Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-01-16 21:16Z by Steven

Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

The New York Times
2017-01-12

Nelson George

KRAZY: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
By Michael Tisserand
Illustrated. 545 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $35.

In our superficially more enlightened age, the phrase “mixed race” has become the accepted term to describe people with parents of different races. In fact the phrase has become a tool of marketers and brand-conscious celebrities to suggest whatever they’re selling is all-inclusive, a living embodiment of diversity. Many take great care in, for example, their Instagram biographies to list their hyphenated backgrounds.

But there are limits to the term’s utility, especially for people with African ancestry. Barack Obama was America’s first mixed-race president. His father was Kenyan and his mother a white woman from Kansas. Yet the tawdry racial history of this Republic demanded that he claim blackness as his primary identity because one drop of black blood has always decided your fate in this country. “Mixed race” notwithstanding, an African heritage in America is never just a cool exotic spice; one taste and it becomes all anyone remembers of the meal.

This rigid attitude toward race is often enforced by black Americans as fiercely as whites. For them the “mixed race” label, when employed by black people with a nonblack parent or grandparents, seems more a transparent attempt to dodge racial pigeonholing than a heartfelt assertion of identity. Jim Crow, which ended officially in the 1960s, has never been completely dismantled. So attempts to escape its grip, while understandable, create resentment in those unable to slip across the racial boundaries.

All of which makes Michael Tisserand’sKrazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White” a fascinating and frustrating biography. Though Herriman’sKrazy Kat” comic strip was admired in his lifetime, it wasn’t until years after his death in 1944 that his vast influence received widespread critical respect. Herriman’s depiction of the tangled relationships among the black cat Krazy, his white mouse tormentor and sometime love interest Ignatz and the bulldog Officer Pupp, set against a desert backdrop in fictional Coconino County (taken from a real area of Arizona), inspired several generations of cartoonists. Charles M. Schulz’sPeanuts,” Ralph Bakshi’sFritz the Cat” and Art Spiegelman’sMaus” all owe a debt to Herriman’s draftsmanship and poetic sense…

Read the entire review here.

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Katherine Johnson, Va. woman at center of ‘Hidden Figures,’ calls calculation ‘piece of cake’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Virginia, Women on 2017-01-16 02:20Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, Va. woman at center of ‘Hidden Figures,’ calls calculation ‘piece of cake’

CBS 6, WTVR-TV
Richmond Virginia
2017-01-13

HAMPTON, Va. — It is the untold story that has been hidden in Hampton for decades.

The box office hit “Hidden Figures” highlights the black female mathematicians at NASA who’s brain power helped launch the first Americans into space.

“It feels good,” said 98-year-old former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Johnson, portrayed in the film by Taraji P. Henson, calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  Johnson also confirmed, by hand, the launch calculations for John Glenn, the first American to circle the globe in 1962…

Read the entire article and watch the story here.

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The Boyden affair just got murkier: Salutin

Posted in Articles, Biography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2017-01-15 22:03Z by Steven

The Boyden affair just got murkier: Salutin

The Toronto Star
2017-01-13

Rick Salutin

Celebrated author agrees to select interviews, insists he never embellished or lied about his heritage, but also offered platitudes versus confronting precise criticisms

I found Joseph Boyden’s interview Wednesday on CBC — in a word rarely called for — unctuous. He surfaced three weeks after saying he wouldn’t deal with questions about his Indigeneity publicly but only in a “speaking circle.” This after filling what he calls “airtime” for 10 years on every form of media.

Now he’s back out there on CBC and in the Globe, though solely with “acceptable” interviewers. APTN, which started all this with a cautious, respectful piece by Jorge Barrera on Boyden’s claims, called it a “PR push.”…

Boyden’s language was strikingly vague for someone who writes literary fiction. He talked about stories told in his family but gave few examples, instead repeatedly calling them “beautiful” and “amazing.” He said Holy Mackerel and Ohmygosh. He denied making things up but host Candy Palmater didn’t push very hard. As she said, they’re friends and “I know it would be a different conversation if we were alone over a glass of wine.” As troublemaker Robert Jago bracingly tweeted: “Candy Palmater. WTF?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Full interview: Joseph Boyden on his heritage

Posted in Articles, Audio, Autobiography, Biography, Canada, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2017-01-15 21:41Z by Steven

Full interview: Joseph Boyden on his heritage

CBC Radio
2017-01-11

Jesse Kinos-Goodin


Author Joseph Boyden addresses the recent controversy surrounding his Indigenous ancestral claims. (Penguin)

“A small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”

Is Joseph Boyden really Indigenous?

