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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Surrealism, Non-Normative Sexualities, and Racial Identities in Popular Culture: the Case of the Newspaper Comic Strip Krazy Kat

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-09 18:32Z by Steven

Surrealism, Non-Normative Sexualities, and Racial Identities in Popular Culture: the Case of the Newspaper Comic Strip Krazy Kat

Revista Comunicación
Number 11, Volume 11 (2013)
pages 51-66

Jesus Jiménez-Varea, Professor
University of Seville, Seville, Spain

In Krazy Kat, George Herriman painted with humorous strokes the endless variations of a sexual pantomime that challenged the boundaries of gender, race, and even species, in a recurrent pattern of sadomasochism and unrequited feelings: Krazy, a cat of indeterminate sex, is madly in love with the mouse Ignatz, whose greatest pleasure in life is throwing bricks at the feline character; such aggressions do nothing but increase Krazy’s passion for the rodent; at the same time, Krazy has a silent admirer of his/her own in Offfisa Pupp, who puts the elusive Ignatz in prison once and again. Such a minimalist tragicomedy develops against the ever-changing background of a dreamlike desert, which accentuates the surrealism of the strip. Strangely enough, this unorthodox piece of comic work appeared for over three decades in papers of the Hearst chain, with the personal support of this press tycoon. The following text traces connections between Krazy Kat and surrealistic sensibilities, and offers an interpretation of this graphic narrative in terms of sex, psychology and race.

…Either consciously or not, in some sense, in Krazy Kat Herriman codified a discourse about his own kind of “queerness”, as his posthumous outing revealed almost three decades after his death. However, instead of the proverbial closet, it would be more proper to say that the cartoonist was brought out of a cabin, for the social identity he had kept mostly secret throughout his life did not have anything to do with his sexual orientation but with his racial origins. In 1971, Arthur Asa Berger discovered that Herriman had been described as coloured by the New Orleans Board of Health in his birth certificate and his parents had been listed as mulatto in the 1880 census. According to Harvey, Herriman “was probably one of the ‘colored’ Creoles who lived in New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century –descendants of “free persons of color” who had intermarried with people of French, Spanish, and West Indian stock” (1994: 179). Whatever the precise blend of races that made up his ethnic identity, Herriman chose to pass as white and took great care to conceal any features that may have given his true ancestry away, so much so that he wore a Stetson hat all the time most likely in order to hide his black curled hair. Apparently, Herriman’s “passing” was so successful that he was listed as Caucasian in his death certificate and his own granddaughter did not learn the truth about the racial origins of her family until Berger’s discovery: “That was a family secret […] I was certainly never told about it” (Heer & Tisserand, 2008: x). In this sense, the cartoonist’s attitude hardly qualified for the kind of revolutionary stance Breton seemed to be invoking when he wrote that, “the emancipation of people of colours can only be the work of those people themselves, with all the implications inherent in that” (qtd. in Stansell, 2003: 125126)…

Read the entire article here.

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CSER W4701 Troubling the Color: Passing, Inter-racial Sex, and Ethnic Ambiguity.

Posted in Course Offerings, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-09 17:23Z by Steven

CSER W4701 Troubling the Color: Passing, Inter-racial Sex, and Ethnic Ambiguity.

Barnard College
New York, New York
2016-17 Catalogue

Karl Jacoby, Professor of History
Columbia University, New York, New York

Passing, remarked W.E.B. Du Bois in 1929, “is a petty, silly matter of no real importance which another generation will comprehend with great difficulty.”  Yet passing and related phenomena such as intermarriage continue to raise profound challenges to the U.S.’s racial hierarchy.  How does one differentiate the members of one race from another?  What happens when an individual’s background combines several supposed races?  What do such uncertainties suggest as to the stability of race as a concept?  How might racial passing intersect with other forms of reinvention (women passing as men, queers passing as straight, Jews passing as gentiles)?  Is passing, as Langston Hughes once put it, an ethical response to the injustices of white supremacy: “Most Negroes feel that bigoted white persons deserve to be cheated and fooled since the way they behave towards us makes no moral sense at all”?  Or are passers turning their backs on African-American notions of community and solidarity?  Such dilemmas rendered passing a potent topic not only for turn-of-the-century policy makers but artists and intellectuals as well.  The era’s literature and theater referenced the phenomenon, and celebrated cases of racial passing riveted the public’s attention.  This class will address the complex historical, artistic, and cultural issues that passing has raised in American life.

