00Z by Steven

Please Don’t Ever Call Me Or My Family ‘Basically White’

TIME
2017-06-12

Rasika W. Boice

Her blue eyes are childhood summers doing backward dives into the pool and boogie boarding with reckless abandon on the crests of chilly New England waves — I have the scars on my upper thighs to prove it. I’d happily drown in her piercing indigos, so different from my deep browns.

“She has your eye shape,” some say, looking from her to me, from me to her. They struggle to make the connection. The colors don’t match, not only of our eyes but also of our skin, she more of a latte to my coffee with skim.

As I help her up the slide at the playground, I wonder how many question if I’m her mother or nanny. And on bad days, I hope they decide nanny. That way, she’ll be safe from the ones who yell “Go home!” and “You don’t belong here!” Or worse…

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The Head of the Census Resigned. It Could Be as Serious as James Comey

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-05-14 19:20Z by Steven

The Head of the Census Resigned. It Could Be as Serious as James Comey

TIME
2017-05-12

Haley Sweetland Edwards


John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau

In a week dominated by President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, you could be forgiven for missing the imminent departure of another, less prominent federal official.

Yet the news this week that John H. Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, has abruptly resigned is arguably as consequential to the future of our democracy. That’s because the Census Bureau, while less flashy than the FBI, plays a staggeringly important role in both U.S. elections and an array of state and federal government functions.

“At the very heart of the Census is nothing less than political power and money,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, who served as the staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee before becoming a consultant on census policy and operational issues. “It is the basis, the very foundation, of our democracy and the Constitution’s promise of equal representation.”

The results of the decennial Census—the next will be in 2020—will determine how state and federal political districts are drawn; which Americans are “counted” for representation; and how federal dollars, many of which are allocated on a per capita basis, are spent…

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Why the Nazis Loved America

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-25 01:14Z by Steven

Why the Nazis Loved America

TIME
2017-03-21

James Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law
Yale Law School


American Nazis parade on East 86th St. in New York City around 1939. Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images

Whitman is the author most recently of Hitler’s American Model.

To say America today is verging on Nazism feels like scaremongering. Yes, white nationalism lives in the White House. Yes, President Donald Trump leans authoritarian. Yes, the alt-right says many ugly things. But for all the economic pains of many Americans, there is no Great Depression gnawing away at democracy’s foundations. No paramilitary force is killing people in the streets. Fascism and Nazism have not arrived in the United States.

But there is a different and instructive story to be told about America and the Nazis that raises unsettling questions about what is going on today — and what Nazism means to the U.S.

When we picture a modern American Nazi, we imagine a fanatic who has imported an alien belief system from a far-away place. We also, not wrongly, picture captives in concentration camps and American soldiers fighting the Good War. But the past is more tangled than that. Nazism was a movement drawn in some ways on the American model — a prodigal son of the land of liberty and equality, without the remorse…

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Honor and Effort: What President Obama Achieved in Eight Years

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-23 01:27Z by Steven

Honor and Effort: What President Obama Achieved in Eight Years

TIME
2016-12-22

David Von Drehle


Brendan Smialowski—Getty Images
Barack Obama smiles while speaking during the 36th annual National Italian American Foundation Gala on Oct. 29, 2011.

Barack Obama entered the White House as something new in American history. He wasn’t chosen on the basis of experience, nor for his role as leader of a party or a movement. He had not been a governor or a general or a veteran legislator. He did not become president by the accident of his predecessor’s death in office.

Obama was elected purely for himself—his message, his persona and what he symbolized. In 48 brief months, he rose from the obscurity of a state legislature to become the first Democrat in more than three decades to win more than half of the popular vote. Messenger and message were inseparable; he offered himself as Exhibit A in the case for hope and change. Obama was a mirror in which millions of people saw their cherished ideals reflected: tolerance, cooperation, equality, justice…

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Watch The Trailer For Barry, Netflix’s Barack Obama Biopic

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos on 2016-11-24 01:36Z by Steven

Watch The Trailer For Barry, Netflix’s Barack Obama Biopic

TIME
2016-11-22

Nash Jenkins

There are just under two months until Donald Trump is inaugurated, but a sentimental nostalgia for Barack Obama’s presidency has been building for quite some time. The new trailer for Barry, a biographical film about Obama’s days as a student at Columbia University in the early 1980s, might help stoke it.

