Moor, Mulata, Mulatta: Sentimentalism, Racialization, and Benevolent Imperialism in Mary Peabody Mann’s Juanita

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-26 23:12Z by Steven

Moor, Mulata, Mulatta: Sentimentalism, Racialization, and Benevolent Imperialism in Mary Peabody Mann’s Juanita

J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 2014
pages 301-329
DOI: 10.1353/jnc.2014.0021

Maria A. Windell, Assistant Professor of English
University of Colorado, Boulder

“Moor, Mulata, Mulatta” argues that Mary Peabody Mann’s Juanita (1887) imports U.S. sentimental abolitionism to a Cuban setting. In so doing, it imports a racial hierarchy divergent from that developing in Cuba. By translating figures such as Eva-like children and the tragic U.S. mulatta into a Cuban narrative, Mann’s novel overwrites figures such as the Cuban mulata and rewrites Cuba’s antislavery and anticolonial movements—erasing their multiracial nature. The alternate Cuba that Juanita envisions exemplifies a late-nineteenth-century U.S. hemispheric imaginary, thereby prefiguring U.S. influence in Cuba following the Spanish-Cuban-American War.

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Black Mexico: Unearthing the ‘Third Root’

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-08-25 14:20Z by Steven

Black Mexico: Unearthing the ‘Third Root’

The Compton Herald
Compton, California

Jarrette Fellows, Jr.

Spaniards, African slaves, and indigenous Indians in Colonial Mexico forged a unique ethnic blend known as ‘Black Mexicans

This multiple-part series will unravel the little-known history of how Mexico’s 15th-century assimilation of Spaniards, indigenous Indians, and African slaves into “Black Mexico,” eventually led to the founding of Los Angeles by Black Mexicans and Mestizos in the 17th century when California was still under the rule of Mexico. Even though the Black imprint in Mexico is unraveling more and more as time moves on, the reality of the truth is still largely mired in a Shadow History because the masses do not frequent libraries and this truth has never been taught as a history lesson in Mexico, much less as historic text in the U.S. To now, this invaluable historic truth has largely been available as scholarly works. The Compton Herald sought out this history, scaled down its volume from multiple scholarly sources, and now present it in nine parts for public consumption — Jarrette

THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE of ancient Spanish America were the Aztecs, Mayans, Olmecs, Toltecs, Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, who inhabited a geographical area encompassing present-day Florida and much of what is now the Western U.S., Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean. These ancient peoples comprised the pre-Columbian indigenous civilizations before the arrival of all-conquering Spain as a colonizer of the region prior to the 16th century.  These indigenous natives constituted modern-day Mexico’s “First Root.”…

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Tony Gleaton: Photographing The African Story Across The Americas

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-08-24 01:05Z by Steven

Tony Gleaton: Photographing The African Story Across The Americas

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Karen Grigsby Bates

Photographer Tony Gleaton died last Friday after struggling with a particularly aggressive cancer for 18 months. He was working, signing prints, talking to museums (several have his work in their collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem) and checking in with his friends right up to the last day. I admired his work, but also treasured his friendship.

For many years, Tony often showed up on my Los Angeles doorstep with a huge sack of dirty laundry slung over his shoulder and a box of contact sheets under one arm.

“Here,” he’d say, placing the box in my hands, and walking through the door. “Look at these. I’m gonna do some laundry, okay?”…

…In the beginning, he got a lot of pushback. “Why do you want to take our picture?” the villagers would ask, warily. “We have no money to pay you.”

When Tony would explain that he was documenting the African Diaspora around the world, and that they and he were both part of it, the conversation often became even harder.

“You want to take pictures of black people?” they’d ask.

“Yes, like you and me … ” he’d begin

“Well,” they’d respond, looking at his fair skin, light hair and blue-green eyes. “You’re not black. And we’re certainly not black. So you need to do that somewhere else.”

Eventually he learned to refine his approach and tell the villagers he wanted people in the States to see how beautiful people in the villages were. “I just gave up on the black connection. It was important to me, but not to them. They see race differently than we do. And it’s only a social construct anyway.”

