Black Lotus: A Woman’s Search for Racial Identity

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States on 2016-07-27 02:16Z by Steven

Black Lotus: A Woman’s Search for Racial Identity

Gallery Books (an Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
August 2016
368 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781451688467
eBook ISBN: 9781451688481

Sil Lai Abrams

The unique and beautifully written story of one multiracial woman’s journey of acceptance and identity that tackles the fraught topic of race in America.

Sil Lai Abrams always knew she was different, with darker skin and curlier hair than her siblings. But when the man who she thought was her dad told her the truth—that her father was actually black—her whole world was turned upside down.

Raised primarily in the Caucasian community of Winter Park, Florida, Abrams was forced to re-examine who she really was and struggle with her Caucasian, African American, and Chinese identities. In her remarkable memoir, she shares this journey and how it speaks to a larger question: Why does race matter?

Black Lotus is a story of acceptance and identity but it is also a dialogue on the complex topic of race in this country by an award-winning writer and inspirational speaker.

Tags: , ,

The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-27 02:15Z by Steven

The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race

New York University Press
224 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781479853717
Paper ISBN: 9781479819256

Melanye T. Price, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick

Nearly a week after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, President Obama walked into the press briefing room and shocked observers by saying that “Trayvon could have been me.” He talked personally and poignantly about his experiences and pointed to intra-racial violence as equally serious and precarious for black boys. He offered no sweeping policy changes or legislative agendas; he saw them as futile. Instead, he suggested that prejudice would be eliminated through collective efforts to help black males and for everyone to reflect on their own prejudices.

Obama’s presidency provides a unique opportunity to engage in a discussion about race and politics. In The Race Whisperer, Melanye Price analyzes the manner in which Barack Obama uses race strategically to engage with and win the loyalty of potential supporters. This book uses examples from Obama’s campaigns and presidency to demonstrate his ability to authentically tap into notions of blackness and whiteness to appeal to particular constituencies. By tailoring his unorthodox personal narrative to emphasize those parts of it that most resonate with a specific racial group, he targets his message effectively to that audience, shoring up electoral and governing support. The book also considers the impact of Obama’s use of race on the ongoing quest for black political empowerment. Unfortunately, racial advocacy for African Americans has been made more difficult because of the intense scrutiny of Obama’s relationship with the black community, Obama’s unwillingness to be more publicly vocal in light of that scrutiny, and the black community’s reluctance to use traditional protest and advocacy methods on a black president. Ultimately, though, The Race Whisperer argues for a more complex reading of race in the age of Obama, breaking new ground in the study of race and politics, public opinion, and political campaigns.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Barack Obama and Black Blame: Authenticity, Audience and Audaciousness
  • 2. Barack Obama, Patton’s Army, and Patriotic Whiteness
  • 3. Barack Obama’s More Perfect Union
  • 4. An Officer and Two Gentlemen: The Great Beer Summit of 2009
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
  • About the Author
Tags: , , ,

Alabama’s Anti-Miscegenation Statutes

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-27 02:09Z by Steven

Alabama’s Anti-Miscegenation Statutes

Alabama Review
Volume 68, Number 4, October 2015
pages 345-365
DOI: 10.1353/ala.2015.0033

Jeremy W. Richter, Associate
Webster, Henry, Lyons, Bradwell, Cohan & Speagle, P.C., Attorneys and Counselors at Law, Birmingham, Alabama

In the immediate aftermath of the civil war and, more specifically, the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, various southern states began passing laws to preserve a now-fragile social structure. Beginning with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, which liberated all slaves residing in rebel states or territories, the southern states’ social ecology had begun to unravel, and southern whites faced a situation in which the black Americans once deemed property were now citizens—equal in the eyes of the law.

Nevertheless, white citizens sought to maintain control over their black counterparts. In an effort to preserve their society, southern states in 1865 began to pass a series of laws, which varied by state and collectively became known as Black Codes. These laws were designed to exploit and control former slaves. For example, freedmen (as freed black citizens became known) who were arrested for vagrancy could be contracted out for labor; freedmen were, in some states, not allowed to raise their own crops and were precluded from entering towns without permission. Most significantly perhaps, the Black Codes enacted offenses containing differing penalties for black versus white citizens. These racially-discriminatory penalties were later outlawed upon the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment and the enactment of the Reconstruction Acts.

Two centuries of slavery had, prior to 1865, created a caste system which maintained, at least officially, the distinction between white and black. With that barrier removed and the federal government attempting to institute legal racial equality, of primary concern to many was the preservation of the purity of the white race. In response, many states throughout the United States, largely regardless of geography, passed laws prohibiting the intermarriage of white and black citizens. In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Loving v. Virginia that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional, and as such any such existing laws were overturned. At the time of the Loving v. Virginia decision, sixteen states still had anti-miscegenation laws in effect: Delaware, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.