Newcomer Devon Terrell will play the 44th President as a 20-year-old undergraduate, grappling with his identity as a mixed-race kid from Honolulu in a largely white scene. “You a whole different type of brother,” a peer tells him at one point. “You do realize that, don’t you?”…

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The White and Black Worlds of Loving v. Virginia

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States, Virginia on 2016-11-05 01:30Z by Steven

The White and Black Worlds of Loving v. Virginia

TIME
2016-11-04

Arica L. Coleman


AP Photo
Richard and Mildred Loving on this Jan. 26, 1965, prior to filing a suit at Federal Court in Richmond, Va.

Richard and Mildred Loving—the couple who inspired the new film Loving—lived in a world where race was not simply binary

Hollywood interpretations of true events always take some liberties with the truth, but the new film Loving—based on the intriguing story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs of the case Loving v. the Commonwealth of Virginia—adheres relatively closely to the historical account. Writer-director Jeff Nichols’ two-hour film chronicles the nine-year saga of the couple’s courtship, marriage, arrest, banishment and Supreme Court triumph in 1967, which declared state proscriptions against interracial marriage unconstitutional.

The film also, however, sticks close to popular myths that have dogged the case for decades, particularly by contextualizing the story within a black/white racial binary—when in fact Richard and Mildred Loving are prime examples of the way such lines have long been blurred…

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What Loving Can Show Us About Multiracial Parenting

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2016-10-31 20:27Z by Steven

What Loving Can Show Us About Multiracial Parenting

TIME
2016-10-31

Lise Ragbir, Public Voices Fellow and Director of the Warfield Center Gallery
University of Texas, Austin


Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in Loving. (Focus Features)

‘Let’s stop assuming all families are one color’

America has come a long way since Mildred and Richard Loving took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 to fight and win the right for a black woman to marry a white man. But have we come far enough?

Now the subject of a major motion picture debuting Nov. 4, Loving, that interracial couple went on to have three children. Given their then-unconventional family, I wonder what they faced when they went out in public as a family. As a black spouse in an interracial union today, I can tell you. My daughter was 6-months-old the first time I got the question: “Is that your baby?”…

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Colin Kaepernick Had No Choice but to Kneel

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2016-09-27 23:36Z by Steven

Colin Kaepernick Had No Choice but to Kneel

TIME
2016-10-03

John McWhorter, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University, New York, New York

‘We must understand what Kaepernick is protesting’

The idea that Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem is unpatriotic fails doubly: first, in a mistaken notion of what real patriotism is, and second in missing a larger point.

For one, the idea that to not stand while the anthem is played signals a lack of allegiance to one’s nation is simplistic to the point of stretching plausibility, seemingly designed more as a way to hate on someone than to grapple with the complexities of the real world. Is patriotism a matter of either/or? Perhaps in terms of military service, although we find gray lines even there.

Elsewhere, however, critique and even scolding are fundamental facets of loving. What would be unpatriotic of Kaepernick, given his views, would be to refrain from sitting out the national anthem out of an unreflective sense of patriotism as an on/off switch. Kaepernick thinks his country is capable of changing and wants to help it do so…

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What You Didn’t Know About Loving v. Virginia

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-06-12 23:40Z by Steven

What You Didn’t Know About Loving v. Virginia

TIME
2016-06-10

Arica L. Coleman

The landmark civil rights Supreme Court case—which made it illegal to ban interracial marriage—was about more than black and white

When the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Loving v. the Commonwealth of Virginia, defendants Richard and Mildred Loving chose not to appear in person. In 1958, they had been convicted for the felony of miscegenation. As lawyers presented their arguments, 17 states remained steadfast in their refusal to repeal such laws banning interracial marriages. But, though he did not attend the arguments, Richard sent a message to the justices: “Tell the Court I love my wife and it is just not fair that I cannot live with her in Virginia.”

The justices unanimously agreed. On June 12, 1967, proscriptions against interracial marriage were declared unconstitutional.

In the years since, the couple’s victory has often been seen as a touchstone in the fight for black civil rights. The Lovings’ lawyer’s assertion before the court that anti-miscegenation statutes were “ the most odious of the segregation laws and the slavery laws” reinforced this assumption. As historian Peter Wallenstein aptly stated in his book Tell the Court I Love My Wife, “There was no doubt in anybody’s mind as to the racial identities, white and black, of the people who claimed to be Mr. and Mrs. Loving.”

But the Lovings’ public persona was more myth than reality. While researching my book That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia, I spoke to Mildred Loving, who died in 2008. “I am not black,” she told me during a 2004 interview. “I have no black ancestry. I am Indian-Rappahannock. I told the people so when they came to arrest me.”…

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