An Intellectual History of Black Women

Posted in Africa, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, United States, Women on 2015-07-27 02:44Z 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)

Moderator:

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

Discussants:

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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How to Unlearn History | Ella Achola | TEDxCoventGardenWomen

Posted in Autobiography, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-07-25 00:16Z by Steven

How to Unlearn History | Ella Achola | TEDxCoventGardenWomen

TEDx Talks
2015-07-21

Ella Achola, Founder
Ain’t I A Woman Collective

From awkward school encounters to groan-inducingly offensive questions, Ella finds herself at the intersections of identity, and shares her big idea for bringing ourselves into the stories we tell.

Ella Achola is a writer and founder of the Ain’t I A Woman Collective. Born in Berlin, Ella founded the Collective as an opportunity to engage with her Afro-German heritage and extend the conversation about Europe’s black diaspora beyond the UK.

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First African-American woman novelist revisited

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-07-23 02:24Z by Steven

First African-American woman novelist revisited

Harvard University Gazette
Cambridge, Massachusetts
2005-03-24

Ken Gewertz, Harvard News Office

Harriet Wilson was a survivor. Now we have proof.

Wilson wrote “Our Nig; or Sketches From the Life of A Free Black,” the earliest known novel by an African-American woman. It tells the story of Frado, a young biracial girl born in freedom in New Hampshire who becomes an indentured servant to a tyrannical and abusive white woman. In 1859, when the book was published, the abolitionist movement had created a vogue among Northern readers for autobiographies of escaped slaves, but Wilson’s story of a free black abused by her Northern employer did not fit the established mold, and the novel soon fell into obscurity.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, found a copy of the novel in a used bookstore in the early 1980s and was intrigued by it. Among those specialists who were aware of the book, many doubted whether it was really the work of a black writer, but Gates wondered why anyone in 1859 would identify herself as black unless she were.

He started searching for evidence of Wilson’s existence and eventually succeeded in documenting her life up to 1863. The facts he uncovered closely resembled the events in the life of the novel’s protagonist. Gates, who published his findings in a 1983 edition of the novel, concluded that Wilson must have died around the time the historical trail went cold.

Now evidence has surfaced showing that Wilson survived almost another 40 years, demonstrating in other areas of endeavor the resilience and creativity that allowed her to try her hand at writing.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, associate professor of English and American Studies at Occidental College in California, and Reginald Pitts, a historical researcher and genealogical consultant, spoke Friday (March 18) about information they have uncovered about the latter half of Wilson’s life. The event was sponsored by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Department of African and African American Studies. Foreman and Pitts have incorporated their research into an introduction to a new edition of Wilson’s novel (Penguin Classics, 2005)…

Read the entire article here.

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Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2015-07-23 02:13Z by Steven

Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black

Penguin Press
2009 (First published in 1859)
176 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780143105763
Ebook ISBN: 9781440649141

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900)

Introduction and Notes by:

P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ned B. Allen Professor of English
University of Delaware

Reginald Pitts

For the 150th anniversary of its first publication, a new edition of the pioneering African-American classic, reflecting groundbreaking discoveries about its author’s life

First published in 1859, Our Nig is an autobiographical narrative that stands as one of the most important accounts of the life of a black woman in the antebellum North. In the story of Frado, a spirited black girl who is abused and overworked as the indentured servant to a New England family, Harriet E. Wilson tells a heartbreaking story about the resilience of the human spirit. This edition incorporates new research showing that Wilson was not only a pioneering African-American literary figure but also an entrepreneur in the black women’s hair care market fifty years before Madame C. J. Walker’s hair care empire made her the country’s first woman millionaire.

Read the book at Project Gutenberg here.

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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2015-06-23 00:37Z by Steven

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015-03-31
48 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102293
eBook ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102286

Margarita Engle

Rafael López

In this picture book bursting with vibrance and rhythm, a girl dreams of playing the drums in 1930s Cuba, when the music-filled island had a taboo against female drummers.

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

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Misty Copeland: meet the ballerina who rewrote the rules of colour, class and curves

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-06-22 01:01Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: meet the ballerina who rewrote the rules of colour, class and curves

The Telegraph
2015-06-21

Jane Mulkerrins

Facing opposition about her race, shape, even her hair, the ballet dancer Misty Copeland battled the establishment – and her own mother – to make it to the top

Misty Copeland can pinpoint the precise moment when she realised her success in ballet held a broader significance. “It was the night I danced The Firebird at the Metropolitan Opera House in June 2012. I had never seen an audience that was 50 per cent African-American. It was overwhelming to know that so many of them were there to support what I stood for.”

