Permanent Exile: On Marie Vieux-Chauvet

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-02-07 15:52Z by Steven

Permanent Exile: On Marie Vieux-Chauvet

The Nation
2010-01-14

Madison Smartt Bell, Professor of English
Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland


Marie Vieux-Chauvet (Anthony Phelps)

In Love, Anger, Madness, Marie Vieux-Chauvet explores the choking fear of life under “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

For the last thirty years of the twentieth century, Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s Amour, colère et folie was legendary for being lost. Published in France by Gallimard in 1968, this triptych of thematically linked novellas soon caused alarming ripples in the author’s native Haiti, where the Vieux-Chauvet family had already lost three of its members to the regime of state terror erected by François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, beginning in 1957. Warned that the book would almost certainly provoke serious reprisals, Vieux-Chauvet persuaded Gallimard to withdraw it, while she went into permanent exile in New York City, where she died in 1973 at 57. Her husband, Pierre Chauvet, made an emergency trip to Haiti, where he purchased as many copies of the book already in circulation there as he could recover–in order to destroy them. Remnants of the Gallimard edition were discreetly sold by Vieux-Chauvet’s children, in very few venues, until the stock was exhausted in 2000, and a pirated edition made a shadowy appearance in 2003. But otherwise the book was virtually impossible to find until its republication in France by Zellige in 2005.

Is the artifact worth such a weight of suffering and struggle? Whether any work of art can ever be worth even a single human life is a question that will never be settled–but this book is surely a masterpiece. Within the community of Haitian writers and writers of the Haitian diaspora it has been prized not only for its rarity but also for its great literary power. In her succinct introduction to the present edition, Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat ranks Vieux-Chauvet among a “multigenerational triad” of the greatest Haitian writers (including Jacques Roumain and Jacques Stephen Alexis) and dubs the trilogy “the cornerstone of Haitian literature.” Backed by such accolades, and now available in both French and English, Amour, colère et folie can take the central place it deserves in late-twentieth-century Haitian letters. If Duvalierism is the central political experience of the end of the Haitian twentieth century, the psychology of those oppressed by it has never been more compellingly rendered than here.

The three narratives that compose this volume have no continuity of plot from one to the next and no common characters. However, they reflect one another in tone, mood and theme sufficiently to integrate the book as a larger whole–a continuum describing the reactions of different classes of people to a generally similar experience of invasion and oppression from without their households, and a suffocating claustrophobia within. Love is the longest and most realistic narrative; Madness is more surreal and much shorter. Standing between them, Anger (which might have been translated better as “Wrath”) has the structure and feeling of Greek tragedy without echoing any particular Greek play in terms of specific characters or plot lines.

Love is set within the community of “aristocrats,” to which Vieux-Chauvet belonged: a comparatively small group of mixed European and African blood, which, since the Haitian Revolution ended in 1804, has preserved, as if in amber, the eighteenth-century French acculturation it received during the colonial period. These milat, as they are called (a term that derives from the uncomplimentary “mulatto” but in the Haitian context conveys wealth, education and social standing as much or more than pigmentation), have in reality always been a thin, fragile, creamy layer floating uneasily at the top of the vast black Haitian majority. For most of Haiti’s history, the often but not always light-skinned elite has been able to concentrate a great deal of the country’s wealth and a disproportionate share of political power; but in Love its position is felt to be threatened by the rise of a movement based on black power, which resembles nothing so much as the Duvalier regime, though Chauvet does make the faint self-protective gesture of setting the story in 1939, eighteen years before Duvalier took the presidency…

Read the entire review here.

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Black in the USSR: The children of Soviet Africa search for their own identity

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-02-06 22:11Z by Steven

Black in the USSR: The children of Soviet Africa search for their own identity

The Calvert Journal
2016-02-04

Photography by Liz Johnson Artur


Photograph by Liz Johnson Artur

“When people ask me about my background I usually start by explaining how my mum is Russian, my dad is Ghanaian and that I was born in Bulgaria,” says the photographer Liz Johnson Artur. “It often becomes a long explanation.”

The explanation goes something like this. Along with many African students in the 1960s, Johnson’s Ghanaian father was given the chance to study in Eastern Europe as part of the Soviet Union’s efforts to expand its influence across the African continent during the Cold War. His time in Bulgaria studying biochemistry was cut short after four years when all Ghanaian students were expelled from the country following a confrontation between African students and the police. By then he’d already met Johnson Artur’s mother, who gave birth to their daughter in 1964, a few months after his departure.

Johnson Artur spent her childhood in Bulgaria and then Germany and has been based in Britain since 1990. Her father was unable to return to Bulgaria and is now settled in Ghana. She only met him for the first time in 2010. After doing so, she felt moved to start documenting the stories of other Russians of African and Caribbean origin. “Most black Russians that I met in Moscow and St Petersburg had also grown up without their fathers. Some had been fostered or grown up in children’s homes and had never met their mothers. But we all agreed that we felt Russian as well as African.”…

Read the entire photo-essay here.

