Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Economics, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, Social Science, South Africa, United States, Women on 2014-08-22 20:45Z by Steven

Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach

Oxford University Press
2014-08-01
528 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199920013

Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach engages students in critical questions related to racial dynamics in the U.S. and around the world. Written in accessible, straightforward language, the book discusses and critically analyzes cutting-edge scholarship in the field. Organized into topics and concepts rather than discrete racial groups, the text addresses:

  • How and when the idea of race was created and developed
  • How structural racism has worked historically to reproduce inequality
  • How we have a society rampant with racial inequality, even though most people do not consider themselves to be racist
  • How race, class, and gender work together to create inequality and identities
  • How immigration policy in the United States has been racialized
  • How racial justice could be imagined and realized

Centrally focused on racial dynamics, Race and Racisms also incorporates an intersectional perspective, discussing the intersections of racism, patriarchy, and capitalism.

Table of Contents

  • List of Excerpts
  • Letter from the Author
  • About the Author
  • Preface
  • Part I: The History of the Idea of Race
    • 1. The Origin of the Idea of Race
      • Defining Race and Racism
      • Race: The Evolution of an Ideology
      • Historical Precedents to the Idea of Race
      • Slavery Before the Idea of Race
      • European Encounters with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas
      • Voices: The Spanish Treatment of Indigenous Peoples
      • The Enslavement of Africans
      • The Need for Labor in the Thirteen Colonies
      • The Legal Codification of Racial Differences
      • Voices: From Bullwhip Days
      • The Rise of Science and the Question of Human Difference
      • European Taxonomies
      • Scientific Racism in the Nineteenth Century
      • The Indian Removal Act: The Continuation of Manifest Destiny
      • Freedom and Slavery in the United States
      • Global View: The Idea of Race in Latin America
    • 2. Race and Citizenship from the 1840s to the 1920s
      • The Continuation of Scientific Racism
      • Measuring Race: From Taxonomy to Measurement
      • Intelligence Testing
      • Eugenics
      • Voices: Carrie Buck
      • Exclusionary Immigration Policies
      • The Chinese Exclusion Act
      • The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924
      • Birthright Citizenship for Whites Only
      • Naturalization for “Free White People”
      • How the Irish, Italians, and Jews Became White
      • The Irish: From Celts to Whites
      • The Italians: From Mediterraneans to Caucasians
      • The Jews: From Hebrews to White
      • African Americans and Native Americans: The Long, Troubled Road to Citizenship
      • African Americans and the Long Road to Freedom
      • Native Americans: Appropriating Lands, Assimilating Tribes
  • Part II: Racial Ideologies
    • 3. Racial Ideologies from the 1920s to the Present
      • Voices: Trayvon Martin
      • The 1920s to 1965: Egregious Acts in the Era of Overt Racism
      • Mass Deportation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans
      • Internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans
      • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
      • Voices: Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu
      • The Civil Rights Movement and the Commitment to Change
      • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
      • Sit-Ins
      • Freedom Rides
      • Old Versus New Racism: The Evolution of an Ideology
      • Biological Racism
      • Cultural Racism
      • Color-Blind Universalism
      • Global View: Cultural Racism in Peru
      • The Maintenance of Racial Hierarchy: Color-Blind Racism
      • Four Frames of Color-Blind Racism
      • Rhetorical Strategies of Color-Blind Racism
      • The New Politics of Race: Racism in the Age of Obama
    • 4. The Spread of Ideology: “Controlling Images” and Racism in the Media
      • Portrayals of People of Color on Television and in Other Media
      • Portrayals of Blacks
      • Portrayals of Latino/as
      • Research Focus: The Hot Latina Stereotype in Desperate Housewives
      • Portrayals of Arabs and Arab Americans
      • Portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans
      • Portrayals of Native Americans
      • Racial Stereotypes in Films
      • Global View: Racial Stereotypes in Peruvian Television
      • New Media Representations
      • Video Games
      • Social Media
      • Voices: I Am Not Trayvon Martin
      • Media Images and Racial Inequality
      • Raced, Classed, and Gendered Media Images
    • 5. Colorism and Skin-Color Stratification
      • The History of Colorism
      • Research Focus: Latino Immigrants and the U.S. Racial Order
      • The Origins of Colorism in the Americas
      • Does Colorism Predate Colonialism? The Origins of Colorism in Asia and Africa
      • The Global Color Hierarchy
      • Asia and Asian Americans
      • Latin America and Latinos/as
      • Voices: The Fair-Skin Battle
      • Africa and the African Diaspora
      • Voices: Colorism and Creole Identity
      • Skin Color, Gender, and Beauty
    • 6. White Privilege and the Changing U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • White Privilege
      • Research Focus: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
      • Whiteness, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
      • Whiteness and Racial Categories in Twenty-First-Century America
      • Latino/as and the Multiracial Hierarchy
      • The Other Whites: Arab Americans, North Africans, Middle Easterners, and Their Place in the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • Multiracial Identification and the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • Voices: Brandon Stanford: “My Complexion Is Not Black but I Am Black”
      • Will the United States Continue to Be a White-Majority Society?
      • Global View: Social, Cultural, and Intergenerational Whitening in Latin America
      • Changes in Racial and Ethnic Classifications
      • Revisiting the Definitions of Race and Ethnicity
  • Part III: Policy & Institutions
    • 7. Understanding Racial Inequality Today: Socio logical Theories of Racism
      • Racial Discrimination, Prejudice, and Institutional Racism
      • Individual Racism
      • Voices: Microaggressions
      • Institutional Racism
      • Global View: Microaggressions in Peru
      • Systemic and Structural Racism
      • Systemic Racism
      • Structural Racism
      • Research Focus: Systemic Racism and Hurricane Katrina
      • Racial Formation: Its Contributions and Its Critics
