Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs on 2018-05-20 01:02Z by Steven

Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific

2Leaf Press
2018-06-08
470 pages
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-940939-28-5
ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-940939-29-2

Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd

Introduction by Gerald Horne
Foreword by Velina Hasu Houston
Edited by Karen Chau

Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd’s debut, Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific, is a lyrical and compelling memoir about a son of an African American father and a Japanese mother who has spent a lifetime being looked upon with curiosity and suspicion by both sides of his ancestry and the rest of society. Cloyd begins his story in present-day San Francisco, reflecting back on a war-torn identity from Japan, U.S. military bases, and migration to the United States, uncovering links to hidden histories.

Dream of the Water Children tells two main stories: Cloyd’s mother and his own. It was not until the author began writing his memoir that his mother finally addressed her experiences with racism and sexism in Occupied Japan. This helped Cloyd make better sense of, and reckon with, his dislocated inheritances. Tautly written in spare, clear poetic prose, Dream of the Water Children delivers a compelling and surprising account of racial and gender interactions. It tackles larger social histories, helping to dispel some of the great narrative myths of race and culture embedded in various identities of the Pacific and its diaspora.

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Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2018-05-10 15:20Z by Steven

Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California

Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
Pasadena, California 91101
(626) 568-3665
2018-04-04

2018-06-17 through 2018-10-07

Bridget R. Cooks, Curator; Associate Professor of Art History and African American Studies
University of California, Irvine


Grafton Tyler Brown, Grand Canyon and Falls, 1887. Oil on canvas. 30 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the Melvin Holmes Collection of African American Art. Photo ©John Wilson White Studio

Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Bridget R. Cooks Ph.D.. The exhibition is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors, PMCA Ambassador Circle, and the California Visionary Fund.

Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918) was a painter, graphic designer, and lithographer in the 19th century. A talented artist and entrepreneur, Brown was the only documented African American in his field in the western United States at the time.

Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Brown learned about lithography while working for a printer in Philadelphia at the age of fourteen. The gold and silver mining boom in the 1800s encouraged him to venture West to establish a business and home. In 1865, Brown founded his first lithography business in San Francisco, where he served the emerging business communities in the area, designing stock certificates for a wide variety of companies ranging from ice to mining corporations, as well as admission tickets, maps, sheet music, advertisements, and billheads

Read the entire article here.

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American Son: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2018-04-30 01:09Z by Steven

American Son: A Novel

W. W. Norton & Company
May 2001
256 pages
5.6 × 8.3 in
Paperback ISBN 978-0-393-32154-8

Brian Ascalon Roley

A powerful novel about ethnically fluid California, and the corrosive relationship between two Filipino brothers.

Told with a hard-edged purity that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, American Son is the story of two Filipino brothers adrift in contemporary California. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he trains in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas’s waywardness, yet moves ever closer to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs. When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the family. Full of the ache of being caught in a violent and alienating world, American Son is a debut novel that captures the underbelly of the modern immigrant experience.

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Donna Nicol: An Agent of Change for Africana Studies

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-26 02:30Z by Steven

Donna Nicol: An Agent of Change for Africana Studies

CSUDH Campus News Center
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Carson, California
2018-03-12


Donna Nicol, associate professor and chair of Africana Studies at CSU Dominguez Hills.

Donna Nicol, associate professor and chair of Africana Studies, arrived at CSUDH in fall 2017. As a faculty member, she teaches Comparative Ethnic and Global Societies. As chair, Nicol is working with her colleagues and the university administration to strengthen the program’s curriculum and bolster its presence on campus and in the region.

A fourth-generation “Comptonite,” Nicol’s deep local roots and unique upbringing in a community-focused family has had a profound effect on her as a researcher and educator. She briefly left South Los Angeles for Ohio State University where she earned a Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education with a specialization in African American higher educational history, and a minor in African American Studies in 2007.

Prior to coming to CSUDH, Nicol was the first woman of color to be promoted and tenured in Women’s Studies at CSU Fullerton. She joined the faculty ranks at Fullerton after spending nearly a decade working in higher education administration, a nontraditional career path that she believes gives her a unique perspective on the ethos of public education, and an advantage as an academic chair…

…Nicol sat down with CSUDH Campus News Center to discuss her unique Compton upbringing, her latest research, and her perspectives regarding the African American experience in higher education.

Q: To get started, can you tell me about your upbringing in Compton, and a little about how it influences you as an educator?

