Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation

Posted in Books, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-05-20 14:38Z by Steven

Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation

W. W. Norton
February 2019
624 pages
6.6 × 9.6 in
Hardcover ISBN 978-0-393-23937-9

Steve Luxenberg

A myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced “separation” and its pernicious consequences.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first.

Separate spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours—race and equality. Wending its way through a half-century of American history, the narrative begins at the dawn of the railroad age, in the North, home to the nation’s first separate railroad car, then moves briskly through slavery and the Civil War to Reconstruction and its aftermath, as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life.

Award-winning author Steve Luxenberg draws from letters, diaries, and archival collections to tell the story of Plessy v. Ferguson through the eyes of the people caught up in the case. Separate depicts indelible figures such as the resisters from the mixed-race community of French New Orleans, led by Louis Martinet, a lawyer and crusading newspaper editor; Homer Plessy’s lawyer, Albion Tourgée, a best-selling author and the country’s best-known white advocate for civil rights; Justice Henry Billings Brown, from antislavery New England, whose majority ruling endorsed separation; and Justice John Harlan, the Southerner from a slaveholding family whose singular dissent cemented his reputation as a steadfast voice for justice.

Sweeping, swiftly paced, and richly detailed, Separate provides a fresh and urgently-needed exploration of our nation’s most devastating divide.

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Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Philosophy on 2019-05-18 15:30Z by Steven

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

W. W. Norton
2019-10-15
2018 pages
5.5 × 8.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60886-1

Thomas Chatterton Williams

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

“It is not that I have come to believe that I am no longer black or that my daughter is white,” Williams writes. “It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of us.” Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

Note from Steven F. Riley: See Chatterton Williams’ article “Black and Blue and Blond” in the Volume 91, Number 1 (Winter 2015) edition of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

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Harmless Like You: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2019-05-04 01:52Z by Steven

Harmless Like You: A Novel

W. W. Norton
February 2017
320 pages
5.9 × 8.6 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-324-00074-7

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother’s abandonment of him when he was only two years old.

The novel opens when Yuki is sixteen and her father is posted back to Japan. Though she and her family have been living as outsiders in New York City, Yuki opts to stay, intoxicated by her friendship with the beautiful aspiring model Odile, the energy of the city, and her desire to become an artist. But when she becomes involved with an older man and the relationship turns destructive, Yuki’s life is unmoored. Harmless Like You is a suspenseful novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships, and familial bonds that asks—and ultimately answers—how does a mother desert her son?

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Hybrida: Poems

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Poetry, Social Justice, United States on 2019-05-01 22:12Z by Steven

Hybrida: Poems

W. W. Norton
May 2019
144 pages
6.4 × 8.5 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-324-00248-2

Tina Chang, Poet Laureate of Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn, New York

A stirring and confident examination of mixed-race identity, violence, and history skillfully rendered through the lens of motherhood.

In this timely, assured collection, Tina Chang confronts the complexities of raising a mixed-race child during an era of political upheaval in the United States. She ruminates on the relationship between her son’s blackness and his safety, exploring the dangers of childhood in a post–Trayvon Martin era and invoking racialized roles in fairy tales. Against the stark urban landscapes of threat and surveillance, Chang returns to the language of mothers.

Meditating on the lives of Michael Brown, Leiby Kletzky, and Noemi Álvarez Quillay—lost at the hands of individuals entrusted to protect them—Chang creates hybrid poetic forms that mirror her investigation of racial tensions. Through an agile blend of zuihitsu, ghazal, prose poems, mosaic poems, and lyric essays, Hybrida envisions a childhood of mixed race as one that is complex, emotionally wrought, and often vulnerable. Hybrida is a twenty-first-century tale that is equal parts a mother’s love and her fury, an ambitious and revelatory exploration of identity that establishes Tina Chang as one of the most vital voices of her generation.

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American Son: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2018-04-30 01:09Z by Steven

American Son: A Novel

W. W. Norton & Company
May 2001
256 pages
5.6 × 8.3 in
Paperback ISBN 978-0-393-32154-8

Brian Ascalon Roley

A powerful novel about ethnically fluid California, and the corrosive relationship between two Filipino brothers.

Told with a hard-edged purity that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, American Son is the story of two Filipino brothers adrift in contemporary California. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he trains in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas’s waywardness, yet moves ever closer to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs. When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the family. Full of the ache of being caught in a violent and alienating world, American Son is a debut novel that captures the underbelly of the modern immigrant experience.

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The Skin Between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2009-12-27 01:16Z by Steven

The Skin Between Us: A Memoir of Race, Beauty, and Belonging

W. W. Norton
May 2006
240 pages
5.8 × 8.6 in
ISBN: 978-0-393-05890-1

Kym Ragusa, Professor of Nonfiction &  Professor Writing
Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina
Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Massachusetts Inistitute of Technology

A memoir of astonishing delicacy and strength about race and physical beauty.

Kym Ragusa’s stunningly beautiful, brilliant black mother constantly turned heads as she strolled the streets of West Harlem. Ragusa’s working-class white father, who grew up only a few streets (and an entire world) away in Italian East Harlem, had never seen anyone like her. At home their families despaired at the match, while in the streets the couple faced taunting threats from a city still racially divided—but they were mesmerized by the differences between them.

From their volatile, short-lived pairing came a sensitive child with a filmmaker’s observant eye. Her two powerful grandmothers gave her the love and stability to grow into her own skin. Eventually, their shared care for their granddaughter forced them to overcome their prejudices. Rent parties and religious feste, baked yams and baked ziti—Ragusa’s sensuous memories are a reader’s delight, as they bring to life the joy, pain, and inexhaustible richness of a racially and culturally mixed heritage.

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