Black Hebrew Israelites Celebrate Rabbi Who Founded Their Century-Old Movement

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-06-25 01:26Z by Steven

Black Hebrew Israelites Celebrate Rabbi Who Founded Their Century-Old Movement

Forward
2016-06-24

Sam Kestenbaum, Staff Writer

This weekend black Israelites will gather across New York City to celebrate their spiritual patriarch — a rabbi from Harlem who helped establish America’s black Hebrew-Israelite movement a century ago.

“We thank the Most High for our beloved Chief Rabbi Matthew,” community member Deborah Reuben wrote online. “Chief Rabbi Matthew will always be remembered [as] a teacher, a scholar of the Torah, a builder and a great leader in Yisrael.”

The three-day event is held every year to honor the Caribbean-born Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew, who founded a synagogue in Harlem in 1919 and taught that black Americans had ancestral ties to the ancient Israelites and that they should return to this Hebraic way of life…

Read the entire article here.

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Review: Matthew McConaughey Rebels Against Rebels in ‘Free State of Jones’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-24 14:57Z by Steven

Review: Matthew McConaughey Rebels Against Rebels in ‘Free State of Jones’

The New York Times
2016-06-23

A. O. Scott, Film Critic


Matthew McConaughey, left, and Jacob Lofland in “Free State of Jones.” Credit Murray Close/STX Entertainment

Free State of Jones” begins on the battlefield, with a flurry of the kind of immersive combat action that has long been a staple of American movies. The setting is familiar in other ways, too. As a line of Confederate troops marches across a field into Union rifle and artillery fire, a haze of myth starts to gather over the action, a mist of sentiment about the tragedy of the Civil War and the symmetrical valor of the soldiers on both sides of it. But this is a sly piece of misdirection: The rest of the movie will be devoted to blowing that fog away, using the tools of Hollywood spectacle to restore a measure of clarity to our understanding of the war and its aftermath.

Directed by Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”) with blunt authority and unusual respect for historical truth, “Free State of Jones” explores a neglected and fascinating chapter in American history. Mr. Ross consulted some of the leading experts in the era — including Eric Foner of Columbia University, whose “Reconstruction” is the definitive study, and Martha Hodes of New York University, author of a prizewinning study of interracial sexuality in the 19th-century South — and has done a good job of balancing the factual record with the demands of dramatic storytelling. The result is a riveting visual history lesson, whose occasional didacticism is integral to its power.

The hero of this tale is Newton Knight, a poor farmer from Jones County, Miss., who led a guerrilla army of white deserters and escaped slaves against the Confederacy during the war. Afterward, he tried to hold this coalition together as a political force in the face of Ku Klux Klan terror. As played by Matthew McConaughey, Newton is an ordinary man radicalized by circumstances. His hollow cheeks and wild whiskers suggest a zealous temperament, but the kindness in his eyes conveys the decency and compassion that lie at the heart of his moral commitment…

…“Free State of Jones” is careful not to suggest that the conditions endured by disenfranchised white and enslaved black Mississippians were identical. The system may be rigged against both, but in different ways. Especially after the war, the alliance proves fragile, as white supremacy reasserts itself with renewed brutality. Its persistence is emphasized by a subplot that takes place 85 years after the war in a Mississippi courtroom, where Davis Knight (Brian Lee Franklin), a descendant of Newton’s, is on trial for breaking the state’s law against interracial marriage…

Read the entire review here.

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Indian allies and white antagonists: toward an alternative mestizaje on Mexico’s Costa Chica

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Native Americans/First Nation on 2016-06-24 14:23Z by Steven

Indian allies and white antagonists: toward an alternative mestizaje on Mexico’s Costa Chica

Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies
Published online: 2015-10-05
DOI: 10.1080/17442222.2015.1094873

Laura A. Lewis, Professor of Latin American Anthropology
University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

San Nicolás Tolentino, Guerrero, Mexico, is a ‘mixed’ black-Indian agricultural community on the coastal belt of Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, the Costa Chica. This article examines local expressions of race in San Nicolás in relation to Mexico’s national ideology of mestizaje (race mixing), which excludes blackness but is foundational to Mexican racial identities. San Nicolás’s black-Indians are strongly nationalistic while expressing a collective or regional identity different from those of peoples they identify as Indians and as whites. Such collective expression produces an alternative model of mestizaje, here explored through local agrarian history and several village festivals. It is argued that this alternative model favors Indians and distances whites, thereby challenging dominant forms of Mexican mestizaje.

