Laura Kina

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive on 2015-04-22 20:22Z by Steven

Laura Kina

Fused Society
2015-04-16

Laura Kina, Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Meet today’s Fused Society contributor, the accomplished Laura Kina!

“Laura Kina is a multiracial Asian American artist based in Chicago who identifies as “hapa, yonsei, and Unchinanchu” (mixed race, 4th generation Japanese American, and part of the Okinawan diaspora). Her father is Okinawan from Hawaiʻi and her mother is Anglo American (Spanish/Basque and French, English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch) from the Pacific Northwest. Kina’s artwork, scholarly research and activism center on themes of distance and belonging. She focuses on the fluidity of cultural difference and the slipperiness of identity. Asian American history and mixed race representations are subjects that run through her work.

Kina is a Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference; and cofounder and consulting editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

Read the entire article here.

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Obama’s Mother

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2015-04-21 00:50Z by Steven

Obama’s Mother

Books & Ideas
2009-05-20

Gloria Origgi

The American presidential election was won by a woman: Stanley Ann Dunham. Born in 1942, she died of cancer in 1995, shortly after turning 52, and thus without having seen her visionary dream realized: the election of her son, Barack Hussein Obama, as 44th President of the United States.

The male name was imposed on her by Stanley Dunham, her father, who would have preferred a boy. As the only child of Stanley and his wife Madelyn Payne, Stanley Ann was nonconformist young girl and a solitary mother, convinced that she could raise her children in a way that would prepare them for a new world, globalized and multicultural, a world that certainly didn’t exist in her daily life as a middle-class girl in an anonymous little town in Kansas. Barack – or Barry, as she called him – is her creation, the fruit of a patient, attentive and loving education that was the commitment of her life, as she saw in her two racially mixed children the reflection of a better future, one in which the warm commingling of blood pacifies the false oppositions and odious attachments, the “unreal loyalties”, as Virginia Woolf called them, that reassure us in the desperate need for social identity to which our species falls prey.

When Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, he was still considered in half the American states the criminal product of miscegenation, or the interbreeding of races, a heinous biological hybrid whose existence simply wasn’t taken into consideration while those who committed it were punished with incarceration. Today it is a hard-to-pronounce word that was coined in the United States in 1863, with a specious Latin etymology, from miscere (mix) and genus (race), to indicate the supposed genetic difference between whites and blacks. The question of miscegenation became crucial during the Civil War and subsequent emancipation of the slaves. It was fine to grant civil rights to non-whites, but to allow intimate relations between whites and blacks was another story. The term appeared for the first time in the title of a pamphlet published in New York, Miscegenation: The Theory of Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro, in which the anonymous author promoted the idea of racial mixing as the project of the Republican Party, which supported the abolition of slavery. By encouraging the interbreeding of whites and blacks, racial differences would be progressively attenuated until they disappeared altogether. It was soon discovered that the pamphlet had been created by the Democrats in order to frighten American citizens faced with the intolerable Republican project of encouraging racial mixing. The crime of miscegenation was definitively abolished in 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional in response to Loving v. Virginia, a case in which a racially mixed married couple was sentenced to a year in prison – with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia – for having been found in bed together under the same roof. The marriage certificate hanging above the nuptial bed wasn’t considered valid by the police – who, armed with rifles, broke down the entry door and beat the humiliated couple – because it was obtained in another county, one in which miscegenation wasn’t illegal. This occurred in 1959, and the couple had to wait eight years for the moral indecency of their ordeal and their own innocence to be recognized.

One must try to imagine that America in order to understand the courage of Stanley Ann, who was 18 years old and 4 months pregnant when she married the brilliant young Kenyan student Barack Obama Sr., the first African to be admitted to the University of Hawaii. He was 25. He’d arrived in Hawaii in 1959 thanks to a scholarship from the Kenyan government, which was also sponsored by the United States to help some of the more gifted African students get an education at an American University so they could return to their native country and become part of a new, competent, modern elite…

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The officer who refused to lie about being black

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2015-04-17 21:59Z by Steven

The officer who refused to lie about being black

BBC News Magazine
2015-04-17

Leslie Gordon Goffe

Today it’s taken for granted that people of all ethnic groups should be treated equally in the armed forces and elsewhere. But as Leslie Gordon Goffe writes, during World War One black officers in the British armed forces faced a system with prejudice at its core.

When war was declared in 1914, a Jamaican, David Louis Clemetson, was among the first to volunteer.

A 20-year-old law student at Cambridge University when war broke out, Clemetson was eager to show that he and others from British colonies like Jamaica – where the conflict in Europe had been dismissed by some as a “white man’s war” – were willing to fight and die for King and Country.

He did die. Just 52 days before the war ended, he was killed in action on the Western Front…

…Another candidate for the first black officer is Jamaican-born George Bemand. But he had to lie about his black ancestry in order to become an officer. Bemand, whose story was unearthed by historian Simon Jervis, became a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery on 23 May 1915, four months before Clemetson became an officer and two years before Walter Tull.

