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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The Nine Lives Of Dianne White

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-05-09 21:03Z by Steven

The Nine Lives Of Dianne White

St. Louis Magazine
August 2005

Nancy Larson


Photograph by Katherine Bish

“‘Old what’s-her-face–is she still alive?’ About half of you folks thought I was pushing daisies. Well, surprise, surprise–I’m still here.”

That’s the way Dianne White Clatto imagines that fans from her Channel 5 days think about her–if they think about her at all. Still strikingly attractive at 66, the celebrity best known as Dianne White is a living contradiction: accomplished yet self-deprecating, engaging yet shy, religious yet irreverent.

Her career is a study in firsts: White was one of the first African-American students at the University of Missouri. Before the age of 21, she was the first black model for a major St. Louis department store, working for both Stix, Baer & Fuller and Saks Fifth Avenue. Only a few years later, she became the first full-time African-American weathercaster in the nation, at what was then KSD-TV. From the weather map to the anchor desk to live news, reporting from the field, there were few positions she didn’t try during her 26-year television stint.

She’s also enjoyed a semiprofessional singing career with the Russ David Orchestra, helped raise bonds to build the Arch and opened 11 Girls Clubs–all while raising a son, marrying three times and maintaining an enviable social life. Her past also includes a bank scandal that resulted in a federal larceny conviction.

But White never planned to be famous, infamous or even a pioneer. She says every opportunity she had–good or bad–came looking for her. Now a special assistant to Mayor Francis Slay, she begins each morning by telling herself: “This is going to be the most wonderful day!” Laughing, she adds, “which is a bunch of beans and potatoes. But I’m on the right track–I’m trying, right?” Wild optimism, quickly blunted by down-home realism, is an attitude White cultivated growing up as an only child in a poor St. Louis family in the 1940s…

…White was soon ready for her first weathercast, but the question loomed: Was St. Louis in 1962 ready to accept, much less embrace, a black woman on the air?

“How are we going to do this Dianne White thing?” she remembers the station’s decisionmakers wondering. “Were they going to offend the people, or the ones the station was more concerned about than the people–the advertisers?” Even as management debated the impact of her on-air presence, White refused to be stereotyped.

“The application at Channel 5 still had all those boxes about races and what color you are. I checked all the boxes; then, on the back, I wrote ‘G-u-e-s-s!’ I am African American, but I am also Irish and American Indian.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies at 76

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-05-09 18:31Z by Steven

Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies at 76

The New York Times
2015-05-07

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent (@samrob12)


Dianne White Clatto, in 1967, giving the weather report on KSD-TV. Credit St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Twelve years before Al Roker started as a weather anchor for a CBS affiliate in Syracuse, Dianne White Clatto made broadcasting history in St. Louis. In 1962, according to industry colleagues, she became the first full-time black television weathercaster in the country.

Ms. Clatto, who died at 76 on Monday at a retirement center in St. Louis, broke into television by way of radio. She was a manager for Avon, the cosmetics company, and hosted a live radio show when Russ David, a bandleader with whom she sang in an impromptu performance on the air, referred her to an executive of KSD-TV in St. Louis. She was hired as a $75-a-week “weathergirl” in 1962.

“What am I supposed to do?” she recalled asking her new bosses, in an interview with the Weather Channel. “They said to me, ‘This is called television.’ They said to me, ‘When those two red lights come on, start talking.’ And I said, ‘About what?’ And they said, ‘Preferably something about the weather.’ ”

Dianne Elizabeth Johnson was born in St. Louis on Dec. 28, 1938, the daughter of Milton and Nettie Johnson and a descendant of a Civil War general’s slave mistress. She was among the first black students to enroll at the University of Missouri at Columbia…

Read the entire obituary here.

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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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Misty Copeland

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-17 21:06Z by Steven

Misty Copeland

The 100 Most Influential People
Time
2015-04-16

Nadia Comăneci, Five-time Olympic gold medalist

Ballet’s breakout star

Like all gymnasts, I’ve done some ballet—it’s a part of our program. And people don’t realize the tremendous amount of time and work you have to put in to do the maneuvers they do. Ballerinas like Misty Copeland look so beautiful and perfect, but it takes thousands of hours of hard work to make it look that easy.

It was an honor to learn that a movie about me inspired a 7-year-old Misty to see the joy in movement. When I competed in the 1976 Olympics, no one thought that a 14-year-old from a place people couldn’t find on a map could contend. Misty proves that success is not about how you grow up or the color of your skin. Her story—of overcoming personal and physical challenges to become a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre—is the story of someone who followed her dreams and refused to give up. In that way, she is a model for all young girls…

Read the entire article here.

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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.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Michelle Obama: A Life

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, 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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