Latina heroine or black radical? The complicated story of Lucy Parsons.

Posted in Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-02-20 00:16Z by Steven

Latina heroine or black radical? The complicated story of Lucy Parsons.

The Washington Post
2018-01-12

Tera W. Hunter, Professor of History and African American Studies
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

Lucy Parsons occupies an unusual position in American history: a prominent woman noted as much for her acts of brilliance and bravery as for her evasiveness and contradictions.

Parsons spent most of her life in Chicago, where a park named in her honor calls her the first “Chicana socialist labor organizer.” Born circa 1853, Parsons said she was of Mexican and Indian descent and from Texas — an Aztec genealogy dating before Columbus. Elsewhere she’s been recognized as “the first Black woman to play a prominent role in the American Left.”

These differing narratives are indicative of a life that defies easy categorization and has challenged assessments of Parsons’s legacy…

…With “Goddess of Anarchy,” prize-winning historian Jacqueline Jones has written the first critical, comprehensive biography of Parsons that seeks to peel back the layers of her complex life. Jones amassed an incredible body of records — local, state and federal government documents; prolific newspapers; organizational and personal correspondence; and Lucy and husband Albert Parsons’s extant writings. Through these documents Jones uncovered evidence that Parsons was not of Mexican or Indian ancestry. Her research shows, too, that Parsons was not, as many have thought, born Lucia Eldine Gonzalez but as Lucia Carter in Virginia in 1851. Her mother was black, and her father was white (and probably her slave owner). Her family moved to Waco, Tex., during the Civil War, where Lucia worked as a cook and seamstress in the homes of white families. As a teenager, she married an older, formerly enslaved man, Oliver Benton, a.k.a. Oliver Gathings, and had a child who died as an infant…

Read the entire review here.

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Right now, census data are distorting one of the most transformative population developments of the early 21st century. A sizable and growing number of young people come from families with one white and one minority parent, as more adults form families across racial and ethnic lines.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-02-14 23:35Z by Steven

Today’s census questions misunderstand both Hispanic and white identity

Right now, census data are distorting one of the most transformative population developments of the early 21st century. A sizable and growing number of young people come from families with one white and one minority parent, as more adults form families across racial and ethnic lines. By far the largest group among them have Hispanic and white European ancestry.

But you wouldn’t know that from the 2000 or 2010 Census results. While 2000 was the first to allow Americans to report a multiracial heritage, neither it nor the 2010 Census allowed people to check off both part Hispanic and part something else.

Why? The culprit is that the census examines race and ethnicity with two questions: first, race; and then Hispanic origins. This format was created in accordance with a 1997 Office of Management and Budget memorandum that defined the standards for collecting and classifying ethnic and racial data to which all federal agencies must adhere.

Richard Alba, “There’s a big problem with how the census measures race,” The Washington Post, February 6, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/02/06/theres-a-big-problem-with-how-the-census-measures-race.

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They considered themselves white, but DNA tests told a more complex story

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-02-14 23:26Z by Steven

They considered themselves white, but DNA tests told a more complex story

The Washington Post
2018-02-06

Tara Bahrampour

As more Americans take advantage of genetic testing to pinpoint the makeup of their DNA, the technology is coming head to head with the country’s deep-rooted obsession with race and racial myths. This is perhaps no more true than for the growing number of self-identified European Americans who learn they are actually part African.

For those who are surprised by their genetic heritage, the new information can often set into motion a complicated recalibration of how they view their identity.

Nicole Persley, who grew up in Nokesville, Va., was stunned to learn that she is part African. Her youth could not have been whiter. In the 1970s and ’80s in her rural home town, she went to school with farmers’ kids who listened to country music and sometimes made racist jokes. She was, as she recalls, “basically raised a Southern white girl.”

But as a student at the University of Michigan: “My roommate was black. My friends were black. I was dating a black man.” And they saw something different in her facial features and hair.

“I was constantly being asked, ‘What are you? What’s your ethnic background?’ ”…

…The test results can present an intriguing puzzle. When a significant amount of African DNA shows up in a presumably white person, “there’s usually a story — either a parent moved away or a grandparent died young,” said Angela Trammel, an investigative genealogist in the Washington area. “Usually a story of mystery, disappearance — something.”

For Persley, 46, the link turned out to be her grandfather, who had moved away from his native Georgia and started a new life passing as white in Michigan. He married a white woman, who bore Persley’s father…

Read the entire article here.

