I Named My Mixed-Race Daughter for a Slave-Trading Town

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-07-23 17:55Z by Steven

I Named My Mixed-Race Daughter for a Slave-Trading Town

The New York Times

Susan Fales-Hill

An oil painting of Susan Fales-Hill’s great-great-great-grandfather hangs in her apartment in Manhattan. He turned out to be not as upstanding as she once thought. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

FOR nearly 20 years, my great-great-great-grandfather’s portrait has watched over me from my red dining room wall. With his high collar, ruffled cravat and black waistcoat, Samuel Fales, 1775-1848, is the very image of the upstanding 19th-century New England gentleman. An eminent merchant and alderman of Boston, he was the founder of the family’s shipping business. I’ve known his face and taken comfort in his smile since I was a child attending Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s in the 1960s.

Samuel Fales seemed utterly unperturbed by the changes the 20th century had wrought, among them his great-great-grandson’s unorthodox choice of bride: my mother, a black Haitian-American actress, and my brother and me, his mixed-race descendants. His portrait has stood as an emblem of our family’s pride in its history. “You have relatives on both sides of your family who fought in the American Revolution,” my mother would frequently remind me.

To honor my forebears, my husband and I named our only child Bristol, after the town in Rhode Island where some of the Faleses first settled in the 17th century. A year ago, I learned through new historical research that Bristol had in fact served as a main hub of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This gave me great pause. Had I done my daughter a dreadful disservice? Upon reflection, I decided that naming a multicultural African-American after a slave port was in fact redemptive, the ultimate act of reclamation.

It never occurred to me that my family might have participated in the port’s inhumane commerce…

Read the entire article here.

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Biography: ‘The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire,’ by Karl Jacoby

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Texas, United States on 2016-07-22 18:41Z by Steven

Biography: ‘The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire,’ by Karl Jacoby

The Dallas Morning News

Karen M. Thomas, Professor of Journalism
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

From all accounts, Guillermo Enrique Eliseo commanded attention. The elegantly dressed Mexican-born Wall Street baron in Gilded Age Manhattan was known for his gold watch, fine taste and ability to strike business deals on both sides of the border. He also had a huge secret.

Eliseo began life not on a Mexican hacienda but across the border on a Texas plantation where he was born into slavery as William Henry Ellis. How he transformed himself into Eliseo is the topic of The Strange Career of William Ellis.

Karl Jacoby is a stellar researcher, and the topic is fascinating. He ferrets out Ellis’ tale of reinvention from historical documents, news accounts and Ellis’ personal material, including letters to his family. Where records are scarce, such as for the years Ellis was a slave on a Victoria plantation, Jacoby instead turns to what is known about American slavery itself. He describes Texas’ role in trying to keep cotton as king and what life was like in Victoria, a town close to the U.S. and Mexican borders, in the 1800s. By doing so, Jacoby is able to extrapolate Ellis’ experience, motivation and preparation for ultimately redefining his personal racial boundaries

Read the entire review here.

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Early black lawyer, wife endured bigotry

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive on 2016-07-22 18:23Z by Steven

Early black lawyer, wife endured bigotry

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Curt Brown

Nellie and William Francis were doing so well in 1924 they decided to move four miles southwest in St. Paul — leaving their Rondo neighborhood for a house in the Groveland Park area near the Mississippi River.

The 1920 census listed the couple, married for 27 years, as “Mu” for mulatto. Skin color hadn’t deterred William Francis from becoming “prominent in religious, political, social and fraternal circles,” according to the Twin City Star newspaper.

He was a railroad lawyer and she was a suffragette and civic activist. But when they moved into their house at 2092 Sargent Av., just east of Cretin Avenue, their race would render them “direct victims of virulent racial hatred,” according to former law school dean Douglas Heidenreich’s 2000 article in William Mitchell magazine.

Nellie Griswold was born in 1874 in Nashville, but moved north in time to graduate from St. Paul Central High School in the 1890s and become president of the Minnesota State Federation of Colored Women in the early 20th Century.

As leader of the Everywoman Suffrage Club, she helped women earn the right to vote in 1920. The next year, she was credited with writing the state anti-lynching bill that allowed survivors to collect $7,500 in damages, nearly $100,000 in today’s dollars. The legislation — spawned by the 1920 lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth — also punished neglectful police who allowed lynchings under their watch. They could be fired for malfeasance.

In 1893, Nellie married William Francis — an Indiana native five years her senior. At 19, he had moved to Minnesota, where he graduated in 1904 from St. Paul College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law)…

Read the entire article here.

