DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, New Media, 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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Projections of Passing: Postwar Anxieties and Hollywood Films, 1947-1960

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2016-10-13 20:34Z by Steven

Projections of Passing: Postwar Anxieties and Hollywood Films, 1947-1960

University Press of Mississippi
284 pages
40 b/w illustrations, filmography, bibliography, index
6 x 9 inches
Hardback ISBN: 9781496806277

N. Megan Kelley

How the cinematic act of passing embodied, exacerbated, and sometimes alleviated American fears

A key concern in postwar America was “who’s passing for whom?” Analyzing representations of passing in Hollywood films reveals changing cultural ideas about authenticity and identity in a country reeling from a hot war and moving towards a cold one. After World War II, passing became an important theme in Hollywood movies, one that lasted throughout the long 1950s, as it became a metaphor to express postwar anxiety.

The potent, imagined fear of passing linked the language and anxieties of identity to other postwar concerns, including cultural obsessions about threats from within. Passing created an epistemological conundrum that threatened to destabilize all forms of identity, not just the long-standing American color line separating white and black. In the imaginative fears of postwar America, identity was under siege on all fronts. Not only were there blacks passing as whites, but women were passing as men, gays passing as straight, communists passing as good Americans, Jews passing as gentiles, and even aliens passing as humans (and vice versa).

Fears about communist infiltration, invasion by aliens, collapsing gender and sexual categories, racial ambiguity, and miscegenation made their way into films that featured narratives about passing. N. Megan Kelley shows that these films transcend genre, discussing Gentleman’s Agreement, Home of the Brave, Pinky, Island in the Sun, My Son John, Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Rebel without a Cause, Vertigo, All about Eve, and Johnny Guitar, among others.

Representations of passing enabled Americans to express anxieties about who they were and who they imagined their neighbors to be. By showing how pervasive the anxiety about passing was, and how it extended to virtually every facet of identity, Projections of Passing broadens the literature on passing in a fundamental way. It also opens up important counternarratives about postwar America and how the language of identity developed in this critical period of American history.

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Gentleman Jigger: A Novel of the Harlem Renaissance

Posted in Books, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2016-10-10 00:15Z by Steven

Gentleman Jigger: A Novel of the Harlem Renaissance

Da Capo Press
2008-01-23 (originally written in 1928)
352 pages
5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
ISBN: 978-0786720637

Richard Bruce Nugent (1906-1987)

An important addition to the literature of the period, Gentleman Jigger is the story of two brothers. Aeon, who passes for white and becomes a famous poet, faces the conundrums of love across the color line. Stuartt, who is openly homosexual-as was the author-joins the younger intellectuals of Harlem in defying authority figures, both black and white, at the notorious “Niggeratti Manor.” After the group disperses, Stuartt moves to Greenwich Village and becomes sexually involved with a young hoodlum. Charming and audacious, Stuartt eventually seduces one of the gangster’s top bosses, Orini, before his friendships with Wayne, a young heiress, and Bebe, Orini’s “moll,” set them all spinning in a whirlwind of jazz-age glamour and celebrity…that ends in an ironic dénouement.

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Who Are We, Really?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-10-08 01:05Z by Steven

Who Are We, Really?

View from Rue Saint-Georges
The American Scholar

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Detail from The Redemption of Ham by Modesto Brocos y Gómez (1895)

Lately, as I’ve been working on my second book, a meditation on the absurdity of sorting human beings into metaphorical color categories, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of passing. In his 1948 autobiography, A Man Called White, the pale-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed former NAACP leader, Walter White, observed, “Many Negroes are judged as whites. Every year approximately twelve-thousand white-skinned Negroes disappear—people whose absence cannot be explained by death or emigration.” Or as Henry Louis Gates Jr. has tabulated more recently, “How many ostensibly ‘white’ Americans walking around today would be classified as ‘black’ under the one-drop rule? Judging by the last U.S. Census, 7,872,702. To put that in context, that number is equal to roughly 20 percent, or a fifth, of the total number of people identified as African American in the same census count!”…

Read the entire article here.

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Towne Street Theatre Announces Special Events During the Limited Engagement Run of PassingSOLO

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-29 01:04Z by Steven

Towne Street Theatre Announces Special Events During the Limited Engagement Run of PassingSOLO

Los Angeles

Towne Street Theatre, L.A.’s premiere African-American Theatre Company, is proud to announce that there will be a number of special events during the limited engagement run of “PassingSOLO.” The production, which runs for three weeks only from October 8 – 23 at the Stella Adler Theatre, will offer theatre-goers receptions, special presentations, and talkbacks.

Nancy Cheryll Davis’ acclaimed one-woman show is adapted from Nella Larsen’s 1927 novella and the Towne Street Theatre play “Passing.” “PassingSOLO” will be in L.A. for a limited engagement before she takes it to Germany this fall, where it will be presented at the University of Duisburg in Essen, Germany.

