Obama’s Mother

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2015-04-21 00:50Z by Steven

Obama’s Mother

Books & Ideas
2009-05-20

Gloria Origgi

The American presidential election was won by a woman: Stanley Ann Dunham. Born in 1942, she died of cancer in 1995, shortly after turning 52, and thus without having seen her visionary dream realized: the election of her son, Barack Hussein Obama, as 44th President of the United States.

The male name was imposed on her by Stanley Dunham, her father, who would have preferred a boy. As the only child of Stanley and his wife Madelyn Payne, Stanley Ann was nonconformist young girl and a solitary mother, convinced that she could raise her children in a way that would prepare them for a new world, globalized and multicultural, a world that certainly didn’t exist in her daily life as a middle-class girl in an anonymous little town in Kansas. Barack – or Barry, as she called him – is her creation, the fruit of a patient, attentive and loving education that was the commitment of her life, as she saw in her two racially mixed children the reflection of a better future, one in which the warm commingling of blood pacifies the false oppositions and odious attachments, the “unreal loyalties”, as Virginia Woolf called them, that reassure us in the desperate need for social identity to which our species falls prey.

When Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, he was still considered in half the American states the criminal product of miscegenation, or the interbreeding of races, a heinous biological hybrid whose existence simply wasn’t taken into consideration while those who committed it were punished with incarceration. Today it is a hard-to-pronounce word that was coined in the United States in 1863, with a specious Latin etymology, from miscere (mix) and genus (race), to indicate the supposed genetic difference between whites and blacks. The question of miscegenation became crucial during the Civil War and subsequent emancipation of the slaves. It was fine to grant civil rights to non-whites, but to allow intimate relations between whites and blacks was another story. The term appeared for the first time in the title of a pamphlet published in New York, Miscegenation: The Theory of Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro, in which the anonymous author promoted the idea of racial mixing as the project of the Republican Party, which supported the abolition of slavery. By encouraging the interbreeding of whites and blacks, racial differences would be progressively attenuated until they disappeared altogether. It was soon discovered that the pamphlet had been created by the Democrats in order to frighten American citizens faced with the intolerable Republican project of encouraging racial mixing. The crime of miscegenation was definitively abolished in 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional in response to Loving v. Virginia, a case in which a racially mixed married couple was sentenced to a year in prison – with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia – for having been found in bed together under the same roof. The marriage certificate hanging above the nuptial bed wasn’t considered valid by the police – who, armed with rifles, broke down the entry door and beat the humiliated couple – because it was obtained in another county, one in which miscegenation wasn’t illegal. This occurred in 1959, and the couple had to wait eight years for the moral indecency of their ordeal and their own innocence to be recognized.

One must try to imagine that America in order to understand the courage of Stanley Ann, who was 18 years old and 4 months pregnant when she married the brilliant young Kenyan student Barack Obama Sr., the first African to be admitted to the University of Hawaii. He was 25. He’d arrived in Hawaii in 1959 thanks to a scholarship from the Kenyan government, which was also sponsored by the United States to help some of the more gifted African students get an education at an American University so they could return to their native country and become part of a new, competent, modern elite…

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Jennifer Lisa Vest to explore ‘post-racial present’ at Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium

Posted in Articles, Arts, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-16 23:09Z by Steven

Jennifer Lisa Vest to explore ‘post-racial present’ at Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium

Report: Faculty/Staff Newsletter
Illinois State University
2015-04-02

Rachel Hatch, Editor

Performing artist and scholar Jennifer Lisa Vest will be the keynote speaker for the 20th annual Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Symposium.

Vest will present Black Lives Matter: [Trans]Gender Violence, Disability, and Women in a ‘Post-racial,’ ‘Post-Sexist’ Present at 1 p.m. Friday, April 17, in the Bone Student Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

In celebration of the event, there will be a poetry reading at 7 p.m. Thursday April 16, at the University Galleries, 11 Uptown Circle, Normal.

Vest is a self-described “mixed-race queer feminist philosopher, poet, and artivist whose philopoetic works combine philosophy, poetry and feminist theories to provide intersectional analyses of social justice issues by explicating raced, gendered, and sexualized components of privilege, ablelism, and oppression.”…

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Michelle Obama: A Life

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Monographs, New Media, United States, Women on 2015-04-09 01:03Z by Steven

Michelle Obama: A Life

Knopf
2015-04-07
432 pages
6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-307-95882-2

Peter Slevin, Associate Professor of Journalism
Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.

The journey winds from the intricacies of her upbringing as the highly focused daughter of a gregarious city water-plant worker afflicted with multiple sclerosis to the tribulations she faces at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s. And then returning to Chicago, where she works in an elite law firm and meets a law student from Hawaii named Barack Obama. Unsatisfied by corporate law, Michelle embarks on a search for meaningful work that takes her back to the community of her South Side youth, even as she struggles to find balance as a mother and a professional—while married to a man who wants to be president.

