Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

Posted in Arts, Books, Canada, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-11-27 06:11Z by Steven

Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

University Press of Mississippi
November 2022
248 pages
1 table; 29 b&w figures; 20 musical examples
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496842404
Paperback ISBN: 9781496842428

Caroline Vézina
Montréal, Quebec, Canada

The first scholarly volume dedicated to French Creole music and its contribution to the development of jazz in New Orleans

During the formative years of jazz (1890–1917), the Creoles of Color—as they were then called—played a significant role in the development of jazz as teachers, bandleaders, instrumentalists, singers, and composers. Indeed, music penetrated all aspects of the life of this tight-knit community, proud of its French heritage and language. They played and/or sang classical, military, and dance music as well as popular songs and cantiques that incorporated African, European, and Caribbean elements decades before early jazz appeared. In Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz, the author describes the music played by the Afro-Creole community since the arrival of enslaved Africans in La Louisiane, then a French colony, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, emphasizing the many cultural exchanges that led to the development of jazz.

Caroline Vézina has compiled and analyzed a broad scope of primary sources found in diverse locations from New Orleans to Quebec City, Washington, DC, New York City, and Chicago. Two previously unpublished interviews add valuable insider knowledge about the music on French plantations and the danses Créoles held in Congo Square after the Civil War. Musical and textual analyses of cantiques provide new information about the process of their appropriation by the Creole Catholics as the French counterpart of the Negro spirituals. Finally, a closer look at their musical practices indicates that the Creoles sang and improvised music and/or lyrics of Creole songs, and that some were part of their professional repertoire. As such, they belong to the Black American and the Franco-American folk music traditions that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Louisiana.

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A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-11-27 05:39Z by Steven

A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance

Oxford University Press
2023-10-02
320 Pages
25 black and white illustrations
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780197626214

Laurie A. Woodard, Assistant Professor of History
City College of New York, New York, New York

  • First biography of dancer, actor, and activist Fredi Washington
  • Highlights the role of the performing arts in the history of the New Negro Renaissance, which has tended to be focused on literary arts
  • Focuses on an African American who could have but chose not to “pass

The first biography of performing artist, writer, and civil and human rights activist Fredi Washington.

Following Fredi Washington’s debut in her first dramatic role in 1926, Alfred Spengler of the New York North Side News reported that she was “astonishingly pretty for a real Negro girl.” Throughout her career, Washington was vulnerable to discrimination because her near-white skin and hazel eyes, coupled with her self-identification as Negro, cast her as too physically white to play black and too culturally black to play white. The multifaceted Washington was of course a great deal more than her looks; she was a performing artist, a writer, and a civil and human rights activist. Embracing the genres of dance, theater, and film, she used her talent, creativity, and determination to sustain a thirty-year career in the arts and in labor and political activism during the New Negro Renaissance and beyond.

Although Fredi Washington has been largely forgotten, A Real Negro Girl shows that, at the zenith of her career, she was a household name in the black community, well known in mainstream America, and a darling of the European press. Most famous for her role in the film “Imitation of Life,” she was a part of a cohort that included Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Delving into her professional and personal experiences in Harlem, nationally, and internationally, this book illuminates Washington’s significance to the New Negro Renaissance and reveals the vital influence of black performing artists and of black women on the movement. Over the years, Washington expanded her social and political consciousness and anti-racism activism, encompassing journalism, labor organizing, protests, and support of progressive politics. As a founder and executive director of the Negro Actors Guild of America, she sought to protect black artists from professional exploitation and physical abuse.

Incorporating close readings of images and films, interviews, and fan mail, as well as writings by and about Washington, A Real Negro Girl highlights Fredi Washington as an influential actor in the African American quest for civil and human rights.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Setting the Stage: The Roots of the New Negro Renaissance
  • Chapter 2: Dancing All Day: Reading Blackface and Black Bodies
  • Chapter 3: Boxers, Blacks, and a Real Negro Girl: White Expectations and Imagined Conceptions of Authentic Blackness
  • Chapter 4: Race, Place, and Miscegenation: Fredi Washington in Imitation of Life
  • Chapter 5: Beyond the Footlights: New Negro Performing Artists and More Tangible Forms of Activism
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index
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Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2022-11-27 05:15Z by Steven

Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic

Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield)
October 2022
342 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-7936-5263-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-7936-5264-5