It’s the height of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and like a moth to a flame, Irene Westover Redfield is drawn to childhood friend Clare Kendry Bellew, who’s suddenly reappeared in her life. Both share a secret. Their birth certificates read “Negro” but both can – and do – pass as white. In fact, Clare’s been married to a wealthy, white racist for twenty years. Now she’s sought out Irene as she flirts with her roots. A memory play, “PassingSOLO” explores the conflicting demands of race and friendship; the slippery line between trust and deception – always with the danger of discovery. Nancy Cheryll Davis portrays both Irene and Clare, as their renewed friendship exposes the price we pay in a society where freedom is bought with deceit. Check out this video on Youtube to learn more about PassingSOLO

Read the entire article here.

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Opinion: “White spaces” are everywhere – including ARC

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-28 00:03Z by Steven

Opinion: “White spaces” are everywhere – including ARC

The American River Current
Sacramento, California

Shiavon Chatman

Imagine being alone in a place where there was no one who looked like you or understood your experiences.

Imagine having a conversation with someone who assumed the actions and behaviors of people who looked like you and made predictions about the way you conducted yourself.

Being a person of color in a predominantly “white space” is similar to this.

Author Toni Morrison addresses this very idea of oppression and loneliness that comes with being racially stereotyped in her first novel entitled “The Bluest Eye.”

In her novel, the main character Pecola is “(the) little black girl who want(s) to rise up out of her pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes.”

The idea of “colorblindness” doesn’t exist. No matter how progressive and accepting a person is, they will see color.

Recognizing color, or rather, race and ethnicity, is being consciously aware of the social injustices and stereotypes that people of color experience.

American River College [(ARC)] student Alyssa Senna said “I feel like there’s a stereotype for all people of color and that’s how white people see us.”…

…The stigma of being a person of color in predominantly white spaces has the same level of intensity for mixed people.

“I feel almost like an alien at times,” said ARC student, Sade Butler, “because I’m black, white, and Filipino and I’m of a medium complexion, (so) a lot of people don’t see me as a person of color.”

Mixed people typically experience more privilege, referred to as “passing”, than non-mixed people of color, except in predominantly “white spaces.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians by Angela Pulley Hudson (review)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion, United States on 2016-09-26 00:00Z by Steven

Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians by Angela Pulley Hudson (review)

The Journal of the Civil War Era
Volume 6, Number 3, September 2016
pages 439-442
DOI: 10.1353/cwe.2016.0058

Adam Pratt, Assistant Professor of History
University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania

Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians. By Angela Pulley Hudson. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. Pp. 270. Paper $29.95.)

Angela Pulley Hudson’s Real Native Genius traces the lives of two individuals who, in the 1840s, convinced thousands of Americans that they were Native Americans. Calling themselves Okah Tubbee and Laah Ceil, the couple toured the Northeast as musicians who performed for large audiences and, later, offered medical cures. Hudson argues that audiences took the couple’s Indianness seriously and offers a host of cultural factors, such as the market revolution and religious revivalism, that explain their success. What she finds is that the Indian portrayals by Warner McCary, a mixed-race former slave from Mississippi, and Lucy Stanton, a Mormon from New York, tapped into Americans’ perceptions of Native people. Their performances lacked authenticity, but they were readily believable to an eastern, white audience that shared the same misconceptions about Native beliefs and practices. When evangelicals or early Mormons spoke in tongues, they were thought to be “talking Injun” (49); likewise, remedies hocked by charlatans were called “Indian cures” (124). These widely held ideas about a singular Native culture and identity, one that was widely constructed by white popular culture, allowed the couple to don identities believable enough to American audiences desperate for Native authenticity.

Born a slave in Natchez, Mississippi, around 1810, Warner McCary had a sad childhood. His purported mother, a slave, and her other children were manumitted, while he was not. McCary long disputed the idea that his owner was his father and instead claimed a Choctaw father. Although McCary lacked a sense of belonging from his family, he found respite in the fact that, starting at a young age, he could please people by playing them music. By 1839, he had run away to New Orleans, where he became something of a renowned musician and fashioned a new identity for himself as a performer. Urged to travel to widen his audience, in 1843 he met Lucy Stanton, a divorcée with three children, whose life had been spent with the nascent Mormon Church. Because Native Americans “were seen as an essential part of the faith’s millenarian promise,” they played a vital role in Mormon theology (45). Mormonism, according to Hudson, was instrumental when it came to the couple’s adoption and perpetuation of ideas about Indians.

