re: carol channing or, more rumors of blackness

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one that includes direct quotes from Carol Channing “admitting” to her blackness.  Actually, “part negro” is the way they put it back then.  Sign of the times, I’m sure.  What hasn’t changed is that people by and large are ignorant of Channing’s “blackness”.  I think maybe Carol’s a little ignorant about it herself after viewing this Wendy Williams interview in which Channing denies “it”, yet ultimately says she hopes “it’s” true.  Oh, the conflict.  I dug around for a little more info.  I came up with this gem.  Total rumor, but…

Via Some Random Thread

 

Carol Channing and Diana Ross were secretly COUSINS

channing

diana_ross

Carol Channing and Diana Ross were secretly COUSINS

My elderly neighbor, who lived in LA since childhood and spent decades working in entertainment has told me some scrazy stories, but the craziest is that Carol Channing and Diana Ross were actually cousins, and that Carol’s machinations were a big part of Diana’s ascension to lead status in the Supremes.

by: Anonymous reply 3 07/11/2012 @ 05:51PM

Carol Channing had a black grandfather so it could be true.

by: Anonymous reply 4 07/11/2012 @ 05:53PM

Channing’s from San Francisco and San Francisco lead the way with mixed marriages. They were all the same race marriages, just some white people marrying people not so white.

by: Anonymous reply 5 07/11/2012 @ 06:02PM

The legs, the smile…they do look a alike.

by: Anonymous reply 6 07/11/2012 @ 06:11PM

Channing with her parents:

 ChanningFamily

by: Anonymous reply 7 07/11/2012 @ 06:26PM

Channing’s only child, Channing Lowe:

carol and son, channing, 1965 house and garden september issue phot by john rawlings

by: Anonymous reply 9 07/11/2012 @ 08:41PM

They both have the same smile, teeth, and large eyes.

evidence piling up:

Carol Channing Soul Sister

by: Anonymous reply 12 07/11/2012 @ 08:46PM

Carol

Carol+Channing+png
by: Anonymous reply 13 07/11/2012 @ 08:47PM

Diana

diana-ross


by: Anonymous reply 14 07/11/2012 @ 08:48PM

On the “Diana Ross and The Supremes Greatest Hits” album, there is a liner note from Carol Channing commenting on her love for The Supremes.

oh… baby nahla…

sorry for the sporadic posting.  i’ve been working out of town and it’s harder than i’d anticipated to keep up with the blog.

anywho, i figured i’d get around to acknowledging this mess….

some readers and viewers and friends have asked me how i feel about this, and all i can say is that it makes me sad.  i just do not understand the impetus to uphold the one drop rule.  i’m baffled.  it’s so illogical to me.  it clearly only applies to racially mixed with black people.  i’d go so far as to say that it only applies to racially mixed black and white people.  i am quite sure that other mixes do not have such strict identification restrictions.  if you are anything other than black + white, you are not so harshly criticized for claiming the whole of yourself (not that i believe that racial categories constitute the whole of a human self.) i totally understand allegiance to the black community.  i understand that society’s gonna view you one way if you look one way (however, i think the jury’s still out on nahla’s phenotype.)  regardless of that though, i think we’re coming to a time in the collective consciousness of humanity, where it’s most important to be what you are.  regardless of history or politics.  the best we can do is be who we are.  and once we each accept and embrace our authentic selves, it’ll be so much easier to accept and embrace our fellow man as his/her authentic self. whoever they say they are.  whatever they show us they are.  and it’s by defying these antiquated “rules” that we free ourselves and each other to… be ourselves… and each other…

but back to nahla, i’m confident that she’ll find her way, find herself. but, goodness gracious i think her parents are going to make it much more difficult than necessary with this “she’s black because there’s a one drop rule” vs. “don’t you call my child black” (see below) nonsense that we’ve read about… ay yai yai

via TMZ

Sources connected with the former couple tell TMZ … whenever Gabriel would read a story about Nahla that referred to her as “black,” he would go off, insisting his baby was white.  We’re told Gabriel would tell Halle and others they should demand a “retraction” when such references were made regarding his daughter.

As TMZ previously reported, sources tell us Gabriel has called Halle the “N” word  — and one woman previously involved with him referred to him as a “borderline racist.”

Halle Berry on her daughter’s race and interracial romance

As her custody battle with ex Gabriel Aubry turns ugly, Halle Berry is speaking out to the March issue of Ebony magazine about their daughter Nahla and the role that race plays in her own relationships.

