Halloween is coming up, and there are no shortage of creative costume ideas to pull from. There are classic scary options, like vampires, or more fun options like personified puns (Freudian slip, anyone?). However, seemingly every year there comes a dreaded story of white people dressing up as black people, dark foundation included.
Take, for example, the students at St. Mark’s College in Adelaide, Australia, who dressed up in blackface for various parties throughout this year. Some students chose to imitate famous black athletes like Michael Jordan at the school’s annual Garden Party. Another photo taken in 2016 depicts a student dressed up as an “African” and referencing the AIDS crisis occurring there with a sign saying “Race: African; Blood type: AIDS positive.”
Or consider students at the University of Mississipi attending an Alpha Tau Omega Halloween party. Two white men dressed in a group costume: one is in blackface, picking cotton. The other? A police officer, holding a gun to his partner’s head. The brothers of a fraternity at California Polytechnic State University dressed up as gang members during the weekend of the school’s multicultural celebration. One of the brothers in the picture dressed in blackface.
These examples are not just evidence of individual racism; rather, they come from a long history of white people dressing up in blackface. This type of performance is called minstrelsy. In these acts, white performers dressed up as negative caricatures of black people. Actors would rub burnt cork on their faces and exaggerate the wideness of their nose and thickness of their lips.
Minstrelsy too was not a subculture; rather, it was prevalent throughout America and became the first uniquely American popular culture.
As always, we also encourage you to make use of the Stone Center Library’s Guide to the Web, which includes a section of online resources covering African American military history. Plus, did you know the itself Guide is searchable? In addition to perusing the Guide by topic, the “Search the Guide” bar allows for keyword searching to pull sites listed in the guide from across sections. For example, searching for “Tuskegee” yields this list of websites contained within the Guide: http://bit.ly/wnbZGo. Happy searching!
Today marks the anniversary of the start of the Greensboro sit-ins in 1960 (and we encourage you to take a look at last year’s blog post about the history of the movement here).
Today also marks the start of Black History Month 2012, which was founded by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). This year’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History” and the ASALH has kindly prepared a summary of this topic which is available here.
Here at the Stone Center Library, we thought we’d jump-start this month with a little-known gem in our collection: The Curse of Caste,or, the Slave Bride: a rediscovered African American novel, by Julia C. Collins
Considered “the first novel by an African American woman,” it takes place in antebellum Louisiana and Connecticut “and focuses on the lives of a beautiful mixed-race mother and daughter whose opportunities for fulfillment through love and marriage are threatened by slavery and caste prejudice.”
Take a look at the full summary here, or come by the library and check it out!
Reposted from the UNC Library News and Events blog: Twelve historic accounts of African American slavery are newly available in reprint and online editions, thanks to a collaborative effort of the UNC Library and the University of North Carolina Press. The venture, DocSouth Books, allows readers to purchase reprinted classic editions from the collections of the UNC Library. The books were originally scanned as part of the Library’s Documenting the American South (DocSouth) digital publishing program. Beginning this month, UNC Press will offer bound print-on-demand copies of the books at prices ranging from $15 to $40. The Press will soon also make the books available as downloadable e-books. The titles are slave narratives, or biographies and autobiographies of fugitive and former slaves. Included is Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, recently slated for Hollywood adaptation by Brad Pitt. The Library launched DocSouth in 1996 as a pilot to bring a small number of highlights from the stacks to a broader audience online. Today, DocSouth comprises fifteen collections of 1,454 digitized books, along with maps, images, oral histories, manuscripts, and primary source materials. By converting some of those digital files to new print editions and even to e-books, access to rare materials has expanded greatly, said Jenn Riley, head of the Carolina Digital Library and Archives, which includes DocSouth. “Users now have two new ways to engage with these books,” she said. “This collaboration with the UNC Press makes perfect sense as a way to expand the scope of DocSouth.”
This week, the Stone Center Library recommends yet another new arrival to our collection: Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities. This anthology seeks to respond to the following question: “As a text, how are Black bodies and Black hair read and understood in life, art, popular culture, mass media, or cross-cultural interactions?.”
With editors Regina E. Spellers and Kimberly R. Moffitt at the helm, Blackberries and Redbones is divided thematically into five areas:
Part I: Hair/Body Politics as Expression of the Life Cycle
Part II: Hair/Body as Power
Part III: Hair/Body in Art and Popular Culture
Part IV: Celebrations, Innovations, and Applications of Hair/Body Politics
Part V: Contradictions, Complications, and Complexities of Hair/Body Politics
An interdisciplinary mix of scholarly essays, poems, and other creative writing, each selection concludes with 2-3 discussion questions for further thought, making this a collection both academically rigorous and supremely accessible to the general public.
Writings include titles such as “From Air Jordan to Jumpman: The Black Male Body as Commodity” (Ingrid Banks); “Weaving Messages of Self-Esteem: Empowering Mothers and Daughters through Hair Braiding” (Tracey Y. Lewis-Elligan); “‘I am More than a Victim’: The Slave Woman Stereotype in Antebellum Narratives by Black Men” (Ellesia A. Blaque); “The Big Girl’s Chair: A Rhetorical Analysis of How Motions for Kids Markets Relaxers to African American Girls;” and “Sun Kissed or Sun Cursed?: Exploring Color Consciousness and Black Women’s Tanning Experiences” (Regina E. Spellers).
You can also check out their companion website www.blackberriesandredbones.com, which features a discussion board (registration required). Interested in learning more? Come by the library and check it out – Blackberries and Redbones is currently featured in our reading area display. Hope to see you soon!
Last week, we posted a list of new book titles currently on display near the library entrance. Today and next week, we’ll be highlighting our in-library display, which this month features new arrivals related to women’s history across a variety of genres and topics.
March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “our history is our strength.” What better way to learn more about women’s history, achievements, and current challenges than turning to some more of the Stone Center Library’s new acquisitions? Come check us out!
Did you know? On this day in 1870, Fayetteville-born Hiram Revels became the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Revels (1827-1901) trained as a minister and served the U.S. Union Army as both a recruiter and a chaplain during the Civil War. Over the course of his life, “”he would develop an impressive resume, serving as a teacher, pastor, lecturer, and public servant” (Middleton 2002: 319). Following his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate, Revels went on to become the first president of Alcorn State University in Mississippi.
Interested in learning more? Come by the Stone Center Library, where we have plenty of items to get you started:
As always, if you have any research questions, don’t hesitate to ask! We are open Monday – Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Fridays 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Our reference chat buddy name is StonecenterRef or you may also contact us via phone or email. Happy reading!
Coming this WEDNESDAY at 7pm in the Sonya Haynes Stone Center Theatre: “Freedom From the Rubble: A Colored Civil War Soldier Speaks”, a new play written & performed by Mike Wiley. FREE and open to the public, with a reception following the performance. Check out the poster below for more details, or peruse this recent press release on the play and its creator.