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Identity A Challenge For Latinas Who Are Black

Posted in Articles, Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-06 21:04Z by Steven

Identity A Challenge For Latinas Who Are Black

WUSF News
WUSF Public Media
Tampa, Florida
2016-02-03

Naomi Prioleau


Evelin Diaz is Afro-Dominican and a Spanish teacher’s assistant at Lennard High School in Ruskin.
Naomi Prioleau/WUSF

When people think of famous Latina women, Jennifer Lopez or Sofia Vergara come to mind.

Not Zoe Saldana or Rosario Dawson.

The difference between these pairs of Latina actresses isn’t one of talent or fame. Saldana and Dawson also happen to identify as Black – a reality some Tampa-area Afro-Latinas say is difficult to navigate.

“People respect our (Latino) community but for the Afro-Latinas, people just like to group us as Black and stuff and want to deny that we’re Spanish,” said University of South Florida student Jessica Roberts, who is Puerto Rican and Dominican. And Black.

Roberts said she doesn’t speak Spanish, and as a result is told that she’s not “truly” Latina. People say she should only identify as Black…

…However, it’s not so easy to break down the number of Afro-Latinos here – or elsewhere. The U.S. Census doesn’t currently give the option for Latinos to identify as another race, meaning even if someone is Afro-Latino or Asian-Latino, they can only mark Latino.

USF sociology professor and author Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman said the inability to count Afro-Latinos isn’t the big problem. Latinas who are also Black struggle to find acceptance in both the Latino and Black communities, as well as with themselves…

Read and listen to the story here. Download the story (00:04:19) here.

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I thought I was a gorgeous kid until I learned I was just ‘pretty, for a black girl’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-06 20:41Z by Steven

I thought I was a gorgeous kid until I learned I was just ‘pretty, for a black girl’

The Guardian
2016-02-04

Rebecca Carroll

My white birthmother told me that the idea that I was gorgeous was a fiction inflicted upon me out of a sense of white liberal guilt

When I was a little girl, I thought that I was gorgeous. Maybe I kind of was; maybe all little kids think they are, until they don’t. But growing up black in an all-white town, I was also a generally accepted kind of pretty: white adults saw my blackness as an addition to my cuteness; their white children stared at my brown skin and afro with genuine wonder as opposed to judgement and fear. I wasn’t ugly, so it was OK to stare.

It wasn’t until I was 10 that it occurred to me that I wasn’t pretty-pretty, after my fifth grade teacher told me that I was “pretty, for a black girl”. After that, I knew I was beautiful with a caveat; I was attractive with an asterisk. The precocious and outgoing girl that I had been, who loved to pose and perform and tell stories and make art, became emotionally fluent in the art of self-doubt…

Read the entire article here.

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I’m protective of my blackness because I had to find it myself

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-06 20:36Z by Steven

I’m protective of my blackness because I had to find it myself

The Guardian
2015-11-12

Rebecca Carroll

I was dogged in my determination to evolve outside the narrow margins of the small white world of my beginning and into another more racially familiar one

I spent the first 20 years of my life internalizing white beauty standards, intellectual values and cultural sensibilities. By the time I was a freshman in high school I had, like many of my white female peers, embarked upon an ongoing war with my body. I was never diagnosed as anorexic or bulimic, but I intermittently starved myself and took laxatives in an effort to be skinny and hipless without any sense whatsoever that my curves might be considered a thing of beauty in black culture.

I abandoned my 11-year-old crush on Michael Jackson (with whom I became almost preternaturally smitten after seeing him in The Wiz) in favor of the young white male stars that adorned the covers of Tiger BeatRick Springfield, Lief Garrett, Rob Lowe. I was guided by college counselors to consider New England state schools and maybe long-shot universities – historically black colleges and universities were not on anyone’s radar…

…It took a long time to find my blackness, find my people and my relationship to black culture, despite my own (albeit limited) self-awareness regarding race at a very young age. “I am a black child” reads the first sentence of a short personal essay I wrote when I was eight or nine years old…

Read the entire article here.

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Is It Time To Stop Using Race In Medical Research?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-02-06 19:47Z by Steven

Is It Time To Stop Using Race In Medical Research?

Shots: Health News from NPR
National Public Radio
2016-02-05

Angus Chen

Genetics researchers often discover certain snips and pieces of the human genome that are important for health and development, such as the genetic mutations that cause cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. And scientists noticed that genetic variants are more common in some races, which makes it seem like race is important in genetics research.

But some researchers say that we’ve taken the concept too far. To find out what that means, we’ve talked to two of the authors of an article published Thursday in the journal Science. Sarah Tishkoff is a human population geneticist and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Dorothy Roberts is a legal scholar, sociologist and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Africana Studies department. This interview has been edited for length and clarity…

Read entire interview here.

