Being Black: Still a multi-front struggle

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-12-05 01:19Z by Steven

Being Black: Still a multi-front struggle

DW
2017-04-07


Theodor Wonja Michael

A particular excerpt of the DW documentary “Afro.Germany” went viral: the touching testimony of one of the oldest Afro-Germans born in Berlin. Here’s what can be learned from social media users’ hundreds of reactions.

“I am an African – I didn’t even know Cameroon and Togo were German colonies,” said one social media user, reacting to an online video clip about the life and times of Theodor Wonja Michael, one of Germany’s oldest contemporary witnesses.

The clip is an excerpt from “Afro.Germany,” a documentary project by Deutsche Welle, which aims to chronicle the diversity of Black experiences in Germany and challenge the historical amnesia surrounding Germany’s colonial past.

The video narrates Michael’s extraordinary experiences as a Black person in Germany.

Born in Berlin in 1925, Michael was forced to act in “human zoos” during his childhood. He survived the Nazi era and later became an actor and author

A further challenge: fluid identities

However, subsequent analysis by researchers such as E. P. Johnson, has drawn attention to the more troubling implications of Black identity politics.

Black pride can inadvertently promote the problematic notion of Black authenticity – that is to say, it can construct an image of the the “real Blacks” and the “real” Black experience, to which the individuals must conform and relate. This line of thinking can hinder efforts geared towards separating identity from race.

For example, one commentator insisted on referring to Michael as “mixed-race” and denounced the acceptance of “trans-racial crap.”

Race does not define us, but it does influence our experience of the world. Needless to say, “Black” includes a spectrum of peoples whose experience of race varies depending on the interaction of other factors, such as class, culture, gender, nationality, etc. For many people, race is not a black and white issue, but a multi-front struggle for inclusion in their “own” communities.

“My mother was French, my father was American […] Being light skinned, I fought blacks because I wasn’t dark enough. I fought whites because I was colored. Fought Spanish, Puerto Ricans because they said I was a ‘wanna be’ and fake,” said one commentator…

Read the entire article here.

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WSW: Crispus Attucks And A “Blank Slate” In History

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-29 01:56Z by Steven

WSW: Crispus Attucks And A “Blank Slate” In History

WestSouthwest
WMUK 102.1 FM
Information + Inspiration for Southwest Michigan from Western Michigan University

Gordon Evans, Host


First Marty of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory
Credit Oxford University Press

Western Michigan University History Professor Mitch Kachun says his book is about Crispus Attucks, one of the men, killed at the Boston Massacre in 1770. But he says First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory also raises questions about who’s included in history, and who is ignored.

Attucks himself was ignored for long periods of American history. Kachun says while the Boston Massacre was remembered in the 1770’s into the 1780’s, those killed were rarely mentioned by name. But Kachun says around the time of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, more attention was paid to the role of the working class in the American Revolution. Then as the anti-slavery movement became more active, the story of the mixed-race man killed in 1770 was told more often. By the end of the 1840’s and in the 1850’s, Kachun says Attucks was often referred to as a figure in the Revolution.

If Attucks had not been mixed race, Kachun says his name may not have come so much over time. He says that very few people can name any of the others killed at the Boston Massacre. Kachun says Attucks was identified as mixed-race or “mulatto,” but the initial newspaper accounts and the coroner’s report identified him as “Michael Johnson.” Kachun says that had led to theories that Crispus Attucks was hiding his identity because he had escaped slavery in 1750. But Kachun says there is no evidence to support that claim…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:29:27) here.

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Britain’s black queen: Will Meghan Markle really be the first mixed-race royal?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-11-29 01:10Z by Steven

Britain’s black queen: Will Meghan Markle really be the first mixed-race royal?

The Washington Post
2017-11-17

DeNeen L. Brown, Feature Writer


A portrait of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, and American actress Meghan Markle, who is engaged to Prince Harry. (Print Collector/Getty Images and Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

When Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement Monday, Twitter erupted with the news that the newest princess in the royal family would be biracial.

“We got us a Black princess ya’ll,” GirlTyler exulted. “Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl.”

We got us a Black princess ya’ll. You really can’t tell me a damn thing for the rest of the day because it won’t matter. Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/WmBnGm5AuZ

— GirlTyler (@sheistyler) November 27, 2017

But Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white, may not be the first mixed-race royal.

Some historians suspect that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III who bore the king 15 children, was of African descent…

Read the entire article here.