As only the third black soloist (one rung down from a principal dancer, or prima ballerina) in the history of New York’s prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT) – and the first in two decades – Copeland, 32, is elegantly dismantling the barriers of race and class that have long surrounded the art form. “When I talk to [black] families, they tell me, ‘We never went to the ballet before. Why would we bring our children when they can’t see themselves reflected on the stage?’ ” she says.

Her profile reaches beyond the rarefied realms of ballet: she has performed with Prince on stage, her recent advert for the sportswear brand Under Armour has had eight million views, and she has been namechecked as an inspiration by both Barack Obama and Beyoncé.

In April, she was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and was one of the five cover stars for the issue, along with Bradley Cooper, Kanye West, the US news anchor Jorge Ramos and the supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. That month, she sparked huge media coverage – and a frenzied rush on the box office – when she and Brooklyn Mack became the first black duo to dance the leading roles of Odil/Odette and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake for a major ballet company.

But Copeland’s prominence and influence is all the more incredible given her wholly untraditional path to the top. As she recounts in her bestselling autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, which is now being developed into a Hollywood film, she did not begin lessons until the age of 13 – positively geriatric in the dance world…

Read the entire article 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 2015-06-14 16:51Z by Steven

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

University of Georgia Press
2016-01-15
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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Afro-Latinas: Finding A Place To Belong

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-06-12 00:54Z by Steven

Afro-Latinas: Finding A Place To Belong

New Latina
2012-03-12

Tracy López, Editor-in-Chief
Latinaish: Una Gringa Biena Latina

Identity – It’s something every human being wrestles with at some time in their life – some more than others. For Afro-Latinas, self identifying can be especially difficult. The sense of ignored, unrecognized and invisible, is prevalent among those who identify as Afro-Latinas. The fact that the word itself, Afro-Latino, does not yet appear in most dictionaries only lends credence to the voices calling for recognition.

Today we introduce you to three voices of Afro-Latinas.

  • Ivy Farguheson – A Social Services reporter for the Muncie Star Press, Muncie, Indiana.
  • Eusebia Aquino-Hughes – Nurse by profession. Blogs at Street Latino.
  • Vianessa Castaños – Professional actress. Website: Vianessa.com. Twitter: @Vianessa.

Defining Afro-Latina

“To me, being Afro-Latina means that I am a part of the African diaspora in Latin America, more specifically, my parents were a part of the African diaspora in Costa Rica. This identity gives me the privilege of identifying with the Spanish aspects of Latino culture (such as the foods, the language, the immigrant experience in America) along with the African flavors that have made part of the Latino experience different than those who aren’t Afro-Latino(a) (the music, the dancing, the slave/worker history)…” – Ivy Farguheson “I self-identify as [a] proud Afro-Latina of Puerto Rican/African [descent]. It is an honor for me and many in my family to respect …our African roots…and [I] hope that our Latino community does the same…Our proud African roots have given contributions to our music, foods, arts, [and] language…” – Eusebia Aquino-Hughes “An Afro-Latina is just what the name implies, someone of Latin (or Hispanic) descent that has a predominantly African ancestry…I usually just describe myself as Dominican or Afro-Caribbean. I’ll occasionally identify with Afro-Latina, but never just ‘Latina’… I am 100% Dominican of West African, French, Spanish and Chinese decent. Rumor has it that there is some Taino blood in us as well.” – Vianessa Castaños

Read the entire article here.

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This Mocha-Caramel-Honey Post-Racial Fantasy Is Making Me Sick

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Work, United States, Women on 2015-05-21 16:53Z by Steven

This Mocha-Caramel-Honey Post-Racial Fantasy Is Making Me Sick

BuzzFeed
2015-05-21

Sharon Chang, BuzzFeed Contributor


Illustration by Judith Kim for BuzzFeed

As a mixed-race woman, the defining question of my life has not been “Who am I?” but “What are you?” I get it everywhere, from all races. Recently it’s been mostly from Asian immigrants. You Chinese? Last month a black guy walked up to me while I was pumping gas. Man! How do you people do that international thing?

It’s an invasive line of questioning, under the guise of a friendly compliment. “You know how you could look more Asian?” my white boss once asked as I clocked out of work. “If you cut your bangs like this and did your makeup like this…” My acupuncturist, meanwhile, thinks I look more Asian in a ponytail.

