The Story in My DNA

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-05-29 17:32Z by Steven

The Story in My DNA

The Huffington Post
2016-05-24

Hope Ferguson

Like many African Americans, I grew up not knowing where I came from. There was no “old country” for us. Obviously, I knew that most slaves were brought from Central and West Africa. I heard family stories about being part Native American – that the Seminole Indians had helped slaves escape from their masters by sheltering them within their tribe. That my grandfather’s mother was half Cherokee, part Scotch-Irish, as well as African. Her long black hair and high cheekbones in the one photo I saw of her bore this out.

For a while, these stories were enough. I believed that I would only really find out, if ever, in the afterlife.

When I was 29, I moved from New York City to Argyle, N.Y., a small upstate farming town that had been settled by Scots. Since Fergusons were on the original patent, I was often asked, while interviewing people by phone as a local reporter, if I was one of the Argyle Fergusons, and I would laugh, and say no, and explain that I was African American, not Scottish.

A few years ago, at a National Association for Black Journalists conference, the company African Ancestry was doing free DNA analyses for some of the attendees as a promotion. I sat transfixed as the African ancestry of various people was teased out; and listened with amazement at how the person displayed some similar traits as their ancestral land … for example, a gift with textiles.

After that, I became more curious about my ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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Mestizaje in the Age of Fascism: German and Q’eqchi’ Maya Interracial Unions in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-05-20 21:30Z by Steven

Mestizaje in the Age of Fascism: German and Q’eqchi’ Maya Interracial Unions in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

German History
Volume 34, Issue 2 (June 2016)
pages 214-236
DOI: 10.1093/gerhis/ghw017

Julie Gibbings, Assistant Professor of History
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

In contemporary Guatemala, Q’eqchi’ Mayas of German descent are reclaiming identities as ‘the improved race’ (la raza mejorada), which allows them claim both tradition and authenticity as well as racial whiteness and modernity. While surprising to contemporary observers, these identities have longer histories, rooted in the interwar period, when Guatemalan urban intellectuals and statesmen looked to German-Maya sexual unions as the racial solution to Guatemala’s failure to forge a modern and homogenous nation. Like national racial mixing (mestizaje) projects found in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, Guatemalan intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s argued that racial mixing with Anglo-Saxons led not to racial degeneration, but—potentially—to new and more vital races. While long ignored by historical scholarship, hybrid Q’eqchi’-Germans, however, unravel a priori assumptions of German diasporic political and social insularity. By examining the potent symbolic and cultural dimensions Guatemala’s unique mestizaje project had for the formation of both German and Guatemalan nationalist projects during the rise of German National Socialism and Guatemala’s own populist dictatorship under President Jorge Ubico (1931–1944), this article argues for an understanding of German diasporas in Latin America that places them squarely in the transnational space between competing nationalisms and political agendas. By further examining the important material and social dimensions of mixed-race families, this article reveals the crucial ties Germans forged in Latin America and how who counted as German and by what measure was a subject of considerable debate with important political consequences.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Sweden: People didn’t turn on refugees; system maxed out

Posted in Europe, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2016-05-19 01:16Z by Steven

Sweden: People didn’t turn on refugees; system maxed out

Cable News Network (CNN)
Amanpour
2016-05-08

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Alice Bah Kuhnke, Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, about the crushing refugee crisis in Europe.

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Zwarte Piet is a product of the Netherlands’ long involvement in the slave trade

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2016-05-16 01:29Z by Steven

Zwarte Piet is a product of the Netherlands’ long involvement in the slave trade

Media Diversified
2016-05-05

Karen Williams

The first time that I saw a photograph of the Zwarte Piet celebrations in the Netherlands, the door to questions of slavery in my own life swung wide open. There – right there – looking back at me was the representation of my personal history, and the long history of Dutch slavery that incorporates South Africa and the rest of the world.

Yes, there was the sambo figure in blackface with the signature gold hoop earrings signifying an enslaved African person, but Zwarte Piet was more: an invisible thread to my own history given human form and also contradicting the myth that I have descended from people who were born from benign white and black sexual relationships. Picking up the thread has led me here, astonished at the long silenced history of slavery not only in South Africa, but also across Asia.

Zwarte Piet is not a metaphor combining Dutch Christmas myth with American racial idiomatic expression: the figure comes out of a very real, documented history of slavery perpetrated by the Netherlands. At the same time, focusing on Zwarte Piet solely as a troubling racist figure will ultimately erase and silence discussions on the history that birthed him and maintained his place as a cultural necessity in the Netherlands…

Read the entire article here.