      • White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism
      • Research Focus: Applying Settler Colonialism Theory
      • Intersectional Theories of Race and Racism
    • 8. Educational Inequality
      • The History of Educational Inequality
      • Indian Schools
      • Segregation and Landmark Court Cases
      • The Persistence of Racial Segregation in the Educational System
      • Affirmative Action in Higher Education
      • Educational Inequality Today
      • Research Focus: American Indian/Alaska Native College Student Retention
      • The Achievement Gap: Sociological Explanations for Persistent Inequality
      • Global View: Affirmative Action in Brazil
      • Parental Socioeconomic Status
      • Cultural Explanations: “Acting White” and Other Theories
      • Tracking
      • Social and Cultural Capital and Schooling
      • Hidden Curricula
      • Voices: Moesha
      • Research Focus: Rosa Parks Elementary and the Hidden Curriculum
    • 9. Income and Labor Market Inequality
      • Income Inequality by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender
      • Dimensions of Racial Disparities in the Labor Market
      • Disparities Among Women
      • Disparities Among Latinos and Asian Americans
      • Underemployment, Unemployment, and Joblessness
      • Voices: Jarred
      • Sociological Explanations for Income and Labor Market Inequality
      • Voices: Francisco Pinto’s Experiences in 3-D Jobs
      • Individual-Level Explanations
      • Structural Explanations
      • Research Focus: Discrimination in a Low-Wage Labor Market
      • Affirmative Action
      • Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment 260
      • Global View: Racial Discrimination in Australia
    • 10. Inequality in Housing and Wealth
      • Land Ownership After Slavery
      • Residential Segregation
      • The Creation of Residential Segregation
      • Discriminatory and Predatory Lending Practices
      • Research Focus: The Role of Real Estate in Creating Segregated Cities
      • Neighborhood Segregation Today
      • Voices: A Tale of Two Families
      • Wealth Inequality
      • Inequality in Homeownership and Home Values
      • Wealth Inequality Beyond Homeownership
      • Explaining the Wealth Gap in the Twenty-First Century
    • 11. Racism and the Criminal Justice System
      • Mass Incarceration in the United States
      • The Rise of Mass Incarceration
      • Mass Incarceration in a Global Context
      • Race and Mass Incarceration
      • Global View: Prisons in Germany and the Netherlands
      • The Inefficacy of Mass Incarceration
      • Voices: Kemba Smith
      • Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs
      • Race, Class, Gender, and Mass Incarceration
      • Institutional Racism in the Criminal Justice System
      • Racial Profiling
      • Sentencing Disparities
      • The Ultimate Sentence: Racial Disparities in the Death Penalty
      • Voices: Troy Davis
      • The Economics of Mass Incarceration
      • Private Prisons
      • The Prison-Industrial Complex
      • Beyond Incarceration: Collateral Consequences
      • The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Families and Children
      • The Lifelong Stigma of a Felony: “The New Jim Crow”
      • Research Focus: Can Felons Get Jobs?
    • 12. Health Inequalities, Environmental Racism, and Environmental Justice
      • The History of Health Disparities in the United States
      • Involuntary Experimentation on African Americans
      • Free Blacks as Mentally and Physically Unfit
      • Explaining Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity Today
      • Socioeconomic Status and Health Disparities by Race/Ethnicity
      • Segregation and Health
      • Research Focus: Health and Social Inequity in Alameda County, California
      • The Effects of Individual Racism on the Health of African Americans
      • Life-Course Perspectives on African American Health
      • Culture and Health
      • Global View: Health and Structural Violence in Guatemala
      • Genetics, Race, and Health
      • Voices: Race, Poverty, and Postpartum Depression
      • Environmental Racism
      • Movements for Environmental Justice
      • Voices: The Holt Family of Dickson, Tennessee
    • 13. Racism, Nativism, and Immigration Policy
      • Voices: Robert Bautista-Denied Due Process
      • The Racialized History of U.S. Immigration Policy
      • Race and the Making of U.S. Immigration Policies: 1790 to 1924
      • Global View: Whitening and Immigration Policy in Brazil
      • Nativism Between 1924 and 1964: Mass Deportation of Mexicans and the McCarran Internal Security Act
      • The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and the Changing Face of Immigration
      • Illegal Immigration and Policy Response
      • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA ) and Nativism
      • Proposition 187 and the Lead-Up to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (II RIRA)
      • The 1996 Laws and the Detention and Deportation of Black and Latino Immigrants
      • Voices: Hector, a Guatemalan Deportee
      • Nativism in the Twenty-First Century
  • Part IV: Contesting & Comparing Racial Injustices
    • 14. Racial Justice in the United States Today
      • Perspectives on Racial Justice
      • Recognition, Responsibility, Reconstruction, and Reparations
      • Civil Rights
      • Human Rights
      • Moving Beyond Race
      • Intersectional Analyses: Race, Class, Gender
      • Racism and Capitalism
      • Struggles for Racial Justice
      • Racial Justice and the Foreclosure Crisis
      • DREAMers and the Fight for Justice
      • Voices: Fighting Against Foreclosures: A Racial Justice Story
      • Racial Justice and Empathy
    • 15. Thinking Globally: Race and Racisms in France, South Africa, and Brazil
      • How Do Other Countries Differ from the United States in Racial Dynamics?
      • Race and Racism in France
      • French Colonies in Africa
      • The French Antilles
      • African Immigration to France
      • Discrimination and Racial and Ethnic Inequality in France Today
      • Voices: The Fall 2005 Uprisings in the French Banlieues
      • Race and Racism in South Africa
      • Colonialism in South Africa: The British and the Dutch
      • The Apartheid Era (1948-1994)
      • The Persistence of Inequality in the Post-Apartheid Era
      • Research Focus: The Politics of White Youth Identity in South Africa
      • Race and Racism in Brazil
      • Portuguese Colonization and the Slave Trade in Brazil
      • Whitening Through Immigration and Intermarriage
      • The Racial Democracy Myth in Brazil and Affirmative Action
      • Racial Categories in Brazil Today
      • Research Focus: Racial Ideology and Black-White Interracial Marriages in Rio de Janeiro
  • Glossary
  • References
  • Credits
  • Index
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On the Trail of Brooklyn’s Underground Railroad

