Something Old, Something New

Posted in Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Biography, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-10-06 15:20Z by Steven

Something Old, Something New

BBC Radio 4

Johny Pitts, Host

Peter Meanwell, Producer

Recorded & mixed! Finished @BBCRadio4 (Engineer Steve Hellier with Johny Pitts) Source: Peter Meanwell

From Sheffield to South Carolina, Johny Pitts explores alternative Black British identity.

What happens when your Dad’s an African-American soul star [Richie Pitts] and your Mum’s a music-loving girl from working class Sheffield? Are your roots on the terraces at a Sheffield United match, or in the stylings of a Spike Lee film? For writer and photographer Johny Pitts, whose parents met in the heyday of Northern Soul, on the dance floor of the legendary King Mojo club, how he navigates his black roots has always been an issue. Not being directly connected to the Caribbean or West African diaspora culture, all he was told at school was that his ancestors were slaves, so for BBC Radio 4, he heads off to the USA, to trace his father’s musical migration, and tell an alternative story of Black British identity.

From Pitsmore in Sheffield, to Bedford Stuyvesant in New York, and all the way down to South Carolina, where his grandmother picked cotton, Johny Pitts heads off on a journey of self-discovery. On the way he meets author Caryl Phillips, Kadija, a half sister he never knew, and historian Bernard Powers. He visits the Concorde Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, and the Bush River Missionary Baptist Church, in Newberry, South Carolina. He tracks down a whole host of long-lost cousins, and talks to Pulitzer winning writer Isabel Wilkerson. On the way he shines a light on the shadows of his ancestry, and finds stories and culture that deliver him to a new understanding of his own mixed race identity and history.

Listen to the story here.

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Posted in Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Videos on 2015-09-28 01:11Z by Steven

Dr. Wanda Wyporska on Witchcraft Persecution


Dr. Wanda Wyporska

A show reel of Dr Wanda Wyporska talking about witchcraft for the BBC BAME expert days – 2014

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“Little White Lie: A Film about Dual Identity and Family Secrets” with Lacey Schwartz

Posted in Autobiography, Live Events, Passing, Religion, United States, Videos on 2015-09-27 16:42Z by Steven

“Little White Lie: A Film about Dual Identity and Family Secrets” with Lacey Schwartz

Taube Center for Jewish Studies
Stanford University
Center For Educational Research (Room 101)
520 Galvez Mall
Stanford, California
2015-10-28, 19:00 PDT (Local Time)

“Between Race and Religion: Contemporary American Jewish Life” series with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Lacey Schwartz, an American filmmaker, in conversation with Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of American History at Stanford University

Film screening followed by a lecture.

For more information, click here or here.

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Every Family Has Its Secrets: Lacey Schwartz Connects with Film Forward Audiences in Taiwan

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Religion on 2015-09-27 15:58Z by Steven

Every Family Has Its Secrets: Lacey Schwartz Connects with Film Forward Audiences in Taiwan

Sundance Film Forward

Lacey Schwartz, Director Little White Lie

This Sundance Film Forward trip to Taiwan marked the Asian Premiere of Little White Lie. It also was my first time ever in Asia. The things that people seemed to say I had to experience while there were the food and the shopping – I was told soup dumplings and night markets were mandatory. I learned that their passion fruit is addictive. What I didn’t have a sense of was how the audiences in Taiwan would respond to Little White Lie. I wondered if they would be confused by the racial identity dynamics. Would they think the film was revealing too much in a public manner? Would they relate to the struggle to come to terms with family secrets and denial? I had shown the film previously in countries that had much more diversity in their society such as Trinidad where the story seemed to strongly resonate. I wondered if the homogeneity of the people in Taiwan would make Little White Lie harder for them to connect to. The screenings showed that my concerns were unwarranted…

Read the entire article here.

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Jews in America struggled for decades to become white. Now we must give up whiteness to fight racism.

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-09-26 14:32Z by Steven

Jews in America struggled for decades to become white. Now we must give up whiteness to fight racism.

The Washington Post

Gil Steinlauf, Senior Rabbi
Adas Israel Congregation, Washington, D.C.

Let’s teach our children that we are, in fact, not white, but simply Jewish.

Adapted from a Rosh Hashanah sermon delivered at Adas Israel Congregation.

This summer, I had a conversation with a young woman about her Jewish identity. She told me how she grew up in a family that was very involved in her synagogue. She went to Jewish day school. She had been to Israel multiple times. But she felt very far from her Jewishness. She simply couldn’t find the relevance of Judaism as she was making her way on her own in the world. I asked her what she did feel passionate about. She told me she has been reading and thinking a lot about racial justice. What moved her was the #BlackLivesMatter movement — how, in light of Ferguson, Charleston and seemingly endless incidents of injustice against black people in our society, she felt a need to grapple with the racism that is so pervasive in this country and how it affects her identity.

