98-Year-Old NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson: ‘If You Like What You’re Doing, You Will Do Well’

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2017-01-19 00:39Z by Steven

98-Year-Old NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson: ‘If You Like What You’re Doing, You Will Do Well’

People
2016-11-04

Caitlin Keating

Katherine Johnson thinks all of her accomplishments over the 98 years she’s been alive are “ordinary.”

But to the rest of the world, they’re anything but.

Johnson, a physicist, space scientist and mathematician graduated from high school at 14-years-old, attended college the very next year and was the first African-American woman to desegregate the graduate school at West Virginia University…

…In 1953, after years of being a teacher, she began working for NASA where she was nicknamed the “human computer.”

Johnson was able to calculate the trajectory for numerous space missions, including for the space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space and the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon…

Read the entire interview here.

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New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Judaism, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2017-01-17 23:53Z by Steven

New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration

New York University Press
February 2017
368 pages
28 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 9781479888801

Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion
Princeton University

When Joseph Nathaniel Beckles registered for the draft in the 1942, he rejected the racial categories presented to him and persuaded the registrar to cross out the check mark she had placed next to Negro and substitute “Ethiopian Hebrew.”  “God did not make us Negroes,” declared religious leaders in black communities of the early twentieth-century urban North. They insisted that so-called Negroes are, in reality, Ethiopian Hebrews, Asiatic Muslims, or raceless children of God. Rejecting conventional American racial classification, many black southern migrants and immigrants from the Caribbean embraced these alternative visions of black history, racial identity, and collective future, thereby reshaping the black religious and racial landscape.

Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, and a number of congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, Judith Weisenfeld argues that the appeal of these groups lay not only in the new religious opportunities membership provided, but also in the novel ways they formulated a religio-racial identity. Arguing that members of these groups understood their religious and racial identities as divinely-ordained and inseparable, the book examines how this sense of self shaped their conceptions of their bodies, families, religious and social communities, space and place, and political sensibilities.

Weisenfeld draws on extensive archival research and incorporates a rich array of sources to highlight the experiences of average members. The book demonstrates that the efforts by members of these movements to contest conventional racial categorization contributed to broader discussions in black America about the nature of racial identity and the collective future of black people that still resonate today.

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The Checkered Past of Brazil’s New Race Court (JWJI Race & Difference Colloquium Series)

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Science on 2017-01-17 01:00Z by Steven

The Checkered Past of Brazil’s New Race Court (JWJI Race & Difference Colloquium Series)

Jones Room, Woodruff Library
The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Monday, 2017-02-06, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Ruth Hill, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, Professor of Spanish
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

A categorical crisis around racially-mixed persons has become a legal quagmire in Brazil. In August 2016, the Brazilian government announced the formation of the Racial Court (Tribunal Racial) to confront the steady stream of legal challenges that has beset the racial segment of the country’s Quotas System (Sistema de Cotas). The latter is an affirmative-action program giving preference to the disabled, the economically-disadvantaged, graduates of public schools, and specific racial groups (Amerindians and persons of African ancestry) in government offices and higher education. Litigation and media attention are centered on the program’s interstitial racial category, pardo. The category preto—the straightforward “black” in Brazil until it was jettisoned in educated quarters for negro, “negro”—and the category pardo (of European and an undefined amount of African and/or native origins) are often treated as subsets of the category negro. Still, color not descent is invoked when it is stated that persons “of pardo color” or “preto color” are eligible for the racial quotas for government posts, which are set aside “for negros and pardos.”

Whether colors or categories, where does pardo end and branco (“white”) or negro begin? In other words, when does afrodescendente (“Afro-descendant”) end and branco begin? In this Race and Difference Colloquium, Ruth Hill (Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, Professor of Spanish, Vanderbilt University) argues that the pardo problem of today streams from the first global and systematic investigation into racial admixture, in the sixteenth century, which came on the heels of legislation to “uplift” Catholic neophytes in the Iberian empires. Those centuries-old arguments over mixed-race neophytes anticipated the moral and legal dilemmas of Brazil’s present-day affirmative-action program.

