At Yale, a Right That Doesn’t Outweigh a Wrong

Posted in Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States, Women on 2016-05-01 00:45Z by Steven

At Yale, a Right That Doesn’t Outweigh a Wrong

The New York Times
2016-04-29

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Peter V & C Vann Woodward Professor of History, African American Studies, and American Studies
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

NEW HAVEN — Yale made a grievous mistake this week when it announced that it would keep the name of an avowed white supremacist, John C. Calhoun, on a residential college, despite decades of vigorous alumni and student protests. The decision to name residential colleges for Benjamin Franklin and Anna Pauline Murray, a black civil rights activist, does nothing to redeem this wrong.

It is not a just compromise to split the difference between Calhoun and Murray; there should be no compromise between such stark contrasts in values. The decision to retain the Calhoun name continues the pain inflicted every day on students who live in a dormitory named for a man distinguished by being one of the country’s most egregious racists.

To be sure, there’s something noteworthy about the contrast between these two figures who now sit across campus from each other. Although they lived in different centuries, Calhoun in the 19th, and Murray in the 20th, in many ways, she lived in — and fought against — the world that he built.

Calhoun, a Yale graduate, congressman and the seventh vice president of the United States, owned dozens of slaves in Fort Hill, S.C. Murray grew up in poverty in Durham, N. C., as the granddaughter of an enslaved woman. Calhoun championed slavery as a “positive good”; Murray’s great-grandmother was raped by her slave master. Calhoun profited immensely from the labor of the enslaved people on his plantation; Murray was a radical labor activist in Harlem during the Great Depression

Read the entire article here.

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The Gilded Years, A Novel

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, Women on 2016-04-28 02:23Z by Steven

The Gilded Years, A Novel

Washington Square Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
June 2016
384 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781501110450
eBook ISBN: 9781501110467

Karin Tanabe
Washington, D.C.

Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.

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Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2016-04-26 20:36Z by Steven

Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946

Yale University Press
2016-04-26
352 pages
23 b/w illus.
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Cloth ISBN: 9780300211689

Katrina Jagodinsky, Assistant Professor of History
University of Nebraska

Katrina Jagodinsky’s enlightening history is the first to focus on indigenous women of the Southwest and Pacific Northwest and the ways they dealt with the challenges posed by the existing legal regimes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In most western states, it was difficult if not impossible for Native women to inherit property, raise mixed-race children, or take legal action in the event of rape or abuse. Through the experiences of six indigenous women who fought for personal autonomy and the rights of their tribes, Jagodinsky explores a long yet generally unacknowledged tradition of active critique of the U.S. legal system by female Native Americans.

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22nd Annual David Noble Lecture featuring Robin D.G. Kelley

Posted in Biography, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Passing, United States, Women on 2016-04-26 20:31Z by Steven

22nd Annual David Noble Lecture featuring Robin D.G. Kelley

Best Buy Theater
Northrop Auditorium
84 Church Street, SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455
Tuesday, 2016-04-26, 19:00 CDT (Local Time)

Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History
University of California, Los Angeles

The 22nd Annual David Noble Lecture will feature Robin D.G. Kelley. His talk is titled “‘A Female Candide’: U.S. Empire, Racial Cartographies, and the Education of Grace Halsell, 1952 – 1986.” Kelley’s talk focuses on Texas-born journalist Grace Halsell, who spent part of the Cold War as a foreign correspondent, including a stint in Vietnam, working as a staff writer under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and engaged in investigations into U.S. “internal colonies.” She chemically darkened her skin and lived as a black woman in Harlem and Mississippi, resulting in her book, Soul Sister; she published Bessie Yellowhair about living as a Navajo and working as a housekeeper; and The Illegals, a book about passing as an undocumented worker from Mexico. In the course of her travels and experiments in racial passing, the worlds she encountered undermined the conceits she grew up with. Halsell’s world view, schooled in Cold War liberalism, Southern paternalism & white supremacy, and domesticity, begins to unravel especially after her stint in Vietnam, and even more so when she turns her attention to the U.S., its ghettos, reservations, borders and finally to Palestine. So in some ways, this is a classic loss of innocence story.

For more information, click here.

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“Marrying Out” for Love: Women’s Narratives of Polygyny and Alternative Marriage Choices in Contemporary Senegal

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Women on 2016-04-25 14:50Z by Steven

“Marrying Out” for Love: Women’s Narratives of Polygyny and Alternative Marriage Choices in Contemporary Senegal

African Studies Review
Volume 59, Number 1, April 2016
pages 155-174

Hélène Neveu Kringelbach, Lecturer in African Studies
University College London

This article examines the ways in which childhood and youth experiences of living in polygynous households shape the aspirations of middle-class Muslim Senegalese women to companionate marriage. Increasingly, such aspirations are fulfilled through marriage with European men. In contrast to an enduring popular discourse according to which women live happily with polygyny throughout the Senegambian region, this article shows how some middle-class women’s choice to “marry out” is explicitly linked to family narratives and personal experiences of suffering. In a context in which many of these women face strong familial opposition to marriage with non-Muslim European men, this article suggests that the women’s narratives provide moral legitimacy to their “alternative” choices.

