Medical Racism

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, United States on 2014-10-14 00:37Z by Steven

Medical Racism

The New York Times
2014-10-13

Brent Staples

The worst racial atrocities that took place in the Jim Crow South were carried out by the medical establishment, not by night riders cloaked in sheets. Indeed, many more African-Americans were killed by racist medical policies than by all the lynch mobs that ever existed. Until the late 1960s, the American Medical Association tacitly endorsed rules that denied membership to black physicians in the South, thus depressing their numbers in specialties such as surgery and ensuring that black patients would continue to receive dangerously substandard care — or no care at all.

This subject is rarely discussed in film or on television. The director Steven Soderbergh deserves praise for taking it up in “The Knick,” an absorbing, visually lush medical drama on Cinemax set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. The show centers on the self-obsessed, drug-addicted Dr. Thackery — compellingly played by Clive Owen — who leads a surgical team at the Knickerbocker, a hospital whose wards are awash in the immigrant poor. Known to his comrades as Thack, the junkie surgeon plans to carve his way to immortality, one bloody patient at a time, while lecturing to the rapt audience of doctors who crowd in to view his handiwork in the operating theater.

A racist, he is repulsed when a wealthy hospital patron forces him to accept the services of a talented black surgeon, Dr. Algernon Edwards — André Holland — even though Edwards has trained abroad and mastered techniques that his white betters have yet to learn…

…Critics who wonder about the real-world antecedents of the Dr. Edwards character should look to Dr. Charles Drew (1904-1950). A towering figure in medical history, Dr. Drew helped to make blood banks possible by developing efficient ways to process and store vast amounts of blood plasma. He began his career in the 1930s when surgical residencies at white hospitals in New York — even those that treated black patients — were officially closed to black physicians. Charming and urbane, Dr. Drew wrangled what a contemporary later described as a “bootleg” residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, thanks to a white doctor who took an interest in him. The fact that he was light-skinned enough to be mistaken for white was clearly an asset; it made it easier for him to find acceptance with white colleagues and patients…

Read the entire article here.

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Reading Rivalry, Race, and the Rise of a Southern Middle Class in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-30 17:26Z by Steven

Reading Rivalry, Race, and the Rise of a Southern Middle Class in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
Volume 70, Number 3, Autumn 2014
pages 157-184
DOI: 10.1353/arq.2014.0018

Rachel A. Wise, Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
University of Texas, Austin

This essay argues that a sustained reading of the courtship plot and Lee Ellis’s role in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition allows us to see the novel as ultimately envisioning a New South in which racial loyalty still trumps middle-class and professional solidarity. It reads the novel’s romantic triangle as a dramatization of the rise of a white middle class whose professional capital overtakes the central role of a plantation-based aristocracy. In the process, this new class remakes a whiteness that fails to significantly challenge either the essential hierarchy of white over black or the bloody lynch law that enforces that hierarchy. Because Ellis, who initially seems one of the least prejudiced whites in the novel, succumbs to race loyalty, his romantic triumph over Tom suggests the hopelessness of any chances for solidarity, highlighting The Marrow of Tradition’s critique of black middle-class enculturation as a viable form of racial uplift.

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Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2014-09-28 20:18Z by Steven

Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages

University Press of Florida
2014-09-02
192 pages
6×9
Cloth ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-6007-1

Lynn T. Ramey, Associate Professor of French
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Black Legacies looks at color-based prejudice in the medieval and modern texts in order to reveal key similarities. Bringing far-removed time periods into startling conversation, this book argues that certain attitudes and practices present in Europe’s Middle Ages were foundational in the western concept of race.

Using historical, literary, and artistic sources, Lynn Ramey show that twelfth- and thirteenth-century discourse was preoccupied with skin color and the coding of black as “evil” and white as “good.” Ramey demonstrates that fears of miscegenation show up in all medieval European societies.  She pinpoints these same ideas in the rhetoric of later centuries. Mapmakers and travel writers of the colonial era used medieval lore of “monstrous peoples” to question the humanity of indigenous New World populations, and how medieval arguments about humanness were employed to justify the slave trade. Ramey even analyzes how race is portrayed in films set in medieval Europe, revealing an enduring fascination with the Middle Ages as a touchstone for processing and coping with racial conflict in the West today.

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At Least We Talk About Race in the USA: Zadie Smith on Writing, Race and Color

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-09-24 20:13Z by Steven

At Least We Talk About Race in the USA: Zadie Smith on Writing, Race and Color

My American Meltingpot: A Multi-Culti Mix of Identity Politics, Parenting & Pop Culture
2014-09-22

Lori L. Tharps, Assistant Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

…Last week Wednesday I skipped out of work as early as possible so I could get a front row seat at the University of Pennsylvania’s Speaker’s Series on Color featuring one of my all-time favorite authors, Zadie Smith. I’ve read (and own) almost all of Smith’s fiction, but I am also a big fan of her critical essays, especially those dealing with race and culture. I like her writing and I love her mind.