The Race and Difference Colloquium Series, a weekly event on the Emory University campus, features local and national speakers presenting academic research on contemporary questions of race and intersecting dimensions of difference. The James Weldon Johnson Institute is pleased to have the Robert W. Woodruff Library and the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript and Rare Book Library as major co-sponsors of the Colloquium Series.

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Britain’s black history has been shamefully whitewashed

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-16 02:11Z by Steven

Britain’s black history has been shamefully whitewashed

The Spectator
2017-01-14

Hakim Adi, Professor of the History of Africa and the African Diaspora
University of Chichester, Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom


Author David Olusoga (Photo: Getty)

I have been researching and writing about black British history for over 30 years but never before have I been fortunate enough to review a 600-page book on the subject, published to accompany a recent major BBC documentary. The book and the four-part series give some indication of the extent of a history which David Olusoga presents as ‘forgotten’: the subject, he argues, has been largely excluded from the mainstream narrative of British history. Why it should be forgotten, and who might have forgotten it should give us all pause for reflection, since the denial of black British history by those who should know better could be considered tantamount to racism.

Olusoga reminds us that Britain’s ‘island story’ cannot be understood in isolation from the rest of the world and certainly not from Africa and other parts of what was once the British empire. He also demonstrates that Africans were often a central part of Britain’s history centuries before the empire, going back to the Roman period and beyond. Indeed, he argues that black British history is not just about black people but about encounters between blacks and whites, including intermarriage or the ‘mixed relationships’ that have been commented on since Elizabethan times.

The latest archaeological techniques and historical research show that in Roman Britain there were many individuals of African heritage of all classes. We are now becoming more familiar with the fourth-century ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’ of York and ‘The Beachy Head Lady’ from sub-Saharan Africa, thought to have lived in East Sussex c. 200 AD. It seems likely that soon we will have more conclusive evidence that Africans were travelling to Britain long before the arrival of the Romans

Read the entire review here.

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Meet the Afro-Mexicans connecting to their African roots through dance

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2017-01-16 00:11Z by Steven

Meet the Afro-Mexicans connecting to their African roots through dance

Ventures Africa
2017-01-05

Iroegbu Chinaemerem Oti

“Based on your culture, history, and traditions, do you consider yourself Black, meaning Afro-Mexican or Afro-descendant?” – MEXICO’S 2015 Intercensal Survey

The sound of Bata drums filled the air as girls, with printed scarfs tied around their waists and white or yellow dots painted on their faces, danced to the fervent rhythm, their feet and waists moving vigorously at the same time. As their left legs leave the floor, their right legs replace them, while their waists responding with a seesaw movement. This is an African dance performed by an Afro-Mexican group, the Obatala, for the purpose of connecting with their African roots. They live in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico and tour various regions of the state to create awareness with their energetic and beautiful dance.

“All the dances are from Africa’s northeastern region, we chose this area because after researching on the internet, we realised that that’s where the slaves that came from our town came from. Our dance troupe did the research and we learned those dances,” Anai Herrera, one of the lead dancers, said…

Read the entire article here.

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No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them)

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-15 22:17Z by Steven

No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them)

The New York Times
2017-01-14

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, HKS Suzanne Young Murray Professor
Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard University

We can’t create a more just nation simply by dressing up institutions in more shades of brown. Now we must confront structural racism.

In a moving farewell speech before an enormous crowd in Chicago last week, President Obama evoked the American creed of unity and aspiration as the foundation of our democracy. He has always embraced a vision of America as a “melting pot.”

Mr. Obama embodied for many Americans the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom we celebrate on Monday. Our national memory of Dr. King has, for nearly 50 years, reinforced the belief that America, unlike any other nation, could extend opportunity to everyone regardless of his or her identity. In Dr. King’s name, assimilation and aspiration have been the keywords of the post-civil rights era, and diversity and inclusion its currency. And Mr. Obama has symbolized more than anyone in American history the idea that racial representation and the content of one’s character were the perfect antidote to racism.

It’s true that, in fulfilling the duties of the presidency with great dignity, Mr. Obama represents the highest expression of the goal of assimilation. But for African-Americans, he was also the ultimate lesson in how this antidote alone is insufficient to heal the gaping wounds of racial injustice in America. It’s clear that black leadership, in itself, isn’t enough to transform the country. So we must confront the end of an era and the dawn of a new one…

Read the entire article here.

