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Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family
What does one contested account of an enslaved woman tell us about our difficult racial past? Part history, part anthropology, and part detective story, The Accidental Slaveowner traces, from the 1850s to the present day, how different groups of people have struggled with one powerful story about slavery.
For over a century and a half, residents of Oxford, Georgia (“the birthplace of Emory University”), have told and retold stories of the enslaved woman known as “Kitty” and her owner, Methodist bishop James Osgood Andrew, first president of Emory’s board of trustees. Bishop Andrew’s ownership of Miss Kitty and other enslaved persons triggered the 1844 great national schism of the Methodist Episcopal Church, presaging the Civil War. For many local whites, Bishop Andrew was only “accidentally” a slaveholder, and when offered her freedom, Kitty willingly remained in slavery out of loyalty to her master. Local African Americans, in contrast, tend to insist that Miss Kitty was the Bishop’s coerced lover and that she was denied her basic freedoms throughout her life.
Mark Auslander approaches these opposing narratives as “myths,” not as falsehoods but as deeply meaningful and resonant accounts that illuminate profound enigmas in American history and culture. After considering the multiple, powerful ways that the Andrew-Kitty myths have shaped perceptions of race in Oxford, at Emory, and among southern Methodists, Auslander sets out to uncover the “real” story of Kitty and her family. His years-long feat of collaborative detective work results in a series of discoveries and helps open up important arenas for reconciliation, restorative justice, and social healing.
An Overview and Synthesis
Affirmative action has been and continues to be the flashpoint of America’s civil rights agenda. Yet while the affirmative action literature is voluminous, no comprehensive account of its major legal and public policy dimensions exists. Samuel and William M. Leiter examine the origin and growth of affirmative action, its impact on American society, its current state, and its future anti-discrimination role, if any. Informed by several different disciplines—law, history, economics, sociology, political science, urban studies, and criminology—the text combines the relevant legal materials with analysis and commentary from a variety of experts. This even-handed presentation of the subject of affirmative action is sure to be a valuable aid to those seeking to understand the issue’s many complexities.
Addressing Challenges and Nurturing the Future
African American Females: Addressing Challenges and Nurturing the Future illustrates that across education, health, and other areas of social life, opportunities are stratified along gender as well as race lines. The unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privilege between men and women intersects with race and class to create multiple levels of disadvantage. This book is one result of a unique forum intended to bring into focus the K–12 and postsecondary schooling issues and challenges affecting African American girls and women. Focusing on the historical antecedents of African American female participation and the contemporary context of access and opportunity for black girls and women, the contributors to this collection pay particular attention to the interaction of gender with race/ethnicity, class, age, and health, with the central aim of encouraging thoughtful reading, critical thinking, and informed conversations about the necessity of exploring the lives of African American females. Additionally, the book frames important implications for recommended changes in policy and practice regarding a number of critical matters presently affecting African American females in schools and communities across the state of Michigan and nationwide.
In this lavishly illustrated volume, Sean Dennis Cashman surveys the history of civil rights in twentieth-century America. The book charts the principal course of civil rights against the dramatic backdrop of two world wars, the Great Depression, the affluent society of the postwar world, the cultural and social agitation of the 1960s, and the emergence of the new conservatism of the 1970s and 1980s.
Cashman describes the profound upheaval that African-Americans experienced as they moved from the outright racism of the South through the Great Migration northward from 1915, and sets the contribution of African-American leaders within their historical context: Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and many others. The work also describes the shift in emphasis in the movement from legal cases brought before the courts to mass protest movements and, later, the change in direction from civil rights to Black Power and, later, Pan-Africanism.
Far more than just a history of civil rights leaders, this book explains how the achievements of African-American writers, artists, singers, and athletes contributed to a wider understanding of the humanity and culture of black Americans. Cashman details, among others, the achievements of the Harlem Renaissance, the films of Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson, and the works of Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. Written in an engaging style, the text is accompanied by a wealth of illustrations, some well known, others in print for the first time.
Indigenous people and African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean have long been affected by a social hierarchy established by elites, through which some groups were racialized and others were normalized. Far from being “racial paradises” populated by an amalgamated “cosmic race” of mulattos and mestizos, Latin America and the Caribbean have long been sites of shifting exploitative strategies and ideologies, ranging from scientific racism and eugenics to the more sophisticated official denial of racism and ethnic difference. This book, among the first to focus on African descendants in the region, brings together diverse reflections from scholars, activists, and funding agency representatives working to end racism and promote human rights in the Americas. By focusing on the ways racism inhibits agency among African descendants and the ways African-descendant groups position themselves in order to overcome obstacles, this interdisciplinary book provides a multi-faceted analysis of one of the gravest contemporary problems in the Americas.
Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe
After the Nazi Racial State offers a comprehensive, persuasive, and ambitious argument in favor of making 'race' a more central analytical category for the writing of post-1945 history. This is an extremely important project, and the volume indeed has the potential to reshape the field of post-1945 German history. ---Frank Biess, University of California, San Diego What happened to "race," race thinking, and racial distinctions in Germany, and Europe more broadly, after the demise of the Nazi racial state? This book investigates the afterlife of "race" since 1945 and challenges the long-dominant assumption among historians that it disappeared from public discourse and policy-making with the defeat of the Third Reich and its genocidal European empire. Drawing on case studies of Afro-Germans, Jews, and Turks---arguably the three most important minority communities in postwar Germany---the authors detail continuities and change across the 1945 divide and offer the beginnings of a history of race and racialization after Hitler. A final chapter moves beyond the German context to consider the postwar engagement with "race" in France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where waves of postwar, postcolonial, and labor migration troubled nativist notions of national and European identity. After the Nazi Racial State poses interpretative questions for the historical understanding of postwar societies and democratic transformation, both in Germany and throughout Europe. It elucidates key analytical categories, historicizes current discourse, and demonstrates how contemporary debates about immigration and integration---and about just how much "difference" a democracy can accommodate---are implicated in a longer history of "race." This book explores why the concept of "race" became taboo as a tool for understanding German society after 1945. Most crucially, it suggests the social and epistemic consequences of this determined retreat from "race" for Germany and Europe as a whole. Rita Chin is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Heide Fehrenbach is Presidential Research Professor at Northern Illinois University. Geoff Eley is Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan. Atina Grossmann is Professor of History at Cooper Union. Cover illustration: Human eye, © Stockexpert.com.
A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia
As a young man, John B. Prentis (1788–1848) expressed outrage over slavery, but by the end of his life he had transported thousands of enslaved persons from the upper to the lower South. Kari J. Winter’s life-and-times portrayal of a slave trader illuminates the clash between two American dreams: one of wealth, the other of equality.
Prentis was born into a prominent Virginia family. His grandfather, William Prentis, emigrated from London to Williamsburg in 1715 as an indentured servant and rose to become the major shareholder in colonial Virginia’s most successful store. William’s son Joseph became a Revolutionary judge and legislator who served alongside Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison. Joseph Jr. followed his father’s legal career, whereas John was drawn to commerce. To finance his early business ventures, he began trading in slaves. In time he grew besotted with the high-stakes trade, appeasing his conscience with the populist platitudes of Jacksonian democracy, which aggressively promoted white male democracy in conjunction with white male supremacy.
Prentis’s life illuminates the intertwined politics of labor, race, class, and gender in the young American nation. Participating in a revolution in the ethics of labor that upheld Benjamin Franklin as its icon, he rejected the gentility of his upbringing to embrace solidarity with “mechanicks,” white working-class men. His capacity for admirable thoughts and actions complicates images drawn by elite slaveholders, who projected the worst aspects of slavery onto traders while imagining themselves as benign patriarchs. This is an absorbing story of a man who betrayed his innate sense of justice to pursue wealth through the most vicious forms of human exploitation.
Racial Inequality Without Racism
The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s seemed to mark a historical turning point in advancing the American dream of equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of race. Yet 50 years on, racial inequality remains a troubling fact of life in American society and its causes are highly contested. In The American Non-dilemma, sociologist Nancy DiTomaso convincingly argues that America’s enduring racial divide is sustained more by whites’ preferential treatment of members of their own social networks than by overt racial discrimination. Drawing on research from sociology, political science, history, and psychology, as well as her own interviews with a cross-section of non-Hispanic whites, DiTomaso provides a comprehensive examination of the persistence of racial inequality in the post-Civil Rights era. DiTomaso sets out to answer a fundamental question: if overt institutionalized racism has largely receded in the United States, why does racial inequality remain a national problem? Taking Gunnar Myrdal’s classic work on America’s racial divide, The American Dilemma, as her departure point, DiTomaso focuses on “the white side of the race line.” To do so, she interviewed a sample of working-class whites about their life histories, political views, and general outlook on racial inequality in America. She finds that while the vast majority of whites profess strong support for civil rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, they continue to pursue their own group-based advantage, especially in the labor market. This “opportunity hoarding,” as DiTomaso calls it, leads to substantially improved life outcomes for whites due to their greater access to social resources from family, neighborhoods, schools, churches, and other institutions with which they are engaged. At the same time, the subjects of her study continue to harbor strong reservations about public policies—such as affirmative action—intended to ameliorate racial inequality. In effect, they accept the principles of civil rights but not the implementation of policies that would bring about greater racial equality. DiTomaso also examines how whites understand the persistence of racial inequality in a society where whites are, on average, the advantaged racial group. Most whites see themselves as part of the solution rather than part of the problem with regard to racial inequality, but, due to the unacknowledged favoritism they demonstrate toward other whites, DiTomaso finds that they are at best uncertain allies in the fight for racial inequality. Weaving together research on both race and class, along with the life experiences of DiTomaso’s interview subjects, The American Non-dilemma provides a compelling exploration of how racial inequality is reproduced in today’s society, how people come to terms with the issue in their day-to-day experiences, and what these trends may signify in the contemporary political landscape.