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2014-08-22 20:05Z by Steven

On the Trail of Brooklyn’s Underground Railroad

The New York Times
2007-10-12

John Strausbaugh

LAST month the City of New York gave Duffield Street in downtown Brooklyn an alternate name: Abolitionist Place. It’s an acknowledgment that long before Brooklyn was veined with subway lines, it was a hub of the Underground Railroad: the network of sympathizers and safe houses throughout the North that helped as many as 100,000 slaves flee the South before the Civil War.

With its extensive waterfront, its relatively large population of African-American freemen — slavery ended in New York in 1827 — and its many antislavery churches and activists, Brooklyn was an important nexus on the “freedom trail.” Some runaways stayed and risked being captured and returned to their owners, but most traveled on to the greater safety of Canada.

Because aiding fugitives from the South remained illegal even after New York abolished slavery — and because there was plenty of pro-slavery sentiment among Brooklyn merchants who did business with the South — Underground Railroad activities were clandestine and frequently recorded only in stories passed down within families. Corroborating documentation is scarce.

Still, it’s possible to follow some likely freedom routes through Brooklyn. You begin in Brooklyn Heights, where the Promenade offers sweeping views of the East River waterfront. In the decades before the Civil War, this waterfront bristled with the masts of sailing ships. Many were cargo vessels bringing cotton and other goods from the South. Sometimes they brought secret passengers: slaves fleeing to freedom. The fugitives slipped ashore and filtered into Brooklyn, where they were hidden and helped along on their journeys. Acquiring its railroad imagery by the 1830s, this antislavery network had its own “stationmasters” and “conductors,” who helped organize runaways’ passages north, and its own “stations” and “depots,” where they hid. Several Brooklyn churches participated. Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, a few blocks from the Promenade on Orange Street, between Hicks and Henry Streets, was called its “Grand Central Depot.”…

[Henry Ward] Beecher’s most successful tactic for arousing what he called “a panic of sympathy” for slaves was to stage mock slave auctions in the church, with the congregation bidding furiously to buy the captives’ freedom. The 1914 bronze statues of Beecher and two girls in the church’s courtyard by Gutzon Borglum, who later sculptured Mount Rushmore, depicts the first such auction, in 1848.

The most famous auction occurred in 1860, when Beecher urged his congregation to buy the freedom of a pretty 9-year-old from Washington, Sally Maria Diggs, called Pinky for her light complexion.

