In 2002, the fifth-generation Afro-Argentine was kept from leaving the country by a customs officer who insisted there are no Black Argentines and asserted her passport was fake.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-12-02 20:32Z by Steven

This year’s November celebration of African culture in Argentina is dedicated to the memory of Maria Magdalena Lamadrid — “La Pocha” — an Afro-Argentine activist who died in September. In 2002, the fifth-generation Afro-Argentine was kept from leaving the country by a customs officer who insisted there are no Black Argentines and asserted her passport was fake.

Christiana Sciaudone, “Argentine movement tries to make Black heritage more visible,” The Associated Press, November 26, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/immigration-entertainment-discrimination-migration-race-and-ethnicity-0d18920b22e0eab19f28202c591ef0ea.

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Whereas Japanese enthusiastically embraced cultural mixing with the U.S., they rejected biological mixing outright, seeing mixed-race babies as a threat to their racial purity and tantamount to an assault on the Japanese race itself.

Posted in New Media on 2021-12-02 20:21Z by Steven

The Japanese public echoed the state’s abhorrence for this population of biracial babies. Whereas Japanese enthusiastically embraced cultural mixing with the U.S., they rejected biological mixing outright, seeing mixed-race babies as a threat to their racial purity and tantamount to an assault on the Japanese race itself. Black-Japanese babies were especially despised, but all biracial mixtures encountered greater prejudice in Japan than did biracial “GI babies” in Germany and Britain.5 Even Sawada Miki (沢田美喜, 1901-80), who in 1948 founded an orphanage for occupation babies, defended the policy of separating Japanese and biracial orphans. Mixed-race children, she felt, possessed “mental and physical handicaps” and in any case would never be accepted into Japanese society due to “the people’s traditional dislike for Eurasian children.”6 By 1955, Sawada’s orphanage had accepted 468 babies and negotiated 262 adoptions in the U.S. No Japanese adoption service accepted Sawada’s children, however, and a Japanese couple who had adopted one “returned it when the neighborhood prejudice they encountered proved too strong.”7

W. Puck Brecher, “Eurasians and Racial Capital in a “Race War”,” Perspectives: A Publication of the Center for Asia Pacific Studies, Volume 14, Number 2 (Spring 2017). 4. https://www.usfca.edu/center-asia-pacific/perspectives/v14n2/brecher.

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Understand the different experiences your child will have due to their intersectional identity. Their experiences will not mirror those of EITHER parent.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-12-02 20:04Z by Steven

I urge anyone who has a mixed-race family member to check in on them. If you are a parent to a mixed-race child, please acknowledge the responsibility you have. Understand the different experiences your child will have due to their intersectional identity. Their experiences will not mirror those of either parent. Just as it is your responsibility to keep them fed, clothed and healthy, it is your responsibility to educate yourselves on how the issues of race embed themselves deep within the history of the either parents’ lives, experiences, and mentalities. If you are the white parent, you must first learn to acknowledge your white privilege and know your child will never have the same experiences as you. Learn to recognise the racist language and beliefs within your own family, and most importantly yourself, because they do exist. It’s not about people uttering racial slurs, it is the misconceptions you and the people around you have about what it means to be black as well as recognising the flaws in the system which disadvantage those who are not white.

Daniella Brookes, “We Need To Stop Leaving Mixed-Race People Out Of The Race Conversation,” Words of Integrity: Celebrating positivity and embracing the peaks and falls of life. November 25, 2021. https://wordsofintegrity.com/2021/11/25/we-need-to-stop-leaving-mixed-race-people-out-of-the-race-conversation/.

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Passing Is a Film About Race from the Black Gaze

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-12-02 17:39Z by Steven

Passing Is a Film About Race from the Black Gaze

Harper’s Bazaar
2021-11-11

Imani Perry, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey


Netflix

Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of Passing expertly uses the craft of cinema to explore race and colorism from a Black point of view, Imani Perry argues.

Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing, was part of a tradition. Writers, both Black and white, had been depicting the practice of extremely light-complexioned African Americans slipping into the white world for at least 70 years prior. Passing literature is the term critics have applied to it. In a racially segregated and stratified society, passing was powerful fodder for the literary imagination. Being discovered came with the risk of shame, violence, incarceration, and even death. In Black communities, passing itself was at once frowned upon and protected, as the secrets of passers were guarded.

Understandably, depicting passing today, when the rules of racial membership have shifted, is challenging. Members of Generation Z are skeptical of the historic “one-drop rule” of African-American membership. Initially, that rule was a way of marking Blackness as inferiority and even a sort of contagion. Over time, African Americans used it to develop an expansive idea of what it meant to belong to “the race.” But today, young people often wonder how much one can claim to belong to a group without carrying the weight of being seen as such.

Director Rebecca Hall, who adapted the 1929 novel for the screen nevertheless succeeds in making a film that brings contemporary viewers into the intimate realm of its Black women protagonists, both of whom “pass”; one completely, the other conditionally. Most impressively, Hall captures the tensions of passing in a manner that is effective in the 21st century. Whereas the novella is a masterpiece of sumptuous yet suggestive prose, the black-and-white film’s luxuriousness is found in texture, light, and gesture. Hall avoids a problem that all too often afflicts Black actors. When directors fail to shift light appropriately, bodies that are luminous too often are made muddy and shapeless. Hall’s effective light is not just visually satisfying; it is a narrative tool…

Read the entire review here.

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Getting into Character: Racial Passing and the Limitations of Performativity and Performance in Britt Bennett’s The Vanishing Half

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-30 01:22Z by Steven

Getting into Character: Racial Passing and the Limitations of Performativity and Performance in Britt Bennett’s The Vanishing Half

Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Published online 2021-11-22
DOI: 10.1080/00111619.2021.2007838

Ohad Reznick, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel

Judith Butler’s notion of performativity has been criticized because of its overemphasis on the individual’s performance, while it remains questionable how it changes heteronormativity. In the same way that drag performance challenges the man/woman binary, racial passing challenges the White/Black binary. However, whether passing alters the societal perception of race remains debatable. Analyzing the tropes of acting and passing in Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, I argue that the novel delineates a tension between a liberal mind-set, according to which passing exemplifies the performativity of identity and a close-minded perspective, according to which one cannot choose one’s racial identity. While the novel unsettles the line between acting and being authentic, and, analogously, the line between an original racial identity and an adopted one, it depicts most of its characters as refusing to accept racial transformations. Likewise, the novel presents gender identity as performative, but not in the eyes of society.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Day I Passed for White

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-29 22:27Z by Steven

The Day I Passed for White

TIME
2021-11-19

Kelly McWilliams


Illustration By Elizabeth Montero for TIME

Kelly McWilliams is the author of the upcoming Mirror Girls, a novel about sisterhood and passing.

As a light-skinned Black woman, I have purposefully passed for white only once in my life.

Which is not to say I haven’t passed unintentionally many times—especially as a young adult, away from home for the first time. When white folks around me vented their subterranean racism (“Black kids only get into college because of affirmative action, you know”), I liked to consider myself a warrior—a masked superspy. I always pushed back against this covert racism—the off-color jokes, the insider whispers. (“I would never date a Black man, they’re all on drugs.” “My roommate’s hair smells, you know, like them.”) Importantly, I always revealed my own racial identity as quickly as possible…

Read the entire article here.

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Dancer, singer … spy: France’s Panthéon to honour Josephine Baker

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Women on 2021-11-29 22:14Z by Steven

Dancer, singer … spy: France’s Panthéon to honour Josephine Baker

The Guardian
2021-11-28

Jon Henley

‘Resistance heroine’: Josephine Baker entertains the troops at a London victory party in 1945. Photograph: Jack Esten/Getty Images

The performer will be the first Black woman to enter the mausoleum, in recognition of her wartime work

In November 1940, two passengers boarded a train in Toulouse headed for Madrid, then onward to Lisbon. One was a striking Black woman in expensive furs; the other purportedly her secretary, a blonde Frenchman with moustache and thick glasses.

