Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America – Book Review

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-01 20:15Z by Steven

Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America – Book Review

National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA)
2016-04-04

Shauna Harris

Rockquemore, Kerry Ann and David L. Brunsma, Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America (Second Edition) (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

Beyond Black is a groundbreaking study that used both interview and survey data of young black/white individuals that sought to understand the meaning of being racially mixed in the United States by providing a theoretical and methodical analysis of racial identity for multiracial individuals in post-civil rights America.

Kerry Ann Rockquemore and David Brunsma document the comprehensive range of racial identities of individuals that have one Black and one White parent and provide a sociological explanation of the identity choices facing those who are racially mixed. The purpose of focusing on black/white racially mixed individuals stems from the fact these two groups still have the most social and spatial separation in the United States. Racial categorization among black/white individuals still poses continuing questions about how racially mixed individuals construct their identity and the constant use of the one-drop rule to identity multiracial individuals as black…

Read the entire review here.

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Blackass: a race rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing on 2016-04-18 00:04Z by Steven

Blackass: a race rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

The Guardian
2016-04-13

Ainehi Edoro

Ainehi Edoro reflects on Blackass, a novel that subjects Kafka’s classic to African literary conventions – and, in the process, gives an iconic European story ‘an extreme but necessary makeover’

Last year, I received a review copy of A Igoni Barrett’s Blackass from his Nigerian publisher. I knew it was a rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I just didn’t know what to expect. To be quite frank, I was a bit worried. Kafka has not always lived a happy life in Africa. When Guinean novelist Camara Laye wrote a Kafka-inspired novel, he was dragged through a gauntlet of scandals. Kind commentators called his work derivative and unoriginal. Others were less kind. They accused him of borderline plagiarism. Some even went as far as suggesting that he couldn’t have written the novel without the help of a ghostwriter of some kind. But Blackass, it turns out, is different. Barrett essentially subjects Kafka’s classic to the pressures African literary conventions, and, in the process, gives an iconic European story an extreme, but much needed makeover.

Both stories share the premise of a human body undergoing a change so abrupt and so drastic that the old body is unrecognizable in the new one. But there is a key difference. The Metamorphosis tells the story of a man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one non-descript morning and finds he is a human-size bug. But in Blackass, Furo Wariboko wakes up and finds he has been transformed into a white man while his buttocks remain black, hence the title Blackass. This shift from animal to racial metamorphosis initiates a series of aesthetic interventions that reveal just how much Kafka’s beloved story was begging to be upgraded for the contemporary reader…

Read the entire review here.

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Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South by Melissa Schrift (review)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2016-04-12 02:30Z by Steven

Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South by Melissa Schrift (review)

Journal of American Folklore
Volume 129, Number 511, Winter 2016
pages 102-103

Jim Clark

Melissa Schrift, Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013)

In the thorough but concise introduction to her book Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South, East Tennessee State University Anthropology Professor Melissa Schrift comes quickly to the following conclusion: “Thus, in my research, interviews with individuals living in Melungeon-related areas resulted in an overwhelming lack of oral history evidence that being Melungeon related to any kind of experiential reality distinct from being Appalachian” (p. 22). The archival material, as well, she says, reinforces the conclusion that “there is simply no evidence that Melungeons existed as a culturally bounded group of people” (p. 22). This being the case, and admitted so early on, one might wonder why she would bother to complete her book about Melungeon identity. Schrift’s purpose, as she states, is to examine the social construction of Melungeon identity especially through the complex and sometimes contradictory lenses of race and class. Specifically, Schrift claims:

In this book I argue that the contemporary revitalization of Melungeon identity borrows from the past to create a new white ethnicity that capitalizes on the cache [sic] of the cultural exotic while underplaying stigmatized aspects of heritage. I trace the ways in which individuals employ genealogy, blood metaphors, narratives of oppression, and physiological traits as they become Melungeon. In this way the process of becoming Melungeon reflects a kind of racial passing from a collectively imagined whiteness to a more desirable non-white, or, perhaps, off-white, otherness.