“After the service he called her to the platform and told the congregation her story,” Ms. Rosebrooks said. “He said, ‘No child should be in slavery, let alone a child like this.’ I’m sure he played on this. She could be your niece. She could be your sister. Your next door neighbor. So they passed the collection plate and raised $900, which is about $10,000 in today’s dollars.”

Congregants gave jewelry as well as cash. In a theatrical flourish Beecher fetched a ring from the collection plate, slipped it onto Pinky’s finger and declared, “With this ring, I thee wed to freedom.”

In 1927 when Plymouth Church celebrated the 80th anniversary of Beecher’s first sermon there, one who attended was Mrs. James Hunt, a stately woman of 76. She was Pinky and had grown up to marry a lawyer in Washington. According to Plymouth Church lore, she brought the ring with her; Ms. Rosebrooks showed me a simple gold band set with a small amethyst. (A Brooklyn Eagle article from 1927, however, quotes Mrs. Hunt as saying the ring had been lost.)…

Read the entire article here.

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BROOKLYN INTELLIGENCE.; The Sanford-street Catastrophe. CONDITION OF THE WOUNDED-BURIAL OF THE DEAD.

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2014-08-22 17:26Z by Steven

BROOKLYN INTELLIGENCE.; The Sanford-street Catastrophe. CONDITION OF THE WOUNDED-BURIAL OF THE DEAD.

The New York Times
1860-02-06

…AN INTERESTING SCENE IN PLYMOUTH CHURCH — PURCHASE OF A SLAVE BY THE CONGREGATION. — Another case of the ransom of a slave occurred yesterday in Plymouth Church. The circumstances were of touching interest. A good-looking and intelligent little girl named PINK, about nine years of age, having in her veins only one-sixteenth part African blood, (although that was more than enough to make her a slave,) was brought from Washington City to Brooklyn on Saturday last, with a view to the purchase of her freedom. Her father is at present one of the leading physicians in Washington. The mother was sold a few years ago to a Southern trader. At different times, five of her six children were sold to various parts of the South, until only little PINK remained. The child was taken care of by her grandmother, who had received oft-repeated assurances from the owner that PINK, should never be parted from her. But during the last holidays, arrangements were made to sell the child for $800. It was thought that when she grew up to womanhood she would be worth $3,000. Mr. BLAKE, a young clergyman recently from Alexandria Episcopal Seminary, hearing of the circumstances, interested himself to save the child. For this purpose, he procured permission to bring her to the North, leaving behind him satisfactory security for the return, either of the child or of the price of her ransom. The girl was, yesterday morning, introduced to the Sunday School by the Superintendent, Mr. THEODORE TILTON. Some interesting incidents of the child’s history were related by Mr. BLAKE, and the children determined to undertake, with the assistance of the Church, the purchase of the child — the classes contributing $5 each. At the close of the morning sermon, the pastor, Rev. HENRY WARD BEECHER, took the child into the pulpit, stated the case to the congregation, and made an eloquent plea for her liberty, which drew tears from many eyes. The collection plates were then passed, and returned well laden with bank notes. The money was not counted before the close of the service, but a lady in the audience sent word to the pastor that she would make up the deficiency, if any should be found. This announcement was received with an irrepressible demonstration of applause. Many persons crowded around the platform to congratulate the little girl on her new-found freedom, which she is now too young fully to appreciate…

Read the entire article here.

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The Octoroon

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2014-08-06 18:08Z by Steven

The Octoroon

Broadview Press
2014-05-16 (orignially published in 1859)
136 pages
Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781554812110 / 1554812119

Dion Boucicault

Edited by:

Sarika Bose, Lecturer of English
University of British Columbia

Joseph Black, Professor of English
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

et al.

Regarded by Bernard Shaw as a master of the theatre, Dion Boucicault was arguably the most important figure in drama in North America and in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was largely forgotten during the twentieth century—though he continued to influence popular culture (the iconic image of a woman tied to railway tracks as a train rushes towards her, for example, originates in a Boucicault melodrama). In the twenty-first century the gripping nature of his plays is being discovered afresh; when The Octoroon was produced as a BBC Radio play in 2012, director and playwright Mark Ravenhill described Boucicault’s dramas as “the precursors to Hollywood cinema.”

In The Octoroon—the most controversial play of his career—Boucicault addresses the sensitive topic of race and slavery. George Peyton inherits a plantation, and falls in love with an octoroon—a person one-eighth African American, and thus, in 1859 Louisiana, legally a slave. The Octoroon opened in 1859 in New York City, just two years prior to the American Civil War, and created a sensation—as it did in its subsequent British production.

