But in the past year, off the track [Lewis] Hamilton has started to find a voice about his racial identity. He has been taking a knee; raising a clenched fist.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-07-15 20:03Z by Steven

But in the past year, off the track [Lewis] Hamilton has started to find a voice about his racial identity. He has been taking a knee; raising a clenched fist. Long dormant concerns about racism and discrimination have been rudely awakened following the Black Lives Matter uprisings. In the process, Hamilton has transformed the way he sees himself: from a compliant go-with-the-flow character to a change agent who is determined to make waves. He has shaped the way others see him too, going from an inoffensive, if gaffe-prone, socialite focused only on his sport, to a politically aware role model conscious of his wider cultural significance. Now, he is about to take on the sport that brought him fortune and fame, with a commission demanding racial diversity and meaningful outreach to underrepresented groups – as well as more racial equality in general.

Gary Younge, “Lewis Hamilton: ‘Everything I’d suppressed came up – I had to speak out’,” The Guardian, July 10, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jul/10/lewis-hamilton-everything-id-suppressed-came-up-i-had-to-speak-out.

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Lewis Hamilton: ‘Everything I’d suppressed came up – I had to speak out’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Social Justice, United Kingdom on 2021-07-15 15:50Z by Steven

Lewis Hamilton: ‘Everything I’d suppressed came up – I had to speak out’

The Guardian
2021-07-10

Gary Younge, Professor of Sociology
University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom


Lewis Hamilton: ‘I don’t just want to be remembered as a driver.’ Styling: Law Roach. Photograph: Ike Edeani/The Guardian

He’s the most successful driver Formula One has ever seen, and its only Black star. Now Lewis Hamilton has a new mission: to change the sport that made him.

As Lewis Hamilton rose through the ranks of competitive go-karting, his father, Anthony, told him: “Always do your talking on the track.” Lewis had a lot to talk about. Bullying and racial taunts were a consistent feature of his childhood in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, a new town 30 miles north of London; his dad taught him the best response was to excel at his sport.

The trouble was he didn’t have many people to talk to about what he was going through. Lewis is mixed-race, born to a white mother, Carmen Larbalestier, who raised him until he was 12, when he went to live with his Grenadian-British father, from whom she had separated. “My mum was wonderful,” he tells me. “She was so loving. But she didn’t fully understand the impact of the things I was experiencing at school. The bullying and being picked on. And my dad was quite tough, so I didn’t tell him too much about those experiences. As a kid I remember just staying quiet about it because I didn’t feel anyone really understood. I just kept it to myself.” Sport offered him an outlet. “I did boxing because I needed to channel the pain,” he says. “I did karate because I was being beaten up and I wanted to be able to defend myself.”

I understand where he’s coming from; I too grew up in Stevenage. Hamilton’s mother and I went to the same school – though not at the same time. As close to London as it was, it might as well have been in a different universe. In London the Black experience appeared authentic; in Stevenage it felt synthetic. Race in London was something you read about in the papers; race in Stevenage was something you didn’t even acknowledge. I was 22 before I found my first Black male friend…

Read the entire article here.

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Thinking In Colour

Posted in Audio, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2021-05-25 14:23Z by Steven

Thinking In Colour

BBC Radio 4
British Broadcasting Corporation
2021-05-10

Gary Younge, Professor of Sociology
Manchester University, Manchester, United Kingdom

Caitlin Smith, Producer
Tony Phillips, Executive Producer


Bliss Broyard and her father Anatole Broyard (photo: Sandy Broyard)

Passing is a term that originally referred to light skinned African Americans who decided to live their lives as white people. The civil rights activist Walter White claimed in 1947 that every year in America, 12-thousand black people disappeared this way. He knew from first-hand experience. The black president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had blonde hair and blue eyes which meant he was able to investigate lynching in the Deep South, while passing in plain sight.

In a strictly segregated society, life on the other side of the colour line could be easier. But it came at a price.

