Jordan Peele on a Truly Terrifying Monster: Racism

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-18 20:10Z by Steven

Jordan Peele on a Truly Terrifying Monster: Racism

The New York Times
2017-02-16

Jason Zinoman


Jordan Peele, who is making his directorial debut with the horror film “Get Out.” Credit Elizabeth Weinberg for The New York Times

The sketch comedian takes on racial politics and the “liberal elite” in his debut feature, the horror movie “Get Out.” Here, he talks about his life and work.

No serious fan of the sketch comedy show “Key & Peele” will be surprised that Jordan Peele (the shorter half of its starring duo) is making his directorial debut with a horror film. Their acclaimed Comedy Central series may have been best known for President Obama’s “anger translator,” but it often lampooned scary movies with a specificity that could come only from a connoisseur of things that go bump in the night. (No one has made a funnier parody of “The Shining.”)

In his new movie, “Get Out,” he plays the scares straight, writing and directing the rare horror movie that tackles racial politics head on. In a scenario that has been described as “The Stepford Wives” meets “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American photographer, is about to meet his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time when he’s rattled to learn that she has not told them he is black. His anxiety increases when her father goes out of his way to tell him that he would have voted for Mr. Obama for a third term and when the forced smiles of the parents’ exclusively black servants start seeming a little uncanny. Racial micro-aggressions and ominous signs (bad dreams, dead animals) mount, as this fish-out-of-water story takes a foreboding turn…

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A Family That Pushed Racial Boundaries Through Generations

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-05 19:38Z by Steven

A Family That Pushed Racial Boundaries Through Generations

The New York Times
2017-01-27

Caitlin Dickerson, National Reporter


From left: Blake, Jared, Bryan and Deborah Treadwell, photographed in Eastham, Mass.
Credit Erik Jacobs for The New York Times

When Lizzie Connor kissed her husband goodbye and hopped on a train at Grand Central Depot, The New York Times took note. An article written about the couple in 1885 was not a wedding announcement, but a news story that noted a serious peculiarity at the time.

Ms. Connor was white; her husband, Titus Poole, was black. And we believe that the article, headlined “Married to a Negro,” was one of the newspaper’s earliest mentions of an interracial couple. Four generations later, the couple’s descendants have drawn the attention, and sometimes scorn, of outsiders because of several boundary-defying unions that followed. Today, they have roots that are black, white and Native American.

It appears the writer of the article did not interview the Pooles, but instead retraced their steps across southern New York State over several days, stringing together a dispatch that reads like a gossip column, with bits of information, like Mr. Poole’s “handsome suit of broadcloth, with white vest, white necktie, and buff kid gloves,” from those who had observed the couple. The article also misspelled Mr. Poole’s surname and misreported the couple’s ages.

Even more rare than their interracial relationship was the Pooles’ adoption of a white baby girl, named Lillian. “Simply unheard-of,” is how E. Wayne Carp, an emeritus history professor at Pacific Lutheran University, recently described the adoption, which he called a “one-in-a-million case,” because of the “raging racism against mix-race married couples” at the time…

…Bryan Treadwell, the Pooles’ great-grandson, now 68, says he identifies racially as “other.” He hadn’t known until The Times tracked him down last year that his great-grandparents were an interracial couple, but he did know that Lillian Poole, his white grandmother (and the Pooles’ adopted daughter), defied racial mores by marrying Harold Treadwell Sr., who was part black and part Native American. They gave birth to Mr. Treadwell’s father, Harold Marvin Treadwell Jr., in 1925…

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MARRIED TO A NEGRO.

Posted in Articles, Media Archive on 2017-02-05 19:28Z by Steven

MARRIED TO A NEGRO.

The New York Times
Thursday, 1885-05-14
Page 8, column 5

A few days ago passengers waiting in the New-Haven Railroad rooms at the Grand Central Station were surprised at the attention paid a young white woman by a colored man, who was dressed in the height of fashion. They were more surprised to see the couple kiss each other good-bye when the woman went to take a train. The colored man appeared yesterday in the little village of Harrison, Westchester County, attired in a handsome suit of broadcloth, with white vest,, white necktie, and buff kid gloves. He inquired for the Matthews mansion, which is one of the finest dwellings in Westchester County, and went there. He was met at the house by the woman from whom he had parted at the Grand Central Station. She was a waitress in the Matthews family, and a general favorite. Her name was Lizzie Connor. She introduced the new arrival to her mistress as her husband, Titus Poole, and said they were about to depart together. The couple walked to the railway station, about a mile distant, where they purchased tickets for Mount Vernon. At that station they took the stage to Yonkers, where they said they intended to live. The woman is about 22 years of age and her husband is 36.

