Growing up with a Jewish mom and a famous dad he never knew — the jazz musician Roy Ayers

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2022-09-04 02:48Z by Steven

Growing up with a Jewish mom and a famous dad he never knew — the jazz musician Roy Ayers

Forward
2022-08-15

TaRessa Stovall

Author Nabil Ayers, left; his father, jazz musician Roy Ayers, right. Courtesy of Nabil Ayers (author photo and book cover); and Scott Dudelson/Getty Images (Roy Ayers photo)

Nabil Ayers’ memoir reflects on family, identity and his journey to connect with a Black father who was ‘really just DNA’

Nabil Ayers carries the surname of a famous father he barely knows, except in the ubiquitous music of Roy Ayers – most famously in the 1976 jazz-soul-funk album by that name featuring the hit “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” For the younger Ayers, it pops up to surprise him when he least expects it.

Flashback to 1970, when Louise Braufman, a white Jewish former ballerina working as a waitress in New York took one look at the rising African American jazz composer and vibraphonist and thought she’d have a baby with him.

After a few casual dates, she asked Roy Ayers and he agreed, cautioning her that his career was his priority, and he wasn’t available for a serious relationship or any form of parenting.

Nabil Ayers was born of that union and grew up with a strong sense of self, despite his father’s absence. His new memoir, “My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family,” explores his unconventional but richly diverse childhood, his own rise in the music industry and the search to connect with his father, which led to discovering paternal Black half-siblings and an enslaved ancestor…

Read the entire article here.

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New Rules: Navigating Black Spaces in Changing Times

Posted in Articles, Media Archive on 2022-03-22 15:59Z by Steven

New Rules: Navigating Black Spaces in Changing Times

Mixed Auntie Confidential
2022-03-19

TaRessa Stovall

Twenty-one years ago, I was interviewed for a cover story in the late, great Black Issues Book Review magazine, with fellow Mixed-Black authors Walter Mosley, Staceyann Chin, and Mat Johnson. The article, by Elizabeth Atkins, explored how we identified on the heels of the then brand-new Census category that made history by including a way for Mixed folks to designate themselves. That’s me in the upper left corner.

Times change, and with them the ways in which some of us move through once-familiar spaces. Lately, I’ve been challenged with how to respond to the new dynamic of Mixed-Black folks being gatekept out of some Black spaces…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Once We Were Slaves’ examines fluidity of race through a Jewish lens

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2022-02-01 03:59Z by Steven

‘Once We Were Slaves’ examines fluidity of race through a Jewish lens

Forward
2022-01-28

TaRessa Stovall

Courtesy of Laura Arnold Leibman

Have you heard the story of the Jewish mother and children who were born enslaved in the Caribbean and became some of the wealthiest Jews in New York?

Professor Laura Arnold Leibman was researching Jewish communities in Barbados when she discovered two small ivory portraits belonging to a Jewish heiress from New York. She traced the family’s ancestors back to Bridgetown, Barbados in the 1700s. But instead of discovering an exclusively Sephardic ancestry, she uncovered a much more complex story of a diverse Jewish family whose identities were impacted by time and place.

Her findings became the book, “Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Lani Guinier drew on her Black and Jewish roots in a life of outspoken activism

Posted in Articles, Biography, Judaism, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-01-11 15:30Z by Steven

Lani Guinier drew on her Black and Jewish roots in a life of outspoken activism

Forward
2022-01-07

TaRessa Stovall

This undated file photo shows Lani Guinier(C), President Clinton’s nominee to head the U.S. Civil Rights office of the U.S.
LUKE FRAZZA/AFP via Getty Images

Lani Guinier, the daughter of a white Jewish mother and Black Panamanian father whose nomination by President Clinton to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice was opposed by mainstream Jewish organizations, died on Friday.

Guinier, who went on to become the first Black woman on the Harvard Law School faculty as well as its first woman of color given a tenured post, succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Boston Globe.

Carrie Johnson, who covers the Justice Department for National Public Radio, tweeted a message from Harvard Law School Dean John Manning confirming Guinier’s death and praising her.

“Her scholarship changed our understanding of democracy – of why and how the voices of the historically underrepresented must be heard and what it takes to have a meaningful right to vote,” Manning’s message said. The dean’s letter to the school community said she died surrounded by friends and family…

Read the entire article here.

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One Drop featuring Dr. Yaba Blay and the Mixed Aunties

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2021-06-09 18:18Z by Steven

One Drop featuring Dr. Yaba Blay and the Mixed Aunties

Militantly Mixed Podcast
2021-04-27

This is a very special episode of Militantly Mixed. I, along with TaRessa Stovall and Sonia Smith-Kang aka “the Mixed Aunties” sat down to speak with Dr. Yaba Blay, author of One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race about her work on the book and the term “One Drop” as it pertains to Mixed-Black identified people.

Listen to the podcast (01:05:02) here.

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Why You Should Read “Swirl Girl, The Coming Of Race In The USA”, By TaRessa Stovall

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2021-05-25 01:31Z by Steven

Why You Should Read “Swirl Girl, The Coming Of Race In The USA”, By TaRessa Stovall

Girl Talk HQ: The Global Headquarters of Female Empowerment Stories & Voices
2020-06-16

Nancy Burke

Swirl Girl, the Coming of Race in the USA” by TaRessa Stovall is your first step in learning what it is like to walk through the world as a child, teen and woman whose ethnic identity is not immediately discernible; to live with the relentless scrutiny of your skin, hair and features by just about anyone you meet; and to be continuously subjected to the question, What are you?

