A Black Female Astrophysicist Explains Why Hidden Figures Isn’t Just About History

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-19 01:09Z by Steven

A Black Female Astrophysicist Explains Why Hidden Figures Isn’t Just About History

Gizmodo
2017-01-17

Rae Paoletta


Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson in Hidden FiguresImage: 20th Century Fox/YouTube

First, it beat Star Wars: Rogue One. Now, for the second weekend since its wide-release debut, Hidden Figures—the true story of three black female mathematicians at NASA—is number one at the box office. It’s raked in roughly $6o million so far, and counting.

The inspiring story of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan has reenergized the ongoing conversation about the importance of inclusivity in STEM. Though we’ve long done away with the Jim Crow laws depicted in Hidden Figures, black women in are still notoriously underrepresented in mathematical sciences, including physics. A quick look at the numbers proves it: between 1973 and 2012, 22,172 white men received PhDs in physics. Only 66 black women did.

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein was one of those women.


Chanda Prescod-Weinstein Image Credit: GR21 LOC

In 2010, Prescod-Weinstein became the 63rd black American woman to ever earn a PhD in physics, from the Perimeter Institute at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Now, as a theoretical astrophysicist who’s worked at MIT and, more recently, the University of Washington, she is an advocate for black women and non-binary people in STEM…

Read the entire interview here.

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98-Year-Old NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson: ‘If You Like What You’re Doing, You Will Do Well’

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2017-01-19 00:39Z by Steven

98-Year-Old NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson: ‘If You Like What You’re Doing, You Will Do Well’

People
2016-11-04

Caitlin Keating

Katherine Johnson thinks all of her accomplishments over the 98 years she’s been alive are “ordinary.”

But to the rest of the world, they’re anything but.

Johnson, a physicist, space scientist and mathematician graduated from high school at 14-years-old, attended college the very next year and was the first African-American woman to desegregate the graduate school at West Virginia University…

…In 1953, after years of being a teacher, she began working for NASA where she was nicknamed the “human computer.”

Johnson was able to calculate the trajectory for numerous space missions, including for the space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space and the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon…

Read the entire interview here.

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Statement by Joseph Boyden

Posted in Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Statements on 2017-01-19 00:25Z by Steven

Statement by Joseph Boyden

CNW: A Cision Company
2017-01-11

Joseph Boyden

TORONTO, Jan. 11, 2017 /CNW/ – A few weeks ago, I found out that my 85-year-old mom had been contacted by a journalist who prodded her with pointed and personal questions about her heritage. Specifically, he asked her to prove how Indigenous she is.

My family’s heritage is rooted in our stories. I’ve listened to them, both the European and the Indigenous ones, all my life. My older sisters told me since childhood about my white-looking father helping his Indian-looking brother hide their blood in order to survive in the early 1900’s. My mother’s family history is certainly not laid out neatly in the official records, or on ancestry.ca either. From the age of nine or ten, the woman I knew as my grandmother told me stories about my mother that, until recently, my mother preferred not to share with anyone. The details are private and painful, yet my mother has been forced to revisit aspects of her past she believed were closed away forever.

Children don’t go about consciously presenting identities; they just are who they are. And that’s how I was: a white kid from Willowdale with native roots. The Ojibwe family I grew-up with in summers on Christian Island still call me cousin or uncle.  The bad poetry I first scribbled as a troubled teen was about searching for my mother’s clan.  For the last 22 years I’ve been a member of a Moose Cree First Nation family, active in their community and doing everything we can to get youth out onto the land at Camp Onakawana on the Abitibi River. This is my life.  And I’ve always said pretty much the same thing: “a small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”…

Read the entire new release here.

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President with a torpedo in his crotch: how the works of Lubaina Himid speak to Trump times

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-19 00:07Z by Steven

President with a torpedo in his crotch: how the works of Lubaina Himid speak to Trump times

The Guardian
2017-01-17

Hettie Judah


Lubaina Himid among the cutouts of slaves that form her 2004 piece Naming the Money, at Spike Island contemporary art centre in Bristol. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt for the Guardian

Born in Zanzibar and raised in Britain, Lubaina Himid makes work about everything from slavery to Thatcher to the cotton trade. Now in her 60s, she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves

Lubaina Himid was just four months old when her father died. It was 1954 and her Blackpool-born mother decided to leave their home in Zanzibar and head back to Britain, where she brought her daughter up as a Londoner. Himid would not return to the place of her birth for 43 years.