The Oscar winner, whose mother is white and father is black, tells Ebony that she identifies herself as a black woman but plans to let 2 1/2-year-old Nahla — whose dad is white and French Canadian — make her own decision about her race when she’s old enough.

“I’m not going to put a label on it,” she says. “I had to decide for myself, and that’s what she’s going to have to decide — how she identifies herself in the world. And I think, largely, that will be based on how the world identifies her. That’s how I identified myself.”

But, Berry adds, “I feel like she’s black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory.”

Regardless, the actress acknowledges that being biracial isn’t easy.

“If you’re of multiple races, you have a different challenge, a unique challenge of embracing all of who you are but still finding a way to identify yourself, and I think that’s often hard for us to do,” she explains. “I identify as a black woman, but I’ve always had to embrace my mother and the white side of who I am, too. By choosing, I’ve often [wondered], ‘Well, would that make her feel like I’m invalidating her by choosing to identify more with the black side of myself?'”

Like Aubry, Berry’s current boyfriend, actor Olivier Martinez, is white, but she tells Ebony love has nothing to do with skin color.

“I’m very connected to my community, and I want black people to know that I haven’t abandoned them because I’ve had a child with a man outside of my race and I’m dating someone now outside of my race who is Spanish and French,” says Berry, who has romanced men from a variety of ethnic groups.

“I have never been more clear about who I am as a black woman…the people I have dated sort of hold up a mirror to me and help me realize more of who I really am,” she said. “And who I really am is a black woman who is struggling to make my race proud of me, who is struggling to move black women forward in the profession I’ve chosen, and those relationships have actually helped me identify myself more clearly. Not to say that I wasn’t able to do that when I was married to two black men, but it certainly hasn’t detracted from feeling very connected to my community, and who I really am at my core.”

Berry goes on to say that “the truth is that it’s taken me a long time to learn how to love myself, and color isn’t really a part of what I look at when I’m deciding who I want to spend time with. I look for the soul, the person, the evolution, what he believes in, who [he is as a person] and how does it affect me in a positive way.”

Divorced from athlete David Justice and singer Eric Benet, Berry has vowed to never marry again, but now says she might make an exception.

“The only reason I would is if I found somebody who proved to be on-another-level special to me,” she says. “And if for some reason I felt like it would be important for Nahla and her sense of family unit. I’ve been married twice, and [the marriages] didn’t work out. They were painful divorces, and I’m not so sure I ever want to subject myself to that kind of pain and heartbreak again. I don’t know if I can.”

what year is this!?

oh my jesus… yes, i had to go there.  i keep searching for an indication that this piece was written forty years ago, and only recently re-published just for… fun… or something.  i do think that there are, like, two valid, worthwhile points contained herein… but… um… oriental!?!?  that, of course, is not my main concern here, but it does point to the antiquated lens through which our dear (he does look kind of sweet and it says he volunteers a lot) mr. raiford views the world around him.  i don’t mean to come down on him.  i thank him for the unique opportunity to analyze the old “what about the children?” plea which i rarely see argued under the guise of modern day quandry.

maybe you should take a moment to skip down to the article and then come back to my stuff…  i’m never sure if it’s best for me to put my thoughts at the beginning or not… you’ve been warned… here they come…

first off, i’d wager to say that parents of mixed race children have long questioned the validity of discrete racial categories that require a child to choose.  i’d also wager to say that the white parents have probably had more questions than the black or ‘minority’ ones.  if this article was indeed written in the 21st century, i think it would be more accurate to say that (some fraction of) the rest of the country is finally beginning to question the validity of discrete racial categories.

most off… i cannot even believe that this man, who uses the term oriental multiple times, has the nerve to caution human beings who love each other and dream of starting a family to grow through life with… not to do so because race “matters” and (in his opinion) the children will be confused and unsupported outside of said family.  how about cautioning the rest of the country, those who haven’t caught up with the times, not to be so rigid in their notions of “us” in opposition to “them,” or who belongs with whom and why?  how about saying something to move us toward the idea that we are all fundamentally the same?  we are people.  who seek love and joy and connection.  and any time people are lucky enough to stumble upon those things we should encourage them to leap right in and build something beautiful from there.  which will encourage the rest of us to do the same. which will cause this society in which race matters more than who a person really is to change because the lines are blurred, have been crossed, eventually forgotten.  there you have a solution for the problem of the 6 year old that mr. raiford proposes will be confused and hurt by not belonging to any group outside of the immediate family.