This new edition includes a wide range of background contextual materials, an informative introduction, and extensive annotation.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • A Note on the Text
  • The Octoroon; or, Life in Louisiana
  • Appendix A: American Reviews
    • 1. “‘The Octoroon.’ A Disgrace to the North, a Libel on the South,” Spirit of the Times; A Chronicle of the Turf, Agriculture, Field Sports, Literature and the Stage (17 December 1859)
    • 2. From “The Octoroon,” The Charleston Courier, Tri-Weekly (22 December 1859)
    • 3. From “Winter Garden–First Night of ‘The Octoroon,’” The New York Herald (7 December 1859)
  • Appendix B: English Reviews
    • 1. “Saving the Octoroon,” Punch (21 December 1861)
    • 2. From “Theatres and Music,” John Bull (Saturday, 23 November 1861)
    • 3. From “Adelphi” (Review of The Octoroon), The Athenaeum (23 November 1861)
    • 4. “Pan at the Play,” Fun (Saturday, 30 November 1861)
    • 5. “Adelphi Theatre” (Review of Revised Play), The Times [London] (12 December 1861)
  • Appendix C: Letters to Editors Concerning the Lawsuit
    • 1. “The Octoroon Conflict: Financial and Political View of the Case–Letter from Mrs. Agnes Robertson Boucicault,” The New York Herald (Friday, 16 December 1859)
  • Appendix D: A Selection of Letters from Boucicault Defending the Content of The Octoroon
    • 1. “Letter from the Author of the ‘Octoroon,’” The New York Herald (7 December 1859)
    • 2. “The Octoroon Gone Home,” New York Times (9 February 1860)
    • 3. “‘The Octoroon’: To the Editor of the Times,” The Times [London] (Wednesday, 20 November 1861)
  • Appendix E: Boucicault on Acting
    • 1. From Dion Boucicault, “The Art of Acting” (1882)
  • Appendix F: Alternative Endings
    • 1. The Illustrated London News (14 December 1882)
    • 2. “Music and the Drama,” Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (Sunday, 15 December 1861)
    • 3. From The Octoroon: Founded on Dion Boucicault’s Celebrated and Original Melodrama (1897)
    • 4. From Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon, Lacy’s Acting Edition, No. 963 (c. 1861)
    • 5. From Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon: A Drama in Three Acts (26 October 1861)
  • Appendix G: On Slavery
    • 1. From Dion Boucicault, unpublished note, Theatre Museum, London (1861)
    • 2. From Fredrika Bremer, “Fredrika Bremer Sees the New Orleans Slave Market” (1853)
    • 3. From Civil Code of the State of Louisiana
  • Appendix H: Illustrations
    • 1. From The Illustrated London News (30 November 1861)
    • 2. Cover, Reynolds Miscellany (4 January 1862)
    • 3. Cover, The Octoroon (Dick’s Standard Plays)
  • Permissions Acknowledgments
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Search through own heritage leads evangelist to story about enslaved mixed-race pastor

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2014-06-18 19:50Z by Steven

Search through own heritage leads evangelist to story about enslaved mixed-race pastor

The Advocate
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2014-06-16

Mark H. Hunter, Special to The Advocate

If local school district officials knew then what Sammy Tippit knows now, he might not have been allowed to attend Istrouma High School.

Tippit, 66, is a world-renowned evangelist who grew up in Baton Rouge and now lives in San Antonio. He was a prominent Istrouma High student government leader and proudly represented the Indians at statewide high school meetings and debates.

“I truly am an Istrouma Indian,” Tippit said with a big smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes. And he means that in more ways than one.

As a youthful “Jesus freak” in the late 1960s, he boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in dangerous nightclubs on the west side of the Mississippi River. He was arrested and deported from Communist Romania and risked arrest in the Soviet Union for preaching in underground churches in the 1970s and ’80s.

Just a few months ago, Tippit said, he preached in Pakistan where a large portion of the 10,000-member audience — many of them Muslim men, — prayed for salvation in Jesus Christ. A suicide bomber, perhaps on his way to the service, exploded a few blocks away.

But one of Tippit’s most unnerving experiences came 10 years ago when a man in Portugal, researching his own family roots, told him they were related by Native American blood going back to Revolutionary War times.

“All of a sudden I didn’t know who I was,” Tippit said during an interview at a local coffee shop. “I have fair skin and blue eyes, but my bloodline is a mixture of English, Native American and African.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Almost Free: A Story About Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review) [Lee]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2014-06-09 02:15Z by Steven

Almost Free: A Story About Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review) [Lee]

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
Volume 111, Number 2, Spring 2013
pages 252-254
DOI: 10.1353/khs.2013.0034

Deborah A. Lee, PhD, Independent Historian
Stanardsville, Virginia

Wolf, Eva Sheppard, Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012)

In Almost Free, Eva Sheppard Wolf explores race and freedom in the antebellum South by illuminating the interesting—if obscure—life of Samuel Johnson, a free black man of Fauquier County, Virginia. He worked hard, observed rules, won friends, and acquired considerable property and respectability, but he fell achingly short of obtaining the freedom and security he sought for himself and his enslaved family. Johnson stands out in history because, between 1812 and 1837, he petitioned the legislature ten times in that cause, with the support of many white neighbors. Wolf concludes from this case study that slavery and freedom were not mere opposites; that Johnson, in his attainment of property and respectability, occupied a “broad space . . . between freedom and slavery”; and that race was “simultaneously momentous and tenuous” (p. 3).