It’s a question a lot of people have been asking, and one the author himself addressed in an exclusive interview Wednesday with CBC Radio’s Candy Palmater.

“Absolutely,” Boyden said. “I’m a white kid from Willowdale (Ontario) with native roots — a small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”

It was Boyden’s first interview since the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) released an investigation last month that called into question his Indigenous heritage and sparked a major controversy. The Giller Prize-winning author of Through Black Spruce is known for writing about Indigenous culture and communities in his novels, which also include Three Day Road and The Orenda. Boyden also has become a familiar voice when it comes to speaking on Indigenous issues in Canada

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:32:32) here.

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A Blaxican’s Journey through Fresno’s Racial Landscape

Posted in Articles, Biography, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-01-15 00:49Z by Steven

A Blaxican’s Journey through Fresno’s Racial Landscape

Tropics Of Meta: historiography for the masses
2017-01-13

Raymond A. Rey

In the summer of 1973, DJ Kool Herc tried something new on the turntables: by extending the beat, breaking and scratching the record, he allowed people to dance longer and entertained them with his rhymes as an MC. After that moment, everything changed. The sound that emerged out of the South Bronx in New York City led to a cultural movement that changed the lives of generations around the world. For Phillip Walker, a mixed race kid from Fresno, California, hip-hop not only served as the soundtrack of his youth, but provided a way to understand his neighborhood and build a multiethnic community.

Phillip Ernest Walker Jr. was born on January 28, 1976 in Fresno, California. He is the son of a Black father from Camden, Tennessee and a Mexican mother from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. While coming from different countries, both families had backgrounds in agriculture and both found their way to the Central San Joaquin Valley and eventually Fresno’s west side. The Walkers from Tennessee migrated to California slowly after uncle James Walker completed his service in the United States Navy. He was stationed for a time at Naval Air Station in Lemoore and upon completing his service in 1967, he convinced his brother Phillip Walker Sr. to join him in the Central Valley. There, the two black men found a lifestyle not too different from what they had experienced in Tennessee: wide open spaces, vast acres of farmland, and a slow pace.  The sons of a skilled mechanic, they set down roots in Fresno.

Meanwhile, the Magdalenos crossed a border and multiple state lines before settling in the Valley. Milagros, Phillip’s mother, was the daughter of Gregoria and Genaro Magdaleno. Genaro was also a mechanic and moved his family across the Southwest in search of work on farm labor camps. The tragic loss of Genaro’s beloved wife led the family to the Central Valley. They arrived in Delano, where Genaro’s brother and sister helped raise his children, and then they moved to Fresno. For a time the Magdalenos settled in the “golden west side,” a place that the Walkers from Tennessee already called home…

Read the entire article here.

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The unbelievable life of the forgotten genius who turned Americans’ space dreams into reality

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 01:10Z by Steven

The unbelievable life of the forgotten genius who turned Americans’ space dreams into reality

Business Insider
2016-08-22

Meghan Bartels

There’s no protocol for women attending,” says a white man in a suit holding a sheaf of papers.

“There’s no protocol for a man circling the Earth either, sir,” Taraji P. Henson retorts in my favorite line from the new trailer for the movie “Hidden Figures,” due theaters this January.

Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a brilliant mathematician at NASA working on the space program in its earliest days, beginning in the 1950s. Many of NASA’s first missions were made possible by Johnson’s intrepid, unparalleled calculations.

The movie is based on a nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, who grew up near NASA’s Langley Research Center, where Johnson and her colleagues worked.

Johnson still lives near Langley in Hampton, Virginia, where she’ll be celebrating her 98th birthday later this month. Keep scrolling to learn the true story of her incredible life…

Read the entire article here.

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Episode 199 – Michael Tisserand

Posted in Arts, Audio, Biography, Interviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-01-08 20:48Z by Steven

Episode 199 – Michael Tisserand

Virtual Memories: The chief of the Inner Station
2017-01-02

Gil Roth, Host

“I always feel like Herriman’s a a step ahead of me. When I read Krazy Kat I think I know what I’m reading; the next week I read the same strip and I realize I’m reading something different than I thought I was reading.”

For our 199th episode, Michael Tisserand joins the show to talk about his fantastic new book, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White (Harper). We discuss Krazy Kat, race in America and the phenomenon of racial passing, newsroom culture, conducting research on microfilm in the age of Google, the allure of New Orleans, what it was like to write the biography of an enigma, and a lot more. So don’t be a bald-faced gazooni! Give it a listen! And go buy KRAZY!

“Herriman treated language as something that wasn’t up to shouldering the kind of burdens that we put on it.”

Listen to the episode (01:31:23) here download the episode here.

