Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-27 03:07Z by Steven

Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid

The Atlantic
2014-11-26

Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Correspondent

Violence works. Nonviolence does too.

In a recent dispatch from Ferguson, Missouri, Jelani Cobb noted that President Obama’s responses to “unpunished racial injustices” constitute “a genre unto themselves.” Monday night, when Barack Obama stood before the nation to interpret the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, he offered a particularly tame specimen. The elements of “the genre” were all on display—an unmitigated optimism, an urge for calm, a fantastic faith in American institutions, an even-handedness exercised to a fault. But if all the limbs of the construct were accounted for, the soul of the thing was not.

There was none of the spontaneous annoyance at the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, and little of the sheer pain exhibited in the line, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” The deft hand Obama employed in explaining to Americans why the acquittal of George Zimmerman so rankled had gone arthritic. This was a perfunctory execution of “the genre,” offered with all the energy of a man ticking items off a to-do list.

Barack Obama is an earnest moderate. His instincts seem to lead him to the middle ground. For instance, he genuinely believes that there is more overlap between liberals and conservatives than generally admitted. On Monday he nodded toward the “deep distrust” that divides black and brown people from the police, and then pointed out that this was tragic because these are the communities most in need of “good policing.” Whatever one makes of this pat framing, it is not a cynical centrism—he believes in the old wisdom of traditional America. This is his strength. This is his weakness. But Obama’s moderation is as sincere and real as his blackness, and the latter almost certainly has granted him more knowledge of his country than he generally chooses to share.

In the case of Michael Brown, this is more disappointing than enraging. The genre of Obama race speeches has always been bounded by the job he was hired to do. Specifically, Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America. More specifically, Barack Obama is the president of a congenitally racist country, erected upon the plunder of life, liberty, labor, and land. This plunder has not been exclusive to black people. But black people, the community to which both Michael Brown and Barack Obama belong, have the distinct fortune of having survived in significant numbers…

Read the entire article here.

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Glenn Chavis: Inquiry helps shed light on mixed-race heritage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2014-11-26 21:05Z by Steven

Glenn Chavis: Inquiry helps shed light on mixed-race heritage

The News & Record
Greensboro, North Carolina
2014-11-25

Glenn Chavis, Community Columnist

I recently received a call from a professor emeritus at Jackson State University who is working on a project dealing with a Tri-Racial Isolate group called Turks, who once made Sumter County, S.C., their home.

One day these Turks just disappeared from Sumter, he said, and he is trying to find out if any were buried in a graveyard at Bethesda Baptist Church in Sumter.

Even though I had nothing to offer, he did share plenty of information with me regarding Tri-Racial Isolates, which include Chavises.

This topic has always been of interest to me because the Shepherd/Chavis family started with black blood, then mixed with white blood and, after that, Indian blood. They were located mainly in the Franklin area.

Like most Tri-Isolates, some looked white, some black and others Indian. As a youngster visiting family in Franklin, I recall my ancestors living in their own little community. Denied by the Indian side, they were recognized by the white Shepherds…

…After visiting numerous websites dealing with Tri-Isolates, I found many definitions, interpretations and histories of these people. Regardless of slight differences, Tri-Isolates and Biracials existed hundreds of years ago, as well as today.

They usually stayed among themselves and worked the land as farmers.

Suddenly, I remembered that more than 30 years ago, a friend sent me a paper done by Edward Price of Los Angeles State College titled “A Geographic Analysis of White-Negro-Indian Racial Mixtures in Eastern United States.” It was published in the June 1953 edition of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Read the entire article here.

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Grad student Alex Finley found her roots — and more

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-26 19:54Z by Steven

Grad student Alex Finley found her roots — and more

William & Mary News and Events
The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
2014-11-24

Jim Ducibella, Communications Specialist

This is part one of a two-story series. Check back Nov. 26 for the second part. – Ed.

As a child, Alex Finley remembers going through three phases of intense interest: One was genealogy. Another was the Civil War. The third was American Girls dolls.

“So I guess I was always destined to be a historian,” she said with a chuckle.

Finley, a Ph.D. candidate in history at William & Mary who is studying the domestic slave trade and the finance and business practices of slave traders in the antebellum period, combined two of those three passions to uncover a little known, controversial community in West Virginia.

It’s a discovery that has drawn the attention of television producers from the PBS program Finding Your Roots and ushered in a fascinating chapter in her life.

She began by researching her mother’s family history while she was in high school in southern Ohio, and continued her research as an undergraduate at Ohio State, completing an honors thesis on that particular branch of the family.

The Male family – or Mayle, as it’s also known – came to the United States from Dover, England, and eventually settled in Hampshire County, located in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands regions.

Wilmore Male and his wife, Mary, had several children, including Wilmore, Jr., who fought in the Revolutionary War and came back to West Virginia to start a farm.

While there, he began a relationship with a slave he owned named Nancy.

“The proof we have of this is an extraordinary emancipation document from 1826,” Finley said. “(Male) emancipates Nancy and says that she is forever set free from this point – on the condition that she remain living with him as his wife.

