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Celia was only fourteen years old when she was acquired by John Newsom, an aging widower and one of the most prosperous and respected citizens of Callaway County, Missouri. The pattern of sexual abuse that would mark their entire relationship began almost immediately. After purchasing Celia in a neighboring county, Newsom raped her on the journey back to his farm. He then established her in a small cabin near his house and visited her regularly (most likely with the knowledge of the son and two daughters who lived with him). Over the next five years, Celia bore Newsom two children; meanwhile, she became involved with a slave named George and resolved at his insistence to end the relationship with her master. When Newsom refused, Celia one night struck him fatally with a club and disposed of his body in her fireplace.
Her act quickly discovered, Celia was brought to trial. She received a surprisingly vigorous defense from her court-appointed attorneys, who built their case on a state law allowing women the use of deadly force to defend their honor. Nevertheless, the court upheld the tenets of a white social order that wielded almost total control over the lives of slaves. Celia was found guilty and hanged.
Melton A. McLaurin uses Celia's story to reveal the tensions that strained the fabric of antebellum southern society. Celia's case demonstrates how one master's abuse of power over a single slave forced whites to make moral decisions about the nature of slavery. McLaurin focuses sharply on the role of gender, exploring the degree to which female slaves were sexually exploited, the conditions that often prevented white women from stopping such abuse, and the inability of male slaves to defend slave women. Setting the case in the context of the 1850s slavery debates, he also probes the manner in which the legal system was used to justify slavery. By granting slaves certain statutory rights (which were usually rendered meaningless by the customary prerogatives of masters), southerners could argue that they observed moral restraint in the operations of their peculiar institution.
An important addition to our understanding of the pre-Civil War era, Celia, A Slave is also an intensely compelling narrative of one woman pushed beyond the limits of her endurance by a system that denied her humanity at the most basic level.
Judge John Minor Wisdom
One of the least publicly recognized heroes of the civil rights movement in the United States, John Minor Wisdom served as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1957 until his death in 1999 and wrote many of the landmark decisions instrumental in desegregating the American South. In this revealing biography, law professor Joel William Friedman explores Judge Wisdom's substantial legal contributions and political work at a critical time in the history of the South. In 1957, President Eisenhower appointed Wisdom to the Fifth Circuit, which included some of the most deeply segregated southern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In the tumultuous two decades following its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court issued only a few civil rights decisions, preferring instead to affirm Fifth Circuit Court opinions or let them stand without hearing an appeal. Judge Wisdom, therefore, authored many of the decisions that transformed the South and broke down barriers of all kinds for African Americans, including the desegregation of public schools. In preparing this first full-length biography of Judge Wisdom, Friedman had unrestricted access to Wisdom's voluminous repository of personal and professional papers. In addition, he draws on personal interviews with law clerks who served under Judge Wisdom, resulting in a unique, behind-the-scenes account of some of the nation's most important legal decisions: the admission of the first black student to the University of Mississippi, the initiation of contempt proceedings against Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett, and the destruction of obstacles that had previously kept black Americans from voting. Friedman also explores Wisdom's political life prior to joining the federal bench, including his pivotal role in resurrecting the Louisiana Republican Party and in securing the Republican presidential nomination for Eisenhower. A compelling account of how a child of privilege from one of America's most socially and racially stratified cities came to serve as the driving force behind the legal effort to end segregation, Champion of Civil Rights offers judicial biography at its best.
The legal institutions of overt racism in the United States have been eliminated, but social surveys and investigations of social institutions confirm the continuing significance of race and the enduring presence of negative racial attitudes. This shift from codified and explicit racism to more subtle forms comes at a time when the very boundaries of race and ethnicity are being reshaped by immigration and a rising recognition that old systems of racial classification inadequately capture a diverse America. In The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, editors Maria Krysan and Amanda Lewis bring together leading scholars of racial dynamics to study the evolution of America’s racial problem and its consequences for race relations in the future. The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity opens by attempting to answer a puzzling question: how is it that so many whites think racism is no longer a problem but so many nonwhites disagree? Sociologist Lawrence Bobo contends that whites exhibit what he calls “laissez faire racism,” which ignores historical and structural contributions to racial inequality and does nothing to remedy the injustices of the status quo. Tyrone Forman makes a similar case in his chapter, contending that an emphasis on “color blindness” allows whites to be comforted by the idea that all races are on a level playing field, while not recognizing the advantages they themselves have reaped from years of inequality. The book then moves to a discussion of the new ways that Americans view race. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Karen Glover argue that the United States is moving from a black-white divide to a tripartite system, where certain light-skinned, non-threatening minority groups are considered “honorary whites.” The book’s final section reexamines the theoretical underpinnings of scholarship on race and ethnicity. Joe Feagin argues that research on racism focuses too heavily on how racial boundaries are formed and needs to concentrate more on how those boundaries are used to maintain privileges for certain groups at the expense of others. Manning Marable contends that racism should be addressed at an institutional level to see the prevalence of “structural racism”—deeply entrenched patterns of inequality that are coded by race and justified by stereotypes. The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity provides an in-depth view of racism in modern America, which may be less conspicuous but not necessarily less destructive than its predecessor, Jim Crow. The book’s rich analysis and theoretical insight shed light on how, despite many efforts to end America’s historic racial problem, it has evolved and persisted into the 21st century.
Working Parents and the History of Orphanages
This innovative study examines the development of institutional child care from 1878 to 1929, based on a comparison of two "sister" orphanages in Pittsburgh: the all-white United Presbyterian Orphan's Home and the all-black Home for Colored Children. Drawing on quantitative analysis of the records of more than 1,500 children living at the two orphanages, as well as census data, city logs, and contemporary social science surveys, this study raises new questions about the role of child care in constructing and perpetrating social inequality in the United States.