When the teenage Bemand and his family migrated to Britain from Jamaica in 1907, and the ship he was on made a brief stopover in New York, Bemand, the child of a white English father and a black Jamaican mother, was categorised by US immigration officials as “African-Black”. Yet, asked in a military interview seven years later, in 1914, whether he was “of pure European descent”, Bemand said yes. His answer was accepted.

But Clemetson took a different approach.

“Are you of pure European descent?” he was asked, in an interrogation intended to unmask officer candidates whose ethnicity was not obvious and who were perhaps light-skinned enough to pass for white. “No,” answered Clemetson, whose grandfather Robert had been a slave in Jamaica, he was not “of pure European descent”.

By telling the truth about his ancestry, Clemetson threatened to disrupt the military’s peculiar “Don’t ask, don’t tell” racial practices, which were conducted with a wink and a nod…

Read the entire article here.

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The Life of William Apess, Pequot

Posted in Biography, Books, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, United States on 2015-04-16 22:53Z by Steven

The Life of William Apess, Pequot

University of North Carolina Press
March 2015
216 pages
1 halftone, notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4696-1998-9

Philip F. Gura, William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The Pequot Indian intellectual, author, and itinerant preacher William Apess (1798–1839) was one the most important voices of the nineteenth century. Here, Philip F. Gura offers the first book-length chronicle of Apess’s fascinating and consequential life. After an impoverished childhood marked by abuse, Apess soldiered with American troops during the War of 1812, converted to Methodism, and rose to fame as a lecturer who lifted a powerful voice of protest against the plight of Native Americans in New England and beyond. His 1829 autobiography, A Son of the Forest, stands as the first published by a Native American writer. Placing Apess’s activism on behalf of Native American people in the context of the era’s rising tide of abolitionism, Gura argues that this founding figure of Native intellectual history deserves greater recognition in the pantheon of antebellum reformers. Following Apess from his early life through the development of his political radicalism to his tragic early death and enduring legacy, this much-needed biography showcases the accomplishments of an extraordinary Native American.

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Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2015-04-16 19:29Z by Steven

Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Harvard University Press
February 2014
240 pages
4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674724914

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Law and Philosophy
New York University

W. E. B. Du Bois never felt so at home as when he was a student at the University of Berlin. But Du Bois was also American to his core, scarred but not crippled by the racial humiliations of his homeland. In Lines of Descent, Kwame Anthony Appiah traces the twin lineages of Du Bois’ American experience and German apprenticeship, showing how they shaped the great African-American scholar’s ideas of race and social identity.

At Harvard, Du Bois studied with such luminaries as William James and George Santayana, scholars whose contributions were largely intellectual. But arriving in Berlin in 1892, Du Bois came under the tutelage of academics who were also public men. The economist Adolf Wagner had been an advisor to Otto von Bismarck. Heinrich von Treitschke, the historian, served in the Reichstag, and the economist Gustav von Schmoller was a member of the Prussian state council. These scholars united the rigorous study of history with political activism and represented a model of real-world engagement that would strongly influence Du Bois in the years to come.

With its romantic notions of human brotherhood and self-realization, German culture held a potent allure for Du Bois. Germany, he said, was the first place white people had treated him as an equal. But the prevalence of anti-Semitism allowed Du Bois no illusions that the Kaiserreich was free of racism. His challenge, says Appiah, was to take the best of German intellectual life without its parochialism—to steal the fire without getting burned.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Awakening
  • 2. Culture and Cosmopolitanism
  • 3. The Concept of the Negro
  • 4. The Mystic Spell
  • 5. The One and the Many
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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Was pro baseball’s first African-American player passing for white?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-04-12 01:55Z by Steven

Was pro baseball’s first African-American player passing for white?

Vox
2015-04-11

Jenée Desmond-Harris


William Edward White on the 1879 Brown baseball team. White is in the second row, seated and wearing a hat. (Source: Brown University Archives via Slate)

A story about professional baseball’s little-known first black player (well, possible first black player) raises as many questions about racial identity as it does about the official list of African-American sports pioneers.

In a fascinating February 2014 piece for Slate, Peter Morris and Stefan Fatsis explain that William Edward White, who played one game for the National League’s Providence Grays in 1879, publicly identified as white but was actually born to a white Georgia man and an enslaved biracial woman.

William Edward White was born in 1860 to a Georgia businessman and one of his slaves, who herself was of mixed race. That made White, legally, black and a slave. But his death certificate and other information indicate that White spent his adult life passing as a white man. Since the 1879 game was unearthed a decade ago, questions about White’s race have clouded his legacy.

The laws in most states at the time would have categorized someone like White — who had one black-identified parent and roughly one-quarter African ancestry — black. But he was identified as “white” on his death certificate and several census forms, and according to Slate’s reporting, it’s unlikely that even his wife knew he was the child of a mixed-race mother.

So should he be considered the first African-American baseball player? Should we start celebrating him among other black trailblazers every February, right along with Jackie Robinson?…

Read the entire article here.