“That’s extraordinary for the time period, for several reasons: One, he’s coming out publicly and saying this. Two, interracial marriage is illegal at this time and here he is in a courthouse saying he intends to live with this woman. They end up living together, with no evidence they were ever harassed or bothered by anyone for their relationship.”

How could that be? Finley’s research showed that the man at the courthouse who recorded the document – John White — was the son of Male’s captain in the Revolutionary War…

Read the entire article here.

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Allyson Hobbs (Book) A Chosen Exile

Posted in Audio, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-11-25 17:04Z by Steven

Allyson Hobbs (Book) A Chosen Exile

Joe Madison The Black Eagle
SiriusXM Urban ViewAfrican-American Talk
2014-11-13

Joe Madison, Host

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

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‘A Chosen Exile,’ by Allyson Hobbs [Senna Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-11-22 03:00Z by Steven

‘A Chosen Exile,’ by Allyson Hobbs [Senna Review]

The New York Times
Sunday Book Review
2014-11-21

Danzy Senna

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life By Allyson Hobbs; Illustrated. 382 pp. Harvard University Press. $29.95.

One of the best birthday presents anybody ever gave me was a “calling card” by the conceptual artist Adrian Piper. I was in college at the time, and it felt like the ultimate inside joke handed from one racially ambiguous person to another.

Slim and innocuous as a business card, it reads: “Dear Friend, I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racist remark. In the past I have attempted to alert people to my identity in advance. . . . I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I’m sure you regret the discomfort your racism is causing me.”

To be black but to be perceived as white is to find yourself, at times, in a racial no man’s land. It is to feel like an embodiment of W. E. B. Du Bois’s double consciousness — that sense of being in two places at the same time. It is also to be perpetually aware of both the primacy of race and the “bankruptcy of the race idea,” as Allyson Hobbs, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, puts it in her incisive new cultural history, “A Chosen Exile.”

Hobbs is interested in the stories of individuals who chose to cross the color line — black to white — from the late 1800s up through the 1950s. It’s a story we’ve of course read and seen before in fictional accounts — numerous novels and films that have generally portrayed mixed-race characters in the sorriest of terms. Like gay characters, mulattoes always pay for their existence dearly in the end. Joe Christmas, the tormented drifter in William Faulkner’sLight in August,” considers his blackness evidence of original sin (a.k.a. miscegenation) and ends up castrated and murdered. Sarah Jane, a character in Douglas Sirk’s 1959 remake of the film “Imitation of Life,” denies her black mother in her attempt to be seen as white. Her tragedy once again feels like mixed fate. As her long-suffering mother puts it, “How do you tell a child that she was born to be hurt?”…

Read the entire review here.

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Kathleen López: Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive on 2014-11-22 02:39Z by Steven

Kathleen López: Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History

New Books in Latin American Studies: Discussions with Scholars of Latin America about Their New Books
2014-11-21

Alejandra Bronfman, Associate Professor of History
University of British Columbia, Canada

Successive waves of migration brought thousands of Chinese laborers to Cuba over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The coolie trade, which was meant to replace waning supplies of slaves, was but the first. In the twentieth century, a sugar boom in Cuba facilitated the entry of thousands more. Many of these itinerant workers stayed, and this book uses Chinese and Spanish languages sources and microhistorical methods to trace their lives as they married, raised children, formed associations and ran businesses. Kathleen López‘s book Chinese Cubans, A Transnational History (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) asks questions about belonging and offers a nuanced interpretation of the ways people of Chinese descent could proffer loyalties to Cuba even as they were embedded in transnational Chinese networks. There are surprising stories here, about race, family and work. Next time you encounter a Chinese-Cuban restaurant, you’ll know a little more about how it got there.

Listen to the interview (01:06:29) here. Download the interview here.

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Go Stand Upon The Rock with Samuel Michael Lemon, Ed.D.

Posted in Audio, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-20 00:20Z by Steven

Go Stand Upon The Rock with Samuel Michael Lemon, Ed.D.

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
BlogTalk Radio
Thursday, 2014-11-20, 21:00 EST (Friday, 2014-11-21, 02:00Z)

Bernice Bennett, Host

Go Stand Upon the Rock (2014) is a deeply moving Civil War-era novel based on stories handed down by Sam Lemon’s grandmother about the lives of her grandparents who were once runaway slaves from Virginia. It is a tale of unsettling plantation life, courageous women, dramatic Civil War battles, heroes, hoodoo, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. The book is supported by historical and genealogical research, photographs, and documents from his doctoral dissertation. This is a compelling and emotionally engaging history that comes alive through the lives of real people and events.

Dr. Sam Lemon grew up in Media, Pennsylvania, where his maternal great-great grandparents arrived as runaway slaves during the Civil War. Given refuge and support by local Quakers, his ancestors prospered and became prominent members of the community. He is currently an assistant professor and the director of a graduate program at Neumann University in Pennsylvania, and formerly worked in the fields of social services, education, and public television at WHYY in Philadelphia.

