Naming this era of racial contradictions

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-31 20:16Z by Steven

Naming this era of racial contradictions

The Boston Globe
2015-08-01

Farah Stockman

We’re entering a new era of race relations in America — a crazy, conflicting, potentially explosive era yet to be named.

Maybe it’s an era of white insecurity about racial identity as the country moves toward a nonwhite majority. Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black people in a church, and Rachel Dolezal, who declared herself black on national television, could be two sides of that coin.

Or maybe it’s an era of increasing black confidence. What’s unprecedented about the spate of black people who’ve died in police custody is not the deaths themselves — those are sadly not new — but rather the fact that they’re being covered prominently on national news.

There’s something else notable about our conversations on race today: the disconnect between where we are in 2015 and where we thought we’d be. The half-finished project of racial equality in the United States leaves us with a parade of endless contradictions.

We overwhelmingly support the idea of integration. Yet, 75 percent of white people don’t have a single black friend, and 66 percent of black people don’t have a white one.

In a city like Boston, poor kids tend to go to poor schools, and wealthy kids to affluent schools.

We elected a black president. Yet we still incarcerate blacks at nearly six times the rate of whites. We’ve had not one but two black secretaries of state. Yet, a study shows that women with “black-sounding” names — like Lakisha and Aisha — still have a hard time getting hired as secretaries.

Read the entire article here.

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The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-07-13 02:00Z by Steven

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts

Harvard University Press
April 2015
288 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
11 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674967625

Amber D. Moulton, Researcher
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Well known as an abolitionist stronghold before the Civil War, Massachusetts had taken steps to eliminate slavery as early as the 1780s. Nevertheless, a powerful racial caste system still held sway, reinforced by a law prohibiting “amalgamation”—marriage between whites and blacks. The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts chronicles a grassroots movement to overturn the state’s ban on interracial unions. Assembling information from court and church records, family histories, and popular literature, Amber D. Moulton recreates an unlikely collaboration of reformers who sought to rectify what, in the eyes of the state’s antislavery constituency, appeared to be an indefensible injustice.

Initially, activists argued that the ban provided a legal foundation for white supremacy in Massachusetts. But laws that enforced racial hierarchy remained popular even in Northern states, and the movement gained little traction. To attract broader support, the reformers recalibrated their arguments along moral lines, insisting that the prohibition on interracial unions weakened the basis of all marriage, by encouraging promiscuity, prostitution, and illegitimacy. Through trial and error, reform leaders shaped an appeal that ultimately drew in Garrisonian abolitionists, equal rights activists, antislavery evangelicals, moral reformers, and Yankee legislators, all working to legalize interracial marriage.

This pre–Civil War effort to overturn Massachusetts’ antimiscegenation law was not a political aberration but a crucial chapter in the deep history of the African American struggle for equal rights, on a continuum with the civil rights movement over a century later.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Amalgamation and the Massachusetts Ban on Interracial Marriage
  • 2. Interracial Marriage as an Equal Rights Measure
  • 3. Moral Reform and the Protection of Northern Motherhood
  • 4. Anti-Southern Politics and Interracial Marriage Rights
  • 5. Advancing Interracialism
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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Amherst Together asking for poems about identity, presenting 1-woman performance on notion of race

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-26 20:53Z by Steven

Amherst Together asking for poems about identity, presenting 1-woman performance on notion of race

MassLive
2015-03-24

Diane Lederman, Reporter
The Springfield Republican


Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni is bringing her one-woman show “One Drop of Love” to Amherst Middle School April 15 as part of the Amherst Together initiative. (Submitted)

AMHERST, [Massachusetts] – Since July, Carol Ross has been doing a lot of listening and a lot of information collecting.

But she said she is happy with the progress that Amherst Together is making.

She was hired by the town and the schools as the media and climate communications specialist to foster collaboration to help create a community in which people feel like they belong.

She met with the Select Board recently for a brief update and then Tuesday answered questions.

She expects that they will have finished collecting data on the community survey in April. The survey was developed with a public participation class in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department at the University of Massachusetts. She will get help from Amherst College in interpreting the data as well.

They need about 75 more to answer it from targeted neighborhoods. The survey is intended to find out what the community’s values are to get a sense of the kind of community people want to see. That will help lead to a larger conversation later.

