‘Hidden’ no more: Katherine Johnson, a black NASA pioneer, finds acclaim at 98

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-02-03 15:02Z by Steven

‘Hidden’ no more: Katherine Johnson, a black NASA pioneer, finds acclaim at 98

The Washington Post
2017-01-27

Victoria St. Martin

Fame has finally found Katherine Johnson — and it only took a half-century, six manned moon landings, a best-selling book and an Oscar-nominated movie.

For more than 30 years, Johnson worked as a NASA mathematician at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where she played an unseen but pivotal role in the country’s space missions. That she was an African American woman in an almost all-male and white workforce made her career even more remarkable.

Now, three decades after retiring from the agency, Johnson is portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures,” a film based on a book of the same name. The movie tells how a group of black women — world-class mathematicians all — helped provide NASA with data crucial to the success of the agency’s early spaceflights. “Hidden Figures” was nominated Tuesday for an Academy Award for best picture.

Suddenly Johnson, who will turn 99 in August, finds herself inundated with interview requests, award banquet invitations and people who just want to stop by and shake her hand.

“I’m glad that I’m young enough still to be living and that they are, so they can look and see, ‘That’s who that is,’ ” she said. “And they are as excited as I am.”

For many people, especially African Americans, her tale of overcoming racism and sexism is inspirational…

Read the entire article here.

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In stark farewell, Obama warns of threat to U. S. democracy

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-01-13 18:31Z by Steven

In stark farewell, Obama warns of threat to U. S. democracy

The Washington Post
2017-01-10

Juliet Eilperin, White House Bureau Chief

Greg Jaffe, Reporter

CHICAGOPresident Obama used his farewell speech here on Tuesday to outline the gathering threats to American democracy and press a more optimistic vision for a country that seems more politically divided than ever.

Obama said goodbye to the nation against the backdrop of one of the most corrosive elections in U.S. history and a deep sense that the poisonous political environment has pitted Americans against each other.

“America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but malevolent,” Obama said. “We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.”

Obama fretted about anti-immigrant sentiment, racism and economic inequality.

“If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves,” Obama warned in an not-so-subtle jab at his successor, President-elect Donald Trump.

Obama, the first African American president, acknowledged the continuing difficulty of race relations in America.

“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic,” he said. “For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago — you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Three movies this year show Virginia’s racial history. In short, it’s complicated.

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-12-22 19:27Z by Steven

Three movies this year show Virginia’s racial history. In short, it’s complicated.

The Washington Post
2016-12-22

Stephanie Merry, Reporter


Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as Mildred and Richard Loving in the movie “Loving.” (Ben Rothstein/Focus Features)

Loving” shows Virginia at its most romantic and picturesque. Toward the beginning of the drama, a man takes his pregnant wife-to-be to an empty field and tells her in a slow drawl, “I’m going to build you a house right here.”

The couple stand on a patchy, tree-lined stretch of grass, the rhythmic buzzing of cicadas pulsing around them. Low-hanging clouds pass languidly overhead, and the grass flutters in the breeze; humidity practically radiates off the screen.

In the movie, Virginia is the place where these sweethearts, played by Golden Globe nominees Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, meet and fall for each other in the mid-1950s. But it’s also the place where a white man and his wife, who’s black and Native American, would get arrested for the crime of cohabitating. Virginia forced Richard and Mildred Loving to go to jail or leave the state they loved, and they spent nearly a decade in Washington, D.C., trying to return.

Virginia showed up in three major movies this year, all based on true stories. “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the 1831 slave uprising led by Nat Turner, takes place in Southampton County, not far from the setting of “Hidden Figures,” which opens Sunday and tells the story of black female mathematicians working for NASA during the space race.

These dramas capture the conflicted nature of the commonwealth — the way progress and resistance are in constant battle, with some citizens rejecting the status quo just as forcefully as others cling to it…

Read the entire article here.

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What does it mean to be “black enough?” Three women explore their racial identities

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-18 23:48Z by Steven

What does it mean to be “black enough?” Three women explore their racial identities

The Washington Post
2016-12-11

On “Historically Black,” our podcast about black history, narrator Roxane Gay introduces three new voices.

“What are you?”

“Are you adopted?”

“What are you mixed with?”

Many photos and stories submitted to “Historically Black,” The Washington Post Tumblr project, have touched on what it means to identify as a particular race and ethnic background. Throughout this project, multiple stories surfaced a theme that pointed to an ongoing internal and external conflict based on the societal criteria that deemed a person “black.” These stories identified the struggle to understand the judgment — by both black and non-black communities — based on the way one dresses, speaks and acts.

This has led to a hard, and conflicting, question: What does it mean to be “black enough” in modern America?