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First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2017-11-28 23:23Z by Steven

First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory

Oxford University Press
2017-07-19
328 pages
22 hts
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780199731619

Mitch Kachun, Professor of History
Western Michigan University

  • Most thorough study of what is known about the life of Crispus Attucks.
  • First extended analysis of the role of Attucks in American history and memory.
  • Figure has been referenced constantly in popular culture throughout the centuries, inc. current series “Luke Cage.”

First Martyr of Liberty explores how Crispus Attucks’s death in the 1770 Boston Massacre led to his achieving mythic significance in African Americans’ struggle to incorporate their experiences and heroes into the mainstream of the American historical narrative. While the other victims of the Massacre have been largely ignored, Attucks is widely celebrated as the first to die in the cause of freedom during the era of the American Revolution. He became a symbolic embodiment of black patriotism and citizenship.

This book traces Attucks’s career through both history and myth to understand how his public memory has been constructed through commemorations and monuments; institutions and organizations bearing his name; juvenile biographies; works of poetry, drama, and visual arts; popular and academic histories; and school textbooks. There will likely never be a definitive biography of Crispus Attucks since so little evidence exists about the man’s actual life. While what can and cannot be known about Attucks is addressed here, the focus is on how he has been remembered–variously as either a hero or a villain–and why at times he has been forgotten by different groups and individuals from the eighteenth century to the present day.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Who Was This Man?
  • Chapter 2: The Dustbin of History: Crispus Attucks and American Amnesia, 1770s-1840s
  • Chapter 3: First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks and the Struggle for Citizenship in the Civil War Era
  • Chapter 4: Crispus Attucks Meets Jim Crow: The Segregation of American Memory, 1870s-1910s
  • Chapter 5: Crispus Attucks Meets the New Negro: Black History and Black Heroes between the World Wars
  • Chapter 6: Crispus Attucks Meets Dorie Miller: Black Patriotism and Activism in the World War II Era
  • Chapter 7: Crispus Attucks and the Black Freedom Struggle, 1950s-1970s
  • Chapter 8: Crispus Attucks from the Bicentennial to the Culture Wars, 1970s-1990s
  • Chapter 9: Crispus Attucks in Twenty-First Century America
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index
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My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-21 03:34Z by Steven

My mother spent her life passing as white. Discovering her secret changed my view of race — and myself.

The Washington Post
2017-11-20

Gail Lukasik


The author’s mother, Alvera Fredric, was born into a black family in New Orleans but spent her life passing as white. (Family photo)

I’d never seen my mother so afraid.

“Promise me,” she pleaded, “you won’t tell anyone until after I die. How will I hold my head up with my friends?”

For two years, I’d waited for the right moment to confront my mother with the shocking discovery I made in 1995 while scrolling through the 1900 Louisiana census records. In the records, my mother’s father, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, and his entire family were designated black.

The discovery had left me reeling, confused and in need of answers. My sense of white identity had been shattered.

My mother’s visit to my home in Illinois seemed like the right moment. This was not a conversation I wanted to have on the phone.

But my mother’s fearful plea for secrecy only added to my confusion about my racial identity. As did her birth certificate that I obtained from the state of Louisiana, which listed her race as “col” (colored), and a 1940 Louisiana census record, which listed my mother, Alvera Frederic, as Neg/Negro, working in a tea shop in New Orleans. Four years later, she moved north and married my white father…

Read the entire article here.

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I don’t usually do this, but…

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography on 2017-11-20 02:16Z by Steven

I don’t usually do this, but…

Simply Eartha
2017-11-18

Kitt Shapiro


Eartha Kitt leaving hospital after giving birth to her daughter Kitt (c. 1961-11-26).

I don’t usually respond to negative comments, but I am compelled to do so here because I feel there is an opportunity for dialogue on a subject that many struggle with and is very relevant in today’s times.

As the most popular post on my blog, ‘Why Don’t You Look More Like Your Mother?’, continues to receive a lot of attention, one recent comment has brought me back to the subject of race, specifically, mixed race, and the desire of some truly ignorant people to deny the existence of others, because they do not ‘fit’ the stereotype of how ‘mixed race’ people should look…


Eartha Kitt with daughter Kitt Shapiro

Read the entire article here.