There is still stigma to acknowledging blackness in many parts of Mexico, and Tony’s work raised the profile of Latinos with what is sometimes called “the Third Root” — Spanish, Indian, African — in Latino culture. His work eventually expanded across the Americas to form an exhibit called Tengo Casi 500 Anos (I Have Almost 500 Years) — Africa’s Legacy in Mexico that explores the African presence in the Americas. He’s also chronicled black, Indian and Mexican cowboy culture, as well as life in American Samoa and the Mississippi Delta

Read the entire article here.

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Tony Gleaton, 67, Dies, Leaving Legacy in Pictures of Africans in the Americas

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2015-08-20 15:42Z by Steven

Tony Gleaton, 67, Dies, Leaving Legacy in Pictures of Africans in the Americas

The New York Times

Bruce Weber

Tony Gleaton, a photographer who turned his back on a career in New York fashion and embarked on an itinerant artistic quest, documenting the lives of black cowboys and creating images of the African diaspora in Latin America, died on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 67.

The cause was oral cancer, his wife, Lisa, said.

Mr. Gleaton made his photographs in the American West and Southwest, and then, most prominently, in Mexico, where he lived among little-acknowledged communities of blacks — descendants of African slaves brought to the New World centuries earlier by the Spanish — in villages on the coastal plains of Oaxaca, south of Acapulco.

An exhibition of those photos, “Africa’s Legacy in Mexico,” which appeared in galleries around the country for more than a decade beginning in the 1990s, was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.

Mr. Gleaton specialized in black-and-white portraits, their subjects — children and adults, alone or in groups — almost always in direct engagement with the camera and usually in tight frames that suggest but do not explore a specific setting, like a workplace or a barroom. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 2007, he called his pictures “abstractions from daily life,” saying “they may look natural but they are extremely crafted, very calculated.”…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Amid sweeping changes in US relations, Cuba’s race problem persists

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-16 21:58Z by Steven

Amid sweeping changes in US relations, Cuba’s race problem persists

Al Jazeera America

Julia Cooke

In 1959, Fidel Castro said he would work to erase racial discrimination, but inequality is still widespread

Official Cuban census figures say black and mixed-heritage people are about 35 percent of the island’s population, but a quick stroll around any Cuban town will provide visual confirmation of just how many Cubans of color deem themselves “white” when the government is asking. That may not be surprising, given that race is not an objective scientific category, but rather an organizing principle of political power — both before and after the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

The black and mixed-heritage share of Cuba’s population is closer to a two-thirds majority, according to other sources, including the U.S. State Department (which puts the figure at 62 percent), the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (also 62 percent) and Cuban economist and political scientist Esteban Morales Domínguez (who says it may be as high 72 percent). Most of these assessments break down the population into roughly equal blocs of white, black and mixed.

Even the dominant Cuban terminology signals the issue’s knotty intricacy: the decidedly un-PC term mulatto is used tenderly in conversation, defiantly on official documents, and derisively by the concerned neighbor who asks what color skin a robber had.

Now, as the country enters a new era of fast and sweeping change, a long-taboo political conversation about race is on the table as never before in art, music, film, and writing; in both official and dissident narratives; and in diverse circles across the socio-economic strata…

Read the entire article here.

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Dark-Skinned Or Black? How Afro-Brazilians Are Forging A Collective Identity

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-13 02:19Z by Steven

Dark-Skinned Or Black? How Afro-Brazilians Are Forging A Collective Identity

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Lulu Garcia-Navarro, South America Correspondent

Sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina have German, Italian, African and indigenous ancestry. (Lourdes Garcia-Navarro/NPR)

If you want to get a sense of how complex racial identity is in Brazil, you should meet sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina. Both have the same mother and father. Francine, 28, is blond with green eyes and white skin. She wouldn’t look out of place in Iceland. But Fernanda, 23, has milk chocolate skin with coffee colored eyes and hair. Francine describes herself as white, whereas Fernanda says she’s morena, or brown-skinned.

