‘Just a little more free’

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2022-11-26 21:23Z by Steven

‘Just a little more free’

Harvard Law Today

Jeff Neal, Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations
Harvard Law School

Credit: Lorin Granger

At the inaugural Belinda Sutton Distinguished Lecture, Johns Hopkins Professor Martha Jones chronicles her journey into her family’s ties to slavery and to Harvard

At the inaugural Belinda Sutton Distinguished Lecture, Johns Hopkins University Professor Martha S. Jones recounted her family’s historic and ongoing connections both to the institution of slavery and to several academic institutions, including Harvard. Jones, whose work examines how Black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy, leads her university’s Hard Histories at Hopkins Project, which works to uncover the role that racism and discrimination have played at the Baltimore-based institution.

The event at which Jones spoke honors Belinda Sutton, a woman who had been enslaved by Isaac Royall Jr., whose 1781 bequest to Harvard College funded a professorship that helped to establish Harvard Law in 1817. The annual lecture and conference series was established earlier this year at Harvard Law School and is organized by Guy-Uriel E. Charles, the Charles J. Ogletree Jr. Professor of Law and faculty director of the Charles Hamilton Institute for Race and Justice…

Read the entire article here.

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The Proud Portrait of Richard T. Greener

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, United States on 2022-06-19 23:27Z by Steven

The Proud Portrait of Richard T. Greener

The Crimson

Sophia S. Liang, Staff Writer

A new portrait of Richard T. Greener was unveiled at a ceremony in Annenberg Hall in 2016. By Thomas W. Franck

Greener’s rosy recollection of Harvard reflects a series of contradictions that characterized his life, both during and after college. Greener was a light-skinned Black man straddling racial divides in a segregated world. He received life-changing opportunities at a university where he struggled with loneliness and lacked faculty support. And despite his tremendous contributions in activism and public service, he remains relatively unknown to historians today.

In an 1881 speech at the Harvard Club of New York, Richard T. Greener, Class of 1870, lavished his alma mater with praise: “[Harvard] answered the rising spirit of independence and liberty by abolishing all distinctions founded upon color, blood, and rank,” he told an applauding audience. “There has been but one test for all. Ability, character, and merit — these are the sole passports to her favor.”

Such sentimental remarks may come as something of a surprise coming from the first Black graduate of Harvard College. The University, after all, had not been a friendly place to most who came before him and many who came after — nor, at times, to Greener. Indeed, the Harvard Club of Washington, D.C. would reject his own application four years later for no reason other than his race.

Greener’s rosy recollection of Harvard reflects a series of contradictions that characterized his life, both during and after college. Greener was a light-skinned Black man straddling racial divides in a segregated world. He received life-changing opportunities at a university where he struggled with loneliness and lacked faculty support. And despite his tremendous contributions in activism and public service, he remains relatively unknown to historians today…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Black & Jewish Talk Series’ starts with ‘A Conversation’

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2021-10-07 19:11Z by Steven

‘Black & Jewish Talk Series’ starts with ‘A Conversation’

The Harvard Gazette

Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Harvard Staff Writer

Exploring their identities through culture, politics, and religion

The Center for Jewish Studies and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research debut Monday “Black & Jewish: A Conversation,” the first installment of a new joint venture to shed light on the multifaceted nature of Black and Jewish identities in North America.

“Black & Jewish” is the first of three scheduled events this semester in the “Black & Jewish Talk Series,” focused on culture, politics, and religion.

“There is a lot of focus on the relationship between Black communities and Jewish communities in the U.S., but Black and Jewish identity hasn’t received very much scholarly attention,” said Sara Feldman, a preceptor of Yiddish in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and a co-organizer of the series. “There are many people in the United States who identify as both Black and Jewish. It’s time that their voices are amplified here at Harvard.”

“Black and Jewish: A Conversation,” takes place with vocalist and composer Anthony Russell and Rebecca Pierce, a writer and filmmaker. The discussion will be moderated by Katya Gibel Mevorach, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Grinnell College, and will focus on how Jewish diversity is discussed in public life and how it can and should change…

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Harvard Undergrads Form First Campus Group for Mixed-Race Students

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-21 18:57Z by Steven

Harvard Undergrads Form First Campus Group for Mixed-Race Students

The Harvard Crimson
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ruth A. Hailu and Olivia C. Scott, Crimson Staff Writers

Fall in Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard Photo: Amy Y. Li

The Harvard Undergraduate Union of Mixed Students received official recognition from the Undergraduate Council earlier this month to become the first group on campus for all mixed race students.

Since they began recruiting members last week, the group has attracted plenty of immediate interest, and its membership list now includes more than 100 students. Founders Iris R. Feldman ’20, Antonia Scott ’20, and Isaiah Johnson ’20 said they want the organization to serve as an inclusive space for all identities shaped by the needs and ideas of its members.

Scott said she was partially inspired to create the group after seeing mixed race organizations at other colleges, and she wanted to replicate the same experience at Harvard, which did not have a mixed race group on campus…

Read the entire article here.

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What Is Critical Race Theory?

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-27 16:31Z by Steven

What Is Critical Race Theory?

