Foreshadowing Failure: Mulatto and Black Oral Discourse and the Upending of The Western Design in Thomas Gage’s A New Survey (1648)

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2022-03-31 23:19Z by Steven

Foreshadowing Failure: Mulatto and Black Oral Discourse and the Upending of The Western Design in Thomas Gage’s A New Survey (1648)

Volume 102, Number 4, December 2019
pages 583-600
DOI: 10.1353/hpn.2019.0105

Monica Styles, Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish
Colby College, Waterville, Maine

Thomas Gage wrote A New Survey of the West Indies or, The English American his Travel by Sea and Land (1648) with the aim to convince Oliver Cromwell that the English could successfully invade Spanish held American territories. The English attempt to invade the Spanish colonies in 1655 would not garner non-Whites’ unwavering aid, which is a decisive factor in the Western Design’s failure. Although subalterns in the region rebelled against Spanish hegemony, they were by no means in constant revolt as Gage suggested. They had also carved out an integral place within Spanish American society and culture. Mulattos are subaltern agents whose defining role in the Western Design’s collapse has not been considered sufficiently. Though they were Afro-descendants, Mulattos were racially ambiguous tricksters who disturbed hierarchies. Mulattos sought autonomy by forming alliances with Europeans—be they Spanish, English, French or Dutch—as well as with Amerindian communities, to the extent that these relationships afforded them relative autonomy within hierarchical colonial power structures. Mulattos’ oral and embodied discourses within Gage’s text exemplify their agency and shifting alliances.

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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

Michigan Radio

“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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“What are you?” Reactions to American Racial Rhetoric among Mixed and Multiracial Caribbeans

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science on 2022-03-31 17:30Z by Steven

“What are you?” Reactions to American Racial Rhetoric among Mixed and Multiracial Caribbeans

Charisse L’Pree, Ph.D.: Media Made Me Crazy

Charisse L’Pree, Associate Professor of Communications
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Historically, the United States has had tumultuous relationship with mixed and multiracial individuals within its borders; interracial marriage was illegal until 1967, and the one-drop rule continues affect racial discourse. Combined with the hegemonic power of American culture, the effect of this rhetoric is especially evident in neighboring cultures with different social constructions of race. This paper explores the experiences of young adults in the United States and the Caribbean who identify as mixed or multiracial, and their use of social media to publicly identify and affect this conversation.

To be “mixed” is to contain different qualities or elements. Although racial categorizations can differ from culture to culture, much of the literature regarding the identity of mixed individuals has emerged from the United States and Western Europe. In these communities, multiracial individuals are less than 3% of the population and considered to be between groups. Stereotypes like the “tragic mulatto” describe the psychological stress that multiracial individuals can experience as simultaneously ostracized and exoticized anomalies. They are the targets of curiosity, resulting in the common question: “What are you?”

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A Dialectic of Race Discourses: The Presence/Absence of Mixed Race at the State, Institution, and Civil Society and Voluntary and Community Sector Levels in the United Kingdom

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2022-03-31 16:40Z by Steven

A Dialectic of Race Discourses: The Presence/Absence of Mixed Race at the State, Institution, and Civil Society and Voluntary and Community Sector Levels in the United Kingdom

Chinelo L. Njaka, Independent Researcher
London, United Kingdom

Social Sciences
Volume 11, Number 2, Special Issue “Multiracial Identities and Experiences in/under White Supremacy”
Published 2022-02-21
DOI: 10.3390/socsci11020086

For the twenty years that mixed race has been on the United Kingdom (UK) censuses, the main story of mixed race in the UK remains one notable for its nominal presence and widespread absence in national discourses on race and ethnicity, racialisation, and racisms. The article explores reasons for this through connecting the continued presence/absence of mixed race in public discursive spheres to the role that White supremacy continues to play at systemic, structural, and institutional levels within UK society. As technologies of White supremacy, the article argues that continued marginalisation of mixed race has a direct connection to systemic, structural, and institutional aspects of race, racialisation, and racisms. Using three case studies, the article will use race-critical analyses to examine the ways that mixed race is present and—more often—absent at three societal levels: the state, institution, and civil society and voluntary and community sector. The paper will conclude by exploring key broad consequences for the persistent and common presence/absence of mixed race within race and racisms discourses as a technology of political power. Working in tandem, the paper exposes that presence/absence continues to affect mixed race people—and all racialised people—living in and under White supremacy.

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Latinos have many skin tones. Colorism means they’re treated differently.

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2022-03-31 16:19Z by Steven

Latinos have many skin tones. Colorism means they’re treated differently.

The Washington Post

Rachel Hatzipanagos

Loribel Peguero, 22, a New York hairstylist, said her darker-skinned grandmother lamented that it was a “punishment.” (Christopher Gregory for The Washington Post)

Growing up, Anyiné Galván-Rodríguez was not the darkest-skinned member of her part-Dominican, part-Puerto Rican family, and not the lightest.

“In every Dominican family, because you have such a melting pot of Spaniard, African and Taino origins, you always have a rainbow of colors,” she said.

Even as a child, Galván-Rodríguez noticed that her physical features shaped how she was treated. While some grandchildren were praised for their looser curls, Galván-Rodríguez was chastised for her coarse, curly hair.

