Plum Bum: A Novel Without a Moral

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States, Women on 2023-01-25 01:48Z by Steven

Plum Bum: A Novel Without a Moral

Beacon Press
2022-03-08 (originally published in 1929)
328 pages
5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Paperback ISBN: 978-080700660-3

Author: Jessie Redmon Fauset
Foreword by: Morgan Jerkins
Afterword: Deborah McDowell

For readers of The Vanishing Half, a hidden gem from the Harlem Renaissance about a young Black woman’s journey toward self-acceptance while passing as white in 1920s New York City.

Originally published in 1929 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Plum Bun is the story of Angela Murray, a young Black woman of mixed heritage who uses the advantages of her lighter skin to escaper her own life. Beginning with a childhood in her Black middle class Philadelphia neighborhood, Angela dreams of being a renowned painter. She believes she will only achieve this through whiteness and being a part of white society. Bestowed with the light skin of her mother, while her sister Virginia’s darker complexion resembles that of their father’s, Angela refuses to accept a life dictated by the limitations that come with her race and gender.

Leaving behind her family and identity, Angela escapes to a roaring New York City where she befriends the art elites and presents herself as a white woman. Thrust into a world of seduction, betrayal, love, lust, and heartbreak, Angela soon discovers that to find true fulfillment within herself, she must accept and embrace her own identity—both her race and gender. Written with meticulous care and appreciation for the complicated nature of her characters, while also highlighting the beauty of every day Black life, Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun raises important questions to inspire new readers.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Morgan Jerkins
  • Home
  • Market
  • Plum Bun
  • Home Again
  • Market Is Done
  • Afterword by Deborah McDowell
  • Notes
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
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‘It chips away at you’: Misty Copeland on the whiteness of ballet

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2023-01-22 17:28Z by Steven

‘It chips away at you’: Misty Copeland on the whiteness of ballet

Fresh Air
National Public Radio
2022-11-14

Terry Gross, Host

Misty Copeland has been a principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre since 2015. She took a break from performing due to COVID-19 and the birth of her son in spring 2022, but she hopes to be back on stage in 2023.
Drew Gurian/MasterClass

At first, Misty Copeland thought the pain she was experiencing was shin splits. It was 2012, and, after 12 years with the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland, one of the few Black dancers in the company, had finally landed her first leading role in a classical work.

“I knew how critical this moment was for my career,” she says. “If I had gone to the artistic staff or the physical therapists and said, ‘I’m in a lot of pain,’ they would have removed me from the rehearsals. And I would not have been able to perform. And I knew that had that happened, I wouldn’t be given the opportunity again.”

So she pushed on, dancing the principal role in The Firebird, despite the fact that the pain was becoming increasingly severe. Finally, toward the end of the company’s season, Copeland was diagnosed with six stress fractures in her tibia — three of which were classified as “dreaded black line” fractures, meaning that there were almost full breaks through the bone.

When the first surgeon warned her that she might never dance again, Copeland was devastated. “It was just like my whole world came crashing down,” she says. “I felt mostly like I was letting down the Black community.”…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:42:00) here.

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A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-11-27 05:39Z by Steven

A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance

Oxford University Press
2023-10-02
320 Pages
25 black and white illustrations
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780197626214

Laurie A. Woodard, Assistant Professor of History
City College of New York, New York, New York

  • First biography of dancer, actor, and activist Fredi Washington
  • Highlights the role of the performing arts in the history of the New Negro Renaissance, which has tended to be focused on literary arts
  • Focuses on an African American who could have but chose not to “pass

The first biography of performing artist, writer, and civil and human rights activist Fredi Washington.

Following Fredi Washington’s debut in her first dramatic role in 1926, Alfred Spengler of the New York North Side News reported that she was “astonishingly pretty for a real Negro girl.” Throughout her career, Washington was vulnerable to discrimination because her near-white skin and hazel eyes, coupled with her self-identification as Negro, cast her as too physically white to play black and too culturally black to play white. The multifaceted Washington was of course a great deal more than her looks; she was a performing artist, a writer, and a civil and human rights activist. Embracing the genres of dance, theater, and film, she used her talent, creativity, and determination to sustain a thirty-year career in the arts and in labor and political activism during the New Negro Renaissance and beyond.