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Taking race out of human genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-02-06 17:35Z by Steven

Taking race out of human genetics

Science
Volume 351, Issue 6273 (2016-02-05)
pages 564-565
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4951

Michael Yudell, Associate Professor
Dornsife School of Public Health Department of Community Health and Prevention
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania

Rob DeSalle, Curator, Molecular Systematics; Principal Investigator, SICG Genomics Lab; Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School
American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York

Sarah Tishkoff, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology
University of Pennsylvania

In the wake of the sequencing of the human genome in the early 2000s, genome pioneers and social scientists alike called for an end to the use of race as a variable in genetic research (1, 2). Unfortunately, by some measures, the use of race as a biological category has increased in the postgenomic age (3). Although inconsistent definition and use has been a chief problem with the race concept, it has historically been used as a taxonomic categorization based on common hereditary traits (such as skin color) to elucidate the relationship between our ancestry and our genes. We believe the use of biological concepts of race in human genetic research—so disputed and so mired in confusion—is problematic at best and harmful at worst. It is time for biologists to find a better way.

Read the entire article here.

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In “The Alexander Litany,” intersectionality collides with campus

Posted in Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-06 02:38Z by Steven

In “The Alexander Litany,” intersectionality collides with campus

North by Northwestern
2016-02-03

Lauren Sonnenberg


Roger Mason as Clarence, Eliott Sagay as Joseph, Grant Lewis as Jackson, Jeff Paschal as Max. Photo by Alexandria Woodson

“Look into my eyes and you’ll see that fear ain’t only skin deep, at least not for me,” implored Max Alexander, protagonist of The Alexander Litany, at an open mic reading on an unnamed college campus in Southern California.

Kori Alston, 20-year-old playwright and Communication sophomore, first spoke these words at a 2014 slam poetry competition. To follow, he wrote them into his new play, creating Max Alexander, a young man who contemplates his racial and sexual identity, as a means to express his frustration. The final product was performed as a staged reading in Shanley Pavilion January 15-16, 2016.

“In every good slam poem there is universal truth, there is personal truth, and then there is a kind of truth for the audience,” Alston said…

…Like Alston, Alexander grew up with a white mother and an absentee Black father. Both struggled with their relationship to a Black world. Both are college students far from home, angry with the racism they face every day. But the boys are different in how they confront their dissatisfaction.

“My relationship with Blackness was with my father. He was such a negative part of my life, and it was easy to associate Blackness with the bad parts of my father. I wanted to be white,” Alston said.

As someone with a white mother and Black father, Alston used to refuse to racially identify, partially because he began to dislike the Black parts of himself, he said. As he got older, Alston said he began to confront racism by a “Fuck you; I’m Black” attitude and growing his hair out to emphasize his Black identity.

He vacillates between wanting to disrupt spaces and make noise every time he hears a Black person was killed, to trying to find a safe space to challenge white audience members’ way of thinking…

Read the entire article here.

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Students propose multiracial peer liaison program

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-04 23:08Z by Steven

Students propose multiracial peer liaison program

Yale Daily News
New Haven, Connecticut
2016-02-03

Monica Wang, Staff Reporter

When Chandler Gregoire ’17 stepped onto Yale’s campus as a freshman more than three years ago, she was assigned two peer liaisons: one from the Afro-American Cultural Center and the other from the Asian American Cultural Center. Ethnically, Gregoire explained, she is half white, one-quarter Black and one-quarter Asian, and Yale felt compelled to match her multiple identities with the appropriate cultural resources.

A well-established initiative under the Yale College Dean’s Office, the peer liaison program has functioned to connect freshmen of color with the University’s four cultural centers — the AACC, the Af-Am House, La Casa Cultural and the Native American Cultural Center — since 2008. And while multiracial students have served as peer liaisons for these houses in the past, there is currently no formal multiracial peer liaison program to which members of Yale’s growing community of multiracial students can turn for support. Faced with difficulties in navigating her own multiracial identity, especially within the spaces of the existing cultural centers, Gregoire founded the Racial and Ethnic Openness Club with other multiracial friends in the spring of 2014.

Now, REO has proposed the idea of a multiracial peer liaison program. Discussions between students and administrators are ongoing, with several other options for supporting multiracial students also being discussed…

Read the entire article here.

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2015 IMPACT25 Influencer: Misty Copeland

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Women on 2016-02-04 02:58Z by Steven

2015 IMPACT25 Influencer: Misty Copeland

ESPN W
2015-12-07

Dimity McDowell Davis, Special to espnW.com


From line sketches to pencils and final color, Marvel captured the essences of our IMPACT25 nominees and turned them into super versions of themselves. Behind Marvel’s IMPACT25 heroes »

“Every time I dance, I’m trying to prove myself to myself.” —Misty Copeland

Ballerina Misty Copeland’s year was, in all aspects, a grand jeté: the powerful ballet leap in which the dancer flies high above the stage in an impressive splits pose. Before this year, Copeland had already disrupted the classical world of ballet — she was the first African American to play the lead role in “Swan Lake” — and challenged millions to rethink their definition of an athlete through her Under Armour campaign. (Tutus and tiaras deserve as much respect as shoulder pads.)

In 2015, she continued to turn heads. Her muscular body landed on the cover of Time, and months later, she landed her biggest role to date. On June 30, the American Ballet Theatre promoted her to the role of principal dancer, making her the first African-American woman in the company’s 75-year history to hold that title…

Read the entire article here.

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