Harvard Magazine

Marina Bolotnikova

Khiara Bridges Photograph courtesy of Khiara Bridges

RACIAL-JUSTICE ACTIVISTS at Harvard Law School (HLS) won one of the largest public battles over the school’s legacy this month, when the administration agreed to abandon the existing HLS shield. The shield was modeled after the crest of the slaveholding Royall family, whose fortune endowed Harvard’s first law professorship; the shield’s removal was the first of a list of demands issued in December by student group Reclaim Harvard Law School. But HLS has not, so far, acted on the group’s larger, more controversial demands—among them, creating a program in critical race theory, a legal-studies movement with origins at Harvard in the 1970s.

On Monday night, Reclaim HLS hosted a critical race theory teach-in by Khiara Bridges, an associate law professor at Boston University, modeled on how she teaches first-year criminal law. “We’re not pretending that we’re disconnected from the real world,” Bridges said as she opened her presentation, alluding to one of the motivating goals of critical race theory: to link activism with academics. The event took place in the student lounge of Wasserstein Hall, which members of Reclaim HLS have occupied for the last month to create opportunities for learning and discussion, and to bring visibility to their demands…

Read the entire article here.

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“A columnist examining Obama’s background summed up his racial identity into one equation: ‘white + black = black.’ For me, that said it all.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-12-26 21:09Z by Steven

The media’s metadiscussion explicitly endorsed a definition of Obama’s race that was essentially intersubjective, basing its racial descriptor on a combination of self-identification and ascription by others. Their reasoning, while not to be taken as gospel, explicitly endorsed the use of racial descriptors which were intersubjectively agreed upon. For instance, the Associated Press, whose articles and analysis dominate newspaper discussions of politics and race through both reputation and sheer numbers, endorsed such a view. As Karen Hunter, the Reader Representative at the Hartford Courant, explained in 2008, “Because The Courant relies on the Associated Press for much of its national coverage of the presidential race, the AP plays a key role in how the newspaper presents the candidates.” In accounting for the AP’s decision to use of “black” and “African American” as the proper – and essentially interchangeable – descriptors for Obama, AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman explained, “I would say the answer has to do partly with the way Sen. Obama has defined himself and partly with the way American society defines someone who is biracial.” While Silverman implied a static public definition of black and biracial individuals, and ignored his organization’s own role in creating and shifting these definitions, the AP relied on what it perceived to be the intersubjective consensus in order to determine Obama’s race, rather than any set of facts related to American rules regarding blackness. Nowhere in Silverman’s recapitulation of the AP’s behind-the-scenes discussions does he mention Obama’s parentage, hypodescent, biology, or other American rules of race, although they perhaps form the background of “the way American society defines someone.”

The Washington Post, Hartford Courant, and New York Times editorial boards were among the media to take similar stances. While endorsing and explaining the AP’s use of an intersubjective standard in deciding how to describe Obama, the Hartford Courant stated that,“Obama’s candidacy is a rare and riveting opportunity exactly because it is forcing conversations about issues that have been easier to ignore for centuries.” And in CNN’s “Behind the Scenes” look at it’s coverage of Obama’s race, Jay Carrol somewhat retrospectively summed up the media’s predominate position, writing, “A columnist examining Obama’s background summed up his racial identity into one equation: ‘white + black = black.’ For me, that said it all.” While the piece is entitled “Obama: Black or Biracial?” and Carrol continues with a discussion that claims the answer is complicated, the “accuracy” of the description is treated as an academic exercise attendant to the obvious conclusion based on an assumed social ascription.

Peter Geller, “Making Blackness, Making Policy,” PhD diss., Harvard University, 2012. 42-43. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9548618.

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Making Blackness, Making Policy

Posted in Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-12-26 19:01Z by Steven

Making Blackness, Making Policy

Harvard University
178 pages

Peter Geller

Doctoral Dissertation

Too often the acknowledgment that race is a social construction ignores exactly how this construction occurs. By illuminating the way in which the category of blackness and black individuals are made, we can better see how race matters in America. Antidiscrimination policy, social science research, and the state’s support of its citizens can all be improved by an accurate and concrete definition of blackness.

Making Blackness, Making Policy argues that blackness and black people are literally made rather than discovered. The social construction of blackness involves the naming of individuals as black, and the subsequent interaction between this naming and racial projects. The process of naming involves an intersubjective dialogue in which racial self-identification and ascription by others lead to a consensus on an individual’s race. These third parties include an individual’s community, the media, and, crucially, the state. Following Ian Hacking, this process is most properly termed the dynamic nominalism of blackness.

My dissertation uses analytic philosophy, qualitative and quantitative research, and historical analysis to defend this conception. The dynamic nominalist process is illustrated through the media’s contribution to the making of Barack Obama’s blackness, and the state’s creation and maintenance of racial categories through law, policy, and enumeration.