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Our Secret Family Legacy

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-09-07 00:34Z by Steven

Our Secret Family Legacy

The Rumpus: Not the end of the Internet, but you can see it from here.

Ashlie Kauffman, Senior Poetry Editor

Half my life ago, when I was twenty-one and in my first year out of college, my father brought his new girlfriend back home to Baltimore to visit. It had been over four years since I had last seen him, yet after a lifetime as an alcoholic, he was far from pleasant. We met for dinner at the house of a couple in whose basement he’d lived in before leaving town (I more accurately should say before he had to leave town, because of his then illegal activities). His friends and girlfriend doted on me almost parentally even though we’d just met: the wife, in fact, insisted on giving me four rolls of quarters for my laundry—all three of them engaging in the kind of codependency in which they tried to make up for the frequent offensive statements that my father was dishing out.

The drunker he became, the more personal these statements got, and the more vitriol he loaded into them. He was bragging about things about which anyone else would feel guilty or ashamed, in order to fluff himself up—some things that even now I would never repeat to my mother, for how deeply they pushed the knife. He was enacting the typical bully, typical alcoholic blaming-and-judging behavior: making himself feel better by putting others down. In front of his friends and girlfriend, he criticized my mother for divorcing him and called her, multiple times, “a whore”; then he called her mother—my grandmother—”a nigger.” To prove his point, he slurred, with a knowing tone, as if he were somehow enlightening me, “Your grandmother had nigger lips.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing in Boston: The Story of the Healy Family

Posted in History, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States, Videos on 2016-09-01 01:15Z by Steven

Passing in Boston: The Story of the Healy Family


Boston College history professor, James O’Toole discusses his newest book Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820-1920, which documents the extraordinary life of the Healy brothers of Boston.

In the mid-1800’s, the Healy brothers of Boston, James, Patrick, and Sherwood, looked like the picture of Catholic success. James was bishop of Portland, Maine; Patrick, president of Georgetown University; and Sherwood, chief supervisor of the building of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The Healy’s were not typical members of the Boston Catholic elite, but the children of a multiracial slave couple from Georgia.

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On passing, wishing for darker skin, and finding your people: A conversation between two mulattos

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-08-23 21:41Z by Steven

On passing, wishing for darker skin, and finding your people: A conversation between two mulattos


Collier Meyerson

In 10th grade, I auditioned for the role of Julie in the musical Show Boat, one of the most famous portrayals of the tragic mulatto trope. I was cast, instead, as Queenie, the mammy. I deserved the part of Julie. I had a good singing voice. But there were no black people in my school to play the part of Queenie.

My first personal tragic mulatto moment.

Playing the mammy in Show Boat made me realize something my black mother had always told me and I never believed: the world did not see me as Julie, trying to manage two different backgrounds. It saw me as black. Specifically, white people saw me as black.

On Wednesday, I spoke with Mat Johnson, the author of Loving Day, a new novel that explores the mulatto experience—one that Johnson sees as a subset of the black experience. And one that the United States didn’t recognize until 2000, the first year the Census collected data on people of more than one race…

CM: I don’t personally pass as white. And I’ve always wondered about others who can. Do you ever choose to intentionally pass as white?

MJ: Every single time I get pulled over by a cop. And I feel guilty as I’m doing it, but you have never met a whiter man than me pulled over by a police officer. I mean, I sound like Gomer Pyle.

When I moved to New York I wondered what would happen if I stopped playing up my black identity. And I basically just let that go. I didn’t cut my hair in a way to look blacker. Didn’t have facial hair in a way that made me look blacker. I wore clothes that were more ethnically generic, just generally bland preppy. And I went through this whole period. It was maybe like a month where I just let that disappear…

Read the entire interview here.

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