Read or purchase the article here.

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States of Denial

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-06-24 01:23Z by Steven

States of Denial

Fordham Law News: From New York City To You
2016-06-04

When Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008, some pundits declared the United States to have finally reached a triumphal post-racial stage, an era of long-awaited racial harmony after the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Yet, almost a decade later, race remains a source of tension and injury.

The situation is not so different in Latin America, and the similarities are of great interest to Professor Tanya Hernández. In her book Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law and the New Civil Rights Response (Cambridge University Press), Hernández examines the racial landscape of Latin American countries and uncovers customary laws of racial regulation that, while perhaps not as codified as Jim Crow laws, are as obstructive to genuine racial equality.

With degrees from Brown and Yale Law School, Hernández has studied comparative race relations and antidiscrimination law for over 25 years. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant to consult on racial equality projects in France and Trinidad.

In this excerpt of her book, Hernández introduces a legal critique of race regulations in Latin America and the role of the Latin American states in erecting and sustaining racial hierarchies…

There are approximately 150 million people of African descent in Latin America, representing about one-third of the total population. Yet, these are considered conservative demographic figures given the histories of undercounting the number of persons of African descent on Latin American national censuses and often completely omitting a racial/ethnic origin census question. At the same time, persons of African descent make up more than 40 percent of the poor in Latin America and have been consistently marginalized and denigrated as undesirable elements of the society since the abolition of slavery across the Americas. Yet, the view that “racism does not exist” is pervasive in Latin America despite the advent of social justice movements and social science researchers demonstrating the contrary. When the BBC surveyed Latin Americans in 2005 regarding the existence of racism, a significant number of respondents emphatically denied the existence of racism. Many, for instance, made statements such as “Latin Americans are not racist,” and “Latin-America is not a racist region, for the simple fact that the majority of the population is either indigenous, creole, or mixed.”

Thus the denial of racism is rooted in what many scholars have critiqued as the “myth of racial democracy”—the notion that the racial mixture (mestizaje/mestiçagem) in a population is emblematic of racial harmony and insulated from racial discord and inequality. Academic scholarship has in the last twenty years critiqued Latin American “mestizaje” theories of racial mixture as emblematic of racial harmony. Yet, Latin Americans still very much adhere to the notion that racial mixture and the absence of Jim Crow racial segregation are such a marked contrast to the United States racial history that the region views itself as what I term “racially innocent.”…

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

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Legend of the Free State of Jones

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Monographs, United States on 2016-06-24 00:56Z by Steven

Legend of the Free State of Jones

University Press of Mississippi
2009-10-07
143 pages
3 maps, 7 b&w illustrations
5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches
Paper ISBN: 978-1-60473-571-0
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-60473-572-7

Rudy H. Leverett

The original, full accounting of a rebellion in the heart of Dixie

A maverick, unionist district in the heart of the Old South? A notorious county that seceded from the Confederacy? This is how Jones County, Mississippi, is known in myth and legend.

Since 1864 the legend has persisted. Differing versions give the name of this new nation as Republic of Jones, Jones County Confederacy, and Free State of Jones. Over the years this story has captured the imaginations of journalists, historians, essayists, novelists, short story writers, and Hollywood filmmakers, although serious scholars long ago questioned the accuracy of local history accounts about a secessionist county led by Newt Knight and a band of renegades.

Legend of the Free State of Jones was the first authoritative explanation of just what did happen in Jones County in 1864 to give rise to the legend. This book surveys the facts, the records, and the history of the “Free State of Jones” and well may provide the whole story.

Rudy H. Leverett was born in an unplumbed cabin in the woods outside of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He had a doctoral degree in education and spent his life writing extensively on the subjects of philosophy, the American South, and the McLemore family. He died on his birthday in 1999.

