Sugarwork: The Gastropoetics of Afro-Asia After the Plantation

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2019-05-19 00:18Z by Steven

Sugarwork: The Gastropoetics of Afro-Asia After the Plantation

Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas
Volume 5: Issue 1-2 (2019-04-11) Special Issue: Expressions of Asian Caribbeanness edited by Andil Gosine, Sean Metzger, and Patricia Mohammed
DOI: 10.1163/23523085-00501003

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies; Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Cover Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

The politics and the poetics of sugar and its production have long connected African and Asian diasporas as the material legacy of the Caribbean plantation. This article considers the repurposing of sugar as art and the aesthetic of artists of Afro-Chinese descent, Andrea Chung and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. Part of a diasporic tradition of employing sugar as a medium that I call sugarwork, their artwork evokes the colonial entanglements of nutrition and labour on the plantation, centered in the belly. The womb makes, and the stomach unmakes. This practice, employing the materiality of foodstuffs, is part of a gastropoetics, wherein centering the sensorium opens alternative forms of knowledge production to the European colonial archive. As the descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Chinese, Campos-Pons and Chung metabolize sugar in ways that grapple with the futurity of the plantation to form a new intertwined genealogy of black and Chinese womanhood.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Thousands of mixed-race British babies were born in World War II – and adoption by their black American fathers was blocked

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 23:41Z by Steven

Thousands of mixed-race British babies were born in World War II – and adoption by their black American fathers was blocked

The Conversation
2019-05-16

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge


Outside Holnicote House children’s home, Somerset. ©Lesley York

Around 2.2% of the population of England and Wales is now mixed race and 3.3% are from black ethnic groups. During World War II, over 70 years ago, these figures were far lower. And so unsurprisingly, life was difficult for the 2,000 or so mixed race babies who were born in World War II to black American GIs and white British women.

They grew up in predominately white localities and experienced significant racism. I have interviewed 45 of these children (now in their seventies), hailing from all over England. Their story of institutional racism rivals the horrors of the appalling story of the Windrush generation.

Of the 3m US servicemen that passed through Britain in the period 1942-45, approximately 8% were African-American. The GIs were part of a segregated army and they brought their segregation polices with them, designating towns near to American bases “black” or “white” and segregating pubs and dances along colour lines, with dances held for black GIs one evening and whites the next.

Inevitably, relationships formed between the black GIs and local women and some resulted in what the African-American press referred to as “brown babies”. All these children were born illegitimate because the American white commanding officers refused black GIs permission to marry, the rationale being that back in the US, 30 of the then 48 states had anti-miscegenation laws.

The children grew up in predominately white areas – the sites where the GIs had been largely based: south and south-west England, south Wales, East Anglia and Lancashire, where they had little or no black or mixed race role models. Most suffered racism, the stigma of illegitimacy and a confused identity…

Read the entire article here.

Rhiannon Giddens and What Folk Music Means

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 23:29Z by Steven

Rhiannon Giddens and What Folk Music Means

The New Yorker
2019-05-13

John Jeremiah Sullivan


Giddens plays and records what she describes as “black non-black music,” reviving a forgotten history. Photograph by Paola Kudacki for The New Yorker

The roots musician is inspired by the evolving legacy of the black string band.

To grasp the significance of what the twenty-first-century folksinger Rhiannon Giddens has been attempting, it is necessary to know about another North Carolina musician, Frank Johnson, who was born almost two hundred years before she was. He was the most important African-American musician of the nineteenth century, but he has been almost entirely forgotten. Never mind a Wikipedia page—he does not even earn a footnote in sourcebooks on early black music. And yet, after excavating the records of his career—from old newspapers, diaries, travelogues, memoirs, letters—and after reckoning with the scope of his influence, one struggles to come up with a plausible rival.

There are several possible reasons for Johnson’s astonishing obscurity. One may be that, on the few occasions when late-twentieth-century scholars mentioned him, he was almost always misidentified as a white man, despite the fact that he had dark-brown skin and was born enslaved. It may have been impossible, and forgivably so, for academics to believe that a black man could have achieved the level of fame and success in the antebellum slave-holding South that Johnson had. There was also a doppelgänger for scholars to contend with: in the North, there lived, around the same time, a musician named Francis Johnson, often called Frank, who is remembered as the first black musician to have his original compositions published. Some historians, encountering mentions of the Southern Frank, undoubtedly assumed that they were merely catching the Northern one on some unrecorded tour and turned away.

