Category Archives: Stone Center Library

The History Behind Racist Halloween Costumes

by Zoe Beyer, Student Assistant

a historical dancing Jim Crow cartoon

This image was the cover of an edition of “Jump Jim Crow” sheet music in 1832.

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.

 

Continue reading

N.K. Jemisin Scores a Win for Representation

by Kai Heslop, Student Assistant
The Hugo Award logo is a trophy shaped like a spaceship and the title, Hugo AwardAndrea Hairston, Nnedi Okorafor and Tananarive Due are all writers who have greatly contributed to the world of black science fiction and fantasy (SFF). However, the first author ever to win the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row has proven to be a champion for representation within the genre. N.K. Jemisin’s groundbreaking works in the Broken Earth series have attracted attention and acclaim among writers and editors alike in the genre.  

Many view SFF as a forward thinking and progressive genre by default due to the futuristic topics and themes of challenging norms often included. This, however, does not make it exempt from the widespread phenomenon in the world of literature and entertainment of preferring characters of certain races over others. This same standard extends to the writers who create these characters and bring them to life. Being that SFF as a genre has historically been dominated by white creatives, recent efforts to diversify the genre have been met with varying levels of acceptance.  

In 2009, a yearlong discussion series called Racefail was launched to facilitate conversation around the dominant role that white colonialism played and continues to play in SFF narratives. The conclusion of this series led to a broader understanding of why marginalized voices, especially those of women and people of color, need to be given a platform. Jemisin even directly credited Racefail for the role it played in making the SFF community a safer space for minority writers like herself.  

Despite this, when Jemisin first won the Hugo Award back in 2016, making her the first African American author to receive this prestigious award for a novel, right-wing voters were in a state of disbelief. They attributed her win to identity politics, saying that Jemisin won solely because she was a black woman. The use of this rhetoric was essentially an attempt to prevent Jemisin from recognition as the deserving, talented writer that she is. In 2013, Theodore Beale, another SFF author, referred to Jemisin as a “half-savage” in posts online.   

Jemisin hasn’t allow the words of naysayers to prevent her from following her dreams and, most importantly, from doing what she loves: writing. As she said in her acceptance speech at the 2018 Hugo Awards, Jemisin’s first book, The Killing Moon, was rejected based on the presumption that only black people would want to read a book by a black author. Comparing the reception of her first book to the reception of her Broken Earth series is a testament to just how resilient Jemisin has been in her fight for representation in spaces where black voices have been challenged and silenced for years.  

You can find Jemisin’s award-winning novels, along with many of her earlier works, at the Undergraduate Library:  

And check out some of the other African American SFF books available in the Stone Center Library: 

Black Superheroes!: Why Race Representation in Comics Matters

There’s a new exhibit on display at the Stone Center Library!

Our current exhibit highlights Black superheroes in comics and media, addressing how important race representation is in media.

In 2016, only 29.2% of speaking roles in movies were roles for people of color – even though people of color make up almost 40% of the population of the United States. Black characters represented only 13.6% of speaking roles, while Asian and Hispanic characters made up 5.7 and 3.1% of speaking roles, respectively. Only 7% of films had a cast that accurately reflected the racial and ethnic diversity of the United States; one study found that over 20% of films had no Black characters with dialogue.

Seeing characters who look like them has been shown to promote the development of a healthy racial identity in children and young adults. When young adults see people of color in fiction who are successful, intelligent, and happy, it teaches them that they, too, can be all of those things and more.

“This is how representation works: you see someone (real or fictional) and you feel inspired to do what they do. It may not necessarily be the exact same thing, but you feel bold enough to take a leap of faith: “If they can do it, so can I.”” – Jamie Broadnax, Vox

Interested? Curious to learn more? Check out some of these resources on race and representation, available right here in the Stone Center Library! And don’t forget to come see the full exhibit in person!

Celebrating African American Music

The following guest post was written by David Tenenholtz, the 2015-2017 UNC-CH Music Library CALA.

Celebrating African-American Music

June is African American Music Appreciation Month, as officially proclaimed by President Barack Obama. The Stone Center Library and the UNC Music Library are excited to take on President Obama’s described mission to “raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans” during this month. With resources available both at the Stone Center Library and the Music Library (located at Wilson Library’s lowest level, East entrance), you will be able to learn about the varied styles and rich history of African American music. If you visit the Music Library, please take note of the visual display in the front entrance highlighting some hallmarks of this topic. You will notice albums showcasing the legendary pianistic skill of Art Tatum, the artistry of composers like Duke Ellington and T.J. Anderson, the showmanship of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae, and the vocal finesse of opera singer Jessye Norman, to name only a few.

display_case_african_american_music_500

As you can tell from reading this post, this subject may have nearly limitless avenues to explore and research. As an entry-point, please consult with one of the librarians at either the Stone Center Library or the Music Library. To get a quick start, here are introductions to four “firsts” in the history of African American music, and some links to resources that may inspire you to visit us and learn more!

1903: In Dahomey, the first Broadway musical written by African American composers, and starring an entirely African American cast, premieres in New York. You can find the sheet music and biographical information on Will Marion Cook (1869-1944), one of the major African American composers at that time at the Music Library.

1935: Jazz pianist Teddy Wilson (1912-1986) joins the Benny Goodman Trio, earning them the distinction of being the first known interracial jazz group. Wilson, deemed the “Jackie Robinson of Jazz,” would go on to record many hit jazz songs with Goodman, vocalist Billie Holiday, and as a soloist.