So, my biggest takeaway from the almost sold-out event, is that not only is Zadie Smith absolutely brilliant (and gorgeous, and taller than I expected), she’s also got a terrific sense of humor. Rather than present a formal reading of her work, Smith sat “in conversation,” (which is clearly a thing now.) with Penn English professor, Jed Esty who peppered her with questions about her books, her upbringing as a Mixed child in London and her process as a writer. She answered every query with honesty and held none of her opinions back, even when they may have insulted the vast majority of the mostly White audience.

I found myself nodding in agreement with so much of what Smith said regarding the difference between being Black in the USA vs, the UK…

Read the entire article here.

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One Drop of Love: A Must See Show

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-22 21:34Z by Steven

One Drop of Love: A Must See Show

A Life with Subtitles
2014-09-22

Sarah Quezada

Last week I was out of town bowling and doing improv with my co-workers. It was super fun, but my time away from Atlanta meant I was gone on the birthday of my dear friend, Katie. (You may remember her as my co-conspirator during the World Cup.)

After returning, we celebrated by going to the Fox Theater to see One Drop of Love. It’s a multimedia solo performance produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and the show’s writer/performer Fanshen Cox DiGivanni. It. Was. Phenomenal.

Fanshen tells her family’s story as an exploration into her own racial identity. She reenacts experiences from conversations with her Jamaican grandmother to her travels in Africa to childhood memories with her white mother to her marriage to her Italian husband…

Read the entire review here.

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The Octoroon: A Tragic Mulatto Enslaved by 1 Drop

Posted in Arts, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2014-09-19 21:25Z by Steven

The Octoroon: A Tragic Mulatto Enslaved by 1 Drop

The Root
2014-09-09

Image of the Week: A sculpture addresses the ramifications for those who were mixed-race.


John Bell, The Octoroon, 1868. Marble, 159.6 cm high. Town Hall, Blackburn, U.K.

This image is part of a weekly series that The Root is presenting in conjunction with the Image of the Black Archive & Library at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Though it would hardly seem likely at first glance, this pallid image of slavery directly addresses the condition of black bondage. To all appearances, the young woman seen here represents a white captive. Except for her chains, she could pass for a conventional likeness of Venus, the classical goddess of love. As indicated by the inscription on the base of the statue, she is instead an octoroon—that is, an exceptionally light-skinned person of mixed race, technically defined as one-eighth black and the rest white.

The condition was reached by gradual degrees of miscegenation, or racial mixing, until the complexion of an individual often became indistinguishable from a person of “pure” white ancestry. In race-conscious societies, the prospect of racial mixture could threaten the precarious stability of the dominant order. The position of the octoroon along the edge of this fragile divide afforded some degree of maneuverability, often termed “passing.” Before the abolition of slavery, however, such light-skinned mulattoes faced the even more likely prospect of a life in bondage…

This demure, pensive vision of miscegenation and its dire consequences was made by the popular British sculptor John Bell. Through artfully constructed layers of sentimentality and aesthetic contrivance emerges one of the primary justifications for the enslavement of a whole group of human beings: the notion of one drop of black blood, the “drop sinister,” by which a light-skinned person could be consigned to a life of bondage…

Read the entire article here.

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The Penumbral Spaces of Nella Larsen’s Passing: Undecidable bodies, mobile identities, and the deconstruction of racial boundaries

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2014-09-08 20:07Z by Steven

The Penumbral Spaces of Nella Larsen’s Passing: Undecidable bodies, mobile identities, and the deconstruction of racial boundaries

Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography
Volume 13, Issue 3, 2006
pages 227-246
DOI: 10.1080/09663690600700972

Perry L. Carter, Assistant Professor of Human Geography
Texas Tech University

Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing, is a psychological drama centering around two fair-skinned women. One, Clare Kendry, passes as the White wife of a financially successful racist; the other, Irene Redfield, is a ‘race woman’ living in upper Manhattan during the era of the Renaissance Harlem. Clare and Irene are undecidables, neither White nor Black, fluid subjects traversing the boundaries of race—passing. Passing is an act of insinuating oneself into forbidden spaces by jettisoning former identities. It is as much a transgression of spatial boundaries as it is of racial boundaries. In the novel Clare passes by merely crossing from Black space into White space, and along the way shedding a Black identity for a White one. This paper examines the mobility of identities across racial geographies and how this movement destabilizes notions of race and of raced spaces.