Here, Gary Younge, Professor of Sociology at Manchester University, explores stories of racial passing through the prism of one of his favourite books, Passing, by Nella Larsen.

The 1929 novella brought the concept into the mainstream. It tells the story of two friends; both African-American though one ‘passes’ for white. It’s one of Gary Younge’s, favourite books, for all that it reveals about race, class and privilege.

Gary speaks with Bliss Broyard, who was raised in Connecticut in the blue-blood, mono-racial world of suburbs and private schools. Her racial identity was ensconced in the comfort of insular whiteness. Then in early adulthood Bliss’ world was turned upside down. On her father’s deathbed she learned he was in fact a black man who had been passing as white for most of his life. How did this impact Bliss’ identity and sense of self?

Gary hears three extraordinary personal accounts, each a journey towards understanding racial identity, and belonging. With Bliss Broyard, Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, Georgina Lawton and Professor Jennifer DeVere Brody.

Excerpts from ‘Passing’ read by Robin Miles, the Broadway actress who has narrated books written by Kamala Harris and Roxane Gay.

Listen to the story (00:28:00) here.

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Andrea Levy: In her own words

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2020-02-10 15:56Z by Steven

Andrea Levy: In her own words

BBC Radio 4
2020-02-08, 20:00Z
57 minutes

Produced by Melissa FitzGerald & Sarah O’Reilly

Andrea Levy, alongside friends and family, speaks candidly about her writing life and her impending death.

Profiling the life and work of Andrea Levy, the best-selling author of Small Island, who died in February 2019.

Speaking on condition that the recording would only be released after her death, Andrea Levy gave an in-depth interview to oral historian Sarah O’Reilly for the British Library’s Authors’ Lives project in 2014. Drawing on this recording, along with comments from friends, family and collaborators, this programme explores Levy’s changing attitude towards her history and her heritage and how it is intimately bound up with her writing.

Andrea Levy grew up in North London in the 1960s, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants. Her father Winston came to Britain in 1948 on the Empire Windrush, and her mother Amy arrived six months later. At home, Jamaica was never discussed. Levy recalls how her parents believed that, in order to get on in this country they should live quietly and not make a fuss, and the silence around race in the family home haunted her throughout her life: “I have dreams now where I sit down with my parents and we talk about the difficulty of being a black person in a white country. But at the time? No help whatsoever.”

A significant day arrived when she attended a racism awareness course in her workplace in the 1980s. Staff were asked to split into two groups. “I walked over to the white side of the room. But my fellow workers had other ideas and I found myself being beckoned over by people on the black side. I crossed the floor. It was a rude awakening. It sent me to bed for a week.”…

For more information, click here. Listen to the interview (00:56:42) here.

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Andrea Levy, my brilliant friend

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2020-02-07 16:02Z by Steven

Andrea Levy, my brilliant friend

The New Statesman
2020-02-05

Gary Younge

Remembering the novelist, one year after her death.

While Bill Mayblin, the novelist Andrea Levy’s widower, was gathering her things for the British Library archive, he came across a red Moleskine book containing a handwritten tale that he’d never seen before.

Entitled “Two”, it is a brief dialogue between two unnamed functionaries working for the Grim Reaper . They are discussing Andrea’s impending death. With a mixture of wry cynicism, callous ambivalence and bureaucratic nonchalance they ponder her admittance, as though standing at a water cooler in a celestial call centre.

I have someone for you.
Good. Male or female?
Female.
Childbirth?
Don’t be silly, we haven’t done childbirth in ages. It’s a bit rare you know.
Around here maybe but not in other parts.
Well, maybe so. But childbirth… no. Cancer.
Breast?
Of course.
I’m not going to have to hang about for ages am I? Only the last one took years.
It’s on. It’s off. Tries my patience.

As a close friend of Andrea’s, who talked with her a lot about the cancer she had and the death that was coming, I found the voices were recognisably hers. She lived with cancer for a decade – long enough for her to joke that she stopped telling people about it because some looked almost disappointed when they bumped into her and found her looking fine…

Read the entire article here.

