I wish I could ask my grandfather what drove his family to stake such a full claim to their Blackness. Why did they choose to celebrate it when they could have easily hid it?

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-09-21 02:09Z by Steven

I wish I could ask my grandfather what drove his family to stake such a full claim to their Blackness. Why did they choose to celebrate it when they could have easily hid it? Not only did they choose to live in a Black world, my family rejected the idea that their proximity to whiteness made them better than their darker brothers and sisters. Even when they could take advantage of the privilege afforded to them by the Black community — joining elite Black organizations because their skin was indeed lighter than a paper bag — they didn’t. This kind of self-determination set the foundation for radical self-determination seen during the Civil Rights and Black power movements, decades before it was fashionable or even accepted.

Elizabeth Wellington, “Choosing Blackness,” The The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 15, 2021. https://www.inquirer.com/life/inq2/black-identity-america-wildest-dreams-20210915.html.

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Choosing Blackness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2021-09-20 15:18Z by Steven

Choosing Blackness

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Elizabeth Wellington, Staff Columnist

Columnist Elizabeth Wellington poses for a photograph with her mother Margaret outside of the family home in New York. MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

Black identity is usually wrapped up in not having choice. My family used their light-skinned privilege to flip that choice and turned Blackness into a celebration of pride and identity and love.

I thought my mother was a white woman until I was about five years old.

So I will never forget the day she told me she was Black. The conversation started simple enough: I described someone on television as white, like she was.

If um, hell to the no was a person, she would have been Margaret Wellington in that moment.

My mother is so fair that whether she styled her hair in a Pam Grier-esque, mega Afro or a blonde-streaked press and curl, she was sometimes mistaken for a white woman. I’m sure she wasn’t surprised by my question given my milk chocolate hue. But she wasn’t angry. She settled into her rocking chair and motioned for me to sit next to her. We were wearing matching green cardigans. I may have been darker, but to her, I was still her toddler-sized replica. She took my chubby little hand into her slender one, and looking me in the eye said, “Beth, I’m Black.”

Clearly I looked confused. Because she said it again. This time with more soul. “I AM BLACK. I do not have the same pretty brown skin that you have. But I AM BLACK. And I am YOUR MOTHER.”

My 5-year-old self was relieved….

Read the entire article here.

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Black people have always accepted mixed-race people as part of their community.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-12-20 22:26Z by Steven

Black people have always accepted mixed-race people as part of their community. With [Barack] Obama, I think white people needed to be OK with voting for him. They needed to feel that he would look out for them. One way to do that was to emphasize the white part of his identity … With Meghan Markle, people want to correct the cognitive dissonance where [in their minds] black women aren’t princesses or duchesses. If she’s half-white, then that’s closer to the reality that makes sense. There’s a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the idea of a black person in such a position. It’s a way to set the world back right for them [by focusing on her white heritage]. —Camille Z. Charles

Valerie Russ, “In an increasingly mixed-race America, who decides what we call ourselves?,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 18, 2017. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/meghan-markle-race-camille-charles-biracial-post-20171218.html.

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In an increasingly mixed-race America, who decides what we call ourselves?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2017-12-20 17:59Z by Steven

In an increasingly mixed-race America, who decides what we call ourselves?

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Valerie Russ, Staff Writer

(Andy Stenning/Pool Photo via AP)
Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle speak with teachers at the Nottingham Academy Dec. 1.

Last week, the Meghan Markle controversy was her anticipated visit with Prince Harry to Queen Elizabeth’s estate at Sandringham for Christmas, an unprecedented invitation for an unmarried couple.

Before that, the debate was about Markle’s mixed-race identity: Do her African American mother and white father make her white, black, or biracial? After her engagement to Harry, some women celebrated the notion of a “black princess” — although she’ll actually be a duchess — while others argued she should be described as biracial, not black.

How to define, describe, and label mixed-race identity has been a brewing controversy in recent decades as the country becomes more racially diverse. Since the 2000 census, when Americans were first able to choose more than one race, the Census Bureau reported that people of color will be the majority in the nation by the 2040s and that more than half of American children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group by 2020. In fact, as of last year, the census said minority or ethnic-group children under the age of 1 are already in the majority.

