What Passes as Love: A Novel (Review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2023-01-27 19:49Z by Steven

What Passes as Love: A Novel (Review)

Washington Independent Review of Books
2021-08-31

Gisèle Lewis

Thomas, Trisha R., What Passes as Love: A Novel (Seattle: Lake Union Publishing, 2021)

An escaped slave navigates the white world in a suspenseful bid for freedom.

Trisha R. Thomas, best known for her successful Nappily Ever After series, offers now an historical novel about a Black woman passing as white in 1850s Virginia. In What Passes as Love, Dahlia is the light-skinned daughter of Lewis Holt, a wealthy white plantation owner. She is also his slave, one of nearly a dozen he has fathered with his Black laborers.

Thanks to her beauty, Dahlia is brought by Holt into the mansion to live and serve as a ladies’ maid for her spoiled white half-sisters. Caught between guilt over the preferential treatment she receives and petty jealousy from her masters, Dahlia yearns for a better existence. Suddenly, the chance for one appears.

During an outing to town on her 16th birthday, she is mistaken for white by a young man. When he abruptly proposes marriage that very afternoon, she embraces the opportunity to escape slavery without questioning his motives. But once installed as lady of the manor — under the name Lily Dove — at her new husband’s plantation, maintaining the lie about her parentage becomes a matter of life and death. Dahlia’s new mother-in-law analyzes her every move, her rogue brother-in-law wants her for himself, and the slaves who suspect her runaway status use her secret as blackmail…

Read the entire review here.

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Seeking Participants for High School Senior Project on Experiences of Mixed-Race Individuals

Posted in Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2023-01-26 02:29Z by Steven

Seeking Participants for High School Senior Project on Experiences of Mixed-Race Individuals

Valasone O’Neal, GSWLA Student
Tallwood High School, Virginia Beach, Virginia

2023-01-25

My name is Valasone O’Neal and I am a senior in the Global Studies and World Language Academy at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

As a requirement for graduation, I have to complete a senior project consisting of a research paper and action. For this project, I intend to collect the experiences of mixed-race people in order to highlight societal treatment and attitudes towards multiracial people in America. I want to conduct a series of interviews and create a short film that will be shown to Virginia Beach City Public Schools administration and students. If you or someone you know is interested, over the age of eighteen, not associated with Virginia Beach Public Schools, and identify as mixed-race, please contact me as at your earliest convenience at madelynevaloneal@gmail.com.

Thank you for your consideration of my request.

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Doublings and Dissociation in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2023-01-25 02:06Z by Steven

Doublings and Dissociation in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird

Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Volume 27, 2022 – Issue 3-4: after modernism: women, gender, race. issue editor: pelagia goulimari
Pages 182-198
DOI: 10.1080/0969725X.2022.2093974

Jean Wyatt, Professor of English; Emerita
Occidental College, Los Angeles, California

