Episode 096: Nicholas Guyatt, The Origins of Racial Segregation in the United States

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-08-23 21:25Z by Steven

Episode 096: Nicholas Guyatt, The Origins of Racial Segregation in the United States

Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History
2016-08-22

Liz Covart, Host and Historian
Boston, Massachusetts

Ever wonder how the United States’ problem with race developed and why early American reformers didn’t find a way to fix it during the earliest days of the republic?

Today, Nicholas Guyatt, author of Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation, leads us on an exploration of how and why the idea of separate but equal developed in the early United States.

During our investigation, Nick reveals the demographics of the United States after the War for Independence; The early American problem of racial integration; And how and why early American reformers invented the idea of racial segregation.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

Tags: , , ,

Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-08-23 19:52Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil

Vanity Fair
September 2016

Charles Bolden, Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Katherine Johnson, photographed at Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia.
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

NASA chief Charles Bolden recalls the historic trajectory of the “human computer” who played a key role in the Apollo 11 moon landing, and as a female African-American in the 1960s, shattered stereotypes in the process.

When I was growing up, in segregated South Carolina, African-American role models in national life were few and far between. Later, when my fellow flight students and I, in training at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi, clustered around a small television watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, little did I know that one of the key figures responsible for its success was an unassuming black woman from West Virginia: Katherine Johnson. Hidden Figures is both an upcoming book and an upcoming movie about her incredible life, and, as the title suggests, Katherine worked behind the scenes but with incredible impact…

..“In math, you’re either right or you’re wrong,” she said. Her succinct words belie a deep curiosity about the world and dedication to her discipline, despite the prejudices of her time against both women and African-Americans. It was her duty to calculate orbital trajectories and flight times relative to the position of the moon—you know, simple things. In this day and age, when we increasingly rely on technology, it’s hard to believe that John Glenn himself tasked Katherine to double-check the results of the computer calculations before his historic orbital flight, the first by an American. The numbers of the human computer and the machine matched.

With a slide rule and a pencil, Katherine advanced the cause of human rights and the frontier of human achievement at the same time. Having graduated from high school at 14 and college at 18 at a time when African-Americans often did not go beyond the eighth grade, she used her amazing facility with geometry to calculate Alan Shepard’s flight path and took the Apollo 11 crew to the moon to orbit it, land on it, and return safely to Earth…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Nicholas Guyatt’s ‘Bind Us Apart’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-08-23 19:28Z by Steven

Nicholas Guyatt’s ‘Bind Us Apart’

Book Reviews
The New York Times
2016-04-29

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History
Columbia University, New York, New York

BIND US APART
How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation
By Nicholas Guyatt
Illustrated. 403 pp. Basic Books. $29.99.

Half a century ago, inspired by the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, historians embarked on an effort to identify the origins of racial segregation. C. Vann Woodward insisted that rather than existing from time immemorial, as the ruling’s opponents claimed, segregation emerged in the 1890s. Others located its genesis in Reconstruction or the pre-Civil War North.

Eventually, the debate faded. Now, Nicholas Guyatt offers a new interpretation. Segregation and its ideological justification “separate but equal,” he argues, originated in the early Republic in the efforts of “enlightened Americans” to uplift and protect Indians and African-­Americans. After trying and abandoning other policies, these reformers and policy makers concluded that only separation from whites — removal of Indians to the trans-Mississippi West and blacks to Africa — would enable these groups to enjoy their natural rights and achieve economic and cultural advancement. Thus, almost from the outset, the idea of separating the races was built into the DNA of the United States.

Guyatt, who teaches at the University of Cambridge, is the author of a well-­regarded book on the history of the idea (still very much alive today) that God has chosen this country for a special mission. In “Bind Us Apart” he addresses another theme central to our national identity: Who is an American? To find an answer he offers a detailed account of early national policies toward Indians and blacks…

…One of Guyatt’s surprising findings is how many liberals believed that the Indian population should be assimilated through intermarriage. “You will mix with us by marriage,” [Thomas] Jefferson told an Indian delegation in 1808. “We shall all be Americans.” Not all whites agreed, of course. In the 1820s “all hell broke loose” in Cornwall, Conn., when two young Indian men who arrived to study at a religious school ended up marrying local white women…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , ,

Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-08-23 17:47Z by Steven

Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation

Basic Books
2016-04-26
416 pages
Hardcover ISBN 13: 978-0-465-01841-3

Nicholas Guyatt, University Lecturer in American History
Cambridge University

The surprising and counterintuitive origins of America’s racial crisis

Why did the Founding Fathers fail to include blacks and Indians in their cherished proposition that “all men are created equal”? The usual answer is racism, but the reality is more complex and unsettling. In Bind Us Apart, historian Nicholas Guyatt argues that, from the Revolution through the Civil War, most white liberals believed in the unity of all human beings. But their philosophy faltered when it came to the practical work of forging a color-blind society. Unable to convince others—and themselves—that racial mixing was viable, white reformers began instead to claim that people of color could only thrive in separate republics: in Native states in the American West or in the West African colony of Liberia.