Cet article examine comment et de quelles manières les expériences des enfants et des jeunes qui vivent dans des ménages polygames, façonnent les aspirations des femmes sénégalaises musulmanes de la classe moyenne au mariage de compagnonnage. De plus en plus, de telles aspirations sont satisfaites par le mariage avec des hommes européens. Contrairement à un discours populaire qui perdure selon lequel les femmes vivent heureuses dans la polygynie dans toute la région de Sénégambie, cet article montre comment le choix de certaines femmes de la classe moyenne à «se marier en dehors» est explicitement lié à des récits de famille et des expériences de souffrances personnelles. Cet article suggère que les récits des femmes assurent la légitimité morale à leurs choix “alternatifs” dans un contexte où beaucoup d’entre elles font face à une forte opposition familiale au mariage avec des hommes européens non-musulmans.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Color Lines: Sex, Race, and Body Politics in Pre/Colonial Ghana

Posted in Africa, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2016-04-25 14:30Z by Steven

Color Lines: Sex, Race, and Body Politics in Pre/Colonial Ghana

Indiana University, Bloomington
Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society
Schuessler Institute for Social Research
1022 E. 3rd Street
Maple Room, IMU
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Thursday, 2016-04-28, 16:00-17:30 EDT (Local Time)

Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and Afro- American Studies
Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

CRRES Speaker Series, Spring 2016

Drawing on her recently published book about interracial sexual relationships in colonial Ghana and her new research on how indigenous historical actors in this region of West Africa have thought about and constructed blackness as a symbolic, somatic, and political signifier, Ray’s talk explores how race catalyzed social and political change even in areas of Africa without large settler colonial populations. Centering Ghana in her talk Ray argues that race, rather than ethnicity alone, has powerfully shaped the historical landscape of a continent that has for centuries been at the heart of the West’s racializing discourses.

Carina Ray is an associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. A scholar of race and sexuality; comparative colonialisms and nationalisms; migration and maritime history; and the relationship between race, ethnicity, and political power, Carina’s research is primarily focused on Ghana and its diasporas. She is the author of Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana (Ohio University Press, 2015) and co-editor of Navigating African Maritime History (with Jeremy Rich) and Darfur and the Crisis of Governance in Sudan: A Critical Reader (with Salah Hassan). Her articles have appeared in The American Historical Review, Gender and History, and Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques. Carina is currently working on her new book project, Somatic Blackness: A History of the Body and Race-Making in Ghana.

For more information, click here.

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Alumni Interview: Miranda Brawn Esq

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Law, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-04-12 01:58Z by Steven

Alumni Interview: Miranda Brawn Esq

The University of Law
Future Lawyers Network
Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
2015-04-30

Since qualifying as a Barrister, Miranda Brawn has not looked back. Currently, Director of Legal and Transaction Management at Daiwa Capital Markets and specialising in finance, she has worked with top investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Citigroup. Passionate about promoting diversity within the profession she is patron for Black British Academics and a Board member for various diversity organisations such as the Black Cultural Archives and the City Women Network.

Do you believe there are greater challenges for women and people from ethnic backgrounds to succeed in law?

I think there are challenges for everyone regardless of their gender and race to succeed in law as it is one of the most competitive fields to enter which includes investment banking. I have managed to succeed in both of these fields, which have in the past been considered to be a male dominated industry. That said, being a female and from an ethnic background, I have proven that it is possible to overcome challenges with the right amount of drive, intelligence and determination…

Finally, tell us something about yourself that people might not know

I have a family history of law and politics where I am related to Sir Thomas Bellot, 2nd Bt. 1 (1651-1709), who studied at Oxford University, was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1670, succeeded to the title of 2nd Baronet Bellot in 1674 and was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Newcastle-under-Lyme from 1679 until 1681…

Read the entire interview here.

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Mystery still surrounds ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Texas, United States, Women on 2016-04-11 17:19Z by Steven

Mystery still surrounds ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’

The Houston Chronicle
Houston, Texas
2016-04-01

Joe Holley, Native Texan


A statue of “Emily Morgan” by Veryl Goodnight stands amidst a garden of yellow roses in an office complex across the street from Memorial City Mall in Houston.
Photo: Joe Holley, Joe Holley/Houston Chronicle

So, what was happening in that red-and-white striped tent at about 4:30 on the afternoon of April 21, 1836? Santa Anna’s field tent at San Jacinto, that is.

Was the exhausted Mexican general in a deep daytime slumber, even as Gen. Sam Houston and his Texian army were massing for an attack just three-quarters of a mile away? That’s what Santa Anna said he was doing in a long report he presented to the Mexican government about that fateful spring day. (Actually, he said he was sleeping under a shade tree.)

Or, as Texas myth and the movies have it, was he entwined in the arms of a beautiful, young “mulatto” woman named Emily Morgan, the fabled “Yellow Rose of Texas,” and thus oblivious to the looming danger?