A: My family moved the Compton because it was one of the few places in Los Angeles at the time that allowed African Americans to buy homes. Coming from a military background—my great-grandfather was as an Army doctor during World War I—my great-grandparents didn’t want to go back to the South with mixed-race kids (Filipino and Black). After World War II, they moved to California as did my paternal grandparents who also moved to Compton to avoid racial segregation in the Jim Crow South. We were one of the few families that had the opportunity to go to college. My great-grandfather was a doctor, so he had “cultural capital,” and taught my grandmother how to prepare for college; who passed it on to my mother; who passed it on to me…

Read the entire article here.

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William Alexander Leidesdorff: Forgotten San Francisco Pioneer

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-24 17:53Z by Steven

William Alexander Leidesdorff: Forgotten San Francisco Pioneer

San Francisco Travel
2014-08-22

Cindy Hu


Photo by vgm8383 / CC BY-NC

Financial district hotshots pass by tiny Leidesdorff Street, hardly more than an alley, and few can pronounce its name. Little do they know that the namesake of this charming hitching post-lined lane blazed the trail for them some 150 years ago. Fewer still realize he was the city’s first prominent businessman of black ancestry.

William Alexander Leidesdorff was born the son of Alexander Leidesdorff, a drifting Danish seaman, and a mulatto woman on St. Croix Island in the West Indies. The child was given Danish citizenship, though his father never shared in the raising of young William. However, an English plantation owner grew fond of the young boy and saw to his care and education.

When Leidesdorff grew into a strapping young man, the Englishman sent him to New Orleans to live with the planter’s brother and to become a cotton merchant. Leidesdorff and the mercantile industry were a perfect fit. He quickly learned the industry and built a reputation as a keen businessman. When the Englishman and his brother suddenly died, just months apart, Leidesdorff fell heir to their New Orleans estate.

When he was not managing the estate, the striking, young and wealthy Leidesdorff courted a southern belle named Hortense, whose prominent family claimed membership in New Orleans’ high society and whose lineage heralded back to Louis XIV of France. Keeping his mixed ancestry secret, Leidesdorff became engaged to the blonde, fair-skinned Hortense…

Read the entire article here.

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A Girl Full of Smartness

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-04-24 02:25Z by Steven

A Girl Full of Smartness

The Paris Review
2017-06-02

Edward White


Mary Ellen Pleasant

As an entrepreneur, civil-rights activist, and benefactor, Mary Ellen Pleasant made a name and a fortune for herself in Gold Rush–era San Francisco, shattering racial taboos.

They did things differently in the Old West. On the morning of August 14, 1889, Stephen J. Field, a justice of the Supreme Court, was eating breakfast at a café in Lathrop, California, when David S. Terry, a former bench colleague, stopped by Field’s table and slapped him twice across the face.

This was not unprecedented behavior. Despite having risen to the rank of chief justice of the Supreme Court of California, Terry was described by one contemporary as an “evil genius” with an “irrepressible temper,” who once stabbed a man for being an abolitionist and killed a Congressman wedded to the Free Soil movement. His gripe with Stephen Field, however, had nothing to do with slavery. In 1883, Terry’s wife had filed a lawsuit (Sharon vs. Sharon) against the multimillionaire U.S. Senator William Sharon, claiming she had been married to him in secret some years ago and that, having been callously discarded by the womanizing senator, she was owed a divorce settlement. After five years the case ended up at a federal circuit court, where Field found in favor of William Sharon; there would be no divorce settlement. Terry was livid and promised to exact revenge.

It was only the latest twist in what had been a bizarre case. On the first day of the trial, William Sharon’s attorney asserted that his client was the victim of a plot involving an elderly black woman who had used voodoo to steal Sharon’s hard-earned fortune. That woman was known to the San Francisco public as “Mammy Pleasant,” around whom sinister rumors had swirled for years. Some accused her of being a murderess, a madam, and a practitioner of black magic who befriended white families only to curse them and bleed them dry; a nightmarish image of “the mammy gone wrong,” to quote one historian. But just as many—especially among the black community—knew her as Mary Ellen Pleasant: an ingenious entrepreneur, pioneering civil-rights activist, and beloved benefactor who broke racial taboos and played a singular role in the early years of San Francisco…

Even within her lifetime, there were several competing stories about Pleasant’s origins. One version has her born into slavery in Georgia; another says she was the daughter of a wealthy Virginian planter who had a fling with a voodoo priestess from the Caribbean. In her published reminiscences she claimed to have been born in Philadelphia in 1812, to a Hawaiian father and “a full-blooded Louisiana negress.” Racial mixing and ethnic ambiguity, themes that would repeat over and again throughout Pleasant’s life, appear to have been part of her identity from the start…

Read the entire article here.

