Grace Lee Boggs, Human Rights Advocate for 7 Decades, Dies at 100

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-10-09 15:29Z by Steven

Grace Lee Boggs, Human Rights Advocate for 7 Decades, Dies at 100

The New York Times

Robert D. McFadden

Ms. Boggs and her husband, James. Credit LeeLee Films, Inc.

Grace Lee Boggs, one of the nation’s oldest human rights activists, who waged a war of inspiration for civil rights, labor, feminism, the environment and other causes for seven decades with an unflagging faith that revolutionary justice was just around the corner, died on Monday at her home in Detroit. She was 100.

Her death was confirmed by Alice Jennings, her friend and legal trustee.

Born to Chinese immigrants, Ms. Boggs was an author and philosopher who planted gardens on vacant lots, founded community organizations and political movements, marched against racism, lectured widely on human rights and wrote books on her evolving vision of a revolution in America.

Her odyssey took her from the streets of Chicago as a tenant organizer in the 1940s to arcane academic debates about the nature of communism, from the confrontational tactics of Malcolm X and the Black Power movement to the nonviolent strategies of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and finally to her own manifesto for change — based not on political and economic upheavals but on community organizing and resurgent moral values…

…In 1953, she moved to Detroit and married James Boggs, a black autoworker, writer and radical activist. The city, with its large black population, racial inequalities and auto industry in its postwar heyday, seemed poised for changes, and the couple focused on African-Americans, women and young people as vanguards of a social movement…

Read the entire obituary here.

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The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-10-05 15:41Z by Steven

The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

University of Georgia Press
248 pages
8 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4896-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-4897-1

Lisa Ze Winters, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

Exploring the geographies, genealogies, and concepts of race and gender of the African diaspora produced by the Atlantic slave trade

Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora.

Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities.

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-10-01 01:54Z by Steven

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Thayer and Eldridge

Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897)

Edited by Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880)

Read the entire book here or here.

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Sexual Relations Between Elite White Women and Enslaved Men in the Antebellum South: A Socio-Historical Analysis

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-10-01 01:49Z by Steven

Sexual Relations Between Elite White Women and Enslaved Men in the Antebellum South: A Socio-Historical Analysis

Student Pulse
Volume 5, Number 8 (2013)
pages 1-3
5ISSN: 2153-5760

Jacqueline M. Allain
University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

There is ample evidence of sexual relations, from rapes to what appear to be relatively symbiotic romantic partnerships, between white slave masters and black women in the Antebellum South. Much rarer were sexual relations between white women and black slave men, yet they too occurred. Using an intersectional socio-historical analysis, this paper explores the factors that contributed or may have contributed to the incidence of sexual encounters between elite white women and slave men, the power dynamics embedded in them, and their implications in terms of sexual consent. The paper demonstrates how upper-class white women who engaged in these relationships used sex as an instrument of power, simultaneously perpetuating both white supremacy and patriarchy.

According to former slave Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), “The slave girl is raised in an atmosphere of licentiousness and fear. The lash and the foul talk of her master and his sons are her teachers. When she is fourteen or fifteen, her owner, or his sons, or the overseer, or perhaps all of them, begin to bribe her with presents. If these fail to accomplish their purpose, she is whipped and starved into submission to their will.” Jacobs’ account of the sexual violence endured by slave women is merely one of many. Although it is impossible to know exactly how many black women were sexually assaulted under slavery, such abuse was widespread.

Not all sexual encounters between masters and female slaves would be considered rape according to most definitions of the term. Concubinage-type arrangements and even long-term romantic partnerships, perhaps most famously that of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, were known to exist. Yet, many scholars would agree that “even presumably affectionate and long-term relationships must be reconsidered given the context of slavery” (Foster, 2011, p. 459). The enormous imbalance of gender and racial power between the two parties problematizes the notion of a truly consensual romantic relationship between a slave master and his female slave. These so-called consensual sexual partnerships can be seen, like rape, as an exercise in white patriarchal authority.

But what of sexual relations between planter-class white women and slave men?…

Read the entire article here.

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The Femme Fatale in American Literature

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2015-09-14 02:02Z by Steven

The Femme Fatale in American Literature

Cambria Press
192 pages
5.5 x 8.5 in or 216 x 140 mm
ISBN: 9781604975352

Ghada Suleiman Sasa, Assistant Professor of English Literature
Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan

Characters in the literary tradition of American naturalism are usually perceived as passive, lacking in will, weak, and predetermined. They are constantly seen as the victims of heredity and environment, and their lives are shaped according to these strong forces that operate upon them.