and another thing… hasn’t the recent census informed us that there actually is a viable mixed-race reference group?  the only satisfaction that brings me personally is that it appears to be a necessary step toward the ultimate realization of the human-race reference group.  only one box to check.

to be fair… parts i liked… which really means agree with:

  • When a black and white couple produces a child, the child, by logical extension of definition, is black and white…
  • Race in the United States is a very discrete category. It is not based on any kind of scientific definition. It is based on a draconian sociological one and a divisive political one.
  • The United States has carefully and systematically created a society where race is a tremendously more important determinant of who we are than ethnicity, religion, national origin or personal achievements.

again, i do not mean to bring down a reign of fury on mr. raiford.  i’m truly grateful for the opportunity to blast these notions.  he seems like a nice guy with misguided concerns.  actually with misguided solutions to concerns that are unfortunately still mildly valid as we seem to be in an in between (united)state(s).  in between where we were and where we’re going.

awesome photo unrelated, source/subject unknown

HARD TIMES FOR MIXED-RACE CHILDREN

Written by GILBERT L. RAIFORD

In the pursuit of accuracy and personal pride, interracial parents are beginning to question the validity of discrete racial categories that require their children to designate single-race identification.

On the surface, this is a laudable pursuit and certainly a legitimate one. After all, we do define people as black or white. So, when a black and white couple produces a child, the child, by logical extension of definition, is black and white or neither black nor white. However, this satisfies only the biological, and perhaps anthropological, approach to understanding race.

There is a more compelling reality: Race in the United States is a very discrete category. It is not based on any kind of scientific definition. It is based on a draconian sociological one and a divisive political one. People here are defined as black or white or Oriental. This takes precedence over being defined as Jewish, Jamaican, Cuban, Haitian, Russian, Chinese, French, Catholic, Protestant, etc. The United States has carefully and systematically created a society where race is a tremendously more important determinant of who we are than ethnicity, religion, national origin or personal achievements. Witness the confusion of black Cubans or black Puerto Ricans or the Eurasians.

In the United States, an African-American parent, no matter how fair-skinned, cannot procreate a “white” child. The system does not make exceptions for an African American whose child is the product of interracial coupling. Of course, the reverse is not true for Anglo-Americans. They can have any race of child they want – black, white or oriental. That is the reality of this society.

I write this not at all to chide or even inform interracial parents. They are adults who most likely know a great deal about the race issues and are intellectually and emotionally strong enough to ignore the stupidity that is generated out of personal and institutionalized racism. Their lives together attest to this fact.

But what about the children?

It is not easy growing up black in this society. It becomes considerably more difficult for one who does not know that he or she is black, but is confronted by this sociological fact everyday and in so many ways, some of them hurtful and insidious. No amount of parental love can shield a 6-year-old from the confusion and hurt of not belonging to any group outside of the immediate family. Adolescents are particularly fragile, having to live with this confusion at the very crossroads of their lives when they are struggling to overcome self-doubt and needing to feel good about themselves, needing self-validation – things that one gets from people other than the immediate family, from a reference group. Presently, there is no viable mixed-race reference group. One is forced to choose. Mental health directs one towards choosing a reference group which minimizes our degree of race-mixing and provides us with full membership.

Superimposed on race is ethnicity.  Ethnicity is a reference group. For African Americans, it provides for a very sustaining sense of identity. It is no wonder that people like Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White and Adam Clayton Power, even though white-looking, affirmed their blackness. It was not race that they were affirming, it was ethnicity, the sustaining sentiment which makes being non-white in America palpable and even enjoyable.

Hopefully, the day will arrive when we are no longer a racial society, a society where race does not matter. That day has not yet come. In the meanwhile, I caution interracial parents to consider the consequences of making their child a cause célèbre in search of a miscegenation reference group. Of course, it is important that a child knows the reality of his or her family genealogy and to even embrace it. It is at least equally important that a child is prepared to negotiate life based on the social context of society. Sadly, race matters.

