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…

Read the entire article here.

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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.”…

Read the entire article here.

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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

Read the entire article here.

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China Machado, Breakthrough Model Until the End, Dies at 86

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-12-21 17:59Z by Steven

China Machado, Breakthrough Model Until the End, Dies at 86

The New York Times
On The Runway
2016-12-19

Vanessa Friedman

China Machado, the first non-Caucasian to appear in the pages of an American glossy fashion magazine and a model who broke not only the race barrier but also the age barrier, died on Sunday in Brookhaven, N.Y., on Long Island. She was 86.

Her family said the cause was cardiac arrest.

Ms. Machado (whose first name was pronounced CHEE-na) lived a colorful life: She was born Noelie de Souza Machado on Christmas Day 1929, in Shanghai; fled the country with her parents in 1946, after the Japanese occupation; had an affair with Luis Dominguín, the Spanish bullfighter, who left her for Ava Gardner; and socialized with François Truffaut

Read the entire obituary here.

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‘Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?’: Fiction by an Author Who Died Young

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-12 21:21Z by Steven

‘Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?’: Fiction by an Author Who Died Young

Book Review
The New York Times
2016-12-09

Morgan Jerkins

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO INTERRACIAL LOVE?
Stories
By Kathleen Collins
175 pp. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. Paper, $15.99.


Kathleen Collins
Credit Douglas Collins

Kathleen Collins’s short story collection, “Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?” opens with a monologue. An unnamed director is giving instructions to someone — a stagehand? a cinematographer? — on how to light a room in which two lovers are suffering the demise of their relationship. The last line is this: “Leave her in the shadow while she looks for the feelings that lit up the room.” This three-page section, titled “Exteriors,” can hardly be considered a story; it is more like a voyeuristic passage through which the reader can oscillate between being emotionally invested in and distant from matters of love. Collins toys with human beings as shadows, who fade in and out of one another’s lives, and she carefully depicts how abandonment and attachment can be two sides of the same experience…

Read the entire review here.

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Kathleen Collins’s ‘Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-12 17:11Z by Steven

Kathleen Collins’s ‘Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?’

Books of The Times
The New York Times
2016-11-29

Dwight Garner

Kathleen Collins, Elizabeth Alexander (fore.), Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? (New York: Ecco, 2016)

When the filmmaker, playwright and fiction writer Kathleen Collins died of breast cancer in 1988, at 46, she left behind a wide body of work that’s only beginning to see the light of day.

She was among the first black women to direct a feature-length film. That movie, “Losing Ground” (1982), parsed black intellectual life in New York City; it was about a female philosophy professor and her wayward husband, a painter. It never had a theatrical release. Just last year its premiere was held at Lincoln Center, where it played to sold-out crowds.

She was a feverish artist, working on many fronts. In an essay in the September issue of Vogue, her daughter, Nina Lorez Collins, recalls, “When I think back, the dominant sounds of my childhood are of my mother’s IBM Selectric II clattering away behind her bedroom door; film swishing through the Steenbeck editing machine that sat in our dining room; and, occasionally, Tina Turner blaring from the stereo while she danced like a madwoman in the living room.”…

This collection’s title story gives us Ms. Collins in full flower. It is about two roommates in an Upper West Side apartment. It’s 1963 or, as Ms. Collins declares, “the year of racial, religious, and ethnic mildew.”

One roommate is a white community organizer in Harlem, fresh out of Sarah Lawrence and dating a black poet. The other is a young black woman who was jailed during civil rights protests in Georgia; she’s in love with a white Freedom Rider.

When the young black woman went South, she shed some of her proper bourgeois upbringing and began to feel the shaggy earth beneath her feet. Her father is apoplectic. What’s happened to his perfect strait-laced daughter?…

Read the entire review here.

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