The “Miscegenation” Troll

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2023-01-30 04:00Z by Steven

The “Miscegenation” Troll

JSTOR Daily
2019-02-20

Mark Sussman, Adjunct Professor of English
Hunter College, City University of New York

via Wikimedia Commons

The term “miscegenation” was coined in an 1864 pamphlet by an anonymous author.

In 1864, a pamphlet entitled “Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro” began to circulate on the streets of New York. The title certainly would have given New Yorkers pause. No one had ever seen the word “miscegenation” before. In fact, the pamphlet’s anonymous author invented it, giving the reason that “amalgamation”—then the most common term used to describe “race mixing”—was a “poor word, since it properly refers to the union of metals with quicksilver.” The term “miscegenation”—from the Latin miscere (to mix) and genus (race)—had only one definition.

Besides introducing a new word into the English language, the pamphleteer was also responsible for what appeared to be one of the most fearless documents in the archive of nineteenth century abolitionist writing. Among many other claims and political recommendations, the pamphlet notes that, “the miscegenetic or mixed races are much superior, mentally, physically, and morally, to those pure or unmixed;” that “a continuance of progress can only be obtained through a judicious crossing of diverse elements;” that “the Caucasian, or white race… has never yet developed a religious faith on its own;” that “the true ideal man can only be reached by blending the type man and woman of all the races of the earth;” that “the most beautiful girl in form, feature, and every attribute of feminine loveliness [the pamphleteer] ever saw, was a mulatto.” Most provocatively, the writer claimed that “the Southern beauty… proclaims by every massive ornament in her shining hair, and by every yellow shade in the wavy folds of her dress, ‘I love the black man.’”…

Read the entire article here.

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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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Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

Posted in Arts, Books, Canada, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-11-27 06:11Z by Steven

Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

University Press of Mississippi
November 2022
248 pages
1 table; 29 b&w figures; 20 musical examples
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496842404
Paperback ISBN: 9781496842428

Caroline Vézina
Montréal, Quebec, Canada

The first scholarly volume dedicated to French Creole music and its contribution to the development of jazz in New Orleans

During the formative years of jazz (1890–1917), the Creoles of Color—as they were then called—played a significant role in the development of jazz as teachers, bandleaders, instrumentalists, singers, and composers. Indeed, music penetrated all aspects of the life of this tight-knit community, proud of its French heritage and language. They played and/or sang classical, military, and dance music as well as popular songs and cantiques that incorporated African, European, and Caribbean elements decades before early jazz appeared. In Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz, the author describes the music played by the Afro-Creole community since the arrival of enslaved Africans in La Louisiane, then a French colony, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, emphasizing the many cultural exchanges that led to the development of jazz.

Caroline Vézina has compiled and analyzed a broad scope of primary sources found in diverse locations from New Orleans to Quebec City, Washington, DC, New York City, and Chicago. Two previously unpublished interviews add valuable insider knowledge about the music on French plantations and the danses Créoles held in Congo Square after the Civil War. Musical and textual analyses of cantiques provide new information about the process of their appropriation by the Creole Catholics as the French counterpart of the Negro spirituals. Finally, a closer look at their musical practices indicates that the Creoles sang and improvised music and/or lyrics of Creole songs, and that some were part of their professional repertoire. As such, they belong to the Black American and the Franco-American folk music traditions that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Louisiana.

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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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The Importance of Being Turbaned

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2022-05-21 22:25Z by Steven

The Importance of Being Turbaned

The Antioch Review
Volume 69, Number 2, Spring 2011
pages 208-221

Paul A. Kramer, Associate Professor of History
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

This narrative piece, selected by The Best American Essays 2012 as a “notable essay,” tells the story of Rev. Jesse Routté, an African American Lutheran minister in New York who, in response to racist abuse during a 1943 trip to Mobile, Alabama, returned four years later disguised as a turbaned, Swedish-accented “foreigner.” When he reported positive treatment, it flaunted contradictions in Jim Crow’s racial definitions.

Read the entire article here.

