‘High Yella:’ A Multiflavored Family Memoir Of Race, Love And Loss

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-10-29 17:05Z by Steven

‘High Yella:’ A Multiflavored Family Memoir Of Race, Love And Loss


Dawn Ennis, Contributor, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Cover of “High Yella” by Steve Majors The University of Georgia Press

“I was born a poor Black child.”

Fans of writer and actor Steve Martin’s early work will recognize those words from his 1979 comedy, The Jerk. Readers of Steve Majors’ powerful family memoir, High Yella, learn early on that the author used this memorable line in a key moment of courtship; An awkward attempt to use humor to explain a childhood marked by racism, shadeism, poverty, abuse, alcoholism, homophobia and the black magic that Black women in his family called “hoodoo.”

“The fact that I was born a poor Black child was just a part of my past,” Majors writes. “The full story of how that poor Black child grew up and escaped his past is wilder and crazier than any screenplay Steve Martin could ever dream up.”

The central part of High Yella involves race, identity and family. Majors, 55, is a light-skinned, cisgender Black gay man from upstate New York who was the youngest of five children, raised Roman Catholic, and married to a cis, white, gay Jewish man. He writes how he “checked boxes” when he needed to, and is perpetually plagued by people who presume to question his identity because he is white-passing. Majors also shares his own challenges—and failings—as a parent, and recounts painful recollections of family dysfunction and strife as a child…

Read the entire interview here.

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Dear Hollywood: Let’s Stop Making Movies Like “Black or White”

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-31 01:48Z by Steven

Dear Hollywood: Let’s Stop Making Movies Like “Black or White”


Rebecca Theodore

Halfway through the family drama “Black Or White,” Jeremiah Jeffers (Anthony Mackie) an Ivy-League educated lawyer, chastises his drug addict nephew Reggie (Andre Holland) in the midst of helping him regain custody of his daughter by asking, “Why do you have to be such a stereotype?”

A question I repeatedly asked myself as I had to suffer through yet another one of Hollywood’s latest “White Is Right” films about racial relations. In “Black or White” Kevin Costner stars as Elliot Anderson, a successful lawyer who is left to raise his biracial granddaughter Eloise, when his wife dies unexpectedly. Elliot’s life becomes further complicated with an escalating drinking problem and a fight for Eloise from her absentee father and paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer).

Black or White” is the Iggy Azalea of race films – it operates under the guise of being progressive and furthering the “conversation” about race, but only serves to exalt Whiteness by marginalizing Blackness. The movie is chock full of Black tropes and stereotypes; the overbearing matriarch who coddles and enables her son’s inexcusable behavior, the “Angry Black Man” (Mackie) and the “Magical Negro” with Duvan (Mpho Koaho), who starts off as a math tutor for Eloise, but soon finds himself dispensing wise advice and becoming a personal chauffeur to Elliot when he’s too drunk to drive.

You would think in 2015 Hollywood would have evolved from such reductive narratives about race, but according to Dr. Jason Johnson, a political analyst and a professor of political science at Hiram College, it’s business as usual. “It is part of a genre movie we have always had, that’s making a comeback which I like to call the “Reasonable White Man” movie,” Johnson explains. “They are films that are ostensibly about race but are extended polemics where so-called progressive Whites are saying ‘I’m the only one who has a reasonable perspective on this and Blacks are irrational and unreasonable.”…

Read the entire review here.

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Racism And Redemption At The Tournament Of Roses Parade

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-02 02:59Z by Steven

Racism And Redemption At The Tournament Of Roses Parade


Andrew Bender, Business Travel Blogger

Joan Williams holds the portrait from 1957, when she was Miss Crown City. On January 1, 2015, after 57 years, she will finally get to ride in the Tournament of Roses Parade. (Photo credit: Savannah Wood)

The theme of 2015′s Tournament of Roses Parade is “Inspiring Stories,” and the person leading it has a doozy: a tale of racism and redemption from a 57-year-old injustice involving the parade itself.

Riding on the first float in the 126th edition of this New Year’s Day tradition, before some 700,000 spectators in Pasadena, Calif. and an estimated 70 million television viewers, will be 82-year-old Joan Williams. She was first slated to ride in the parade in 1958 as Miss Crown City, but later denied the honor because she was African-American.

In 1957, Williams, her husband and two daughters had just moved to Pasadena (about 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles), where she worked for the city’s Department of Water and Power. She didn’t even know there was a Miss Crown City – a Pasadena city employee who appeared at civic ceremonies and rode on the city’s Rose Parade float – until her colleagues had nominated her for the position…

Read the entire article here.

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