A tavern-keeper before and after emancipation, Samuel Johnson was resourceful and determined. After enlisting a third party to lawfully conduct the transaction, he earned five hundred dollars to purchase his freedom. Next, with much support and assistance from local whites, including a U.S. senator, he successfully petitioned for the right to remain in Virginia. This step complied with an 1806 law that otherwise required emancipated people to leave the state within a year. Only then did he complete the manumission. In the decade it took him to raise the money, however, he had married an enslaved woman named Patty and with her had two children, Lucy and Samuel Jr. To obtain more freedom and security for his family, he purchased them from their owner. Reluctant to free them without permission to remain in the state, and even more reluctant to leave Virginia, he repeatedly petitioned the legislature in their cause, with tremendous support of white neighbors. The case reached urgency as his daughter neared adulthood, so that as a free woman she could legally marry.

Wolf’s methodology and conclusions align with those of Melvin Patrick Ely in Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War (2004). Their observations of considerable interracial cooperation and a wide—yet still constrained—range of possibilities for free blacks in Virginia largely refutes Ira Berlin’s earlier thesis, summed up in the title of his seminal work, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (1974). In her study, Wolf focuses on the way local people, white and black, variously ignored, challenged, circumvented, and maintained racial boundaries. While this shifting ground was remarkable, she concludes that “color often mattered more than behavior,” property rights were stronger than personal rights, and dark skin sometimes conferred a kind of invisibility (p. 40). Berlin and Wolf agree that white antipathy grew and racial attitudes hardened over time, narrowing possibilities for free blacks, but rather than occurring after the American Revolution, Wolf places this phenomenon in the 1820s.

Wolf does a beautiful job of narrating this complex story with limited sources, especially from Johnson’s perspective. She engages in necessary speculation about his thought processes and emotions in a particularly effective way, describing various alternatives. It was difficult, however, to get a sense of the black community from this study, though sources such as legislative petitions suggest that an African American counterculture thrived in the region. Nonetheless, the book clearly demonstrates the value of local history and helps readers understand the South in more complex and nuanced ways. Not least, Wolf points out that the story demonstrates how much family, freedom, and autonomy mattered to people such as the Johnsons and how they also make history…

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‘Belle’: Romance, Race And Slavery With Jane Austen Style

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2014-06-03 22:46Z by Steven

‘Belle’: Romance, Race And Slavery With Jane Austen Style

National Public Radio
Tell Me More
2014-05-29

Michel Martin, Host

British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw was brought up on Jane Austen adaptations. “You know, the Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle was something I watched on a weekly basis with my mum at home in Oxfordshire,” she tells NPR’s Michel Martin.

But as the biracial actress completed her training at Britain’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, she watched her peers win roles in “the Downton Abbeys of this world” and realized those period dramas weren’t calling her. It made Mbatha-Raw ask: “Why can’t I be in something like this?”

Now she is. Mbatha-Raw plays the title character in Belle, a film based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman. When she is a child, Dido’s father entrusts her to his uncle, one of the most powerful men in the country.

“She goes on this massive journey to become a woman who has the courage to stand up for who she is and what she believes in,” Mbatha-Raw says…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview here (00:12:53). Read the transcript here. Download the audio here.

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Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (reweiw) [Watkins]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2014-06-01 17:38Z by Steven

Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (reweiw) [Watkins]

Journal of the Early Republic
Volume 33, Number 3, Fall 2013
pages 575-577
DOI: 10.1353/jer.2013.0062

Andrea S. Watkins

Wolf, Eva Sheppard, Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012)

The tenuous status of free blacks within antebellum Virginia is examined by Eva Sheppard Wolf through the life of Samuel Johnson, a slave who purchased his own freedom and struggled over the course of the rest of his life to free his family and keep them together. His attempts to work within the legal framework established by the state and his own connections to powerful Virginia citizens illustrates the nebulous place free blacks held within antebellum society, as well as the role of personal relationships between black and white residents in achieving freedom and prosperity.

