National Women’s History Museum presents Chinese American Women: A History of Resilience and Resistance

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-06-10 15:14Z by Steven

National Women’s History Museum presents Chinese American Women: A History of Resilience and Resistance

National Women’s History Museum

Joseph, Emily, Mamie, Frank, and Mary Tape.

Tape v. Hurley

Mary Tape was a biracial Chinese American woman who believed that her daughter, Mamie, should have the same access to education as white children in San Francisco. In particular, Mary Tape wanted her daughter to be able to attend public school. When the local school principal, Jennie Hurley, stood in the schoolhouse door to bar Mamie’s entrance on the sole grounds that she was Chinese, Mary Tape took Jennie Hurley to court.

In 1885, almost seventy years before the famous Supreme Court Decision Brown v. Board of Education desegregated American public schools, Mary Tape sued the San Francisco School District to offer public education to all Chinese children. Tape v. Hurley was one of the most important civil rights decisions in American history. In this ground breaking case, Superior Court Judge James Maguire ruled that Chinese children must have access to public education: “To deny a child, born of Chinese parents in this state, entrance to the public schools would be a violation of the law of the state and the Constitution of the United States.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Great Lakes Creoles A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860 by Lucy Eldersveld Murphy (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2016-06-08 22:55Z by Steven

Great Lakes Creoles A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860 by Lucy Eldersveld Murphy (review)

Ohio Valley History
Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 2016
pages 81-83

Margo Lambert, Assistant Professor of History
Blue Ash College, University of Cinicinnati

Lucy Eldersveld Murphy. Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 326 pp. 25 b/w illus. 6 maps. 7 tables. ISBN: 9781107052864 (cloth), $94.99; 9781107674745 (paper), $34.99

Lucy Murphy adroitly focuses her lens on the complex tale of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, a community peopled by Native Americans, French-Canadian fur traders, British soldiers, and eventually Americans (and even a few African Americans) after the American Revolution. Europeans first entered the native world slowly, inter-marrying and establishing a multi-ethnic Creole community only to face further change when Anglo-Americans took control and eventually became the community’s majority. For Native American historians (and others) looking for a deeper glimpse into this world, Murphy’s probing analysis of the mixed multitudes of one small fur-trading community delivers. And, if that were not enough, Murphy adds another layer to her study: she compares this borderland to that of the American Southwest after the Mexican-American War—where the community’s pioneers became the political minority—and to that of the Métis culture that developed on the western Canadian border in the late nineteenth-century—there probing why that culture developed a clear indigenous ancestry, whereas south of the border in the Great Lakes area a similar culture never arose.

Murphy begins in the 1750s, tracing the community’s transition from Native American Meskwaki village to fur-trade enclave. By the early nineteenth-century the Meskwakis had relocated, although some remained behind, having intertwined their lives with European-descended fur traders and borne them children. With the establishment of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the final showdown of the War of 1812, the United States government began to assert its control of the town. Government officials courted the Creole community they found there, recognizing Creole support would only aid United States’ control, legitimizing America’s domination and opening of the West to Anglo-American settlers. The most vital point, Murphy argues here, was that this courtship prompted the United States government to identify the Creole community as white.

Next, Murphy assesses the shifting political structure as Prairie du Chien came under United States’ control. Because of the region’s multi-ethnicity, U.S. officials—as a minority—had to tread carefully, identifying Creoles as white, evidenced by their voting and serving on juries. Native Americans were deliberately left out of this process, but even Creoles with Metis status and Metis wives still fell into the white political categorization. Murphy shows that Creoles exerted much agency politically in the early days, defending themselves against what they deemed inappropriate newcomer behaviors that did not mesh with their established ways. As American control solidified and relegated Creoles to minority status, the town’s Creoles managed to hold some strength within the new legal system, despite their mixed-race realities. However, the rising Anglo tide reduced Creole influence considerably by the 1830s. But Creoles’ “white status” labelled them to identify culturally rather than racially: as French, rather than Métis. Here was why most mixed Native American groups south of the border diverged from their northwestern neighbors in Canada.