For more information, click here.

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The Case for Black With a Capital B

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-19 20:45Z by Steven

The Case for Black With a Capital B

The New York Times
2014-11-18

Lori L. Tharps, Associate Professor of Journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA — I WAS sitting in my office at Temple University when I overheard an exchange between a colleague and his student. The student had come to see her professor to go over a paper, and he was patiently explaining that the abundance of grammatical mistakes detracted from her compelling content. I sympathized with my colleague as he pointed out error after error. Until he came to this one.

“Why did you capitalize black and white people?” he asked. “I thought I’d seen it written that way before,” the girl stammered. “Come on,” he said. “Why would you capitalize black or white?”…

…After emancipation, as many individuals replaced their slave surnames with ones of their own devising, like Freedman or Freeman, they still bore the painful legacy of the labels they’d been given: black, negro and colored.

It wasn’t only Black people who didn’t know what to call the nearly four million newly freed citizens of the United States. The government itself fumbled its way through names, categories and labels for Black people. Between 1850 and 1920, the United States census classified those of African descent as black, negro, mulatto, quadroon or octoroon — depending on the visual assessment of the census taker. By 1930, the Census Bureau offered just one of these categories: negro.

This wasn’t solely an issue of identity politics. In a 2008 article on the census for Studies in American Political Development, Jennifer L. Hochschild and Brenna M. Powell wrote, “Over the course of almost a century, the U.S. government groped its way through extensive experimentation — reorganizing and reimaging the racial order, with corresponding impact on individuals’ and groups’ life chances.” These names matter…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Empire of Sin,’ by Gary Krist

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-19 20:25Z by Steven

‘Empire of Sin,’ by Gary Krist

The New York Times
Sunday Book Review
2014-11-06

Walter Isaacson, President and CEO
Aspen Institute

Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans By Gary Krist; Illustrated. 416 pp. Crown Publishers. $26.

When Tom Anderson’s saloon opened in 1901, at the entrance to the recently designated sin district known as Storyville on the edge of New Orleans’s French Quarter, people from all over town came to marvel at its opulence. Its cherrywood bar stretched half a block and was lit by a hundred electric lights. With Anderson’s encouragement, high-class brothels were soon flourishing down Basin Street. Josie Arlington, his business partner, had a four-story Victorian mansion with a domed cupola, mirrored parlor and Oriental statues. The exotic, mixed-race Lulu White built a brick palace that specialized in interracial sex and featured the jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton at the piano. Another octoroon (the appellation given to people considered to be one-eighth black), Willie V. Piazza, passed herself off as a countess and sported both a monocle and a diamond choker. Anderson, whose civic spirit earned him the title “the Mayor of Storyville,” published a Blue Book that contained photos and descriptions of the area’s better prostitutes, annotated with symbols (“w” for white, “c” for colored, “J” for Jewish and “oct.” for octoroon). It was all a vivid expression of the city’s tolerance and diversity…

…Through much of the 19th century, New Orleans had been racially progressive, especially for Creoles of color, most of them French-speaking Roman Catholics descended from families that had intermarried with Europeans. From the early 1870s onward, blacks could vote and serve on juries; marriage between different races was legal; and schools, lakefront beach areas and many neighborhoods were integrated. But the advent of Jim Crow laws after Reconstruction created a new dynamic. The reformers of the city’s elite took the lead in passing segregation laws as well as in cracking down on prostitution. In 1908, the State Legislature passed a bill that barred musical performances in saloons, prohibited blacks and whites from being served in the same establishment and excluded women from bars…

Read the entire review here.

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Sesquicentennial Event Addresses Colorado Inequality

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-18 22:21Z by Steven

Sesquicentennial Event Addresses Colorado Inequality

Clarion: The University of Denver’s Newwspaper Since 1892
Denver, Colorado
2014-10-21

Carissa Cherpes

DU hosted a Sesquicentennial Conversation entitled Miscegenation Law, Marriage Equality, and the West 1864-2014 on Oct. 15 in the Sturm College of Law.

Over 50 students, faculty and others gathered to listen to three panelists lecture on how Miscegenation Laws and inequality affected our region throughout history. Miscegenation Laws banned marriages or relationships between mixed raced couples.

The three panelists were Rachel Moran, Ronald J. Stephens and Anna N. Martinez. The moderator was Bill Convery, who holds the position of Colorado State Historian

…Next to present was Moran. She described how Miscegenation Laws originated in the South when concern over mixed race slave children became an issue. The popular opinion was that “mixed race children were black,” and therefore could not be considered free or have rights.

She then went on to talk about California’s Miscegenation Laws, which targeted Asian immigrants. In California, the laws were designed to force Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants to return to their native country.

Moran then discussed how the Colorado territory had Miscegenation Laws as well, but only after additional land was acquired from Mexico. Because the people living in the territory had different customs and laws, there was an invisible boundary where mixed race couples were more accepted. She concluded by explaining how it was not until the 1960s that the Supreme Court decided Miscegenation Laws were unfair

Read the entire article here.

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