Walter White, 61, Dies in Home Here

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-31 20:36Z by Steven

Walter White, 61, Dies in Home Here

The New York Times
1955-03-22

Walter White, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, died last night of a heart attack at his home at his home, 242 East Sixty-eighth Street. He was 61 years old.

Last October he twice entered the New York Hospital for treatment for a heart ailment that had caused him to take a leave of absence from his duties.

Recently he had returned from a month’s leisurely visit in Haiti and Puerto Rico. Yesterday he spent two hours at his office.

Mr. White, the nearest approach to a national leader of American Negroes since Booker T. Washington, was a Negro by choice.

Only five-thirty-seconds of his ancestry was Negro. His skin was fair, his hair blond, his eyes blue and his features Caucasian. He could easily have joined the 12,000 Negroes who pass the color-line and disappear into the white majority every year in this country.

But he deliberately sacrificed his comfort to publicize himself as a Negro and to devote his entire adult life to completing the emancipation of his people…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Well, where do Latinos and Asians fit in that conversation? Where do biracial people fit into that conversation? Where do multiracial people fit into that conversation? Where do the Rachel Dolezals of the world, of this country, fit into that conversation?

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-07-27 03:53Z by Steven

Q. What have you learned about race while working on this documentary?

A. That the conversation has just started. And a lot of the time it’s framed as black and white. Well, where do Latinos and Asians fit in that conversation? Where do biracial people fit into that conversation? Where do multiracial people fit into that conversation? Where do the Rachel Dolezals of the world, of this country, fit into that conversation?

Jonathan Wolfe, “Jose Antonio Vargas on Donald Trump, Rachel Dolezal and His MTV Documentary, ‘White People’,” The New York Times, July 22, 2015. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/jose-antonio-vargas-white-people-interview.

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Jose Antonio Vargas on Donald Trump, Rachel Dolezal and His MTV Documentary, ‘White People’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-26 19:06Z by Steven

Jose Antonio Vargas on Donald Trump, Rachel Dolezal and His MTV Documentary, ‘White People’

The New York Times
2015-07-22

Jonathan Wolfe

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration activist. His new documentary “White People,” which airs tonight on MTV, follows Mr. Vargas as he travels the country speaking to young people about issues of race, particularly what it means to be white and experience white privilege. Because, Mr. Vargas said, “You cannot have a conversation about race in this country and not include white people in it.”

The documentary is part of MTV’s Look Different campaign, which aims to erase hidden gender, racial and anti-LGBT bias and uses data from a 2014 MTV survey of 14- to 24-year-olds that found that people in this age group are more tolerant and diverse than previous generations but are uncomfortable talking about race and adhere to the ideal of color blindness.

Mr. Vargas spoke about the controversy surrounding the documentary, Donald Trump’s comments about immigration and Rachel Dolezal. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation:…

Q. What is your definition of white privilege?

A. I think people get tripped up by the word “privilege.” I’m talking about systematic institutionalized differences. I had a lot of people writing me emails saying, I’m not privileged. For example, this weekend I was with Martin O’Malley in front of progressive liberal activists. Responding to the “Black Lives Matter” protest at the conference, he said: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” And the audience, which was diverse, gasped. They actually booed him. Because institutionally, if you look at incarceration rates, if you look at the criminal justice system, black people are at a disadvantage. So the moment he said that, he took it back and apologized. And some people took offense to that. Why did Martin O’Malley have to apologize for saying white lives matter? And this woman on Twitter was genuinely hurt; her tweet to me was, “My white life matters.” And I tweeted back at her and I was like, “Of course it does.” Of course it does, but your life mattering has been a given…

Q. What have you learned about race while working on this documentary?

A. That the conversation has just started. And a lot of the time it’s framed as black and white. Well, where do Latinos and Asians fit in that conversation? Where do biracial people fit into that conversation? Where do multiracial people fit into that conversation? Where do the Rachel Dolezals of the world, of this country, fit into that conversation?

Q. What do you think about Rachel Dolezal?

A. For me, that’s an example of what white privilege is. She can pass. There are many black people who can say that they are white as much as they can but who will never look physically white…

Read the entire interview here.

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‘Key & Peele’ to End After Its Fifth Season

Posted in Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-26 03:40Z by Steven

‘Key & Peele’ to End After Its Fifth Season

The New York Times
2015-07-25

Jonah Bromwich

The Comedy Central show “Key & Peele,” an absurdist sketch comedy that has become known for recurring skits like one in which an “anger translator” expresses emotions on President Obama’s behalf, will end after its current season.