“We’d always get questions like, ‘How can you be so dark skinned and she’s so fair?'” Fernanda says. In fact, the sisters have German, Italian, African and indigenous ancestry. But in Brazil, Fernanda explains, people describe themselves by color, not race, since nearly everyone here is mixed.

All of that is to say, collecting demographic information in Brazil has been really tricky. The latest census, taken in 2010, found for the first time that Brazil has the most people of African descent outside Africa. No, this doesn’t mean that Afro-Brazilian population suddenly, dramatically increased. Rather, the new figures reflect changing attitudes about race and skin color in Brazil…

…”We should see the history of Brazil as a history of racial inequality,” Heringer says — and that’s a fairly new idea. For a long time, Brazilians have believed in what’s been called “the myth of racial democracy,” she explains. Part of that myth-building was a controversial survey that the government conducted the 1970’s. It asked people to describe their skin color, and the answers varied a lot. All together, respondents used at least 134 different terms

Read the article here. Listen to the story (00:05:38) here. Download the story here.

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Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-05 02:08Z by Steven

Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil’s national mythology is built on the idea of a democracia racial – a country whose population is uniquely mixed and has moved beyond racism.

The lived experience of its citizens, especially the majority who are black or mixed-race, tells a different story. Three residents of Bahia, known as the country’s “blackest” state, share their personal stories with The Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen.

‘It’s not easy to start working when you’re 12’

Cleusa de Jesus Santos was one of eight children whose father left when she was small. Her mother, illiterate and living in a slum, had no way to feed them all. “A friend of my mum’s said, ‘There is a person who needs a girl, just to watch her son, to keep him company.’”

So Ms. Santos was sent. “But when I got there, the reality was completely different: They said they were going to put me in school and so on, and they didn’t. I didn’t have vacation. I couldn’t see my family.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazil’s colour bind

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, Videos on 2015-08-03 01:46Z by Steven

Brazil’s colour bind

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil is combating many kinds of inequality. But one of the world’s most diverse nations is still just beginning to talk about race

When Daniele de Araújo found out six years ago that she was pregnant, she set out from her small house on a dirt lane in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and climbed a mountain. It is not a big mountain, the green slope that rises near her home, but the area is controlled by drug dealers, so she was anxious, hiking up. But she had something really important to ask of God, and she wanted to be somewhere she felt that the magnitude of her request would be clear.

She told God she wanted a girl, and she wanted her to be healthy, but one thing mattered above all: “The baby has to be white.”

Ms. de Araújo knows about the quixotic outcomes of genetics: She has a white mother and a black father, sisters who can pass for white, and a brother nearly as dark-skinned as she is – “I’m really black,” she says. Her husband, Jonatas dos Praseres, also has one black and one white parent, but he is light-skinned – when he reported for his compulsory military service, an officer wrote “white” as his race on the forms.

And so, when their baby arrived, the sight of her filled Ms. de Araújo with relief: Tiny Sarah Ashley was as pink as the sheets she was wrapped in. Best of all, as she grew, it became clear that she had straight hair, not cabelo ruim – “bad hair” – as tightly curled black hair is universally known in Brazil. These days, Sarah Ashley has tawny curls that tumble to the small of her back; they are her mother’s great joy in life. The little girl’s skin tone falls somewhere between those of her parents – but she was light enough for them to register her as “white,” just as they had hoped. (Many official documents in Brazil ask for “race and/or colour” alongside other basic identifying information.)

Ms. de Araújo and Mr. dos Praseres keep the photos from their 2005 wedding in a red velvet album on the lone shelf in their living room. The glossy pictures show family members of a dozen different skin colours, arm in arm, faces crinkled in stiff grins for the posed portraits. There are albums with similar pictures in living rooms all over this country: A full one-third of marriages in Brazil are interracial, said to be the highest rate in the world. (In Canada, despite hugely diverse cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the rate is under five per cent.) That statistic is the most obvious evidence of how race and colour in Brazil are lived differently than they are in other parts of the world.

