Yes, There Are Women of Color in the DAR

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-08-21 03:16Z by Steven

Yes, There Are Women of Color in the DAR

Washingtonian
2021-04-07

Rosa Cartagena


Reisha Raney at the headquarters of the DAR’s Maryland chapter. Photograph by Lauren Bulbin

A Maryland researcher—and relative of Thomas Jefferson—is exploring their stories.

Reisha Raney had never listened to a podcast when she decided to start one last year. A mathematician who runs a systems-engineering company in Fort Washington, Raney has, as a side project, spent years researching women of color who have joined the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was drawn to this topic for one obvious reason: Raney herself is a Black member of the DAR.

To Raney, the backgrounds of people like her—which often involve disturbing relationships between enslavers and the enslaved—represent an important aspect of our past. So after a two-week crash course in podcasting, she launched Daughter Dialogues, which features her interviews with current DAR members. “I had no expectation to ever run into any of these other Black women” in the society, she says. “We were so scarce that I expected to be the only one in the room all the time.” In fact, that hasn’t been the case; she has so far found and interviewed 22 women of color. Still, that’s a tiny fraction of the DAR’s 180,000-plus membership. (The group doesn’t keep track of racial demographics.)…

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Born into Slavery, Joshua Johnson Became the First Black Professional Artist in the United States

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2020-07-17 21:06Z by Steven

Born into Slavery, Joshua Johnson Became the First Black Professional Artist in the United States

Artsy
2020-07-16

Jaelynn Walls, Curator and Writer
Houston, Texas


Joshua Johnson
Family Group, ca. 1800
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Historians know woefully little about Joshua Johnson, the first professional African American artist to work in the United States. An active painter in Maryland and Virginia from roughly the 1790s to 1825, Johnson was all but forgotten until the middle of the 20th century. In 1939, Baltimore genealogist and art historian J. Hall Pleasants attributed 13 paintings to Johnson and began the long journey of reconstructing his career through scraps of often contradictory information. Even the artist’s last name is uncertain, and many art historians are still debating whether it was spelled “Johnson” or “Johnston.”

Johnson was born into slavery in mid-18th-century Maryland to a white man and a Black slave woman owned by William Wheeler Sr. Chattel records note his race as mulatto, though Maryland had no legal definition for what constituted “Black” versus “mixed race” at the time. Pleasants located documents variously describing Johnson as a slave, a slave trained as a blacksmith, a Black servant afflicted with consumption, and an immigrant from the West Indies.

While much of Johnson’s history remains mysterious, his special place in art history is assured. The next renowned African American artists to emerge in the United States, Robert S. Duncanson and Henry Ossawa Tanner, followed Johnson by decades…

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Blackness and Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2019-08-29 01:01Z by Steven

Blackness and Whiteness

Our Human Family: Conversations on achieving equality
2019-05-07

Emily Cashour
Oakland, California


The author and her mother

Growing up as mixed-race alongside my white mother

Growing up, I was unaccustomed to discussions about race. For most of my life, the color of my skin was something simple, a fact that became more or less apparent alongside the changing seasons. When it started to become impossible to ignore, as a young child, I pushed to downplay my color difference. I sat in the shade with my white cousins at the beach to prevent the sun from reaching me, complained with a gentle fierceness each time my mother took me to get my hair braided, said quiet “thank-yous” with no further explanation to people who gleefully oohed and ahhed at my beautiful tan.

As a teenager, I embraced wholeheartedly the idea of tan equaling beautiful, at least so far as in the context of tan being simply a new shade of whiteness, rather than brownness. I was a tan white person. At least, that is what everyone in my town assumed me to be, and rather than fight the simplicity of that label, I allowed it to begin defining me.

My mom, a white woman and single mother, was quiet during these years. If I had questions, she would answer them willingly, but quite honestly, I rarely ever asked her anything. Sometimes, when she took me to Baltimore, we drove home the long way, observing dilapidated neighborhoods and houses with wooden boards with holes in them where windows should’ve been. The sidewalks and the weeds in the place of gardens made these communities look tired, winded. It was clear that places like this were worlds away from where my mom and I lived; yet we were both keen outsiders, desperate for a deeper understanding. There’s something funny about an obviously white woman and an obviously brown child alone together, trying to find a community. On those trips to Baltimore, my mother and I had not quite identified our community yet…

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Interracial Marriage in a Southern Area: Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Virginia on 2019-04-08 17:13Z by Steven

Interracial Marriage in a Southern Area: Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume 8, Number 2, ETHNIC FAMILIES: STRUCTURE AND INTERACTION (SUMMER 1977)
pages 217-241

Thomas P. Monahan, Professor of Sociology
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

Representing the Southern tradition, Virginia and Maryland in Colonial times enacted strong laws against racial intermarriage, which continued in force until 1967. For over 100 years the District of Columbia, located between Virginia and Maryland at the North-South borderline, allowed the races to marry without legal restriction. Strong social restraints, nevertheless, existed. How frequently mixed marriages occurred in the District in the past, and in all three jurisdictions after 1967, when such marriages could legally take place anywhere in the United States, is a matter of special interest. What change has there been in the extent and nature of interracial marriage in this geographical area?1

The Legal Control of Intermarriage

Shortly after the settlement of the English colonies in America, public opinion became antagonistic toward the interbreeding of whites with Negroes, mulattoes, or Indians, and laws were passed to control biological blending and intermarriage of the races (Ballagh, 1902; Johnson, 1919, Guild, 1936; Reuter, 1931:75; Scott, 1930; Wilson, 1965:20; Jordan, 1968:139).