Although Fredi Washington has been largely forgotten, A Real Negro Girl shows that, at the zenith of her career, she was a household name in the black community, well known in mainstream America, and a darling of the European press. Most famous for her role in the film “Imitation of Life,” she was a part of a cohort that included Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Delving into her professional and personal experiences in Harlem, nationally, and internationally, this book illuminates Washington’s significance to the New Negro Renaissance and reveals the vital influence of black performing artists and of black women on the movement. Over the years, Washington expanded her social and political consciousness and anti-racism activism, encompassing journalism, labor organizing, protests, and support of progressive politics. As a founder and executive director of the Negro Actors Guild of America, she sought to protect black artists from professional exploitation and physical abuse.

Incorporating close readings of images and films, interviews, and fan mail, as well as writings by and about Washington, A Real Negro Girl highlights Fredi Washington as an influential actor in the African American quest for civil and human rights.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Setting the Stage: The Roots of the New Negro Renaissance
  • Chapter 2: Dancing All Day: Reading Blackface and Black Bodies
  • Chapter 3: Boxers, Blacks, and a Real Negro Girl: White Expectations and Imagined Conceptions of Authentic Blackness
  • Chapter 4: Race, Place, and Miscegenation: Fredi Washington in Imitation of Life
  • Chapter 5: Beyond the Footlights: New Negro Performing Artists and More Tangible Forms of Activism
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index
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In Search of Mary Seacole: The Making of a Black Cultural Icon and Humanitarian

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom, Women on 2022-10-21 18:13Z by Steven

In Search of Mary Seacole: The Making of a Black Cultural Icon and Humanitarian

Pegasus Books
2022-09-06
416 Pages
6 x 9 in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781639362745

Helen Rappaport

From New York Times bestselling author Helen Rappaport comes a superb and revealing biography of Mary Seacole that is testament to her remarkable achievements and corrective to the myths that have grown around her.

Raised in Jamaica, Mary Seacole first came to England in the 1850s after working in Panama. She wanted to volunteer as a nurse and aide during the Crimean War. When her services were rejected, she financed her own expedition to Balaclava, where her reputation for her nursing—and for her compassion—became almost legendary. Popularly known as ‘Mother Seacole’, she was the most famous Black celebrity of her generation—an extraordinary achievement in Victorian Britain.

She regularly mixed with illustrious royal and military patrons and they, along with grateful war veterans, helped her recover financially when she faced bankruptcy. However, after her death in 1881, she was largely forgotten.

More recently, her profile has been revived and her reputation lionized, with a statue of her standing outside St Thomas’s Hospital in London and her portrait—rediscovered by the author—now on display in the National Portrait Gallery. In Search of Mary Seacole is the fruit of almost twenty years of research and reveals the truth about Seacole’s personal life, her “rivalry” with Florence Nightingale, and other misconceptions.

Vivid and moving, In Search of Mary Seacole shows that reality is often more remarkable and more dramatic than the legend.

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Chapter 8 – “Theresa” and the Early Transatlantic Mixed-Race Heroine

Posted in Books, Chapter, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-10-03 18:51Z by Steven

Chapter 8 – “Theresa” and the Early Transatlantic Mixed-Race Heroine

Chapter in: African American Literature in Transition, 1800–1830
Cambridge University Press
March 2021
DOI: 10.1017/9781108632003.014
pages 202-226

Brigitte Fielder, Associate Professor of U.S. Literature
University of Wisconsin, Madison

This chapter examines the publication of “Theresa” in Freedom’s Journal, a short story about women’s wartime heroism into the broader history of the Haitian Revolution. “Theresa” paints an image of mixed-race womanhood that was not insignificant for both this American venue and for a larger transatlantic context. Like the anonymously written British epistolary novel, The Woman of Colour, A Tale (1808), “Theresa” shows mixed-race women who are aligned with Black racial uplift rather than white assimilation. Moreover, both of these texts present images of mixed-race heroines who differ significantly from those of the “tragic mulatta” genre that would gain popularity during the antebellum period. Instead, “Theresa” frames its mixed-race heroines as models not only of racial solidarity but also of radical abolitionist action. In this, “Theresa” anticipates postbellum mixed-race heroines, through foregoing mixed-race women’s heterosexual union with Black men with their political action alongside them. The chapter offers an analysis of early nineteenth-century texts such as Laura Sansay’s Secret History; or, the Horrors of St. Domingo (1808) and Zelica the Creole (1820), which make the safety of white women the priority of their mixed-race characters.

Read or purchase the chapter here.