In this paper I explore the representations of alter ego figures in a Black Modernist work, Passing, by Nella Larsen (1929) and in a contemporary black British novel by Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird (2014). Oyeyemi claims Larsen’s novel as an influential forbear. When the protagonist of Larsen’s Passing, Irene, is in the presence of her friend Clare, she acts, speaks, and expresses her feelings in a far different mode from her usual rigid conformity to ladylike propriety. She seems, indeed, to be a different person. Although critics have long seen Clare as an alter ego for Irene, I argue instead that it is Clare’s presence that brings out in Irene an alter ego, a new personality structure. Using as a theoretical framework Philip Bromberg’s model of subjectivity as a series of alternating self-states – each distinct and discontinuous with the others – I argue that Larsen is giving the nineteenth-century alter ego of literary tradition a new depth by dramatizing the way a subject changes personality to a different self as a result of a close relationship with a particular other. Irene’s subjectivity is further complicated by her enactment of upper-class “lady” in her every gesture, tone, and word. The performed identity of (white) “lady” is at odds with the everyday reality of Irene’s social position as middle-class black wife and mother. Attention to the multiplicity of Irene’s competing self-states, and her growing loss of control over them, can help us to understand the ambiguous final scene in which Irene (apparently) pushes Clare out of a sixth-floor window to her death. In Boy, Snow, Bird alter egos proliferate. To manage the relentless physical and mental abuse that the character narrator Boy endures from her father, Boy finds escape in colloquies with her mirror image. The mirror image is separate from Boy (she does not recognize it as her own reflection) and has its own agenda, sometimes replacing Boy’s subjectivity with its own. Later in the novel, we learn that Frances, Boy’s mother, after suffering a violent rape, saw in her mirror a male figure and transformed herself into that male identity. [The novel seems to ask readers to think of both instances of wounded identity and the adoption of alter egos in relationship to each other.] This is not Bromberg’s “normal” dissociation as an alternation of self-states, but a lasting and severe dissociation as a last defense against trauma. Boy and Frances are using the mirror double as an escape from unbearable reality. When, to her surprise, Boy gives birth to an African American baby, the intense anxiety about her child’s future in the racist United States causes a different kind of splitting: she feels herself transforming into the wicked stepmother of the fairy tale “Snow White.” She indeed becomes cruel, unfeeling, and damaging to her innocent stepdaughter Snow. In both novels, the complex depiction of alter egos reflects the psychic complications of subjects trying to survive in the racist social order of the United States.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Plum Bum: A Novel Without a Moral

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States, Women on 2023-01-25 01:48Z by Steven

Plum Bum: A Novel Without a Moral

Beacon Press
2022-03-08 (originally published in 1929)
328 pages
5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Paperback ISBN: 978-080700660-3

Author: Jessie Redmon Fauset
Foreword by: Morgan Jerkins
Afterword: Deborah McDowell

For readers of The Vanishing Half, a hidden gem from the Harlem Renaissance about a young Black woman’s journey toward self-acceptance while passing as white in 1920s New York City.

Originally published in 1929 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Plum Bun is the story of Angela Murray, a young Black woman of mixed heritage who uses the advantages of her lighter skin to escaper her own life. Beginning with a childhood in her Black middle class Philadelphia neighborhood, Angela dreams of being a renowned painter. She believes she will only achieve this through whiteness and being a part of white society. Bestowed with the light skin of her mother, while her sister Virginia’s darker complexion resembles that of their father’s, Angela refuses to accept a life dictated by the limitations that come with her race and gender.

Leaving behind her family and identity, Angela escapes to a roaring New York City where she befriends the art elites and presents herself as a white woman. Thrust into a world of seduction, betrayal, love, lust, and heartbreak, Angela soon discovers that to find true fulfillment within herself, she must accept and embrace her own identity—both her race and gender. Written with meticulous care and appreciation for the complicated nature of her characters, while also highlighting the beauty of every day Black life, Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun raises important questions to inspire new readers.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Morgan Jerkins
  • Home
  • Market
  • Plum Bun
  • Home Again
  • Market Is Done
  • Afterword by Deborah McDowell
  • Notes
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
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What’s interesting is when I started ballet at 13 years old, I was told I had everything that it took to be a ballet dancer, physically, artistically. So that’s why there’s kind of this interesting dichotomy when I think about Black women specifically in ballet and the language that’s being used in telling us that we are wrong for ballet.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2023-01-23 15:56Z by Steven

“What’s interesting is when I started ballet at 13 years old, I was told I had everything that it took to be a ballet dancer, physically, artistically. So that’s why there’s kind of this interesting dichotomy when I think about Black women specifically in ballet and the language that’s being used in telling us that we are wrong for ballet. Again, I had the ideal body when I joined American Ballet Theater. Of course, I went through puberty — and like a lot of dancers who become professionals between the ages of 16 and 18 … my body did change. But once I became a professional, that’s when people started to really see me as a Black woman in a company where there weren’t any. And that’s when the language started to change around me fitting in.” —Misty Copeland

‘It chips away at you’: Misty Copeland on the whiteness of ballet,” Fresh Air (National Public Radio), November 14, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/11/14/1136026492/misty-copeland-ballet-raven-wilkinson-wind-at-my-back.