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Lucy Parsons bio reveals new facts about the birth, ethnicity of the ‘Goddess of Anarchy’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2017-11-20 01:58Z by Steven

Lucy Parsons bio reveals new facts about the birth, ethnicity of the ‘Goddess of Anarchy’

The Chicago Tribune
2017-11-15

Mark Jacob, Metro Editor


A new biography of Lucy Parsons reveals new facts about her life. Photo courtesy of the Lucy Parsons Project/Justice Design (/ LUCY PARSONS PROJECT)

Lucy Parsons, an anarchist firebrand who was one of the most enigmatic Chicagoans ever, might fit in better today than she did during her own time a century ago.

She was a black woman married to a white man. Scandalous then, no big thing now…

She favored an eight-hour workday and a social safety net, positions that made her a radical in the late 1800s but would qualify her for Congress today.

And Parsons had another trait of today’s politicians: She was a merchant of misinformation.

Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical” is an important new biography by University of Texas historian Jacqueline Jones that fact-checks Parsons’ made-up details about her own background, correcting errors existing in virtually every biographical sketch ever written about this amazing woman…

Read the entire article here.

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Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2017-11-20 01:48Z by Steven

Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical

Basic Books
2017-12-05
480 pages
6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Hardcover ISBN 13: 9780201510355
eBook ISBN 13: 9780201626636

Jacqueline Jones, Mastin Gentry White Professor of Southern History
University of Texas, Austin

From a prize-winning historian, a new portrait of an extraordinary activist and the turbulent age in which she lived

Goddess of Anarchy recounts the formidable life of the militant writer, orator, and agitator Lucy Parsons. Born to an enslaved woman in Virginia in 1851 and raised in Texas-where she met her husband, the Haymarket “martyr” Albert Parsons-Lucy was a fearless advocate of First Amendment rights, a champion of the working classes, and one of the most prominent figures of African descent of her era. And yet, her life was riddled with contradictions-she advocated violence without apology, concocted a Hispanic-Indian identity for herself, and ignored the plight of African Americans.

Drawing on a wealth of new sources, Jacqueline Jones presents not only the exceptional life of the famous American-born anarchist but also an authoritative account of her times-from slavery through the Great Depression.

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One in Twelve

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 01:54Z by Steven

One in Twelve

Mary Frances Berry
2014-12-25

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

When I read in the New Orleans Times Picayune that about 12 percent of Louisiana residents who identify themselves as white have at least 1 percent African ancestry, or one African ancestor within the last 11 generations, I thought of Louis Antoine Snaer and his family. Louis Antoine was one of many New Orleans free men of color who joined the Union army in the Louisiana Native Guards, but the only one to remain an officer after the Union capture of New Orleans in 1862. The others were ejected when Union commanders decided African Americans as a race were “naturally” unfit for leadership, and could not expect white officers to respect them. But Snaer did not identify himself. He passed as “white” in silence and stayed in the service. He became a Union military hero who led troops at the Battle of Port Hudson, and retired as a decorated officer.

Snaer was later elected to political office as a “Negro” and then like other Colored Creoles moved his family to northern California after Plessy v Ferguson (1896) leaving behind their identities and their histories as Colored Creoles, and becoming white for all intents and purposes…

Read the entire article here.

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We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 00:56Z by Steven

We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Oxford University Press
2014-12-01
224 Pages
32 illustrations
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199978335

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

This colored Creole story offers a unique historical lens through which to understand the issues of migration, immigration, passing, identity, and color-forces that still shape American society today. We Are Who We Say We Are provides a detailed, nuanced account of shifting forms of racial identification within an extended familial network and constrained by law and social reality.

Author Mary Frances Berry, a well-known expert in the field, focuses on the complexity and malleability of racial meanings within the US over generations. Colored Creoles, similar to other immigrants and refugees, passed back and forth in the Atlantic world. Color was the cause and consequence for migration and identity, splitting the community between dark and light. Color could also split families. Louis Antoine Snaer, a free man of color and an officer in the Union Army who passed back and forth across the color line, had several brothers and sisters. Some chose to “pass” and some decided to remain “colored,” even though they too, could have passed. This rich global history, beginning in Europe–with episodes in Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, and California–emphasizes the diversity of the Atlantic World experience.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter I: Becoming Colored Creole
  • Chapter II: Becoming Americans
  • Chapter III: Family Troubles
  • Chapter IV: Fighting for Democracy
  • Chapter V: Becoming “Negroes”
  • Chapter VI: Opportunity and Tragedy in Iberia Parish
  • Chapter VII: Mulattoes and Colored Creoles
  • Chapter VIII: Just Americans
  • Chapter IX: At Home or Away: We Are Who We Say We Are
  • Epilogue: Becoming “Black”
  • Notes
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