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Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-09-07 22:37Z by Steven

Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen

Modern Language Association
2016-09-01
2010 pages
6 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781603292191
Paperback ISBN: 9781603292207

Edited by:

Jacquelyn Y. McLendon, Professor Emerita of English & Africana Studies; Director Emerita of Black Studies
College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Nella Larsen’s novels Quicksand and Passing, published at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, fell out of print and were thus little known for many years. Now widely available and taught, Quicksand and Passing challenge conventional “tragic mulatta” and “passing” narratives. In part 1, “Materials,” of Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen, the editor surveys the canon of Larsen’s writing, evaluates editions of her works, recommends secondary readings, and compiles a list of useful multimedia resources for teaching.

The essays in part 2, “Approaches,” aim to help students better understand attitudes toward women and race during the Harlem Renaissance, the novels’ relations to other artistic movements, and legal debates over racial identities in the early twentieth century. In so doing, contributors demonstrate how new and seasoned instructors alike might use Larsen’s novels to explore a wide range of topics—including Larsen’s short stories and letters, the relation between her writings and her biography, and the novels’ discussion of gender and sexuality.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • PART ONE: MATERIALS / Jacquelyn Y. McLendon
  • PART TWO: APPROACHES
    • Introduction / Jacquelyn Y. McLendon
    • Historical and Cultural Contexts
      • Nella Larsen’s Passing and the Literary and Legal Context of the Passing Narrative / Martha J. Cutter
      • Nella Larsen’s Modernism / Caresse John
      • Helga Crane in West Egg: Reading Quicksand and The Great Gatsby as a Case Study in Canonicity / Shealeen Meaney
      • “A Whole World of Experience and Struggle”: Teaching Literature as Cultural and Intellectual Women’s History / Lyde Sizer
      • Nightlife and Racial Learning in Quicksand / Clark Barwick
    • Fiction and the Arts
      • Sounding and Being: A Resource for Teaching Musical References and Symbolism in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand / Gayle Murchison
      • Nella Larsen and the Racial Mountain: Teaching Black Musical Aesthetics in Passing and Quicksand / Lori Harrison-Kahan
      • Nella Larsen and the Civilization of Images: Teaching Primitivism and Expressionism in Quicksand / Cristina Giorcelli
    • Identity
      • “Anything Might Happen”: Freedom and American Identity in Nella Larsen’s Passing / Beryl Satter
      • Teaching Passing as a Lesbian Text / Suzanne Raitt
      • Approaching Gender in Quicksand / Beth Widmaier Capo
      • From “My Old Man” to Race Men in Quicksand / Riché Richardson
    • In the Classroom: Methods, Courses, Settings
      • The Matter of Beginnings: Teaching the Opening Paragraphs in Quicksand and Passing / Steven B. Shively
      • Versions of Passing / John K. Young
      • The Uses of Biography / George B. Hutchinson
      • “In Some . . . Determined Way a Little Flaunting”: Teaching with Nella Larsen’s Letters / M. Giulia Fabi and Jacquelyn Y. McLendon
      • Teaching Quicksand in Denmark / Martyn Bone
      • Teaching Nella Larsen’s Passing at an Urban Community College / Zivah Perel Katz
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Survey Participants
  • Works Cited
  • Index
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Psychological Lens Reveals Racial Repression at Heart of ‘Passing’

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-09-06 02:35Z by Steven

Psychological Lens Reveals Racial Repression at Heart of ‘Passing’

University of Kansas
2022-08-31

Rick Hellman
KU News Service

LAWRENCE – While many literary critics have found Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella “Passing” to be frustratingly opaque, and others have concentrated on its themes of same-sex attraction and class consciousness, an essay by a University of Kansas professor of English finds that racial repression is the focus of the novel by analyzing it from a Freudian perspective.

Doreen Fowler said she believed that the shift to a psychological reading explains why the two main characters — Irene, who lives as a Black woman, and Clare, who passes for white — are doubled.

In an article titled “Racial Repression and Doubling in Nella Larsen’s Passing” in the latest edition of The South Atlantic Review, Fowler wrote that the main character, Irene Redfield, “works to erase signs of her black identity — but those signs of blackness return to haunt her in the form of her double, Clare. While many scholars have recognized that Irene is ambivalent about her African American iden­tity and that Clare and Irene are doubled, my original contribution is to link the two. In my reading, Clare is Irene’s uncanny double because she figures the return of Irene’s rejected desire to fully integrate with the black race.”…

Read the entire press release here.