Virginia

Ten years after the importation of a small number of Negro slaves into the colony, the Virginia Assembly in 1630 ordered the sound whipping of one Hugh Davis for lying with a Negress, a heathen (Hening, 1809:1-146; Hurd, 1858:1-229), and in 1640 a Robert Sweet was ordered by the Governor and Council to do penance in church for impregnating a Negro woman, who was to be whipped…

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People of Mixed Ancestry in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake: Freedom, Bondage, and the Rise of Hypodescent Ideology

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2019-02-26 01:58Z by Steven

People of Mixed Ancestry in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake: Freedom, Bondage, and the Rise of Hypodescent Ideology

Journal of Social History
Volume 52, Number 3, Spring 2019
pages 593-618
DOI: 10.1093/jsh/shx113

A. B. Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This article examines the origins of mixed-race ideologies and people of mixed African, European, and Native American ancestry—commonly identified as mulattoes—in the seventeenth-century English colonial Chesapeake and wider Atlantic world. Arguably, for the better part of the century, English colonial societies in the Chesapeake resembled Latin America and other Atlantic island colonies in allowing a relatively flexible social hierarchy, in which certain mixed-heritage people benefitted from their European lineage. Chesapeake authorities began to slowly set their provinces apart from their English colonial counterparts in the 1660s, when they enacted laws to deter intimate intermixture between Europeans and other ethnoracial groups and set policies that punished mixed-heritage children. Colonial officials attempted to use the legal system to restrict people of mixed ancestry, Africans, and Native Americans in bondage. These efforts supported the ideology of hypodescent, where children of mixed lineage are relegated more closely to the position of their socially inferior parentage. However, from the 1660s through the 1680s, these laws were unevenly enforced, and mixture increased with the growth of African slaves imported into the region. While many mulattoes were enslaved during this period, others were able to rely on their European heritage or racial whiteness. This allowed them to gain or maintain freedom for themselves and their families, before Virginia and Maryland institutionalized greater restrictions in the 1690s.

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Frederick Douglass: a multi-racial trailblazer

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-02-11 05:14Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: a multi-racial trailblazer

The Baltimore Sun
2018-02-08

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law


Gregory Morton purchased Frederick Douglass’ home in Fells Point and makes it available to rent on Airbnb. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Last year President Trump made statements that left the impression he believed that abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive. In some respects, he still is. This month marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth, and his racial justice work continues to be relevant today. In fact, after President Trump was informed that Douglass died in 1895, the president signed into law the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act to organize events to honor the bicentennial anniversary of Douglass’s birth.

While slave records mark Douglass’ birth month as February — he was born in a plantation on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Talbot County — his status as a slave meant he had no information about the exact day he was born. As an adult he chose Feb. 14th for himself as a birth date. He was also never told who his father was, but circumstances lead him to conclude that it was his white slave owner.

Despite his mixed-race heritage and likely connection to his owner, Douglass was separated from his mother at an early age and exposed to physical abuse from his owners…

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Living a white lie

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2017-08-10 02:30Z by Steven

Living a white lie

Silver Chips Online: Montgomery Blair High School’s Online Student Newspaper
Silver Spring, Maryland
2009-02-23

Lily Alexander, Managing Features Editor, Print-Online Coordinator


Jim Queen, 70, now lives in San Francisco with his wife of 40 years. From 1954 to 1957, he attended Montgomery Blair High School, where he was forced to pass as a white student by hiding his far more complex and multiracial heritage.

In 1954, Jim Queen arrived at Montgomery Blair High School. The school was all white. He was not.

The janitors would come to watch him run. They knew – or at least sensed – he wasn’t who he said he was. As he raced around the quarter-mile track at old Blair High School, they would silently agree about what was never said aloud. And at a time when race relations in the United States were defined by divisions, from water fountains to hospitals, Jim Queen was an anomaly. The janitors suspected it. His parents knew it. And so did he.

The school system did not.

Three years before MCPS [(Montgomery County Public Schools)] officially opened its doors to integration, Jim Queen was a student with a mixed heritage – part white, part black, part Native American – studying at a school comprised entirely of white students. For over two years, Queen maintained this façade, keeping his racial background a secret from friends, teachers and classmates.