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Amnesia of June Bugs, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2022-05-13 18:30Z by Steven

Amnesia of June Bugs

7.13 Books
2022-04-25
354 pages
Paperback ISBN-13: 979-8985376203
5.5 x 0.89 x 8.5 inches

Jackson Bliss

Jackson Bliss’s brilliant and moving debut novel redefines what a novel can be. Hurricane Sandy has just smashed into the Eastern Seaboard, trapping four passengers on the C train: a Chinese American graffiti artist grieving his father’s death, a mixed-race graphic designer struggling to become a mom, a Moroccan French translator escaping his heartache in Paris, and an Indian American traveler leaving Chicago to regain control of her life. Amnesia of June Bugs is an ambitious, infatuated, and furious book about the time we lost and the people we could have loved.

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Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Posted in Articles, Audio, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-31 22:52Z by Steven

Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-25

“Still’s Underground Rail Road Records,” 1886  /Boston African American National Historic Site

To escape slavery in Georgia, light-skinned Ellen Craft and her dark-skinned husband William posed, respectively, as a white gentleman traveling with his enslaved manservant in 1848.

Elsie Roxborough was born in 1914 in Detroit to one of Michigan’s most prominent Black families. When she died in New York City in 1949, her death certificate listed her race as white. She had lived there as a white woman for over a decade, working for a time as a model while aspiring to acclaim as a playwright.

“She almost immediately goes to New York City after graduation from the University of Michigan,” said Ken Coleman, a journalist who has researched the Roxborough family. Elsie Roxborough “at least professionally changed her name to Pat Rico at one point, and then ultimately, Mona Manet, and her brown, brownish-black hair becomes Lucille Ball auburn.”

Roxborough represents one of the few documented historical instances from Michigan of a Black person choosing to live nearly full-time as a member of white society. This phenomenon, known as racial passing, has received renewed popular attention through recent artistic works like Rebecca Hall’s film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing and Britt Bennett’s novel The Vanishing Half

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here.

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Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Posted in Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-30 13:51Z by Steven

Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-24

University Of Michigan Alumni Association/Bentley Historical Library

Writer and reporter Ken Coleman tells the story of Detroiter Elsie Roxborough, who was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white.

In 1914, Elsie Roxborough was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white. Her life was rich, curious and at times, troubled, all while attempting a sort of high-wire-act of living multiple lives, between cities and names and races. Today, we talk about her life, death, and everything in between.

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here. Download the story here.

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Growing up, as a mixed race child, with survivor grandparents

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Europe, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2022-03-15 22:27Z by Steven

Growing up, as a mixed race child, with survivor grandparents

Forward
2022-03-08

Kyla Kupferstein
Oakland, California

Courtesy of Kyla Kupferstein
Kyla with her grandmother Fela and grandfather Hershl

As a child growing up in the 1970s and 80s, my younger brother David and I did everything in Manhattan: it was where we lived, went to school and played with our friends.

Except for the weekends when my parents would take us to visit my grandparents in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. Buba Fela and Zayda Hershl lived in the Amalgamated Houses on Sedgwick Avenue – a cooperative apartment complex that functioned like a reassembled shtetl, a Yiddish-speaking community of Jews from Eastern Europe who had somehow escaped or survived the Nazi genocide and lived to tell the tale.

As my brother and I (known at our grandparents’ home as Kylashi and Davittle) sat at our grandparents’ kitchen table, we were fed a steady diet of Holocaust talk. “The war,” they called it, when they spoke English, which they did only for us. Hitler, Stalin, the camps – all these were a part of their normal vocabulary. And their neighbors, some who had been my grandparents’ friends back in Warsaw, most of them Bundists ranging from agnostic to atheist, were the closest thing to an extended family that we had.

Unlike many other survivors who kept silent because they couldn’t bear to revisit the atrocities, everyone in this community told their stories openly; we waited for those stories, just as we waited for Buba’s misshapen cookies and trips to the sprinklers in Van Cortlandt Park. Countless times we heard the story of how they left: when young men were urged to leave Warsaw because of Hitler’s imminent arrival, my Zayda, Herschel, decided he couldn’t leave without his love, Fela. Her grandfather quickly married them, and they fled to Russia, innocently believing it would be safe for them as socialists. But they were arrested at the Russian border, and then jailed separately in Stalin’s prisons in Siberia

Read the entire article here.

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Your Attention Please: Initiative 29 – Tao Leigh Goffe • Hulu

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2022-03-11 04:04Z by Steven

Your Attention Please: Initiative 29 – Tao Leigh Goffe • Hulu

Hulu
2021-05-29

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Journey through time with professor and DJ Tao Leigh Goffe as she uncovers her story at the intersection of Black and Chinese culture in this month’s #Initiative29 episode.

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