And on April 15, they are bringing Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni to the Amherst Regional Middle School at 7 p.m. for a free one-woman performance called “One Drop of Love.”

Produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the show incorporates “filmed images, photographs and animation to tell the story of how the notion of race came to be in the United Sates and how it affected her relationship with her father,” according to a press release

As Ross said in a press release describing the show as well as in her interview, her work is not just about race…

Read the entire article here.

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Edward Brooke, first black elected U.S. senator, dies at 95

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-01-04 01:02Z by Steven

Edward Brooke, first black elected U.S. senator, dies at 95

USA Today
2015-01-03

Natalie DiBlasio

Former Massachusetts U.S. senator Edward Brooke, the first African American to be elected to the Senate by popular vote, has died at age 95.

Ralph Neas, a former aide, said Brooke died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Coral Gables, Fla.

“We lost a truly remarkable public servant,” says Massachusetts Gov.-elect Charlie Baker. “A war hero, a champion of equal rights for all and an example that barriers can be broken, Sen. Brooke accomplished more than most aspire to.”

The only blacks to serve in the Senate before Brooke were two men in the 1870s when senators were still chosen by state legislatures.

Brooke, a liberal Republican, was elected to the Senate in 1966 and served two terms. He earned his reputation as a liberal after becoming the first Republican senator to publicly urge President Nixon to resign…

…Historian Dennis Nordin has researched and written about African-American politicians and devoted a chapter to Brooke in his book, From Edward Brooke to Barack Obama: African American Political Success, 1966-2008.

Nordin told The Greenville News that Brooke’s political career shows independence from the GOP…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Edward Brooke, Pioneering U.S. Senator in Massachusetts, Dies at 95

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-01-04 00:50Z by Steven

Edward Brooke, Pioneering U.S. Senator in Massachusetts, Dies at 95

The New York Times
2015-01-03

Douglas Martin

Edward W. Brooke III, who in 1966 became the first African-American elected to the United States Senate by popular vote, winning as a Republican in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts, died on Saturday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95.

His death was confirmed by Ralph Neas, a family spokesman, who said Mr. Brooke was surrounded by members of his family.

He won his Senate seat by nearly a half-million votes in 1966 and was re-elected in 1972. He remains the only black senator ever to have been returned to office.

A skilled coalition builder at a time when Congress was less partisan and ideologically divided than it is today, Mr. Brooke shunned labels, but he was seen as a centrist. His positions and votes were consistently more liberal than those of his increasingly conservative Republican colleagues.

He opposed the expansion of nuclear arsenals, pushed for improved relations with China and championed civil rights, the legalization of abortion and fair-housing policies. He urged Republicans to match the Democrats in coming up with programs to aid cities and the poor…

Read the entire obituary here.

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One of Us

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-29 01:17Z by Steven

One of Us

Boston Magazine
November 2014 (published 2014-10-28)

Jennifer J. Roberts


Portrait of the author by Jason Grow

I was a typical Southie kid, one of six, born to a single mother, raised in a triple-decker, surrounded by Whitey Bulger’s violence and fierce Irish pride. There was only one thing that kept me on the outside: Despite my mother’s claims to the contrary, we were black.

When I was six years old, I was bused to school at John Winthrop Elementary on the Dorchester/Roxbury line. The school was in a mostly black neighborhood, about 3 miles from the South Boston neighborhood where I lived, but even then I understood it as enemy territory.

My mother had made that clear: She was ­aggressive about her stance against busing, and “those blacks.” By which she didn’t mean us. I was the youngest of six kids, and the darkest, but if you asked my mother, she’d tell you we were Irish. Virginia Roberts was a proud supporter of Jim Kelly and Billy Bulger, hugged them flamboyantly at every St. Paddy’s Day Parade. They would give her a kiss on the cheek. I would cringe. Tall, thin, and attractive, she wore a shamrock brooch on her housecoat. Her kinky hair was usually covered by a kerchief or a wig. Her skin, like mine, was a warm beige in the winter and a deep red-brown in the summer. But we were Irish, she insisted, and nothing else.

Sitting in a neighbor’s kitchen, racial slurs would buzz around like hungry mosquitoes waiting to suck my blood out and leave me cold. Inevitably one would land on my mother. “Why can’t they just stay in their neighborhood? No offense, Ginny,” waving a cigarette at my mother. “You know we don’t mean you!” My mother would swat away their words with indifference; of course they didn’t mean her! She’d scoff right along with them.