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A real-life Lucious Lyon: The former slave who built a Beale Street “Empire” and transformed Memphis

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-09 01:27Z by Steven

A real-life Lucious Lyon: The former slave who built a Beale Street “Empire” and transformed Memphis

Salon
2015-04-04

Preston Lauterbach


Bob Church (Credit: University of Memphis Special Collections)

Memphis — and music as we know it — wouldn’t be the same without Robert Church’s legacy of vice, virtue and power

Depending on which critic or fan you ask, Fox TV’s “Empire” is somewhere between Shakespeare’s drama “King Lear” and Norman Lear’s campy “Good Times.” Less apparent to the show’s legions of viewers is how the story of Lucious Lyon and Empire Entertainment echoes the original black empire, a real-life dynasty of vice, virtue, and power, built in the heart of the old Confederacy just after the Civil War by a former slave who became monarch, Robert Church.

Like Lucious Lyon, who must plan for the future of his empire after being diagnosed with a crippling, often fatal, ailment, Bob Church had plenty of reasons to consider his legacy. It wasn’t so much that a specific death sentence loomed over Church—he just happened to find himself in life threatening situations, often. By his early 30s, Church had survived two gunshot wounds to his head, a steamboat disaster, a Civil War naval battle that he escaped by swimming the Mississippi River and an assassination attempt that backfired when a shotgun aimed at him exploded toward the shooter. Had Bob Church not been the combination of tough and lucky that saved him in these fateful scrapes, legendary Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, might be just another strip of concrete. Instead, it gained such an extraordinary reputation that Memphis entertainer Rufus Thomas would crack, “If you could be black on Beale Street one Saturday night, you’d never want to be white no more.”

Beale Street’s birth as an alternate universe for black America, a center of political clout and cultural fertility that changed America, all began with Church…

…Understanding the uncertainty of the vice-lord life in a hell-roaring river town, Church knew he must cultivate an heir. His eldest son Thomas lived in New York, passing for white, some have said. Thomas wouldn’t do. Eldest daughter Mary had become a steadfast leader in her own right, the first black woman on Washington, D.C.’s board of education and a founder of the NAACP. She could not be compromised. As with Lucious Lyon’s three sons, there was some competition among the Church children—they all would have liked to keep his money—but unlike “Empire’s” twisted succession plot, old man Church had no doubt who to choose: his youngest son, Robert Jr…

Read the entire article here.

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Michelle Obama: A Life

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Monographs, New Media, United States, Women on 2015-04-09 01:03Z by Steven

Michelle Obama: A Life

Knopf
2015-04-07
432 pages
6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-307-95882-2

Peter Slevin, Associate Professor of Journalism
Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.

The journey winds from the intricacies of her upbringing as the highly focused daughter of a gregarious city water-plant worker afflicted with multiple sclerosis to the tribulations she faces at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s. And then returning to Chicago, where she works in an elite law firm and meets a law student from Hawaii named Barack Obama. Unsatisfied by corporate law, Michelle embarks on a search for meaningful work that takes her back to the community of her South Side youth, even as she struggles to find balance as a mother and a professional—while married to a man who wants to be president.

Slevin deftly explores the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. He offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Michelle Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality.

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New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-01 01:23Z by Steven

New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Time
2015-03-30

Maya Rhodan, Reporter

Author paints the First Lady as the President’s rock, notes the impact her background would have on her future as the nation’s first black First Lady

During her senior year at Princeton University, First Lady Michelle Obama couldn’t imagine she would live to see the election of the nation’s first African American, let alone be married to him. “To say that during her Princeton years she could not envision an African American president is like saying that the sun rises and sets every day,” writes Northwestern University Professor Peter Slevin in his upcoming biography, Michelle Obama: A Life

…Even in a short blurb about the Obamas’ budding romance, the author notes that Michelle’s mother Marian at one point worried that Barack’s biracial background would make navigating society’s prejudices difficult. In the end, though, she accepted the future President who she said “shared the values of [their] family.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times

Posted in Arts, Biography, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, United States on 2015-03-30 00:11Z by Steven

Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times

Canisius College, Buffalo, New York
2015-03-04

Buffalo, NY – Canisius College will exhibit “Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times” from Tuesday, March 24 – Sunday, April 12. The exhibit will be on display in Alumni Hall, located between the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library and Old Main. It is free and open to the public.

Founded by the Initiative of Black People in Germany, “Homeland Deutschland” is a collective self-portrait that gives voice to the complex and varied histories of Afro-German women and men from the past three centuries of German history. The exhibit features not only the biographies of prominent black figures but also those of unknown “ordinary” people who found themselves characterized by stereotypical racist perceptions and struggled to be acknowledged and respected in German society. The individuals represented in the exhibit come from diverse paths of German society and from distinguished backgrounds.

The “Homestory Deutschland” exhibit originated in Berlin, Germany. In February, the exhibit was acquired by Canisius College from where it will tour the United States…

For more information, click here.

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