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As I see it, Mr. Obama is the only figure to ever give Dr. King a run for his money as Greatest Black Man in American history.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-01-17 00:34Z by Steven

President Obama’s historic tenure ends as the nation celebrates what would have been Martin Luther King’s 88th birthday. As I see it, Mr. Obama is the only figure to ever give Dr. King a run for his money as Greatest Black Man in American history. More than a gentle rivalry for supremacy in the history books joins the two. They are tethered by death, too — if not by its actual occurrence, then by its looming possibility.

Michael Eric Dyson, “How Black America Saw Obama,” The New York Times, January 14, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/opinion/sunday/how-black-america-saw-obama.html.

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Writing the biography of a black person who passed for white in 20th-century America adds an extra layer of difficulty to the detective work any biographer must undertake. This is especially true since Herriman seems never to have addressed his deception in his personal writings or confided his feelings about racial identity to family or friends.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-01-17 00:25Z by Steven

Writing the biography of a black person who passed for white in 20th-century America adds an extra layer of difficulty to the detective work any biographer must undertake. This is especially true since [George] Herriman seems never to have addressed his deception in his personal writings or confided his feelings about racial identity to family or friends. He claimed he came from a family of bakers and had worked in his youth as a house painter and carnival barker. In truth he was the great-grandson of Stephen Herriman, a married white boat’s captain from Long Island with roots in England, who purchased enslaved workers after settling in Louisiana, and Justine Olivier, a “free woman of color” who engaged in a plaçage relationship in which her lover financially supported her and her two children.

Nelson George, “Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’,” The New York Times, January 12, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/books/review/krazy-george-herriman-biography-michael-tisserand.html.

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Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-01-16 21:16Z by Steven

Invisibly Black: A Life of George Herriman, Creator of ‘Krazy Kat’

The New York Times
2017-01-12

Nelson George

KRAZY: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
By Michael Tisserand
Illustrated. 545 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $35.

In our superficially more enlightened age, the phrase “mixed race” has become the accepted term to describe people with parents of different races. In fact the phrase has become a tool of marketers and brand-conscious celebrities to suggest whatever they’re selling is all-inclusive, a living embodiment of diversity. Many take great care in, for example, their Instagram biographies to list their hyphenated backgrounds.

But there are limits to the term’s utility, especially for people with African ancestry. Barack Obama was America’s first mixed-race president. His father was Kenyan and his mother a white woman from Kansas. Yet the tawdry racial history of this Republic demanded that he claim blackness as his primary identity because one drop of black blood has always decided your fate in this country. “Mixed race” notwithstanding, an African heritage in America is never just a cool exotic spice; one taste and it becomes all anyone remembers of the meal.

This rigid attitude toward race is often enforced by black Americans as fiercely as whites. For them the “mixed race” label, when employed by black people with a nonblack parent or grandparents, seems more a transparent attempt to dodge racial pigeonholing than a heartfelt assertion of identity. Jim Crow, which ended officially in the 1960s, has never been completely dismantled. So attempts to escape its grip, while understandable, create resentment in those unable to slip across the racial boundaries.

All of which makes Michael Tisserand’sKrazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White” a fascinating and frustrating biography. Though Herriman’sKrazy Kat” comic strip was admired in his lifetime, it wasn’t until years after his death in 1944 that his vast influence received widespread critical respect. Herriman’s depiction of the tangled relationships among the black cat Krazy, his white mouse tormentor and sometime love interest Ignatz and the bulldog Officer Pupp, set against a desert backdrop in fictional Coconino County (taken from a real area of Arizona), inspired several generations of cartoonists. Charles M. Schulz’sPeanuts,” Ralph Bakshi’sFritz the Cat” and Art Spiegelman’sMaus” all owe a debt to Herriman’s draftsmanship and poetic sense…

Read the entire review here.

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How Black America Saw Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-01-16 00:32Z by Steven

How Black America Saw Obama

The New York Times
2017-01-14

Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Sociology
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

I stood in Grant Park on election night 2008, along with more than 200,000 other people, and watched as a man I’d known as a fellow member of a Chicago church, a man I’d worked to help get elected, took to the stage. He would be the first black president of the United States of America. My joy at the surreal scene was transcendent. The jumbotron flashed the face of the civil rights stalwart the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, with tears streaming down his cheeks, an image that evoked the profound elation of black America at the election of Barack Obama.

But his weeping visage summoned a darker prospect for me, one that cast a shadow over Mr. Obama the moment he announced he would make a run for the Oval Office: They might shoot him. Mr. Jackson had been present when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met his violent end on a balcony in Memphis. As I viewed Mr. Jackson’s watery eyes, I couldn’t help but associate him with Dr. King and the fear that our newly elected president might be assassinated.

