Plaçage and the Performance of Whiteness: The Trial of Eulalie Mandeville, Free Colored Woman, of Antebellum New Orleans

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-15 22:11Z by Steven

Plaçage and the Performance of Whiteness: The Trial of Eulalie Mandeville, Free Colored Woman, of Antebellum New Orleans

American Nineteenth Century History
Volume 15, Issue 2, 2014
pages 187-209
DOI: 10.1080/14664658.2014.959818

Carol Wilson, Arthur A. and Elizabeth R. Knapp Professor of American History
Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland

Depictions of plaçage, a type of concubinage found in pre-Civil War New Orleans, have tended toward the romantic. A group of scholars have shown recently that, contrary to popular perception, many plaçage unions were no different from common-law marriages. This article takes a case-study approach to examine one such relationship in detail – one that was the subject of a legal challenge involving the fortune of perhaps the wealthiest free black woman in Louisiana. I apply Ariela J. Gross’s theory of “performance of whiteness” to demonstrate why free woman of color Eulalie Mandeville won her case over her white partner’s numerous white relatives at a time when free blacks in Louisiana and the rest of the nation were losing rights.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Poet Natasha Trethewey Explores Public and Personal Histories of Race in America

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2015-01-14 18:16Z by Steven

Poet Natasha Trethewey Explores Public and Personal Histories of Race in America

The Aspen Institute
2015-01-13

Caroline Tory, Program Coordinator
Aspen Words, Aspen Colorado

On a recent winter night, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey addressed an Aspen Words audience in Aspen, CO, on the intersection between art and activism. “[I am] a poet interested not only in the sounds of language and in its beauty, but in its ability to help us deal with our most difficult knowledge and help us move towards justice.”

Trethewey is the author of four collections of poetry: “Domestic Work,” “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” “Native Guard,” and “Thrall,” as well as a work of nonfiction, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” She served two terms as the 19th US poet laureate from 2012 to 2014, and is currently poet laureate of the state of Mississippi. Trethewey also directs the creative writing program at Emory University in Atlanta, where she is Robert W. Woodruff professor of English and creative writing…

…Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the daughter of parents whose mixed-race marriage was illegal in the state at the time. Her writing includes many references to her father, a poet, professor, and Canadian immigrant, as well as her mother, who was a social worker. Trethewey’s poems weave together the story of her own interracial roots with the history of race in America, while also balancing this narrative with lyricism.

“It is where the poems shade toward the lyrical that I’m able to get closer to the emotional truth of a poem,” said Trethewey in her talk. As an example, she referenced the poem “Incident” from her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection “Native Guard.” In it she tells the story of the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross on her family’s yard after her grandmother hosted a voter registration drive for disenfranchised African Americans in the 1960s. Reworking an initial draft of the poem, Trethewey restructured it to capture the entire story of the incident in the first four lines. This freed her to use the rest of the poem to highlight other emotional truths, such as the need to remember, which are at least as important as the particular facts of what happened.

Trethewey read a number of poems that use art as a reference point, including a series from her most recent book “Thrall.” Titled “Taxonomy”, this series of poems is based on a group of Casta paintings from 18th century colonial Mexico, which portrayed mixed blood unions in the colony…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Young Artists: Saya Woolfalk

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-14 16:58Z by Steven

Young Artists: Saya Woolfalk

W
November 2008

Timothy McCahill

For the last two years Saya Woolfalk has practically lived in No Place, the futuristic work she is creating through painting, sculpture and video. So it’s not surprising that when she talks about it, the line between fact and fiction seems a little fuzzy. More than just a plain old multimedia installation, No Place has its own inhabitants and culture. The bubbly 29-year-old delights in describing every nook and cranny. “I talk about it as if it could be real,” admits Woolfalk, who is completing a yearlong stint as an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where No Place was recently shown. “But I never forget that it’s another place.”

Woolfalk’s world is inhabited by half-human, half-plant figures called No Placeans, who in her paintings are portrayed roaming a psychedelic landscape reminiscent of Yellow Submarine. In one piece, they appear in front of a blue and yellow building surrounded by pink phalluses. As part of the project, Woolfalk filmed the No Placeans—played by the artist, her friends and colleagues—in the style of a documentary…

…Though the piece grew partly out of Woolfalk’s reflections on utopia, her influences also originate closer to home. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and an African-American and white father, Woolfalk draws on Japanese anime and traditional African garments for many of her characters and costumes, blending cultures so that her work feels at once foreign and familiar. “Because I’m mixed race, I have this idea that to leave the conversation ambiguous is interesting,” she says…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

“The Christened Mulatresses”: Euro-African Families in a Slave-Trading Town

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2015-01-12 21:13Z by Steven

“The Christened Mulatresses”: Euro-African Families in a Slave-Trading Town

The William and Mary Quarterly
Volume 70, Number 2, April 2013
pages 371-398
DOI: 10.5309/willmaryquar.70.2.0371

Pernille Ipsen, Assistant Professor
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Department of History
University of Wisconsin, Madison