Of course, the latter is the spicy tale most of us would like to believe, although the intricate swirl of legend, lore and shrouded history makes it very difficult to tease out the truth. As Dallas attorney Jeff Dunn reminded me earlier this week, the Emily tale isn’t totally implausible, but with the evidence that’s been uncovered to date, there’s no way to prove it one way or the other. (Neither party took a selfie.)

Dunn, an amateur historian long interested in the Battle of San Jacinto, has researched the Emily story for 25 years. He’s as interested in how the story evolved and how it got entangled more than a century later with a popular minstrel song as he is in establishing the truth of the matter. He’ll be exploring both those issues at the annual San Jacinto Symposium next weekend here in Houston. The symposium topic is “African-Americans in Texas History from Spanish-Colonial Times to Annexation.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The ‘Human Computer’ Behind the Moon Landing Was a Black Woman

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-04-11 01:50Z by Steven

The ‘Human Computer’ Behind the Moon Landing Was a Black Woman

The Daily Beast
2016-04-07

Nathan Place


Image of Katherine Johnson at NASA Langley Research Center in 1971.

In an age of racism and sexism, Katherine Johnson broke both barriers at NASA.

She calculated the trajectory of man’s first trip to the moon, and was such an accurate mathematician that John Glenn asked her to double-check NASA’s computers. To top it off, she did it all as a black woman in the 1950s and ’60s, when women at NASA were not even invited to meetings.

And you’ve probably never heard of her.

Meet Katherine Johnson, the African-American woman who earned the nickname “the human computer” at NASA during its space race golden age…

Read the entire article here.

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The SRB Interview: Jackie Kay

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-04-11 01:33Z by Steven

The SRB Interview: Jackie Kay

Scottish Review of Books
Volume 11, Issue 3 (2016)

Opening one of Jackie Kay’s books is like walking into a busy metropolitan bar that has accommodated within its walls the deep past, character and charm of a country pub. You know you will encounter stories comic and sad, that you will never leave thirsty, and that the mind will feel renewed with the spirit, musicality and colour of life. Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by Helen and John Kay, who lived, and still live, in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow. Helen was a primary school teacher who was also secretary of the Scottish peace movement and John worked full time for The Communist Party. When Kay was pregnant with her son Matthew she started a search for her birth parents, and this long experience, along with her Scottish upbringing, is recounted in her memoir Red Dust Road (2010). Kay’s writing style is as varied and vivid as her life, and her ability to inhabit voices and capture them on the page was demonstrated in her first poetry collection, The Adoption Papers (1991). It incorporated themes still prevalent in her work today: ‘what is identity? Is identity a shifting, fluid thing? How much are we made up by genes, and how much by stories? How much is it possible to escape the constraints of our own DNA and invent ourselves? How much does love define us, and make things possible? Does being loved change the shape of your face, or change the look in your eyes, or change your voice, or your body?’

Kay’s output is too prolific to give but a précis. Her second poetry book, Other Lovers (1993), explored the impact of colonialism and slavery on black culture, and it was a topic she returned to in her play The Lamplighter (2008). She has a written a sequence of poems about Bessie Smith, and she also wrote a biographical portrait of the great blues singer, which was published in 1997. Jazz and blues have been a lifelong love, and her novel Trumpet (1998), republished this year as a Picador classic, is about a jazz musician called Joss Moody. Upon his death, the trumpet player is found to have been a woman, and the novel refracts Moody’s life through the lens of those who knew him and the media eye. Kay’s short story collections include Why Don’t You Stop Talking (2002) and Reality, Reality (2012). Her most recent poetry collections are Fiere (2011) and the pamphlet The Empathetic Store, published in 2015 by Mariscat Press. In progress is a new novel, Bystander.

Kay has lived in Manchester for the last twenty years, although she has said ‘in my mind I also live in Scotland’, and frequently is at home in Glasgow seeing her parents. Nick Major met Kay in HOME, a new arts centre and theatre space near Manchester’s old industrial centre. They sat in the upstairs restaurant beside tall glass windows that afforded a view of the sun. The room was baked in a heat that defied the cold winter’s day outside. They had a long afternoon lunch, punctuated with coffee to keep the mind fresh. The clatter of other lives, other lunches, was all around them. Small in stature, large in mind, she was wearing a red jumper that matched the city’s prevailing colour, and two silver discs hung from her ears, shimmering in the light. Kay is a fast talker, and often spoke in long looping sentences that circled every subject, always prodding and poking at it in a search for a newer, clearer understanding. As this edition of the Scottish Review of Books went to press she was appointed our new Makar.

The Scottish Review of Books: You’ve lived in Manchester for many years now, but do you still think of Glasgow as home?

Jackie Kay: I think of Glasgow as my home in the many ways that a person can think of a home. My parents live in exactly the same house I grew up in. Nobody’s been in that house except our family. It’s a Lawrence house. But Glasgow as a city is a spiritual home, and I love the robust energy of the place and all the contradictions. It’s a city of doubles and amazing contrasts. It often gets less attention because Edinburgh is like a beautiful twin sister, but Glasgow is beautiful in its own different way. It is a city that can still surprise you; you can keep getting to know it because it keeps on changing…

Read the entire interview here.

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