Mark Christian, Professor of Africana Studies
City University of New York, New York, New York

In Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic, Mark Christian presents a Black British study within the context of the transatlantic and Liverpool, England. Taking a semi-autoethnographic approach based on the author’s Black Liverpool heritage, Christian interacts with Paul Gilroy’s notion of the Black Atlantic. Yet, provides a fresh perspective that takes into account a famous British slave port’s history that has been overlooked or under-utilized. The longevity of Black presence in the city involves a history of discrimination, stigma, and a population group known colloquially as Liverpool Born Blacks (LBBs). Crucially, this book provides the reader with a deeper insight of the transatlantic in regard to the movement of Black souls and their struggle for acceptance in a hostile environment. This book is an evocative, passionate, and revealing read.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    1. Theorizing Transatlantic Liverpool and the Black Atlantic Paradigm
    2. Life and Times in a Liverpool Black Family – The Christians
    3. Schooling, L8 Community Football, Grassroots Education, and Mainstream Miseducation
    4. Anti-Black Riots, Resistance & Black Organization Demise: 1919-2000s
    5. A Tale of Two Freedoms: Contemporary Self-Reflexivity and the Memory of Frederick Douglass
  • Appendices
    1. Liverpool City Council Slave Apology Minutes – from December 9, 1999
    2. The Age of Slave Apologies: The Case of Liverpool, England – transcript of public lecture presented by Dr. Mark Christian, November 14, 2007
    3. Front cover: CWCN Reports on Historic Slave Apology (Issue 26: December 1999)
    4. Consortium of Black Organisations – Liverpool- Response to LCC Slave Apology
    5. Front cover: CWCN Celebration of College Status (Issue 12: December 1992)
    6. CWCN Editorial denounces drastic cuts to funding by LCC (Issue 21: June 1997)
    7. Liverpool Echo (August 27, 1997) – Report praised CWC teaching
    8. Front cover: CWCN (Issue 1: June 1987) – Evidence of LCC fight to close CWC in 1987
    9. Front cover: CWCN (Issue 25: June 1999) – Reports on Lawrence Inquiry and Racism
    10. CWCN (Issue 12: December 1992, p.13) – Proof of Jacqueline N. Brown visiting CWC.
    11. Front cover: CWCN (Issue 8: December 1990) – Dr. William E. Nelson Jr at CWC
    12. Dr Mark Christian Community Education Award from The Voice 1999
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
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The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2022-11-27 03:08Z by Steven

The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family

Liveright (an imprint of W. W. Norton)
2022-11-08
432 pages
6.3 x 9.4 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-324-09084-7

Kerri K. Greenidge, Mellon Assistant Professor
Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora
Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts

A stunning counternarrative of the legendary abolitionist Grimke sisters that finally reclaims the forgotten Black members of their family.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke—the Grimke sisters—are revered figures in American history, famous for rejecting their privileged lives on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand activists in the North. Their antislavery pamphlets, among the most influential of the antebellum era, are still read today. Yet retellings of their epic story have long obscured their Black relatives. In The Grimkes, award-winning historian Kerri Greenidge presents a parallel narrative, indeed a long-overdue corrective, shifting the focus from the white abolitionist sisters to the Black Grimkes and deepening our understanding of the long struggle for racial and gender equality.

That the Grimke sisters had Black relatives in the first place was a consequence of slavery’s most horrific reality. Sarah and Angelina’s older brother, Henry, was notoriously violent and sadistic, and one of the women he owned, Nancy Weston, bore him three sons: Archibald, Francis, and John. While Greenidge follows the brothers’ trials and exploits in the North, where Archibald and Francis became prominent members of the post–Civil War Black elite, her narrative centers on the Black women of the family, from Weston to Francis’s wife, the brilliant intellectual and reformer Charlotte Forten, to Archibald’s daughter, Angelina Weld Grimke, who channeled the family’s past into pathbreaking modernist literature during the Harlem Renaissance.

In a grand saga that spans the eighteenth century to the twentieth and stretches from Charleston to Philadelphia, Boston, and beyond, Greenidge reclaims the Black Grimkes as complex, often conflicted individuals shadowed by their origins. Most strikingly, she indicts the white Grimke sisters for their racial paternalism. They could envision the end of slavery, but they could not imagine Black equality: when their Black nephews did not adhere to the image of the kneeling and eternally grateful slave, they were cruel and relentlessly judgmental—an emblem of the limits of progressive white racial politics.