The sociologist Herbert Gans blamed Census Bureau data for the increase in white nationalism and alt-right fear “that they are being threatened and overwhelmed by a growing tide of darker-skinned people.” He predicted that mixed-race Latinos and Asians will eventually identify themselves as white.

Camille Z. Charles, the director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is the daughter of an African American mother and a white father. Charles identifies as black. She is working on a book exploring the intra-racial diversity among black Americans who identify either as African American, mixed-race/biracial, or black immigrant, tentatively titled The New Black: Race-Conscious or Post-Racial?

Read the entire article here.

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‘I’m not racist. . . . My grandkids are biracial’

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2017-09-20 15:08Z by Steven

‘I’m not racist. . . . My grandkids are biracial’

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Helen Ubiñas, Staff Columnist

Having biracial grandkids doesn’t give you a free pass to say racist things.

There was no hello. Just an angry voice on the other end of the line yelling obscenities about blacks and Latinos in North Philly. The man grew up there, he shouted, back when it used to be “a great white neighborhood.” Then “the blacks” and “the Puerto Ricans” moved in and ruined it. They’re garbage, he yelled. No, he seethed, garbage is better than them.

Oh, and before I or anyone else called him a bigot, he wanted me to know something.

He’s no racist. His grandchildren are half-Puerto Rican.

My heart sank. Poor kids…

…Family doesn’t inoculate anyone against racism.

Tanya Hernandez, professor of law at Fordham University and author of a forthcoming book, Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, said it fits into a larger societal idea that having closer relationships with people of other races can make people more empathetic.

It’s a nice thought – especially after the post-racial fantasy we all fed on for the last eight years, and the ongoing myth that as the country’s demographics become more diverse, racism will be eradicated. But the reality can be much more complicated, and painfully personal…

Read the entire article here.

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‘To be black doesn’t have to mean anything more than what I already am’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 20:43Z by Steven

‘To be black doesn’t have to mean anything more than what I already am’

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Sofiya Ballin, Staff Writer

Sonia Galiber, Director of Operations at Urban Creators
Michael Bryant

For Black History Month, we’re exploring history and identity through the lens of joy. Black joy is the ability to love and celebrate black people and culture, despite the world dictating otherwise. Black joy is liberation.

Sonia Galiber, 25, Director of Operations
Philly Urban Creators, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My high school was pretty segregated. As a biracial kid, I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t black enough or Asian enough. That’s when I developed an inferiority complex.

Throughout all of this, I’m also dealing with needing to be Japanese enough. My mother’s family didn’t approve of my parents’ marriage. My grandparents got to know my dad, but there are some extended family members that I’m just meeting.

It was a motivating force for me. I went to Japanese school every Saturday from third grade to high school. That was an identity I was chasing in the same way that I was chasing blackness…

Read the entire article here.

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Jones: Kaepernick, Lochte cases are as different as black and white

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-31 15:07Z by Steven

Jones: Kaepernick, Lochte cases are as different as black and white

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Solomon Jones

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick sits down during the national anthem to protest America’s treatment of people of color, and he is accused of being a traitor to his country.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is facing criminal charges in Brazil for falsely reporting he was robbed at gunpoint, and, while he lost several endorsements as a result, he ultimately was rewarded with a stint on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Both men are accomplished athletes. Kaepernick appeared in Super Bowl XLVII. Lochte is a 12-time Olympic medalist.

But Lochte is white, Kaepernick is black, and when black men stand up against American oppression, the fears of the white establishment arise. Fears that a single man seated on a bench is the forerunner to violent rebellion; that an athlete with the gall to think for himself is a danger to the order of things…

Read the entire article here.

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What an 1887 murder and dismemberment tells us about race relations today

Posted in Arts, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-03-24 00:24Z by Steven

What an 1887 murder and dismemberment tells us about race relations today

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Samantha Melamed, Staff Writer

On the freezing-cold morning of Feb. 17, 1887, a Bensalem carpenter walking by an ice pond noticed a parcel wrapped in brown paper and marked “handle with care.” Inside, he found a male torso of indeterminate race. The limbs and head were nowhere in sight.

So begins Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, the new book by historian and African studies scholar Kali Nicole Gross.

It’s the type of tale you don’t often hear during Black History Month: the biography of an antiheroine who made her way in the world through violence, deception, and adultery. It’s also a true-crime story told nearly 130 years after the fact—culminating in the century-late exoneration of a man who, Gross argues, was framed for murder.