Black America has held its collective breath during every second of Barack Obama’s presidency. I remember stumping early for the Illinois senator, only to have black people I met on the campaign trail tell me that they couldn’t possibly vote for my man. Not only was he not as well known, or beloved, as his opponent Hillary Clinton, but didn’t I know that he’d be harmed if he even got close to the White House? “You know they’re going to shoot him.”…

…President Obama’s historic tenure ends as the nation celebrates what would have been Martin Luther King’s 88th birthday. As I see it, Mr. Obama is the only figure to ever give Dr. King a run for his money as Greatest Black Man in American history. More than a gentle rivalry for supremacy in the history books joins the two. They are tethered by death, too — if not by its actual occurrence, then by its looming possibility….

Read the entire article here.

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No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them)

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-15 22:17Z by Steven

No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them)

The New York Times
2017-01-14

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, HKS Suzanne Young Murray Professor
Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard University

We can’t create a more just nation simply by dressing up institutions in more shades of brown. Now we must confront structural racism.

In a moving farewell speech before an enormous crowd in Chicago last week, President Obama evoked the American creed of unity and aspiration as the foundation of our democracy. He has always embraced a vision of America as a “melting pot.”

Mr. Obama embodied for many Americans the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom we celebrate on Monday. Our national memory of Dr. King has, for nearly 50 years, reinforced the belief that America, unlike any other nation, could extend opportunity to everyone regardless of his or her identity. In Dr. King’s name, assimilation and aspiration have been the keywords of the post-civil rights era, and diversity and inclusion its currency. And Mr. Obama has symbolized more than anyone in American history the idea that racial representation and the content of one’s character were the perfect antidote to racism.

It’s true that, in fulfilling the duties of the presidency with great dignity, Mr. Obama represents the highest expression of the goal of assimilation. But for African-Americans, he was also the ultimate lesson in how this antidote alone is insufficient to heal the gaping wounds of racial injustice in America. It’s clear that black leadership, in itself, isn’t enough to transform the country. So we must confront the end of an era and the dawn of a new one…

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Jolted by Deaths, Obama Found His Voice on Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-01-14 14:09Z by Steven

Jolted by Deaths, Obama Found His Voice on Race

The New York Times
2017-01-15

Michael D. Shear, White House Correspondent

Yamiche Alcindor, National Reporter

Tensions across the country prompted the president to abandon his early reticence on race again and again.

WASHINGTON — Only weeks after 70 million Americans chose a black man for president, shattering a racial barrier that had stood for the entirety of the nation’s 232-year history, no one in the White House, especially the man in the Oval Office, wanted to talk about race.

President Obama had made a pragmatic calculation in January 2009, as the financial crisis drove communities across the United States toward economic collapse. Whatever he did for African-Americans, whose neighborhoods were suffering more than others, he would not describe as efforts to specifically help Black America.

Mr. Obama made the decision knowing how powerfully his election had raised the hopes of African-Americans — and knowing that no matter what he did, it would not be seen as enough.

“I remember thinking, ‘They are going to hate us one day,’” said Melody Barnes, who is black and served as Mr. Obama’s first domestic policy adviser, recalling her sadness when she stood in an auditorium in those early months as a crowd cheered for the success of the new president. “I knew that we couldn’t do everything that people wanted to meet those expectations.”…

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Seeing Santa in Black and White

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-21 18:22Z by Steven

Seeing Santa in Black and White

The New York Times
2016-12-20

Sa’iyda Shabazz


Sa’iyda Shabazz and her son visited the black Santa at Macy’s Herald Square store last week.

When my friend posted an adorable picture of her son with a black Santa in New York City, I was drawn to the idea of visiting a Santa who reflected my family’s skin tones. I’m black, and my 3-year-old son’s father is white. I am raising him as a single mom with the help of my parents. Why should white Santa be the default?

Of course, you can find children’s books that feature a black Santa Claus, and he appears in some ornaments and other products. The website blacksanta.com, founded by the former N.B.A. player Baron Davis, sells products like T-shirts, hats and ornaments featuring images of black Santa. In a classic episode of “The Cosby Show,” Dr. Huxtable explains to one of the children that as Santa drops down each chimney, his race morphs to match that of the family he’s visiting – Asian, African-American, Caucasian and so on.

It’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is that black Santas are pretty hard to find. When the Mall of America in Minnesota enlisted a black Santa this year, he was popular with children but his presence prompted an unpleasant racial backlash online

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