That’s the question Marcelle Hutchins faced ever since she, her twin sister and their mother emigrated from Cameroon to Portland, Maine. Hutchins’s mother married a white man, and together they settled in as a family. But as early as the third grade, Hutchins faced the harsh reality of integrating into American society.

“Growing up, I really struggled with my identity in America. For a long time, I often questioned, you know, who I was in this world. And I was told by a variety of different people that I didn’t fit my birthright, that I didn’t act the way I should act or the way black people should act, and because of my mannerisms I was too white,” Hutchins said.

According to Jelani Cobb, a historian and writer at the New Yorker, defining “blackness” is inherently complicated — because race is an invented category dating back to slavery, and the category can encompass a range of identities and cultures. People identify as black, African American, African, Muslim, Native American, biracial and sometimes more.

“The most kind of basic understanding is the one-drop rule, wherein people said if a person had any drop of blood, black blood, they were black. And the purposes of that were to present whiteness as a category of purity and that any tincture of African ancestry would irrevocably taint a person and remove them from the, you know, pure category of whiteness,” Cobb said. “There’s a wide range of ancestries that are included within the category of black, and so the category itself is amorphous.”…

Read the entire article here.

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What was the source of Krazy Kat’s comic genius?

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-12 16:52Z by Steven

What was the source of Krazy Kat’s comic genius?

The Washington Post
2016-12-06

Glen David Gold

Michael Tisserand, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White (New York: HarperCollins, 2016)

Genius is simplicity. A dog, who is a policeman, loves a cat, who loves a mouse. The mouse throws bricks at the cat, and the policeman jails him. Some aspect of this, more or less every day, for more or less 30 years, was the comic strip Krazy Kat. In isolation it seems as though it dropped out of the sky, and when its creator died in 1944, to the sky it returned. It has since been recognized as one of the greatest American comic strips, a mix of surrealism, Socratic dialogue, low-rent vaudeville, jazz improvisation, Native American motifs and, as it turns out, a subtle — so subtle no one seems to have noticed at the time — commentary on the peculiar notion of race.

Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White,” by Michael Tisserand, skillfully returns context to “Krazy Kat,” revealing that it could have come from no other time or place than during the accelerated rise of the American media empire. To his peers, Herriman claimed to be French or Greek, among other things, to explain away his kinky hair and dark skin. But his New Orleans birth certificate called him “colored,” and Tisserand is especially good at parsing the politics of passé blanc, or “passively passing for white” in Creole culture.

Herriman had a longer apprenticeship than most, working on dozens of strips that never caught fire during the spectacular publication battles between Hearst and Pulitzer that led to the birth of full-color comics such as “The Yellow Kid” and “Little Nemo. ” He was learning his form at the same time that jazz, animation and slapstick comedy were likewise getting their cultural feet under them. Also boxing. Boxing had obeyed “the color line” until 1910, when, in defiance of racist attitudes, the country demanded that black Jack Johnson and white Jim Jeffries finally take the ring. (It’s of course ironic that overcoming racism involved allowing people of different races to beat each other up, but such is our way.)…

Read the entire review here.

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Black U.K. beauty magazine accidentally put a white model on its cover. Apologies followed.

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2016-11-24 01:28Z by Steven

Black U.K. beauty magazine accidentally put a white model on its cover. Apologies followed.

The Washington Post
2016-11-22

Travis M. Andrews, Staff Writer

Emily Bador is a white woman. She is not, therefore, a black woman. Normally, that wouldn’t be news worth reporting, mostly because it isn’t news.

But her race came into play recently due to the new cover of Blackhair magazine, a British glossy that bills itself as “an international bi-monthly magazine for the style conscious black woman. Packed with 100’s of hair inspirations, fashion, lifestyle and celebrity interviews, we are one of the leading publications for women of colour in Europe.”

The magazine, which generally if not always features black or mixed-race models, used her photograph for the cover of its December/January issue. The editors have admitted they didn’t know she was white…

…According to Blackhair’s editor, Keysha Davis, who wrote a note on the magazine’s Facebook page, the publication runs photographs they receive from PR companies and salons. They specifically request that these photographs be of black or mixed-race women…

Read the entire article here.

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How Trevor Noah went from biracial youth in S. Africa to leading light on U.S. TV

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2016-11-13 22:20Z by Steven

How Trevor Noah went from biracial youth in S. Africa to leading light on U.S. TV

The Washington Post
2016-11-12

Karen Heller, National Features Writer


Daily Show” host Trevor Noah has a new memoir about growing up mixed race in apartheid South Africa. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — Trump. Trump. Clinton. The Obamas dancing like dorks.

