A stone for the Chief: Black Anchorage leader who passed as white honored with memorial

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-12-01 20:23Z by Steven

A stone for the Chief: Black Anchorage leader who passed as white honored with memorial

Alaska Dispatch News
Anchorage, Alaska

Mike Dunham, Play & Arts & Entertainment Reporter

From left, Corey Todoroff, Jim Vignola and Lex Patten of the Anchorage Fire Department unveil a new grave marker for longtime Anchorage Fire Chief Thomas Bevers, who passed away in 1944, during a ceremony at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery on Thursday, October 29, 2015. Bevers was also notable for co-founding what would become the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous festival, and for being a black man who passed as white.
Loren Holmes / ADN

The 1930 Anchorage census tells us this about Thomas S. Bevers: He was 39 years old, male, married, white, a veteran of the World War and the city’s fire chief.

But his final resting place was unmarked until Thursday, when an honor guard from the Anchorage Fire Department unveiled a headstone for him at a ceremony in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.

As his job title suggests, Bevers was more important than the average roustabout hoping to strike it rich — or maybe just get by — in the far-off territory of Alaska. He arrived in Anchorage in 1921 and served as a volunteer fireman. The ladder wagons were pulled by horses and the pumps were worked by hand.

By 1930, he was in the front ranks of city leaders, a man of property, a landlord, a partner in a major fur farm on 10th Avenue. He became involved with civic causes that included building a new hospital and Merrill Field. His ongoing business ventures ranged from establishing the Fairview neighborhood (originally Bevers Subdivision) to part-ownership of the Buffalo Mine near Chickaloon.

He was a member of the Anchorage Boosters Club who loved to give visitors tours of Anchorage while extolling its possibilities. Most famously, he co-founded the Fur Rendezvous winter festival.

Anchorage Fire Department Chief Thomas Bevers in the 1930s
Courtesy Anchorage Fire Department

In 1922 Bevers became the first paid fireman in the city. He retired from the position of chief in 1940 and ran for city council in 1941, winning the office with 772 votes.

In October 1944, during a duck hunting trip on the north side of Knik Arm, he went to bed and quietly died of a heart attack. An editorial in the Anchorage Times lamented, “Anchorage (has) lost one of its best friends and leaders.”

He had no immediate family in the territory. The 1940 census listed him as single. Officials summoned a sister in Virginia to come and claim the body.

Upon her arrival, his friends and business partners did a double take…

Read the entire article here.

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“Brillo head,” “Don King,” “Sideshow Bob”: It took me years to embrace the hair that white people scorned

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-12-01 17:20Z by Steven

“Brillo head,” “Don King,” “Sideshow Bob”: It took me years to embrace the hair that white people scorned


Sarah Enelow

Growing up, everyone thought they could “fix” my hair. I believed them, and paid the price.

I was 16 and had been in the bathroom for two hours working on my hair. My tools were scattered all over the sink: a brush with bent-up bristles, a dozen barrettes and ties clogged with clumps of my torn-out hair, a spray bottle of water, loads of leave-in conditioner, and various gels and serums for “damaged” hair with names like Frizz Be Gone.

That month’s Seventeen magazine lay open to a tutorial on creating an “effortless” up-do, modeled by a cheerful blonde, but what I saw in the small mirror hanging on a nail above the sink was an ungainly afro whose tight, wiry, dark brown curls had been ripped apart. My eyes were red from crying and my skinny arms were exhausted from being held above my head so long.

I shoved the butt of my hand into the mirror—it went pop as shards of glass fell into the sink and a thin stream of blood ran down my forearm. I got myself a Band-aid, cleaned up quietly, pulled my hair back into a low bun, and retreated to my room. If I left my hair in that bun long enough, it might be semi-straight when I took it out, so long as it never got wet again, but that wasn’t feasible. When I started growing my hair out around age 8, I didn’t realize I had to de-tangle it daily in the shower, so one morning I woke up with fat dreadlocks and had to get them cut out…

Read the entire article here.

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‘We have a right to determine how our histories are told’: An interview with poet Toni Stuart

Posted in Africa, Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United Kingdom on 2015-12-01 16:08Z by Steven

‘We have a right to determine how our histories are told’: An interview with poet Toni Stuart

Goldsmiths University of London

Sarah Cox

On Thursday 3 December the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies (CCDS) and Centre for Feminist Research host a spoken word performance by Toni Stuart: poet, festival organiser and educator, recently named on the South African Mail & Guardian’s list of inspiring young South Africans. Toni is also a Goldsmiths graduate, completing her MA Writer/Teacher with us this year as a 2014/2015 Chevening Scholar. We caught up with her to find out more about her work and Goldsmiths experience.