History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico
Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in a historically black part of the Costa Chica region, the town of San Nicolás has been identified as a center of Afromexican culture by Mexican cultural authorities, journalists, activists, and foreign anthropologists. The majority of the town's residents, however, call themselves morenos (black Indians). In Chocolate and Corn Flour, Laura A. Lewis explores the history and contemporary culture of San Nicolás, focusing on the ways that local inhabitants experience and understand race, blackness, and indigeneity, as well as on the cultural values that outsiders place on the community and its residents. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork, Lewis offers a richly detailed and subtle ethnography of the lives and stories of the people of San Nicolás, including community residents who have migrated to the United States. San Nicoladenses, she finds, have complex attitudes toward blackness—as a way of identifying themselves and as a racial and cultural category. They neither consider themselves part of an African diaspora nor deny their heritage. Rather, they acknowledge their hybridity and choose to identify most deeply with their community.
Based on new research and combining multiple scholarly approaches, these twelve essays tell new stories about the civil rights movement in the state most resistant to change. Wesley Hogan, Françoise N. Hamlin, and Michael Vinson Williams raise questions about how civil rights organizing took place. Three pairs of essays address African Americans' and whites' stories on education, religion, and the issues of violence. Jelani Favors and Robert Luckett analyze civil rights issues on the campuses of Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi. Carter Dalton Lyon and Joseph T. Reiff study people who confronted the question of how their religion related to their possible involvement in civil rights activism. By studying the Ku Klux Klan and the Deacons for Defense in Mississippi, David Cunningham and Akinyele Umoja ask who chose to use violence or to raise its possibility.
The final three chapters describe some of the consequences and continuing questions raised by the civil rights movement. Byron D'Andra Orey analyzes the degree to which voting rights translated into political power for African American legislators. Chris Myers Asch studies a Freedom School that started in recent years in the Mississippi Delta. Emilye Crosby details the conflicting memories of Claiborne County residents and the parts of the civil rights movement they recall or ignore.
As a group, the essays introduce numerous new characters and conundrums into civil rights scholarship, advance efforts to study African Americans and whites as interactive agents in the complex stories, and encourage historians to pull civil rights scholarship closer toward the present.
Racialization in Canadian Cities
Claiming Space: Racialization in Canadian Cities critically examines the various ways in which Canadian cities continue to be racialized despite objective evidence of racial diversity and the dominant ideology of multiculturalism. Contributors consider how spatial conditions in Canadian cities are simultaneously part of, and influenced by, racial domination and racial resistance.
Reflecting on the ways in which race is systematically hidden within the workings of Canadian cities, the book also explores the ways in which racialized people attempt to claim space. These essays cover a diverse range of Canadian urban spaces and various racial groups, as well as the intersection of ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. Linking themes include issues related to subjectivity and space; the importance of new space that arises by challenging the dominant ideology of multiculturalism; and the relationship between diasporic identities and claims to space.
Counterfeit Heroes and Unhappy Truths
In recent years, black neoconservatism has captured the national imagination. Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court. Stephen Carter's opinions on topics ranging from religion to the confirmation process are widely quoted. The New Republic has written that black neoconservative Thomas Sowell was having a greater influence on the discussion of matters of race and ethnicity than any other writer of the past ten years.
In this compelling and vividly argued book, Ronald Roberts reveals how this attention has turned an eccentricity into a movement. Black neoconservatives, Roberts believes, have no real constituency but, as was the case with Clarence Thomas, are held upand proclaim themselvesas simply and ruthlessly honest, as above mere self-interest and crude political loyalties. They profess a concern for those they criticize, claiming to possess an objective truth which sets them apart from their critics in the establishment Left. They claim to be outsiders even while sustained by the culture's most powerful institutions. As they level attacks at the activist organizations they perceive as moribund, every significant argument they advance rests on fervent mantras of harsh truths and simple realities.
Enlisting the ideal of impartiality as a partisan weapon, this Tough Love Crowd has elevated the familiar wisdom of Spare the rod and spoil the child to the arena of national politics. Turning to their own writings and proclamations, Roberts here serves up a devastating critique of such figures as Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, Stephen Carter, and V. S. Naipaul (Tough Love International). Clarence Thomas and the Tough Love Crowd marks the emergence of a provocative and powerful voice on our cultural and political landscape, a voice which holds those who subscribe to this polemically powerful ideology accountable for their opinions and actions.
Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity
Everybody passes. Not just racial minorities. As Marcia Dawkins explains, passing has been occurring for millennia, since intercultural and interracial contact began. And with this profound new study, she explores its old limits and new possibilities: from women passing as men and able-bodied persons passing as disabled to black classics professors passing as Jewish and white supremacists passing as white.
Clearly Invisible journeys to sometimes uncomfortable but unfailingly enlightening places as Dawkins retells the contemporary expressions and historical experiences of individuals called passers. Along the way these passers become people—people whose stories sound familiar but take subtle turns to reveal racial and other tensions lurking beneath the surface, people who ultimately expose as much about our culture and society as they conceal about themselves.
Both an updated take on the history of passing and a practical account of passing’s effects on the rhetoric of multiracial identities, Clearly Invisible traces passing’s legal, political, and literary manifestations, questioning whether passing can be a form of empowerment (even while implying secrecy) and suggesting that passing could be one of the first expressions of multiracial identity in the U.S. as it seeks its own social standing.
Certain to be hailed as a pioneering work in the study of race and culture, Clearly Invisible offers powerful testimony to the fact that individual identities are never fully self-determined—and that race is far more a matter of sociology than of biology.
For more, including photos, author interviews, news, and author appearances, visit ClearlyInvisibleBook.com.