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

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2016-10-26 16:16Z 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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How America Bought and Sold Racism, and Why It Still Matters

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-10-25 20:06Z by Steven

How America Bought and Sold Racism, and Why It Still Matters

Collectors Weekly

Lisa Hix, Associated Editor

Today, very few white Americans openly celebrate the horrors of black enslavement—most refuse to recognize the brutal nature of the institution or actively seek to distance themselves from it. “The modern American sees slavery as a regrettable period when blacks worked without wages,” writes Dr. David Pilgrim, the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and a sociology professor at Ferris State University and the author of Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice, who has spent his life studying the artifacts that have perpetuated racist stereotypes.

The urge to forget this stain on our nation’s history is everywhere. In Texas, McGraw-Hill recently distributed a high-school geography textbook that refers to American slaves as immigrant workers. At Southern plantation museums that romanticize the idea of genteel antebellum culture, the bleak and violent reality of enslaved plantation life is whitewashed and glossed over. Discussions about how slavery led to modern-day racism are often met with white defensiveness. How many times have black people heard this line? “Slavery happened a long time ago. You need to get over it.”

The truth is when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, the economic subjugation of African Americans, and the terrorism used to maintain it, did not come to a grinding halt. The Jim Crow racial caste system that emerged 12 years after the Civil War ended in 1865 was just as violent and oppressive as slavery—and it lasted nearly a century. Up through Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, black people across the country, in Northern states as well as Southern ones, were routinely humiliated, menaced, tortured and beaten to death, and blocked from participating in business and public life. Thanks to smartphone and social-media technology, we’re seeing how such violence continues in 2015, 50 years after the height of the Civil Rights Movement

Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno played the “tragic mulatto” in the 1960 film “This Rebel Breed.”(From Understanding Jim Crow)

…Another caricature was inflicted upon mixed-race women: the “tragic mulatto,” which is based on the “one-drop rule” that says any African American blood in your lineage makes you a black person. In this story, the mixed-race woman grows up living as a privileged white person. When her white father dies, her black heritage is revealed, and she’s enslaved and subjected to violence by white men. Rejected by both racial groups, she’s often suicidal and alcoholic, and she in particular loathes her black side.

Reality, of course, tells a different story. In Understanding Jim Crow, Pilgrim says it’s true that in the days of slavery, mixed-race slaves (usually the illegitimate sons and daughters of their owners), sometimes sold for higher prices, and masters saw these women as particularly sexually desirable, claiming their beauty drove them to rape. Enslaved mixed-race women were also frequently sold into prostitution, and freeborn mixed-race women sometimes became the mistresses of white men under the “plaçage system.” Some people with “Negro blood” worked to “pass” as whites, which helped them get better education, pay, and homes. But throughout history, mixed-race people—who had the slur “mongrels” hurled at them by whites—have been well accepted in the black community: Take for example, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Mary Church Terrell, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Langston Hughes, and Billie Holiday

Read the entire article here.

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TriPod Mythbusters: Quadroon Balls And Plaçage

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-10-25 19:12Z by Steven

TriPod Mythbusters: Quadroon Balls And Plaçage

WWNO 89.9 FM
New Orleans, Louisiana

Laine Kaplan-Levenson, Host

There is a common myth told about 19th-century New Orleans. It goes something like this: Imagine you’re in an elegant dance hall in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Looking around, you see a large group of white men and free women of color, who were at the time called quadroons, meaning they supposedly had ¼ African ancestry. The mothers play matchmakers, and introduce their daughters to these white men, who then ask their hand in a dance.

The ballroom is fancy, and the invited guests look the part. When a match is made, a contract is drawn up. The white man agrees to take care of the young woman and any children she may have with him. This arrangement was called “plaçage.”

Charles Chamberlain teaches history at the University of New Orleans. “Plaçage is defined historically as where a white man would basically have a relationship with a free woman of color where she would be kept, so that he would provide her with a house and some form of income so that she could maintain a lifestyle.”

What Chamberlain is describing is basically a common-law marriage. And those did happen. But the idea of Quadroon Balls is way sexier, which helps explain why they get talked about so much. French Quarter tour guides walk by the Bourbon Orleans hotel and talk about the famous quadroon balls that took place inside. But try to find proof of plaçage Chamberlain says, and it’s not there…

Listen to the story here.

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Focus on world’s first black football star

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-22 21:21Z by Steven

Focus on world’s first black football star

The Voice

Poppy Brady

Dr Tony Talburt decided that a book on Guyanese-born footballer Watson was seriously overdue, so he set about researching the background of this exceptional pioneer of the beautiful game

HE WAS the world’s first black football superstar, but the name Andrew Watson is not on every football fan’s lips – and that is why a book has been written about him to give him the spotlight he deserves.

Writer and education adviser Dr Tony Talburt decided that a book on Guyanese-born footballer Watson was seriously overdue, so he set about researching the background of this exceptional pioneer of the beautiful game.