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Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-19 22:12Z by Steven

Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

The Guardian
2014-10-19

Gary Younge

The virus is a metaphor for all that conservatives loathe, and sees the president’s policies under renewed attack

In a column ostensibly explaining why moderates struggle in the Republican party, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen last year wrote: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York – a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts – but not all – of America.”

If the thought of New York’s first family’s interracial marriage makes many Republicans (and apparently Cohen) gag, imagine how many sick bags they are filling over Ebola. The arrival of the virus in America has crystallised a range of Conservative anxieties: immigration, race, terrorism, science, big government, Barack Obama – you name it. For the right, Ebola is not just a disease, it is a metaphor for some of the things they don’t understand and many of the things they loathe…

…Finally, Ebola serves as a proxy for the many long-held Conservative prejudices about Obama – that he is an African-born interloper come to destroy America. A 2010 poll showed that just under a third of Republicans believed Obama was a “racist who hates white people”. Michael Savage, another rightwing radio host, calls him “Obola”. “Obama wants equality and he wants fairness, and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two … to really feel what it’s like to be in the third world. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist.”…

Read the entire article here.

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On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-21 17:22Z by Steven

On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe

The Guardian
2014-04-20

Gary Younge

Despite the legacy of civil rights, some doors remain firmly closed. And across the US, schools are resegregating

At the march on Washington in August 1963, where Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream speech”, the United States Information Agency, the nation’s propaganda wing devoted to “public diplomacy”, made a documentary. It wanted to make sure that the largest demonstration in the history of the US capital, demanding jobs and freedom and denouncing racism, was not misconstrued by the nation’s enemies or potential allies. Their aim was to show the newly independent former colonies that the US embraced peaceful protest. “Smile,” they called to demonstrators as the camera rolled. “This is going to Africa.”

“So it happened,” Michael Thelwell, a grassroots activist, told the author Charles Euchner, “that Negro students from the south, some of whom still had unhealed bruises from the electric cattle prods which southern police used to break up demonstrations, were recorded for the screens of the world portraying ‘American democracy at work’.”

The US’s capacity to fold the stories of resistance to its historic inequities into the broader narrative of its unrelenting journey towards social progress is both brazen and remarkable. (Arguably, this is preferable to the European tradition of burying such histories and hoping no one will ever find them.) Tales of the barriers that come down are woven neatly into the fabric of a nation, where each year is better than the last; the obstacles that remain are discarded as immaterial. What is left is a mythology cut from whole cloth

…The freedoms this legacy bequeathed should be neither denied nor denigrated. The signs came down, space was created, opinions evolved. Recent years have shown a big increase in minorities moving to suburbs and all groups entering mixed-race relationships. It is a different and better country because of them. But nor should those freedoms be exaggerated. It is not as different or as improved a country as some would have us believe. For as some doors opened, others remained firmly closed – providing two main lessons that challenge the mainstream framing of this era’s legacy.

First, racial integration sits quite easily alongside inequality and discrimination. The legal right of people to mix does not inevitably change the power relationship between them. The former confederacy was, in many ways, the most racially integrated part of the US. There were high rates of miscegenation (forced and voluntary); slaves and servants raised white children and often lived in close quarters with their owners. Strom Thurmond, who ran for the presidency in 1948 as a segregationist, fathered a black daughter by a maid in 1924. The issue was never whether people mixed but on what basis and to what end.

