Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family

Posted in Arts, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-02-19 03:45Z by Steven

Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family

Random House
December 2002
160 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0195031720
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-0-375-82168-4

Shannon Lanier and Jane Feldman

Personal testimonies from descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings pose important questions about equality, freedom, and family.

On October 31, 1998, the Associated Press broke the news that there was finally scientific proof for what many people already knew was true, but others would not believe: Thomas Jefferson had a relationship with his slave Sally Hemings after the death of his wife. This DNA link was proven through the Eston Hemings line.

Jefferson’s Children is the story of the Jefferson and Hemings families, and their efforts to be recognized and united as proud descendants of this great American genius. Some discovered their heritage through written family records, and others have based their beliefs on oral histories. Regardless of their sources, many descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings want the world to know that skin color isn’t what makes a family.

Thomas Jefferson wrote about equality. He believed in freedom. Yet, he owned slaves. This contradiction in character raises many questions among historians and descendants as they unravel the “truth” about this complex man. Did he indeed father children with his slave, Sally Hemings? How would he view the issues of racism among his ancestors today?

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The Essential Barack Obama

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-09-22 01:21Z by Steven

The Essential Barack Obama

Random House
Abridged Compact Disc
ISBN: 978-0-7393-7594-5

Barack Obama, President of the United States

A CD collection featuring the best-selling audiobooks, The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father from Grammy® award-winning author, Barack Obama.

The Audacity of Hope

In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Senator Obama called “the audacity of hope.”

Now, in The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama calls for a different brand of politics–a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces–from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media–that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

At the heart of this book is Senator Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. He examines the growing economic insecurity of American families, the racial and religious tensions within the body politic, and the transnational threats–from terrorism to pandemic–that gather beyond our shores. And he grapples with the role that faith plays in a democracy–where it is vital and where it must never intrude. Underlying his stories about family, friends, members of the Senate, even the president, is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.

A senator and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic, and above all a student of history and human nature, Senator Obama has written a book of transforming power. Only by returning to the principles that gave birth to our Constitution, he says, can Americans repair a political process that is broken, and restore to working order a government that has fallen dangerously out of touch with millions of ordinary Americans. Those Americans are out there, he writes–“waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”

Dreams from My Father

In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.


The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color in a New Millennium (revised)

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2013-09-01 03:26Z by Steven

The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color in a New Millennium (revised)

Random House
304 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-307-74423-4

Kathy Russell-Cole, Vice President of Sales
Omar Supplies Inc.

Midge Wilson, Associate Dean; Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies
DePaul University

Ronald E. Hall, Professor of Social Work
Michigan State University

A provocative exploration of how Western standards of beauty are influencing cultures across the globe and impacting personal, professional, romantic and familial relationships. Processes like skin lightening in India, hair smoothing in Black America, eyelid reconstruction in China, and plastic surgery worldwide continue to rise in popularity for men and women facing discrimination from both within and outside of their own increasingly fluid ethnic groups. Now including a wealth of new information since the first edition of The Color Complex over two decades ago, the authors, through a historical and sociological lens, have measured the impact of recent pop culture events effecting race relations to determine whether colorism has gotten better or worse over time.


  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Emergence of Modern Colorism in the Americas
  • Chapter 2: The Global Rise of Colorism
  • Chapter 3: The Tiers of Color Prejudice in America
  • Chapter 4: The Color of Identity
  • Chapter 5: Hair Stories: Politics of the Straight and Nappy
  • Chapter 6: Families and Friends: Drawing the Color Lines
  • Chapter 7: The Match Game: Colorism and Courtship
  • Chapter 8: The (In)Justice of Color: Politics. Policies, and Perceptions
  • Chapter 9: The Narrative of Skin Color: Stories in Black and Light
  • Chapter 10: #TeamLightskinned: Color and the Media
  • Sources
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