(p. 28)

In chapters 1 and 2, Schrift explores early media representations of the Melungeons, a mysterious, dark-skinned, presumably mixed-race people living in Hancock County, in northeast Tennessee. Schrift ties these writings, the earliest dating from about 1880, to the literary “local color” movement, an early, nationalistic phase of the progression toward literary realism that focused on the quaint, the atmospheric, the colorful, and the unusual, in language that typically featured large amounts of equally colorful and unusual dialect. “The effect of local color writing in Appalachia, and elsewhere,” Schrift writes, “was to create images of an exotic otherness” (p. 33). One of the earliest and most popular writers to depict the Melungeons was “a female Nashville reporter named Will Allen Dromgoole” who had indeed actually visited Hancock County and talked with the natives. “Dromgoole’s articles were sensationalistic and ethnocentric,” Schrift says, “producing a national template for future media coverage on Melungeons” (p. 38). Continuing in chapter 2 with an analysis of the media representation of Melungeons over the next 100 years, roughly speaking, Schrift reaches a startling conclusion:

A critical analysis of hundreds of Melungeon articles yields an incredible truth—the Melungeon story is a respindled yarn with little or no basis in ethnographic reality. As I examine the context in which the earliest Melungeon articles were written, I argue that the media manufactured a Melungeon legend that has little to do with any lived experiences of an identifiable group of people.

(p. 53)

Much like other perennial mysteries—UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot—the Melungeon legend is largely a socially constructed “media phantasm” (p. 68).

However, this is hardly the end of this fascinating story. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an outdoor drama about the Melungeons, Walk Toward the Sunset, was produced in Hancock County. The brainchild of some members of the Hancock County Resource Development Committee, working with Carson Newman College Professors Gary Farley and Joe Mack High in 1966, the play was regionally popular. It was, however, somewhat controversial locally, especially owing to short-lived bus tours through Vardy Valley, in Hancock County, organized by local businessman and Development Committee member Claude Collins, during which it was suggested that tourists might be able to catch a glimpse of an actual Melungeon. Nevertheless, the impact of the drama on the Melungeon legend, as well as on Hancock County, was large. As Schrift points out: “With the drama, Melungeonness secured a public presence in the community for the first time, and the media gained a foothold to talk about Melungeons in a tangible way” (p. 69).

In chapters 4 and 5, Schrift shifts her focus “from media representations of Melungeons to social constructions of Melungeon identity vis-à-vis…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Coiled Serpent: Poems that Protect, in New Anthology

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-12 02:13Z by Steven

Coiled Serpent: Poems that Protect, in New Anthology

KCET
Burbank, California
2016-04-01

Mike Sonksen


The coiled serpent serves as a poetic totem to protect the City of Angels. Published by Tia Chucha Press

Over the last five years, a number of books and anthologies have been published to spotlight literary Los Angeles and its rich landscape of poets and writers. The newest anthology is the most extensive yet. Tia Chucha Press has just released, “Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles.” Edited by Neelanjana Banerjee, Daniel A. Olivas and Ruben J. Rodriguez, this collection includes 160 poets from well-known seasoned scribes like Wanda Coleman, Kamau Daaood, Michael C. Ford, California State Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, Peter J. Harris, Ruben Martinez, S. Pearl Sharp, Amy Uyematsu and Terry Wolverton to up-and-coming younger bards like Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, F. Douglas Brown, Jessica Ceballos, Chiwan Choi, Francisco Escamilla, William Gonzalez, Douglas Kearney, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Teka Lark, Karineh Mahdessian, Jeffrey Martin, Luivette Resto and Vickie Vertiz.

The book is dedicated to three great writers who have died in the last few years: Wanda Coleman, John Trudell and Francisco Alarcon. The volume’s four-page “Introduction,” is written by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez and it goes a long way to describe the collection’s spirit…

Read the entire review here.

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Book Review: Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana by Carina Ray

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-04-04 00:09Z by Steven

Book Review: Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana by Carina Ray

Africa at LSE
London School of Economics
2016-03-18

Yovanka Perdigao

Yovanka Perdigao praises Crossing the Color Line:Race, Sex and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana for dismantling preconceptions of interracial couples in colonial Ghana.