Speaking to the online entertainment journal TheWrap, one of the show’s stars Keegan-Michael Key said that it was time for him and his co-star, Jordan Peele, “to explore other things, together and apart.”

“It’s not because of Comedy Central, it’s us,” Mr. Key said.

“Key & Peele” premiered on the network in 2012 and won a Peabody Award in 2013 for its “inspired satirical riffs on our racially divided and racially conjoined culture.” The show, currently in its fifth season, received seven Emmy nominations this year, including a nod for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series…

…Both comedians are biracial and much of their comedy is given to exploring, mocking and confounding racial stereotypes. In accepting the show’s Peabody Award, Mr. Key expressly thanked the network for allowing “Key & Peele” to tell a diverse set of stories.

“We’d like to thank Comedy Central for giving us the opportunity to show the African-American experience as not a monolith, because it’s not,” he said. “It’s so many different stories and the danger of the world sometimes is trying to assign a single story to an entire group of people.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Layers of Meaning in Mr. Obama’s Kenya Trip

Posted in Africa, Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-25 01:44Z by Steven

Layers of Meaning in Mr. Obama’s Kenya Trip

The New York Times
2015-07-23

The Editorial Board


Nairobi, Kenya (Credit: Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

There often comes a time in the lives of Americans when they feel drawn to explore their roots, a quest that might take them on a pilgrimage to the “old country,” whether County Limerick, or Guangzhou, or a West African country from which their ancestors were abducted as slaves.

Roots are an integral part of one’s identity, especially in a time of mass migrations. So it is no surprise that Barack Obama’s first visit to Kenya as president should be enormously poignant, complex and absorbing. This is no typical presidential visit — and this is no typical descendant of immigrants.

The mix of narratives behind Mr. Obama’s trip is extraordinary. It is the ultimate American dream: the step-grandson of an illiterate African rising to the most powerful office on earth. There is Mr. Obama’s own story so movingly told in his first book, “Dreams From My Father,” about a youth raised by a white mother in Hawaii trying to build an identity out of his complex background, and the central role played in this search by the Kenyan father he meets only once…

Read the entire article here.

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Review: ‘Oreo,’ a Sandwich-Cookie of a Feminist Comic Novel

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-07-25 00:59Z by Steven

Review: ‘Oreo,’ a Sandwich-Cookie of a Feminist Comic Novel

The New York Times
2015-07-14

Dwight Garner

Fran Ross’s first and only novel, “Oreo,” was published in 1974, four years after Toni Morrison’sThe Bluest Eye” and two years before Alex Haley’sRoots.” It wasn’t reviewed in The New York Times; it was hardly reviewed anywhere.

It’s interesting to imagine an alternative history of African-American fiction in which this wild, satirical and pathbreaking feminist picaresque caught the ride it deserved in the culture. Today it would be where it belongs, up among the 20th century’s lemony comic classics, novels that range from “Lucky Jim” and “Cold Comfort Farm” to “Catch-22” and “A Confederacy of Dunces.”

These sorts of lists have been for too long, to borrow a line from the TV show “black-ish,” whiter than the inside of Conan O’Brien’s thigh.

“Oreo” might have changed how we thought about a central strand of our literature’s DNA. As the novelist Danzy Senna puts it in her introduction to this necessary reissue: “ ‘Oreo’ resists the unwritten conventions that still exist for novels written by black women today. There’s nothing redemptively uplifting about her work. The title doesn’t refer to the Bible or the blues. The work does not refer to slavery. The character is never violated, sexually or otherwise. The characters are not from the South.”

Instead, in “Oreo” Ms. Ross is simply flat-out fearless and funny and sexy and sublime. It makes a kind of sense that, when this novel didn’t find an audience, its author moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s to write for Richard Pryor

Read the review here.

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Black Dancers, White Ballets

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-17 15:28Z by Steven

Black Dancers, White Ballets

The New York Times
2015-07-15

Laurie A. Woodard
New York University

MISTY COPELAND’S elevation to principal dancer with American Ballet Theater is a tremendous accomplishment for her as a ballet dancer and as an African-American ballerina. Neither her talent nor her achievement should be underestimated. But even as she reaches the apex of her art in the role of Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake,” her promotion poses complicated questions about black artists in classical ballet.

This country has a long history of embracing exceptional African-Americans decades before we will fully admit their equal talent and abilities. Whether it was Jackie Robinson, Halle Berry or Barack Obama, somebody had to go first. The world of classical ballet is no different.