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Ruth Ann Koesun, Versatile Ballet Theater Dancer, Dies at 89

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2023-01-23 15:35Z by Steven

Ruth Ann Koesun, Versatile Ballet Theater Dancer, Dies at 89

The New York Times
2018-02-14

Anna Kisselgoff

Ruth Ann Koesun with John Kriza in Michael Kidd’s “On Stage!” in 1947.

Ruth Ann Koesun, a principal dancer in American Ballet Theater who epitomized the company’s early eclectic profile by excelling in roles that ranged from Billy the Kid’s Mexican sweetheart to the “Bluebird” pas de deux from “The Sleeping Beauty,” died on Feb. 1 in Chicago. She was 89.

Her death was confirmed by her goddaughter, Ellen Coghlan.

Because of her lyrical style in ballets like “Les Sylphides,” Ms. Koesun was often cast as a Romantic ballerina. But she could also show dramatic ferocity, as the evil antiheroine Ate in Antony Tudor’s “Undertow,” which depicts a young murderer’s development.

Contemporary ballet makers favored her. In 1950, Herbert Ross, a new choreographer and future film director, cast her in his “Caprichos,” based on Goya’s etchings. She portrayed a dead woman who is tossed around by her partner in choreographed movements that suggested she was inert…

…Ruth Ann Koesun was born on May 15, 1928, in Chicago to Dr. Paul Z. Koesun, a Chinese physician in Chicago’s Chinatown, and the former Mary Mondulick, who was of Russian descent…

Read the entire obituary here.

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The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2023-01-22 18:12Z by Steven

The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging

Beacon Press
2023-01-10
200 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 Inches
Cloth ISBN: 978-080702636-6
Audio ISBN: 978-080700776-1

Samira K. Mehta, Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies and Jewish Studies
University of Colorado, Boulder

An unflinching look at the challenges and misunderstandings mixed-race people face in family spaces and intimate relationships across their varying cultural backgrounds

In this emotionally powerful and intellectually provocative blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and theory, scholar and essayist Samira Mehta reflects on many facets of being multiracial.

Born to a white American and a South Asian immigrant, Mehta grew up feeling more comfortable with her mother’s family than her father’s—they never carried on conversations in languages she couldn’t understand or blamed her for finding the food was too spicy. In adulthood, she realized that some of her Indian family’s assumptions about the world had become an indelible part of her—and that her well-intentioned parents had not known how to prepare her for a world that would see her as a person of color.

Popular belief assumes that mixedness gives you the ability to feel at home in more than one culture, but the flipside shows you can feel just as alienated in those spaces. In 7 essays that dissect her own experiences with a frankness tempered by generosity, Mehta confronts questions about:

  • authenticity and belonging;
  • conscious and unconscious cultural inheritance;
  • appropriate mentorship;
  • the racism of people who love you.

The Racism of People Who Love You invites people of mixed race into the conversation on race in America and the melding of found and inherited cultures of hybrid identity.

Table of Contents

  • Author’s Note
  • Introduction
  • ONE: Where Are You Really From? A Triptych
  • TWO: Meat Is Murder
  • THREE: Failing the Authenticity Test
  • FOUR: American Racism
  • FIVE: Appropriation
  • SIX: Mentoring
  • SEVEN: The Racism of People Who Love You
  • Acknowledgments
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The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Books, Monographs on 2023-01-22 17:54Z by Steven

The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson

Grand Central Publishing (an imprint of Hachette Book Group)
2022-11-15
240 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781538753859
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781538753866
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781549160080

Misty Copland with Susan Fales-Hill

From celebrated ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland, a heartfelt memoir about her friendship with trailblazer Raven Wilkinson which captures the importance of mentorship, shared history, and honoring the past to ensure a stronger future.

Misty Copeland made history as the first African-American principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre. Her talent, passion, and perseverance enabled her to make strides no one had accomplished before. But as she will tell you, achievement never happens in a void. Behind her, supporting her rise was her mentor Raven Wilkinson. Raven had been virtually alone in her quest to breach the all-white ballet world when she fought to be taken seriously as a Black ballerina in the 1950s and 60s. A trailblazer in the world of ballet decades before Misty’s time, Raven faced overt and casual racism, hostile crowds, and death threats for having the audacity to dance ballet.