Perhaps one of Murphy’s most striking contributions to Native American studies is her work on gender. The chapter “Public Mothers” describes a different gender world denied to Anglo women but open to the town’s Creoles. Many of the town’s Creole women managed to position themselves as cultural mediators, explaining Creole and Native ways to incoming Euro-Americans, especially via marriage, adoption, and traditional gender roles in areas of charity, hospitality, midwifery, and the like. Whereas Creole men were increasingly denied a political voice as American numbers rose, Creole women managed to meet on a middle ground with American women. They served as public mothers, Murphy asserts, mediating between the various ethnic groups and succeeding in connecting Creoles, Native Americans, African Americans, and Euro-Americans by shared women’s activities that aided both private and public spheres, the latter sought by traditional “female” activities noted above. Their mediation, Murphy argues, further solidified Creoles as “whites” in the…

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Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750–1860

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2016-06-08 15:17Z by Steven

Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750–1860

Cambridge University Press
September 2014
326 pages
25 b/w illus. 6 maps 7 tables
236 x 157 x 22 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781107052864
Paperback ISBN: 9781107674745
eBook ISBN: 9781139990660

Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Professor of History
Ohio State University, Newark

A case study of one of America’s many multi-ethnic border communities, Great Lakes Creoles builds upon recent research on gender, race, ethnicity, and politics as it examines the ways that the old fur trade families experienced and responded to the colonialism of United States expansion. Lucy Murphy examines Indian history with attention to the pluralistic nature of American communities and the ways that power, gender, race, and ethnicity were contested and negotiated in them. She explores the role of women as mediators shaping key social, economic, and political systems, as well as the creation of civil political institutions and the ways that men of many backgrounds participated in and influenced them. Ultimately, The Great Lakes Creoles takes a careful look at Native people and their complex families as active members of an American community in the Great Lakes region.

  • Builds upon recent research in gender, race, ethnicity, and politics
  • Connects American Indian history with major historical themes
  • Examines Native people and their complex families as active members of an American community in the Great Lakes region

Table of Contents

  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. ‘The rightful owners of the soil’: colonization and land
  • 2. ‘To intermeddle in political affairs’: new institutions, elections, and lawmaking
  • 3. ‘Damned yankee court and jury’: more new institutions, keeping order and peace
  • 4. Public mothers: women, networks, and changing gender roles
  • 5. ‘A humble type of people’: economic adaptations
  • 6. Blanket claims and family clusters: autonomy, land, migration, and persistence
  • Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • Index
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The Gilded Years, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Women on 2016-06-07 14:42Z by Steven

The Gilded Years, A Novel

Washington Square Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
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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A Strange Emblem for a (Not So) White Nation: La Morocha Argentina in the Latin American Racial Context, c. 1900–2015

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Women on 2016-06-07 01:00Z by Steven

A Strange Emblem for a (Not So) White Nation: La Morocha Argentina in the Latin American Racial Context, c. 1900–2015

Journal of Social History
DOI: 10.1093/jsh/shw018
First published online: 2016-06-01

Ezequiel Adamovsky

This article explores the origins of La morocha argentina as an unofficial national emblem, the personification of the quintessential Argentinean woman, from its emergence in the early twentieth century to the present. A typical character of vernacular popular culture, the Argentinean “morocha” is compared to the “morenas” featured in other Latin American countries, to find similarities and differences. The racial uncertainty of the “morochas”—who, unlike the “morenas,” were not always marked as being of dark complexion—helped undermine the official discourses of the Argentinean nation, which described it as racially white and ethnically European. The ambivalence of the “morocha argentina” was crucial in contexts in which open challenges of that myth were still unfeasible. Thus, despite claims of racial exceptionalism, the making and trajectory of this emblem proves that Argentina’s racial regime is a variant of the Latin American “color-continuum” racial formations. By analyzing the Argentinean case in comparative perspective, this article also seeks to contribute to a better understanding of nonbinary racial models and, more generally, of ethnicity “beyond groupism”—to put it in Roger Brubaker’s terms. In other words, it aims to reconsider ethnicity as a process, the outcome of group-making projects, rather than (only) as the expression of preexisting ethnic entities.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Interview with 39.4 Editor, Chelene Knight