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The complex issue of indigenous heritage

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2017-01-10 19:09Z by Steven

The complex issue of indigenous heritage

The Toronto Star
2017-01-10

Don Smith, Professor Emeritus of History
University of Calgary


Archie Belaney, famously known as Grey Owl until his dealth in 1938, is an example of the complex issue of indigenous identifcation. (TORONTO STAR ARCHIVES)

Acclaimed novelist Joseph Boyden faces controversy surrounding his heritage but there is a long history in North American of blurred lines.

The question of the indigenous identity of prize-winning novelist Joseph Boyden had raised great media attention. It is a complex issue.

Joseph-Louis Gill (1719-1798), one of the famous 18th century chiefs of the Abenaki First Nations, resident at Odanak, just west of Montreal, was “white.” But only in a biological sense, as both his parents had been captives adopted into Indian families and raised in Indian fashion.

Among the Red River Métis in the 19th century, the Métis patriot, André Nault (1830-1924), was born of French Canadian parents who had become fully integrated into the Red River Métis community in what is now southern Manitoba. The buffalo hunter and captain of the Métis stood by his first cousin Louis Riel in the Red River Resistance of 1869-70, serving in his provisional government. Three of Nault’s sons took part in the events of 1885 in Saskatchewan.

In Joseph Boyden’s case no evidence, to my knowledge, has emerged that he was raised in an indigenous community. He was not a Joseph-Louis Gill or André Nault. Instead, his Aboriginal connection relates to his distant indigenous ancestry on both his mother’s and father’s side. This enters into another realm entirely.

I have studied the life of Archie Belaney (1888-1938), the Canadian writer who presented himself as indigenous, as Grey Owl, the son of a Scot and an Apache woman. He died on April 13, 1938. The day after his death the Globe and Mail termed him, “the most famous of Canadian Indians.” Then, within just one week the story broke. It was revealed that he was actually born and raised in Hastings, England. His “racial” origins were a total fantasy…

Read the entire article here.

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Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Posted in Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United States on 2017-01-08 03:56Z by Steven

Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Princeton University Press
March 2017
224 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
7 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780691172422
eBook ISBN: 9781400884636

James Q. Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law
Yale Law School

Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler’s American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.

As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.

Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler’s American Model upends understandings of America’s influence on racist practices in the wider world.

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The Other California: Land, Identity, and Politics on the Mexican Borderlands

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2017-01-04 02:23Z by Steven

The Other California: Land, Identity, and Politics on the Mexican Borderlands

University of California Press
January 2017
188 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520291638

Verónica Castillo-Muñoz, Assistant Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

The Other California is the story of working-class communities and how they constituted the racially and ethnically diverse social landscape of Baja California. Packed with new and transformative stories, the book examines the interplay of land reform and migratory labor on the peninsula from 1850 to 1954, as governments, foreign investors, and local communities shaped a vibrant and dynamic borderland alongside the booming cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, and Santa Rosalia. Migration and intermarriage between Mexican women and men from Asia, Europe, and the United States transformed Baja California into a multicultural society. Mixed-race families extended across national borders, forging new local communities, labor relations, and border politics.

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Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-12-30 02:32Z by Steven

Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2016-12-29

John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent, National Desk


Santo Tomas Catholic church in Abiquiu, N.M., is the site of an annual saint’s day celebration in late November that includes cultural elements of the genizaros, the descendants of Native American slaves.
John Burnett/NPR

Every year in late November, the New Mexican village of Abiquiu, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe, celebrates the town saint, Santo Tomas. Townfolk file into the beautiful old adobe Catholic church to pay homage its namesake.

But this is no ordinary saint’s day. Dancers at the front of the church are dressed in feathers, face paint and ankle bells that honor their forbears — captive Indian slaves called genizaros.

The dances and chants are Native American, but they don’t take place on a Pueblo Indian reservation. Instead, they’re performed in a genizaro community, one of several scattered across the starkly beautiful high desert of northern New Mexico.

After centuries in the shadows, this group of mixed-race New Mexicans — Hispanic and American Indian — is stepping forward to seek recognition…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:05:04) here.

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