The State of Alabama enacted its first anti-miscegenation law in the Penal Code of 1866:

If any white person and any negro, or the descendant of any negro, to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation was a white person, intermarry, or live in adultery or fornication with each other, each of them must, on conviction, be imprisoned in the penitentiary, or sentenced to hard labor for the county, for not less than two, nor more than seven years.

The Alabama legislature reinforced this statute in new penal codes that were enacted in 1867 (§ 3602), 1876 (§ 4189), 1886 (§ 4018), and 1896 (§ 5096). In 1901, Alabama drafted a new state constitution, wherein the anti-miscegenation statute was made a part of the state constitution: “The legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a negro, or descendant of a negro.” The final revisions to Alabama’s anti-miscegenation law were adopted in the Code of Alabama of 1940, which stated: “If any white person and any negro, or the descendant of any negro intermarry, or live in adultery or fornication with each other, each of them shall, on conviction, be imprisoned in the penitentiary for not less than two nor more than seven years.”

Judicial Application of Anti-Miscegenation Laws in Alabama: Setting Precedent, 1868–1881

In addition to a law disallowing marriage between whites and blacks, the Alabama Penal Code of 1866 adopted laws governing adultery. Where Alabama Code § 3598 outlined the repercussions of adultery offenses generally, Alabama Code § 3602 specifically addressed the penalties for adultery between white and black persons:

If any white person or negro, or the descendant of any negro, to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation was a white person, intermarry or live in adultery with each other, each of them must, on conviction, be imprisoned in the penitentiary, or sentenced to hard labor for the…

Tags: , , ,

Uncanny Compulsions: Automatism, Trauma, and Memory in Of One Blood

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-07-26 20:41Z by Steven

Uncanny Compulsions: Automatism, Trauma, and Memory in Of One Blood

Volume 39, Number 2, Spring 2016
pages 473-492
DOI: 10.1353/cal.2016.0076

Joshua Lam, Adjunct Professor, American Literature and Composition
State University of New York, Buffalo

In recent years, critics have begun to frame slavery in the United States in terms of haunting and trauma studies, directing us to consider the ways in which texts such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) “disturb our sense of historical time” (Tuhkanen 335). Yet as Mikko Tuhkanen suggests in his analysis of temporality in Hagar’s Daughter (1901–1902), Pauline Hopkins may well have been one of the first African American novelists to situate slavery in terms of trauma’s ghostly presence. Indeed, Hopkins’s turn-of-the-century fictions are filled with references to spirits and specters, and are overwhelmingly concerned with the continued effects of slavery on the post-slavery nation. Scholars have been especially attentive to the prevalence of racial passing in Hopkins’s narratives, focusing on the ways in which her novels expose the imbrication of slavery and miscegenation in order to combat the ideology of racial purity. Yet few scholars have discussed the connection between Hopkins’s ghostly depictions of slavery and the discourse of hysteria in French psychiatry and American psychology, especially evident in her novel Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self (1902–1903). This is perhaps because the novel is singular in its use of hysterical illness, historically the provenance of European and Anglo-American white women, to frame the traumas propagated by the legacy of slavery upon black bodies. Indeed, while feminist critiques of the discourse of hysteria are now well known, scholars have been less attentive to the ways in which this discourse intersects with turn-of-the-century racial ideologies. Yet as Of One Blood demonstrates, the nascent discourse of hysteria, with its genesis in nineteenth-century mesmerism and spiritualism, provides an uncanny lens through which the complex legacies of slavery, miscegenation, and historical trauma can be witnessed.

Drawing upon the vast network of associations linking hysterical “automatism” to double consciousness, automatic writing, and hypnosis, Of One Blood evokes a variety of discourses—psychological, psychical, spiritualistic, historical, romantic, occult—to interrogate the trauma and historical violence perpetrated against black bodies and psyches. The novel focuses upon two African American characters, Reuel Briggs and Dianthe Lusk, who both pass as white and suffer from different hysterical illnesses: Reuel from a neurasthenic melancholy, and Dianthe from “nervous shock” and what Reuel (a doctor) calls “a dual mesmeric trance” (Hopkins, Of One Blood 472). More than merely adopting a medical discourse that primarily applied to Anglo-Americans, however, the novel uses “automatism” to represent conflicted acts of ambiguous agency and volition. Throughout the novel, Reuel and Dianthe are shocked, silenced, moved, mesmerized, and manipulated by others—cast as living automatons. Indeed, Hopkins’s novel presents a decisive understanding of the ways in which automatism—hysterical, mesmeric, or traumatic—signals suspended agency, and Of One Blood is inseparable from the connections between these discourses and the legacy of racial violence in the United States.