“MULATRESSE Lene”—or Lene Kühberg, as she is also called in the Danish sources—grew up and lived in a social world created by the Atlantic slave trade. Her name suggests that she was a daughter of slave traders—a Ga woman and a Danish man—and in the 1760s she was cassaret (married) to Danish interim governor and slave trader Frantz Joachim Kühberg. She lived in a European-style stone house in Osu (today a neighborhood in Accra) on the Gold Coast, and she was both racially and culturally Euro-African. The color of her skin and her name alone would have made it clear to everyone who met her that she was related to Europeans, but her clothes would also have marked her difference, and she may even have worn little bells and ornamental keys to show her heritage and connections. European travel writers described how Euro-African women on the Gold Coast who wore such little bells jingled so much that they could be heard at a great distance. Through their Euro-African heritage and marriages to European men, Euro-African women such as Lene Kühberg occupied a particular and important position as intermediaries in the West African slave trade.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast

Posted in Africa, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, Women on 2015-01-12 15:47Z by Steven

Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast

University of Pennsylvania Press
January 2015
288 pages
6 x 9 | 17 illus.
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8122-4673-5
Ebook ISBN: ISBN 978-0-8122-9058-5

Pernille Ipsen, Assistant Professor
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Department of History
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Examining five generations of marriages between African women and European men in a Gold Coast slave trading port, Daughters of the Trade uncovers the vital role interracial relationships played in the production of racial discourse and the increasing stratification of the early modern Atlantic world.

Severine Brock’s first language was Ga, yet it was not surprising when, in 1842, she married Edward Carstensen. He was the last governor of Christiansborg, the fort that, in the eighteenth century, had been the center of Danish slave trading in West Africa. She was the descendant of Ga-speaking women who had married Danish merchants and traders. Their marriage would have been familiar to Gold Coast traders going back nearly 150 years. In Daughters of the Trade, Pernille Ipsen follows five generations of marriages between African women and Danish men, revealing how interracial marriage created a Euro-African hybrid culture specifically adapted to the Atlantic slave trade.

Although interracial marriage was prohibited in European colonies throughout the Atlantic world, in Gold Coast slave-trading towns it became a recognized and respected custom. Cassare, or “keeping house,” gave European men the support of African women and their kin, which was essential for their survival and success, while African families made alliances with European traders and secured the legitimacy of their offspring by making the unions official.

For many years, Euro-African families lived in close proximity to the violence of the slave trade. Sheltered by their Danish names and connections, they grew wealthy and influential. But their powerful position on the Gold Coast did not extend to the broader Atlantic world, where the link between blackness and slavery grew stronger, and where Euro-African descent did not guarantee privilege. By the time Severine Brock married Edward Carstensen, their world had changed. Daughters of the Trade uncovers the vital role interracial marriage played in the coastal slave trade, the production of racial difference, and the increasing stratification of the early modern Atlantic world.

Table of Contents

  • Maps
  • Introduction. Severine’s Ancestors
  • Chapter 1. Setting Up
  • Chapter 2. A Hybrid Position
  • Chapter 3. “What in Guinea You Promised Me”
  • Chapter 4. “Danish Christian Mulatresses”
  • Chapter 5. Familiar Circles
  • Epilogue. Edward Carstensen’s Parenthesis
  • Notes
  • Note on Sources
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Acknowledgments
Tags: , , , ,

Women in TV 2015: Tracee Ellis Ross in ‘black-ish’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-10 23:41Z by Steven

Women in TV 2015: Tracee Ellis Ross in ‘black-ish’

Elle
2015-01-08

Seth Plattner, Culture Editor

This article appears in the February 2015 issue of ELLE magazine.

Clones and copywriters. Journalists and sex scientists. Cult survivors and carnival acts. These actors fearlessly take on roles that are all over the map. So what do they have in common? A gift for delivering complex female characters who always leave us wanting just one more episode, please!

There are on-screen moms—and then there are Prime-Time Matriarchs. Thanks to Tracee Ellis Ross, Rainbow “Bow” Johnson of ABC’s Black-ish may just be the next Clair Huxtable or Marge Simpson. She first played the den-mother type in a group of four friends living in Los Angeles on UPN/The CW’s Girlfriends. On Black-ish, Ross, 42, is now lending that warmth (and many a sideways glance) to a traditional family setup and an audience of nearly 8 million viewers per week.

Bow is an anesthesiologist who, with her ad-man husband, Dre (Anthony Anderson), is raising four precocious kids in upper-class suburban L.A.—and has to constantly deal with Dre’s concern that their family isn’t adequately in touch with all that it means to be black. In exploring that issue through one family, Black-ish makes race not a thing by making it a thing. “In 1950, the black experience was specific,” says Ross, a former model who is the daughter of Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein. “But in this day and age, it isn’t. Race, culture, family, socioeconomics, tradition—we’re pulling from all those places to pull the whole conversation forward.”