There is also the racial history of the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, where Johnson enjoyed his greatest fame. In 1898, a racial massacre in Wilmington, and a subsequent exodus of its black citizens, not only knocked loose the foundations of a rising black middle class but also came close to obliterating the deep cultural memory of what had been among the most important black towns in the country for more than a century. The people who might have remembered Johnson best, not just as a musician but as a man, were themselves violently unremembered.

A final explanation for Johnson’s absence from the historical record may be the most significant. It involves not his reputation but that of the music he played, with which he became literally synonymous—more than one generation of Southerners would refer to popular dance music simply as “old Frank Johnson music.” And yet, in the course of the twentieth century, the cluster of styles in which Johnson specialized––namely, string band, square dance, hoedown––came to be associated with the folk music of the white South and even, by a bizarre warping of American cultural memory, with white racial purity. In the nineteen-twenties, the auto magnate Henry Ford started proselytizing (successfully) for a square-dancing revival precisely because the music that accompanied it was not black. Had he known the deeper history of square dancing, he might have fainted…

…Giddens’s father, David, who is white, taught music and then worked in computer software for most of his career. “As a teacher, he got all of the hardened kids,” she said, meaning behaviorally challenged students. He met Rhiannon’s mother, Deborah Jamieson, when they were both students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Theirs was a rare interracial marriage in a city where, cultural diversity aside, the Klan murdered five civil-rights activists in 1979. Rhiannon’s parents divorced when she was a baby, around the time that her mother came out as a lesbian…

…Giddens talks about her “black granny” and her “white granny.” At one point, her black grandfather and her white grandmother were both working at the Lorillard Tobacco factory in Greensboro. Once, when her white granny needed help with her taxes, she went to Giddens’s black grandfather to get it. But Giddens dismissed the idea that her life was defined by a two-sidedness. “It’s the South, isn’t it?” she said. “The point is that they are different—but the same.”…

…The prospect of gaining a wider, and blacker, audience is, one imagines, always an option for Giddens, who could, if she really wanted to, cut a pop record and presumably ascend to a higher sales bracket. But she has been unwilling to compromise her quest, which is, in part, to remind people that the music she plays is black music. In 2017, she received a MacArthur “genius” grant, a validation that has reinforced her tendency to stick to her instincts. “You do what you’re given,” she told me on the phone recently. “I’m not gonna force something or fake something to try to get more black people at my shows. I’m not gonna do some big hip-hop crossover.” She paused, and remembered that she is about to do a hip-hop crossover, with her nephew Justin, a.k.a. Demeanor, a rapper who also plays the banjo. “Well,” she said, laughing, “not unless I can find a way to make it authentic.” She told me that she does not really like hip-hop. This threw me into the comical position of trying to sell her on the genre. “The stuff I like is the protest music,” she said. “I like Queen Latifah. But the over-all doesn’t speak to me. I’m not an urban black person. I’m a country black person.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 19:39Z by Steven

Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Manchester University Press
May 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-3326-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-3327-4

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Britain’s ‘brown babies’

  • Provides a fascinating but little-known story of the 2,000 illegitimate children born to black GIs and British women in World War II – one consequence of the war missing from the history books
  • Gives personalised accounts from mixed-race people born in a (then) very white Britain before the 1948 arrival of the Windrush, charting the racism, stigma and acute sense of difference
  • Illuminates the difficulties facing mixed-race, illegitimate children in what was then, in the 1940s and early ’50s, a very white Britain
  • Makes an important contribution to the history of British mixed-race people
  • 50 black and white illustrations

This book recounts a little-known history of the estimated 2,000 babies born to black GIs and white British women in the second world war. The African-American press named these children ‘brown babies‘; the British called them ‘half-castes‘. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry their white girl-friends. Nearly half of the children were given up to children’s homes but few were adopted, thought ‘too hard to place’. There has been minimal study of these children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. The book will present the stories of over fifty of these children, their stories contextualised in terms of government policy and attitudes of the time. Accessibly written, with stories both heart-breaking and uplifting, the book is illustrated throughout with photographs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. British women meet black GIs
  • 2. Keeping the ‘brown babies’
  • 3. ‘Brown babies’ relinquished: experiences of children’s homes
  • 4. Adoption, fostering and attempts to send the babies to the US
  • 5. Secrets and lies: searching for mothers and fathers
  • 6. After the war and beyond
  • Appendix: the case study ‘brown babies’
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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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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Los Angeles has renamed a street after former President Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-05-15 23:48Z by Steven

Los Angeles has renamed a street after former President Obama

Cable News Network (CNN)
2019-05-05

Saeed Ahmed, Senior Editor

(CNN) The City of Los Angeles has renamed a nearly 4-mile stretch of road from “Rodeo Road” to “Obama Boulevard,” in honor of the country’s first African-American president.