Gilbert L. Raiford is semi-retired after a career in teaching and working for the U.S. Department of State. He lives in Miami where he volunteers at homeless facilities, the Opera House in Miami and after-care school programs as a fund-raiser. He may be reached at graiford@hotmail.com

no h8

This is so right on!  Thank you, Karen Finney.  I’m so glad my (white)grandparents allowed me in to their lives.  And so are they! It’s the “little” things…

On another note, this sentence, “the very existence of antimiscegenation laws had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of white supremacy,” speaks to the very reason I fell down this rabbit hole I’ll now call the mulatto trail.  I realized one day that anti-miscegenation and the one-drop rule perpetuate the idea of white supremacy, and that by subscribing to that antiquated rule I was upholding that ridiculous notion.  The anti-miscegenation thing has legally been eradicated, but ask any interracial couple who has walked down a street together, and I’m sure they’ll tell you that on more than one occasion they’ve been given the evil-eye or gawked as if they were freaks of nature.  Or both.  And as for the one-drop rule, head on over to my youtube channel, scroll through the comments, and you’ll see that it looms large in the consciousness.  And many people don’t seem to be willing to let it go.

California Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ruling a Win For American Values

By KAREN FINNEY

SOURCE

Yesterday’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional reaffirms a long-held American value that no matter how you try to spin it, separate is not equal. While some may not agree with same-sex marriage, history should remind us that our Constitution calls us to recognize that the laws in it apply equally, not to be picked apart to support a political agenda or bias. The arguments being used against same sex marriage are frighteningly similar and equally offensive as those once used against interracial marriage. While a Gallup poll in 1967 found that 74 percent of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage, it’s almost hard to remember just how far we’ve come.

I was 16 years old before I was allowed in my grandfather’s home in Greensboro, North Carolina. That’s how long it took for him to even begin to re-think his shame over having a mixed-race granddaughter. He believed, as did many at the time, miscegenation was wrong on moral and legal grounds. Thankfully for me, my parents disagreed. They were married in New York City and had me despite the fact that it was illegal in their home states of Virginia and North Carolina to do so. Thankfully for our country, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court saw beyond the fear and bigotry of the moment and ruled that antimiscegenation laws violated fundamental American values of Due Process and Equal Protection Under the Law as guaranteed to every American by our constitution.

Just as some used to say that marriage is only valid between a white man and white woman, some now argue that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Arguments have also been made that same-sex marriage dilutes the institution of marriage, just as similar arguments suggested that interracial marriage diluted the white race. My personal favorite absurd justification says that (despite the idea that we are all God’s children and loved equally) gay marriage is against the laws of God and nature. That argument was used by Leon M. Bazile, the judge in the initial case against the Lovings, who said:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Loving case also recognized that the very existence of antimiscegenation laws had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of white supremacy:

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

Similarly, as Judge Vaughn Walker today affirmed, denying gay couples the right to marry, not only denies basic civil rights, liberty, and freedom, but also codifies bigotry.

Karen FinneyKaren Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients in the areas of political and communications strategy. She brings over 16 years of experience in national politics and campaigns ranging from the Clinton administration to New York State to the Democratic National Committee.

denying the rich history of america’s multiracial realities

these are my sentiments exactly, jason haap!  i try so hard not to judge or be offended by anyones’ choice to self-identify as they choose, but…. come on obama!!  how will we ever move forward if the most recognized living ‘mulatto’ doesn’t think it matters that he is one?  how will we eradicate the vestiges of the one-drop rule, which implies that black blood is a pollutant, and that if your drop is visible you better forget about the rest and fall in line at the back with the other tainted ready to fight the good fight?  if we can’t get rid of that idea, then how will we get to the point where we see ourselves in everyone because we are indeed all mixed up and there is no inherent opposition.  i have a feeling that we as a human race could reach untold heights if we redirected the energy that we (perhaps unconsciously) spend on categorizing/demonizing/stereotyping/judging/comparing/othering toward a more inclusive, unified system of brotherly commune. like, no fighting, no distrust, no base-less fear. what!? i don’t even know how to say what i mean. maybe there’s not a word for it. yet.

Unfortunate message to our mixed-race children

by Jason Haap, an educator, citizen media activist, and father of two multiracial children

SOURCE

The “one drop” rule is alive and well for America’s multiracial children! Last week, President Obama gathered fanfare from national media. Despite the obvious existence of his white mother, he checked just one box on his census form regarding his racial identity: “Black, African Am., or Negro.” By ignoring the option of checking multiple boxes (or of writing in a word like “multiracial”), Obama sent an unfortunate message to America’s mixed-race children.