We encounter the world in our bodies, and through our bodies’ most exquisitely sensitive sense, our skins, we take the world into ourselves. We have made and remade a world where nearly every experience is shaded and shaped by the color of those bodies, the tones of those skins. (Jane Lazarre, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: memoir of a White mother of Black sons, 1997, p. 94)…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Oceania on 2014-08-18 18:37Z by Steven

Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

University of Sydney
2014
243 pages

Lyn Sue Dickens

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

This thesis examines the extent to which three contemporary Australian novels can be regarded as interventions in “the modern racial imaginary” (Mignolo 2011a, p. 277). In order to analyse the novels as interventions, this thesis looks in particular at depictions and conceptualisations of mixed race subjectivity and experience in the texts. The novels, The World Waiting to be Made by Simone Lazaroo (1994), Shanghai Dancing by Brian Castro (2003) and The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser (2007) all explore mixed subjectivities and experiences in the Asia-Pacific region. Throughout this thesis I examine the complexity and disruptive potential of the concept of ‘mixed race’. I argue that through the depiction of people of mixed race and their traumatic experiences of racialisation, the novels critique, resist and disrupt concepts of race and colonial worldviews.

I further explore the ways in which the novels both promote and exemplify alternative ways of perceiving and interacting with other human beings that do not rely on racial categories or the humanitas/anthropos divide (Mignolo 2011b, p. 90). In order to do this I draw on Walter Mignolo’s concepts of border thinking/sensing and delinking, and Édouard Glissant’s work in The Poetics of Relation. I argue that critical examination of mixed race subjectivity and representation, in conjunction with transcultural concepts such as Relation and border thinking, provide a means of both challenging traditional concepts of race and essentialised cultures, and thinking beyond their boundaries. Furthermore, the novels themselves open up a transcultural space with transformative potential, which encourages the imagination of alternative, more equal worlds of Relation.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2014-08-18 02:28Z by Steven

Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010

State University of New York Press
July 2014
352 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5227-2
Electronic ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5229-6

Edited by:

Julie Cary Nerad, Associate Professor of American Literature
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Explores how the trope of racial passing continues to serve as a touchstone for gauging public beliefs and anxieties about race in this multiracial era.

The first volume to focus on the trope of racial passing in novels, memoirs, television, and films published or produced between 1990 and 2010, Passing Interest takes the scholarly conversation on passing into the twenty-first century. With contributors working in the fields of African American studies, American studies, cultural studies, film studies, literature, and media studies, this book offers a rich, interdisciplinary survey of critical approaches to a broad range of contemporary passing texts. Contributors frame recent passing texts with a wide array of cultural discourses, including immigration law, the Post-Soul Aesthetic, contemporary political satire, affirmative action, the paradoxes of “colorblindness,” and the rhetoric of “post-racialism.” Many explore whether “one drop” of blood still governs our sense of racial identity, or to what extent contemporary American culture allows for the racially indeterminate individual. Some essays open the scholarly conversation to focus on “ethnic” passers—individuals who complicate the traditional black-white binary—while others explore the slippage between traditional racial passing and related forms of racial performance, including blackface minstrelsy and racial masquerade.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: The “Posts” of Passing / Gayle Wald
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: The (Not So) New Face of America / Julie Cary Nerad
  • 2. On the Margins of Movement: Passing in Three Contemporary Memoirs / Irina Negrea
  • 3. “A Cousin to Blackness”: Race and Identity in Bliss Broyard’s One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life / Lynn Washington and Julie Cary Nerad
  • 4. Can One Really Choose? Passing and Self-Identification at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century / Jené Schoenfeld
  • 5. Passing in Blackface: The Intimate Drama of Post-Racialism on Black. White / Eden Osucha
  • 6. Broke Right in Half: Passing of/in Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone / Julie Cary Nerad
  • 7. Passing for Chicano, Passing for White: Negotiating Filipino American Identity in Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son / Amanda Page
  • 8. Race in the Marketplace: Postmodern Passing and Ali G / Ana Cristina Mendes
  • 9. Passing for Black, White, and Jewish: Mixed-Race Identity in Rebecca Walker and Danzy Senna / Lori Harrison-Kahan
  • 10. Smiling Faces: Chameleon Street, Racial Passing/Performativity, and Film Blackness / Michael B. Gillespie
  • 11. Consuming Performances: Race, Media, and the Failure of the Cultural Mulatto in Bamboozled and Erasure / Meredith McCarroll
  • Bibliography
  • Contributor Biographies
  • Index
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Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890-1940

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2014-08-18 02:16Z by Steven

Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890-1940

Louisiana State University Press
January 2015
240 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807157848

Shawn Salvant, Assistant Professor of English and African American
University of Connecticut

The invocation of blood—as both an image and a concept—has long been critical in the formation of American racism. In Blood Work, Shawn Salvant mines works from the American literary canon to explore the multitude of associations that race and blood held in the consciousness of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americans.

Drawing upon race and metaphor theory, Salvant provides readings of four classic novels featuring themes of racial identity: Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894); Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (1902); Frances Harper’s Iola Leroy (1892); and William Faulkner’s Light in August (1932). His expansive analysis of blood imagery uncovers far more than the merely biological connotations that dominate many studies of blood rhetoric: the racial discourses of blood in these novels encompass the anthropological and the legal, the violent and the religious. Penetrating and insightful, Blood Work illuminates the broad-ranging power of the blood metaphor to script distinctly American plots—real and literary—of racial identity.

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