Herein lie the origins of “separate but equal.” Decades before Reconstruction, America’s liberal elite was unable to imagine how people of color could become citizens of the United States. Throughout the nineteenth century, Native Americans were pushed farther and farther westward, while four million slaves freed after the Civil War found themselves among a white population that had spent decades imagining that they would live somewhere else.

Essential reading for anyone disturbed by America’s ongoing failure to achieve true racial integration, Bind Us Apart shows conclusively that “separate but equal” represented far more than a southern backlash against emancipation—it was a founding principle of our nation.

Tags: ,

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

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Mexico, Monographs on 2016-08-23 00:03Z 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.

Tags: , ,

The Pleasures of Taxonomy: Casta Paintings, Classification, and Colonialism

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2016-08-22 23:59Z by Steven

The Pleasures of Taxonomy: Casta Paintings, Classification, and Colonialism

The William and Mary Quarterly
Volume 73, Number 3, July 2016, 3rd series
pages 427-466

Rebecca Earle, Professor
School of Comparative American Studies
University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom

A new model for thinking about the socioracial categories depicted in casta paintings (remarkable eighteenth-century Spanish American images representing the outcome of “racial mixing”) takes seriously both their fluidity and their genealogical character. Approaching classification, and casta paintings, from this direction clarifies the underlying epistemologies that structured colonial society and helps connect the paintings more explicitly to the debates about human difference that captivated Enlightenment thinkers. Ultimately, however, these paintings were produced and collected in the hundreds not simply because they visualized Atlantic debates about classification and human difference but because these visualizations were interesting and pleasant to contemplate. They agreeably roused the pleasures of the imagination via their taxonomic as well as their narrative power. Linking casta paintings to the importance accorded to pleasure in both the scientific and the colonial imagination helps explain their fascination, which derived from their ability to condense the complex interconnections of classification, colonialism, and sexuality into appealing images.

Tags: , , ,

From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-08-22 23:44Z by Steven

From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

McGill-Queen’s University Press
November 2014
712 Pages, 6 x 9
32 b&w photos
ISBN: 9780773544550

Rotem Kowner, Professor
Department of Asian Studies
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel

An examination of the evolution of European racial views of the Japanese.

When Europeans first landed in Japan they encountered people they perceived as white-skinned and highly civilized, but these impressions did not endure. Gradually the Europeans’ positive impressions faded away and Japanese were seen as yellow-skinned and relatively inferior.

Accounting for this dramatic transformation, From White to Yellow is a groundbreaking study of the evolution of European interpretations of the Japanese and the emergence of discourses about race in early modern Europe. Transcending the conventional focus on Africans and Jews within the rise of modern racism, Rotem Kowner demonstrates that the invention of race did not emerge in a vacuum in eighteenth-century Europe, but rather was a direct product of earlier discourses of the “Other.” This compelling study indicates that the racial discourse on the Japanese, alongside the Chinese, played a major role in the rise of the modern concept of race. While challenging Europe’s self-possession and sense of centrality, the discourse delayed the eventual consolidation of a hierarchical worldview in which Europeans stood immutably at the apex.

Drawing from a vast array of primary sources, From White to Yellow traces the racial roots of the modern clash between Japan and the West.

Table of Contents

  • Figures
  • Note on Translations and Conventions
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • PHASE ONE SPECULATION: Pre-Encounter Knowledge of the Japanese (1300-1543)
    • 1 The Emergence of “Cipangu” and Its Precursory Ethnography
    • 2 The “Cipanguese” at the Opening of the Age of Discovery
  • PHASE TWO OBSERVATION: A Burgeoning Discourse of Initial Encounters (1543-1640)
    • 3 Initial Observations of the Japanese
    • 4 The Japanese Position in Contemporary Hierarchies
    • 5 Concrete Mirrors of a New Human Order
    • 6 “Race” and Its Cognitive Limits during the Phase of Observation
  • PHASE THREE RECONSIDERATION: Antecedents of a Mature Discourse (1640-1735)
    • 7 Dutch Reappraisal of the Japanese Body and Origins
    • 8 Power, Status, and the Japanese Position in the Global Order
    • 9 In Search of a New Taxonomy: Botany, Medicine, and the Japanese
    • 10 “Race” and Its Perceptual Limits during the Phase of Reconsideration
  • Conclusion: The Discourse of Race in Early Modern Europe and the Japanese Case
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Tags: , ,