People may have the freedom to pick racial identities individually, but Obama’s public actions as president of the United States deny the rich history of America’s multiracial realities, hearkening back to a racist period that said one drop “black” makes a person “all black.”

I remember, a few months ago, playing with my kids at the Cincinnati Children’s Museum. I heard one boy point at my oldest son and call him “that black kid.” Certainly my children are more brown-skinned than me, but they are also more fair-skinned than their mother. That’s because I have multiracial children, and I think it’s too bad their racial identities are being formed by a backward-thinking American culture before they are even old enough to notice skin color might mean something in the first place.

Despite the mythologies some of us have been raised to believe, there is nothing “stronger” about black blood. It does not “take over” a baby’s genes if one parent is black and the other white. These ideas were promulgated by racists who wanted to scare white people into thinking their genes would be obliterated by the act of intermixing with blacks. But it’s just not true. It’s bunk science and even bunkier sociology.

When the Race exhibit came to the Cincinnati Museum Center, I learned how some cultures have radically different ways of articulating race – such as in Brazil, where dozens of descriptive terms are used instead of polarizing opposites like simply “white” or simply “black.” Instead of helping move our racial understandings into the 21st century, Obama’s public actions have placed us back into the old racist thinking of the one drop rule, and that’s a shame.

grateful for the choice

I mailed my Census form yesterday.  I must say that after all the hype, I was totally underwhelmed by the experience.  I checked the two boxes.  I can’t say it brought me any great feelings of validation.  I guess I thought they’d be asking some questions that went beyond race.  I also thought that “Negro” would be the only African American classification term offered since there was so much buzz about the word being used in 2010.  At any rate, I enjoyed this article.

More than black or white

By Annette John-Hall

Inquirer Columnist

SOURCE

For Kathrin P. Ivanovic, racial identity means a whole lot more than just black or white.

Her makeup runs the gamut.

“My mother is German and my birth father is African American with Cuban ancestry,” says Ivanovic, 29, director of development at the Nationalities Service Center, a Philadelphia nonprofit that services immigrants and refugees.

“Plus, my adopted dad is white, and I’m queer. Unfortunately, they don’t have a box for that.

“. . . I call myself a mixed chick.”

But when her 2010 U.S. Census form arrives in the mail this week (the 10-question form is being touted as the shortest in census history), Ivanovic will be satisfied to check black and white – which is really how she sees herself anyway.

Since the 2000 census, for millions of Americans like Ivanovic, “check one or more” will apply.

There is plenty to choose from, with the number of racial and ethnic categories at 63. In the 1990 census, there were only five designations offered.

It can be dizzying. If you’re, say, Asian, you can check any combination of Asian American, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, Guamanian, or Chamorro, Samoan, as well as write-in categories for Other Asian or Other Pacific Islander.

In addition, you can also note if you’re of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. That’s because since 1970, Hispanic was no longer recognized as an overarching classification.

Still with me? (And here I thought having Negro on the same line as the black or African American box was confusing.)

But I’m all for it, especially if it paints a more genuine picture of who we are – all 300 million of us. Doesn’t matter if only 2 percent of Americans were identified as more than one race in 2000. Nowadays, we’ve got more multiracial and multiethnic couples and children than ever before, which means the percentage is sure to increase this year.

Which in turn enables the government to allocate funds more equitably. Census data are used in everything from determining the number of congressmen your region gets to the assessing the amount of funding for your town’s bridge project to supporting health centers.

Race data also have driven the nation’s civil rights laws (how many people were denied the right to vote, how many were discriminated against in housing, for example) and are still used to monitor inequalities in health and education.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Truth is, the U.S. Census was historically more of an oppressor than an advocate, especially when it came to African Americans.

Racial count

From the time census data were first collected in 1790, when enumerators listed categories of free men and slaves, whites used the census to diminish African Americans.

“You can see why they had a slave category,” says MIT professor Melissa Nobles, author of Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics. “Southern slave owners wanted the least amount of information, thinking it would help abolitionists. And abolitionists wanted the most amount of information [to make their case].”

Throughout the 19th century and until 1930, census counters used categories such as quadroon (one-quarter black), octoroon (one-eighth black), and mulatto (half black) to describe any person who had a discernible amount of African American blood.

Like they could tell just from looking.

