GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 21:36Z by Steven

GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2014-09-13

Larry Clayton, Professor of History Emeritus
University of Alabama

I had a friend from the Dominican Republic who came to the University of Alabama and Stillman College on a joint Fulbright appointment years ago. He was a well-known and respected poet and writer in his own land and, after a few months, he remarked to me, “Larry, I didn’t realize I was a black until I came to this country!”

The question of race, such a painful and rancorous illness in American society, has not played out the same in other countries with similar historical backgrounds.

A few years ago, Carl Degler wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning study titled “Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States.” His theme was summarized in the phrase the “mulatto escape hatch.” Degler compared the role of race in the histories of Brazil and the U.S.

Degler was curious: Why was Brazil thought to be a “racial democracy” of sorts, while the United States was fighting its way out of segregation? Both countries had had large African slave populations — Brazil’s much larger than America’s — both had emancipated the slaves in the 19th century, both were functioning republics and both were colonized by European settlers. So, why such different racial trajectories?

The difference was the “mulatto escape hatch,” or the ability of people of mixed races in Brazil to rise up and integrate across Brazilian society without their color or background being held against them…

Read the entire article here.

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The Octoroon: A Tragic Mulatto Enslaved by 1 Drop

Posted in Arts, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2014-09-19 21:25Z by Steven

The Octoroon: A Tragic Mulatto Enslaved by 1 Drop

The Root
2014-09-09

Image of the Week: A sculpture addresses the ramifications for those who were mixed-race.


John Bell, The Octoroon, 1868. Marble, 159.6 cm high. Town Hall, Blackburn, U.K.

This image is part of a weekly series that The Root is presenting in conjunction with the Image of the Black Archive & Library at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Though it would hardly seem likely at first glance, this pallid image of slavery directly addresses the condition of black bondage. To all appearances, the young woman seen here represents a white captive. Except for her chains, she could pass for a conventional likeness of Venus, the classical goddess of love. As indicated by the inscription on the base of the statue, she is instead an octoroon—that is, an exceptionally light-skinned person of mixed race, technically defined as one-eighth black and the rest white.

The condition was reached by gradual degrees of miscegenation, or racial mixing, until the complexion of an individual often became indistinguishable from a person of “pure” white ancestry. In race-conscious societies, the prospect of racial mixture could threaten the precarious stability of the dominant order. The position of the octoroon along the edge of this fragile divide afforded some degree of maneuverability, often termed “passing.” Before the abolition of slavery, however, such light-skinned mulattoes faced the even more likely prospect of a life in bondage…

This demure, pensive vision of miscegenation and its dire consequences was made by the popular British sculptor John Bell. Through artfully constructed layers of sentimentality and aesthetic contrivance emerges one of the primary justifications for the enslavement of a whole group of human beings: the notion of one drop of black blood, the “drop sinister,” by which a light-skinned person could be consigned to a life of bondage…

Read the entire article here.

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Monica Pearson Show with Fanshen Cox

Posted in Arts, Audio, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 15:31Z by Steven

Monica Pearson Show with Fanshen Cox

Monica Pearson Show
KISS 104FM, Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
2014-09-14

Monica Pearson, Host

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Award-Winning Actress, Producer and Educator
One Drop of Love

Listen Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni’s radio interview with Emmy Winner Monica Pearson on KISS 104 FM in Atlanta here (00:34:47). Download the interview here.

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One-Woman Multimedia Show ONE DROP OF LOVE Comes to The Fox Theatre, 9/21

Posted in Arts, Census/Demographics, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 14:19Z by Steven

One-Woman Multimedia Show ONE DROP OF LOVE Comes to The Fox Theatre, 9/21

BroadwayWorld.com Atlanta
2014-07-10

The Fox Theatre is presenting One Drop of Love on Sunday, September 21 at 3 PM and 7 PM in the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom. The show is a multimedia solo performance exploring family, race, love, pain and a path towards reconciliation. Monica Pearson, an active community leader and influencer, will moderate the discussion following both shows. Tickets are $25 and are available for purchase now at www.FoxTheatre.org, by calling 855-285-8499 or at The Fox Theatre Ticket Office.

LIMITED OFFER: ½ price tickets available on Goldstar!

One Drop of Love is a multimedia one woman show written and performed by the show’s writer/performer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni and is produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It incorporates film, photographs and animation to examine how “race” has been constructed in the United States and how it can influence our most intimate relationships. The show will take you on a journey from the 1700s to the present spanning locations through the world as 16 characters facilitate reconciliation between a daughter and her father. Immediately following each performance, Fanshen facilitates a Q&A segment.

“Amazing performance, staging, autobiography, artistry and an amazing meditation on race and examination of America,” stated Ben Affleck, show producer and 2013 Academy Award winning actor. “I am in awe.” For more information on One Drop of Love, visit www.onedropoflove.org.

About Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR as a spokesperson on using the arts to explore racial identity. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and has designed curricula for and taught English as a Second Language to students from all over the world. She has been honored with the Peace Corps’ Franklin H. Williams Award, and with Peace Corps Fellows and Hollywood Foreign Press Association scholarships. She holds a BA in Spanish and Education, an MA in TESOL, and an MFA in Acting and Performance in Film, TV and Theater. Fanshen is also a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theater/LA Playwrights Unit, and a co-curator of www.MixedRootsStories.org

For more information, click here. Purchase tickets here ($5.00 discount with promotional access code “LOVE”).