When I was a child, the origin of our shared skin tone and hair texture was a mystery. Out on the street, though, kids had theories: “I heard your grandmother was raped by a black man,” they’d say to me, or, “I heard your mother was found on a doorstep and your grandmother took her in.” What was clear to me, even as a little girl, was that my mother wanted no part of our shared racial heritage. The bubble of denial she created for herself was solid Teflon. Everything rolled right off of her and onto me. At home, I was Irish. On the street, I was something different: “jigaboo,” “nigger,” “Oreo,” “Jenny the spook.” These names were spoken to me almost as if they were endearments, nicknames. Nearly everyone in Southie had a nickname.

I was from Southie; I was one of them. I was their black girl…

Read the entire article here.

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Bewildered in Boston

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2013-04-05 16:59Z by Steven

Bewildered in Boston

HiLobrow
2011-11-12

Joshua Glenn, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Fanny Howe isn’t part of the local literary canon. But her seven novels about interracial love and utopian dreaming offer a rich social history of Boston in the 1960s and ’70s.

[This essay first appeared in The Boston Globe’s IDEAS section, on March 7, 2004.]

Fanny Howe isn’t wild about her hometown. “Boston is a parochial and paranoid city,” the 63-year-old poet and novelist charges in the introduction to The Wedding Dress (University of California), a new collection of her literary essays. “It doesn’t admit its own defects, and it belittles its own children as a result.”

Between 1968 and 1987 the Cambridge-born Howe lectured at Tufts, MIT, and other local institutions while publishing 19 books of poetry and fiction, including a series of seven semi-autobiographical novels obsessively chronicling not just particular Boston neighborhoods but the social, economic, and political tensions that plagued the city in the racially charged ’60s and ’70s. Yet it wasn’t until the University of California at San Diego offered her tenure in ’87 that Howe began to be recognized as one of the country’s least compromising yet most readable experimentalist writers. Since then, she has won the National Poetry Foundation Award, the Pushcart Prize for fiction, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, among other prestigious awards.

Still, she’s never been celebrated as part of Boston’s literary pantheon. “This city is tougher on its own—that’s a sign of its provincialism,” says Howe’s old friend Bill Corbett, an influential local poet and writer-in-residence at MIT. “Fanny had to leave town in order to find her audience.”

But Howe says Boston’s reluctance to recognize her work was the least of her worries. In The Wedding Dress, she recounts her experiences as a well-born Brahmin turned community activist, a white woman married to a person of color, and a mother of three mixed-race children during the city’s violent busing crisis—and recalls feeling that she’d never be the same again. “[The late anti-busing activist] Louise Day Hicks and the vociferous Boston Irish were like the dogs and hoses in the South…,” she writes. “Some worldview was inexorably shifting in me.”

Her daughter Danzy Senna, whose bestselling 1998 novel Caucasia drew upon her own memories of growing up in Boston in the early ’70s, says Howe “had an epiphany: As the mother of nonwhite children, she was no longer comfortable in the blind spot of the white world. She became a race traitor and a keen analyst of whiteness, in all its complacency and complicity.” As Howe herself writes in The Wedding Dress, she often feels “that my skin is white but my soul is not, and that I am in camouflage.”…

..It was an era of assassinations and race riots, and Boston’s black neighborhoods, where the newlyweds spent their time, sometimes became war zones. (“My white face felt like something I had foolishly chosen to wear to the wrong place,” recalls Henny, protagonist of Indivisible, the last of Howe’s memoiristic novels, of her travels “from Connolly’s to Bob the Chef to Joyce Chen’s and the Heath Street projects.”) Still, Howe and Senna bought a crumbling Victorian on Robeson Street in Jamaica Plain, and quixotically tried to establish their own racially neutral utopia. Senna went to work for Beacon Press, while Howe lectured at Tufts, got involved in neighborhood politics, and filled the house with “Carl’s family and Jamaican, Irish, and African friends of friends,” as she puts it.

The couple had three children—daughters Ann Lucien and Danzy, and son Maceo—in four years. Danzy looked white, but Howe encouraged all three children to think of themselves as black, and enrolled them in Roxbury public schools and the late Elma Lewis’s arts programs. (The white mother in Senna’s Caucasia tells her mixed-race daughter, “It doesn’t matter what your color is or where you’re born into, you know? It matters who you choose to call your own.”)