Even after 1930, Southern laws imposed the “one-drop rule” to its census enumerating, meaning they were to count as mulattos anyone who even looked remotely black – a mandate loosely applied by census counters nationwide.

“They used it for racial social science,” Nobles says. For example, they used census data to prove skewed theories (arguing, for instance, that biracial people – “the tragic mulatto” – were somehow weaker and suffered from higher death rates), which in turn helped legislators make the case against interracial marriage.

But even as the categories have expanded, some today are pushing for a separate, generic multiracial designation.

Ralina L. Joseph, a professor of communications at the University of Washington, worries that even though the data will show us as more diverse and multihued, they could be misinterpreted once again.

“I don’t want people to read the numbers and think that racism is over, that this is a post-racial moment,” says Joseph, who is biracial. “We should hope that people who are disenfranchised through race, class, and poverty levels should be identified as such.”

Some sociologists even insist that racial designations have no place on a census form, if it is indeed as simple as an objective count.

But in a multiracial, multiethnic society where even the president is a self-described “mutt,” Kathrin Ivanovic is grateful for the choice.

“I am mixed. It’s how I view the world, and in some ways it’s how the world views me,” she says. “To not be able to identify that way is dishonest to me personally.”

“The Census Taker” (1870) Harper’s Weekly

white top

White Top Folk Festival by Jason Riedy.

Text of the sign: “The White Top Folk Festival was held annually from 1931 to 1939 (except 1937) on Whitetop Mountain — the second highest peak in Virginia. Annabel Morris Buchanan, John Powell, and John A. Blakemore organized the event that featured banjo players, fiddlers, string bands, and ballad singers, as well as storytelling, clog dancing, morris and sword dancing, and theatrical presentations. Thousands of people attended the festival each year, including nationally known academic folklorists, art critics, composers, and in 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The festival was cancelled in 1940 because of heavy rains and floods and never returned.

A First Lady in a False Kingdom: A Curious

Convergence on White Top Mountain

CHRISTA SMITH ANDERSON

From 1932 to 1939, the Whitetop Folk Festival attracted people from far and wide to the small mountain community. In 1933, even First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stopped by to celebrate.

It was August 12, and the tenure of America’s longest-running first lady was in its infancy. Franklin Roosevelt had been in office just over five months. The FBI was still called the Bureau of Investigation, and its director, J. Edgar Hoover, hadn’t started compiling what would become his largest secret file — the 3,271 pages on Eleanor Roosevelt’s activities, many of them anti-segregation and, thus, “subversive.” The Ku Klux Klan didn’t know Eleanor Roosevelt well enough yet to have a price on her head. Another six years would pass before her infamous resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) over that organization’s refusal to allow African-American contralto Marian Anderson to perform in Constitution Hall.

…One of the festival’s organizers, John Powell, proudly asserted that “the great proof of the importance and the significance of the great musical heritage of our people is in the fact that Mrs. Roosevelt should come.”

Like many a memorable character, John Powell, who was also a founder of the Anglo- Saxon Clubs of America, is both compelling and repelling. A classical composer and pianist from Richmond, Virginia, Powell studied in Vienna with Theodor Leschetizky, in Prague with Karl Navrátil. He made his debut in Berlin in 1907, when he was twenty-five years old; the performance was hailed by critics as one of the most successful the city had ever known.

In the first part of his career, Powell incorporated all forms of American music — notably, African-American music — into compositions like Sonata Virginianesque and Rhapsodie Nègre. But by the 1930s, when he was selecting and shaping the White Top Folk Festival musicians, he was committed to promoting what he considered “Anglo-Saxon” music: a pure, white music from a pure, white region of America, whose music was dangerously at risk of becoming defined by a black American baby called Jazz.

By excluding black musicians, probably of some Anglo heritage themselves, Powell and other festival organizers brought to the mountaintop the pernicious bias that would become Powell’s legacy.

In 1924, Powell was instrumental in a court case that prevented the marriage of Dorothy Johns and James Connor by proving that one of Johns’s ancestors was black, thus she could not legally marry Connor, who was white. Some thirty-four years later, Powell was also instrumental — by virtue of his efforts in the 1920s — in making sure that interracial newly-weds Mildred and Richard Loving didn’t get a full night’s sleep. A few weeks after they were married, the Lovings were awakened around two a.m. by flashing police lights and escorted from their bed so they could be booked into the Caroline County, Virginia, jail. Each was charged with a felony.