I then argue that the state’s dominant role in creating blackness, and the vital role that a black identity plays in millions’ sense of self, requires the United States Government to support a politics of recognition. The state’s antidiscrimination efforts would also improve through the adoption of a dynamic nominalism of blackness. Replacing the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission’s inconsistent and contradictory definitions of race with the dynamic nominalism of blackness would clarify when and how racial discrimination occurs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Making Blackness Across Disciplines
  • Chapter One: The Dynamic Nominalism of Blackness
  • Chapter Two: Barack Obama and the Making of Black People
  • Chapter Three: The State and the Centrality of Black Identity
  • Chapter Four: Definitions of Race and Antidiscrimination Policy
  • Conclusion: Making Use of Making Blackness
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Violent Disruptions: Richard Wright and William Faulkner’s Racial Imaginations

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-26 19:58Z by Steven

Violent Disruptions: Richard Wright and William Faulkner’s Racial Imaginations

Harvard University
September 2013
177 pages

Linda Doris Mariah Chavers

A dissertation presented to The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of African and African American Studies

Violent Disruptions contends that the works of Richard Wright and William Faulkner are mirror images of each other and that each illustrates American race relations in distinctly powerful and prescient ways. While Faulkner portrays race and American identity through sex and its relationship to the imagination, Wright reveals a violent undercurrent beneath interracial encounters that the shared imagination triggers. Violent Disruptions argues that the spectacle of the interracial body anchors the cultural imaginations of our collective society and, as it embodies and symbolizes American slavery, drives the violent acts of individuals. Interracial productions motivate the narratives of Richard Wright and William Faulkner through a system of displacement of signs. Though these tropes maintain their currency today, they are borne out of cultural imaginings over two hundred years old. Working within the framework of the imaginary, Violent Disruptions places these now historical texts into the twenty-first century’s discourse of race and American identity.

In the first part of the dissertation, I show in detail the various narratives at work in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (1936) in order to portray the imaginations shared by the white characters and disrupted by the interracial body as spectacle. Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) depicts a similar racial imaginary but with more focus on its violent, corporeal effects. By contrast, in the second half of the dissertation, I demonstrate the writers’ central and racially charged characters from their earlier works, Light in August (1932) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin [Children] (1938; 1940) and look at how the figures of Joe Christmas and Big Boy, respectively, work as literary prototypes for their version in later works.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Photo Gallery Highlights Multiracial Student Experiences

Posted in Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2015-10-27 00:17Z by Steven

Photo Gallery Highlights Multiracial Student Experiences

The Havard Crimson

Aafreen Azmi, Contributing Writer

Brandon J. Dixon, Contributing Writer

Students study the portraits on display at “OTHER: A Multiracial Student Photo Gallery” at the exhibition’s opening on Sunday afternoon. Eliza R. Pugh

Students expressed their desire to define their racial identities on their own terms at “OTHER: A Multiracial Student Photo Gallery,” which opened in the Student Organization Center at Hilles on Sunday.

Amanda Mozea ’17, who organized the exhibit, described it as an attempt to highlight the struggles that many multiracial students at Harvard face.

The exhibit features more than 50 models who identify as multiracial, each of whom posed for a portrait and answered a series of questions displayed in a written transcript. The questions included, “How does the government define your race? How do others define your race? How do you define yourself?”…

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Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-30 14:23Z by Steven

Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

The Harvard Crimson: The University Daily since 1873
Harvard University

Maia R. Silber, Crimson Staff Writer

While last year’s “I, Too, Am Harvard” focused on identity and belongingness on a multiracial campus, Harvard’s AAPI students will also examine these concepts within the context of their own community.

It is a Saturday night, and it is raining—two factors counting against attendance at the talk co-hosted by Harvard’s Asian American Brotherhood and Black Men’s Forum. But a surprising number of people have filtered through the double doors of Boylston Hall, filling the plush red chairs only vaguely oriented around an old-fashioned projector. Stragglers lean against the shade-less windows, their elbows forming perpendicular angles with the droplets pounding on the other side.

Really, it’s no surprise that neither weather nor the opportunity cost of missed social engagements has deterred the audience; the talk centers on the buzz-worthy issue of affirmative action. Both campus groups have invited an alumnus who’s an expert on the issue for two short presentations, to be followed by a Q&A.

Gregory D. Kristof ’15, the education and politics director of AAB, a campus organization whose mission statement cites dedication to brotherhood, service, and activism, introduces AAB’s alumnus. Kristof focuses on the third part of AAB’s mission—the group’s discussions of discrimination and race-relations.

“We can only make so much progress if we only discuss these issues among AAB—among Asian Americans,” he says.

As discussions about race and inclusiveness have moved to the forefront of campus life with the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign, many Asian American student organizations have launched their own dialogues about issues pertinent to their community. But the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at Harvard—representing around 24 percent of the school’s population—encompasses individuals of dozens of different national, ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious identities. It includes students born here and students born in Asia, biracial students and multiracial students. How can a unified political force emerge from such a diverse and multifaceted population? Is this even a goal to aspire to?…

…Many students remain unsure as to how to define their own identities. “Sometimes I think of myself as Asian, but sometimes I don’t,” said Jacob. “When I see an Asian collaboration happening, do I automatically think that we should be included? Not necessarily.”

“Asian American” identities are further complicated by biracial and multiracial heritages. Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association holds an annual discussion called “So What Are You Anyway?”…

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