How Bernardine Evaristo Conquered British Literature

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2022-02-15 23:03Z by Steven

How Bernardine Evaristo Conquered British Literature

The New Yorker

Anna Russell
London, United Kingdom

There were people who thought my career was great as it was,” Evaristo says. “But they didn’t know what I really wanted for myself, you know?
Photograph by Ekua King / Evening Standard / eyevine / Redux

In a new memoir, the writer describes how she was long excluded from the halls of literary power, and how she finally broke in.

hen the British author Bernardine Evaristo was in her early twenties, she and her drama-school friends would go to London’s theatres and heckle the performances. “It wouldn’t have been anything like ‘Rubbish!’ because it was a political heckling,” Evaristo, now sixty-two, told me recently. They would have been more likely to yell “Sexist!” or “Racist!” and then disappear, giddily, into the night. Recounting the habit this past December, Evaristo put on a mock posh accent and called it “appalling, appalling behavior.” The week prior, she had been named president of the U.K.’s Royal Society of Literature, becoming the first person of color to hold the position in the organization’s two-hundred-year history. (She is also the first who did not attend at least one of the following: Oxford, Cambridge, Eton.) Evaristo has some sympathy for her younger, angrier self. If social media had been around in her youth, she thinks she might have been one of what she calls the “Rabid Wolves of the Twittersphere.” “But we do need these renegades out there, don’t we?” she said. “We do need these people who will just lob a verbal hand grenade.”

Since 2011, Evaristo and her husband, David Shannon, have lived on the outskirts of West London, where she has dubbed herself “Mz Evaristo of Suburbia.” When I met her at her home recently, the doors to each room were painted a different bright color: blue, yellow, pink. Evaristo is tall, with a booming laugh. It’s been a long time since she has heckled anyone. These days, she sees herself as a diplomatic, modernizing force at the top of the British literary establishment from which she was long excluded. “The person I am today no longer throws stones at the fortress,” she writes in her new memoir, “Manifesto: On Never Giving Up,” which was published in the U.S. by Grove Atlantic last month. She used to laugh when people told her to think before she spoke. Now: “I’m so careful about everything I say.”…

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“No matter how white I look, on the inside I feel black. There are many whites who are mixed blood, but still go by white, why such a big deal if I go as Negro, because people can’t believe that I am proud to be a Negro and not white.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2022-02-15 21:53Z by Steven

“I am an American citizen and by God, we all have inalienable rights and wherever those rights are tampered with, there is nothing left to do but fight…and I fight. How many people do you think there are in this country who do not have mixed blood, there’s very few if any, what makes us who we are, are our culture and experience. No matter how white I look, on the inside I feel black. There are many whites who are mixed blood, but still go by white, why such a big deal if I go as Negro, because people can’t believe that I am proud to be a Negro and not white. To prove I don’t buy white superiority I chose to be a Negro.”

Fredi Washington, (1945)

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Afro Germany – being black and German | DW Documentary

Posted in Anthropology, Autobiography, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Videos on 2022-02-15 21:46Z by Steven

Afro Germany – being black and German | DW Documentary

DW Documentary

Black and German: news anchor Jana Pareigis has spent her entire life being asked about her skin color and afro hair. What is it like to be Black in Germany? What needs to change?

In our documentary “Afro Germany”, Pareigis travels through Germany to speak with other black Germans, including rap and hip hop artists and pro footballers, and find out what their experiences of racism in Germany have been. “Where are you from?” Afro-German journalist Jana Pareigis has heard that question since her early childhood. And she’s not alone. Black people have been living in Germany for around 400 years, and today there are an estimated one million Germans with dark skin. But they still get asked the often latently racist question, “Where are you from?” Jana Pareigis is familiar with the undercurrents of racism in the western world. When she was a child, the Afro-German TV presenter also thought her skin color was a disadvantage. “When I was young, I wanted to be white,” she says. Pareigis takes us on a trip through Germany from its colonial past up to the present day, visiting other Black Germans to talk about their experiences. They include German rapper and hip hop artist Samy Deluxe, pro footballer Gerald Asamoah and Theodor Michael, who lived as a Black man in the Third Reich. They talk about what it’s like to be Black in Germany.

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Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2022-02-15 21:30Z by Steven

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

Grove Atlantic
240 pages
5.5″ x 8.25″
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-5890-1
eBook ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-5891-8

Bernardine Evaristo

From the bestselling and Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo’s memoir of her own life and writing, and her manifesto on unstoppability, creativity, and activism

Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win was an historic and revolutionary occasion. The first Black woman and first Black British person ever to win the prize, Evaristo’s breathtaking Girl, Woman, Other was dubbed “godlike in its scope and insight” by the Washington Post, named a favorite book by President Obama, Roxane Gay, and countless other readers, and translated into thirty-five languages.

Evaristo’s nonfiction debut, Manifesto, is an intimate and inspirational account of Evaristo’s life and career as she rebelled against the mainstream to fight to bring her creative work into the world. She recalls her childhood and teenaged years as a young actor and playwright in London, details her early political awakenings and activism, and recounts her determination to tell stories that were absent in the literary world around her. In her over three decades of centering the stories and histories of Black Britons, Evaristo refused to let any barriers stand in her way. In Manifesto, she charts her theory of unstoppability, and explains how she broke with convention to achieve fulfillment both artistic and personal. Drawing deeply on her own varied experiences and the people who have inspired her, Evaristo offers a vital contribution to conversations around race, class, feminism, sexuality, and aging.