‘War Brides of Japan’ To Take Focus in New Documentary

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-08-22 23:18Z by Steven

‘War Brides of Japan’ To Take Focus in New Documentary

NBC News
2016-08-10

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Journalist and filmmaker Yayoi Lena Winfrey is looking for more Japanese “war brides” to interview as she completes the filming for her feature-length documentary film, “War Brides of Japan.” With many of these women in their mid-80s, Winfrey said that time is critical to document their stories. With interviews already scheduled for 11 and their adult children in eight cities and three states this month, Winfrey hopes to find more women and families to interview along the way…

According to Winfrey, approximately 50,000 “war brides” came to the United States from Japan starting in 1947. Many were disowned by their families for marrying those who had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then occupied Japan, Winfrey said. Others were rejected by their American in-laws for being foreigners. Some were abandoned by the American servicemen who married them while some were also ostracized by the Japanese-American community, only just released from the incarceration camps of World War II. Some were falsely stereotyped as prostitutes, while others were blamed for causing World War II, she said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Skin Color Still Plays Big Role In Ethnically Diverse Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-22 21:49Z by Steven

Skin Color Still Plays Big Role In Ethnically Diverse Brazil

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2013-09-19

Audie Cornish, Host

Melissa Block visits a historic section of Rio de Janeiro that pays homage to Afro-Brazilian history and the many slaves that came ashore there. She talks with Brazilian filmmaker Joel Zito Araujo about what it means to be black or mixed race in Brazil, and how skin color still dictates many aspects of life.


Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Race And Radicalism In Puerto Rico: An Interview With Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-19 01:11Z by Steven

Race And Radicalism In Puerto Rico: An Interview With Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)
2016-08-02

Devyn Spence Benson, Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies
Louisiana State University

This month I interviewed Dr. Carlos Alamo-Pastrana about his new book, Seams of Empire: Race and Radicalism in Puerto Rico and the United States (University Press of Florida, 2016). Tracing cultural and political exchanges between African Americans, U.S. white liberals, and Puerto Ricans, this timely work highlights how activists and politicians in both spaces understood race, empire, and colonialism in the 20th century. Alamo-Pastrana illuminates the potential for fruitful multiracial alliances by uncovering the archive of a sub-group of Puerto Rican independentistas called the Proyecto Piloto. Led by Puerto Rican doctor Ana Livia Cordero, who had been married to Julian Mayfield, this group identified Puerto Rico as a black nation, worked to provide education and social services in poor barrios, and sought links with U.S. black radicals. Seams of Empire is a must read for scholars of transnational and diaspora history as well as anyone trying to build black and brown alliances in today’s antiracist movements.

Dr. Carlos Alamo-Pastrana is currently Associate Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources at Vassar College where he is also Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latina/o Studies. His research and teaching interests focus on comparative racial formations, Latino/a Studies, Afro-Latina/o intellectual history, popular culture, and prison studies.

Seams of Empire follows cultural workers and politicians in Puerto Rico and the United States to tell a story about racism, colonialism, and activism. What led you to focus the book on these exchanges?

Alamo-Pastrana: That is such a great question because it really gets at the heart of the book. As someone who studies race in the Americas, I have always found the conversations about race in Puerto Rico a bit limiting. These are in many instances reduced to the realm of popular culture especially music, film, etc. Even more, they are framed in very insular ways that really limit the scope of how we should think about race in broader contexts to include different national, racial, and political movements and groups. This is significant because it helps to produce and circulate some of the troubling forms of racial exceptionalism that I discuss in the book. Even I fell into this trap in some of my earlier research projects on Afro-Puerto Rican folk music.

But, for this book, I felt that I needed to push the analysis beyond the nation-state framework to see the more dynamic ways that people and ideologies travel across different spaces. The book tries to use cultural production and actors in larger global circuits in order to see how race is being (re)configured and used to explain certain political dilemmas…

…In the Introduction, you make a point of saying that you want Puerto Rican Studies scholars to “banish” la gran familia puertorriqueña as an analytical lens for looking at the island (11). What is the grand Puerto Rican family and what dangers (or challenges) does it present to the type of work you do?

Alamo-Pastrana: La gran familia puertorriqueña is one of the foundational state myths that asserts that Puerto Rico is somehow a racially heterogeneous (mestizo), inclusive, and equal nation. It is this, the argument goes, that makes Puerto Rico so much more different than its racist colonizer to the North. Well, you don’t have to look around much in Puerto Rico to see how untrue this is…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , ,