About Hatsumi… with Toronto Director Chris Hope: Part 1 of 3

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Canada, History, Media Archive on 2015-01-26 02:43Z by Steven

About Hatsumi… with Toronto Director Chris Hope: Part 1 of 3

Discover Nikkei

Norm Masaji Ibuki

An extraordinary and beautiful film…exhaustively and passionately researched, both at the level of the filmmaker’s personal history and as an investigation into our national consciousness”

—Academy Award® Nominated Director, Atom Egoyan

Thus far in 2012, the 70th anniversary of internment, there has been no greater artistic tribute to the generation of Nikkei that survived Canadian internment than Chris Hope’s moving tribute to his grandmother, Nancy Hatsumi Okura.

It has been a very long time since we’ve had the occasion to celebrate a new feature-length film that addresses the issue of how internment continues to affect our community. The Toronto-based filmmaker’s new film, Hatsumi, is a moving testament to how his grandmother as a girl survived and triumphed over the systemic racism and discrimination that was aimed at destroying British Columbia’s Japanese Canadian community.

As such, this film is as much for the generations born after internment as it is a tribute to those who survived it. It is also a timely reminder for younger generations of all ethnic backgrounds that the fight to be recognized as “Canadian” has been and continues to be an ongoing one for many immigrant groups.

For those of Japanese descent in particular, there is something deeply personal about this film as there has been at least one “Hatsumi” in every one of our families be that a sister, mother, grandmother, or great grandmother. By telling her story, Chris helps to give voice to all of the Nikkei women who endured the betrayal of their country, rising above it all with a grace and, above all, a sense of forgiveness that this yonsei’s film honours.

Born to Marion (nee Okura) and Michael Hope (deceased 1998), his dual ethnic heritage is representative of the Nikkei community as it is evolving today. He studied Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson University, during and following of which he worked as a producer at CBC for about four years. Afterwards, it was on to Osgoode Hall Law School – York University, he spent summers working on the film and one summer at the CRTC in Ottawa. Following law school, he articled with Heenan Blaikie LLP, then worked as director of business and legal affairs at Cookie Jar Entertainment for two years, then joined Alliance Films Inc., which is where he’s been ever since. He completed an Executive Masters of Business Administration at the University of Windsor while at Cookie Jar Entertainment “for the purpose of rounding out my skill set.”

“Father’s mom was born in County Cork, Ireland and father in Bristol, England. They both came to Toronto in the 1910s. I grew up referring to my parents as ‘John and Yoko’ as a result of my dad’s lineage. The generations in my family are so far spread out on my father’s side that my grandfather (as above) served as a medic during WWI. I have his medals as well as their wedding invitation and photos from, I believe, 1922. Thanks to an apparent family penchant for history, I also have original naval records on my father’s side dating back to the early 1800s, and the wooden “cubby box” my father’s great-great grandfather carried with him on sea voyages which was them full of his personal effects (many of which are still in the box!).”

“My mother’s grandfather also came in the early part of the 20th century, and her grandmother (both from Gobo City, Wakayama ken) was a picture bride. They settled in Steveston, where my great-grandfather worked as a fisherman. I have both of their citizenship photo cards from 1977, which, according to my grandmother, they prized. Kichijiro Hashimoto was my great grandfather’s name and Tami Mori, my great-grandmother’s.”…

Read part one of the entire interview here.

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Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru by Rachel Sarah O’Toole (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-01-25 17:53Z by Steven

Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru by Rachel Sarah O’Toole (review)

Journal of Social History
Volume 48, Number 2, Winter 2014
pages 465-466

Erick D. Langer, Professor of Latin American History
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

O’Toole, Rachel Sarah, Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

The presence of Africans and their descendants is much more important than often realized in Peru. During the colonial period, tens of thousands of Africans were forced to cross the isthmus at Panama City and be sold as slaves in Peru. Even today, the rhythms of chicha, a combination of African and indigenous sounds, resonate in popular Peruvian music. The famous Peruvian cuisine was forged with important ingredients of European, Andean and African food heritages (as well as the nineteenth-century Chinese influences). More than anywhere else in the Andean region, African culture has melded with that of the Andes.

Rachel O’Toole documents Andean and African contributions to colonial society in the northern Peruvian coast during the seventeenth century. She breaks new ground by reexamining the interactions between Andeans and Africans and also explores how Andean peoples became “Indians” and Africans became “blacks.” The supposition, based on Spanish sources, had been that Africans were the enemies of the Indians, since they had more in common with their masters and abused the Andeans when they entered indigenous villages. However, O’Toole shows that that was not necessarily the case; Andeans and Africans interacted in many ways, including helping each other, intermarrying, being godparents to each other, and maintaining intense commercial relations.

Most of all, O’Toole emphasizes the new legal environment in Peru, where Africans became a legal category, a type of casta, that made human beings from Africa into merchandise and flattened out as much as possible the slaves’ diverse origins on the African continent. The Indians in turn came into a different category, of people who, according to the Spanish, were vulnerable to black castas and who enjoyed greater protections and higher legal status than people of African descent. She uses the metaphor of location to position each group into its respective legal category and how that changed over time.

After dealing with African-Andean interactions and the creation of the legal positions of each group, the author takes the last three chapters to delineate not so much the interactions between the two, but rather the making of the “Indian” category (Chapter 3) and the slave category (Chapter 2) within the casta system, which reified racial categories and created the divisions between the races. In the case of the Indians, she focuses on land and water, while for slaves she zeroes in on labor conditions. As O’Toole notes, “casta did the work of race” (164). Within the colonial system, this permitted Spaniards to divide and rule based on the differing regulations each category of human being, whether Spaniard, Indian, or black casta, had to follow. O’Toole takes to task in the conclusion of her book the towering seventeenth-century work of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala and his negative perception of Africans. Guaman Poma, an indigenous nobleman, wrote a 1,189 page missive to the Spanish king, in which he complained about abuses against the indigenous population, especially that of the Africans. O’Toole asserts that this opinion is much too negative an assessment and that “Africans and their descendants were central to the making of the colonial Andes” (161).

This book is an important addition to the field because for the first time it focuses on the complex relationships between indigenous peoples and Africans in a central region of the Spanish empire. O’Toole also fruitfully used legal documents to “read along the grain” (66) to understand the construction of the Indian categories, centering on the judicial performances of Andeans, who consciously chose laws that favored their positions. This follows work done by many other scholars of the colonial Andes to further refine how the diverse indigenous peoples ended up in a flattened category of “Indian.” The creation of the Indian category paralleled what happened to the Africans through their experience of slavery, as the author makes clear.

Using the northern Peruvian coast as the case study for understanding the interaction between Andeans and Africans has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, this was the Andean region where the majority of Africans were imported and so there is enough evidence to document the relations between the two groups. On the other hand, the…

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The Passing of Passing: A Peculiarly American Racial Tradition Approaches Irrelevance

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-01-22 20:40Z by Steven

The Passing of Passing: A Peculiarly American Racial Tradition Approaches Irrelevance

BlackPast.org: Remembered & Reclaimed

Robert Fikes Jr., Reference Librarian
San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Three Harlem Women, ca. 1925

In the article below, independent scholar Robert Fikes Jr., explores a centuries-old process in the United States where African Americans with no visible African ancestry “pass” into the Caucasian race or other races to avoid the stigma associated with anti-black racial discrimination and social marginalization. As he notes below, the process finally began to lose its appeal in the second half of the 20th Century. He outlines a brief history of that process and suggests reasons for its decline.

Routinely shocking and sometimes lurid in detail, reports abound over three centuries of mixed-race persons lacking discernible African heritage masquerading as white: a Vassar student who proceeded toward graduation as informed school officials looked the other way; the man who abandoned his family in Atlanta and became a leading voice for fascism in the United States; a syndicated cartoonist who took his secret to the grave; an attorney who also changed his name and did not return home until retiring from a prosperous career on Wall Street; the Vaudeville actor-singer whose success vaporized when he was discovered to be “a Negro”; an assumed to be white New York Times editor and literary critic who also rose to captain in the segregated white Army of World War II; and the guilt-ridden New England doctor and his wife who journeyed to the extreme in withholding the fact of being “Colored” from even their four children.

The opportunity for passing during the colonial and pre-Civil War eras most often resulted from the mating of slaveowner and slave followed by additional whitening and inbreeding of mulatto offspring who were then able to slip virtually unnoticed into the dominant society. In the post-Reconstruction South politicians schemed to legally segregate the races which necessitated defining who was not white using a combination of percentages and the infamous “one drop rule,” condemning those with observable Negroid features to a life of greater hardship. Unlike Brazil, a nation that had a larger 18th and 19th century black slave population than the United States, there was not a “mulatto escape hatch,” as historian Carl Degler termed it, that permitted those with the taint of slavery in their background to be more easily accepted across the spectrum of society. A cause for anxiety for white Americans fearing racial contamination and degradation, but seen by many African Americans as a way of outwitting the system of oppression and making laughable fools of those who countenanced notions of white racial purity and supremacy, the extent of passing has never been reliably quantified by social scientists, hence estimates up to 1950 ranged from hundreds of thousands to several million blacks vanishing into the ranks of unsuspecting whites.

The complex predicament of persons living double lives passing as whites, deliberately or not, permanently or as a temporary convenience, intrigued a surprising number of major authors whose writings gave rise to the by now familiar trope of the tragic mulatto and the unveiled pretender. Among the books that pursued this theme, The Slave (1836) by Richard Hildreth and Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter (1853) by William Wells Brown. Post-emancipation works that pursued this theme include Maria Lydia Child’s A Romance of the Republic (1867), Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), The House Behind the Cedars (1920) by Charles W. Chesnutt, Passing (1929) by Nella Larsen, the satirical Black No More (1931) by George Schuyler, Colcorton (1944) by Edith Pope. Late 20th century works on passing include Oxherding Tale (1982) by Charles Johnson, Caucasia (1998) by Danzy Senna, and The Human Stain (2000) by Philip Roth

…Long after the “passing” novels left the bookshelves scholars began their investigations on black-white passing.  The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey From Black to White (2011) by Daniel Sharfstein represents one of the best examples of this new academic interest.  These studies however have expanded the scope of passing to include those who have denied being gay and posed as heterosexuals, switched genders, claimed a different white identity (e.g., Jewish to Anglo-Saxon), feigned membership in a wealthier social class, mislead others about their age, and more.

In researching the experiences of blacks who passed as whites, in her new book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (2014) Stanford University professor Allyson Hobbs offered a different perspective.  Fully aware that past research gave prominence to the supposed advantages of passing as white, when interviewed about her project she affirmed: “I am not interested in what people gained by being white, but rather in what they lost by not being black . . . . by rejecting a black racial identity.”  Numerous personal narratives in the book—some wrenching and heartfelt, others humorous and bordering on the absurd—reinforce her stance that passing for African Americans was, and remains, “a deeply individualistic practice, but it is also a fundamentally social act with enormous social consequences.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the British Empire [Paterson Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2015-01-21 20:07Z by Steven

Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the British Empire [Paterson Review]

The British Scholar Society
Book of The Month
November 2014

Lachy Paterson
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Salesa, Damon Ieremia, Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 308 pp. $US 45 (paperback).

Race has always been an important preoccupation in New Zealand society. In the country’s popular imagination, its past is predicated on national myths that it had the best race relations in the world, and that its Māori citizens were the best treated of all indigenous peoples. Intermarriage between Māori and the Pākehā settlers, a practice encouraged even prior to formal colonisation, was often given as evidence for such claims. Damon Salesa’s Racial Crossings is an exciting investigation of the theories, discourses and policies that underpinned intermarriage, and the broader colonial project of racial amalgamation.