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There’s a big problem with how the census measures race

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-14 23:06Z by Steven

There’s a big problem with how the census measures race

The Washington Post
2018-02-06

Richard Alba, Distinguished Professor of Sociology
Graduate Center, City University of New York


Activists hold signs during a news conference in front of the Supreme Court in 2015. (Getty Images)

Will the 2020 Census be accurate? A number of observers have been worrying about that question for several reasons. For instance, the Justice Department has been trying to insert a citizenship question on the census form; such a question could discourage many immigrants from completing the form. As a result, cities and regions with large numbers of immigrants could see their populations seriously undercounted, with troubling results for political representation, services and funding.

But there’s another reason to be worried, one that hasn’t gotten much attention. The Census Bureau just announced that its 2020 form will not fundamentally change the questions it uses to ask about ethnic and racial origins. This may seem like a minor technical issue — but it will have major real-world implications. If it does not incorporate already-tested improvements into these questions, the census will deliver a less accurate picture of the United States.

And as a result, census statistics will continue to roil the public discussion of diversity, by exaggerating white decline and the imminence of a majority-minority United States. Political figures and pundits who oppose immigration and diversity could exploit that, peddling an alarmist narrative that doesn’t fit with the long-standing reality of mixing between immigrant and established Americans….

Read the entire article here.

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How did we lose a president’s daughter?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2018-01-29 00:05Z by Steven

How did we lose a president’s daughter?

The Washington Post
2018-01-25

Catherine Kerrison, Associate Professor of History
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania


Thomas Jefferson is shown in a painting by Rembrandt Peale. Jefferson was the father of several children born to Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman at Monticello, one of whom chose to pass as white rather than claim her relation to the president. (AP/New York Historical Society)

What the disappearance of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter can tell us about racism in America.

Many people know that Thomas Jefferson had a long-standing relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. But fewer know that they had four children, three boys and a girl, who survived to adulthood. Born into slavery, Sally’s daughter Harriet boarded a stagecoach to freedom at age 21, bound for Washington, D.C. Her father had given her $50 for her travel expenses. She would never see her mother or younger brothers again.

With her departure from Monticello in 1822, Harriet disappeared from the historical record, not to be heard of again for more than 50 years, when her brother told her story. Seven-eighths white, Harriet had “thought it to her interest to go to Washington as a white woman,” he said. She married a “white man in good standing” in that city and “raised a family of children.” In the half-century during which she passed as white, her brother was “not aware that her identity as Harriet Hemings of Monticello has ever been discovered.”

So how did we lose a president’s daughter? Given America’s obsession with the Founding Fathers, with the children of the Revolution and their descendants, why did Jefferson’s child disappear? As it turns out, America has an even greater obsession with race, so that not even Harriet Hemings’s lineage as a president’s daughter was sufficient to convey the benefits of freedom. Instead, her birth into slavery marked her as black and drove her decision to erase her family history…

Catherine Kerrison is an associate professor of history at Villanova University, and the author of the forthcoming book “Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black in a Young America.”

Read the entire article here.

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The answer is that Warren, like millions of other Americans, is mixed-race, and percentages shouldn’t matter when we consider such ancestry.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-11-30 00:47Z by Steven

The answer is that [Elizabeth] Warren, like millions of other Americans, is mixed-race, and percentages shouldn’t matter when we consider such ancestry.

Martha S. Jones, “Why calling Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ is a slur against all mixed-race Americans,” The Washington Post, November 29, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/11/29/why-calling-elizabeth-warren-pocahontas-is-a-slur-against-all-mixed-race-americans.

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Why calling Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ is a slur against all mixed-race Americans

Posted in Arts, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2017-11-29 21:43Z by Steven

Why calling Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ is a slur against all mixed-race Americans

The Washington Post
2017-11-29

Martha S. Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland


Elizabeth Warren’s embrace of her mixed-race ancestry has become a political weapon in the hands of her opponents. (AP)

It’s part of the long history of erasing people of mixed heritage.

President Trump’s assault on Sen. Elizabeth Warren descended to a new low Monday. Calling the Massachusetts leader “Pocahontas” during a ceremony honoring Native American code-talker veterans, Trump not only slurred Warren — he slurred all American families whose histories include ancestors of differing races.

By now Warren’s story is familiar. When registering with the American Association of Law Schools between 1986 and 1995, she checked an “Indian” box to describe her ancestry. When pressed by critics who questioned her background, Warren explained that she was “proud” of her Native heritage as passed down to her by stories told by her parents and grandparents.