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Women on 2016-06-06 01:06Z by Steven

Interview with 39.4 Editor, Chelene Knight

Room: Literature, Art, and Feminism Since 1975
May 2016

Interview by Rebecca Russell

Chelene Knight

The Room Collective is very excited to have you on board as the new Managing Editor. How are you adjusting to the new role?

I was super excited when I was asked to step up as Managing Editor at Room. The mentoring I received from the previous Managing Editor, Rachel Thompson, has been the most amazing experience. She is one talented woman, and has done a lot to make Room such a great place for women to raise their voices. The entire Room Collective has been super supportive and I can honestly finally say I am doing what I love. This transition isn’t easy, that’s for sure! It’s been a big learning curve for me but there are also certain aspects of the job that are pretty darn rewarding, like working with such a talented group of women who all share a passion for the literary arts. The role itself is all encompassing and I feel like a huge tree with a million branches shooting out in multiple directions, and I am finally being challenged—this is a good thing…

What can you tell us about the collection you’re currently working on, Dear Current Occupant?

It seems as though Dear Current Occupant has been in the works all my life. I had what you could call a “tough childhood,” and I wanted to write about it as a way of healing and as a way of setting things free into the world. It turned out to be a mixed-genre compilation of sonnets, prose, short story, erasure, and more. My first book, Braided Skin (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2015), told a story of race and the struggles of being of mixed-ethnicity, and focused on belonging and place in the racial/family sense, whereas Dear Current Occupant tackles the need for “home” and “place” in terms of the physical house. In the book, the narrator is a young adult looking back on the thirty homes she’s lived in as a child. She writes to the “current occupants” of these places to reflect on her own experiences when she was living there. She learns a lot about her “self” through this process. She opens doors, she unlocks and digs up things that were buried. The book also includes photos of the actual houses in various perspectives. The photography was done by Jade Melnychuk, and Rich Riordan. I am happy to say the manuscript is in my publishers’ hands as we speak…

Read the entire interview here.

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This web series asks black women around the world to explain what beauty means to them

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2016-06-04 23:46Z by Steven

This web series asks black women around the world to explain what beauty means to them


Tahirah Hairston

Courtesy of Un-Ruly

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s not the impression you’d get from flipping through a fashion magazine. The images we see in mainstream media every day suggest that there’s only one way to be beautiful: white skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, thin body. Not only do these ideals exclude women of color altogether, but they also reinforce the troubling idea that you should change your hair, skin color, or body to be a part of the club.

But thanks to social media and the internet, there are new gatekeepers changing the conversation about what it means to be beautiful, practicing inclusive representation, and creating places to explore, talk, and educate. Antonia Opiah is one of them. In 2013, she started launched her hair blog and e-commerce site Un-ruly, which has everything from hair commentary, styling tips and recommendations for products to buy. It was in creating this website that Opiah became comfortable in her own skin and hair…

Read the entire interview here.

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Negras in Brazil: Re-envisioning Black Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Identity

Posted in Anthropology, Book/Video Reviews, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, Women on 2016-06-03 18:38Z by Steven

Negras in Brazil: Re-envisioning Black Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Identity

Rutgers University Press
December 2006
252 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-3957-7
Web PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-4132-7

Kia Lilly Caldwell, Associate Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

For most of the twentieth century, Brazil was widely regarded as a “racial democracy“—a country untainted by the scourge of racism and prejudice. In recent decades, however, this image has been severely critiqued, with a growing number of studies highlighting persistent and deep-seated patterns of racial discrimination and inequality. Yet, recent work on race and racism has rarely considered gender as part of its analysis.