What Audiences Are Saying:

Fanshen Cox’s “One Drop of Love” interweaves the intimacy of personal experience with the larger social and political changes redefining race, gender and the kinship in America. As  important as the performance itself is Fanshen’s sincere interest in, and ability to, connect with her audiences, to link her extremely personal story to other people’s experiences, to be open to their voices even as she is telling her own story. Fanshen offers an insightful, smart, informed, clear-eyed investigation into the complexity of being “mixed” that makes her private journey of keen interest to anyone who crosses cultural or racial boundaries.

- Michele Elam, professor of English, Stanford University

Fanshen’s story is quite incredible, but it is her retelling of it that captures an audience.  I have rarely seen a group of teenagers so rapt with attention to hear the next word.  Her ability to use the personal to build a story about race, family and bridging painful rifts among loved ones and strangers was so potent for these young men and women who grapple with these issues daily.  She is the kind of performer who will inspire people to embrace what makes them different and see it as a strength.

- Randall Arney, Artistic Director, Geffen Playhouse

Wow. “One Drop of Love” is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your story and opening up so much thoughtful reflection and discussion about mixed heritage and race — my mind is still buzzing and the audience was so energized.

- Sady Sullivan, Director of Oral History, Brooklyn Historical Society

“One Drop of Love” is beautiful and brave. Cox DiGiovanni’s honesty, insight, dedication, and love are an inspiration. She takes us into the intimate places where family, race, love, and pain intertwine. In this sometimes searing, sometimes funny, and always smart play she shows us both the terrible things we do to those we love and a way forward to a better future.

- Paul Spickard, professor of history at University of California, Santa Barbara

The performance was hands-down the best Choate performance I have ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of white struggle stories, and a lot of black struggle stories, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mixed struggle story.

- Zemia Edmondson, student at Choate Rosemary Hall

“One Drop of Love” is an hour of pure magic. Cox DiGiovanni is able to shift through time and space and different characters to explain the racial paradigm in America, and the relationship between her and her father in ways that anyone can understand. I highly recommend this show.

- Steven F. Riley, Owner/Curator www.MixedRaceStudies.org

Wow. Hollywood spends millions on movies and they couldn’t bring me from folded over laughter to tears as easily as Fanshen did. She’s engaging with the audience and honest. One Drop conquers racial issues with honesty and an open heart. Anyone who has ever felt out of place…or had a really crazy (but loving) family will really enjoy this.

- Angela Nissel, co-producer Scrubs; author: Broke DiariesMixed; writer on The Boondocks

In “One Drop of Love,” Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni offers a thought-provoking, informative, and moving exploration of race, racism, and what it means to identify as “culturally mixed.”  Her authenticity and humor, as she recounts her complex relationships with her parents and the evolution of her thinking, are deeply engaging. This piece not only educates and prompts discussion about important issues, but also inspires audience members to examine and honor their own struggles with identity.

- Jennifer Zakkai, Education Projects Leader, Geffen Playhouse

One Drop of Love is funny, entertaining and moving.

- Kim Wayans, Actress: PariahIn Living Color; Writer/Performer: A Handsome Woman Retreats

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Join the Greatest Minds Society of GSU for a Discussion on Racial Identity with Playwright Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-18 01:21Z by Steven

Join the Greatest Minds Society of Georgia State University for a Discussion on Racial Identity with Playwright Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni of “One Drop of Love

Georgia State University Speaker’s Auditorium
44 Courtland Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Thursday, 2014-09-18, 13:30-15:30 EDT (Local Time)

Who are you? What’s your identity? Where do you come from? What’s your story? What’s your history?

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Award-Winning Actress, Producer and Educator
“One Drop of Love”

Ashley Uzamere, Undergraduate Student, EVP
Student Goverment Association

George R. Greenidge, Jr., Ph.D. Student
Department of Sociology
President, Greatest Minds Society

Lauren Sudeall Lucas, J.D., Assistant Professor of Law
Georgia State University College of Law

Kyael Moss, Undergraduate Student, Student Senator
Student Goverment Association

Laschonda Pituk, Undergraduate Student
Member, Greatest Minds Society

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From Harlem to Shenzhen: One Jamaican-Chinese Woman’s Quest to Find Her Family

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-16 21:29Z by Steven

From Harlem to Shenzhen: One Jamaican-Chinese Woman’s Quest to Find Her Family

The Wall Street Journal
2014-09-02

Debra Bruno

Growing up in New York’s Harlem, Paula Williams Madison knew she had a Chinese grandfather, even though she had never met him.

When people found out, she says, most of them would make comments such as “Really? You don’t look Chinese.” Others would laugh. Even so, she always intended to track down her mother’s father and learn the full story of her multi-ethnic Jamaican-Chinese family.