Critics accuse Warren of leveraging her “minority” status to snag a job at Harvard Law School in 1992. Others charge that Warren’s self-identification was strategic and, even worse, illegitimate. How, they ask, could a woman who is by her own telling no more than 1/32 Native American claim to be anything other than white?

The answer is that Warren, like millions of other Americans, is mixed-race, and percentages shouldn’t matter when we consider such ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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Britain’s black queen: Will Meghan Markle really be the first mixed-race royal?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-11-29 01:10Z by Steven

Britain’s black queen: Will Meghan Markle really be the first mixed-race royal?

The Washington Post
2017-11-17

DeNeen L. Brown, Feature Writer


A portrait of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, and American actress Meghan Markle, who is engaged to Prince Harry. (Print Collector/Getty Images and Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

When Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement Monday, Twitter erupted with the news that the newest princess in the royal family would be biracial.

“We got us a Black princess ya’ll,” GirlTyler exulted. “Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl.”

We got us a Black princess ya’ll. You really can’t tell me a damn thing for the rest of the day because it won’t matter. Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/WmBnGm5AuZ

— GirlTyler (@sheistyler) November 27, 2017

But Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white, may not be the first mixed-race royal.

Some historians suspect that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III who bore the king 15 children, was of African descent…

Read the entire article here.

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My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-21 03:34Z by Steven

My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

The Washington Post
2017-11-20

Gail Lukasik


The author’s mother, Alvera Fredric, was born into a black family in New Orleans but spent her life passing as white. (Family photo)

I’d never seen my mother so afraid.

“Promise me,” she pleaded, “you won’t tell anyone until after I die. How will I hold my head up with my friends?”

For two years, I’d waited for the right moment to confront my mother with the shocking discovery I made in 1995 while scrolling through the 1900 Louisiana census records. In the records, my mother’s father, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, and his entire family were designated black.

The discovery had left me reeling, confused and in need of answers. My sense of white identity had been shattered.

My mother’s visit to my home in Illinois seemed like the right moment. This was not a conversation I wanted to have on the phone.

But my mother’s fearful plea for secrecy only added to my confusion about my racial identity. As did her birth certificate that I obtained from the state of Louisiana, which listed her race as “col” (colored), and a 1940 Louisiana census record, which listed my mother, Alvera Frederic, as Neg/Negro, working in a tea shop in New Orleans. Four years later, she moved north and married my white father…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Always remember: You’re a Madison’

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-11-15 01:39Z by Steven

‘Always remember: You’re a Madison’

The Washington Post
2017-11-14

Krissah Thompson, Feature Writer


At Montpelier, four women with ties to the estate pose with the saliva vials they used to test their DNA. From left, Mary Alexander, descended from Madison’s slave Paul Jennings; Bettye Kearse; Conny Graft, descended from Madison’s sister; and Leontyne Peck. (Eduardo Montes-Bradley/Montpelier Foundation)

Oral history said she was descended from a president and an enslaved woman. But what would her DNA say?

ORANGE, Va. — In her mind’s eye, Bettye Kearse could see her ancestor walking the worn path that led from the big house to the slave quarters.

She thought of that path each time she pulled up the long, winding driveway leading to Montpelier, the rural Virginia plantation that was once home to President James Madison.

“The first time I came here was in 1992, and the moment I actually got on the grounds I felt I belonged,” said Kearse, a retired pediatrician who lives in the Boston area.

As an African American descendant of slaves, her feelings about the Founding Father, as a man and a historical figure, are decidedly ambivalent. But she has come to love his home. From the time she was a child, her mother had told her the family’s known history began on Madison’s property — and that they were, in fact, descendants of the president and an enslaved cook named Coreen. During each of her visits to Montpelier, Kearse felt the weight of her mother’s daunting request that she carry their story through oral history, following in the West African tradition of griots, or storytellers…


James Madison, 4th president of the United States created 1835. (Library of Congress)

…In 1834, two years before James Madison died, Betsey was purchased in Tennessee as a “companion” for Emanuel — the first documented reference to Kearse’s fore­father and foremother. In 1848, a slave owner named Jeptha Billingsley brought Emanuel and Betsey to Central Texas. They apparently had the last name Madison before emancipation.

All that Kearse’s generation knows about the couple comes from the bill of sale and details in Billingsley’s will. Betsey was a “light mulatto complexion Negro woman,” born around 1815. Emanuel was “a Negro man of dark complexion,” somewhere between six and 10 years Betsey’s senior. They had at least 11 children. Nine lived to adulthood…

Read the entire article here.

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