The Emergence of Modern Colorism in the Americas

We begin in Europe in the late 1400s, when seafaring countries such as England, Spain, and Portugal were financing merchant voyages to find new trade routes to the Far East. The men returned instead with exciting tales of faraway places that were rich with gold, spices, and silks. The very notion that there existed unknown lands beyond the horizon set off a frenzy of empire building on the part of many European nations. This would later be known as the Age of Discovery, and it lasted well into the seventeenth century. After Christopher Columbus reached what he mistakenly believed were the Indies, and it was realized that vast new lands were available for plunder and colonization, European nations began financing more ship captains for even more expeditions with orders to stake claim to as many territories as they could find. It mattered little to the Europeans if indigenous peoples already were living in these “discovered” places. Europeans believed they were the superior race. As such, they saw it as their Christian duty to tame the “savage” natives and bring them civilization, a self-serving rationale that would persist for centuries—Rudyard Kipling would call it “the White man’s burden” as late as 1899.

During the early 1500s, the islands of the Caribbean—or “West Indies,” as they were mistakenly named by Columbus—were popular destinations for Portuguese and Spanish explorers, and other areas of Central and South America soon followed. While the hoped-for gold rarely materialized, it was recognized that the warm climates and rich soil in these new lands had the potential for growing cash crops like sugar and coffee. The crops were labor intensive, however, and for them to be profitable, a source of cheap labor was needed. At first, local indigenous people were captured and forced to work in the colonists’ fields, but there were not enough of them. Some White indentured servants from Europe ventured over, but again, not enough. The Portuguese, who already had explored the east coast of Africa, found the solution by bringing over the first slaves to the New World. This nation would continue to be the largest importer of slaves during the era of Atlantic slave trading.

African slaves poured in to work in the Americas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Throughout the Caribbean, the British, French, and Dutch had also claimed islands of their own, and they, too, needed slaves to work the sugar plantations. Conditions were ideal for race mixing to take place. Large numbers of individuals from different racial backgrounds were living and working side by side, and doing so under the rule of White plantation owners who were greatly outnumbered. In fact, it has been estimated that throughout the Caribbean, there was an average ratio of one White to ten Blacks and/or mulattoes, and in some of the most remote rural areas there could be as many as fifty slaves and/or mulattoes for every one White male. Finally, there was a significant gender imbalance. During the early years of slave trading, far more African males, with their greater upper-body strength (relative to that of females), were brought to the New World to clear the fields, but females were valued as well, and albeit in smaller numbers, they came too. Predictably, under the extreme conditions in many of these settlement outposts, the White men in charge raped the women who worked for them. But, to be fair, we should note that many romantic relationships and successful unions also came into existence during this time.

Racially mixed individuals, called “mulattoes” (a term considered derogatory by many today), began to make up significant segments of the population throughout Central and South America. They were people of every conceivable variety: those of mixed European and African blood, those of mixed European and indigenous blood, those of mixed African and indigenous blood, and subsequently every combination and permutation created by the mixed-race offspring of the first unions…

Read Chapter 1 here.

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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-04-17 02:14Z by Steven

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Random House
432 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-307-38246-7

Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo—a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son. 

Table of Contents

  • prologue, part 1 • February 26, 1806
  • prologue, part 2 • January 25, 2007
  • book one
    • chapter 1 • The Sugar Factory
    • chapter 2 • The Black Code
    • chapter 3 • Norman Conquest
    • chapter 4 • “No One Is a Slave in France”
    • chapter 5 • Americans in Paris
    • chapter 6 • Black Count in the City of Light
    • chapter 7 • A Queen’s Dragoon
  • book two
    • chapter 8 • Summers of Revolution
    • chapter 9 • “Regeneration by Blood”
    • chapter 10 • “The Black Heart Also Beats for Liberty”
    • chapter 11 • “Mr. Humanity”
    • chapter 12 • The Battle for the Top of the World
    • chapter 13 • The Bottom of the Revolution
    • chapter 14 • The Siege
    • chapter 15 • The Black Devil
  • book three
    • chapter 16 • Leader of the Expedition
    • chapter 17 • “The Delirium of His Republicanism”
    • chapter 18 • Dreams on Fire
    • chapter 19 • Prisoner of the Holy Faith Army
    • chapter 20 • “Citizeness Dumas… Is Worried About the Fate of Her Husband”
    • chapter 21 • The Dungeon
    • chapter 22 • Wait and Hope
  • epilogue • The Forgotten Statue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Author’s Note on Names
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Bulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair

Posted in Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-02-18 01:29Z by Steven

Bulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair

Anchor an imprint of Random House
320 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-385-47123-7

Lisa Jones

In Bulletproof Diva, Lisa  Jones brings the wit and candor of her infamous Village Voice column, “Skin Trade,”  to a much larger audience. Chock full of the “fierce black girl humor” that has made her column so popular, this provocative collection of  essays and observations on race, sex, identity, and  the politics of style speaks to a young generation  of blacks who were raised in an integrated society  and are now waiting for America to deliver on its  promises of equality. The thirty-seven short  pieces and six long essays in Bulletproof  Diva cover a wide range of topics, many of them  extremely controversial. Jones moves smoothly from  issues of ethnicity in a changing America,  challenging viewpoints on African-American  and mixed race identity, to “butt theory”  and the roller-coaster politics of black hair. Written in a style that is as appealing as it is  unapologetic, Bulletproof Diva marks the debut of a genuinely gifted young writer  with a distinctive voice and a fresh perspective on  the black cultural scene.

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The Other Half of My Heart

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2013-01-19 01:09Z by Steven

The Other Half of My Heart

Random House
June 2010
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-385-73440-0
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-440-24006-8

Sundee T. Frazier

The close relationship of a pair of biracial twins is tested when their grandmother enters them in a pageant for African American girls in this new story from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner Sundee T. Frazier.
When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America.
Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they’ll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when grandmother’s bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she’ll find out the truth.

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Angry Black White Boy or The Miscegenation of Macon Detornay: A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2012-12-07 04:00Z by Steven

Angry Black White Boy or The Miscegenation of Macon Detornay: A Novel

Random House
352 pages
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4000-5487-9

Adam Mansbach

From the acclaimed author of Shackling Water comes the first great race novel of the twenty-first century, an incendiary and ruthlessly funny satire about violence, pop culture, and American identity.

Macon Detornay is a suburban white boy possessed and politicized by black culture, and filled with rage toward white America. After moving to New York City for college, Macon begins robbing white passengers in his taxicab, setting off a manhunt for the black man presumed to be committing the crimes. When his true identity is revealed, Macon finds himself to be a celebrity and makes use of the spotlight to hold forth on the evils and invisibility of whiteness. Soon he launches the Race Traitor Project, a stress-addled collective that attracts guilty liberals, wannabe gangstas, and bandwagon riders from all over the country to participate in a Day of Apology—a day set aside for white people to make amends for four hundred years of oppression. The Day of Apology pushes New York City over the edge into an epic riot, forcing Macon to confront the depth of his own commitment to the struggle.

Peopled with all manner of race pimps and players, Angry Black White Boy is a stunning breakout book from a critically acclaimed young writer and should be required reading for anyone who wants to get under the skin of the complexities of identity in America.

Read Chapter One here.

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Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, AD 1933-1940

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2012-08-08 01:58Z by Steven

Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, AD 1933-1940

Random House
1999 (Originally Published: 1931)
208 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-375-75380-0

George S. Schuyler (1895-1977)

Introduction by Ishmael Reed

What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white? Would everybody be happy? These questions and more are answered hilariously in Black No More, George S. Schuyler’s satiric romp. Black No More is the story of Max Disher, a dapper black rogue of an insurance man who, through a scientific transformation process, becomes Matthew Fisher, a white man. Matt dreams up a scam that allows him to become the leader of the Knights of Nordica, a white supremacist group, as well as to marry the white woman who rejected him when he was black. Black No More is a hysterical exploration of race and all its self-serving definitions. If you can’t beat them, turn into them.

Ishmael Reed, one of today’s top black satirists and the author of Mumbo Jumbo and Japanese by Spring, provides a spirited Introduction.