“No one ever directly said, ‘Oh you have bad hair and because you have bad hair, you’re less than the other cousin,’” said Galván-Rodríguez, 40. “But it was said like microaggressions.”…

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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

Michigan Radio

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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We need treatments based on actual and not assumed genetic variation.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2022-03-30 03:05Z by Steven

We need treatments based on actual and not assumed genetic variation. That means assessing the patterns of diversity that reflect the distribution of human genetic variation across the globe. To this end, genetic ancestry should be understood as a continuum that it is not categorized in such a way that serves as a surrogate for race (40). Contemporary usage of continental ancestry categories (e.g., European, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Oceanic, East Asian, American, and African) serves as an example of how presumed “ancestral” geographies are assumed as equivalent to biological categories and serve as a false proxy for race. Such groupings correspond to Western racial categorizations and assume genetic homogeneity based on geographical separation, but these groupings misrepresent the actual distribution of genetic variants and neglect continuous movement of people and the resulting degree of mixture across global populations.

Talia Krainc and Agustín Fuentes, “Genetic ancestry in precision medicine is reshaping the race debate,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 119, Number 12, Article e2203033119.

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Did George Washington Have an Enslaved Son?

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2022-03-30 02:55Z by Steven

Did George Washington Have an Enslaved Son?

The New Yorker

Jill Abramson, Journalist and Senior Lecturer
Harvard University

West Ford founded Gum Springs, a freedmen’s community, near Mount Vernon. Illustration by John P. Dessereau

West Ford’s descendants want to prove his parentage—and save the freedmen’s village he founded.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, two landmarks of early American history share an uneasy but inextricable bond. George Washington’s majestic Mount Vernon estate is one of the most popular historic homes in the country, visited by roughly a million people a year. Gum Springs, a small community about three miles north, is one of the oldest surviving freedmen’s villages, most of which were established during Reconstruction. The community was founded in 1833 by West Ford, who lived and worked at Mount Vernon for nearly sixty years, first as an enslaved teen-ager and continuing after he was freed. Following Washington’s death, in 1799, Ford helped manage the estate, and he maintained an unusually warm relationship with the extended Washington family.

Awareness of West Ford had faded both in Gum Springs and at Mount Vernon, but in recent years his story has been at the center of a bitter controversy between the two sites. His descendants have demanded that Mount Vernon recognize Ford for his contributions to the estate, which was near collapse during the decades after Washington’s death. They also argue—citing oral histories from two branches of the family—that Ford was Washington’s unacknowledged son, a claim that Mount Vernon officials have consistently denied. As that debate continues, Black civic organizations in Gum Springs are engaged in related battles to save their endangered community. They have resisted, with some success, Virginia’s planned expansion of Richmond Highway, which would encroach on the town, and they have embarked on the process of getting Gum Springs named a national historic site…

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Punta Music Has Never Been a Honduran ‘Thing,’ It Has Always Been a Black One

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2022-03-30 02:39Z by Steven

Punta Music Has Never Been a Honduran ‘Thing,’ It Has Always Been a Black One


Julaiza Alvarez

Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.

I was 12 years old when I went to my first fedu, a Garifuna word for a traditional gathering or party in Honduras. I was intrigued by how comfortable everyone was: The women dressed in traditional garments danced to the beat of the drum and sang to the sound of hands clapping. It was effortless. I had never seen anything like it. While I had been to family functions and seen my aunts dance, this did not compare. It was mesmerizing, especially with everyone being Black. It was different, and it set me on a journey to discover who I was.

Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, I struggled to find a sense of belonging in a community that did not accept me but accepted what my Blackness could give them. I wrestled with constantly being challenged to prove myself, not realizing that we are burdened with defending ourselves from the people we call our neighbors. Through music, Garifunas have told their story. But sadly, Punta is one of the countless Black musical movements that are having its history erased. The scene at my first fedu was unlike the music videos I grew up watching on YouTube where the Garifuna men would beat the drums, and the fair-skinned and dark-haired women would dance in front of them.

In my introduction to Punta, I saw my Blackness be celebrated. But to the rest of the world, their introduction to Punta showed my Blackness used as an accessory. Something you put on and take off when you are done with it. That’s why it is disheartening to watch the deliberate whitewashing of this sacred genre of music. The genre’s mainstream face is based on the misconception that Punta is the heartbeat of the Honduran people, the entirety of the country. In fact, this genre is rooted in a more specific community: the Garifuna people, the descendants of mixed West African and indigenous people that have historically resided on the Caribbean coast of Central America

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Aline Motta and the personal diving into collective memory

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive on 2022-03-29 20:28Z by Steven

Aline Motta and the personal diving into collective memory


Marcos Grinspum Ferraz

“Pontes sobre Abismos #17”, Aline Motta, Foto: Cortesia da artista

The multimedia artist, one of the winners of the 7th Marcantonio Vilaça Award, departs from a thorough research on his family history to address major topics such as slavery, African heritage and a patriarchal structure that remains in Brazil today

The journey of artist Aline Motta looking for her roots and the vestiges of her ancestors is undoubtedly a personal endeavour. The result, however, concerns the collective memory of thousands of Brazilian families built (or destroyed) in the violent process of the country’s formation, based on slavery and patriarchal structure.

“It took a while for me to acquire some maturity and psychic centering to deal with issues so deep and difficult that concern my own history and family,” she says in an interview with ARTE!Brasileiros. This maturation time included not only some early artwork that dealt with other topics, carried out especially from the beginning of this decade, but also a vast trajectory as a continuist in movies, which commenced in 2001.

It was from 2016, when she had the project Pontes sobre Abismos (Bridges over Abysses) selected by Itaú Cultural’s Rumos program, that Motta, now 45, began to devote herself full-time to authorial work, with a multimedia production that did not leave aside cinema, but also unfolded in installations, photographs, texts, publications and performances…

Read the entire interview here.

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