Toni was first introduced to Goldsmiths by friend and fellow poet Raymond Antrobus while he was studying for his MA Writer/Teacher here. Raymond was also taking part in our Spoken Word Educators Programme (SWEP), working with school children to develop their confidence, self expression, oral communication and literary skills.

Invited in to teach for the day at the school where Raymond was based, Toni got a taste for what being poet-in-residence was like and also learnt more about our MA – a course taught by the Departments of Educational Studies and English and Comparative Literature.

“It sounded like exactly what I wanted,” she says. “A course that allowed me to develop my creative writing and teaching practices simultaneously, with a specific focus on developing my own pedagogy and ‘poetry syllabus’. I don’t know of any other course like it in the world. And, the SWEP – started by Peter Kahn and now with Jacob Sam-La Rose as director – is the only one of its kind in the world as well.”

After her performance at Goldsmiths this December, Toni and her audience will be taking part in a discussion circle exploring the use of stories as medicine. As a 32-year old mixed heritage South African woman poet, she believes her work – and that of her generation – is to heal the wounds that they have inherited from their parents’ generation and from the past.

“Sometimes these wounds are apparent and we’re able to address them directly, other times they are unconsciously passed down through many generations,” she says. “My experience of working in the NGO sector in the past, and in the arts sector now, is that self-care is fundamental if we hope for our work to have a meaningful impact in our communities, and, that in order for our work to be sustainable we need to ensure we are taking care of ourselves first…

Read the entire interview here.

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‘Black-ish’ Star Yara Shahidi Is a Role Model Off-Screen

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-30 02:37Z by Steven

‘Black-ish’ Star Yara Shahidi Is a Role Model Off-Screen

The New York Times

Hannah Seligson

Ms. Shahidi, 15, won the N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series this year. Credit Emily Berl for The New York Times

“Life as a teenager can be down right chaotic,” the actress Yara Shahidi, 15, told an audience last month at Cipriani 42nd Street, where she was being honored by the Young Women’s Leadership Network. “We must also realize that it is up to us whether these years will feel like a melancholy struggle or an opportunity for growth or experiences of a lifetime.”

For Ms. Shahidi, it’s certainly the latter.

As the actress who plays Zoey, the smart but entitled daughter on ABC’s “Black-ish,” a situation comedy about a prosperous black family wrestling with racial issues, Ms. Shahidi certainly has a platform to be heard. But she has not stopped there.

When she’s not taping “Black-ish,” she is a full-time social activist, inspiring young women to excel academically, volunteering at medical clinics and starting her own mentoring club…

There are few African-American actresses her age who are having the kind of cultural and social impact that Ms. Shahidi is, both on and off screen. This year, she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for best breakout star. She won a N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series…

…Activism runs in her family. “I was raised by a bunch of humanitarians,” she said, referring to her African-American mother, Keri-Salter Shahidi, a commercial actress, and her Iranian father, Afshin Shahidi, a cinematographer. Her maternal grandfather was involved in the civil rights movement…

Read the entire article here.

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Watch This Poet Break Down His Afro-Latino Identity

Posted in Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-11-30 02:23Z by Steven

Watch This Poet Break Down His Afro-Latino Identity

Black Youth Project

Jenn M. Jackson, Managing Editor

Gabriel Ramirez’s poem, “On Realizing I Am Black,” performed at the 2015 National Poetry Slam [2015-08-10 to 2015-08-15] in Oakland, CA is an eloquent oration on personhood at the margins.

There is nothing more beautiful than authenticity. But, in the face of imposition, oppression, and exclusion, that authenticity grows all the more radiant and incandescent. This poem, which creeps along the contours of Blackness and Latino-ness and Mixed-ness in the United States is the perfect articulation of how these intersecting identities have come to define a generation…

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Meet April Baskin, the Multiracial Face of Reform Judaism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-11-30 01:57Z by Steven

Meet April Baskin, the Multiracial Face of Reform Judaism


Allison Kaplan Sommer (Haaretz)

Image: Haaretz

See also: “Black and Jewish: New Reform Leader Works to Bring Marginalized Groups Into the Tribe” on 2015-11-25 from Haaretz.

To meet April Baskin is to see the change in American Jewry personified. A tall, confident, 32-year-old with an impressive mane of curly hair and a wide smile, the self-described “multiracial Jewish woman of color” is the newest executive in the Reform Jewry movement.