Slevin deftly explores the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. He offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Michelle Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality.

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New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-01 01:23Z by Steven

New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Time
2015-03-30

Maya Rhodan, Reporter

Author paints the First Lady as the President’s rock, notes the impact her background would have on her future as the nation’s first black First Lady

During her senior year at Princeton University, First Lady Michelle Obama couldn’t imagine she would live to see the election of the nation’s first African American, let alone be married to him. “To say that during her Princeton years she could not envision an African American president is like saying that the sun rises and sets every day,” writes Northwestern University Professor Peter Slevin in his upcoming biography, Michelle Obama: A Life

…Even in a short blurb about the Obamas’ budding romance, the author notes that Michelle’s mother Marian at one point worried that Barack’s biracial background would make navigating society’s prejudices difficult. In the end, though, she accepted the future President who she said “shared the values of [their] family.”…

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Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:43Z by Steven

Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

The Detroit Free Press
2015-03-22

Cassandra Spratling

Tiya Miles got it honest.

Straight from her grandmother’s garden. That knack for telling stories that pull at your heartstrings.

“I’m one of those people who had a storytelling grandma,” says Miles. “We’d be in the garden or snapping peas on the porch and my grandma would be telling stories, about life in Mississippi, about how the family lost their farm to a white man, about how they came up North on a train. Those stories riveted me and they shaped me.

“If my grandmother had had my life, she would have won three MacArthur Fellowships,” Miles says of her grandmother, the late Alice King.

But it was Miles, 45, who was granted a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2011, and it was that award that gave her the shot of confidence she needed to up her game and write her first novel, which will be released next month.

Friends and coworkers at the University of Michigan are hosting a book launch party for “the Cherokee Rose” (John F. Blair, $26.95) Tuesday…

…Not that she doesn’t greatly appreciate the fellowship that annually doles out a ton of money to selected people in a variety of areas so that they can pursue their areas of interest, unencumbered by money woes.

Without it, she doubts she would have completed “the Cherokee Rose,” a novel that uses three modern day women to take readers on a haunting, sometimes horrific, but redemptive journey to a little-known past on a Southern plantation where Native-American and African-American lives were intertwined. In the process, the women make unexpected connections to one another and others…

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The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:31Z by Steven

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

John F. Blair
2015-04-07
264 pages
6×9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-89587-635-5

Tiya Miles, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women’s History
University of Michigan

Written by an award-winning historian and recipient of a recent MacArthur “Genius Grant,” The Cherokee Rose explores territory reminiscent of the bestselling and beloved works of Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Louise Erdrich. Now, Tiya Miles’s luminous but highly accessible novel examines a little-known aspect of America’s past—slaveholding by Southern Creeks and Cherokees—and its legacy in the lives of three young women who are drawn to the Georgia plantation where scenes of extreme cruelty and equally extraordinary compassion once played out.

Based on the author’s in-depth and award-winning research into archival sources at the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Chatsworth, Georgia, and the Moravian mission sponsored there in the early 1800s, Miles has blended this fascinating history with a contemporary cast of engaging and memorable characters, including Jinx, the free-spirited historian exploring her tribe’s complicated racial history; Ruth, whose mother sought refuge from a troubled marriage in her beloved garden and the cosmetic empire she built from its bounty; Cheyenne, the Southern black debutante seeking to connect with a meaningful personal history; and, hovering above them all, the spirit of long-gone Mary Ann Battis, a young woman suspected of burning a mission to the ground and then disappearing from tribal records. Together, the women’s discoveries about the secrets of the Cherokee plantation trace their attempts to connect with the strong spirits of the past and reconcile the conflicts in their own lives.

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Great Character: Sam White (“Dear White People”)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-03-18 19:36Z by Steven

Great Character: Sam White (“Dear White People”)

Go Into the Story
2015-03-13

Scott Myer

The Great Character theme for the month: Rebel. Today: Sam White from Dear White People (2014), written and directed by Justin Simien.

As a biracial gentleman, it has been blatantly clear to me my entire movie-going existence that my distinct mixed race experience must be just some fairytale figment of my imagination to those shining the greenlight in Hollywood. Characters of multiple ethnicities typically find their stories swept under the dirty rug to give the red carpet treatment to the “more relatable” struggles of the interracial couples that give birth to us instead.

Enter the bold, brave, brilliant voice of Justin Simian, an auteur screenwriter/director of African-American descent and gay sexual orientation, inspired by his own outsider college occurrences. With Simian’s slick, super smart 2014 debut being the racial satire Dear White People, we receive a nuanced black and white female protagonist played by a charismatic actress that has the added layer of understanding stemming from actually being of mixed heritage herself. Heavily armed with a movie camera, a radio mic and a public speaking voice, Sam White, superbly played by Tessa Thompson (Selma), puts a modern spin on black activist Angela Davis reimagined in a bohemian chic Denise Huxtable Lisa Bonet fashion sensibility.