The fertile artistic period now known as the Harlem Renaissance (1920-1930) gave birth to many of the world-renowned masters of black literature and is the model for today’s renaissance of black writers.

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The Passing of Anatole Broyard

Posted in Biography, Books, Chapter, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-08-01 04:18Z by Steven

The Passing of Anatole Broyard

Chapter in Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man
Random House
256 pages
ISBN: 978-0-679-77666-6

Chapter pages: 180-214

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research
Harvard University

In 1982, an investment banker named Richard Grand-Jean took a summer’s lease on an eighteenth-century farmhouse in Fairfield, Connecticut; its owner, Anatole Broyard, spent his summers in Martha’s Vineyard. The house was handsomely furnished with period antiques, and the surrounding acreage included a swimming pool and a pond. But the property had another attraction, too. Grand-Jean, a managing director of Salomon Brothers, was an avid reader, and he took satisfaction in renting from so illustrious a figure. Anatole Broyard had by then been a daily book reviewer for the Times for more than a decade, and that meant that he was one of literary America’s foremost gatekeepers. Grand-Jean might turn to the business pages of the Times first, out of professional obligation, but he turned to the book page next, out of a sense of self. In his Walter Mittyish moments, he sometimes imagined what it might be like to be someone who read and wrote about books for a living—someone to whom millions of readers looked for guidance.

Broyard’s columns were suffused with both worldliness and high culture. Wry, mandarin, even self-amused at times, he wrote like a man about town, but one who just happened to have all of Western literature at his fingertips. Always, he radiated an air of soigné self-confidence: he could be amiable in his opinions or waspish, but he never betrayed a flicker of doubt about what he thought. This was a man who knew that his judgment would never falter and his sentences never fail him.

Grand-Jean knew little about Broyard’s earlier career, but as he rummaged through Broyard’s bookshelves he came across old copies of intellectual journals like Partisan Renew and Commentary, to which Broyard had contributed a few pieces in the late forties and early fifties. One day, Grand-Jean found himself leafing through a magazine that contained an early article by Broyard. What caught his eye, though, was the contributor’s note for the article—or, rather, its absence. It had been neatly cut out, as if with a razor.

A few years later, Grand-Jean happened on another copy of that magazine, and decided to look up the Broyard article again. This time, the note on the contributor was intact. It offered a few humdrum details—that Broyard was born in New Orleans, attended Brooklyn College and the New School for Social Research, and taught at New York University’s Division of General Education. It also offered a less humdrum one: the situation of the American Negro, the note asserted, was a subject that the author “knows at first hand.” It was an elliptical formulation, to be sure, but for Anatole Broyard it may not have been elliptical enough.

Broyard was born black and became white, and his story is compounded of equal parts pragmatism and principle. He knew that the world was filled with such snippets and scraps of paper, all conspiring to reduce him to an identity that other people had invented and he had no say in. Broyard responded with X-Acto knives and evasions, with distance and denials and half-denials and cunning half-truths. Over the years, he became a virtuoso of ambiguity and equivocation. Some of his acquaintances knew the truth; many more had heard rumors about “distant” black ancestry (wasn’t here a grandfather who was black? a great-grandfather?). But most were entirely unaware, and that was as he preferred it. He kept the truth even from his own children. Society had decreed race to be a matter of natural law, but he wanted race to be an elective affinity, and it was never going to be a fair fight. A penalty was exacted. He shed a past and an identity to become a writer—a writer who wrote endlessly about the act of shedding a past and an identity…

Read the entire chapter here.

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The Wedding: A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2012-04-22 16:58Z by Steven

The Wedding: A Novel

Anchor and imprint of Random House
256 pages
Paperback ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-385-47144-2

Dorothy West (1907-1998)

In her first novel in forty-seven years, Dorothy West, the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance, offers an intimate glimpse into African American middle class.  Set on bucolic Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950s, The Wedding tells the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie.  Within this inner circle of “blue-vein society,” we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of the loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from “a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions.” Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.

With elegant, luminous prose, Dorothy West crowns her literary career by illustrating one family’s struggle to break the shackles of race and class.

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