Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When did "race" start anyway?

On December 16th, we'll be discussing the last of our trio of "race books" Jacqueline Jones' A Dreadful Deceit. Jones looks at 6 remarkable people from the colonial era through the late 20th century, each of whom posed a threat to contemporary racial hierarchies and categorizations. Here's a summary from the New York Times review:

There’s Antonio, murdered in colonial Maryland for refusing to submit to enslavement; Boston King, a former slave from South Carolina turned loyalist during the American Revolution; the Afro-Indian Elleanor Eldridge, who started several successful businesses in Providence, R.I., in the early 19th century; the Reconstruction-era Georgia politician Richard W. White; the early-20th-century educator William H. Holtzclaw, who founded a Tuskegee-like school in Mississippi; and finally the radical labor activist Simon P. Owens in mid-20th-century Detroit.

Jones' believes that race is far less important than economics, that race was created was for economic reasons, and that continuing to talk about race "keeps a destructive idea alive". But is it realistic,o r helpful to stop talking about race, when economic (and health, and educational) disparities still fall along racial lines.

That's what we'll be talking about next Tuesday! If you don't have time to read the whole book, let's focus on the chapters about Boston King, William Hotlzcclaw and Simon Owens. A couple of articles to give you an overview:

"It's the Economy": A Dreadful Deceit by Jacqueline Jones, New York Times, February 14 2014

Dreadful Deceit: Race is a Myth, Salon

See you Tuesday December 16th , 7:00 pm at the Evanston Public Library!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Being "Black" is more than a matter of looks...

Here's a great follow up to The Invisible Line, sent in by Fred from our August Wilson reading group:

Pike County, OH: As Black As We Want to Be

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.