As Dr Talburt so eruditely puts it in his book Andrew Watson – the World’s First Black Superstar, had Watson been born more than 100 years later in the 1980s, he would most certainly have been considered a sporting celebrity.

“What Watson achieved in the 1880s was probably the equivalent of contemporary legends such as Lionel Messi of Barcelona or Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, captaining both club and country” said Dr Talburt.

“In more ways than one, Andrew Watson was truly a remarkable footballer and sporting hero.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Definitions, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-10-22 20:38Z by Steven

Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
September 2015
235 pages

Savannah N. Carroll

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This investigation intends to uncover past and contemporary socioeconomic significance of being a racial other in Oaxaca, Mexico and its relevance in shaping Mexican national identity. The project has two purposes: first, to analyze activities and observations of cultural missionaries in Oaxaca during the 1920s and 1930s, and second to relate these findings to historical and present implications of blackness in an Afro-Mexican community. Cultural missionaries were appointed by the Secretary of Public Education (SEP) to create schools throughout Mexico, focusing on the modernization of marginalized communities through formal and social education. This initiative was intended to resolve socioeconomic disparities and incorporate sectors of the population into the national framework that had been excluded prior to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. While these efforts were predominantly implemented in indigenous communities located in the northern part of Oaxaca, observations from cultural missionaries related to social and educational conditions reveal ongoing disparities between what it means to be indigenous versus mestizo. The exclusion of moreno, or Afro-descended people from this state sponsored initiative indicates that blackness along with indigenity is otherized, with the primary difference being that Afro-descended Mexicans lack visibility.

To gain a better perspective of the historical and present significance of blackness, my project moves from the general to the specific to include José Maria Morelos, Oaxaca, an Afro-descended community that is isolated, has no tourist attractions or services, dirt roads, and little access to socioeconomic resources. Morelos was established by blacks who escaped slavery and lived independently in their own community. People in the town strongly identify with this history and its relation to their present condition. After speaking with local activists, it became apparent that rights that were supposed to be gained from the Mexican Revolution, such as land rights and public education, did not happen in Morelos, which adversely affects people’s prospects for socioeconomic advancement.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Anglo-Indians and Minority Politics in South Asia: Race, Boundary Making and Communal Nationalism

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-10-22 20:06Z by Steven

Anglo-Indians and Minority Politics in South Asia: Race, Boundary Making and Communal Nationalism

256 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781138847224

Uther Charlton-Stevens, Associate Professor
Institute of World Economy and Finance
Volgograd State University, Russia

Anglo-Indians are a mixed-race, Christian and Anglophone minority community which arose in India during the long period of European colonialism. An often neglected part of the British ‘Raj’, their presence complicates the traditional binary through which British imperialism in South Asia is viewed – of ruler and ruled, coloniser and colonised. This book looks at how Anglo-Indians illuminate the history of minority politics in the transition from British colonial rule in South Asia to independence.

The book analyses how the provisions in the Indian Constitution relating to Anglo-Indian cultural, linguistic and religious autonomy were implemented in the years following 1950. It discusses how effective the measures designed to protect Anglo-Indian employment by the state and Anglo-Indian educational institutions under the pressures of Indian national politics were. Presenting an in-depth account of this minority community in South Asia, this book will be of interest to those studying South Asian History, Colonial History and South Asian Politics.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. East Indians
  • 2. The ‘Eurasian Problem’
  • 3. Becoming Anglo-Indians
  • 4. Making a Minority
  • 5. Escapisms of Empire
  • 6. Constituting the Nation
  • 7. Conclusion
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Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2016-10-22 20:04Z by Steven

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

October 2016
645 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-4992-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-4993-0

Edited by:

Patricia Reid-Merritt, Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Africana Studies
Stockton University, Galloway, New Jersey

Is race simply an antiquated, pseudo-scientific abstraction developed to justify the dehumanization of various categories of the human population?

Focusing on the socially explosive concept of race and how it has affected human interactions, this work examines the social and scientific definitions of race, the implementation of racialized policies and practices, the historical and contemporary manifestations of the use of race in shaping social interactions within U.S. society and elsewhere, and where our notions of race will likely lead.

More than a decade and a half into the 21st century, the term “race” remains one of the most emotionally charged words in the human language. While race can be defined as “a local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics,” the concept of race can better be understood as a socially defined construct—a system of human classification that carries tremendous weight, yet is complex, confusing, contradictory, controversial, and imprecise.

This collection of essays focuses on the socially explosive concept of race and how it has shaped human interactions across civilization. The contributed work examines the social and scientific definitions of race, the implementation of racialized policies and practices, and the historical and contemporary manifestations of the use of race in shaping social interactions (primarily) in the United States—a nation where the concept of race is further convoluted by the nation’s extensive history of miscegenation as well as the continuous flow of immigrant groups from countries whose definitions of race, ethnicity, and culture remain fluid. Readers will gain insights into subjects such as how we as individuals define ourselves through concepts of race, how race affects social privilege, “color blindness” as an obstacle to social change, legal perspectives on race, racialization of the religious experience, and how the media perpetuates racial stereotypes.