Carina E Ray’s first book Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana both surprises and delights its readers as it navigates through the lives and politics of interracial couples in Britain and Ghana. It explores how such interracial relationships from precolonial to post-independent Ghana had an enormous impact in the making of modern Britain and Ghana.

The book highlights the evolving attitudes of both British and Ghanaian societies, and how each sought to negotiate these relationships. Despite one being familiar with the topics at hand, one is left surprised as the author explores the micro politics of disciplinary cases against colonial officers who challenged the British Crown by keeping local women; to the making of transatlantic networks in the eve of Ghanaian independence…

Read the entire reveiw here.

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‘The Firebrand and the First Lady,’ by Patricia Bell-Scott

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-04-03 02:40Z by Steven

‘The Firebrand and the First Lady,’ by Patricia Bell-Scott

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2016-02-19

Irin Carmon


Pauli Murray, in 1946, and Eleanor Roosevelt, circa 1943. Credit Left, Bettmann/Corbis; right, Stock Montage/Getty Images

Patricia Bell-Scott, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016)

The February 1953 issue of Ebony included an article entitled “Some of My Best Friends Are Negroes.” The byline was Eleanor Roosevelt’s, though the headline, apparently, was not. “One of my finest young friends is a charming woman lawyer — Pauli Murray, who has been quite a firebrand at times but of whom I am very fond,” Roosevelt wrote. “She is a lovely person who has struggled and come through very well.” Indeed, nothing was ever easy for Murray, a black woman born in 1910, a woman attracted to women and also a poet, memoirist, lawyer, activist and Episcopal priest. But her tender friendship with Roosevelt, sustained over nearly a quarter-century and more than 300 cards and letters, helped. It is the rich earth Patricia Bell-Scott tills for “The Firebrand and the First Lady,” a tremendous book that has been 20 years in the making.

You could say Pauli Murray was born too soon, and saying so captures the essential injustice of her life, but it would also rob her of credit for making her own time the best she could. “I’m really a submerged writer,” Murray once told her friends, “but the exigencies of the period have driven me into social action.” The granddaughter of a woman born into slavery and a mixed-race Union soldier, Murray was arrested for refusing to sit in the colored section of a bus 15 years before the Montgomery bus boycott and for participating in restaurant sit-ins in the early 1940s, long before the 1960 sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter. She led a national campaign on behalf of a black sharecropper on death row…

Read the entire review here.

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‘The Black Calhouns,’ by Gail Lumet Buckley

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-03 02:13Z by Steven

‘The Black Calhouns,’ by Gail Lumet Buckley

Book Review
The New York Times
2016-03-16

Patricia J. Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

THE BLACK CALHOUNS
From Civil War to Civil Rights With One African American Family
By Gail Lumet Buckley
Illustrated. 353 pp. Atlantic Monthly Press. $26.

In “The Black Calhouns,” Gail Lumet Buckley displays a particularly panoramic view of American society. Daughter of the legendary entertainer Lena Horne, she was raised among show-business royalty. But as the descendant of a privileged and lucky line of well-educated African-American professionals, she also grew up related to or knowing nearly every major figure in the movements for racial, gender and economic equality, from Reconstruction onward.

The name “Calhoun” is mostly remembered today in association with our ardently secessionist seventh vice president, John C. Calhoun, a fiery orator who fashioned his conviction that slavery was a “positive good” into the ideology of states’ rights. His nephew was Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun, a wealthy doctor who owned the slaves whose descendants include Buckley’s and Horne’s maternal line. This link between history’s white founding fathers and the slave families who carried their names into freedom is a story with which most African-Americans are all too familiar, but one that has remained remarkably suppressed as a matter of general public knowledge. Only in recent years have some stories come to light, such as Annette Gordon-Reed’s excavation of Sally Hemings’s genealogy and Essie Mae Washington-Williams’s revelation that Strom Thurmond fathered her by a black family maid…

Read the entire review here.