Such is the stuff of a recent pre-election morning meeting at “The Daily Show” headquarters. Trevor Noah enters, water bottle and orange in hand, and wedges himself in among the writers, his back never pressing against the sofa.

“Can we talk about Brexit?” he asks. “I find Brexit fascinating, because in the U.S., people see it as done and dusted.”

They talk of Brexit, how British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resembles a Muppet. But then the discussion swiftly returns to the steady drip of Trump, Trump, Trump.

You may hire a guy for his global perspective, but comedy comes back to the familiar fast.

Last year, after a 16-year reign, Jon Stewart was replaced by a young comedian who is nothing like him: foreign, biracial, cool, GQ-photogenic and utterly unknown to Americans, having appeared on the show only three times before being tapped as the successor….

Read the entire article here.

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‘Loving’ revisits a landmark Supreme Court case with radical restraint

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-11-13 20:49Z by Steven

‘Loving’ revisits a landmark Supreme Court case with radical restraint

The Washington Post
2016-11-10

Ann Hornaday, Film Critic

Loving’ is a quietly radical movie. A portrait of Richard and Mildred Loving, who became unwitting activists for interracial marriage when they wed in 1958, this gentle, deeply affecting story dispenses with the usual conventions of stirring appeals to the audience’s social conscience.

Viewers expecting a climactic showdown at the United States Supreme Court — which in 1967 handed down the landmark decision bearing the Lovings’ name, declaring anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional — or highly pitched speeches about civil rights, privacy and marriage equality will be surprised by a film that steadfastly avoids the most obvious and tempting theatrical manipulations. Instead, viewers are confronted by something far more revolutionary and transformative, in the form of two people’s devotion to each other, and the deep-seated psychological and state forces driven to derangement by that purest emotional truth.

Based on Nancy Buirski’s wonderful 2012 HBO documentary “The Loving Story” and judiciously dramatized by writer-director Jeff Nichols, “Loving” gets underway just as Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) decide to get married, after Mildred discovers she’s pregnant. A longtime couple in the rural town of Central Point, Va., Richard and Mildred reflect the organic ethnic integration of a community in which white, black and Native American citizens routinely befriended and relied on each other…

Read the entire review here.

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The African American Museum chooses ‘Loving’ for its first film screening

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-10-28 14:22Z by Steven

The African American Museum chooses ‘Loving’ for its first film screening

The Washington Post
2016-10-25

Helena Andrews-Dyer


Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, stars of “Loving,” attend the premiere of the film on Thursday in Beverly Hills. (Chris Pizzello/Invision via Associated Press)

Just one month after opening its doors, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is establishing itself as a permanent stop on the Washington social circuit. There have been cocktail parties, galas, private dinners and now one of D.C.’s favorite after-work pastimes — the movie screening.

But not just any movie screening. On Monday, the museum hosted a sneak peek of “Loving” in the 350-seat Oprah Winfrey Theater–one of many for the new institution. The choice wasn’t coincidental, said Rhea L. Combs, the museum’s photography and film curator and head of its Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts.

“Showing this film at the museum is important because the story is symbolic of the mission of the museum,” Combs said. “It demonstrates the link between people of all backgrounds and culture.”

“Loving” tells the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple from Virginia who fought for nearly a decade to have their marriage recognized as legal. Their historic case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which eventually struck down laws against interracial marriage.

Almost 50 years later the movie’s stars, Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, walked the red carpet at the museum that houses artifacts from the couple they play on screen. Everyone involved bowed to the movie’s role as An Important Film…

Read the entire article here.

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A U.S. Census proposal to add category for people of Middle Eastern descent makes some uneasy

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2016-10-26 21:32Z by Steven

A U.S. Census proposal to add category for people of Middle Eastern descent makes some uneasy

The Washington Post
2016-10-21

Tara Bahrampour

For the first time in four decades, the federal government is poised to add a new ethnic category to the U.S. census form, adding a box for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent.

Details are still being negotiated, but as the form is currently envisioned, people would be able to check the new box in addition to race identifiers, such as “white” or “black.” Within the new category, they would also be able to specify national origins, such as Saudi or Israeli, and ethnic affiliations, such as Berber or Kurdish. The new form would go to Congress for final approval in 2018 in time for the 2020 Census.

The move comes after more than 30 years of lobbying, but also at a time of rising Islamophobia and calls by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to ban people from Muslim lands. Some are questioning whether the new designation could lead to profiling or otherwise put them in danger.

The proposed addition would create a race and ethnicity category called MENA for people with roots in the Middle East and North Africa. It has been championed by organizations representing Arab Americans and others with roots in the geographical swath from Iran to Morocco, who complain of being ignored in the decennial count…

Read the entire article here.

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