Wolf, associate professor of history at San Francisco State University, has pieced together a story of Johnson’s adulthood and family life through local court records and Virginia legislative petitions. The specifics of Samuel Johnson’s birth are not known, but his identification as “mulatto” in records indicates he had a slave mother and white father. Wolf suggests that Johnson’s white father may have found his mulatto slave son work in Norris Tavern in Warrenton, Virginia, the county seat for Fauquier County. As a tavern servant Johnson had the opportunity to forge relationships with white members of the community who came to Warrenton for court business and to save tip money to purchase his freedom. Johnson entered an agreement with his owner Edward Digges in 1802 to purchase his freedom for five hundred dollars. Virginia law regarding manumission of slaves changed in 1806. The new law established that freed slaves must leave the state within one year of liberation. Johnson had a choice to either continue to save and purchase his freedom with the knowledge he must leave or remain enslaved. The decision was not an easy one as he was married with two children by 1811, when he had collected the five hundred dollars.

Johnson’s choice demonstrates the importance of personal relationships in understanding race relations in the antebellum period. Over time Johnson had established ties with important white men within Warrenton, Fauquier County, and beyond. He was known as a hard-working slave and was viewed by many as an asset to the community. To leave Fauquier County, or Virginia, was to face a life of uncertainty. Would he find such valuable work in another state or find a place in a new community equal to the one he had in Warrenton? Thus, Johnson chose to petition the state legislature to allow him to remain in Virginia and he enlisted the help of various white citizens as witnesses to his character. His petition was passed by the legislature, and eventually Samuel Johnson became a free man on August 25, 1812. The fact that Johnson called on white slave owners to attest to his hard work, character, and value to the community reveals how often the relationships between blacks and whites in the early nineteenth century do not match the rhetoric of speeches and legislation critical and fearful of the presence of free blacks.

Wolf recounts how in the following years Johnson purchased his wife and two children, but their position was precarious as they could be sold for payment of Johnson’s debts, and he could not free them without fear that officials would expel them from the state one year after manumission. Johnson submitted petition after petition to the state’s authorities requesting that his family be allowed to remain with him when freed, and again and again those petitions failed to pass. Wolf successfully portrays the frustrations of trying to navigate the legal system of the time, but also the high stakes for Johnson and his family if he acted without legal provision. Johnson’s resourcefulness in garnering support throughout the white community is evident in his 1826 petition for his daughter Lucy that had the signatures of 226 people including white women and two U.S. congressmen. Johnson successfully purchased a home and land on the edge of Warrenton, and the family established a comfortable lifestyle until his death in 1842. At that time only his daughter and her children were still living. Johnson had already freed Lucy, taking the chance that his own standing and her ties to the local community would forestall any attempts to have…

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Go Stand Upon the Rock

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Slavery, United States on 2014-05-24 22:32Z by Steven

Go Stand Upon the Rock

CreateSpace
2014-05-20
300 pages
9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
Paperback ISBN-10: 1494211564; ISBN-13: 978-1494211561

Samuel Michael Lemon, Program Director
Continuing Adult and Professional Studies
Neumann University, Aston, Pennsylvania

From stories handed down by my grandmother about how our ancestors fought to be free.

Go Stand Upon the Rock is a deeply moving story based on real people and events in the lives of a runaway slave and his family, who witness some of the most compelling moments in antebellum American history. It is a tale of unsettling plantation life, courageous women, dramatic Civil War battles, heroes and hoodoo, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. This novel is based on the family history handed down to me by my maternal grandmother, Maud Ray Ridley Ortiga—the granddaughter of former runaway slaves. Fiercely proud of our ancestors, I spent countless hours at my grandmother’s table, committing this history to memory as we poured over a trove of antique family photographs. I grew to love these forebears who died long before I was born, and I eventually became the family historian. This made me determined to achieve two lifelong goals. The first was to see that my ancestors no longer rested in unmarked graves. The second was to solve the mysteries of who we were, where we came from and how we came to be. After my ancestors escaped from slavery in the mid-1860s, no one in my family had ever returned to our places of origin—in fact, no one even knew where they were.

What began as a noble quest to uncover my roots became a cultural detective story, with only the names of the plantations and slave quarters serving as paltry clues. As I grew into adulthood, I discovered the remarkable accuracy of the age-old family tradition of oral history, and everything my beloved grandmother told me proved to be true. I added to this body of knowledge through historical and genealogical research at the National Archives, the U.S. Census, and countless books and websites, all of which enabled me to turn my love of family history into a doctoral dissertation at one of the most distinguished academic institutions in America—the University of Pennsylvania—where I earned a doctorate in Education, Culture, and Society in 2007.

The story begins on the Bonnie Doon plantation in Southampton County, Virginia, where my ancestor Cornelius Ridley—the mulatto son of his wealthy, slavemaster/father—was born in 1839—eight years after Nat Turner’s Rebellion. But no rosy or revisionist retrospective on genteel plantation society, this book examines the historical events and complex social and sometimes biological relationships between masters and slaves. Go Stand Upon the Rock is a tapestry of interwoven stories of a remarkable family’s journey through history that began with my great-great grandfather Cornelius Ridley’s epic 300 mile walk to freedom in the North to escape from bondage on his putative father’s plantation.