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Stranger In The Village – A Visual Essay

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-05-15 22:31Z by Steven

Stranger In The Village – A Visual Essay

Phoebe Boswell, Visual Artist
2015-12-15

Artist’s Talk at Bla Stallet Konsthallen,
Angered, Gothenburg, Sweden

September 2015

The term ‘residency’ is an interesting one to me – it offers a sense of belonging, of being present, resident, which is artificial of course since you are more often than not placed somewhere you have no connection with, no ties to, no friends in, and no reason for being there, except of course to make work. Belonging is something I think a lot about in my work. A tutor at the Slade once said to me that you make work to ‘fill a hole’, and the difficulty lies in determining within us what that hole is. Mine, I realise, is ‘home’, or a lack of it, and I’m fascinated by how, as human beings, we each individually negotiate our personal sense of belonging.

To give a little history, I’m from Kenya. My father’s family settled there from Britain three generations before him, bought land and farmed it, and he grew up bearing the guilt of a colonial system within his home, much to his dismay.

My mother’s family are Kikuyu, and of course it was the Kikuyu who set up the Mau Mau who fought for Kenya’s independence from the British, and won it in 1963…

Read the entire article here.

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Artist Turns Racist Flirtations on Tinder Into Compelling Look at Race and Sex

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-05-15 16:30Z by Steven

Artist Turns Racist Flirtations on Tinder Into Compelling Look at Race and Sex

The Root
2016-05-13

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley


Phoebe Boswell Source: phoebeboswell.com

She Matters: Inspired by James Baldwin’sStranger in a Village,” Phoebe Boswell was interested in exploring the perceptions of black women in predominantly white spaces.

Over the weekend I swung by the 156 Art Fair, an annual exhibition of African art at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, N.Y. Among the many strong presentations on display, Phoebe Boswell’s Stranger in the Village stood out.

In April 2015 Boswell, a biracial Kenyan woman currently living in London, was temporarily situated in Gothenburg, Sweden, in a predominantly white area. Boswell set out to explore perceptions of race and sex during her stay by turning to dating app Tinder.

“I thought I might want to explore what my body might feel like living in a space that might not be very welcoming,” Boswell says.

Any black woman who has ever ventured online to look for love—a particularly painful place for black women—should be able to predict the worst of what happened to Boswell next. Reactions to Boswell ranged from microaggressions to flat-out racism. But Boswell turned her lemons into artistic lemonade. For her installation, she sketched portraits of her online suitors with a mechanical pencil and included quotes from her exchanges.

“In the space of day, I go back through microaggressions for a month,” Boswell explained. “It’s like, ‘Oh, my God!’ I’m frightened from the things that I see.” Here, she talks about the experiences on Tinder that inspired the project…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Monographs on 2016-05-14 22:26Z by Steven

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Oxford University Press
2016-09-01
336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780190612726

Catherine Fletcher, Historian, Author, AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2015

  • The first-ever biography of Alessandro de’ Medici, arguably the first black head of state
  • Draws on extensive archival research of first-hand sources
  • An accessible and dramatic retelling of Renaissance politics and rivalry

Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de’ Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world. Born out of wedlock to a dark-skinned maid and Lorenzo de’ Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Alessandro’s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him. Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage. By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.

Alessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence’s oligarchs, who called him a womanizer-which he undoubtedly was—and a tyrant. Yet this real-life counterpart to Machiavelli’s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age of 26 during a late-night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins. After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic. For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of Florence.

Catherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro’s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries-old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top. Drawing on new research and first-hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.

Table of Contents

  • Family tree
  • Glossary of names
  • Timeline
  • Maps
  • A note on money
  • Prologue
  • Book One: The Bastard Son
  • Book Two: The Obedient Nephew
  • Book Three: The Prince Alone
  • Afterword: Alessandro’s Ethnicity
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index
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Italy Must Confront Its Past to Stave Off the Far-Right

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-05-13 01:47Z by Steven

Italy Must Confront Its Past to Stave Off the Far-Right

Diplomatic Courier: A Global Affairs Media Network
2016-04-13

Fasil Amdetsion, Senior Policy and International Legal Adviser
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia

This year’s seasonal springtime rise in temperatures is expected to deepen Europe’s refugee crisis by bringing about a significant rise in the number of harried migrants approaching its shores. Italy, with its long and porous coastline, remains among the most severely affected countries; 15,000 people have sought refuge in the country in the past three months— a year-upon-year increase of 43%.

