Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Social Science, United States on 2016-04-28 02:22Z by Steven

Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence

University of Georgia Press
May 2016
336 pages
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4956-5
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-4957-2

Edited by:

Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African & Afro-American Studies
Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

Kidada E. Williams, Associate Professor of History
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michgan

Keisha N. Blain, Assistant Professor of History
University of Iowa

On June 17, 2015, a white supremacist entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and sat with some of its parishioners during a Wednesday night Bible study session. An hour later, he began expressing his hatred for African Americans, and soon after, he shot nine church members dead, the church’s pastor and South Carolina state senator, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, among them. The ensuing manhunt for the shooter and investigation of his motives revealed his beliefs in white supremacy and reopened debates about racial conflict, southern identity, systemic racism, civil rights, and the African American church as an institution.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Professors Chad Williams, Kidada Williams, and Keisha N. Blain sought a way to put the murder—and the subsequent debates about it in the media—in the context of America’s tumultuous history of race relations and racial violence on a global scale. They created the Charleston Syllabus on June 19, starting it as a hashtag on Twitter linking to scholarly works on the myriad of issues related to the murder. The syllabus’s popularity exploded and is already being used as a key resource in discussions of the event.

Charleston Syllabus is a reader—a collection of new essays and columns published in the wake of the massacre, along with selected excerpts from key existing scholarly books and general-interest articles. The collection draws from a variety of disciplines—history, sociology, urban studies, law, critical race theory—and includes a selected and annotated bibliography for further reading, drawing from such texts as the Confederate constitution, South Carolina’s secession declaration, songs, poetry, slave narratives, and literacy texts. As timely as it is necessary, the book will be a valuable resource for understanding the roots of American systemic racism, white privilege, the uses and abuses of the Confederate flag and its ideals, the black church as a foundation for civil rights activity and state violence against such activity, and critical whiteness studies.

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Tribute to Prince

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-04-25 02:35Z by Steven

Tribute to Prince

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni
2016-04-24

One Drop of Love pays tribute to the one and only Prince with: June Snow (& Billy), G. Reginald Daniel, Paul Spickard, Nancy Fathi, Michael Prewitt, Alex Regalado, Chandra Crudup and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

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Lost Boundaries (1949)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-21 20:25Z by Steven

Lost Boundaries (1949)

Turner Classic Movies
February 2016

David Kalat

This is not a joke, but it starts like one: two men walk into an office. They have come to pitch an idea to a Hollywood mogul, an idea for a blockbuster movie. Sort of. Their idea is a docu-drama on George Washington Carver.

Perhaps the idea doesn’t strike you as a winning one. But this was no ordinary mogul. His name was Louis De Rochemont, and he was the Academy Award-winning documentarian responsible for the March of Time newsreel series. He’d segued that success into an unprecedented contract with MGM giving him creative freedom to make whatever projects he wished, on his own turf. As a New Hampshire native, his own turf meant that state — and the projects he wished were ones rooted in reality. “The aim of any drama is to give the illusion of real things,” he explained, “So why not use real things in the first place?” These were not idle words, either–he was prepared to put his money where his mouth was, and always had. At the age of twelve, he’d sent away to Popular Mechanics for the blueprints of a motion picture camera, and then built his own according to the plans. With that, he then shot some film around his hometown and sold it to theaters. This hobby found him one day shooting footage of a submarine launch in Portsmouth, which was purchased by a newsreel company. The delighted kid took his earnings and used it–get this–to go to a New York theater and see his film on the big screen. Mr. De Rochemont was an earnest fellow, and that made him an ideal producer for a Carver bio-pic.

So, he sat and listened to the pitch, unconvinced but polite enough to not kick these two equally earnest kids out of his office, like so many other movie people would have done. De Rochemont looked at the two boys in front of him, one black and one white, and asked, “I understand why you want this film made… but what about you?” The white boy, an aspiring composer named Albert Johnston, Jr., smiled at the older man’s misapprehension. He explained that although many people mistake him for white, in fact he had been passing for years. Actually, he’d been passing his whole life, and only just learned the truth.

For contemporary readers, that term “passing” may cause some puzzlement. In the late 1940s, when this took place, however, it’s another matter. It was a time of rigid racial segregation, when even “one drop of Negro blood” was enough to consign a person to a permanent second-class status. Of course, “one drop of Negro blood” is a biologically ridiculous notion. I said it wasn’t a joke, but this part certainly is. There is no scientific way to distinguish one race from another–it isn’t a biological difference, merely a cultural illusion. And as a cultural illusion, it is built entirely atop what people look like. There are people whose lineage would identify them as “black,” but who do not look it. In the absence of some external proof of “Negro blood,” then, it becomes a question of the honor system whether these straddlers would choose to opt into the second class life that their racist society demanded. Little wonder, then, that there were some who were willing to be accepted as white…

Read the entire article here.