Hopkins’s endeavor hinges upon its incompletion, however, for Of One Blood equally participates in a project of racial uplift in which individual will is subordinated to the will of a God who has made us “all of one blood.” Adopting popular pan-African themes in what Kevin Gaines identifies as a key strategy of racial uplift ideology, Hopkins “sought to make civilization a racially inclusive, universal concept by calling attention to its origins in African society” (111). In this context, the hysterical illnesses of black characters might even indicate a gesture of inclusion (e.g., non-whites, too, are susceptible to the travails of “civilization”). This inclusive view of “civilization” is in tension, however, with the mute figure of the black automaton, whose silence amid the vocal protestations of turn-of-the-century uplift movements indicates Hopkins’s critical awareness of the continued effects of slavery upon the present. Rather than reifying the silence of Hopkins’s passive characters, the trope of the black automaton critically links compromised agency to the wider historical and discursive systems that produce it, suggesting that critique and skepticism are crucial components of even the most utopian endeavors. This tension…

Tags: , , ,

Meet Edith Cumbo, Nation Builder

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-07-26 15:57Z by Steven

Meet Edith Cumbo, Nation Builder

Cumbo Family Website: Exploring Cumbo Family Roots and Branches across Generations

Andre Kearns
Washington, D.C.

We celebrated our 2016 Cumbo Family Reunion last weekend July 15-17 in Williamsburg, Virginia. One of the reasons we chose Williamsburg was because Colonial Williamsburg features a historical figure – Edith Cumbo – who is an ancestral family member.

Edith Cumbo, as far as I can tell, is my first cousin 9 times removed. Continuing to trace back from my 5th great grandfather Britton Cumbo Sr. of Northampton, North Carolina to our original ancestor Emanuell Cambow, the focus of my current research, will help me to confirm this.

Edith Cumbo was a mixed race, free woman of color born around 1735 to Richard Cumbo Jr., the grandson of Emanuell Cambow, and an Irish woman. According to 18th-century Virginia law, the status of your mother determined whether you were born enslaved or free. Both of her parents were free and so was Edith…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

A Mixed-Race, Mixed-Marriage

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-07-26 15:40Z by Steven

A Mixed-Race, Mixed-Marriage

Cumbo Family Website: Exploring Cumbo Family Roots and Branches across Generations

Andre Kearns
Washington, D.C.

My great-great grandparents Edward Biggs and Florence Cumbo were both listed as Colored on their 1890 marriage license.

So why am I classifying their union as a mixed marriage?

It is because Edward Biggs was born to an enslaved family and Florence Cumbo was born to a free family of color.

Both were born mixed race people but due to different circumstances. Based on a family photo, Edward Biggs appears white. Based on research he was likely a quarter black, a product of successive generations of offspring between white men and enslaved women. Edward Bigg’s father, based on his death certificate was a man named Kader Biggs, one of the larger slave owners in Bertie County, North Carolina. His mother Sarah Peele was a bi racial woman born into slavery around 1848 in Bertie…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Painful but necessary: Why I stopped putting off the racism talk with my daughter

Posted in Articles, Canada, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-26 15:02Z by Steven

Painful but necessary: Why I stopped putting off the racism talk with my daughter

CBC News

Samantha Kemp-Jackson
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Demonstrators stand in front of the East Baton Rouge Parish City Hall doors on Monday. (Reuters)

Talk opens door to a world where ignorance is not bliss and racism must be confronted head-on

“There are people who will not like you because of the colour of your skin.”

As a woman of colour raising biracial children, I have always been very aware that their reality will one day include the experience of being discriminated against solely for the way they appear. It’s an uneasy truth that I’ve not wanted to address, because who wants to think of anyone hurting their children?

And so I muddled through. Tomorrow, next week, next month — that’s when I’ll talk to them.

Then Alton Sterling was killed. Five gunshot wounds to the chest and back from a pair of Baton Rouge, La., police. Philando Castile the next day in suburban St. Paul, Minn. Five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper two days later as they worked to protect protesters who had gathered to demand justice for the deaths of Sterling and Castile…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Banished from the tribe

Posted in Articles, Economics, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-26 01:53Z by Steven

Banished from the tribe

Inter-County Leader/Washburn County Register
Cooperative-Owned Newspapers Serving Northwest Wisconsin

Ed Emerson

Gary King

WEBSTER – Tony Ammann is the grandson of former longtime St. Croix Chippewa chief and traditional “midewiwin” spiritual leader Archie Mosay. His mother, Archie’s daughter, has Department of Interior papers certifying her blood quantum requirement to be a member of the tribe. Despite Ammann’s lineage and heritage, the St. Croix Chippewa Tribal Council is actively seeking to banish him from the tribe.

