Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Kodak Moment

Fascinating article about how Kodak developed film stock to photograph only white skin, rendering black people nearly invisible. And, conversely (or maybe similarly), how Polaroid designed a camera that "boosted" light exposure exactly enough to capture black skin so that South Africa's apartheid regime could photograph blacks for the passbooks used to control their movement. Talk about technologies of race.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Read what Frederick Douglass read

Here's a link to full-text, original copy versions of William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper The Liberator.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Segregation--alive and well in 1963

"Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

Today is the 50th anniversary of George Wallace's fiery declaration, in 1963, during his inaugural address as governor of Alabama. 1963--nine years after Brown v. Board declared segregation unconstitutional. Also the year I was born. As Americans, how could we not still be living with the legacy of slavery, the failure of Reconstruction to produce any sort of racial equality, and the long era of segregation (with the lynching, KKK, and disfranchisement that went along with it)? How can we be post-racial if we're barely post-segregation? That's not to say that racial categories and attitudes haven't changed. It's just to say you can't wipe out history that fast. It was current events for a lot of folks still around.

Here's an NPR Radio Diaries story remembering Wallace's speech:


Friday, January 11, 2013

Does Race Have Anything to Do with Skin Color?

 As Marlon Riggs said, "Black is, black ain't."

State of the ReUnion

Pike County, OH – As Black as We Wish to Be

In this episode Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that they look white. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white. It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage.

Listen to the episode:  http://stateofthereunion.com/home/season-3/pike-county-oh

"The Abolitionists"

We missed the first episode, but we can still catch the next two. And you can watch the first one online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/abolitionists/. Could it be better timing for Engl. 254?

137 bullets

Associated Press article on Cleveland police shooting of two unarmed black citizens: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=167387058.

137 bullets.

The n-word, the violence, Hollywood and slavery: "Django Unchained"

An interesting take on Tarantino's new movie Django Unchained. I haven't seen the movie yet, and I'm not necessarily endorsing the views of this column, but it does address several of the objections people have made to the film:http://www.theroot.com/views/slavery-film-sanitized-no-more

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Counting Americans: The US Census Racial Categories

Because "race" is a social construction and doesn't exist as fact, the U.S. Census is always trying to figure out how to categorize and count people by race. Looks like the census categories might change again: http://www.policymic.com/articles/22164/why-more-races-could-appear-on-the-2020-census

Emancipation Proclaimed--and then what?

What happened to slaves after emancipation was proclaimed? An interesting op ed in the New York Times related to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/dying-for-freedom/

Why we still live with the legacy of slavery.