The location is significant, the city said, because Obama held his first campaign rally in Los Angeles on February 20, 2007, at Rancho Cienega Park. The park sits on Rodeo Road, right across from W. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“For every child who will drive down this street and see the name of the first Black President of our country, this boulevard will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big,” tweeted City Council President Herb Wesson after the renaming Saturday.

Rodeo Road, which runs through a historic black neighborhood, is not the first strip to be named in honor of former presidents. The district where the road sits is also home to Washington Boulevard, Adams Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard….

Read the entire article here.

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In fact, the idea that all of humanity can be divided into four or five (or however many) racial groups is relatively new. Ancient Greeks, for example, never thought of themselves as “white.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-05-15 21:38Z by Steven

In fact, the idea that all of humanity can be divided into four or five (or however many) racial groups is relatively new. Ancient Greeks, for example, never thought of themselves as “white.” As Tim Whitmarsh noted in Aeon in 2018, “Greeks simply didn’t think of the world as starkly divided along racial lines into black and white: that’s a strange aberration of the modern, Western world, a product of many different historical forces, but in particular the transatlantic slave trade and the cruder aspects of 19th-century racial theory.”

Peter G. Prontzos, “The Concept of “Race” Is a Lie,” Scientific American, May 14, 2019. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-concept-of-race-is-a-lie/.

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ASHG Denounces Attempts to Link Genetics and Racial Supremacy

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Statements on 2019-05-15 21:20Z by Steven

ASHG Denounces Attempts to Link Genetics and Racial Supremacy

AJHG (American Journal of Human Genetics)
ASHG Perspective
Volume 103, Issue 5, P636
2018-10-19
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.10.011

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is alarmed to see a societal resurgence of groups rejecting the value of genetic diversity and using discredited or distorted genetic concepts to bolster bogus claims of white supremacy. ASHG denounces this misuse of genetics to feed racist ideologies. In public dialog, our research community should be clear about genetic knowledge related to ancestry and genomic diversity. To that end, ASHG affirms the following:…

Read the entire statement in PDF or HTML format.

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Q&A | Genevieve Gaignard

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-15 21:10Z by Steven

Q&A | Genevieve Gaignard

Flaunt
2019-05-02

Morgan Vickery, Contributing Editor

Black Swan
Black Swan

Early this April, Chicago welcomed artist Genevieve Gaignard for a solo exhibition with Monique Meloche gallery. The exhibition entitled “Black White and Red All Over” features Gaignard’s newest body of mixed media works on panel as well as a domestic installation.

The Los Angeles-based artist received an MFA in Photography from Yale University. However, Gaignard’s work spans across several mediums including mixed-media, sculpture, and installations. Her work has been showcased across the nation and has found permanent homes at such places as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the California African American Museum, the FLAG Art Foundation, New York, and the San Jose Museum of Art. Gaignard’s work examines issues of race, class, femininity and their various intersections. As the daughter of an interracial couple, identity has informed a large part of Gaignard’s work, in which she invites the viewer to examine their own assumptions on identity…

…Many of the collage works touch on the topics of beauty and femininity. Each of them were composed with vintage wallpaper and vintage magazine cutouts in many variations. The pieces A Shout Out To My Fan Girls and In Full Bloom depict the many-faces of black beauty, especially as it relates to hair. Gaignard connected these works to her own identity as a biracial woman saying, “These are all pictures from wig advertisements. So, talking about how as black women we are told tame our hair and fit into the norm which is presented to us as white. That’s what you’re supposed to strive for, even for me. My hair is straightened right now, so I totally pass in a different way. I think about this constantly.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Concept of “Race” Is a Lie

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2019-05-15 21:02Z by Steven

The Concept of “Race” Is a Lie

Scientific American
2019-05-14

Peter G. Prontzos, Faculty Emeritus
Langara College, Vancouver, British Columbia

The Concept of "Race" Is a Lie
Credit: Getty Images

Even the Ancient Greeks knew it

The plague of racism has, in many ways, been increasing in the last few years. Whether one looks at Hungary, Germany, Myanmar, India or Brazil, racists are becoming more visible and getting elected to public office.

Then there were the horrors of the slaughters in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

In the United States, the president has denounced Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists, described some poor nations as, “shithole countries,” and failed to reject an endorsement from a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. He even went so far as to call at least some neo-Nazis, “very fine people.” One might be forgiven for thinking that what his campaign slogan really meant was “Make America White Again.”…

In combating this increase in racism, there are two primary aspects to consider…

Read the entire article here.

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