It also follows his wife Martha Jane Parham, as she strives to escape her horrible fate as a breeding woman on the neighboring Fortsville Plantation. Learning what she endured made an indelible impact on me. Unlike her husband who was able to pass for white, they were forced to escape separately. And the story follows her perilous flight with two young children, to the safety of a company of U.S. Colored Troops, where she meets a young black soldier from Pennsylvania who is wounded during one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War—the Battle of New Market Heights—who has an unexpected role in her life half a century later.

This first part of the Ridley family saga draws to a close with Cornelius and Martha Jane’s brilliant son William—a pioneering African American law student—who miraculously survives a hail of bullets in the midst of a dangerous political dispute in Chester, Pennsylvania, that nearly ends his life and legal career captured in detail in local contemporary newspaper accounts just one month before his marriage to an elegant, mysterious clairvoyant woman from the Danish West Indies in October 1889. Telling the story of my ancestors is a debt I have longed owed them, because they are giants upon whose shoulders I stand today. And there is much more of their saga to tell.

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Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review) [Padraig Riley]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2014-05-21 14:41Z by Steven

Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review) [Padraig Riley]

Civil War History
Volume 60, Number 2, June 2014
pages 199-201
DOI: 10.1353/cwh.2014.0041

Padraig Riley, Assistant Professor of History
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Wolf, Eva Sheppard, Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012)

Almost Free is the story of Samuel Johnson of Warrenton, Virginia, a mixed-race slave who worked successfully to free himself and then purchased his wife and children in the early nineteenth century. Less successfully, he then struggled for many years to free his extended family, and to establish a legacy of black freedom in the heart of the slaveholding republic. Relying on a remarkable series of petitions Johnson sent to the Virginia state legislature from 1811 to 1837, Wolf reconstructs the man’s life and identity. This entails considerable speculation, but Wolf’s imaginings are balanced by a rich archival source base covering much of Johnson’s life. This accessible book is ideal for undergraduate instruction, and it is an important addition to scholarship on race and slavery. For Wolf, Samuel Johnson demonstrates that free blacks were not simply “slaves without masters” and that race in the antebellum South was a fluid concept, rather than a simple black-and-white proposition.

Wolf contends that race was not dictated by statute but rather was “something people themselves created and re-created in their multiple interactions with one another” (3). Samuel Johnson became free in 1812, well after an 1806 statute that compelled all freed slaves to leave the state within a year, under threat of being sold back into slavery. Because he wanted to remain in Virginia, he had to petition the state legislature. While most such petitions failed, Johnson’s succeeded because he was backed by both local whites and a few influential political figures. Thus, at the local level, whites did not simply act out the 1806 statute or Thomas Jefferson’s fears about the dangers of slave emancipation. They instead accepted Samuel Johnson as their neighbor, quite literally in the case of John and Maria Smith, who lived next door to him.

As a free man, Johnson saved money to purchase his wife and children, becoming, like many free black slaveholders, the master of his own family. He also owned land and sued white men in court. But, ultimately, the law left him and his family vulnerable. Despite numerous petitions to the state legislature, his family members were never allowed to remain in Virginia as free inhabitants. Had Johnson freed his family, they would have been legally bound to leave the state within a year; had he unexpectedly died, his family would have remained enslaved, subject to sale. In addition, Johnson suffered numerous other legal restraints as a free man of color, from restrictions on owning firearms to being unable to testify against a white man in court. He could be a white man’s neighbor, but he was very far from being his equal.

Why, then, did Johnson stay? Wolf poses this question quite poignantly by contrasting Johnson with Spencer Malvin, a free African American man who married Johnson’s daughter Lucy in 1826. Malvin, born free, knew the evils of slavery firsthand: as a teenager, he had been apprenticed to one Fielding Sinclair, who killed his adolescent slave. Sinclair was charged with murder, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence, perhaps because Malvin could not testify against a white man. After Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831, Malvin openly attacked slavery, circulating antislavery papers in Warrenton. He left Virginia and his family in 1832, along with a fugitive named Sandy, eventually settling in Pennsylvania.

But Johnson and his daughter Lucy remained, even after white hostility to free blacks increased in the wake of Turner’s rebellion. Many of the local whites who had supported Johnson’s petitions in the past now requested that the state legislature support the colonization of all free blacks outside of Virginia. For Wolf, Johnson’s decision to remain under such circumstances suggests an act of resistance: “In staying, they rejected racial exclusion. . . . They challenged the notion that Virginia belonged to white people” (107).

On the one hand, this contention is clearly true. But in other respects, Samuel Johnson’s life was marked by deference, rather than challenge, and white support for his limited freedom was a sign of condescension rather than recognition. Thus Philip Pendleton Barbour, as Wolf shows us, one of the foremost defenders of slavery during…

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