  • Addresses a poignant topic that is always controversial, relevant, and addressed in mainstream and social media
  • Examines the various socio-historical factors that contribute to our understanding of race as a concept, enabling readers to appreciate how “definitions” of race are complex, confusing, contradictory, controversial, and imprecise
  • Inspects contemporary manifestations of race in the United States with regard to specific contexts, such as the quest for U.S. citizenship, welfare services, the legislative process, capitalism, and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes in the media
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Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico: Defining Racial Difference

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2016-10-22 20:04Z by Steven

Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico: Defining Racial Difference

University of Oklahoma Press
304 pages
Illustrations: 3 b&w illus., 2 maps, 18 tables
6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806154879

Robert C. Schwaller, Assistant Professor of History
University of Kansas, Lawrence

On December 19, 1554, the members of Tenochtitlan’s indigenous cabildo, or city council, petitioned Emperor Charles V of Spain for administrative changes “to save us from any Spaniard, mestizo, black, or mulato afflicting us in the marketplace, on the roads, in the canal, or in our homes.” Within thirty years of the conquest, the presence of these groups in New Spain was large enough to threaten the social, economic, and cultural order of the indigenous elite. In Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico, an ambitious rereading of colonial history, Robert C. Schwaller proposes using the Spanish term géneros de gente (types or categories of people) as part of a more nuanced perspective on what these categories of difference meant and how they evolved. His work revises our understanding of racial hierarchy in Mexico, the repercussions of which reach into the present.

Schwaller traces the connections between medieval Iberian ideas of difference and the unique societies forged in the Americas. He analyzes the ideological and legal development of géneros de gente into a system that began to resemble modern notions of race. He then examines the lives of early colonial mestizos and mulatos to show how individuals of mixed ancestry experienced the colonial order. By pairing an analysis of legal codes with a social history of mixed-race individuals, his work reveals the disjunction between the establishment of a common colonial language of what would become race and the ability of the colonial Spanish state to enforce such distinctions. Even as the colonial order established a system of governance that entrenched racial differences, colonial subjects continued to mediate their racial identities through social networks, cultural affinities, occupation, and residence.

Presenting a more complex picture of the ways difference came to be defined in colonial Mexico, this book exposes important tensions within Spanish colonialism and the developing social order. It affords a significant new view of the development and social experience of race—in early colonial Mexico and afterward.

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Andrew Watson: The World’s First Black Football Superstar

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2016-10-22 19:19Z by Steven

Andrew Watson: The World’s First Black Football Superstar

Hansib Publications
136 pages
216 x 138 mm

Tony Talburt

Foreword by Lord Herman Ouseley

Today, seeing Black footballers playing the game at the very highest level is considered very normal. This, certainly, was not the case one hundred and forty years ago, and this is what makes the story of Andrew Watson so remarkable.

It seems hard to imagine that a Guyanese-born Black man could head the Scottish national football team in 1881 in a game against England. Not only was he captain, but he also led them to a 6-1 victory in London – an achievement that still ranks as England’s heaviest ever defeat on home soil. If this were all that Watson had been able to accomplish, most people would agree that he should be commended for being the world’s first Black person to captain a national football team. But there was so much more. He was the world’s first Black football administrator, as well as the first Black player to win three national cup winners’ trophies.

During the 1870s and 1880s, when Watson played, he was regarded as one of the finest players in Britain. The word ‘pioneer’ is often used to describe certain players, but this would certainly be a most fitting expression to encapsulate the remarkable achievements of Andrew Watson.

This book reflects upon the legend, legacy and pioneering endeavours of a truly great Black British football superstar.

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DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-10-20 01:04Z by Steven

DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

The Albuquerque Journal

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University

I am filming guest interviews for Season 2 of the genealogy series “Finding Your Roots,” airing on PBS this September. One of the most intriguing pieces of information shared with our guests is the “admixture” results contained in their DNA – their percentages of European, Native American and sub-Saharan African ancestors over the past 200 years or so.

The record of your ancestral past, in all of its complexity, is hidden in your autosomal DNA.

African-Americans almost always guess that they have much higher percentages of Native American ancestry and much lower percentages of European ancestry than they have. That is not surprising since African-Americans have long embraced the myth that their great-grandmother with “high cheeks and straight black hair” looked that way because of a relationship between an ancestor who was black and another one who was Native American.

But scientific results show that very few African-Americans have a significant amount of Native American ancestry: In fact, according to a study just published by 23andMe researcher Katarzyna “Kasia” Bryc, only about 5 percent of African-Americans have at least 2 percent of Native American ancestry, while the average African-American has only 0.7 percent Native American ancestry…

At the same time, Bryc’s research shows that the average African-American has a whopping 24 percent of European ancestry, which explains why great-grandma had those high cheekbones and that straight black hair.

But what about the presence of recent African ancestors in a “white” person’s family tree?…

Read the entire article here.

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