Her offbeat job title—vice president for audacious hospitality—incorporates the catchphrase that the Union for Reform Judaism has embraced as its central mission. It is meant both to include aggressively welcoming newcomers into its institutions, along with widening its tent by inviting groups that have traditionally felt marginalized from mainstream Jewish institutional life – this includes interfaith couples and families, as well as adults who grew up in interfaith homes, LGBT Jews, Jews with disabilities, unaffiliated Jews and multiracial Jews like herself. “The Jewish community has been by and large marginalizing these groups and put them on the back burner if they have even been on the stove at all,” she says.

Her job is to put these groups front and center. Baskin sums up the philosophy with which she is approaching her admittedly “enormous portfolio”: “It is the belief that we will be a stronger Jewish community when we welcome and incorporate the diversity that is the reality and future of Jewish life.” Since unaffiliated Generation X and millennials are another important target for her outreach work, her young age is an advantage, rather than an obstacle.

…It is language, however, that Baskin’s family hasn’t really been able to avoid. She was raised in a Jewish home by her Ashkenazi mother and African-American father. Early on, they regularly received questions about “what” she was, and thus sought out the expertise of a psychology professor, who recommended they tell Baskin she was “multiracial and Jewish.” The couple raised April and her brother in Sacramento, California “enmeshed in Jewish life” complete with a close-knit Reform congregation and Reform Jewish summer camp…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Lives Matter in the Dominican Republic

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive on 2015-11-30 01:28Z by Steven

Black Lives Matter in the Dominican Republic


Auset Marian Lewis

Racial profiling is not just happening in the U.S., Haitians in the Dominican Republic suffer the same discrimination.

Black lives matter” is a resounding cry heard around the world. The UN Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent said as much in a recent news release regarding the deportation of Haitian residents and migrant workers in the Dominican Republic. Mirelle Fanon Mendes France, head of the U.N. group stated, “The Dominican Republic does not recognize the existence of a structural problem of racism and xenophobia, but it must address these issues as a matter of priority so the country can live free from tension and fear.”

Since June 21 some 19,000 Haitians have fled the Dominican Republic for Haiti fearing the unfair deportation policies that make it difficult for legal residents to comply with demands, which not only disregard the Dominican Constitution but also violate international norms.

In 2013, the constitutional court of the Dominican Republic ruled that offspring of undocumented immigrants would become illegal retroactive to 1929. This immediately invalidated the legal status of an estimated 200,000 Dominican citizens. Of the 450,000 Haitian migrant workers in the country, 290,000 met a filing deadline for legal status. Of those who filed, the government ruled that only 2 percent were legal.

The clash between Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola has a strained history beyond the obvious racial differences. Haitians are the dark progeny of the French African slave trade while Dominican Republicans are mulattoes of Spanish descent. The enmity between the two countries is not only racial, but also cultural and historical. However, just as the world witnesses how little Black lives matter in American extrajudicial killings, the mistreatment of dark Haitians could well inspire a #Haitian Lives Matter twitter campaign…

Read the entire article here.

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Blaxican: The Revolutionary Identity of Black Mexicans

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-29 22:08Z by Steven

Blaxican: The Revolutionary Identity of Black Mexicans


“The Afro-Latino term felt like home. There was finally a term that described what all of this was. It was a group of people who felt like I was feeling. I was finally able to identify with a group of people and it was a relief.”

Walter Thompson-Hernandez shares with teleSUR English the often-forgotten faces and stories of Black Mexicans, or Blaxicans, in the United States.

Walter Thompson-Hernandez often sees a reflection of himself in the stories his camera captures. Boldly staring into the lens of his camera, Black Mexican, or Blaxican, men and women slowly unveil a bit of themselves to him.

“I ethnically identify as Afro-Mexican. Racially, I embrace my Blackness as here in LA that is typically how I am read and what my experience is,” reads one of the photo stories now available on Instagram gallery known as “Blaxicans of Los Angeles.”

“The identity of Afro-Mexican acknowledges my African roots as well as the land we live on, though claimed by America, belongs historically to indigenous Mexican peoples.”

As the child of an African-American father and a non-black Mexican mother, the stories resonate with Thompson-Hernandez who started the Instagram page as an academic research project for the University of South Carolina, but found himself personally drawn to the project to understand the complexities of race and ethnicity in a country that often sees both as one and the same thing…

Read the entire article here.

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Tais Araujo: Fighting Brazil’s Racism Takes More Than A Hashtag

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2015-11-29 21:42Z by Steven

Tais Araujo: Fighting Brazil’s Racism Takes More Than A Hashtag


Leopoldo Duarte

Taís Araújo‬’s profile picture on her Twitter account. | Photo: Twitter, @taisdeverdade

Most Brazilians take pride in living in a “racial democracy.” According to them Brazil is supposedly a country that evaded racism through the amicable blending of its native, African and European inhabitants. But an event earlier this month is once again challenging this myth, when popular Black Brazilian actress Taís Araujo gained media coverage because of a series of racist comments made on her Facebook page.