The volume’s subtitle, Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire, is a little misleading. The book is not a social history of intermarriage: indeed the story concerns itself more with the discourses of racial crossing, than the lives of the actual people doing the crossing. Its focus is on roughly four decades of New Zealand history, one preceding the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) and the three following. A reader will find little detail on the policies and practice of intermarriage of colonial India, Canada, Australia or South Africa, or even of New Zealand in the last three decades of Victoria’s reign. As Salesa notes, power was generally devolved to colonial governors, whose actions and policies were shaped by local conditions. Although conditions may have been localised, ideas flowed more freely around the Empire. New Zealand’s pertinence to “imperial” studies is that it was colonised when humanitarianism was flourishing. After earlier examples of destructive colonisation, Britain sought to protect New Zealand’s promising “aborigines” through civilisation and amalgamation. Although missionaries, officials both in Britain and New Zealand, intellectuals and settler politicians may have had differing (and sometimes competing) agenda, a general consensus prevailed that intermarriage would benefit both Māori and colonisation…

Read the entire review.

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The Children of Loving v. Virginia: Living at the Intersection of Law and Mixed-Race Identity

Posted in Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-01-21 02:27Z by Steven

The Children of Loving v. Virginia: Living at the Intersection of Law and Mixed-Race Identity

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Special Lecture
University of Michigan

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan

University of Michigan Law School Prof. Martha S. Jones, who codirects the Program in Race, Law & History​, addresses her own experience as a mixed race woman and explores issues facing contemporary society as the featured speaker at Michigan Law’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 19, 2015.

Presenting “The Children of Loving v. Virginia: Living at the Intersection of Law and Mixed-Race Identity,” Jones uses lived experience to open up an understanding of how legal culture has wrestled with the idea that Americans might check more than one box.

View the video (00:37:05) here.

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Erasing the Color Line: The Racial Formation of Creoles of Color and the Public School Integration Movement in New Orleans, 1867-1880

Posted in Dissertations, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-20 02:00Z by Steven

Erasing the Color Line: The Racial Formation of Creoles of Color and the Public School Integration Movement in New Orleans, 1867-1880

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mishio Yamanaka

A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master’s degree of History in the Department of History

This thesis examines the public school racial integration movement of Creoles of color, a francophone interracial group in New Orleans, from 1867 to 1880. During Reconstruction, Creoles of color succeeded in desegregating about one-third of the city public schools. This thesis argues that the integration campaign of Creoles of color was an attempt to maintain their in-between identity – being neither fully whites nor fully blacks and being both Creoles and Americans – and an effort to erase the color line by improving the social status of black Americans to equal that of white Americans. Creoles of color forged desegregation by manipulating their ambiguous ethno-racial heritage and by negotiating with white radical Republicans, white New Orleanians and Anglophone blacks. Focusing on the political, legal and grass-root struggles of Creoles of color, this thesis reveals that they challenged segregation as it symbolized the emergence of biracial hierarchy in post-Civil War New Orleans.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Slavery before Race: Europeans, Africans, and Indians at Long Island’s Sylvester Manor Plantation, 1651-1884

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2015-01-18 02:42Z by Steven

Slavery before Race: Europeans, Africans, and Indians at Long Island’s Sylvester Manor Plantation, 1651-1884

New York University Press
238 pages
April 2013
Hardback ISBN: 9780814785775
Paperback ISBN: 9781479802227

Katherine Howlett Hayes, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Minnesota

The study of slavery in the Americas generally assumes a basic racial hierarchy: Africans or those of African descent are usually the slaves, and white people usually the slaveholders. In this unique interdisciplinary work of historical archaeology, anthropologist Katherine Hayes draws on years of fieldwork on Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor to demonstrate how racial identity was constructed and lived before plantation slavery was racialized by the legal codification of races.

Using the historic Sylvester Manor Plantation site turned archaeological dig as a case study, Hayes draws on artifacts and extensive archival material to present a rare picture of northern slavery on one of the North’s first plantations. The Manor was built in the mid-17th century by British settler Nathaniel Sylvester, whose family owned Shelter Island until the early 18th century and whose descendants still reside in the Manor House. There, as Hayes demonstrates, white settlers, enslaved Africans, and Native Americans worked side by side. While each group played distinct roles on the Manor and in the larger plantation economy of which Shelter Island was part, their close collaboration and cohabitation was essential for the Sylvester family’s economic and political power in the Atlantic Northeast. Through the lens of social memory and forgetting, this study addresses the significance of Sylvester Manor’s plantation history to American attitudes about diversity, Indian land politics, slavery and Jim Crow, in tension with idealized visions of white colonial community.