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Afro-Brazilian Jewish Women: Female centaurs transgressing the borderlands

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, Women on 2022-09-06 02:04Z by Steven

Afro-Brazilian Jewish Women: Female centaurs transgressing the borderlands

San Diego State University
Spring 2008
148 pages

Abby Suzanne Gondek

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of San Diego State University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Women’s Studies

Once I began my research in the synagogue in Salvador, Brazil, I met men and women of color who considered themselves Jewish, even when the rabbi and other congregants did not. I was especially interested in the stories of the Jewish women of color I met. Their passion for Judaism, desire to raise their children Jewish, and their insistence on claiming both identities – Black and Jewish – in the face of rejection from “white” Jewish communities and non-Jewish Afro-Brazilian communities, as well as their families, spoke to me deeply and I felt compelled to shift the focus of my thesis. I began to ask the question Aurora Levins Morales poses in “The Historian as Curandera,” “‘If women are assumed to be the most important people in the story, how will that change the questions we ask?’”

Because Brazil has consistently made efforts to make Jews into symbols of otherness and at the same time rhetorically valued the “mulatto” identity as a symbol of brasilidade (“Brazilianness”), Jews are seen as foreign parasites, light-skinned Blacks are portrayed as symbols of “authentic” Brazilian identity, dark-skinned Blacks are invisible, and Jews and Blacks are irreparably separated from each other. In addition, the rhetorical valuation of the “mulata” and the devaluation of the Jew, places the Black Jewish women I interviewed, who fit into the “ mulata” category because they are lighter-skinned black women, in between what is symbolically valued and devalued in Brazil, literally in the border between “us” and “them.”

Moacyr Scliar’s use of the centaur to describe Brazilian Jews’ position in the borderlands and Gloria Anzaldua’s use of the image of women “caught in the crossfire” are both transformed by the inclusion of Misty Anderson’s exploration of the transgressive meanings of the woman centaur. The Afro-Brazilian Jewish women I interviewed are spiritual, religious, sexual, and racial transgressors. They are “caught in the crossfire” between multiple communities and identities, but they assert their agency to break the barriers that surround them, to live how they want to live.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Meghan Markle, colorism and the archetype of the ‘tragic mulatto’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2022-09-04 02:15Z by Steven

Meghan Markle, colorism and the archetype of the ‘tragic mulatto’

The Washington Post
2022-09-04

Karen Attiah, Columnist

Meghan Markle in New York on Sept. 23. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Aug. 31 marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Also killed were her Egyptian lover, Dodi Al Fayed, and their driver, who was trying to evade a horde of photo-seeking paparazzi chasing them.

Diana was White female innocence personified — “Shy Di,” who had the sympathy of many women who faced unhappy marriages inflamed by adultery and unwelcoming in-laws. As the years went on, Diana’s story became about her attempts to use both her glamour and relatability to break out of the confining box of the British royal family.

It’s probably not a coincidence, then, that Meghan Markle chose last month to launch “Archetypes,” a podcast that aims to explore the stereotypes and boxes that societies put women in.

Which led me to think about the meaning of Markle’s saga with the royal family.

In a conversation on “Archetypes” with biracial singer Mariah Carey, Markle discussed how she was made more aware of the shifting goal posts of race. “I think for us, it’s so different because we’re light-skinned,” she said. “You’re not treated as a Black woman. You’re not treated as a White woman. You sort of fit in between.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-08-25 01:04Z by Steven

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Penguin Classics (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2022-08-09
592 pages
5-1/16 x 7-3/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780143135067
Ebook ISBN: 9780525506713
Audiobook ISBN: 9780593457993

Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964)

Edited by:

Shirley Moody-Turner, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

A collection of essential writings from the iconic foremother of Black women’s intellectual history, feminism, and activism, who helped pave the way for modern social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper brings together, for the first time, Anna Julia Cooper’s major collection of essays, A Voice from the South, along with several previously unpublished poems, plays, journalism and selected correspondences, including over thirty previously unpublished letters between Anna Julia Cooper and W. E. B. Du Bois. The Portable Anna Julia Cooper will introduce a new generation of readers to an educator, public intellectual, and community activist whose prescient insights and eloquent prose underlie some of the most important developments in modern American intellectual thought and African American social and political activism.

Recognized as the iconic foremother of Black women’s intellectual history and activism, Cooper (1858-1964) penned one of the most forceful and enduring statements of Black feminist thought to come of out of the nineteenth century. Attention to her work has grown exponentially over the years–her words have been memorialized in the US passport and, in 2009, she was commemorated with a US postal stamp. Cooper’s writings on the centrality of Black girls and women to our larger national discourse has proved especially prescient in this moment of Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name, and the recent protests that have shaken the nation.

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