SAM WHITE: Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man, Tyrone, does not count…

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Katherine Johnson: National Visionary

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-03-09 01:08Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson: National Visionary

National Visionary Leadership Project
2005


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

NASA mathematician and physicist whose work successfully guided astronauts throughout the historic early era of manned space flight including the first mission to the moon

BIOGRAPHY

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is a pioneer of the American space movement. She is a research mathematician and physicist who calculated trajectories and orbits for historic missions including the first flight to put a man on the moon. She also helped develop space navigation systems to guide the astronauts. But her career might never have gotten off the ground if not for perseverance. Both her father’s determined effort to send his children to school and her own resolution to pursue her dreams overcame race and gender discrimination and led to an extraordinary life of personal fulfillment and professional achievements.

Katherine Coleman was born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Her mother, Joylette, was a former teacher and her father, Joshua, a farmer who worked extra jobs as a janitor. At a very young age, Katherine, who was the youngest of four, showed signs of being a math prodigy. She says she counted everything. “I counted the steps. I counted the plates that I washed.” And, “I knew how many steps there were from our house to church.” Katherine believes she inherited her gift for numbers from her father. “He originally worked with lumber. He could look at a tree and tell how many boards he could get out of it.” One of Katherine’s favorite stories explains how her father could figure out arithmetic problems that confounded some of her teachers…

…On the bus ride to this first assignment (in Marion, VA), Katherine says she had her first experience with racism. She says when they crossed from West Virginia into Virginia, the bus stopped and all of the Black people had to move to the back, which Katherine did. Later, they had to change buses. All of the white passengers were allowed on the bus, but the Blacks were put into taxis. Katherine says the driver said “All you colored folk, come over here.” But she would not move until he asked her politely. Katherine also said her mother warned her, “Remember, you’re going to Virginia.” And that she said, “Well, tell them I’m coming.” Katherine says the racism was not as blatant in West Virginia as it was in Virginia.


Katherine Johnson in 1985 at NASA Langley Research Center.

In 1939, Katherine married James Francis Goble and started a family. The Gobles had three daughters, Constance, Joylette and Kathy. Though Katherine had resigned her teaching position, in 1940 she was invited to return to her alma mater for a graduate program in math. She believes that college administrators were quietly trying to avoid a segregation-related lawsuit. As a result, she became one of the first blacks to enroll in the graduate program. But she was unable to earn her advanced degree. Her husband fell ill in what would become a protracted fight with cancer. To help support her family, Katherine quit school and returned to teaching.

During a trip to visit relatives in Newport News, Virginia in 1952, her sister and brother-in-law told Katherine they believed that opportunities were opening up for Black women in mathematics at a nearby aeronautics research facility. The next week, the Gobles relocated so Katherine could pursue her dream.

It took a year of effort, but in June 1953, Katherine was contracted as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA. At first she worked in a pool of women performing math calculations…

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Mary Seacole – International Woman

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-03-08 20:09Z by Steven

Mary Seacole – International Woman

The Huffington Post, United Kingdom
2015-03-04

Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing
University of West London

Later this year a memorial statue to Mary Seacole will be unveiled in the gardens of St Thomas’ hospital, overlooking the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament. Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Mary Seacole was a pathfinder for the generations of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who have served the NHS over the years and she remains a positive role model for the current generation. The Trust is proud to be hosting the statue, not least because it speaks to the diversity of our local population, our patients and the staff who work here.”

It was 160 years ago that Mary first set foot in the Crimea to feed and nurse British soldiers and she stayed there for the remaining 18 months of the conflict. Sir William Howard Russell, The Times newspaper’s Crimean War correspondent praised her efforts. In 1857 he wrote “I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.” He would have been sad to see that Mary was virtually forgotten for a century following her death in London on 14 May 1881. This was despite an obituary appearing in the pages of The Times!…

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Being Mixed Race

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-03-06 01:45Z by Steven

Being Mixed Race

Women of the World Festival 2015
Blue Bar at Royal Festival Hall
Southbank Center
Belvedere Road, London
Saturday, 2015-03-07, 13:30-15:00Z

Building on the findings of the Being Mixed Race panel discussions during WOW 2013 and WOW 2014, this workshop expands on issues identified during the previous conversations and focuses specifically on issues of terminology, colourism, hair and parenting. Led by visual sociologist Emma Dabiri.

Emma Dabiri is researching a PhD in visual sociology at Goldsmiths, and works as a teaching fellow in the Africa Department at SOAS, University of London. As a commentator she is frequently invited to contribute to discussions relating to Africa and the African Diaspora on topics including futures, gender, feminism, identities, literature, film and the politics of beauty. She has published in a number of academic journals, as well as in the national press and is one of the BBC’s Expert Voices.

For more information, click here.

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