Tags: , , ,

Racism And Redemption At The Tournament Of Roses Parade

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-02 02:59Z by Steven

Racism And Redemption At The Tournament Of Roses Parade

Forbes
2014-12-31

Andrew Bender, Business Travel Blogger


Joan Williams holds the portrait from 1957, when she was Miss Crown City. On January 1, 2015, after 57 years, she will finally get to ride in the Tournament of Roses Parade. (Photo credit: Savannah Wood)

The theme of 2015′s Tournament of Roses Parade is “Inspiring Stories,” and the person leading it has a doozy: a tale of racism and redemption from a 57-year-old injustice involving the parade itself.

Riding on the first float in the 126th edition of this New Year’s Day tradition, before some 700,000 spectators in Pasadena, Calif. and an estimated 70 million television viewers, will be 82-year-old Joan Williams. She was first slated to ride in the parade in 1958 as Miss Crown City, but later denied the honor because she was African-American.

In 1957, Williams, her husband and two daughters had just moved to Pasadena (about 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles), where she worked for the city’s Department of Water and Power. She didn’t even know there was a Miss Crown City – a Pasadena city employee who appeared at civic ceremonies and rode on the city’s Rose Parade float – until her colleagues had nominated her for the position…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Woman rides in Rose Bowl parade almost 60 years after being snubbed because of her race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-02 02:06Z by Steven

Woman rides in Rose Bowl parade almost 60 years after being snubbed because of her race

The Washington Post
2015-01-01

Diana Reese
Overland Park, Kansas

Racism “was a fact of life,” Joan Williams says about 1958, the year she was supposed to ride on a city-sponsored float in the Rose Parade of Pasadena. The 27-year-old account clerk had been named “Miss Crown City,” with all the attendant duties of ribbon-cuttings and appearances at official functions. The city even paid for Williams’ portrait to be painted while she was wearing a tiara, gown and corsage.

“It wasn’t anything I sought,” Williams told me Wednesday. “My name was submitted unbeknownst to me by someone I worked with.”

She was chosen by the judges to represent the city employees. For someone who’d grown up watching the world-famous parade, it was “a joyous occasion.” But she was so light-skinned no one suspected her African-American heritage until a reporter met her dark-skinned husband and children. That was a game-changer in the late 1950s.

As Jet magazine reported, “Mrs. Williams did not ride on a float, because the City of Pasadena neglected to include one in its own parade. Too many others were already entered, explained an official.”

“Once they learned I was African American, I wasn’t the person they wanted representing the city,” Williams said. “I sure didn’t dwell on it because I had a life to live. That was their problem, not my problem.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Joan Williams in Rose Parade after nearly 60 years, but some wonder why she wasn’t in broadcast

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-01 20:48Z by Steven

Joan Williams in Rose Parade after nearly 60 years, but some wonder why she wasn’t in broadcast

Pasadena Star-News
Pasadena, California
2015-01-01

Christina Gullickson, Reporter


Joan Williams, 82, right, rides the theme banner float Inspiring Stories, along Colorado Blvd. during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2015. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/ Pasadena Star-News)

Joan Williams, the 82-year-old Pasadena, Calif., woman who was named “Miss Crown City” in 1957 and didn’t get to ride in the 1958 Rose Parade after word spread of her African-American ancestry, finally had her chance and was on the lead float in the Rose Parade on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Some viewers were left wondering why Williams didn’t make it onto their TVs…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pasadena, Calif., Negro Queen Snubbed At Rose Bowl Festivities

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-01 00:27Z by Steven

Pasadena, Calif., Negro Queen Snubbed At Rose Bowl Festivities

Jet
1959-01-15
pages 50-51


Mayor J. Miller gifted Mrs. Williams at August ceremonies

For 26-year-old Mrs. Joan R. Williams, first Negro ever crowned queen in the Tournament of Roses’ 12-year history, Pasadena, California’s biggest event was anything but a bowl of roses. Although picked last August from a field of 15 to reign over Pasadena and ride on the city’s official float New Year’s Day, the petite mother of two was in fact a queen without a domain.

For when word spread that light-complexioned Mrs. Williams was a Negro, fellow employees in the municipal office where she works as an accountant-clerk suddenly stopped speaking to her. Mayor Jeth Miller, who crowned her at the city employees annual picnic, neither participated with her in later civic events nor rode with her in the Tournament of Roses parade.

And Mrs. Williams did not ride on a float, because the City of Pasadena neglected to include one in its own parade. Too many others were already entered, explained an official. She did not extend the city’s traditional welcome to the visiting Rose Bowl Queen because officials failed to introduce her. She did not occupy a special place of honor at the Rose Bowl football game, because there was none.

In fact, the only recognition Mrs. Williams received as queen were six free tickets—two for the reviewing stands along the parade route, two for the Coronation Ball and two for the game, where she and hubby, Robert, sat in the end zone as anonymously as other fans. Queenship had been an embarrassing affair both for her and her family, lamented Mrs. Williams. Said she at week’s end: “If I had to do it all over again, I would refuse the title.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,