1962: Bandleader and composer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington scored the soundtrack to the film Paris Blues, starring Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and Louis Armstrong. With this score, Ellington earned the first nomination by an African American composer for an Academy Award for Best Musical Score.

1968: Henry Lewis (1932-1996), a virtuoso on the double-bass who joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic before the age of eighteen, is appointed to lead the New Jersey Symphony, making him the first African American symphony conductor. Within another few years, Lewis went on to be the first African American to conduct the Metropolitan Opera.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Open Door

April 10-16, 2016 is National Library Week. This year’s NLW theme is “Libraries Transform”. This theme allows us to catch you up on many of the changes we’ve made/initiatives we’ve undertaken since January 2015, in order to enhance the services we provide to Stone Center Library patrons.

Logo of the National Library Week 2016 theme, “Libraries Transform”

We saved our most dramatic transformation for last. In February, we had a door cut between the workroom and the librarian’s office!

This transformation involved a few noisy, dusty days but our patrons were flexible and understanding, and it was well worth it in the end.

This structural modification effectively makes the librarian’s office, the workroom, and the service desk, a unified service point and allows us to better serve our patrons through improved staff communication.

door6

View from the librarian’s office.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this weeklong peek into what we’ve been up to at the Stone Center Library. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

SCL Reserves

April 10-16, 2016 is National Library Week. This year’s NLW theme is “Libraries Transform”. This theme allows us to catch you up on many of the changes we’ve made/initiatives we’ve undertaken since January 2015, in order to enhance the services we provide to Stone Center Library patrons.

Image of National Library Week 2016: Libraries Transform

Moving past the service desk into the adjacent work room, we come to the area where the Stone Center Library Reserves are held. Beginning in the spring of 2016, print reserve materials for the African, African American and Diaspora Studies Department (AAAD) are held at the Stone Center Library.

We did a lot of advance preparation before transferring this portion of the University Library print reserves from the House Undergraduate Library to the SCL, and we have made the necessary adjustments to the library space and our workflow in order to accommodate this service enhancement.

reserves

Course instructors for AAAD courses, for courses being held in the Stone Center, or anywhere on campus, can opt to have their print reserve materials held at the SCL.

Course Reserve Request Instructions

 

Two Whiteboards and a Monitor

April 10-16, 2016 is National Library Week. This year’s NLW theme is “Libraries Transform”. This theme allows us to catch you up on many of the changes we’ve made/initiatives we’ve undertaken since January 2015, in order to enhance the services we provide to Stone Center Library patrons.

Image of National Library Week 2016: Libraries Transform

Today, as we move even further into the SCL space, our post is a midweek double feature. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: “two whiteboards and monitor walk into the Stone Center Library…” but that’s a fairly accurate description of our two most recent service enhancements. Adjacent to the 3M gate, and opposite our CCI printer, is our service desk, where we now have a double-monitor, seen in action below.

monitorThe addition of a patron-facing monitor means that we’re better able to help our patrons navigate many of our electronically accessible tools and resources.

white boardsWe have also recently acquired mobile, erasable whiteboards that can be checked out at the SCL service desk. The boards are used by students for collaborative learning and they have also been used during recent events including the African Diaspora Women Artists Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and THATCamp Archiving Your Activism, hosted by the Stone Center Library.

Networked printing in the SCL

April 10-16, 2016 is National Library Week. This year’s NLW theme is “Libraries Transform”. This theme allows us to catch you up on many of the changes we’ve made/initiatives we’ve undertaken since January 2015, in order to enhance the services we provide to Stone Center Library patrons.

Image of National Library Week 2016: Libraries Transform

Today, we move into the library space, just beyond the 3M gate that counts library visitors, to the CCI printer that was installed in October, 2015. As a result, the SCL is now part of a networked printing system that “allows students, faculty and staff to print to ITS printers from anywhere on campus using their personal computers and a network connection.”

The printer has been very popular indeed. Because of the Stone Center’s strategic location, the printer located in the SCL serves not only students and other university affiliates who use the Stone Center building, but other buildings in the vicinity as well, including the Genome Science building and Coker Hall.

Screenshot (21)CCI printing campus map

 

Stone Center Library exhibits

April 10-16, 2016 is National Library Week. This year’s NLW theme is “Libraries Transform”. This theme allows us to catch you up on many of the changes we’ve made/initiatives we’ve undertaken, since January 2015, in order to enhance the services we provide to Stone Center Library patrons.

Image of National Library Week 2016: Libraries Transform

We begin our NLW blog series at the entrance to the Library. In the hallway adjacent to the Library, we have used the flat case to promote events being hosted or otherwise supported by the Stone Center Library.

murap_flatcase

Pictured above, our summer 2015 display featured the university logos of the members of the MURAP cohort as well as information about the series of research skills labs being offered by the library for MURAP students throughout the summer.

negrodigest

Just inside entrance to the Library, we have used our small exhibit cases to feature micro collections owned by the Library. Pictured above is our fall 2015 display of Negro Digest and Black World magazines, donated to us by retired UNC anthropology professor Norris Brock Johnson.

20160218_105802

Our current display, pictured above, is about the early history of the Stone Center Library. We hope you’ll stop by to see it before May 15.

Tomorrow’s blog post will feature our most popular service enhancement. Can you guess what it is?