Manifesto is a unique inspiration to us all to persist in doing work that we believe in, even when we might feel overlooked or discounted, following in Evaristo’s footsteps, from first vision, to continued perseverance, to eventual triumph.

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‘Fredi’ Washington: Savannah’s Civil Rights Starlet

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Justice on 2022-02-15 18:50Z by Steven

‘Fredi’ Washington: Savannah’s Civil Rights Starlet

Freeman’s Rag

Michael Freeman
Savannah, Georgia

Fredi Washington

Savannah has been home to many celebrities. Whether it be Academy Award winner Charles Coburn, Stacey Keach of Mike Hammer fame, Johnny Mercer, the Lady Chablis, or Paula Dean, Savannah has never been without a dash of the famous. But Fredricka Washington (Fredi) was probably the celebrity known most for her groundbreaking ways. She was born in 1903 here in Savannah. She lived here until she was thirteen when her mother died. At that time she was sent to live with her grandmother in Pennsylvania.

At the age of 16 she went to New York where she was discovered by Josephine Baker. Baker hired Fredi for a cabaret show called the Happy Honeysuckles. Fredi was a talented entertainer and quickly created a dancing career. She danced with her partner Al Moiret throughout the world. Her film career did not start until she was in her thirties. In 1926, Washington was recommended for a co-starring role on the Broadway stage with Paul Robeson in Black Boy. This was a big break in her acting career. In 1934 she appeared in the film ‘Imitation of Life’. She played the part of a black woman who passed for white. The film would earn an Academy Award Nomination for best picture. Time magazine would rank the film one of “The 25 Most Important Films on Race”. Because of her light colored skin many people thought she would actually want to ‘pass’ and was ashamed of her black heritage. In 1945 in response to a question on the subject she said:

“You see I’m a mighty proud gal, and I can’t for the life of me find any valid reason why anyone should lie about their origin, or anything else for that matter. Frankly, I do not ascribe to the stupid theory of white supremacy and to try to hide the fact that I am a Negro for economic or any other reasons. If I do, I would be agreeing to be a Negro makes me inferior and that I have swallowed whole hog all of the propaganda dished out by our fascist-minded white citizens.”…

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“A Free America for All Peoples …”: Fredi Washington, the Negro Actors Guild, and the Voice of the People

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-02-15 17:41Z by Steven

“A Free America for All Peoples …”: Fredi Washington, the Negro Actors Guild, and the Voice of the People

The Journal of African American History
Volume 105, Number 3 (Summer 2020)
DOI: 10.1086/709201

Laurie A. Woodard, Assistant Professor of History
The City College of New York, New York, New York

Focusing on the work of New Negro performing artist Fredi Washington as a writer and activist during the 1930s and 1940s, this article places an African American female performing artist at the center of the narrative of the New Negro Renaissance, illuminates the vital influence of Black female performing artists on the movement, and demonstrates the ways in which Washington and the New Negro Renaissance are central components of the social transformation of twentieth-century America. Washington’s fusion of artistry and activism, her determination to fight oppression on myriad fronts and in myriad forms, casts her as an influential actor in the unremitting African American quest for civil and human rights. Her life and her work make visible the significance of the performing arts within the movement and enhance our understanding of the scope and texture of the activism of Black performing artists and of Black women. Her experience brings the Renaissance into the progressive movements of the early twentieth century and illuminates its role as a keystone in the foundation of the Black Freedom Movement.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Opinion: New Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about his Blackness

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2022-02-15 15:52Z by Steven

Opinion: New Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about his Blackness


Mike Freeman, Race and Inequality Editor–Sports

Mike McDaniel (left) and wide receiver Justin Hardy (16) when McDaniel was an offensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons. Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports

When I saw that Mike McDaniel was hired as Miami Dolphins coach, and the scarily ugly racial twist the hire started to take on social media, the first person I thought of was my daughter.

The McDaniel hire, and subsequent conversations, focused on a central question: what is Black?

And it comes at a time in American history where race is everything. It’s always been everything but the influence of the white nationalist former President is still strong. He inspired a group of mostly white supremacists to storm the Capitol. Not coincidentally hate crimes have risen in recent years. In other words, the uglier parts of racism are making a comeback like the hockey-mask wearing Jason from Friday the 13th.

It’s impossible not to put the McDaniel story in this context.

As for my girl, she is a dream of a daughter: smart, funny, and a stunningly good athlete. My daughter, like McDaniel, is biracial, and she looks white. With straight, blondish hair and blue eyes. Her looks, combined with my dark Black skin, have led to some staggeringly racist moments when we’re in public, since apparently people don’t know how genetics work. Once, a white woman thought I was her babysitter. Another thought I was her driver. “Are you her chauffer?” she asked…

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ASU professor takes leadership of NEA

Posted in Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-02-15 02:24Z by Steven

ASU professor takes leadership of NEA

ASU News
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Mary Beth Faller, Reporter

Jackson sees opportunity in re-imagining the role of arts in creating healthy communities

An Arizona State University professor is taking over the nation’s top arts agency just as arts organizations are working to re-emerge from the pandemic.

Maria Rosario Jackson is the first African American and Mexican American to lead the National Endowment for the Arts. She was confirmed by the Senate in December.

Jackson is an Institute Professor in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and holds an appointment in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. She is on leave from ASU while she fulfills her term as the NEA’s 13th chair.

Read the entire news release here.

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