“The issue for black people was never integration or segregation but white supremacy,” explains the University of Chicago professor Charles Payne. “The paradigm of integration and segregation was a white concern … That was how they posed the issue of civil rights, given their own interests, and that was how the entire issue then became understood. But the central concerns of black people were not whether they should integrate with white people or not but how to challenge white people’s hold on the power structure.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Langston Hughes showed me what it meant to be a black writer

Posted in Articles, Media Archive on 2013-08-02 04:31Z by Steven

Langston Hughes showed me what it meant to be a black writer

The Guardian
2013-07-31

Gary Younge, Feature Writer and Columnist

His 1926 essay, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain made clear that a black writer must write the best work they can, while refusing to be defined by other people’s racial agendas

One of my first columns on these pages didn’t make it into the paper. I’d written about the NATO bombing of Bosnia and the comment editor at the time thought I should stick to subjects closer to home. “We have people who can write about Bosnia,” he said. “Can you add an ethnic sensibility to this.”

The whole point of having a black columnist, he thought, was to write about black issues. I had other ideas. I had no problem writing about race. It’s an important subject that deserves scrutiny to which I’ve given considerable thought and about which I’ve done a considerable amount of research. I have no problem being regarded as a black writer. It’s an adjective not an epithet. In the words of Toni Morrison, when asked if she found it limiting to be described as a black woman writer: “I’m already discredited. I’m already politicised, before I get out of the gate. I can accept the labels because being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination, it expands it.”…

Read the entire article here.

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So, why are we so loyal to a president who is not loyal to us?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-05-06 15:28Z by Steven

So, why are we so loyal to a president who is not loyal to us?

The Guardian
2013-05-05

Gary Younge, Feature Writer and Columnist

Kevin Johnson was pilloried for suggesting Obama has not been good for African Americans. But his question was a good one

Back when affirmative action was white, educational institutions were created for African Americans who were barred from admission elsewhere. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) became the breeding grounds for the “talented tenth” – the elite class groomed to lead black America. Towards the end of the last century HBCUs had produced 75% of black PhDs, 85% of black doctors and 80% of black federal judges. Among the most prestigious was Morehouse, in Atlanta, which counts Martin Luther King, Samuel Jackson and Spike Lee among its alumni.

Later this month, Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address at Morehouse’s graduation ceremony. Another invited speaker was Morehouse alumnus Kevin Johnson, a prominent Philadelphia pastor. Then Johnson, an ardent Obama supporter during both presidential runs, wrote an article criticising the president for failing to appoint enough black cabinet members and to address the needs of African Americans in general. “Obama has not moved African-American leadership forward but backwards,” he wrote. “We are not in the driver’s seat – or even in the car … Why are we so loyal to a president who is not loyal to us?”

Shortly afterwards his speaker’s slot was removed. Instead of addressing the students alone, the day before Obama, he will now be one of a three-person panel curated “to reflect a broader and more inclusive range of viewpoints”…

Read the entire article here.

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Obama’s inauguration carries symbolic resonance on Martin Luther King Day

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-01-21 00:08Z by Steven

Obama’s inauguration carries symbolic resonance on Martin Luther King Day

The Guardian
2013-01-20

Gary Younge, Feature Writer and Columnist

America’s first black president will be sworn in on the day devoted to its most famous civil rights leader

In April 1961, four months before Barack Obama was born, Bobby Kennedy told Voice of America: “There’s no question that in the next 30 or 40 years a negro can also achieve the same position that my brother has as president of the United States.” Less than a month later a group of black and white freedom riders were firebombed and beaten with baseball bats and lead piping as they tried to travel through the south. The interracial marriage of Obama’s parents was not recognised in more than 20 states. Black people’s right to vote, let alone stand for election, had not been secured in much of the south. The prospect of a black president never seemed further away.

Four years later the essayist and author James Baldwin mocked Kennedy’s prediction. “That sounded like a very emancipated statement to white people,” he wrote in The American Dream and the American Negro. “They were not in Harlem when this statement was first heard. They did not hear the laughter and bitterness and scorn with which this statement was greeted … We were here for 400 years and now he tells us that maybe in 40 years, if you are good, we may let you become president.”

The fact that Obama’s inauguration is taking place on Martin Luther King Day – a federal public holiday to celebrate the birth of the civil rights leader – carries great symbolic resonance. The notion that America might vote in a black president now seems little more than a banal fact of life…

Read the entire article here.

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