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Pao by Kerry Young – review

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2016-04-03 01:42Z by Steven

Pao by Kerry Young – review

The Guardian
2011-07-03

Ian Thomson

Young, Kerry, Pao: A Novel (London, Oxford, New York, New Delhi, Sydney: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011)

Kerry Young’s mesmerising first novel celebrates Jamaica’s ethnic melting pot, and the lost world of Kingston’s Chinatown

Jamaica, where Kerry Young was born in 1955, is an island of bewildering mixed bloods and ethnicities. Lebanese, British, Asian, Jewish and aboriginal Taíno Indian have all intermarried to form an indecipherable blend of Caribbean peoples. In some ways, this multi-shaded community of nations was a more “modern” society than postwar Britain, where Jamaicans migrated in numbers during the 1950s and 60s. British calls for racial purity often puzzled these newcomers from the anglophone West Indies, as racial mixing was not new to them. Jamaica remains a nation both parochial and international in its collision of African, Asian and European cultures.

Young, the daughter of a Chinese father and a mother of mixed Chinese-African heritage, came to Britain in 1965 at the age of 10. Pao, her zingy first novel, lovingly recreates the Jamaican-Chinese world of her childhood, with its betting parlours, laundries, fortune-telling shops, supermarkets and (business being a hard game in Jamaica) gang warfare. The Chinese first arrived in Jamaica in the 1840s, we learn, as indentured labourers. Having escaped this indignity, they set up business in the Jamaican capital of Kingston selling lychee ice cream, oysters and booby (sea bird) eggs. Racial tensions developed between them and their black neighbours; mixed marriages were generally frowned on. Ian Fleming, in his Jamaican extravaganza Dr No, wrote disapprovingly of the island’s yellow-black “Chigroes“…

Read the entire review here.

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Who’s the most photographed American man of the 19th Century? HINT: It’s not Lincoln…

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-31 00:35Z by Steven

Who’s the most photographed American man of the 19th Century? HINT: It’s not Lincoln…

The Washington Post
2016-03-15

Jennifer Beeson Gregory

Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass would become one of the most well-known abolitionists, orators, and writers of his time. He understood and heralded not only the power of the written or spoken word, but also the power of the visual image — especially, his own likeness. He therefore sat for portraits wherever and whenever he could. As a result, Douglass was photographed more than any other American of his era: 160 distinct images (mostly portraits) have survived, more than Abraham Lincoln at 126. Many of these rare, historically significant images are published for the first time in “Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American,” by John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd and Celeste-Marie Bernier.

This book shows all 160 photos and delves into Douglass’s life and passions, including photography. In his writings, Douglass praises Louis Daguerre, who invented the daguerreotype, which made the developing process easier and cheaper, and in turn made photography available to the masses. By the mid-19th century, there were portrait studios all over the Northern United States. Almost everyone in a free state could afford to have their picture taken — even non-whites. Douglass therefore called photography a “democratic art.”…


Unknown Photographer, Honeymoon with Helen Pitts in Niagara Falls, N.Y., August 1884. Albumen print (Frederick Douglass National Historic Site/National Park Service)

Read the entire article here.

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Book Review – Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2016-03-20 16:47Z by Steven

Book Review – Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World

Mixed Race Feminist Blog
2016-03-18

Nicola Codner
Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World, Sharon H. Chang, Routledge, 2016, 264pp, £27.99, ISBN 978-1612058481

I was really excited to finally get my hands on a copy of this excellent book which focusses on how to navigate successfully raising Asian multiracial children in today’s world. The main argument of the book is that in order to do this parents must analyse their own understanding of racial issues, and seek to expand their knowledge and awareness in this area so they can adequately support their offspring. Considering the content of the book, the mention of ‘a post-racial world’ in its title can only be taken as tongue-in-cheek since the writer argues throughout the text that the world is anything but this and sets about exposing how white racism continues to be pernicious and pervasive, simply mutating over time rather than weakening in power.

The book is split into an introduction followed by 8 chapters and is based on an interview study conducted by the author with multiracial Asian parents. The study explored multiracial Asian parents’ approaches to parenting in conjunction with their attitudes regarding race. Chang, who is an activist, writer and scholar, is multiracial Asian herself, as is her husband. The study highlighted parents often neglect appropriate conversations around race with their children and thus do not support them in developing good self-esteem and coping skills when it comes to dealing with racism…

Read the entire review here.

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