“As a white woman,” she said, “as the product of so much white privilege, it makes me all the more angry to see how other white people so blindly and carelessly feed into the racial climate of our society.” “So the fact that you are white makes this issue all the more painful, all the more personal for you?” I asked. “Yes,” she said.

I certainly identified with her angst. I find the reality of American racism unbearable: the legacy of slavery; the institutional discrimination that is so pervasive; the scourge of mass incarceration of black Americans, with its collateral damage on families; the ongoing blight of housing segregation; the role of law enforcement in furthering racist systems and hierarchies; all this, and so much more. My answer to her, and my answer for all American Jews during these Days of Awe, is that finding our true Jewish identity can begin by questioning our whiteness…

Read the entire article here.

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Why some Muslims don’t want Ahmed Mohamed’s blackness to be ignored

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-09-19 02:15Z by Steven

Why some Muslims don’t want Ahmed Mohamed’s blackness to be ignored

The Washington Post

Abby Phillip, General Assignment Reporter

Ahmed Mohamed is now a 14-year-old with a national following and a long list of powerful people on his calling card.

After he was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school to impress his teachers, the ninth-grader has become symbolic of the worst skeletons in America’s closet: growing hysteria and over-criminalization in American schools, Islamophobia and racism.

As the news of Mohamed’s plight spread, some of the earliest accounts associated the teen, who is of Sudanese descent, with the word “brown,” a fuzzy bit of racial jargon that typically refers to non-black people of South Asian or sometimes Latin American descent.

And others openly wondered how the world might have reacted to Mohamed’s story if he had been black.

But Mohamed’s racial identity is as complex as the country of his descent. The African nation of Sudan is predominantly Muslim and is comprised of some 600 ethnicities. Arabs and indigenous Africans have intermarried and mixed there for centuries and most speak Arabic…

Read the entire article here.

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African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2015-09-13 20:34Z by Steven

African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World

Cambria Press
428 pages
6 x 9 in or 229 x 152 mm Case Laminate
ISBN: 9781604978926

Edited by:

Ana Lucia Araujo, Professor of History
Howard University, Washington, D.C.

This book explores the history of African tangible and intangible heritages and its links with the public memory of slavery in Brazil and Angola. The two countries are deeply connected, given how most enslaved Africans, forcibly brought to Brazil during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, were from West Central Africa. Brazil imported the largest number of enslaved Africans during the Atlantic slave trade and was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery in 1888. Today, other than Nigeria, the largest population of African descent is in Brazil. Yet it was only in the last twenty years that Brazil’s African heritage and its slave past have gained greater visibility. Prior to this, Brazil’s African heritage and its slave past were completely neglected.

Even after the abolition of slavery in Brazil, African culture continued to be marginalized. Carnival, religious festivals, as well as Candomblé ceremonies, and capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art) created important spaces of black assertion and insurgency. These cultural traditions were contested by white elites and public authorities, but starting in the 1930s, capoeira became a national symbol and Candomblé temples were gradually officially added to Brazil’s list of heritage sites.

In spite of these developments, the Atlantic slave past has remained absent from the public landscape of Brazilian and Angolan former slave ports, suggesting how difficult it is for these countries to address the painful legacies of slavery. African art and material culture also continued to be excluded from museums and other official institutions. In the rare instances that African artifacts were shown, they would be confined to only certain places dedicated to popular culture and associated with the religious sphere.

Even though public attention on slavery was growing internationally through national and international initiatives (e.g., The Slave Route Project by UNESCO), Brazil and Angola developed very few initiatives for the memorialization of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. This has started to change slowly in the last decade as Brazil has begun engaging in more initiatives to memorialize slavery and underscore the importance of its African heritage.

Brazil’s slave past and African heritage are emerging gradually in urban and rural areas through different kinds of initiatives led not only by activists but also by scholars in association with black communities. Although in their early stages, most of these projects are permanent programs supported by official agencies. This new configuration suggests that––unlike the case in Angola––in Brazil, slavery and the Atlantic the slave trade are becoming recognized as foundational chapters of the country’s history.

This is the first book in English to focus on African heritage and public memory of slavery in Brazil and Angola. This interdisciplinary study examines visual images, dance, music, oral accounts, museum exhibitions, artifacts, monuments, festivals, and others forms of commemoration to illuminate the social and cultural dynamics that over the last twenty years have propelled––or prevented––the visibility of African heritage (and its Atlantic slave trade legacy) in the South Atlantic region.

The book makes a very important contribution to the understanding of the place of African heritage and slavery in the official history and public memory of Brazil and Angola, topics that remain understudied. The study’s focus on the South Atlantic world, a zone which is sparsely covered in the scholarly corpus on Atlantic history, will further research on other post-slave societies.