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Movie of the Week: Lost Boundaries

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-21 02:50Z by Steven

Movie of the Week: Lost Boundaries

LIFE
1949-07-04
pages 64-66


THE DOCTOR’S SON, who has just learned he is part Negro looks at the half-moons on his nails for telltale shadows–a widely believed but completely inaccurate test of Negro blood.

Film tells real-life story of Negroes “passing” as whites

Dr. Albert Johnston (below) of Keene, N.H. is a prosperous New England physician who was a Negro for the first 28 years of his life, lived as a white man for 20 more and became a Negro again when the U.S. Navy, having investigated his past, refused him a commission for “inability to meet physical requirements.” The story of what Negroes call his “passing” is not too different from that of thousands of other technically “colored” Americans who have passed over the invisible boundary to the white race. Told by William L. White in a widely read Reader’s Digest article in 1947,  it has now been made into an honest and affecting movie by Louis de Rochemont. Using the documentary technique he popularized in Hollywood (The House on 92nd Street, Boomerang!), De Rochemont filmed Lost Boundaries against the real background of New England towns. As fictionalized for the screen, it tells of a light-skinned Negro couple (played by white actors) driven to cross the color line by poverty and the advice of friends, and of the vexations of discrimination. They build a happy but insecure life in a small town, gaining the respect and friendship of their neighbors and bringing up children in ignorance of their past. Their lives are disrupted when they have to admit the truth, but finally patched together again by tolerance and courage and good sense. Related without melodrama, acted with conviction and force, Lost Boundaries is a direct and honest account of one shadowy sector of American life where unknown thousands live today in secret conflict of loyalties and fears…

Read the entire article here.

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The Specter of Races: Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-04-14 02:16Z by Steven

The Specter of Races: Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars

University of Virginia Press
April 2016
224 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 9780813938790
Cloth ISBN: 9780813938783
Ebook ISBN: 9780813938806

Anke Birkenmaier, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Indiana University, Bloomington

Arguing that race has been the specter that has haunted many of the discussions about Latin American regional and national cultures today, Anke Birkenmaier shows how theories of race and culture in Latin America evolved dramatically in the period between the two world wars. In response to the rise of scientific racism in Europe and the American hemisphere in the early twentieth century, anthropologists joined numerous writers and artists in founding institutions, journals, and museums that actively pushed for an antiracist science of culture, questioning pseudoscientific theories of race and moving toward more broadly conceived notions of ethnicity and culture.

Birkenmaier surveys the work of key figures such as Cuban historian and anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, Haitian scholar and novelist Jacques Roumain, French anthropologist and museum director Paul Rivet, and Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, focusing on the transnational networks of scholars in France, Spain, and the United States to which they were connected. Reviewing their essays, scientific publications, dictionaries, novels, poetry, and visual arts, the author traces the cultural study of Latin America back to these interdisciplinary discussions about the meaning of race and culture in Latin America, discussions that continue to provoke us today.

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Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2016-04-14 02:15Z by Steven

Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution

University of North Carolina Press
April 2016
332 pages
6.125 x 9.25
24 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2672-7

Devyn Spence Benson, Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies
Louisiana State University

Analyzing the ideology and rhetoric around race in Cuba and south Florida during the early years of the Cuban revolution, Devyn Spence Benson argues that ideas, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices relating to racial difference persisted despite major efforts by the Cuban state to generate social equality. Drawing on Cuban and U.S. archival materials and face-to-face interviews, Benson examines 1960s government programs and campaigns against discrimination, showing how such programs frequently negated their efforts by reproducing racist images and idioms in revolutionary propaganda, cartoons, and school materials.

Building on nineteenth-century discourses that imagined Cuba as a raceless space, revolutionary leaders embraced a narrow definition of blackness, often seeming to suggest that Afro-Cubans had to discard their blackness to join the revolution. This was and remains a false dichotomy for many Cubans of color, Benson demonstrates. While some Afro-Cubans agreed with the revolution’s sentiments about racial transcendence–“not blacks, not whites, only Cubans”–others found ways to use state rhetoric to demand additional reforms. Still others, finding a revolution that disavowed blackness unsettling and paternalistic, fought to insert black history and African culture into revolutionary nationalisms. Despite such efforts by Afro-Cubans and radical government-sponsored integration programs, racism has persisted throughout the revolution in subtle but lasting ways.

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Thomas Jefferson spent years raping his slave Sally Hemings. A new novel treats their relationship as a love story.

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-04-11 02:25Z by Steven

Thomas Jefferson spent years raping his slave Sally Hemings. A new novel treats their relationship as a love story.

Vox
2016-04-08

Constance Grady

A new historical novel about Thomas Jefferson is raising eyebrows.

Stephen O’Connor’s Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, which came out on Tuesday, is about our third president’s relationship with Sally Hemings, his slave. DNA evidence has proved that Jefferson and Hemings had six children together while Jefferson kept Hemings enslaved — and Jefferson also enslaved their children, freeing them one by one as they came of age. To further complicate matters, Sally Hemings was a half-sister to Jefferson’s late wife, the product of a relationship between Jefferson’s father-in-law and one of his slaves.