The Wind at My Back tells the story of two unapologetically Black ballerinas, their friendship, and how they changed each other—and the dance world—forever. Misty Copeland shares her own struggles with racism and exclusion in her pursuit of this dream career and honors the women like Raven who paved the way for her but whose contributions have gone unheralded. She celebrates the connection she made with her mentor, the only teacher who could truly understand the obstacles she faced, beyond the technical or artistic demands.

A beautiful and wise memoir of intergenerational friendship and the impressive journeys of two remarkable women, The Wind at My Back captures the importance of mentorship, of shared history, and of respecting the past to ensure a stronger future.

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‘It chips away at you’: Misty Copeland on the whiteness of ballet

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2023-01-22 17:28Z by Steven

‘It chips away at you’: Misty Copeland on the whiteness of ballet

Fresh Air
National Public Radio
2022-11-14

Terry Gross, Host

Misty Copeland has been a principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre since 2015. She took a break from performing due to COVID-19 and the birth of her son in spring 2022, but she hopes to be back on stage in 2023.
Drew Gurian/MasterClass

At first, Misty Copeland thought the pain she was experiencing was shin splits. It was 2012, and, after 12 years with the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland, one of the few Black dancers in the company, had finally landed her first leading role in a classical work.

“I knew how critical this moment was for my career,” she says. “If I had gone to the artistic staff or the physical therapists and said, ‘I’m in a lot of pain,’ they would have removed me from the rehearsals. And I would not have been able to perform. And I knew that had that happened, I wouldn’t be given the opportunity again.”

So she pushed on, dancing the principal role in The Firebird, despite the fact that the pain was becoming increasingly severe. Finally, toward the end of the company’s season, Copeland was diagnosed with six stress fractures in her tibia — three of which were classified as “dreaded black line” fractures, meaning that there were almost full breaks through the bone.

When the first surgeon warned her that she might never dance again, Copeland was devastated. “It was just like my whole world came crashing down,” she says. “I felt mostly like I was letting down the Black community.”…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:42:00) here.

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Multiracial: The Kaleidoscope of Mixedness

Posted in Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2023-01-16 19:09Z by Steven

Multiracial: The Kaleidoscope of Mixedness

Polity
2022-12-27
232 pages
152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Hardback ISBN: 9781509534654
Paperback ISBN: 9781509534661
ebook ISBN: 9781509534678

Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Associate Professor of Sociology
Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York

The year 2000 was the first time the US Census permitted respondents to choose more than one race. Although the US has long recognized that a “mixed-race” population exists, the contemporary “multiracial population” presents different questions and implications for today’s diverse society.

This book is the first overview to bring a systematic critical race lens to the scholarship on mixedness. Avoiding the common pitfall of conflating “mixed” with “multiracial,” the book reveals how identity forms and fluctuates such that people with mixed heritage may identify as mixed, monoracial, and/or multiracial throughout their lives. It analyzes the dynamic and various manifestations of mixedness, including at the global level, to reveal its complex impact on both the structural and individual levels. Multiracial critically examines topics such as family dynamics and racial socialization, multiraciality in media and popular culture, and intersections of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation.

Integrating diverse theories, qualitative research, and national-level data, this accessible and engaging book is essential for students of race and those looking to understand the new field of multiraciality.

Table of Contents

  • Detailed Contents
  • List of Figures and Tables
  • CHAPTER 1: MULTIRACIAL AMERICA
  • CHAPTER 2: DEFINING MIXED-RACE & MULTIRACIAL
  • CHAPTER 3: RACE AND FAMILY
  • CHAPTER 4: INTERSECTIONAL IDENTITIES & GLOBAL MIXEDNESS
  • CHAPTER 5: MULTIRACIALISM IN THE MEDIA
  • CHAPTER 6: NEW, SHIFTING, OR REBOUNDING BOUNDARIES
  • References
  • Notes
  • Index
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