Most women are accustomed to having their physical appearance treated like public property up for consumption. But when it comes to mixed-race women, our looks are quantified, measured and divvied up, all the way back to conception. How we were cooked up, what our ingredients are, and why we taste so good — people are entitled to know all of it…

…If 2050 is the year that 400 years of racism ends in one fell, photogenic swoop, then sure, I can’t wait. But forgive me if our collective crushes on Rashida Jones, Lolo Jones, and Norah Jones don’t inspire hope. Beauty is a cultural value whose definition has changed dramatically over time. But science and society have a long history of justifying our shifting tastes when it comes to race. White supremacy has been bolstered through race-based compulsory sterilization, anti-miscegenation laws, and likening people of color to animals…

Read the entire article here.

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Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse by Kimberly Snyder Manganelli (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2015-05-10 01:37Z by Steven

Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse by Kimberly Snyder Manganelli (review)

Callaloo
Volume 38, Number 2, Spring 2015
pages 405-408

Justin Rogers-Cooper, Associate Professor of English
LaGuardia Community College/City University of New York, Long Island City, New York

Manganellia, Kimberly S., Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012)

In her accessible and original book, Kimberly Synder Manganelli examines the circulation of two key figures in nineteenth-century culture and literature, the Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse, by following their evolution over the course of the nineteenth century. The book’s novelty arises from its insistence that these “two crucial literary types” should be compared across national boundaries, and should be understood as complimentary cultural archetypes (6). On both counts she succeeds, though her discussions about the life-choices possible for these figures reveal much of the text’s power. Victorianists will mark Manganelli’s transnational methodology, and literary scholars may enjoy her parallel analysis of African American and Jewish characters. Feminist and women’s studies scholars will note her attention to the sexual politics of erotic commodification linked to the commercial circulation of these genre types. The general reader will follow how “mixed-race” female protagonists won social mobility and confronted male exploitation as they maneuvered the auction block, the public stage, and the home.

Manganelli’s introduction provides a general context for her themes. She notes the transnational cult of true womanhood in the nineteenth century, and how the figures of the Tragic Muse and Tragic Mulatta intersected and diverged from it. Relying on scholars such as Shawn Michelle Smith, Manganelli asserts that these two types upset codes of ideal womanhood, an idea structured around white women, by creating a “crisis of visibility in the public sphere” (9). Many narratives revolved around the vulnerability of mixed-race women to male predation. For the enslaved Tragic Mulatta, this danger was particularly acute, and often reduced her choices to sexual submission or death. The Tragic Muse, on the other hand, functioned somewhat differently. Her artistic prowess and magnetic sexuality often allowed her other options. Transatlantic Spectacles of Race emphasizes how both types of heroines attempted “to resist the conventional narratives” (16).

In her first chapter, Manganelli looks to British, French, and American travel narratives from Jamaica and Saint-Domingue to examine how “contradictory images of white and mixed-race Creoles . . . created the Transnational Mulatta, an imperial figure who preceded the imperiled Tragic Mulatta in the eighteenth-century transatlantic imaginary” (18). The mixed-race West Indian woman inspired fears that cycled throughout the nineteenth century: she might “threaten the purity of English blood,” in this case through intermarriages by families seeking her wealth and property (26). In turn, Manganelli turns to texts such as Laurette Ravinet’s Mémoires d’une Créole du Port-au-Prince (1844) to elaborate on the ways colonial societies tried to differentiate mixed-race and white women. She argues the Transnational Mulatta morphed from mistress to heiress in novels such as the anonymously published The Woman of Color (1808) and Leonara Samsay’s Zelica, the Creole (1820), a development that would see wider reproduction decades later in novels such as Jane Eyre (1847). She argues that the Saint-Domingue Revolution altered the depiction of mixed-race West Indian women for British and American authors, from a voiceless body of anxiety and fantasy into a domestic dependent.

The second chapter extends Manganelli’s inquiry into the formation of the Tragic Mulatta by looking at the practice of plaçage in antebellum New Orleans, where free women of color could arrange financial and sexual relationships with wealthy men. Manganelli maps their transformation from “self-marketing and self-commodification to the stereotypical Tragic Mulatta, who had no sexual agency and possessed no ownership of her body” (38). As in West Indian travel narratives, some in New Orleans showed concern over segregating free women of color from white women, and therefore were upset by integrated dancehalls and by the public display of wealth by beautiful placées. In the abolitionist era, though, she tells that writers romanticized placées more frequently as “victims of interracial marriage laws” (42). Although the relative autonomy of the placées gave them “a purchase on whiteness and a certain degree of protection and economic freedom,” they remained exposed to the “racial peril” of enslavement: auctions for fair-skinned “fancy girls” brought high prices (55). Rendered both “virtuous and wanton,” the placées inspired Joseph Ingraham’s sensation novel The Quadroone, or, St. Michael’s Day

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