The Dorothy Johns case was the first test of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, the Lovings’ the last. The “one-drop” law made interracial marriage a felony in Virginia and was especially targeted at whites marrying blacks, blacks being defined, of course, as anyone with “one drop” of black blood. Powell worked with other racial eugenicists to get the law passed in 1924, and was the self-proclaimed originator of it. By 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Racial Integrity Act in Loving v. Virginia, there were similar laws in fifteen other states as far north as Delaware, and as far west as Oklahoma.

For Eleanor Roosevelt, this 1933 trip to Southwest Virginia was a sentimental journey. Her father, Elliott, lived out the Panic of 1893 — the Great Depression’s predecessor — in the Southwestern Virginia town of Abingdon, close to the Tennessee and North Carolina borders.

At the festival, Eleanor warmly addressed the crowd of some ten thousand attendees: “To the people who live here I want to say a special word of gratitude. They have given me the feeling that they remember affectionately my father, whom I adore.”  And then she ended her speech, “For the rest of the day I hope to be just a spectator.”

Hundreds of performers took the stage for the festival that year. Among the prizewinners was Jack Reedy from Marion, Virginia. He won first prize in banjo; tied for first in clog dancing; and performing with the Blevins Brothers in the band competition, tied for first.


Eleanor Roosevelt posed with White Top Folk Festival contestants Frank Blevins (fiddle), Jack Reedy (banjo), Edd Blevins (guitar), and six-year-old mandolin sensation, Muriel Dockery, in 1933.
Library of Virginia

Mrs. Roosevelt may very well have heard some of the same songs her father did. But didn’t she, or any of those reporters who’d read about the “quartette of negroes” singing to him in the 1890s, think it curious that in the 1930s, not a one of the singers, instrumentalists, dancers, or storytellers at this folk-music festival with a five-state view was black? Did they not find the complexion of this kingdom to be unusually fair?  I’d like to think the White Top Mountain Folk Music Festival was the fool-me-once in Eleanor’s evolution as a Civil Rights activist.  Eleanor never publicly criticized the White Top Mountain Folk Music Festival organizers for their exclusion of black performers. But her reaction to some of the people who did perform hints at the cost of Powell’s agenda on the music he was trying to elevate. In her “Passing Thoughts of Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt” column in the Women’s Democratic News, Eleanor wrote of the women ballad singers she saw and heard on White Top: “[They were] fine featured … showing in their carriage and expression that there is something in inheritance.” As for the music, “Their voices were not remarkable but the whole thing was of great interest to those who believe that there is value in preserving the folk lore which has come out of the early customs and experiences of the people of the country.”

For whatever Powell might have thought of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, it’s quite certain that his opinion would’ve changed drastically by the 1950s, when racists flat-out hated her, some of them wondering why on earth a white person would talk so much about civil rights, others coming to the conclusion that Mrs. Roosevelt must have some black ancestry. Eleanor was downright snide about the whole eugenics thing. In her “My Day” newspaper column, she wrote about receiving an “amusing postcard” from someone in Mobile, Alabama, who wrote: “Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
You have not answered my questions, the amount of Negro blood you have in your veins, if any.”

To which she responded: “I am afraid none of us know how much or what kind of blood we have in our veins, since chemically it is all the same. And most of us cannot trace our ancestry more than a few generations.” She went on, “As far as I know, I have no Negro blood, but, of course, I do have some Southern blood in my veins, for my Grandmother Roosevelt came from Georgia.”

As for John Powell, he was too “refined” to wear a white sheet. His cloak was musical brilliance, and that brilliance was about as flooded out as the last-planned White Top Mountain Folk Music Festival. (The 1940 festival was rained out, and organizers never brought it back.)

But for all the record-industry packaging that would corral white into “hillbilly” and black into “blues,” making country music today seem the province of white folk, when it comes down to it, American country music got its start as a Virginia-born, biracial baby. Biracial unless, of course, you were to follow Powell’s one-drop definition — in which case it’s black music, just like Powell’s own early compositions, just like every song played on White Top Mountain with that African instrument, the banjo.