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The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen”

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Women on 2018-04-24 02:04Z by Steven

The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen”

KALW Local Public Radio, 91.7 FM
San Francisco, California
2015-09-09

Olivia Cueva & Liza Veale


Performer Susheel Bibbs poses in front of an image of Mary Ellen Pleasant.
Photograph by Olivia Cueva

In the mid-1800s, boomtown San Francisco was a city of men — only about 15 percent women. While slavery was illegal in California, white men were the ones cashing out on the boom. Mostly.

Then there was Mary Ellen Pleasant. She was one of the richest and most powerful people in the state — and she was a black woman. In fact she was a freedom fighter; her nickname was “Black City Hall.”

Yet today, Pleasant is barely remembered. The story that does get told is a mythologized tale about San Francisco’s so-called “voodoo queen.”

Why did this extraordinary woman fall from the city’s graces, left to haunt its history as the voodoo queen? We start at the last stop on a city tour called the San Francisco Ghost Hunt.

The tour brings you to the corner of Octavia and Bush streets, where Mary Ellen Pleasant’s mansion once stood. Six huge eucalyptus trees tower above the spot. Pleasant planted them herself over a hundred years ago.

Jim Fassbinder guides the tour. He tells a tale that he admits is not quite fact, not quite fiction.

He says Pleasant had power over San Franciscans because she practiced “voodoo.” He says some claim she was responsible for the death of four people, including her longtime business partner. Rumor has it her servant “found Mary Ellen pulling apart the bones of his head and picking out bits of his brain,” says Fassbinder.

As the story goes, she’s haunted this corner ever since the day she died. But the story’s been mangled by history. What really happened?

“It still is a mystery,” says Susheel Bibbs, “Her life is still a mystery.”

Bibbs has been studying Pleasant for over 20 years. She says part of the reason it’s so hard to distinguish fact from fiction is because Pleasant herself never kept her story straight.

“It was ingrained from the very beginning that survival meant that you don’t tell. You just keep secrets,” Bibbs says.

By best accounts, Pleasant was born on a plantation in Georgia. Once she was freed as a young girl, she began falsifying her identity. Slavery was still alive and well, so she needed to protect herself from law enforcement.

“If they decided she was an escaped slave and she had no freedom papers, they could just wrest her off the streets and back into slavery,” Bibbs says.

Her skin was fair enough to pass, so when she docked in San Francisco in 1852, she arrived as a white woman

Read entire story here. Listen to the story (00:08:37) here.

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New York Times journalist comes to talk about multiracial identity for Black History Month

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-10 03:17Z by Steven

New York Times journalist comes to talk about multiracial identity for Black History Month

Iowa State Daily
2018-02-23

Naye Valenzuela


Journalist Walter Thompson-Hernandez came to Iowa State on Feb. 22 to speak to students about what it’s like being multicultural and speaks about how to define ones identity.
Megan Petzold/Iowa State Daily

As the lights went down and as the crowd hushes to a silence, a man gets up and walks to the podium. He opens his laptop and presents a PowerPoint. The first slide presents a graffiti on a blue brick wall in Los Angeles.

The graffiti says “black power, brown pride – Tupac,” which led to the man’s first question.

“What Tupac song is this from?” He asks the crowd.

A student jumps up right away and proudly states the song is “To Live and Die in L.A.”

Walter Thompson-Hernandez, the guest presenting, is shocked, to realize a lecture attendee in Ames was the first to get it right.

Most known for his work called “Blaxicans of L.A.,” where his photos and videos talk about people in South Central Los Angeles and their experience with their multiracial identity of being both black American and Mexican in the United States, Thompson-Hernandez talks about the history of Blaxicans and what could be the future of multiracial identities in the future…

Read the entire article here.

