Yom Kippur Haftorah: Black Lives Matter

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-10-19 18:53Z by Steven

Yom Kippur Haftorah: Black Lives Matter


Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

The opening chapter of a handwritten Book of Esther. source: Wikipedia

You shall love people — including Black people — with all your heart

I shared this with my synagogue during Yom Kippur 5777 Shacharit services.

To grow up Black in America is to know that your humanity is always in question.

I have a lot of memories of this from my childhood, but one stands out in particular.

When I was 15, I was thrown out of a New Year’s Eve party because Black people — or as they repeatedly shouted at me, N-words — were not welcome.

Later, when I was an 18 year old college sophomore, a white Jewish leader of Harvard Hillel yelled at me that I was an anti-Semite because I was at a peace rally organized by Arab students. She could not imagine that someone my color was an Ashkenazi Jew too.

Now at 34, every time my mother calls me, I think it’s to tell me one of my cousins is dead. Or in jail. A couple of weeks ago a phone call from a cousin was in fact about another one who was in jail, falsely accused by a white person who wanted to teach her a lesson…

Read the entire article here.

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Jews Of Color Press For Acceptance

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-10-19 17:58Z by Steven

Jews Of Color Press For Acceptance

The New York Jewish Week

Hannah Dreyfus, Staff Writer

The Changing face of the Jewish Community. JW

This the first of a two part feature on the changing face of the Jewish Community. Read part two here.

Hair has a lot to do with it, according to Sophia Weinstock.

Weinstock, 21, the daughter of an Ashkenazi father and African-American and Puerto Rican mother, first noticed her hair was different as a young girl growing up in the Orthodox community of Staten Island. Her dark, tightly bound curls, tinged with blond at the ends, resisted all efforts to be tamed, though she tried desperately to pull them back.

“People have always looked at my hair, even touched my hair, and said, ‘Wow, you look so ethnic!’” said the law school-bound Columbia University senior. “I hate that word. It’s like this encapsulating term for everything that is ‘other.’”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black, Jewish And Avoiding The Synagogue On Yom Kippur

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-10-19 17:42Z by Steven

Black, Jewish And Avoiding The Synagogue On Yom Kippur

Code Switch: Race And Identity, Remixed
National Public Radio

Leah Donnella

Last time I worshipped in a synagogue was Sept. 5, 2014. And I won’t be going today.

That might surprise my friends, who put up with my bragging ad nauseam about how Jewish I am.

You got a great deal on plane tickets? Reminds me of the time I took a free Birthright trip to Israel. Going skating? I haven’t been on skates since my bat mitzvah reception, held at the roller skating rink in Villanova, Pa. You say you love the musicals of George Gershwin? Ha, that sounds just like Gershenfeld, my mother’s maiden name, which is also my middle name, which means “barley field” in Yiddish, the language my ancestors spoke in Eastern Europe.

Some of this is just me being obnoxious. But it’s also a way to claim a part of my identity that’s hidden from most people. I’m a black woman. No one ever assumes I’m Jewish. When I talk about Judaism, people look at me in a way that makes me feel like I’m breaking into my own house. Especially the people inside the house.

Read the entire article here.

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Tracing Your “Routes”

Posted in Anthropology, Autobiography, Media Archive, Religion, United States, Videos on 2016-10-14 15:35Z by Steven

Tracing Your “Routes”

TEDx Talks: TEDxSBUWomen
Stony Brook University, State University of New York

Zebulon Miletsky, Professor of Africana Studies
Stony Brook University, State University of New York

“He’s gonna have a hard time proving he’s a brother.”

Dr. Zebulon Miletsky discusses his journey through the multiple worlds of race and identity as he shares his experiences with researching his own family genealogy, the various “routes” this process led him to and how “tracing your routes” can lead to more than just knowledge about your background–it’s about how we treat one another along those “routes”.

Dr. Zebulon Miletsky teaches African-American History at Stony Brook University where he is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies. He is the author of numerous articles, essays and most recently a book chapter that appeared in the anthology “Obama and the Biracial Factor: The Battle for a New American Majority” which traces the contested meanings throughout history of terminology for multiracial people and the role that this historical legacy of “naming” plays into how President Obama is read as African American, but still asserts a strategic biracial identity through the use of language, symbols, and interactions with the media. Miletsky who is half-Jewish (white) and African-American/Afro-Caribbean, has done a great deal of genealogical research for a book manuscript in progress and is in the process of researching his own family tree. He lives in Brooklyn.

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This Historian Wants You To Know The Real Story Of Southern Food

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-10-02 20:01Z by Steven

This Historian Wants You To Know The Real Story Of Southern Food

The Salt: What’s On Your Plate
Weekend Edition Saturday
National Public Radio

Erika Beras

Michael Twitty wants credit given to the enslaved African-Americans who were part of Southern cuisine’s creation. Here he is in period costume at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate.
Erika Beras for NPR

Michael Twitty wants you to know where Southern food really comes from. And he wants the enslaved African-Americans who were part of its creation to get credit. That’s why Twitty goes to places like Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s grand estate in Charlottesville, Va. — to cook meals that slaves would have eaten and put their stories back into American history.