Ammann says the attempt at disenrollment is an old vendetta that underlines the need for reform and greater accountability within tribal governance.

Soon after taking office more than one year ago, the newly elected tribal council began a process to disenroll as many as 16 tribal members. Five of them have legally challenged the action, and a tribal judicial hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20.

Ammann says many of the others are reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal or loss of employment. The tribe at one of its casinos employs Ammann. Ammann’s sister, Brooke, is also a plaintiff challenging the disenrollment action.

The St. Croix Chippewa have 1,054 members residing on eight separate enclaves scattered throughout multiple counties. The tribe is the largest employer in Burnett County. It operates casinos at its tribal headquarters in Hertel and in Turtle Lake and Danbury. Annual revenue is said to be in excess of $100 million.

Tribal elders receive per capita payments of approximately $10,000 per year – other members approximately $4,800 per year. Banishment would mean losing that payment and all hunting and fishing rights. The St. Croix Chippewa maintain a blood quantum requirement of 50 percent. It is one of fewer than 10 of 562 federally recognized tribes in the United States to retain such a stringent standard…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Reality Of Imaginary Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2016-07-26 01:37Z by Steven

The Reality Of Imaginary Whiteness

African American Intellectual Historical Society (AAIHS)

Jennifer Patrice Sims, Adjunct Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin, River Falls

In the 1993 satirical musical comedy Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Dave Chappelle plays Ahchoo, the show stealing side kick to Cary Elwes’ Robin Hood. At the end of the movie, when Robin appoints Ahchoo to be the new Sheriff of Rottingham, the all-white crowd exclaims, “A black sheriff?!” (and the blind family servant gasps, “He’s black?!”). They all eventually accept the appointment when Ahchoo responds, “And why not?! It worked in Blazing Saddles.

Since the release of Robin Hood, black Americans have continued to ask “And why not?!” when white Americans react with incredulity to racial minorities’ presence in movies. From outrage over a black storm trooper in a galaxy far, far away to the rejection of the mere idea of a black man playing James Bond, some white fans expect, and will apparently accept nothing other than, white characters.

This expectation of imaginary whiteness is even more pervasive in literature. In the Harry Potter series, for example, Harry is introduced as a “skinny” boy with “a thin face, knobby knees, black hair, and bright green eyes.” Nowhere in seven books does author J. K. Rowling say that he is white; yet readers knew it intuitively because white is the hegemonic racial group in the United Kingdom. Whiteness need not be specified. It is assumed…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Secrets of Nation

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States, Women on 2016-07-26 01:20Z by Steven

Secrets of Nation

Inside Story

Ann McGrath, Professor of History, Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History
Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Middle ground: detail from Bartering for a Bride, or The Trappers Bride, by Alfred Jacob Miller, c. 1845. Wikipedia Commons

The buried secrets of Australia’s frontier share features with encounters in the United States, writes Ann McGrath

By the 1960s, when I was growing up there, Queensland had become skilled at burying the Aboriginal past, and Queenslanders spoke about its traces in hushed tones. As a child, I wondered why. I recall a particular day when my grandfather Joe whispered that some of his neighbours had a “touch of the tarbrush.” “What does that mean?” I had no clue. He told me that it meant Aboriginal ancestry. I was flummoxed by these comments, which seemed out of character. A tram driver for most of his working life, Joe had refused promotion because the new job would have involved punishing people who could not afford to pay. A son of the Great Depression, he respected hardworking men and women. I had never before heard him say anything that sounded discriminatory or racist.

Only after years of archival research into Australian history did I realise why it was necessary to speak about such topics in a whisper. Unions between Aboriginal women and white men were against the law. You did not want the police to hear. You did not want your neighbours to suffer the shame and the punishment of fines or incarceration. Where Joe grew up in north Queensland, white men went to jail for cohabiting with Aboriginal women. Worse, with marriage prohibited and Aboriginal marriage law not recognised, their children were classed as “illegitimate.” Aboriginal wives and children were taken away.

Keeping these “secrets of nation” as family secrets became common sense, and hence a deeply ingrained practice. Not only had Aboriginal people supposedly just “gone” from the urban and rural landscape with no heroic battles, but according to what we were taught in primary school, it was as if they had never even shared the same spaces. Let alone fallen in love, married, and loved their children.

When I became a historian, I started to investigate the history of race and colonialism, and eventually came to the topic of intermarriage across colonising boundaries. The history of love, above and beyond other themes, seemed to promise gendered clues that might help people understand what lay beneath the surface of history, clues to buried, intimate secrets – the private stuff that makes our nations tick…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,