So for much of her early career, Himid painted a kind of homeland of the imagination. Her theatrical, large-scale works were populated by sturdy, redoubtable women and characterised by scorching, oven-baked colours. “I think I was always trying to paint Zanzibar somehow,” says Himid, now an energetic woman in her early 60s. “I was always trying to live it in my head.”

What stopped her going back? Money, of course, and her lack of Swahili. But there was something else: “Fear, in some senses. When we left, my father had just died and that turmoil and the fear of it never really left me.” She finally summoned up the courage to make the trip with her friend, the artist Maud Sulter, in 1997. “When I went, it was easy of course – because I was home, bizarrely.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Shaken Out of Time: Black Bodies and Movement in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-18 21:30Z by Steven

Shaken Out of Time: Black Bodies and Movement in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

Virginia Quarterly Review
Volume 93, Number 1, Winter 2017
pages 196-199

Kaitlyn Greenidge
Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont

Swing Time By Zadie Smith, Penguin, 2016, 464p. HB, $27.

Midway through Zadie Smith’s new novel, Swing Time, the unnamed narrator watches two girls walk “hand in hand” down a dusty road in an anonymous, fictionalized African country. “They looked like best friends,” she notes—that “looked” suggesting the mysteries of friendship that the novel has been dedicated to up until that point. “They were out at the edge of the world, or of the world I knew, and watching them, I realized it was…almost impossible for me to imagine what time felt like for them, out here.” The girls inevitably remind the narrator of her own lost, best friend, Tracey, who angrily haunts the novel, forever resisting the narrator’s attempts to regulate her to incorporeality. Of their friendship, she notes, “We thought we were products of a particular moment, because as well as our old musicals, we liked things like Ghostbusters and Dallas. We felt we had our place in time. What person on earth doesn’t feel this way?” But the narrator is unable to place the two girls before her in any time. “When I waved at those two girls…I couldn’t rid myself of the idea that they were timeless symbols of girlhood…I knew it couldn’t possibly be the case but I had no other way of thinking of them.”

In an interview in T: The New York Times Style Magazine this past fall, Smith noted, “It just seemed to me that what was done to black people, historically, was to take them out of the time of their life. That’s what fundamentally happened. We had a life in one place and it would have continued and who knows what would have happened—nobody knows. But it would’ve gone a certain way, and we were removed from that timeline, placed somewhere entirely different, and radically disrupted. And the consequences of that are pretty much unending. Every people have their trauma. It’s not a competition of traumas. But they’re different in nature. And this one is about having been removed from time.” Swing Time is a novel that is fundamentally concerned with this question. What do we do, how do we respond, when we are violently shaken out of time, when we lose the thread of our own lives, when we are so certain of the narrative of our life and then are suddenly, jarringly, shaken loose? How do we reconcile, what are the lies and myths we tell ourselves, to try and reclaim our time? And when do those lies hurt us and when do they help us find our footing again?

When we meet the narrator of Swing Time, she is deep in the midst of mysterious disgrace, briefly infamous worldwide for a perceived wrong she’s committed against a Madonna-like global superstar who goes by the single name of Aimee. The narrator is Aimee’s assistant: She has worked tirelessly for the past decade helping Aimee, a white woman, set up a school for girls in that unidentified African country. Aimee is a woman who has created her own myth for herself, using sex and youth and pop music to forge a destiny that would not have been available to any woman a generation before her. The narrator meets her by chance, devotes her life to her, and finds herself unmarried and childless, a cog in the superstar celebrity machine of Aimee’s life. But it becomes clear, even though the narrator has spent her adult life serving Aimee, it’s not the pop star who holds her attention. Instead, she exists in a kind of suspended dream state, reliving her brief friendship with Tracey, the only other mixed-race girl in the narrator’s neighborhood in the early 1980s. The narrator’s parents are genteelly poor, and her mother, in particular, is ambitious: She reads postcolonial theory and takes courses on Marxism, ruthlessly forging her identity as a poor, black woman in Britain into a professional activist and self-conscious, self…

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Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-01-16 21:16Z by Steven

Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

The New York Times
2017-01-12

Nelson George

KRAZY: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
By Michael Tisserand
Illustrated. 545 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $35.