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Blacks & Jews Entangled

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-06-24 00:35Z by Steven

Blacks & Jews Entangled

The New York Review of Books
2016-07-14

Darryl Pinckney

Oreo by Fran Ross, with a foreword by Danzy Senna and an afterword by Harryette Mullen, New Directions, 230 pp., $14.95 (paper)

Google wasn’t around when Oreo was first published in 1974. You are hit with Greek mythology and Yiddish right away and just the look of the pages of Fran Ross’s novel about an Afro-Jewish girl’s quest to find her white father can discourage or intimidate. Oreo, by an African-American writer who died in 1985, promises a degree of difficulty; the chapter titles, paragraph titles (“Helen and Oreo shmooz”), different font sizes, a graph showing shades of blackness, letters, an elaborate five-page menu of a daughter’s homecoming meal, footnotes, and mathematical equations say this is no naturalistic tale of two ghettoes. The protagonist is called “Oreo” not because of the cookie—i.e., because she is mixed-race or reluctantly black, as in black on the outside but white on the inside. Her black grandmother had been trying to give Oreo the nickname “Oriole,” but couldn’t make herself understood to the family.

In addition to Greek myth and Yiddish, Ross makes use of black slang, popular culture of the time, puns, raunch, her own made-up words—but this is not vernacular, not jive. Ross’s voice is literary, and thrilled with itself, joking about Villon or Bellow, totally into what it takes to get up to outrageous parody. Nothing about the narrative is restful; you have to stay on the alert. Oreo is quick, obscure, sly, and every line is working hard, doing its bit. Ross makes Oreo relentless in her shtick. “Oreo was soon engrossed in ‘Burp: The Course of Smiling Among Groups of Israeli Infants in the First Eighteen Months of Life,’ the cover story in Pitfalls of Gynecology.”

In fractured, short chapters, Oreo decides arbitrarily that she has fulfilled a given task and therefore deserves another cryptic clue from her father. Ross gives us not a send-up of Theseus’s journey of labors, but her appropriation of his battles as her structure, her frame for her provocative urban picaresque…

Read the review here.

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No Telephone to Heaven

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Novels, United Kingdom, United States on 2016-06-23 23:51Z by Steven

No Telephone to Heaven

Plume
March 1996 (Originally published in 1987)
224 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780452275690

Michelle Cliff (1946-2016)

A brilliant Jamaican-American writer takes on the themes of colonialism, race, myth, and political awakening through the experiences of a light-skinned woman named Clare Savage. The story is one of discovery as Clare moves through a variety of settings – Jamaica, England, America – and encounters people who affect her search for place and self.

The structure of No Telephone to Heaven combines naturalism and lyricism, and traverses space and time, dream and reality, myth and history, reflecting the fragmentation of the protagonist, who nonetheless seeks wholeness and connection. In this deeply poetic novel there exist several levels: the world Clare encounters, and a world of which she only gradually becomes aware – a world of extreme poverty, the real Jamaica, not the Jamaica of the middle class, not the Jamaica of the tourist. And Jamaica – almost a character in the book – is described in terms of extraordinary beauty, coexisting with deep human tragedy.

The violence that rises out of extreme oppression, the divided loyalties of a colonized person, sexual dividedness, and the dividedness of a person neither white nor black – all of these are truths that Clare must face. Overarching all the themes in this exceptionally fine novel is the need to become whole, and the decisions and the courage demanded to achieve that wholeness.

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Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-06-23 23:33Z by Steven

Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff

African American Review
Volume 28, Number 2, Black Women’s Culture Issue (Summer, 1994)
pages 273-281
DOI: 10.2307/3041999

Opal Palmer Adisa, Professor of Creative Writing
California College of the Arts

Among the subjects Jamaican born writer Michelle Cliff explores in her writings are ancestry, the impact of colonization on the Caribbean, the relationships among and interconnection of African people in the diaspora, racism, and the often erroneous way in which the history of black people is recorded. In her latest novel, Free Enterprise (1993), Cliff attempt: to rewrite the story of Mary Ellen Pleasant, the African American woman who supplied money with which John Brown bought arms for the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Her other two novels, No Telephone to Heaven (1987) and Abeng (1984), are semi-autobiographical and explore the life of Clare Savage, fair-skinned girl raised between Jamaica and North America, who must reconcile her mixed heritage in a changing society. Other works by Cliff include Bodies of Water (1990), The Land of Look Behind (1985), and Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise (1980).