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Kamala Harris Is Dreaming Big

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2018-03-25 02:31Z by Steven

Kamala Harris Is Dreaming Big

Vogue
April 2018

Abby Aguirre


Harris in Los Angeles with beneficiaries of the DREAM Act—which the senator has made a priority to protect.
Photographed by Zoe Ghertner, Vogue, April 2018

IT’S A COLD JANUARY NIGHT in D.C., and I’m at the Hart Senate Office Building, trailing U.S. Senator Kamala Harris into a conference room. Inside, a group of young Latino congressional staffers has gathered to meet the Democratic star from California. When she enters, flanked by aides, and dressed in a navy suit, matching ruffled blouse, black pearls, and stilettos that give her petite five-feet-four frame a few extra inches of height, the staffers immediately rise from their chairs.

Harris has an air of celebrity that, under normal circumstances, a freshman senator wouldn’t have had time to acquire. But this year has been anything but normal. She greets the 20-somethings as though they’re relatives at a family reunion: “Hi, everybody! Hi, guys!” Then she notices that one of the staffers is still seated, and her voice drops a full octave: “Stand up, man!”

The startled staffer springs to his feet. “Kevin,” he says, extending a hand.

“What’s your last name?” demands Harris.

“Figueroa.”

Thank you!” She shakes his hand. “Kamala Harris.” (That’s pronounced “comma-la,” by the way, and you’d better get it right.)…


Harris with her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who emigrated from India to study at Berkeley in the ’60s.
Photo: Courtesy of Kamala Harris

…HARRIS’S POLITICAL CAREER—seven years as district attorney in San Francisco and then another six as attorney general of California—amounts to an extraordinary run of firsts. She was the first woman and the first person of color to be elected to both positions, and she is now America’s first Indian-American senator and California’s first black senator. In 2012, Harris spoke in prime time at the Democratic National Convention. More Americans learned her name the following year, when President Obama apologized for saying Harris was not only “brilliant,” “dedicated,” and “tough,” but that she “also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2018-02-20 00:00Z by Steven

Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life

Hay House Inc.
2018-02-06
248 pages
6.3 x 1 x 9.1 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781401954215

Betty Reid Soskin

In Betty Reid Soskin’s 96 years of living, she has been a witness to a grand sweep of American history. When she was born in 1921, the lynching of African-Americans was a national epidemic, blackface minstrel shows were the most popular American form of entertainment, white women had only just won the right to vote, and most African-Americans in the Deep South could not vote at all. From her great-grandmother, who had been enslaved until her mid-20s, Betty heard stories of slavery and the times of terror and struggle for black folk that followed. In her lifetime, Betty has watched the nation begin to confront its race and gender biases when forced to come together in the World War II era; seen our differences nearly break us apart again in the upheavals of the civil rights and Black Power eras; and, finally, lived long enough to witness both the election of an African-American president and the re-emergence of a militant, racist far right.

The child of proud Louisiana Creole parents who refused to bow down to Southern discrimination, Betty was raised in the Bay Area black community before the great westward migration of World War II. After working in the civilian home front effort in the war years, she and her husband, Mel Reid, helped break down racial boundaries by moving into a previously all-white community east of the Oakland hills, where they raised four children while resisting the prejudices against the family that many of her neighbors held.

With Mel, she opened up one of the first Bay Area record stores in Berkeley both owned by African-Americans and dedicated to the distribution of African-American music. Her volunteer work in rehabilitating the community where the record shop began eventually led her to a paid position as a state legislative aide, helping to plan the innovative Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, then to a “second” career as the oldest park ranger in the history of the National Park Service. In between, she used her talents as a singer and songwriter to interpret and chronicle the great American social upheavals that marked the 1960s.

In 2003, Betty displayed a new talent when she created the popular blog CBreaux Speaks, sharing the sometimes fierce, sometimes gently persuasive, but always brightly honest story of her long journey through an American and African-American life. Blending together selections from many of Betty’s hundreds of blog entries with interviews, letters, and speeches, Sign My Name to Freedom invites you along on that journey, through the words and thoughts of a national treasure who has never stopped looking at herself, the nation, or the world with fresh eyes.

Contents

  • Editor’s Note
  • Prologue
  • Chapter 1 Creole/Black Cajun New Orleans
  • Chapter 2 Growing Up in Pre-War Bay Area
  • Chapter 3 Marriage and the War Years
  • Chapter 4 Into the Lion’s Den
  • Chapter 5 Breaking Down, Breaking Up
  • Chapter 6 The Movement Years
  • Chapter 7 An Emancipated Woman
  • Chapter 8 Richmond and Rosie and Betty the Ranger
  • Chapter 9 Shining Bright at Twilight: Lessons of a Life Long Lived
  • Epilogue
  • Index
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • About the Editor
  • Credits
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