As is the case throughout Europe, increased migration has spurred a resurgence of anti-migrant and racist sentiment. In northern Italy, militant right-wingers have torched Muslim prayer rooms in refugee camps and frequently agitate against foreigners…

…Despite their best efforts, amorous liaisons between Ethiopians and Italians did not cease. By some estimates, between 1936 and 1940, 10,000 mixed children were born in Italian East Africa. This befuddled Fascist lawmakers who were unclear about how to treat such “illegitimate” offspring— were they to be considered locals or Italians? The solution to the legal limbo in which mixed race children found themselves was found towards the end of the Italian occupation. A law passed in 1940 definitively categorized mixed race children as “black.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Ladivine,’ by Marie NDiaye

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-05-09 13:34Z by Steven

‘Ladivine,’ by Marie NDiaye

Book Review
The New York Times
2016-05-05

Patrick McGrath

LADIVINE
By Marie NDiaye
Translated by Jordan Stump
276 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.

Marie NDiaye is the author of more than a dozen plays and works of fiction. Currently living in Berlin, having left France in 2009, by her own account in disgust at Nicolas Sarkozy’s election to the presidency, she is the daughter of a French mother and a Senegalese father. As yet, she is little known in this country, although at least four of her previous books — including “Three Strong Women,” which won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt, and “Rosie Carpe,” winner of the Prix Femina — have been translated into English.

NDiaye’s new novel, “Ladivine,” has been elegantly translated by Jordan Stump. It is a work of immense power and mystery, an account of four generations of women, the first of whom, Ladivine Sylla, immigrates from a tropical third-world country to France, where she works as a house cleaner. Her daughter, Malinka, is ashamed of her. As a teenager, Malinka heightens the natural pallor of her face with makeup in order to pass for white, and later she reinvents herself as Clarisse, finding a French husband and taking his name, becoming Clarisse Rivière. She visits her mother in secret, allowing no contact with either her husband or her daughter. This ambivalent relationship is one she both sustains and repudiates…

Read the entire review here.

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The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2016-04-30 20:50Z by Steven

The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan

University of Chicago Press
2016
264 pages
8 color plates, 49 halftones
6 x 9

Gísli Pálsson, Professor of Anthropology
University of Iceland

The island nation of Iceland is known for many things—majestic landscapes, volcanic eruptions, distinctive seafood—but racial diversity is not one of them. So the little-known story of Hans Jonathan, a free black man who lived and raised a family in early nineteenth-century Iceland, is improbable and compelling, the stuff of novels.

In The Man Who Stole Himself, Gisli Palsson lays out Jonathan’s story in stunning detail. Born into slavery in St. Croix in 1784, Jonathan was brought as a slave to Denmark, where he eventually enlisted in the navy and fought on behalf of the country in the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen. After the war, he declared himself a free man, believing that not only was he due freedom because of his patriotic service, but because while slavery remained legal in the colonies, it was outlawed in Denmark itself. Jonathan was the subject of one of the most notorious slavery cases in European history, which he lost. Then, he ran away—never to be heard from in Denmark again, his fate unknown for more than two hundred years. It’s now known that Jonathan fled to Iceland, where he became a merchant and peasant farmer, married, and raised two children. Today, he has become something of an Icelandic icon, claimed as a proud and daring ancestor both there and among his descendants in America.

The Man Who Stole Himself brilliantly intertwines Jonathan’s adventurous travels with a portrait of the Danish slave trade, legal arguments over slavery, and the state of nineteenth-century race relations in the Northern Atlantic world. Throughout the book, Palsson traces themes of imperial dreams, colonialism, human rights, and globalization, which all come together in the life of a single, remarkable man. Jonathan literally led a life like no other. His is the story of a man who had the temerity—the courage—to steal himself.

Contents

  • Prologue: A Man of Many Worlds
  • I. The Island of St. Croix
    • “A House Negro”
    • “The Mulatto Hans Jonathan”
    • “Said to Be the Secretary”
    • Among the Sugar Barons
  • II. Copenhagen
    • A Child near the Royal Palace
    • “He Wanted to Go to War”
    • The General’s Widow v. the Mulatto
    • The Verdict
  • III. Iceland
    • A Free Man
    • Mountain Guide
    • Factor, Farmer, Father
    • Farewell
  • IV. Descendants
    • The Jonathan Family
    • The Eirikssons of New England
    • Who Stole Whom?
    • The Lessons of History
  • Epilogue: Biographies
  • Timeline
  • Acknowledgments
  • Photo Catalog
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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