In early 1846, the couple married and soon thereafter moved to Cincinnati, where they attempted to convert followers. McCary claimed to be both an Indian and a resurrected Christ, which caused several raised eyebrows. The local press portrayed McCary as “a unique sort of pied piper, leading followers to ruin and relieving them of their dollars” (72). This was the couple’s first foray into being “professional Indians,” an antebellum phenomenon that capitalized on “audiences’ desires for trivia on the vanishing race” (74–75). However, by early 1847 they had joined the Mormons at Winter Quarters, where they soon found themselves in trouble. It appeared that McCary had been seducing Mormon women with the help of his wife. McCary’s behavior, combined with lingering questions about his race, led to his being forced out of town by angry neighbors. By the fall of 1847, McCary and Stanton had traveled east and become professional Indians.

Unlike so many Americans who chased their fortunes in the west, Okah Tubbee and Laah Ceil understood that their brand could succeed only in the East. Impersonating Indians could work only where Indians no longer existed and where misconceptions were widespread. In the East, Tubbee demonstrated his “native genius” when he performed renditions of “La Marseillaise,” a way to show that he was untaught and that he possessed natural gifts because of his heritage. After several years of touring, Tubbee became embroiled in controversy when he married another woman who was unaware of the fact that he already had a wife. As public opinion turned against him, he vanished, lost to the historical record.

Laah Ceil made a name for herself in Buffalo, where she sold medicines until the 1860s. Her…

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Meta-Melodrama: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Appropriates Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-25 23:16Z by Steven

Meta-Melodrama: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Appropriates Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon

Modern Drama
Volume 59, Number 3, Fall 2016
pages 285-305

Verna A. Foster, Professor of English
Loyola University Chicago

In adapting the nineteenth-century melodrama The Octoroon, Jacobs-Jenkins both satirizes Boucicault’s racial assumptions and emulates his aesthetic principles to produce a meta-melodrama, a play that at once celebrates and critiques its own form while providing a stinging indictment of racial attitudes in the twenty-first century. This essay draws on both the published script and audience responses to Soho Repertory Theatre’s two stagings of the play in 2014 and 2015 gleaned from reviews, blogs, and interviews. The contemporary context and cross-racial casting of An Octoroon ironize and adapt the meaning of Boucicault’s play, making it appropriate for the twenty-first century. Through his use of italicization, Brechtian quotation, the new contemporary dialogue he writes for the slave characters, and his shocking updated sensation scene, Jacobs-Jenkins induces his audience to question their own and each other’s racial reactions even as they are caught up in the play.

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Racism faced by black nuns in America called ‘dangerous memory’

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States, Women on 2016-09-13 21:04Z by Steven

Racism faced by black nuns in America called ‘dangerous memory’

Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse

Andrew Nelson, Catholic News Service

In early American history black women could be accepted into orders of nuns only if they could “pass for white,” and later they faced significant racial prejudice. Despite all that, they became role models for the black community in America and served as spiritual leaders.

ATLANTA – Black women desiring to serve a life devoted to the Catholic faith were not welcomed by religious communities with anti-black acceptance requirements from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, said historian Shannen Dee Williams.

Those who could gain admittance faced discrimination from their fellow sisters, she added.

“Black sisters matter, but they constitute a dangerous memory for the church,” said Williams, assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

She was joined by Sister Anita Baird, a Daughter of the Heart of Mary, and Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, on an Aug. 12 panel discussing racism in religious life at the assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Atlanta.

Williams’ upcoming book is called “Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America.” It was the subject of her doctoral dissertation at Rutgers University…

Read the entire article here.

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Herriman: Cartoonist who equalled Cervantes

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-09 19:56Z by Steven

Herriman: Cartoonist who equalled Cervantes

The Telegraph

Sarah Boxer

Sarah Boxer marvels at the world of George Herriman, the creator of the ludicrously imaginative comic strip Krazy Kat

We call him “Cat,” We call him “Crazy” yet is he neither. – George Herriman on the title character of Krazy Kat

There is no comic strip simpler, on the face of it, than Krazy Kat. In its 31-year run (from 1913 to 1944) the plot never changed much. Ignatz Mouse, sadist supreme, aims to bean the beribboned Krazy Kat, soulful innocent, with a brick, and usually succeeds. Krazy Kat takes the brick, even seeks it out, as a missile of love. And Krazy’s secret admirer, the police dog Offissa Bull Pupp, throws the errant mouse in jail. All’s well.

Yet despite the repetition, Krazy Kat is endlessly perplexing, energetic, deep and playful.

In Krazy Kat, George Herriman made everything indeterminate. He set the strip among the rocky outcroppings of Monument Valley, opening up the funnies to vast, abstract spaces. (Yes, he beat John Ford there.) He made the trees, rocks and moons shift shape from frame to frame for no apparent reason. His free-floating page design, with its mad array of wheels, zigzags and frames within frames, kept changing…

…In 1971, however, the Krazy world changed. While researching an article on Herriman for the Dictionary of American Biography, the sociologist Arthur Asa Berger got a copy of Herriman’s birth certificate. Although Herriman died Caucasian, in Los Angeles in 1944, the very same George Herriman, the son of two mulatto parents, was born “colored” in New Orleans in 1880…

Read the entire article here.

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