Twitter user @LeonaDivaa shares screenshots of the racist commentary on Tais’ fanpage. Dozens of social media users compared the actress to a “monkey” and a zoo animal, while making sexually derogatory comments and taunting her for her skin color and natural hair.

Tais left the highly offensive comments on her Facebook account, deciding to publicize and take legal actions against the racist insults rather than erase them. In Brazil, for the last 20 years racism has been a non-bailable offense, however most offenders rarely face punishment.

Brazilians, in response, seemed to be taken aback by the rampant and open attacks against the actress, who has been called “Brazil’s Beyonce.” What followed evidently was an outpouring of solidarity on social media, using the hashtag #SomosTodosTais (or #WeAreAllTais) Brazilians started an online campaign, which was widely reported in the Brazilian and international press.

“I still can’t handle the fact that racism is still alive in such a mixed country such as ours. #SomosTodosTaís” 

…But while, hashtags like (#WeAreAllAFamousWrongedBlackPerson) have become popular recently, many Black activists in Brazil have voiced their discontent with these campaigns.

Most Afro-Brazilian social activists were thrilled Taís decided to publicize every step of her legal process—images of her leaving a precinct after making a testimony made headlines and stirred emotions—but activists are also at odds with how most (white) Brazilians only address racism when a celebrity is involved.

Famous Afro-Brazilian activist and blogger, Stephanie Ribeiro, went as far as writing an article entitled: “Please Stop Individualizing Racism.“…

…Brazilians have been taught that we live in “racial democracy”. According to this belief, Brazil evaded racism through amicable blending of its three primary peoples, Africans, Europeans, and Indigenous Americans. This myth is rooted in the book, The Masters and the Slaves, by sociologist Gilberto Freyre in 1933. Freyre argued that racial hierarchy was abolished with slavery, despite the fact that Brazil was the last colony to formerly free its slaves…

Read the entire article here.

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British Women Writers and the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1785-1835

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-11-29 21:20Z by Steven

British Women Writers and the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1785-1835

Ashgate Publishing
November 2014
160 pages
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4724-3088-5
eBook PDF ISBN: 978-1-4724-3089-2
eBook ePUB ISBN: 978-1-4724-3090-8

Kathryn S. Freeman, Associate Professor of English
University of Miami, Miami, Florida

In her study of newly recovered works by British women, Kathryn Freeman traces the literary relationship between women writers and the Asiatic Society of Bengal, otherwise known as the Orientalists. Distinct from their male counterparts of the Romantic period, who tended to mirror the Orientalist distortions of India, women writers like Phebe Gibbes, Elizabeth Hamilton, Sydney Owenson, Mariana Starke, Eliza Fay, Anna Jones, and Maria Jane Jewsbury interrogated these distortions from the foundation of gender. Freeman takes a three-pronged approach, arguing first that in spite of their marked differences, female authors shared a common resistance to the Orientalists’ intellectual genealogy that allowed them to represent Vedic non-dualism as an alternative subjectivity to the masculine model of European materialist philosophy. She also examines the relationship between gender and epistemology, showing that women’s texts not only shift authority to a feminized subjectivity, but also challenge the recurring Orientalist denigration of Hindu masculinity as effeminate. Finally, Freeman contrasts the shared concern about miscegenation between Orientalists and women writers, contending that the first group betrays anxiety about intermarriage between East Indian Company men and indigenous women while the varying portrayals of intermarriage by women show them poised to dissolve the racial and social boundaries. Her study invites us to rethink the Romantic paradigm of canonical writers as replicators of Orientalists’ cultural imperialism in favor of a more complicated stance that accommodates the differences between male and female authors with respect to India.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: British women writers and late Enlightenment Anglo-India: the paradoxical binary of Vedic nondualism and the Western sublime
  • 1. The Asiatic Society of Bengal: “beyond the stretch of labouring thought sublime”
  • 2. “Out of that narrow and contracted path”: creativity and authority in Elizabeth Hamilton’s Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah
  • 3. Confronting sacrifice, resisting the sentimental: Phebe Gibbes, Sidney Owenson, and the Anglo-Indian novel
  • 4. Female authorship in the Anglo-Indian meta-drama of Mariana Starke’s The Sword of Peace (1788) and The Widow of Malabar (1791)
  • Epilogue: lost and found in translation: re-orienting British revolutionary literature through women writers in early Anglo-India
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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