Josephine Baker, toast of Paris, the world’s first Black female superstar, one of its most photographed women and Europe’s highest-paid entertainer, was travelling, openly and in her habitual style, as herself – but she was playing a brand new role.

Her supposed assistant was Jacques Abtey, a French intelligence officer developing an underground counter-intelligence network to gather strategic information and funnel it to Charles de Gaulle’s London HQ, where the pair hoped to travel after Portugal.

Ostensibly, they were on their way to scout venues for Baker’s planned tour of the Iberian peninsula. In reality, they carried secret details of German troops in western France, including photos of landing craft the Nazis were lining up to invade Britain.

The information was mostly written on the singer’s musical scores in invisible ink, to be revealed with lemon juice. The photographs she had hidden in her underwear. The whole package was handed to British agents at the Lisbon embassy – who informed Abtey and Baker they would be far more valuable assets in France than in London.

So back to occupied France Baker duly went. “She was immensely brave, and utterly committed,” Hanna Diamond, a Cardiff university professor, said of Baker, who on Tuesday will become the first Black woman to enter the Panthéon in Paris, the mausoleum for France’s “great men”….

Read the entire article here.

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Mirror Girls

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-11-29 21:51Z by Steven

Mirror Girls

Little, Brown Young Readers
2022-02-08
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780759553859
eBook ISBN-13: 9780759553859
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781549165962

Kelly McWilliams

A thrilling gothic horror novel about biracial twin sisters separated at birth, perfect for fans of Lovecraft Country and The Vanishing Half

As infants, twin sisters Charlie Yates and Magnolia Heathwood were secretly separated after the brutal lynching of their parents, who died for loving across the color line. Now, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Charlie is a young Black organizer in Harlem, while white-passing Magnolia is the heiress to a cotton plantation in rural Georgia.

Magnolia knows nothing of her racial heritage, but secrets are hard to keep in a town haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past. When Magnolia finally learns the truth, her reflection mysteriously disappears from mirrors—the sign of a terrible curse. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Charlie’s beloved grandmother falls ill. Her final wish is to be buried back home in Georgia—and, unbeknownst to Charlie, to see her long-lost granddaughter, Magnolia Heathwood, one last time. So Charlie travels into the Deep South, confronting the land of her worst nightmares—and Jim Crow segregation.

The sisters reunite as teenagers in the deeply haunted town of Eureka, Georgia, where ghosts linger centuries after their time and dangers lurk behind every mirror. They couldn’t be more different, but they will need each other to put the hauntings of the past to rest, to break the mirrors’ deadly curse—and to discover the meaning of sisterhood in a racially divided land.

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Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

Posted in Africa, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery on 2021-11-29 03:10Z by Steven

Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

Harvard University Press
2022-03-22
320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
21 photos, 1 table
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674244269

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alfonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor; Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Andrew S. Curran, William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

The first translation and publication of sixteen submissions to the notorious eighteenth-century Bordeaux essay contest on the cause of “black” skin—an indispensable chronicle of the rise of scientifically based, anti-Black racism.

In 1739 Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences announced a contest for the best essay on the sources of “blackness.” What is the physical cause of blackness and African hair, and what is the cause of Black degeneration, the contest announcement asked. Sixteen essays, written in French and Latin, were ultimately dispatched from all over Europe. The authors ranged from naturalists to physicians, theologians to amateur savants. Documented on each page are European ideas about who is Black and why.

Looming behind these essays is the fact that some four million Africans had been kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic by the time the contest was announced. The essays themselves represent a broad range of opinions. Some affirm that Africans had fallen from God’s grace; others that blackness had resulted from a brutal climate; still others emphasized the anatomical specificity of Africans. All the submissions nonetheless circulate around a common theme: the search for a scientific understanding of the new concept of race. More important, they provide an indispensable record of the Enlightenment-era thinking that normalized the sale and enslavement of Black human beings.