This interesting book examines the representation of female characters in American naturalism and argues that women in American naturalism are often represented as femmes fatales. Since heredity and environment are the determining factors in their lives, they are victims who have no control. However, with characters such as Trina Sieppe in Frank Norris’s McTeague, Caroline Meeber in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and Helga Crane in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, these women victims gradually turn themselves into victimizers in order to conquer both heredity and environment. They consciously and deliberately use the only power they have that can help them overcome the naturalistic world in which they are entrapped––the power of the feminine.

The book explains who exactly the femme fatale that has been born out of American naturalism is, and explores images of women in American realism who precede the femme fatale of American naturalism. This study examines characters like Trina Sieppe, Caroline Meeber, Edna Pontellier, and Helga Crane. It analyzes these women’s backgrounds, their demeanors, their temperaments, their experiences, and their settings, and explains how and when each woman decides to use her sexuality. There is also a brief discussion of other femmes fatales in American naturalism, such as Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.

Although the perception of women in nineteenth-century American literature has always had its place in discussions of literary texts, this book is unique in its argument that women in American naturalism are neither weak nor passive, but rather are strong and daring women who try diligently to find a means of fighting back.

This book is an important addition to collections in literature and Women’s studies.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter One: The Femme Fatale in American Naturalism: An Introduction
    • Background and Definitions of the Femme Fatale
    • Background and Definitions of American Naturalism
    • The Femme Fatale and American Naturalism
  • Chapter Two: Trina “took her place in the operating chair”: Trina Sieppe as Femme Fatale in Frank Norris’s McTeague
    • The Emergence of the Femme Fatale
    • Trina Wins the Lottery
  • Chapter Three: “I am yours truly”: Caroline Meeber as Femme Fatale in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie
    • The Formulation of the Femme Fatale
    • The Femme Fatale in Full Action
    • The Fall of the Femme Fatale
    • Trina and Carrie
  • Chapter Four: “A language which nobody understood”: Edna Pontellier as Femme Fatale in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
    • The Imprisonment of Edna
    • Edna Breaks Free
    • McTeague, Sister Carrie, The Awakening: Trina, Carrie, and Edna
    • Edna’s suicide
  • Chapter Five: “It had begun, a new life for Helga Crane”: Helga Crane as Femme Fatale in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand
    • Twentieth Century American Naturalism
    • The Plight of the Tragic Mulatto Figure
    • Helga Crane’s Liberation
  • Chapter Six: Examples of Other Femmes Fatales in American Naturalism
  • Primary Bibliography
  • Secondary Bibliography
  • Index
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Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Awarded to Louise Erdrich

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2015-09-14 00:31Z by Steven

Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Awarded to Louise Erdrich

News from the Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Winner to Participate in This Year’s National Book Festival

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced that Louise Erdrich, author of such critically acclaimed novels as “Love Medicine,” “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse,” “The Plague of Doves” and her current novel, “The Round House,” will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 5.

Billington said of Erdrich: “Throughout a remarkable string of virtuosic novels, Louise Erdrich has portrayed her fellow Native Americans as no contemporary American novelist ever has, exploring—in intimate and fearless ways—the myriad cultural challenges that indigenous and mixed-race Americans face. In this, her prose manages to be at once lyrical and gritty, magical yet unsentimental, connecting a dreamworld of Ojibwe legend to stark realities of the modern-day. And yet, for all the bracing originality of her work, her fiction is deeply rooted in the American literary tradition.”

The National Book Festival and the prize ceremony will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

“My grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, was educated in an Indian boarding school, became chairman of his tribe and testified before Congress on behalf of the Turtle Mountain people,” said Erdrich. “My other grandfather, Ludwig Erdrich, came here penniless from Germany in 1920 and worked incessantly through many heartbreaks to raise his family, including my father. Of all their grandchildren, it would have surprised them most to think of me, skinny and tongue-tied, amounting to anything. But in addition to the Library of Congress, I have my parents Rita and Ralph, in whom my grandparents’ spirits are still vital, to thank for this recognition.”

Erdrich is the third winner of the award. Previous winners are E.L. Doctorow (2014) and Don DeLillo (2013)…

Read the entire press release here.

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Chineke! Europe’s first professional orchestra of black and minority ethnic musicians launches

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-09-03 01:42Z by Steven

Chineke! Europe’s first professional orchestra of black and minority ethnic musicians launches

The Independent

Jessica Duchen

Its founder double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku talks to Jessica Duchen

When the Chineke! Orchestra steps on to the Queen Elizabeth Hall platform on 13 September, the audience should notice something unusual. One of those uncomfortable truths about classical music is that most symphony orchestras in Europe still consist mostly of white and white-Asian people. Chineke, the brainchild of the double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, is Europe’s first professional orchestra made up entirely of black and minority ethnic musicians.

The idea is to bring together and showcase the wealth of talent among these under-represented performers. “It is about raising awareness, trying to level the playing field, altering the status quo a little bit and changing perceptions,” says Nwanoku.