Most of all, the story of Tabbs, the Philadelphia woman who left the torso by the pond in the first place—and of Wakefield Gaines, her victim and much-younger lover, and George Wilson, the “weak-minded” 18-year-old she accused of the crime – is an encapsulation of issues that resonate today, of racial bias in policing, coerced confessions, and unreliable eyewitnesses.

“Tabbs’ story sheds this unprecedented light,” Gross said, “into just how long these issues around urban crime and police brutality have been around in our society.”

Gross, 43, a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, began the work eight years ago, while she was living in Philadelphia. (She attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Drexel University.)…

…In uncovering the story, she shed light on the tense race relations of the time: Tabbs’ vulnerable place under the law as a black woman, and Wilson’s still-more-tenuous status as a light-skinned interracial man.

“People were very concerned about black people infiltrating white society. Wilson is really the sum of all fears,” Gross said. “Police home in on him despite the fact he had no real motive.”

Wilson, known to be “dim” and impressionable, was beaten in custody—until, Gross concludes, he made a false confession. (He was sentenced to 12 years in solitary confinement.)…

Read the entire article here.

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Holocaust Art By A Jew Who Was Black Josef Nassy’s Vision Of Nazi Camps Has Its First U.s. Show Here.

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion on 2015-08-18 01:11Z by Steven

Holocaust Art By A Jew Who Was Black Josef Nassy’s Vision Of Nazi Camps Has Its First U.s. Show Here.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Leonard W. Boasberg, Inquirer Staff Writer

There are strength and pathos in the drawings. There are loneliness and community, a sense of the desperation of the individual – the prisoner, the victim – who, in the grasp of malevolent brutality, nevertheless maintains his will to survive.

There are watchtowers and barbed wire and closed gates and prison bars and armed guards, and there are portraits of pensive men who might be anywhere but are, in fact, confined for no crime but their existence.

The works are by Josef Nassy, a black artist of Jewish ancestry, who survived three years of Nazi prison camps during World War II and, in his art, left a lasting record of what he saw and felt.

A collection of Nassy’s works – about 115 paintings, drawings and ink washes – is now on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Judaica, located in the synagogue of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St. The exhibit, titled In the Shadow of the Tower, is the first U.S. public showing of Nassy’s works, which are on a three-year international tour that will take them to Jerusalem; Hamburg, West Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Chicago, and New York…

Read the entire article here.

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One Drop: Drexel professor’s new book explores what determines blackness

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-24 17:59Z by Steven

One Drop: Drexel professor’s new book explores what determines blackness

The Philadelphia Inquirer

UNLESS YOU want an earful, don’t get Drexel University professor Yaba Blay talking about colorism. She sees examples of discrimination based on skin color everywhere – from drug stores that stock skin-bleaching creams to the online chatter that erupts when photos surface of Beyonce and Jay Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy.

“[People say], why doesn’t Beyonce comb that baby’s hair?” Blay said. “You would rather put an entire pack of barrettes on that baby’s hair?”

“I hate that,” I murmured.

“I hate it more,” she shot back. “[People] expect her to look like her mama. . . . She’s 2.”

And don’t bring up the subject of Kanye West, who once famously referred to biracial women as “mutts.”

“Kanye’s choosing Kim [Kardashian] is not about Kim. It’s about Kanye,” said Blay, author of a new book called (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race. “He’s obsessed with her. It has to do with what her being on his arm says about him.”

Yeah, Blay went there.

And, let me tell you, the codirector of the Africana Studies program doesn’t hold back in that new book of hers, either. It deals with America’s biggest third-rail issue: race. That subject hasn’t gotten any less explosive since America elected its first black president.

The book is provocative right from its title, taken from the slavery-era notion that if you had one drop of black blood, you were considered black.

Plus, here’s a darker-hued woman writing about the racial experiences of lighter-skinned people, many of whom identify as black or mixed race. That’s an incredibly touchy topic among some black folk because of historical social stratification based on skin color that grants higher status to lighter-hued blacks.

The subject was explored in depth in a documentary called “Dark Girls” that aired recently on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

(1)ne Drop is sort of the reverse…

Read the entire article here.

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