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The stories of the ‘War Brides’ of Japan need to be told

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-07-22 15:32Z by Steven

The stories of the ‘War Brides’ of Japan need to be told

International Examiner
Seattle, Washington

Yayoi Lena Winfrey

One day in the early 1980s, my Japanese mother took my sister and me to an International District gift shop. A middle-aged Japanese American man working there glanced briefly towards us, before turning away apathetically. His body language seemed to indicate a reluctance to wait on us. I looked at my mother and, without the necessity of my uttering a single word, she said, “He not like me.”

Then, pointing at us, her two half-black daughters, she declared in her broken English, “He see I have you two. He know I am war bride.”

Even though I’d heard her use that phrase before, I knew it was not something she was proud to be called. As I stood there reflecting, I realized my mother meant that the Japanese American man didn’t like the fact that she had obviously married someone outside of her race, likely an American G.I. But the irony was he wasn’t living in Japan. Might not the Japanese in that country have considered him as much a traitor for living in America as he thought my mother was for marrying a non-Japanese? Or maybe it wasn’t the same if you left your home country, but married someone of the same ethnicity. I’ve often wrestled with those thoughts in the decades following that 1980s incident.

In the case of Japanese “war brides” like my mother, women who wedded American military men, they were guilty of both marrying an outsider and leaving their country. Considered disloyal by some Japanese nationals for wedding their former enemies, they were also considered disloyal by some Japanese Americans for marrying Americans that were not Japanese. It’s a complicated issue that my documentary War Brides of Japan will address. I also want to eradicate the stigma attached to the term “war bride,” often fallaciously interchangeable with “prostitute.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A JewAsian July 4th

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-07-22 15:03Z by Steven

A JewAsian July 4th

The ProsenPeople: Exploring the world of Jewish Literature
Jewish Book Council

Helen Kiyong Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Samuel Leavitt, Associate Dean of Students
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Earlier this week, Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Leavitt determined the three takeaways on raising Jewish-Asian families worth sharing from their research for their coauthored book JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America’s Newest Jews. They are blogging for Jewish Book Council all week as part of the Visiting Scribe series here on The ProsenPeople.

The publication of JewAsian, coming just prior to the 4th of July holiday, provides a unique lens through which to observe the United States and try to learn about the state of our nation in 2016. Indeed, the way that young mixed-race Jews think about themselves allows us to make larger observations about our society.

On one hand, we are in the hot season of a mean-spirited presidential campaign in which race and diversity are focal points for voters’ anger and activism. On the other, on this final Independence Day during the administration of America’s first mixed-race President, the multicultural cast of Hamilton is on magazine covers and red carpet runways, challenging us to think in new ways about our nation’s founding story and current identity. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the University of Texas affirmative action admission plan reminds us that we cannot avoid taking race into consideration when we attempt to describe America.

Writing JewAsian helped us confront the central role that race plays for the young people at the center of our investigation. Like our nation, our mixed-race Jewish interviewees feel both the stress and the optimism of their complex identities…

Read the entire article here.

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Across the Border

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Texas, United States on 2016-07-22 14:40Z by Steven

Across the Border

The Nation

Michael A. Elliott, Professor of English
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

William Henry Ellis, (Photo courtesy of Fanny Johnson-Griffin)

A new biography of William Henry Ellis reminds us how much we still don’t know about the elusive history of racial subterfuge in America.

When, in 1912, James Weldon Johnson published his sly and searching novel of racial passing, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, he did so anonymously, leaving readers to assume it was a factual account of a light-skinned African American crossing the color line to travel in the world of whiteness. In the aftermath of its publication, Johnson took pleasure in listening to others puzzle over its authorship. He even had “the rarer experience,” as he later described it, of being introduced to someone else claiming to have written the book. The story, it seems, was too good not to be true.

In the long era of Jim Crow, fact could be as strange, if not stranger, than fiction. At precisely the same moment that Johnson was enjoying his literary ruse, a fellow New Yorker calling himself Guillermo Enrique Eliseo was frantically trying to keep his financial interests in Mexico afloat as that country convulsed under wave after wave of political revolt. With each new regime, the businessman sought to curry favor and press for new investment opportunities, but the changes were so rapid that he struggled to find the proper currency in which to pay his taxes. Many of those who knew Eliseo presumed him to be a Mexican from near the US border (though others thought he was Cuban, or even Hawaiian), a well-traveled gentleman active in Latin America’s quest for modernization.