Stovall’s father was a Black man. Her mother, a Jewish woman. In Stovall’s memoir, “Swirl Girl,” she describes the different perspectives each of her parents had regarding how their mixed-race children should navigate the wider world. Stovall and her brother internalize the two views they learned from their parents, and as life goes on, each embraces what works for them and sheds those attitudes that do not serve. Stovall’s loving but conflicted response to each parent’s belief about who she should be and which sides of herself she should put front and center are beautifully rendered with the inherent complexity involved in her coming of age…

Read the entire book review here.

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Because She Can: The Unbearable Whiteness of Jessie

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2020-09-13 01:25Z by Steven

Because She Can: The Unbearable Whiteness of Jessie

The Crisis
2020-09-09

TaRessa Stovall

I’m a mixed (Black, Jewish, Native American) boomer, very light-skinned and so racially ambiguous looking that most people question, assume and try to challenge my racial identity.

My copper-toned Black father hated that I wouldn’t exploit my appearance to “be anything.” My Russian Jewish mother wondered about my lifelong allegiance to Blackness and my stubborn insistence on conveying the messy totality of my DNA even when it wasn’t comfortable, advantageous or convenient.

Still, I never lied about my identity. Even when doing so might have made my life easier.

We’re familiar with the reasons that many Black people passed for white, especially in the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras — as a way to lessen oppression and “level up” to better opportunities. But why would a white person discard their privilege to pretend to be Black?

Read the entire article here.

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Swirl Girl: Coming of Race in the USA

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2020-06-06 02:41Z by Steven

Swirl Girl: Coming of Race in the USA

Alchemy Media Publishing Company
2020-04-01
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0998930053

TaRessa Stovall

Swirl Girl: Coming of Race in the USA reveals how a hard-headed Mixed-race “Black Power Flower Child” battles society—and sometimes her closest loved ones—to forge her identity on her own terms.

As the USA undergoes its own racial growing pains, from the 1968 riots after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, to the historic 2008 election of the nation’s first Biracially Black president, TaRessa Stovall challenges popular stereotypes and fights nonstop pressures to contort, disguise, or deny her uncomfortable truths.

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My President Is Biracial

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-28 00:20Z by Steven

My President Is Biracial

Multiracial Media: Voice of the Multiracial Community
2016-12-27

TaRessa Stovall
Atlanta, Georgia

Remember that 2008 post-election rap anthem?

“My President is Black; in fact, he’s half White

So even in a racist mind he’s half right

Jay-Z and Young Jeezy’s “My President”

That’s what runs through my mind as I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ dissection of #POTUS44 in The Atlantic magazine. In “My President Was Black,” Coates, a Black thought leader and New York Times-bestselling author of Between the World and Me, riffs on President Obama in a potent, yet lacking, meditation on race, racism, and the identity politics of tightrope dancing as the leader of the free world.

In this and previous essays, Coates examines the kaleidoscopic nature of POTUS44’s racial identity through a strictly Black lens. As a result, he never quite grasps how the nuances and complexities of Obama’s Biraciality intersect with his governance as The First Black President.

The “my President is Biracial” concept not an easy equation to understand unless you are one of the folks whose lineage spills outside the narrow lines of identities limited to the constricting binary that is racial identity in the USA

Read the entire article here.

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On Creoles, Colorism and Confronting our Triggers

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-01 01:27Z by Steven

On Creoles, Colorism and Confronting our Triggers

Black and Blewish
2016-02-13

TaRessa Stovall

By now everyone with media access knows of (and likely has an opinion about) Beyoncé’s new “Formation” video and Super Bowl halftime performance. She dropped the video on an otherwise slow news Saturday, February 6, and on the very next day, she symbolically won the Super Bowl by eclipsing headline halftime performers Coldplay and adjunct Bruno Mars, generating more headlines and conversation than the actual game.

The first wave of responses was a fairly unanimous rave by Black women for the I Love My Black Self, Family and Culture symbolism that season “Formation.” The second, post-Super Bowl, was dissecting Bey & Company’s performance nods to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which shares a 50th anniversary year with the Super Bowl and took root in the Bay Area, near the Super Bowl’s stadium in Santa Clara, California on the day when Trayvon Martin would have turned 21 and the weekend when Sandra Bland would have turned 29 had they not been victims of brutally racist murders…

…Beyond all the pro-vs.-anti Bey brouhaha, what got my attention was when Dr. Yaba Blay, a well-known expert on Black racial identity and colorism, shared her own responses to “Formation,” in Colorlines, and outed a truth with which many of us wrestle: how to balance our awareness of blatant Black-on-Black colorism when it’s embodied in otherwise enjoyable African American and (at least somewhat) affirming popular culture.

While we all know intellectually that colorism is global and in no way specific to African Americans, it doesn’t lessen the pain felt by those on the receiving end. My own admitted obsession with colorism moves me to call it out and confront it more often than is popular. I feel a strong kinship with Dr. Yaba, a respected leader in this realm, and others who believe the only way we can move past this internalized oppression and dimension of racism is to confront, wrestle with and move through it…

Read the entire article here.

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