The following text is based on two separate interviews: one done in person in Albany, California, in December 1989, and the other conducted over the telephone in September 1993.

Adlsa: When did you find your voice, when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Cliff: I always wanted to write. Actually there was a terrible incident. I don’t know if I should tell you, but I will. When I was at Saint Andrews I was keeping a diary. I had been very influenced by The Diary of Anne Frank, and as a result of seeing the movie and reading her diary, I got a diary of my own. I wasn’t living with my mother and father at this time; I was living with my aunt in Kingston [Jamaica] and going to Saint Andrews. This aunt also had a house in Saint Ann, where we used to stay on the weekends. Anyway, my parents broke into my bedroom in Kingston when we were not at the house. They went into my room, broke open my drawer, took out and broke the lock on my diary, and read it. Then they arrived at the other house. My father and mother had my diary in their hands and sat down and read it out loud in front of me, my aunt, and everybody else. My sister was there. There were very intimate details; there were a lot of things about leaving school and not going to class and playing hookey, but there was also the experience of the first time I menstruated, and I remember just being shattered. My father read it, and my mother was in total collaboration. (Pause.) Anyway I remember just crying and being sad and whatnot. I spoke to my sister about it once, and she remembered, even though she was seven at the time. And she said, “Don’t you remember screaming and saying, ‘Don’t I have any rights?'”…

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Oral history interview with Benny Andrews, 1968 June 30

Posted in Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-23 20:18Z by Steven

Oral history interview with Benny Andrews, 1968 June 30

Archives of American Art
Smithsonian Institution

Andrews, Benny, b. 1930 d. 2006
Painter
Active in New York, N.Y.

Size: Transcript: 29 pages

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformated in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 12 min.

Collection Summary: An interview of Benny Andrews conducted 1968 June 30, by Henri Ghent, for the Archives of American Art.

Andrews remembers his childhood on a sharecropping farm in Georgia, difficulties he faced being light-skinned, and his struggle to get an education. He speaks of the role of the 4-H Club in his escape from that life and his attempts at painting using improvised materials. Andrews describes how he worked his way to college and joined the Air Force. He recalls passing himself off as white in certain situations, the insights into race relations he was able to gain that way, and his consciousness of being black as it affects his art. He notes the importance of other artists who encouraged him, and ends with a general characterization of his work.

Biographical/Historical Note: Benny Andrews (1930-2006) was a painter and lecturer from New York, New York.

This interview is part of the Archives’ Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America’s Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

For more information, click here.

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The Optics of Interracial Sexuality in Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings and Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-06-23 19:45Z by Steven

The Optics of Interracial Sexuality in Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings and Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

College Literature
Volume 41, Number 1, Winter 2014
pages 119-148
DOI: 10.1353/lit.2014.0004

Jolie A. Sheffer, Associate Professor, English and American Culture Studies
Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio

This essay focuses on the racial and sexual politics undergirding interracial relationships between men of color and white women. Alexie and Tomine’s works reveal how legal and cinematic histories of interracial romance continue to shape ethnic men’s sense of individual and community identity. An example of comparative ethnic-studies scholarship, this essay explores how minority subjects in the US are shaped by distinct racial logics. Alexie’s collection reflects the influence of the cinematic tropes of the Western and the history of US government attempts to weaken tribal ties on contemporary Native American male characters. Tomine’s graphic novel reveals the racial and sexual conventions of mainstream pornography and the individualist logic of the model minority myth on Asian-American men. Both authors suggest that queerness functions as an alternative ethical relation between parties, one grounded in equality rather than domination and relatively free of the visual logic of racialization.

Read the entire article here.

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