Monday, March 29, 2010

Nella Larsen, Homer Plessy, and Biraciality

                                                                          Nella Larsen
Mixed Chick and Author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi Durrow, provides a short biography on Nella Larsen.

Mixed Chicks define the "one-drop rule," which was used to discriminate against people of mixed race, no matter to what degree, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Professor McNair on the history of Plessy vs. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled that the institutional separation of the races--"separate but equal"--was constitutional under the law. This judgment on legal segregation--the most blatant form of institutionalized racism in 20th-century America--was not overturned until the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case in 1954.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

"Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917 and raised in Chicago. She is the author of more than twenty books of poetry, including Children Coming Home (The David Co., 1991); Blacks (1987); To Disembark (1981); The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986); Riot (1969); In the MeccaThe Bean Eaters (1960); Annie Allen (1949), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize; and A Street in Bronzeville (1945). (1968);
She also wrote numerous other books including a novel, Maud Martha (1953), and Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972), and edited Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology (1971).
In 1968 she was named Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois, and from 1985-86 she was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Frost Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. She lived in Chicago until her death on December 3, 2000." [from]


We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
The Bean Eaters  
They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood, 
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
          is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
          tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stuart Hall: Race is a "floating signifier"

Stuart Hall, a prominent scholar of Cultural Studies in England, argues that our ideas of what racial difference means changes over time based on our changing system of making meaning in the world. We'll check out one of his video lectures shortly and hopefully tease out a clear understanding of this very important idea in race theory.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Race: An Illusion?

Do you think you can determine someone's "race" just by looking at them?
Try PBS's Sorting Game. Let's see how perceptive you really are in these matters!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ireland...a postcolonial nation?

Footage of fighting in Dublin during the Irish Civil War, June 1922 to May 1923. It followed the War for Independence against England, 1919-1921. Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" in 1920. Surely the apocalyptic mood was influenced not only by the recent war in Europe--World War I--and the conflicts that war triggered (e.g. the Russian Revolution) but also by the conflict at home. For almost 400 years the Irish were under the control of the British, who looked down upon the Irish as an inferior people.