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Who Is Katherine Johnson?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-08 20:17Z by Steven

Who Is Katherine Johnson?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
2016-12-30

Heather S. Deiss
NASA Educational Technology Services

Denise Miller
NASA Educational Technology Services


Katherine Johnson
Credits: Katherine Johnson

This article is part of the NASA Knows! (Grades 5-8) series.

Katherine Johnson is an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA from 1953 until 1986. She was a human computer. In a time when minorities held very few jobs in mathematics and science, Johnson was a trailblazer. Her work in calculating the paths for spaceships to travel was monumental in helping NASA successfully put an American in orbit around Earth. Then her work helped to land astronauts on the moon.

What Was Katherine Johnson’s Early Life Like?

Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. As a very young girl, she loved to count things. She counted everything, from the number of steps she took to get to the road to the number of forks and plates she washed when doing the dishes.

Johnson was born with a love for mathematics. At a young age, she was very eager to go to school. Now in her 90s, Johnson can vividly remember watching her older siblings go to school, wishing so much that she could go with them. When Johnson finally did start school, she so excelled that by age 10, she was in high school. By age 15, she’d started college!…

Read the entire article here.

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Still ‘Krazy’ after all these years: A life of George Herriman, pioneering comic writer and N.O. exile

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-30 23:17Z by Steven

Still ‘Krazy’ after all these years: A life of George Herriman, pioneering comic writer and N.O. exile

The New Orleans Advocate
2016-12-05

Susan Larson, Host, The Reading Life
WWNO-FM, New Orleans


George Herriman, from Michael Tisserand’s Krazy Kat bio of George Herriman

For Michael Tisserand, as for most of us, the love of comics came early in childhood.

His mother took him to the library, where he discovered 741.59, the beloved Dewey Decimal System classification where comics were shelved. Years later, during his post-Katrina exile in Chicago, Tisserand would take his own young son to an exhibit of comics at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

“I was carrying my son in my arms then — he’s 6′-4″ now — and reading the captions out loud. I was feeling the New Orleans exile at that point, and I could imagine the way Herriman felt as a 10 year-old in Los Angeles, and I was looking for a New Orleans story. This was a story about New Orleans that I could tell from Chicago.”

Now, years after chasing the story across the country, Tisserand has produced the first full-length biography of a great New Orleans character and an original American artist in “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White” (HarperCollins, $35).

Herriman (1880-1944) was born in New Orleans to a Creole family, free people of color who moved to California in search of better educational opportunities. There, Herriman began to pass as white, which he did for the rest of his life…

Read the entire article here.

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A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-30 20:18Z by Steven

A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency

The Economist
2016-12-24

Barack Obama’s presidency lurched between idealism and acrimony but some of his accomplishments will endure

1 “A skinny kid with a funny name”

Watch it again. He is unusually stilted at the beginning, as you might expect of a debutant on the autocue and the national stage. But soon he finds his rhythm, those crescendos alternating with electric pauses, ecclesiastical notes chiming with his scholarly charisma in a musical voice. Grippingly, he recounts the story of his life, in his telling a parable of unity in diversity—a moral he was still pushing 12 hard, disillusioning years later. “We are Americans first,” he urged in the Rose Garden on the day after Donald Trump was elected.

In fact, by the standards Barack Obama subsequently set—in a presidency defined by its speeches, and perhaps to be best remembered for them—his turn at the Democratic convention in 2004 was mundane. But his ascent will still be dated from the moment he loped onto that stage in Boston, with the rangy gait that became as familiar as his smile: an unknown politician from Illinois, soon to be the country’s only African-American senator, before, in short order, becoming its first black president. The paean he offered to America, a country that had embraced him as “a skinny kid with a funny name”, was also a kind of dare; the self-deprecation camouflaged a boast, since many in his audience saw the obstacles he faced as clearly as he did. “I’m the African-American son of a single mother,” Mr Obama reportedly told Binyamin Netanyahu when, years later, Israel’s prime minister lectured him on the world’s hazards, “and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House.”

His presidency will be counted in speeches because its trials proved harder to overcome than the barriers he scaled to attain it. Often he spoke as no other president could, becoming, through his identity and eloquence, a receptacle for the hopes of Americans and of—and for—the world. Think of his speech in Berlin in 2008, when he extolled multilateralism and the rule of law, or his now-defunct conciliation in Cairo the following year. Think of his eulogy after the Charleston killings. Yet posterity might score him higher on a broader metric had he been as effective in the more intimate persuasions of Congress, as consistent in projecting empathy as at exhortation, or more resolute abroad; had he been as adept at championing legislation or facing down tyrants as he could be at stirring hearts…

Read the entire article here.

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