African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World is an important book for African studies and Latin American studies. It is especially valuable for African Diaspora studies, African history, Atlantic history, history of Brazil, history of slavery, and Caribbean history.

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Introduction: Wounded Pasts: Memory of Slavery and African Heritage in Brazil (Ana Lucia Araujo)
  • Chapter 1: Collectionism and Colonialism: The Africana Collection at Brazil’s National Museum (Rio de Janeiro) (Mariza de Carvalho Soares)
  • Chapter 2: Race and Visual Representation: Louis Agassiz and Hermann Burmeister (Maria Helena Machado)
  • Chapter 3: Counter-Witnessing the Visual Culture of Brazilian Slavery (Matthew Francis Rarey)
  • Chapter 4: Angola in Brazil: The Formation of Angoleiro identity in Bahia (Matthias Röhrig Assunção)
  • Chapter 5: Memories of Captivity and Freedom in São José da Serra Jongo Festivals: Cultural Heritage and Black Identity (1888–2011) (Martha Abreu and Hebe Mattos)
  • Chapter 6: From Public Amnesia to Public Memory: Re-Discovering Slavery Heritage in Rio de Janeiro (André Cicalo)
  • Chapter 7: Uncomfortable Pasts: Talking About Slavery in Angola (Marcia C. Schenck and Mariana P. Candido)
  • Chapter 8: “Bahia is a Closer Africa”: Brazilian Slavery and Heritage in African American Roots Tourism (Patricia de Santana Pinho)
  • Chapter 9: Preserving African Art, History, and Memory: The AfroBrazil Museum (Kimberly Cleveland)
  • Chapter 10: The Legacy of Slavery in Contemporary Brazil (Myrian Sepúlveda dos Santos)
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Contributors
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Spirituality can help us to transcend race consciousness

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-09-10 14:47Z by Steven

Spirituality can help us to transcend race consciousness

The Orlando Sentinel
Orlando, Florida

Charles Michael Byrd, Guest columnist

As someone whom society views as racially mixed, traversing a spiritual path was indispensable for me to achieve happiness by resolving the internal conflicts arising from America’s obsession with the politics of racial identity..

Ultimately the question of how multiracial individuals should identify comes down to the level of individual spiritual consciousness. Does one see himself as the body or the spark of consciousness animating that body? Is one obligated to accept the label society issues at birth, or should one be able to freely name oneself?

Against that backdrop, the Sentinel’s Jeff Weiner’s June 4 article, “Orlando faith leaders: Improving race relations means building relationships” caught my eye and compelled me to reflect on just how inextricably blended race and religion are in America, particularly in the black community.

With Sunday mornings remaining this country’s most segregated time slot, not only have mainstream religions not allowed individuals of all colors to build transcendent interpersonal relationships, but many Americans have soured on the Abrahamic belief systems in favor of innate spirituality. The soul exists beyond racial-identity politics and does not impute value and character onto skin color…

Read the entire article here.

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The top 13 Jewish newsmakers of 5775

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-09-09 18:33Z by Steven

The top 13 Jewish newsmakers of 5775

JTA: Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — With the Jewish year winding down, here’s a look back at 13 Jews who repeatedly made the news in 5775. Whether you love them or hate them — or your feelings are purely pareve — it’s hard to deny they had an impact…

…Lacey Schwartz, 38, grew up believing she was a white Ashkenazi Jew, only to discover that her biological father was an African-American man with whom her mother had an affair. In “Little White Lie,” a documentary that screened in major U.S. cities and aired on PBS in March, Schwartz explored her shifting racial identity and what it means to be black — and Jewish — in America. Designated a New York Times Critics’ Pick, the film received favorable reviews overall. Plus, in a year in which high-profile police brutality cases involving black youth and a massacre at a black church have captured the public’s attention, “Little White Lie” has contributed to the larger discussion about race in America…

Read the entire article here.

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Does ‘Half Chinese, Half Jewish’ Condemn Me To Being Neither?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-09-02 01:08Z by Steven

Does ‘Half Chinese, Half Jewish’ Condemn Me To Being Neither?


Rachel E. Gross

When I was four years old, my father introduced me to his colleague, Jing. “Are you Chinese?” I asked, eyeing her shrewdly. “Yes,” she replied. “So am I,” I said. “And shoe-ish, too!”

My father likes to tell this story, I think, because it illustrates my self-assurance: Even at that young age, I knew exactly who I was.

What I didn’t anticipate was that others might have opinions, too. That hit home recently when I wrote a NPR column on being “half-Chinese, half-Jewish.” Suddenly, people on the Internet were dictating my identity to me. “The author is not half Jewish,” one wrote in the comments, citing Orthodox halacha that deems you Jewish only if your mother is. “She is not Jewish at all.” How did he know which of my parents was Jewish? “I Googled her,” he wrote…

Read the entire article here.

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