Born in London to a Nigerian father and Irish mother, Nwanoku has been mulling over these issues for years, from her vantage point as a founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a popular media commentator and broadcaster, and a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Her recent programmes for BBC Radio 4, In Search of the Black Mozart, about the 18th-century violin virtuoso and composer the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, sparked wide interest in historical musicians of colour…

Read the entire article here.

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Times Regrets ‘Slave Mistress’ in Julian Bond’s Obituary

Posted in Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-08-23 01:33Z by Steven

Times Regrets ‘Slave Mistress’ in Julian Bond’s Obituary

The New York Times

Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor

After Julian Bond’s death on Saturday, The Times published a lengthy and well-written obituary summing up the life and work of the civil rights champion. But many readers were bothered by a single sentence in the front-page article:

“Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.”

Many readers wrote to me to protest the phrase, on the grounds that a slave, by definition, can’t be in the kind of consensual or romantic relationship that the word “mistress” suggests. One of them noted it wasn’t the first time the phrase had appeared in a Times obituary…

Read the entire article here.

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‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860

Posted in Dissertations, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-08-22 01:13Z by Steven

‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860

Ohio State University
284 pages

Noel Mellick Voltz

Doctor of Philosophy in History

In 1805, a New Orleans newspaper advertisement formally defined a new social institution, the infamous Quadroon Ball, in which prostitution and plaçage – a system of concubinage – converged. These balls, limited to white men and light-skinned, free “Quadroon” women, became an interracial rendezvous that provided evening entertainment and the possibility of forming sexual liaisons in exchange for financial “sponsorship.” At these balls, money and other forms of payment were exchanged for the connubial placement of free women of color with wealthy white men.

My dissertation entitled, “‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation Among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860” seeks to understand how free women of color used sex across the colorline as a tool of negotiation in various spaces, like the Quadroon Ballroom, in antebellum Louisiana. More specifically, utilizing contemporary travelers’ journals, newspapers, poems, songs, letters, notarial and ecclesiastical records, court cases and other legal documents, my dissertation examines the sexual agency exerted by Louisiana’s free women of color in four sites of contestation – the body, the ballroom, the courtroom and the sanctuary.

Free women of color occupied a precarious position in antebellum Louisiana, often subjugated because of their race, gender and class; yet, this very positioning also afforded them a space in which to maneuver socially and economically. I contend that in these literal and figurative spaces, these women drew upon their sexuality to make strategic claims to their freedom advancing themselves socially and economically. This work pushes the boundaries of current scholarship engaging questions of sexual agency and trauma, race and identity, hegemonic myth and cultural reappropriation. In so doing, I build upon and push beyond historiographic discussions of the fetishizing and fanticizing gaze of white men and the overly simplistic dichotomous images of the hypersexualized jezebel and the totally victimized yet “respectable” free woman of color. Ultimately, this research illuminates a more nuanced understanding of black female agency in the antebellum era.

For more information, click here.

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Othello’s Daughter

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2015-08-19 01:52Z by Steven

Othello’s Daughter

The New Yorker

Alex Ross, Music Critic

Aldridge, circa 1865, and his daughter Luranah, a singer, in an undated image.
Credit Photographs by Billy Rose Theatre Division / The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Mccormick Library of Special Collections / Northwestern University Library

The rich legacy of Ira Aldridge, the pioneering black Shakespearean.

In 1896, a thirty-six-year-old opera singer named Luranah Aldridge travelled to Germany to prepare for performances of Wagner’sRing of the Nibelung,” at the Bayreuth Festival. Dozens of young singers had made such a journey before her: thirteen years after Wagner’s death, Bayreuth had become a summit of the operatic world. Aldridge, though, was of mixed race: an English native, she was the daughter of an African-American and a Swede. The casting of a nonwhite performer in Wagner’s Nordic-Teutonic saga might have been expected to arouse opposition, given the notorious racism of the composer and many of his followers, yet an advance guide to the 1896 festival treats Aldridge simply as a promising novelty:

A name that may well ring strangely in the ears of even the most observant art lovers is that of Luranah Aldridge, who will sing one of the eight Valkyries. Of Luranah Aldridge one cannot say that she did not come from far off, as she hails—from Africa. She is the daughter of the African tragedian Ira Aldridge and studied singing in Germany, England and France, and has appeared with great success in operas and concerts outside of Germany. She is praised as the possessor of a true contralto voice with a wide range. In the course of the festival there will be an opportunity to put these statements to the test.

The singer fell sick during rehearsals and did not perform that summer. Despite encouragement from Cosima Wagner, the composer’s widow, Aldridge faded from view. A few reference works mention her; otherwise, she has vanished from the historical record…

Read the entire article here.

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