Now 70, Queen is far-removed from his time at Blair, but the experiences of his upbringing and childhood clouded by questions of racial identity and self-discovery have played a large role in small farm in shaping the man he has become…

…More recently, Queen launched the “One Race Movement.” This movement promotes the idea that we all belong to one race – the human race – and that the concept of multiple races is “a false social construct used historically to divide and exploit people,” rather than a scientifically-based idea. He developed this idea after rediscovering his own Wesort roots and learning about the Genome Project conducted by Craig Venter, which aimed to prove that all humans originally come from Africa. To convey his movement’s core message, Queen designed a symbol that now adorns clothing and posters, depicting the silhouettes of many different colored faces and the word “ONE” beneath it…

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Before “Hidden Figures,” There Was a Rock Opera About NASA’s Human Computers

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-03-13 01:30Z by Steven

Before “Hidden Figures,” There Was a Rock Opera About NASA’s Human Computers

Air & Space Magazine
2017-02-03

Linda Billings, Senior Editor

Katherine Johnson’s inspirational story came to the Baltimore stage in 2015, thanks to another space scientist.

Hidden Figures,” the story of three African-American women whose mathematical skill helped NASA launch astronauts into space and back in the early 1960s, has been both a critical and box office success. With more than $100 million in ticket sales and a stack of award nominations, the movie has inspired audiences with a true story made even more powerful by virtue of the fact that it was largely untold for 50 years. And still mostly unknown is the story of another NASA scientist who beat Hollywood to the punch by putting “human computer” Katherine Johnson’s saga on stage almost two years ago.

Heather Graham is an astrobiologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, D.C. She’s also a gamer, a feminist, and a member of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society. In May 2015, the society staged Graham’s one-act rock opera, “Determination of Azimuth,” which portrays how Johnson and her colleagues Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, were ignored and demeaned on the job at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, because they were black and female. The story has a happy ending: Their work was validated, their expertise accepted. But they had to endure racism and sexism along the way…

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La Negra Blanca

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 01:45Z by Steven

La Negra Blanca

The Collagist: Online literature from Dzanc Books
Issue Three (October 2009)

Roxane Gay, Associate Professor of English
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

At the club, Sarah goes by Sierra. The manager gave her the name the day she was hired four years earlier. He asked if she had a preference but she shrugged, took a sip of warm soda, told him to knock himself out. He looked her up and down and up again. “Sierra,” he said. “So you’ll turn your head when your name is called.”

Sometimes, when she’s opening the refrigerator, or reaching into a drawer for a pair of shorts, Sarah will catch herself swiveling her hips and arching her back. Even when she’s not on the pole, she’s dancing around it. She takes a lot of Advil because even at home she’s always hearing the thump thump thump of the bass line.

Candy, her best friend at work, took one look at Sarah on her first day and told Sarah to dance to black girl booty shaking music because guys love to see white girls with juicy asses shake their stuff. Sarah blushed, and pivoted to get a better look at her ass. She said, “My ass is juicy?”

Candy laughed and grabbed a handful of Sarah’s ass, but Sarah already knew she had a juicy ass and where it came from. Her mother is black and her father is white but for years people have assumed she’s a white girl because she has green eyes and straight blonde hair. She’s not ashamed of who she is but in Baltimore it’s easier to be a white girl with a black girl’s ass than to be a black girl who looks white or any other kind of black girl for that matter…

Read the short story here.

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Half and Half

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-11-19 21:44Z by Steven

Half and Half

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2007-02-11

Bliss Broyard

David Matthews, Ace of Spades, A Memoir (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2007).

Twenty minutes into David Matthews’s first day of fourth grade in a new school in a new city, his classmates surround him and demand to know what he is. When Matthews doesn’t answer, they trail him down the hallway — “as though I were a reprobate head of state ambushed by reporters outside a lurid hotel” — shouting out their guesses: “Black! White! You crazy?! He(’s) too light/dark to be black/white!” One jokester suggests he’s Chinese.

One possible response is that Matthews is mixed: his father is African-American, actually a “prominent black journalist” who counted Malcolm X and James Baldwin among his friends, and his mother is Jewish, although she disappeared to Israel shortly after Matthews was born. But this scene takes place in 1977 in a Baltimore public school that sits between a “Waspy enclave of tony brownstones” and a “world of housing projects, roaming street gangs and bleating squad cars,” and the difference between black and white seems too vast to allow for any unions — or their byproducts — across the conceptual divide. (Although we learn that Matthews needn’t look any further than his own life for exceptions: his best friend, his stepbrother and his half brother are also mixed, though none of them quite so indeterminately as he is.) In the lunchroom, Matthews heads to the table of students he resembles most — in skin color, yes, but also in character. The white kids, with their “nerdy diction” and “Starsky and Hutch” lunchboxes, are similarly introverted and unthreatening, while the black kids, playing the dozens and double Dutch on the playground, are “alive and cool,” and frightening. When a white boy assigned by the homeroom teacher to be Matthews’s buddy for the day makes room for him to sit down, this small, serendipitous gesture sets the dye of his racial identity for the next 20 or so years…

Read the entire review here.

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