These never previously published documents survived the centuries tucked away in Bordeaux’s municipal library. Translated into English and accompanied by a detailed introduction and headnotes written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Andrew Curran, each essay included in this volume lays bare the origins of anti-Black racism and colorism in the West.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: Who’s Black and Why?
  • Note on the Translations
  • I
    • Introduction: The 1741 Contest on the “Degeneration” of Black Skin and Hair
    • 1. Blackness through the Power of God
    • 2. Blackness through the Soul of the Father
    • 3. Blackness through the Maternal Imagination
    • 4. Blackness as a Moral Defect
    • 5. Blackness as a Result of the Torrid Zone
    • 6. Blackness as a Result of Divine Providence
    • 7. Blackness as a Result of Heat and Humidity
    • 8. Blackness as a Reversible Accident
    • 9. Blackness as a Result of Hot Air and Darkened Blood
    • 10. Blackness as a Result of a Darkened Humor
    • 11. Blackness as a Result of Blood Flow
    • 12. Blackness as an Extension of Optical Theory
    • 13. Blackness as a Result of an Original Sickness
    • 14. Blackness Degenerated
    • 15. Blackness Classified
    • 16. Blackness Dissected
  • II
    • Introduction: The 1772 Contest on “Preserving” Negroes
    • 1. A Slave Ship Surgeon on the Crossing
    • 2. A Parisian Humanitarian on the Slave Trade
    • 3. Louis Alphonse, Bordeaux Apothecary, on the Crossing
  • Select Chronology of the Representation of Africans and Race
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Index
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Inventing the Science of Race

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2021-11-29 02:53Z by Steven

Inventing the Science of Race

The New York Review
2021-12-16

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alfonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor; Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Andrew S. Curran, William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

Jean-Baptiste Oudry: Africa: A European Merchant Bartering with a Black Chief, from the Four Continents series, 1724

In 1741, Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences held an essay contest searching for the origin of “blackness.” The results help us see how Enlightenment thinkers justified chattel slavery.

In 1712 King Louis XIV of France signed the lettres patentes that formally established Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences, Belles Lettres, and Arts, a social club of intellectual inquiry and public edification. In contrast to the more conservative University of Bordeaux, whose primary objective was to educate the country’s priests, doctors, and lawyers through lessons compatible with Scripture, the Bordeaux Academy saw itself as “enlightened”: its objective was advancing scientific truth as part of a larger program intended to promote “mankind’s happiness.”

Every year, the academy organized an essay contest that it publicized throughout Europe. In 1739 the members announced the subject of the competition for 1741: “Quelle est la cause physique de la couleur des nègres, de la qualité de leur cheveux, et de la dégénération de l’un et de l’autre?” (“What is the physical cause of the Negro’s color, the quality of [the Negro’s] hair, and the degeneration of both [Negro hair and skin]?”) Embedded in this question was the academy’s assumption that something had happened to “Negroes” that had caused them to degenerate, to turn black and grow unusual hair. In short, the academy wanted to know who is black, and why. It wanted to know, too, what being black signified. The winner was promised a gold medal worth three hundred livres, roughly the annual earnings of a common worker at the time.

The 1741 contest was only the latest iteration of non-Africans’ fascination with dark skin. When the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabic peoples first described the inhabitants of Africa, it was Africans’ color that struck them most. Over many centuries, African “blackness” grew into an all-encompassing signifier that substituted for the range of reddish, yellowish, and blackish-brown colors that the skins of Africans actually express. The color black also became synonymous with the land itself; many of the geographical names that outsiders assigned to sub-Saharan AfricaNiger, Nigritia, Sudan, Zanzibar—contain the etymological roots of the word “black.” The most telling example is the name Ethiopia. Derived from the Greek aitho (I burn) and ops (face), it became the most widespread label for the entire sub-Saharan portion of the continent until the late seventeenth century. It even hinted at the cause of blackness itself…

Read the entire article here.

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