SOURCE

speaking of “black enough”

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I was happy to come across this article (http://www.politicalarticles.net/blog/2009/06/17/are-you-black-black-enough-and-who-decides/) on the notion of “black enough.”  I’m wondering today why, when I call attention to the absurd and potentially damaging rigid notions of blackness and whiteness, people feel the need to challenge me instead of challenging these notions.  And the one that says that black and white cannot co-exist without the degradation of one, maybe even both, of them.  I do not agree with Taylor’s assertion that “it may be too late in history as well as potentially dangerous to be tampering with the socio-cultural definition of blackness even though the definition is a product of slavery.”  I think it dangerous not to tamper with it.  I think the American consciousness  is infected with racism (colorism at best).  We trace the disease back to slavery.  I don’t think we will heal and prosper and achieve the greatness intended for the nation until we rectify this situation. These definitions. I certainly do agree with his last statement though.

Are You Black; Black Enough; and Who Decides?

By Robert Taylor

In the wake of the claims of Tiger Woods and the election of a mixed race but Black President, a question has been raised in black internet chat rooms around the country as to whether there is a legal or biological definition of who is black.

Actually, there is no law operable today which defines what percentage of “black blood” makes one black. The oft-repeated notion that one drop of black blood makes one black is a cultural definition which has neither a legal nor biological foundation…It is basically a socio-cultural attitude based in major measure on how a person looks.

…Simply put, in America, if you “look” in anyway black, you “are” black. That is not law. That is not science. It just is – a practical reality. Thus Tiger Woods’ mother may be from Thailand and Tiger may object to being called black. But it does not make a practical difference.

Further, it may be too late in history as well as potentially dangerous to be tampering with the socio-cultural definition of blackness even though the definition is a product of slavery. When the Census Bureau decided a few years ago to include a category called “mixed race” in the census, many people rightfully saw it as potentially divisive, asking what practical good does the “mixed race” category serve, but to further divide people along largely artificial lines.

Finally, if one just has to ask the question, the real question should not be “who is black” but instead “who is white.” The scientific theories of Evolution and “Out of Africa” are very clear: There is only one “race” on the planet Earth and it had its origin in East Africa (around present-day Ethiopia) and then spread to all other parts of the world. Adapting to environmental conditions such as the degree of sunlight and developing in relative isolation, some groups evolved lighter skins and others evolved darker skins…Thus technically every person on the planet – from the darkest skinned person in the Congo to the lightest skinned person in Sweden – is of African ancestry.

Therefore the answer to the question above is YOU decide if you are Black enough and whether you realize it or not that gives you tremendous power.

via Politicalarticles.net

you don't have to black to love the blues

i am an american

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 San Francisco, Calif., Mar. 1942. 
A large sign reading “I am an American” placed in the window of a store, at 13th and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war. Photo by Dorothea Lange.

http://community.livejournal.com/vintagephoto

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 relocating 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast into internment camps for the duration of the war. The personal rights, liberties, and freedoms of Japanese Americans were taken away from them by their own country. Since World War II, a Japanese American struggle continues to obtain reparation from the U.S. Government.

August 10, 1988 H.R. 442 is signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It provides for individual payments of $20,000 to each surviving internee and a $1.25 billion education fund among other provisions.

October 9, 1990 The first nine redress payments are made at a Washington D.C. One hundred seven year-old Rev. Mamoru Eto of Los Angeles is the first to receive his check.

The Civil Liberties Act was an official apology made to Japanese Americans in 1988 by Congress.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Japanese_American_life_under_U.S._policies_after_World_War_II

 

I’ve never been one to make much of a case for reparations for African American slavery, but I can’t help feeling like if “they” got it “we” should too.  It seems to me that this is further evidence of the dehumanization of black people.  Black people don’t deserve reparations?  They should be grateful to find themselves in America today instead of in the jungle?  They were created to work and don’t need much in return?  That’s what the implications of reparations for some, but not for those treated the worst while doing the most to make this country what it is- what it should be, but isn’t right now- today.  It’s kind of like the one-drop rule in a way.  Only applies to black people.  Asians, Hispanics, Indians can mix with whites for a couple of generations and their legacy is then white.  There is no one-drop to follow them around and accuse them of denying something or being ashamed or self-hating.  Their blood is not tainted.  Of course neither is mine, yet these implications remain.

 

wtf

2 in 1

1) Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange blew me away with their transcendent performances in Grey Gardens on HBO last night.  It was kinda creepy because I swear they became Edith and Little Edie.  Now I want to see the documentary again.

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2) Irrational Thought of the Day:

That’s a cool black dress Drew’s wearing in the photo.