In our superficially more enlightened age, the phrase “mixed race” has become the accepted term to describe people with parents of different races. In fact the phrase has become a tool of marketers and brand-conscious celebrities to suggest whatever they’re selling is all-inclusive, a living embodiment of diversity. Many take great care in, for example, their Instagram biographies to list their hyphenated backgrounds.

But there are limits to the term’s utility, especially for people with African ancestry. Barack Obama was America’s first mixed-race president. His father was Kenyan and his mother a white woman from Kansas. Yet the tawdry racial history of this Republic demanded that he claim blackness as his primary identity because one drop of black blood has always decided your fate in this country. “Mixed race” notwithstanding, an African heritage in America is never just a cool exotic spice; one taste and it becomes all anyone remembers of the meal.

This rigid attitude toward race is often enforced by black Americans as fiercely as whites. For them the “mixed race” label, when employed by black people with a nonblack parent or grandparents, seems more a transparent attempt to dodge racial pigeonholing than a heartfelt assertion of identity. Jim Crow, which ended officially in the 1960s, has never been completely dismantled. So attempts to escape its grip, while understandable, create resentment in those unable to slip across the racial boundaries.

All of which makes Michael Tisserand’sKrazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White” a fascinating and frustrating biography. Though Herriman’sKrazy Kat” comic strip was admired in his lifetime, it wasn’t until years after his death in 1944 that his vast influence received widespread critical respect. Herriman’s depiction of the tangled relationships among the black cat Krazy, his white mouse tormentor and sometime love interest Ignatz and the bulldog Officer Pupp, set against a desert backdrop in fictional Coconino County (taken from a real area of Arizona), inspired several generations of cartoonists. Charles M. Schulz’sPeanuts,” Ralph Bakshi’sFritz the Cat” and Art Spiegelman’sMaus” all owe a debt to Herriman’s draftsmanship and poetic sense…

Read the entire review here.

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Interview with Scenters-Zapico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2017-01-16 20:53Z by Steven

Interview with Scenters-Zapico

As Us
Issue 2 (December 2015)

Casandra Lopez, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief

“As a poet, I’m interested in what art can be created from the anxieties of being from such a place. What can we create from these experiences? I’m a poet, not a rhetorician—it’s not my place to tell you as a reader how best to interpret the world. I want to write about the things that keep me longing and the things that keep me up at night.”

[Casandra Lopez]1. Having read some of your work in workshop I was delighted to read your full manuscript. Can you describe what your manuscript is about. I am particularly interested in hearing about the “twin” element that is prevalent in many of your poems and how place functions in your work.

[Natalie Scenters-Zapico] On a literal level this manuscript is about where I am from, the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, México. It stems from a place of longing for where I am from, both what it is and what it used to be. They are poems about immigration, language, pollution, brutality against women and men, war, love, marriage, weddings, and the hybrid sense of these things that exists in these two cities. The metaphor of the cities being twins runs throughout the manuscript. El Paso and Cd. Juárez were one city, El Paso del Norte, that was then divided by the river into the U.S. and México leaving them forever in a state of longing for each other. In the manuscript, this longing manifests itself in a variety of ways and I became interested in how twins can feel a connection that is beyond that of regular siblings. I also liked that I could write about a relationship between a set of twins and only hint that they might be cities….

[CL]2. Can you talk a little about how you identify both as a poet and as an individual. How or in what ways to do think these identities influence your writing and topics you choose to explore in your work.

[NSZ] This is a very interesting question for me, mainly because I have such a hybrid identity and experience. My father is Anglo, from Wisconsin, and my mother is from Asturias, Spain. My mother came to the U.S. in her twenties after falling in love with my father. I grew up in a fully bi-lingual household, in a bi-lingual city, El Paso, Texas, and went to a high school at a time when over half of my graduating class was from Cd. Juárez and crossed the bridge every day for school. I also married a Mexican man, who was educated in México and the U.S. and is also bilingual. I grew up surrounded by hybridity and a variety of experience. I grew up where multiplicity was never seen as a positive or negative thing, only a fact of existence on the border. I think that all of these things affect how I identify as an individual and then what my concerns are as a poet…

Read the entire interview here.

