When black is white and vice versa

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-12-25 04:18Z by Steven

When black is white and vice versa

The New Tri-State Defender
Memphis, Tennessee

Brittney Gathen, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

Dr. Allyson Hobbs signed copies of her book, “A Chosen Exile: AHistory of Racial Passing in American Life,” during an event called “Book Talk” at the National Civil Rights Museum. (Photo: Merritt Gathen)

Stanford professor and author shines light on racial ‘passing’ at NCRM event.

Passing” – living as a part of one race despite being born into another – is often full of complexity and consequences, so much so that author and Stanford history professor Dr. Allyson Hobbs calls it a type of “exile.”

Hobbs, author of “A Chosen Exile: AHistory of Racial Passing in American Life,”examined the topic of racial passing during “Book Talk” at the National Civil Rights Museum last week (Dec. 17). During the event, Hobbs discussed topics such as the negative side of passing and her perception of former Spokane, Washington NAACP president Rachel Dolezal, who, despite being born white, lived as (and still identifies as) a black woman…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

New book ‘A Chosen Exile’

Posted in History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2015-12-19 03:16Z by Steven

New book ‘A Chosen Exile’

Memphis, Tennessee

For nearly 200 years, countless African-Americans chose to leave their families, friends and communities to live in exile.

Allyson Hobbs reveals this piece of history and how it affected race relations in her new book “A Chosen Exile.”

Watch the interview here.

Tags: , , , ,

The Book of Colors: A Novel

Posted in Books, Novels, United States on 2015-07-27 18:23Z by Steven

The Book of Colors: A Novel

Unbridled Books
280 pages
May 2015
5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 978-1-60953-115-7
EISBN: 978-1-60953-116-4

Raymond Barfield, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Christian Philosophy
Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina

How can a 19-year-old, mixed-race girl who grew up in a crack house and is now pregnant be so innocent? Yslea is full of contradictions, though, seeming both young and old, innocent and wise. Her spirit is surprising, given all the pain she has endured, and that’s the counterpoint this story offers—while she sees pain and suffering all around her, Yslea overcomes in her own quiet way.

What Yslea struggles with is expressing her thoughts. And she wonders if she will have something of substance to say to her baby. It’s the baby growing inside her that begins to wake her up, that causes her to start thinking about things in a different way.

Yslea drifts into the lives of four people who occupy three dilapidated row houses along the train tracks outside of Memphis: “The way their three little row houses sort of leaned in toward each other and the way the paint peeled and some of the windows were covered with cardboard, the row might as easily have been empty.”

She becomes an integral part of this little community, moving in with Rose who is old and dying. As her pregnancy progresses, everything changes within the three houses.

Tags: , , ,

A real-life Lucious Lyon: The former slave who built a Beale Street “Empire” and transformed Memphis

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-09 01:27Z by Steven

A real-life Lucious Lyon: The former slave who built a Beale Street “Empire” and transformed Memphis


Preston Lauterbach

Bob Church (Credit: University of Memphis Special Collections)

Memphis — and music as we know it — wouldn’t be the same without Robert Church’s legacy of vice, virtue and power

Depending on which critic or fan you ask, Fox TV’s “Empire” is somewhere between Shakespeare’s drama “King Lear” and Norman Lear’s campy “Good Times.” Less apparent to the show’s legions of viewers is how the story of Lucious Lyon and Empire Entertainment echoes the original black empire, a real-life dynasty of vice, virtue, and power, built in the heart of the old Confederacy just after the Civil War by a former slave who became monarch, Robert Church.

Like Lucious Lyon, who must plan for the future of his empire after being diagnosed with a crippling, often fatal, ailment, Bob Church had plenty of reasons to consider his legacy. It wasn’t so much that a specific death sentence loomed over Church—he just happened to find himself in life threatening situations, often. By his early 30s, Church had survived two gunshot wounds to his head, a steamboat disaster, a Civil War naval battle that he escaped by swimming the Mississippi River and an assassination attempt that backfired when a shotgun aimed at him exploded toward the shooter. Had Bob Church not been the combination of tough and lucky that saved him in these fateful scrapes, legendary Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, might be just another strip of concrete. Instead, it gained such an extraordinary reputation that Memphis entertainer Rufus Thomas would crack, “If you could be black on Beale Street one Saturday night, you’d never want to be white no more.”

Beale Street’s birth as an alternate universe for black America, a center of political clout and cultural fertility that changed America, all began with Church…

…Understanding the uncertainty of the vice-lord life in a hell-roaring river town, Church knew he must cultivate an heir. His eldest son Thomas lived in New York, passing for white, some have said. Thomas wouldn’t do. Eldest daughter Mary had become a steadfast leader in her own right, the first black woman on Washington, D.C.’s board of education and a founder of the NAACP. She could not be compromised. As with Lucious Lyon’s three sons, there was some competition among the Church children—they all would have liked to keep his money—but unlike “Empire’s” twisted succession plot, old man Church had no doubt who to choose: his youngest son, Robert Jr…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,