A landmark biography of the most important multiracial American family of the nineteenth century, The Grimkes suggests that just as the Hemingses and Jeffersons personified the racial myths of the founding generation, the Grimkes embodied the legacy—both traumatic and generative—of those myths, which reverberate to this day.

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Ruby Red Skies, A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Novels on 2022-11-27 03:06Z by Steven

Ruby Red Skies, A Novel

Roseway Publishing (an imprint of Fernwood Publishing)
October 2022
272 pages
8.5 x 5.5 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781773635606

Taslim Burkowicz

Ruby used to be a fiery, sexy, musical genius. But when she got pregnant as a teenager in the 90s, her life took a turn into banality. Now a middle-aged Indo-Canadian woman, she feels unseen and unheard by her white husband and struggles to communicate with her mixed-race daughter. When she discovers her husband cheating, she embarks on a quest to unearth exciting secrets from her past. To find what she needs, she drives straight into B.C.’s raging wildfires, accompanied only by the fantastical stories her mother used to tell about their ancient Moghul ancestry — a dancer named Rubina who lived in the concubine quarters of the great Red Fort. This book is at once historical fiction and political romance, deftly navigating themes of mixed-race relationships, climate change, motherhood, body shame, death and the passage of time.

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The White Mosque: A Silk Road Memoir

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Religion on 2022-11-27 03:05Z by Steven

The White Mosque: A Silk Road Memoir

Hurst Publishers
October 2022
304 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781787388079

Sofia Samatar, Assistant Professor of English
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia

A rich history of wanderers, exiles and intruders. A haunting personal journey through Central Asia. An intimate reflection on mixed identity shaped by cultural crossings.

In the late 1800s, a group of German-speaking Mennonites fled Russia for Muslim Central Asia, to await Christ’s return.

Over a century later, Sofia Samatar traces their gruelling journey across desert and mountains, and its improbable fruit: a small Christian settlement inside the Khanate of Khiva. Named ‘The White Mosque’ after the Mennonites’ whitewashed church, the village—a community of peace, prophecy, music and martyrs—lasted fifty years.

Within this curious tale, Sofia discovers a tapestry of characters connected by the ancient Silk Road: a fifteenth-century astronomer-king; an intrepid Swiss woman traveller; the first Uzbek photographer; a free spirit of the Harlem Renaissance. Along the way, in a voice both warm and wise, she explores her own complex upbringing as an American Mennonite of colour, the daughter of a Swiss-American Christian and a Somali Muslim.

On this pilgrimage to a lost village and a near-forgotten history, Samatar traces the porous borders of identity and narrative. When you leave your tribe, what remains? How do we enter the stories of others? And how, out of life’s buried archives and startling connections, does a person construct a self?

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I Now Pronounce You Man and White: Racial Passing and Gender in Charles Chesnutt’s Fiction

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2022-11-27 03:04Z by Steven

I Now Pronounce You Man and White: Racial Passing and Gender in Charles Chesnutt’s Fiction

American Literary Realism
Volume 52, Issue 3, (Spring 2020)
pages 189-210
DOI: 10.5406/amerlitereal.52.3.0189

Martha J. Cutter, Professor of English
University of Connecticut

As a literary genre in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, many African American-to-white racial passing fictions are built around a stable set of narrative conventions: the passer decides to pass, moves to a new location, takes on a new name and identity, and then either dies, returns to his or her “true” race, or moves out of the United States (usually to Europe). Of course, there are exceptions to these patterns, but many fictional texts well into the first three decades of the twentieth century continue to utilize them to a large degree.2 This is not to deny, as some critics contend, that passing texts sometimes disrupt many of the binaries around which identity categories are established and maintained—such as black versus white or male versus female—as well as the visual “logic” of race itself.2 Yet many early twentieth-century passing texts conclude by containing to some degree the challenging questions that the passing figure has raised about the durability of categories of race (or gender) through specific types of narrative closure.

Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900) is unusual in that the male protagonist—John Walden/Warwick—ends up continuing to live in the United States while passing for white; therefore many questions that John’s passing presence has raised about the stability of racial identity are left open at the end of the text. Yet Rena Walden/Warwick, John’s sister, who also passes for white, is dead at the end. Does Chesnutt—who certainly saw race as a social construction,3 although perhaps not gender—ever depict women characters who can maintain a passing presence that keeps open questions about the meaning of whiteness and blackness? In fact there are several texts by Chesnutt in which women pass for white. However, their passing is often allowed, enforced, or enabled by a male (black or white) whom they might marry. In such texts both African American and white men have the ability not only to provide to women an identity as “wife” but also an identity as “white.” These female racial passers are therefore both literally and figuratively granted whiteness only through inscription as patriarchal property within the institution of marriage. Hence the title of this essay: for Chesnutt’s women, it is a male who can pronounce them not only wife, but also white.

A lawyer himself—he had passed the bar in Ohio in 1887—Chesnutt is often viewed as presenting a sophisticated critique of the law and as sometimes “theoriz[ing] imaginative ways that legal principles could be used to repair American race relations.”4 Yet is this the case in terms of gender relations—does Chesnutt’s fiction critique and repair gender inequities? Chesnutt’s fiction recognizes the intersectional nature of women’s oppression in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, when women of any race possessed limited rights under the doctrine of coverture and in the face of the denial of women’s suffrage and other political and legal civil liberties; yet his works do not imagine a “repair” of gender relations.5 Robyn Wiegman argues that “modern citizenship functions as a disproportionate system in which the universalism ascribed to certain bodies (white, male, propertied) is protected and subtended by the infinite particularity assigned to others (black, female, unpropertied).”6 Men who pass into whiteness therefore may become modern citizens with full rights and a universal and unparticularized body. But women who pass into whiteness are still women with limited rights and non-property holders in most states in the U.S. well into the late-nineteenth century, and they are always defined in terms of their bodily particularity and peculiarity. Moreover, within the system of capitalism they are configured as property to be trafficked between men, gifts to be traded back and forth, and it is only specifically through an exchange between men that they can move from a natural realm (a realm outside society) to a social order in which their status (even as objects) can be…

Read or purchase the article here.

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“As if I Were an Illegal”: Racial Passing in Immigrant Russia

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, Passing on 2022-11-27 02:43Z by Steven

“As if I Were an Illegal”: Racial Passing in Immigrant Russia

Cultural Anthropology
Volume 37, Number 4, November 2022
pages 653–678
DOI:10.14506/ca37.4.03

Lauren Woodard, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

This article examines how immigrants from post-Soviet countries engage in practices of racial passing to challenge ethnic stereotypes in Russia, the world’s fourth-largest migration destination. Ethnographic research reveals that immigrants shed signs of illegality to pass not necessarily as white, ethnic Russians (russkie) but instead as ethnically heterogeneous Russian citizens (rossiiane). The need to pass points to fundamental tensions within Russian society about belonging, tensions arising from a particular configuration of race, ethnicity, and language that emerged during the Soviet era. I show how ethnic Russianness operates akin to whiteness, the invisible ideal against which racialized bodies are marked, despite Soviet-era anti-racism campaigns and contemporary claims of Russia’s multiethnic diversity. This article contributes to scholarship analyzing migration and citizenship as racial projects by demonstrating how locally nuanced inflections of whiteness interact with global and transnational movements of white supremacy.

Read the entire article here.

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Oachkatzlschwoaf: The word that’s ‘impossible’ to say

Posted in Anthropology, Autobiography, Europe, United Kingdom, Videos on 2022-11-26 21:46Z by Steven

Oachkatzlschwoaf: The word that’s ‘impossible’ to say

BBC Reel
2022-11-24

Words are loaded with meaning. Certain ones conjure joyful memories and others remind us of less happy times.

For Nenda Neururer, the word ‘oachkatzlschwoaf‘ invokes a range of emotions. The German word is very hard to pronounce and is synonymous with the Austrian state of Tyrol where locals tease outsiders by asking them to pronounce it.

Despite growing up in Tyrol, Nenda Neururer often felt like an outsider when confronted with this word. But when she moved to London she grew nostalgic for it and it became her little secret.

Found in Translation is a series made as part of the In The Mix project, in partnership with BBC Studios TalentWorks, Black Creators Matter and the Barbican.

Video by Nenda Neururer
Executive Producer: Paul I. Harris

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‘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
2022-11-22

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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