By the time she found them, her tiny American family had expanded to about 400 living members and a family tree that goes back 3,000 years. A new documentary tells the story of that journey and the discovery of a family that today extends from Shenzhen, China, to Kingston, Jamaica, and Los Angeles, California.

Ms. Madison, 62, spent much of her career at NBC, and retired a few years ago as an executive at NBC Universal, one of the first black women to achieve that rank. She says she waited until retiring to pursue her dream of reconnecting with her Chinese family.

Before, “I did know a handful of my cousins,” she says. “Now there are about 40.”

Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China,” directed by Jeanette Kong of Toronto, a fellow Chinese-Jamaican, tells the story of Ms. Madison’s quest. After slavery ended in Jamaica in 1838, the country sought immigrants to do the work slaves had performed on sugar plantations. By 1920, 4,000 of those immigrants were Chinese. Ms. Madison’s grandfather—a Hakka Chinese man from Guangdong province originally named Lowe Ding Chiu—was one of them, moving there in 1905 at age 15…

Read the entire article here.

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A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life – Allyson Hobbs

Posted in Audio, Forthcoming Media, History, Interviews, Live Events, Passing, United States on 2014-09-16 01:17Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life – Allyson Hobbs

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
BlogTalk Radio
Thursday, 2014-11-06, 21:00 EST (Friday, 2014-11-07, 02:00Z)

Bernice Bennett, Host

Allyson Hobbs is an assistant professor in the history department at Stanford. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and she received a Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford. Allyson teaches courses on American identity, African American history, African American women’s history, and twentieth century American history. She has won numerous teaching awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize. She has appeared on C-SPAN and National Public Radio and her work has been featured on CNN.com and Slate.com. Allyson’s first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, published by Harvard University Press, examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present.

For more information, click here.

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The Morristown Festival of Books is Proud to Announce the Authors for September 26 and 27, 2014

Posted in Articles, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Passing, United States on 2014-09-16 01:01Z by Steven

The Morristown Festival of Books is Proud to Announce the Authors for September 26 and 27, 2014

Morristown Festival of Books: Where Readers & Authors Meet
Morristown, New Jersey
2014-06-24

We are pleased to present our Friday night Keynote speaker and 21 authors appearing at the all-day Saturday Festival!

They will be sharing their perspectives on writing, on their book topics, answering audience questions, and signing copies of their recent releases. Choose some great summer reading and have fun trying to decide which authors you want to meet in the fall. The schedule and venues will be published early in September. Continue to check the website for updates and news throughout the summer…

…Coming in September, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life is the intriguing topic examined by Morristown High School graduate Allyson Hobbs, an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Stanford University. In the margins of historical accounts and the dusty corners of family archives, she uncovers stories long hidden.  A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, and awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Hobbs has appeared on C-Span and National Public Radio

Read the entire announcement here.

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A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2014-09-16 01:00Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Harvard University Press
October 2014
350 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
26 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674368101

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.

As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.

Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

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Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2014-09-15 01:47Z by Steven

Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

The New York Times
2014-09-12

Michael T. Luongo

The chapel in the small lakeside resort community of Chascomús is at best underwhelming. Its whitewashed brick exterior is partly obstructed by a tangle of vines and bushes, and its dim, one-room interior is no more majestic than its facade. Wooden pews and an uneven dirt floor are scarcely illuminated by sunlight from a single window. The gray, cracked, dusty walls are adorned with crosses, photos, icons — things people leave to mark their pilgrimage. A low front altar is layered with thick candle wax, flowers and a pantheon of black saints, Madonnas and African deities like the sea goddess Yemanja of the Yoruba religion.

Despite its unkempt state, this chapel, the Capilla de los Negros, attracts a little over 11,000 tourists each year who come to see a church named for the freed slaves who built it in 1861.

The chapel is “where we can locate ourselves and point out the truth that we are here,” said Soledad Luis, an Afro-Argentine from the tourism office who led me through the space. She knows it well. It sits on a plot her great-grandfather helped secure, and her family still gathers there weekly for a meal.

Capilla de los Negros feels off the beaten path, but it is part of a list of slave sites in Argentina created in 2009 by Unesco. Its inclusion signals the growing consciousness of African heritage in Argentina, seemingly the most Europeanized country in South America.

Argentina at one time had a robust African presence because of the slaves who were brought there, but its black population was decimated by myriad factors including heavy casualties on the front lines in the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay in the 1860s; a yellow fever epidemic that rich, white Argentines largely escaped; and interracial offspring who, after successive generations, shed their African culture along with their features. And European immigration swelled the white population — 2.27 million Italians came between 1861 and 1914.

The demographic shift has been sharp. In 1800, on the eve of revolution with Spain, blacks made up more than a third of the country, 69,000 of a total population of 187,000, according to George Reid Andrews’s 2004 book “Afro-Latin America.” In 2010, 150,000 identified themselves as Afro-Argentine, or a mere 0.365 percent of a population of 41 million people, according to the census, the first in the country’s history that counted race.

But the culture the slaves brought with them remained. And in recent years, Argentina has gone from underselling its African roots to rediscovering them, as academics, archaeologists, immigrants and a nascent civil rights movement have challenged the idea that African and Argentine are mutually exclusive terms…

Read the entire article here.

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