Had Johnson known Eliseo, he might have nodded in recognition. Eliseo had been born as an African-American slave on a South Texas cotton plantation in 1864, just as the entire social order of the region was being transformed by the conclusion of the Civil War. Over the course of a lifetime, Eliseo—or, as he was more commonly known, William Henry Ellis—built both elaborate fictions and an impressive network of business interests that spanned North America and beyond. His biography is the subject of a new book by historian Karl Jacoby, with a title that gives away its story: The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire. Ellis’s life and Jacoby’s reconstruction of it remind us how much we still don’t know about the elusive history of racial subterfuge in America…

Read the entire article here.

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How white parents talk with their black and biracial kids about race

Posted in Audio, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-21 18:54Z by Steven

How white parents talk with their black and biracial kids about race

The Brood
89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio
Pasadena, California

How does “the talk” about race and policing play out when a parent is white and their children are black or biracial?

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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PSA: Mixed Black Babies Will Never Put An End to Antiblack Racism

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2016-07-21 18:36Z by Steven

PSA: Mixed Black Babies Will Never Put An End to Antiblack Racism

Wear Your Voice: Intersectional Feminist Media

Ashleigh Shackelford, Contributing Writer

Recently, there’s been numerous viral photos of white parents posting pictures of their mixed Black children with #AllLivesMatter political statements.

For example:

The picture to the left is of a Black, brown skin child holding a paper that reads, “Black lives only? I’M MIXED. So what about my white side? My mommy is white. My daddy is Black. They both matter to me. #AllLivesMatter.” This kind of manipulation of using your mixed Black child to denounce antiblack racism as a means to recenter your whiteness is violent. Any focus on trying to make #WhiteLivesMatter through the silencing of Black people — and manipulating your Black child to perpetuate that silence — is actually the same antiblack violence we’re fighting against. Also, mixed babies will never cure racism. EVER.

Slavery & white supremacist sexual violence already taught us that mixed children didn’t change shit.

This rhetoric that having mixed children is a step towards ending antiblackness is disgusting. The fact that hundreds of years of slavery, sexual violence, rape and forced reproduction against Black women and femmes did not prove to folks that mixed children didn’t change anything is disturbing. If anything, mixed Black children who are being read as “mixed” added numerous layers of violence into the context of white supremacist patriarchy. The physical and sexual violence against mixed children, or “mulattos,” only reaffirmed that Blackness will always separate you and therefore put you in a position to be harmed. Also, the one-drop rule as a sociopolitical principle of racial classification acknowledged any person with 1/32nd of Black blood is considered Black. This reminds us that Blackness is demonized even in the slightest because that’s how vile Blackness is in the construct of white supremacist patriarchy…

Read the entire article here.

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Obama Faces Growing Expectations on Race and Policing

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-21 18:02Z by Steven

Obama Faces Growing Expectations on Race and Policing

The New York Times

Julie Hirschfeld Davis

WASHINGTON — At the White House last week, DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist who was arrested only days before in Baton Rouge, La., for protesting police violence against African-Americans, had a lengthy list of demands for President Obama.

The president should visit Baton Rouge and other cities where black men have been killed by police officers, appoint special prosecutors to investigate the deaths and use his executive power to force changes in police departments across the country, Mr. Mckesson said.

The next day, a distraught Erica Garner, whose father, Eric Garner, was killed in 2014 by a New York City police officer who placed him in a chokehold, accosted Mr. Obama after a televised town-hall-style meeting with demands of her own. Why have no police officers been convicted or sent to jail for killing black men, and what was he doing to rid police departments of the tactical military equipment that made community protest routes resemble war zones, she asked.

As Mr. Obama responds to the latest in fatal confrontations between police officers and black men — this time followed by lethal attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge on law enforcement officers by black gunmen — he has also confronted a growing list of expectations that young black activists have placed on him…

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How parents oppress their mixed race children

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2016-07-21 15:22Z by Steven

How parents oppress their mixed race children

The F-Word Blog: Contemporary UK Feminism

Nicola Codner
Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

As a mixed race woman, whenever I come across articles by monoracial parents about their mixed race children, I tend to get a cold feeling of dread of inside. These articles seem to be in abundance these days in mixed race online communities. It’s very rare that I read one that doesn’t bring up numerous red flags, regardless of the race of the parent who is writing. I do seem to come across more articles written by white mothers, interestingly; however, this only increases my discomfort because as white people don’t experience racial oppression the scope for mistakes automatically broadens in these articles.

Parents of mixed race children tend to write as though they are authorities on mixed race identity, when in most cases it’s obvious they haven’t done any research outside of their own personal (often biased) observations of their children…

Read the entire article here.

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