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Chan, poetry by Hannah Lowe

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-16 20:20Z by Steven

Chan, poetry by Hannah Lowe

The Asian Review of Books
2017-01-08

Theophilus Kwek

From the gangplank of a pre-war steamship to the present, via the jazz underground of 1960s London, Hannah Lowe’s rewarding second collection revels in the company of an unlikely crew of voices and personalities. Chan takes its name from the poet’s father (nicknamed, in turn, after the Polish card magician Chan Canasta) but does not shy away from the older resonances of the word, tracing these back into her Hakka heritage and the journeys of a global diaspora. Along the way, the poems investigate lives that intersect with Lowe’s personal history, no matter how brief the acquaintance: from the magnetic jazz saxophonist Joe Harriott, her father’s first cousin, to the travellers and stowaways who join Gilbert Lowe on the SS Ormonde in 1947 as it sails from Kingston to Liverpool

Read the entire review here.

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Barack Obama’s original sin: America’s post-racial illusion

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-16 19:47Z by Steven

Barack Obama’s original sin: America’s post-racial illusion

The Guardian
2017-01-13

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
Princeton University


Illustration by Joe Magee

Barack Obama’s refusal to use his position as president to intervene on behalf of African Americans is a stain on his record many activists will never forget

In the first hours of the new year in 2009, just weeks before Barack Obama was to be inaugurated as the next president, shots rang out in Oakland, California. A transit officer named Johannes Mehserle shot an unarmed 22-year-old black man who lay face-down in handcuffs on a public transportation platform. His name was Oscar Grant.

Dozens of witnesses, many of whom were returning to Oakland after New Year’s Eve celebrations, watched in horror. Some captured his killing on smartphones. Shortly afterward, black Oakland exploded in palpable anger, with hundreds, then thousands of people taking to the streets, demanding justice.

Perhaps this outcry would have happened under any circumstance, but the brutality of Grant’s death in the few weeks before the country’s first black president was to take office felt like a shock of cold water. Police brutality had long been a fact of life in California, but the country was supposed to have entered into a post-racial parallel universe. The optimism that coursed through black America in 2008 seemed a million miles away.

A local movement led by Grant’s family unfolded across the Bay Area to demand that prosecutors charge and try Mehserle. Protests, marches, campus activism, public forums and organizing meetings sustained enough pressure to force local officials to charge Mehserle with murder. It was the first murder trial of a California police officer for a “line of duty” killing in 15 years. In the end, Mehserle, convicted of involuntary manslaughter, spent less than a year in prison, but the local movement foreshadowed events to come.

As for President Obama, he turned out to be very different from candidate Obama, who had stage-managed his campaign to resemble something closer to a social movement. He had conjured much hope, especially among African Americans – but with great expectations came even greater disappointments…

Read the entire article here.

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Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-16 18:03Z by Steven

Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama

The Guardian
2017-01-09

Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice
Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York

Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again. Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility

Eight years ago the world was on the brink of a grand celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and charismatic black president of the United States of America. Today we are on the edge of an abyss: the installation of a mendacious and cathartic white president who will replace him.

This is a depressing decline in the highest office of the most powerful empire in the history of the world. It could easily produce a pervasive cynicism and poisonous nihilism. Is there really any hope for truth and justice in this decadent time? Does America even have the capacity to be honest about itself and come to terms with its self-destructive addiction to money-worship and cowardly xenophobia?

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville – the two great public intellectuals of 19th-century America – wrestled with similar questions and reached the same conclusion as Heraclitus: character is destiny (“sow a character and you reap a destiny”).

The age of Barack Obama may have been our last chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft. We are rooted in market-driven brands that shun integrity and profit-driven policies that trump public goods. Our “post-integrity” and “post-truth” world is suffocated by entertaining brands and money-making activities that have little or nothing to do with truth, integrity or the long-term survival of the planet. We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world.

The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump – but it did contribute to it. And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility…

Read the entire article here.

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