But as Howe admits, “Boston was a poor choice of a place to live” for a mixed-race family. “Many times people stopped me with my children, to ask, ‘Are they yours?’ with an expression of disgust and disbelief on their faces.” In a 1985 poem titled “Robeson Street,” she’d recall: “This stage was really hell — the fracas of an el/to downtown Boston, back out again,/with white boys banging the lids of garbage cans,/calling racial zingers into our artificial lights.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Elizabeth Warren Situation Is More Complicated Than Many Think

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-10-10 21:02Z by Steven

The Elizabeth Warren Situation Is More Complicated Than Many Think

Indian Country Today Media Network
2012-10-10

Laura Waterman Wittstock
Seneca Nation

A ton of ink has been spilled on the subject of the Elizabeth Warren run for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Most of the writing on the Indian side of opinion is whether or not Warren has a legitimate claim to her Delaware and Cherokee ancestry. Strong language has emerged on the subject, rightly due to the fact that so many Americans claim Indian heritage without any idea of what being an Indian is all about.

But between the Indian and non-Indian sides of the coin are a million slices of what-ifs and others. Example one: I met a woman whose husband was enrolled in Coweta Creek and got support for his considerable higher education costs. Beyond that, he knew next to nothing about his tribe. He was born into an African American family, married an African American and had a couple of wonderful children. His wife’s question to me was how she could get the children enrolled after they had been informed the children lacked sufficient blood quantum. This mother was interested in her children’s education and wanted them to have all the benefits they might be due as a result of their father’s heritage. I did not have good news for them…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and a Political Race

Posted in Articles, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-09-28 21:33Z by Steven

Race and a Political Race

Everyday Sociology Blog
2012-09-28

Jonathan R. Wynn, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dwanna L. Robertson
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

The Massachusetts Senate race between incumbent Scott Brown and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren took an unexpected sharp turn this week. Shades of racialized language (reminiscent of the 2008 Presidential campaign) seeped in. This actually started in April, when Brown’s staffers uncovered that Warren claimed she was a minority, implicating her as committing ethnic fraud because she lacked proof of a Native American ancestry.
 
During their first political debate, Brown went straight at this issue in a prepared remark, saying, “Professor Warren claimed she was a Native American, a person of color—And as you can see, she’s not.” With this statement, Brown contends he can identify Native Americans—and other people of color—just by looking at them.

It would be humorous—Did she accidentally forget to braid her hair and wear her moccasins?—if it didn’t have serious undertones cutting at the heart of race and politics in the U.S.. Brown suggests Warren received special consideration for claiming she was part Cherokee. “When you are a U.S. Senator,” he stated, “you have to pass a test and that’s one of character and honesty and truthfulness. I believe and others believe she’s failed that test.” But did Warren fail the test?…

..Back to Brown’s assertion idea that our eyes can tell us a person’s race. Sociologist Mary Campbell has been working on misclassification of race based upon skin tone, finding not only that American Indians experience a high level of misidentification, but that in the process they also experience higher levels of psychological distress…

There is, however, a real challenge when it comes to speaking of how indigenous folk look. It is not just that it’s a bad idea to think facial features are satisfactory markers of race. It is that the emphasis on perception also indicates a complete misunderstanding of U.S. History: People who claim First Nation Heritage are of a mixed ethnic background due to generations of attempted racial extermination, cultural oppression, and a breaking of tribal links to land and community…

Read the entire article here.

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Who Gets To Decide Who Is Native American?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, United States on 2012-08-10 03:00Z by Steven

Who Gets To Decide Who Is Native American?

Tell Me More
National Public Radio
2012-08-09

Michel Martin, Host

Rob Capriccioso, Washington Bureau Chief
Indian Country Today Media Network

Tiya Miles, Professor of American Culture, Afroamerican and African Studies, and Native American Studies
University of Michigan

A controversy about identity has erupted in the race for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. News outlets revealed Democrat Elizabeth Warren claimed Cherokee ancestry during her academic career, and critics say Warren isn’t providing enough documentation to prove her identity. Host Michel Martin discusses just who is Native American.

Listen to the story here. Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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