On a recent September morning, Twitty is standing behind a wooden table at Monticello’s Mulberry Row, which was once a sort of main street just below the plantation. It’s where hundreds of Jefferson’s slaves once lived and worked. Dozens of people watch as Twitty prepares to grill a rabbit over an open fire.

“Look – it’s better than chicken,” he tells the audience…

…Twitty is black, Jewish and gay. He writes about all those things on his blog Afroculinaria and increasingly, in mainstream media publications. His mission is to explain where American food traditions come from, and to shed light on African-Americans’ contributions to those traditions – which most historical accounts have long ignored. He says little is documented about what slaves ate. It’s just a line here and a line there.

“There was no sense of their personal stories, no sense of their familial ties, no sense of their personal likes or dislikes,” he says. “It was just straight up a very bland, neutral version of history.”…

Read the entire story here. Download the story 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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A Luminous Brotherhood: Afro-Creole Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2016-09-19 00:06Z by Steven

A Luminous Brotherhood: Afro-Creole Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans

University of North Carolina Press
September 2016
280 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 6 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4696-2878-3

Emily Suzanne Clark, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington

In the midst of a nineteenth-century boom in spiritual experimentation, the Cercle Harmonique, a remarkable group of African-descended men, practiced Spiritualism in heavily Catholic New Orleans from just before the Civil War to the end of Reconstruction. In this first comprehensive history of the Cercle, Emily Suzanne Clark illuminates how highly diverse religious practices wind in significant ways through American life, culture, and history. Clark shows that the beliefs and practices of Spiritualism helped Afro-Creoles mediate the political and social changes in New Orleans, as free blacks suffered increasingly restrictive laws and then met with violent resistance to suffrage and racial equality.

Drawing on fascinating records of actual séance practices, the lives of the mediums, and larger citywide and national contexts, Clark reveals how the messages that the Cercle received from the spirit world offered its members rich religious experiences as well as a forum for political activism inspired by republican ideals. Messages from departed souls including François Rabelais, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, Robert E. Lee, Emanuel Swedenborg, and even Confucius discussed government structures, the moral progress of humanity, and equality. The Afro-Creole Spiritualists were encouraged to continue struggling for justice in a new world where “bright” spirits would replace raced bodies.

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Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828-1860

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States, Women on 2016-09-13 21:20Z by Steven

Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828-1860

University of North Carolina Press
360 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 11 illus., notes, bibl., index
Cloth ISBN: 0-8078-2726-6
Paperback ISBN 0-8078-5401-8
eBook ISBN: 9780807862155

Diane Batts Morrow, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies
University of Georgia, Athens

Founded in Baltimore in 1828 by a French Sulpician priest and a mulatto Caribbean immigrant, the Oblate Sisters of Providence formed the first permanent African American Roman Catholic sisterhood in the United States. It still exists today. Exploring the antebellum history of this pioneering sisterhood, Diane Batts Morrow demonstrates the centrality of race in the Oblate experience.

By their very existence, the Oblate Sisters challenged prevailing social, political, and cultural attitudes on many levels. White society viewed women of color as lacking in moral standing and sexual virtue; at the same time, the sisters’ vows of celibacy flew in the face of conventional female roles as wives and mothers. But the Oblate Sisters’ religious commitment proved both liberating and empowering, says Morrow. They inculcated into their communal consciousness positive senses of themselves as black women and as women religious. Strengthened by their spiritual fervor, the sisters defied the inferior social status white society ascribed to them and the ambivalence the Catholic Church demonstrated toward them. They successfully persevered in dedicating themselves to spiritual practice in the Roman Catholic tradition and their mission to educate black children during the era of slavery.

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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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Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey

Posted in Biography, Books, Family/Parenting, History, Louisiana, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2016-09-07 21:12Z by Steven

Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey

University Press of Mississippi
January 2017
208 pages
25 b&w illustrations, 1 map, chronology, bibliography, index
6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1496810083

Melissa Daggett

Modern American Spiritualism blossomed in the 1850s and continued as a viable faith into the 1870s. Because of its diversity and openness to new cultures and religions, New Orleans provided fertile ground to nurture Spiritualism, and many séance circles flourished in the Creole Faubourgs of Tremé and Marigny as well as the American sector of the city. Melissa Daggett focuses on Le Cercle Harmonique, the francophone séance circle of Henry Louis Rey (1831–1894), a Creole of color who was a key civil rights activist, author, and Civil War and Reconstruction leader. His life has so far remained largely in the shadows of New Orleans history, partly due to a language barrier.

Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans focuses on the turbulent years between the late antebellum period and the end of Reconstruction. Translating and interpreting numerous primary sources and one of the only surviving registers of séance proceedings, Daggett has opened a window into a fascinating life as well as a period of tumult and change. She provides unparalleled insights into the history of the Creoles of color and renders a better understanding of New Orleans’s complex history. The author weaves an intriguing tale of the supernatural, of chaotic post-bellum politics, of transatlantic linkages, and of the personal triumphs and tragedies of Rey as a notable citizen and medium. Wonderful illustrations, reproductions of the original spiritual communications, and photographs, many of which have never before appeared in published form, accompany this study of Rey and his world.

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