In Negras in Brazil, Kia Lilly Caldwell examines the life experiences of Afro-Brazilian women whose stories have until now been largely untold. This pathbreaking study analyzes the links between race and gender and broader processes of social, economic, and political exclusion. Drawing on ethnographic research with social movement organizations and thirty-five life history interviews, Caldwell explores the everyday struggles Afro-Brazilian women face in their efforts to achieve equal rights and full citizenship. She also shows how the black women’s movement, which has emerged in recent decades, has sought to challenge racial and gender discrimination in Brazil. While proposing a broader view of citizenship that includes domains such as popular culture and the body, Negras in Brazil highlights the continuing relevance of identity politics for members of racially marginalized communities. Providing new insights into black women’s social activism and a gendered perspective on Brazilian racial dynamics, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Latin American Studies, African diaspora studies, women’s studies, politics, and cultural anthropology.


  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • Introduction
  • PART ONE: Re-envisioning the Brazilian Nation
    • 1. “A Foot in the Kitchen”: Brazilian Discourses on Race, Hybridity, and National identity
    • 2. Women in and out of Place: Engendering Brazil’s Racial Democracy
  • PART TWO: The Body and Subjectivity
    • 3. “Look at Her Hair”: The Body Politics of Black Womanhood
    • 4. Becoming a Mulher Negra
  • PART THREE: Activism and Resistance
    • 5. “What Citizenship is This?”: Narratives of Marginality and Struggle
    • 6. The Black Women’s Movement: Politicizing and Reconstructing Collective Identities
  • Epilogue: Resenvisioning Racial Essentialism and Identity Politics
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
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Amrita Hepi’s New Dance Collab Explores Authenticity, Race & The Politics Of Passing

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing, Women on 2016-06-01 18:06Z by Steven

Amrita Hepi’s New Dance Collab Explores Authenticity, Race & The Politics Of Passing

Paddington, New South Wales, Australia

Jerico Mandybur

Local hero Amrita Hepi is showcasing her new dance piece ‘Passing’ — with costumes by Honey Long and sound by Laverne of Black Vanilla — alongside Jahra Rager at Next Wave Festival this week. To celebrate, we linked her up with another one of our fave woke ladies, Jerico Mandybur, and they chatted through identity, the WOC diaspora and the politics of passing.

Get to know the story behind the stellar performance piece below (before you make the good life choice to head along to Next Wave and see it IRL).

Jerico Mandybur: Hey! So it’s called ‘Passing’, can you talk to me about what naming it that means, and basically what the concept of “passing” means in relation to the work?

Amrita Hepi: Well, we came up with the idea of naming it ‘Passing’, because the work itself kind of matched bodies under pressure. So the idea of women of colour and their intersections, and what it means to be of many world races and titles, and I guess when you’re “passing” there’s always this kind of fear of inauthenticity, which is something that’s very human that we all feel. But in relation to the work, it was just feeling like we were constantly only just passing, and there was this fear of almost like being discovered as something other than what we were. Does that make sense? [Laughs]…

Read the entire interview here.

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New Orleans II: the Halloween Ghost Post

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-05-29 21:53Z by Steven

New Orleans II: the Halloween Ghost Post

The History Tourist

Susan Kalasunas

My first chance to encounter a ghost at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans came not long after check-in.

“Can we see the ballroom?” I asked the receptionist.

“Yes. We don’t have an event tonight, but the doors should be open. It’s right up those stairs.” That would be the grand one with the double staircase that swept up to the second floor.

The doors were unlocked but the only light in the room was from street lights peeking through large, heavily draped windows. We wandered in the dark. There’s a ghost associated with the ballroom: a woman who dances, alone, or who hides behind the curtains. I searched for the woman while Mr. History Tourist searched for the light switches. Mr. HT found the switches first and set the chandeliers alight.

This was once the Orleans Ballroom. Says the Bourbon Orleans website: “In 1817, entrepreneur John David…built the Orleans Ballroom: the oldest, most historic ballroom in New Orleans. When it opened, the ballroom became the setting for…the forever famous Quadroon Balls.”…

Read the entire article here.

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