  • List of Figures and Table
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • 1 Tracing a Racialized History
  • 2 Convergence
  • 3 Building and Destroying
  • 4 Objects of Interaction
  • 5 Forgetting to Remember, Remembering to Forget
  • 6 Unimagining Communities
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
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One Drop of Love

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-16 21:09Z by Steven

One Drop of Love

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater
100 Auditorium Circle
San Antonio, Texas 78205
2015-01-17, 14:00 CST and 20:00 CST (Local Time)

“Amazing performance, staging, autobiography and artistry, and an amazing meditation on race and examination of America.” – Ben Affleck, 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture: Argo

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

How does our belief in ‘race’ affect our most intimate relationships? One Drop of Love is a solo performance exploring family, race, love and pain – and a path towards reconciliation. The show is produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and the show’s writer/performer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.

For more information, click here.

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Hawaii As ‘Racial Paradise’? Bid For Obama Library Invokes A Complex Past

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-16 01:47Z by Steven

Hawaii As ‘Racial Paradise’? Bid For Obama Library Invokes A Complex Past

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Ellen Wu, Associate Professor of History
Indiana University

Sometime in March, President Obama is expected to announce his choice of the institution that will hold his presidential archive. Vying for the honor (and the money that comes with it) are the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Hawai’i (the Hawaiian language spelling of the state’s name). So heated has the competition been that some have called it the “next big presidential race before the 2016 presidential race.”

The front-runner status of both Windy City schools is now in question. The University of Chicago may lack exclusive ownership rights to the proposed sites, while the University of Illinois anticipates future leadership changes.

Yet media reports still cast Hawaii as the underdog. Its fundraising capabilities are out-muscled by the others. Its location is too remote by mainland standards.

But don’t be surprised if Hawaii comes out on top, because the island has a compelling advantage: It’s the one place in the U.S. that has long been imagined as a “racial paradise.”

Liberal white missionaries and sociologists invented this fiction in the early 20th century to convince the nation that Hawaii’s significant Asian population was capable of assimilating harmoniously into American life. Asian laborers were the backbone of the islands’ industrial sugar plantation workforce. By 1945, Life pronounced Hawaii “the world’s most successful experiment in mixed breeding … unmatched … for interracial tolerance and affection.” Today, the “Aloha State” is widely celebrated as the most racially and ethnically diverse in the country, where hapas and multiracial families are the norm. The Root recently named Hawaii one of “The Five Best States for Black People.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Plaçage and the Performance of Whiteness: The Trial of Eulalie Mandeville, Free Colored Woman, of Antebellum New Orleans

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-15 22:11Z by Steven

Plaçage and the Performance of Whiteness: The Trial of Eulalie Mandeville, Free Colored Woman, of Antebellum New Orleans

American Nineteenth Century History
Volume 15, Issue 2, 2014
pages 187-209
DOI: 10.1080/14664658.2014.959818

Carol Wilson, Arthur A. and Elizabeth R. Knapp Professor of American History
Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland

Depictions of plaçage, a type of concubinage found in pre-Civil War New Orleans, have tended toward the romantic. A group of scholars have shown recently that, contrary to popular perception, many plaçage unions were no different from common-law marriages. This article takes a case-study approach to examine one such relationship in detail – one that was the subject of a legal challenge involving the fortune of perhaps the wealthiest free black woman in Louisiana. I apply Ariela J. Gross’s theory of “performance of whiteness” to demonstrate why free woman of color Eulalie Mandeville won her case over her white partner’s numerous white relatives at a time when free blacks in Louisiana and the rest of the nation were losing rights.

Read or purchase the article here.

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