Since ballet was developed in the court of Louis XIV in late 17th-century France, it has proved resistant to evolving beyond its roots as an elite, rigidly European art form. Balletomanes, choreographers and directors generally concurred that black bodies were unsuited to the lines of classical technique. Racism and discrimination continued to plague ballet, and throughout most of the 20th century, African-Americans were largely barred from quality training and professional careers.

Largely, but not completely. Although Ms. Copeland is the first African-American ballerina to attain the rank of principal dancer with the historically white A.B.T., she is not the first African-American professional ballerina. In fact, the line is long and illustrious, including Janet Collins, who danced with the Metropolitan Opera House in the early 1950s; Raven Wilkinson, who joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955; Nora Kimball, one of the first African-American soloists (a rank below principal) with A.B.T.; and the legendary Virginia Johnson of the Dance Theater of Harlem

Read the entire article here.

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CUNY Exhibition Documents Lives of Black Africans in Early Dominican Republic

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-14 20:42Z by Steven

CUNY Exhibition Documents Lives of Black Africans in Early Dominican Republic

The New York Times
2015-07-13

Sandra E. Garcia

Scholars at the City University of New York are using clues left in 16th-century manuscripts and Spanish records to track the lives of the earliest black Africans in the Dominican Republic.

An exhibition now on view of letters and other documents from the archives of CUNY’s Dominican Studies Institute and the General Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain, provides a window onto the lives of the often ignored black Africans of La Española, the island of Hispaniola.

In the exhibition, “16th-Century La Española: Glimpses of the First Blacks in the Early Colonial Americas,” 25 panels display photos of an original letter or record, along with an English translation, that explain or question situations involving formerly enslaved Africans on the island.

When searching the archives, Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, the assistant director of the Dominican Studies Institute, focused on keywords like “mulatto,” “negro” and “negra,” he said.

Read the entire article here.

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A Bias More Than Skin Deep

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-13 14:20Z by Steven

A Bias More Than Skin Deep

The New York Times
2015-07-13

Charles M. Blow

I will never forget the October 2013 feature on National Geographic’s website:

There was a pair of portraits of olive-skinned, ruby-lipped boys, one with a mane of curly black hair, the other with the tendrils of blond curls falling into his face.

The portraits rested above the headline: “The Changing Face of America: We’ve become a country where race is no longer so black or white.” It was about the explosion of interracial marriage in America and how it is likely to impact both our concept of race and the physical appearances of Americans.

As the Pew Research Center pointed out in a 2012 report: “About 15 percent of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, more than double the share in 1980 (6.7 percent).”

People often think of the browning of America as a factor of immigration or racial/ethnic variances in birth rates, but it must also be considered this way: as a function of interracial coupling and racial identifications.

This freedom and fluidity is, on one level, a beautiful sign of societal progress toward less racial rigidity. But, at the same time, I am left with a nagging question: does this browning represent an overcoming, on some level, of anti-black racism, or a socio-evolutionary sidestepping of it?…

Read the entire article here.

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What Is Whiteness?

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 01:33Z by Steven

What Is Whiteness?

Sunday Review
The New York Times
2015-06-20

Nell Irvin Painter, Professor Emerita of History
Princeton University

The terrorist attack in Charleston, S.C., an atrocity like so many other shameful episodes in American history, has overshadowed the drama of Rachel A. Dolezal’s yearslong passing for black. And for good reason: Hateful mass murder is, of course, more consequential than one woman’s fiction. But the two are connected in a way that is relevant to many Americans.

An essential problem here is the inadequacy of white identity. Everyone loves to talk about blackness, a fascinating thing. But bring up whiteness and fewer people want to talk about it. Whiteness is on a toggle switch between “bland nothingness” and “racist hatred.”

On one side is Dylann Storm Roof, the 21-year-old charged with murdering nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday. He’s part of a very old racist tradition, stretching from the anti-black violence following the Civil War, through the 1915 movie “The Birth of a Nation,” to today’s white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and gun-toting, apocalyptically minded Obama-haters. And now a mass murderer in a church.

On the other side is Ms. Dolezal, the former leader of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., who, it seems, mistakenly believed that she could not be both anti-racist and white. Faced with her assumed choice between a blank identity or a malevolent one, she opted out of whiteness altogether. Notwithstanding the confusion and anger she has stirred, she continues to say that she identifies as black. Fine. But why, we wonder, did she pretend to be black?

Our search for understanding in matters of race automatically inclines us toward blackness, although that is not where these answers lie. It has become a common observation that blackness, and race more generally, is a social construct. But examining whiteness as a social construct offers more answers. The essential problem is the inadequacy of white identity…

Read the entire article here.

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