By all accounts, Jefferson’s sexual relationship with Hemings spanned several decades, beginning when Hemings was a teenager and Jefferson was in his 40s. It was not, in any sense of the word, consensual: Hemings was a child, and Jefferson literally owned her; she was not in any position to give or withhold consent. What Jefferson did to Hemings was rape.

But Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, judging from early reviews, is most interested in exploring potential ambiguities of their relationship. The book wonders: Did Hemings perhaps enjoy it? To what extent was she complicit?…

Read the entire article here.

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Staking Claim: Settler Colonialism and Racialization in Hawai’i

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Oceania, United States on 2016-04-05 02:32Z by Steven

Staking Claim: Settler Colonialism and Racialization in Hawai’i

University of Arizona Press
2016-05-28
232 pages
6.00 x 9.00
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8165-0251-6

Judy Rohrer, Director of the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR); Assistant Professor in Diversity and Community Studies
University of Western Kentucky, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Exploring how racialization is employed to further colonialism

In the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Hawai’i exists at a global crosscurrent of indigeneity and race, homeland and diaspora, nation and globalization, sovereignty and imperialism. In order to better understand how settler colonialism works and thus move decolonization efforts forward, Staking Claim analyzes competing claims of identity, belonging, and political status in Hawai’i.

Author Judy Rohrer brings together an analysis of racial formation and colonization in the islands through a study of legal cases, contemporary public discourse (local media and literature), and Hawai’i scholarship. Her analysis exposes how racialization works to obscure—with the ultimate goal of eliminating—native Hawaiian indigeneity, homeland, nation, and sovereignty.

Staking Claim argues that the dual settler colonial processes of racializing native Hawaiians (erasing their indigeneity), and indigenizing non-Hawaiians, enable the staking of non-Hawaiian claims to Hawai’i. It encourages us to think beyond a settler-native binary by analyzing the ways racializations of Hawaiians and various non-Hawaiian settlers and arrivants bolster settler colonial claims, structures, and white supremacist ideologies.

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Tribeca 2016 Preview: Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Melanie Lynskey in ‘Little Boxes’

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-02 20:44Z by Steven

Tribeca 2016 Preview: Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Melanie Lynskey in ‘Little Boxes’

Shadow and Act: On Cinema Of The African Diaspora
2016-03-31

Tambay A. Obenson


Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Melanie Lynskey in “Little Boxes

The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival kicks off in a couple of weeks, running from April 13-24 in New York City.

Leading up to the event, I’ll highlight a few films or note, given this blog’s specific interests, starting with this one…

Directed by Rob Meyer, written by Annie J Howell, and executive produced by Cary Fukunaga, the drama feature “Little Boxes” stars Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Melanie Lynskey, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, and Christine Taylor.

Synopsis: It’s the summer before 6th grade, and Clark (Armani Jackson) is the new-in-town biracial kid in a sea of white. Discovering that to be cool he needs to act “more black,” he fumbles to meet expectations, while his urban intellectual parents Mack and Gina (Nelsan Ellis and Melanie Lynskey) also strive to adjust to small-town living. Equipped for the many inherent challenges of New York, the tight-knit family are ill prepared for the drastically different set of obstacles that their new community presents, and soon find themselves struggling to understand themselves and each other in this new suburban context…

Read the entire article here.

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Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing on 2016-04-01 02:37Z by Steven

Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora

University Press of Florida
2014-06-17
240 pages
6.125 x 9.256
Hard Cover ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-4979-3

Bénédicte Boisseron, Associate Professor in French and Francophone Studies
University of Montana

In Creole Renegades, Bénédicte Boisseron looks at exiled Caribbean authors—Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, V. S. Naipaul, Maryse Condé, Dany Laferriére, and more—whose works have been well received in their adopted North American countries but who are often viewed by their home islands as sell-outs, opportunists, or traitors.

These expatriate and second-generation authors refuse to be simple bearers of Caribbean culture, often dramatically distancing themselves from the postcolonial archipelago. Their writing is frequently infused with an enticing sense of cultural, sexual, or racial emancipation, but their deviance is not defiant.

Underscoring the typically ignored contentious relationship between modern diaspora authors and the Caribbean, Boisseron ultimately argues that displacement and creative autonomy are often manifest in guilt and betrayal, central themes that emerge again and again in the work of these writers.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Note on Translations
  • Introduction: The Second-Generation Caribbean Diaspora
  • 1. Anatole Broyard: Racial Betrayal and the Art of Being Creole
  • 2. Maryse Condé’s Histoire de la femme cannibale: Coming Out in the French Antilles
  • 3. Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière: Parasitic and Remittance Diaspora
  • 4. V. S. Naipaul and Jamaica Kincaid: Rhetoric of National Dis-Allegiance
  • 5. Creole versus Bossale Renegade: “Turfism” in the Black Diaspora of the Americas
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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