But a range of colours cannot disguise a fundamental truth, says Ms. de Araújo: There is a hierarchy, and white is at the top.

Many things are changing in this country. Ms. de Araújo left school as a teenager to work as a maid – about the only option open to a woman with skin as dark as hers – but now she has a professional job in health care and a house of her own, things she could not have imagined 15 years ago. Still, she says, “This is Brazil.” And there is no point being precious about it. Black is beautiful, but white – white is just easier. Even middle-class life can still be a struggle here. And Sarah Ashley’s parents want her life to be easy.

Brazil’s history of colonialism, slavery and dictatorship, followed by tumultuous social change, has produced a country that is at once culturally homogenous and chromatically wildly diverse. It is a cornerstone of national identity that Brazil is racially mixed – more than any country on Earth, Brazilians say. Much less discussed, but equally visible – in every restaurant full of white patrons and black waiters, in every high rise where the black doorman points a black visitor toward the service elevator – is the pervasive racial inequality…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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An Intellectual History of Black Women

Posted in Africa, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-08-02 20:06Z by Steven

An Intellectual History of Black Women

Katharine Cornell Theater
54 Spring Street
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 02568
Sunday, 2015-08-02, 19:00-20:30 EDT (Local Time)


Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Harvard University


Farah J. Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies
Columbia University

Mia Bay, Professor of History and Director of Center for Race and Ethnicity
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan School of Law

Barbara D. Savage, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania

The Vineyard Haven Public Library presents a panel discussion celebrating intellectuals previously neglected because of race and gender. Moderated by Evelyn Higginbotham, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African American Studies at Harvard. Featuring all 4 editors of the new book Toward and Intellectual History of Black Women.  Join us for what should be a lively and stimulating discussion.

For more information, click here.

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Beyond Windrush: Rethinking Postwar Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2015-08-02 15:13Z by Steven

Beyond Windrush: Rethinking Postwar Anglophone Caribbean Literature

University Press of Mississippi
234 pages
1 b&w illustration, 3 maps, introduction, epilogue, index
6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN:9781628464757

Edited by:

Dillon Brown, Associate Professor of English and African and African American
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Leah Reade Rosenberg, Associate Professor of English
University of Florida

A challenge to the primacy of the Windrush generation as the sole founders of Caribbean literature

Contributors: Edward Baugh, Michael Bucknor, Raphael Dalleo, Alison Donnell, Nadia Ellis, Donette Francis, Glyne Griffith, Kate Houlden, Evelyn O’Callaghan, Lisa Outar, Atreyee Phukan, Kim Robinson-Walcott, Faith Smith, and Michelle Stephens

This edited collection challenges a long sacrosanct paradigm. Since the establishment of Caribbean literary studies, scholars have exalted an elite cohort of émigré novelists based in postwar London, a group often referred to as “the Windrush writers” in tribute to the SS Empire Windrush, whose 1948 voyage from Jamaica inaugurated large-scale Caribbean migration to London. In critical accounts this group is typically reduced to the canonical troika of V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Sam Selvon, effectively treating these three authors as the tradition’s founding fathers. These “founders” have been properly celebrated for producing a complex, anticolonial, nationalist literature. However, their canonization has obscured the great diversity of postwar Caribbean writers, producing an enduring but narrow definition of West Indian literature.

Beyond Windrush stands out as the first book to reexamine and redefine the writing of this crucial era. Its fourteen original essays make clear that in the 1950s there was already a wide spectrum of West Indian men and women—Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white-creole—who were writing, publishing, and even painting. Many lived in the Caribbean and North America, rather than London. Moreover, these writers addressed subjects overlooked in the more conventionally conceived canon, including topics such as queer sexuality and the environment. This collection offers new readings of canonical authors (Lamming, Roger Mais, and Andrew Salkey); hitherto marginalized authors (Ismith Khan, Elma Napier, and John Hearne); and commonly ignored genres (memoir, short stories, and journalism).

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