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Culture Keeping Cover

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Culture Keeping

White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference

Heather Jacobson

Since the early 1990s, close to 250,000 children born abroad have been adopted into the United States. Nearly half of these children have come from China or Russia. Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference offers the first comparative analysis of these two popular adoption programs. Heather Jacobson examines these adoptions by focusing on a relatively new social phenomenon, the practice by international adoptive parents, mothers in particular, of incorporating aspects of their children's cultures of origin into their families' lives. “Culture keeping” is now standard in the adoption world, though few adoptive parents, the majority of whom are white and native-born, have experience with the ethnic practices of their children's homelands prior to adopting. Jacobson follows white adoptive mothers as they navigate culture keeping: from their motivations, to the pressures and constraints they face, to the content of their actual practices concerning names, food, toys, travel, cultural events, and communities of belonging. Through her interviews, she explores how women think about their children, their families, and themselves as mothers as they labor to construct or resist ethnic identities for their children, who may be perceived as birth children (because they are white) or who may be perceived as adopted (because of racial difference). The choices these women make about culture, Jacobson argues, offer a window into dominant ideas of race and the “American Family,” and into how social differences are conceived and negotiated in the United States.

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Daily Demonstrators

The Civil Rights Movement in Mennonite Homes and Sanctuaries

Tobin Miller Shearer

The Mennonites, with their long tradition of peaceful protest and commitment to equality, were castigated by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for not showing up on the streets to support the civil rights movement. Daily Demonstrators shows how the civil rights movement played out in Mennonite homes and churches from the 1940s through the 1960s. In the first book to bring together Mennonite religious history and civil rights movement history, Tobin Miller Shearer discusses how the civil rights movement challenged Mennonites to explore whether they, within their own church, were truly as committed to racial tolerance and equality as they might like to believe. Shearer shows the surprising role of children in overcoming the racial stereotypes of white adults. Reflecting the transformation taking place in the nation as a whole, Mennonites had to go through their own civil rights struggle before they came to accept interracial marriages and integrated congregations. Based on oral history interviews, photographs, letters, minutes, diaries, and journals of white and African-American Mennonites, this fascinating book further illuminates the role of race in modern American religion.

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Dancing at Halftime

Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots

Carol Spindel

Sports fans love to don paint and feathers to cheer on the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Florida State Seminoles, and the Warriors and Chiefs of their hometown high schools. But outside the stadiums, American Indians aren't cheering--they're yelling racism.

School boards and colleges are bombarded with emotional demands from both sides, while professional teams find themselves in court defending the right to trademark their Indian names and logos. In the face of opposition by a national anti-mascot movement, why are fans so determined to retain the fictional chiefs who plant flaming spears and dance on the fifty-yard line?

To answer this question, Dancing at Halftime takes the reader on a journey through the American imagination where our thinking about American Indians has been, and is still being, shaped. Dancing at Halftime is the story of Carol Spindel's determination to understand why her adopted town is so passionately attached to Chief Illiniwek, the American Indian mascot of the University of Illinois. She rummages through our national attic, holding dusty souvenirs from world's fairs and wild west shows, Edward Curtis photographs, Boy Scout handbooks, and faded football programs up to the light. Outside stadiums, while American Indian Movement protestors burn effigies, she listens to both activists and the fans who resent their attacks. Inside hearing rooms and high schools, she poses questions to linguists, lawyers, and university alumni.

A work of both persuasion and compassion, Dancing at Halftime reminds us that in America, where Pontiac is a car and Tecumseh a summer camp, Indians are often our symbolic servants, functioning as mascots and metaphors that express our longings to become "native" Americans, and to feel at home in our own land.

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Dangerous Curves

Latina Bodies in the Media

Isabel Molina-Guzman, 0, 0

“This compelling study examines the visibility and marketability of Latina actors and characters in tabloids, blogs, “telenovelas,” movies, and music... [Molina-Guzman] argues that deviation from prescribed images unsettles mainstream viewers, whose notions of identity/sexuality reject foreign or exotic representations.”

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Daybreak of Freedom

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Edited by Stewart Burns

The Montgomery bus boycott was a formative moment in twentieth-century history: a harbinger of the African American freedom movement, a springboard for the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., and a crucial step in the struggle to realize the American dream of liberty and equality for all. In ###Daybreak of Freedom#, Stewart Burns presents a groundbreaking documentary history of the boycott. Using an extraordinary array of more than one hundred original documents, he crafts a compelling and comprehensive account of this celebrated year-long protest of racial segregation. ###Daybreak of Freedom# reverberates with the voices of those closest to the bus boycott, ranging from King and his inner circle, to Jo Ann Robinson and other women leaders who started the protest, to the maids, cooks, and other 'foot soldiers' who carried out the struggle. With a deft narrative hand and editorial touch, Burns weaves their testimony into a riveting story that shows how events in Montgomery pushed the entire nation to keep faith with its stated principles. The Montgomery bus boycott was a formative moment in twentieth-century history: a harbinger of the African American freedom movement, a springboard for the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., and a crucial step in the struggle to realize the American dream of liberty and equality for all. In ###Daybreak of Freedom#, Stewart Burns presents a groundbreaking documentary history of the boycott. Using an extraordinary array of more than one hundred original documents, he crafts a compelling and comprehensive account of this celebrated year-long protest of racial segregation. ###Daybreak of Freedom# reverberates with the voices of those closest to the bus boycott, ranging from King and his inner circle, to Jo Ann Robinson and other women leaders who started the protest, to the maids, cooks, and other 'foot soldiers' who carried out the struggle. With a deft narrative hand and editorial touch, Burns weaves their testimony into a riveting story that shows how events in Montgomery pushed the entire nation to keep faith with its stated principles. Burns presents a groundbreaking documentary history of the Montgomery bus boycott. The book reverberates with the voices of those closest to the protest, ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. and his inner circle, to Jo Ann Robinson and other women leaders who started the protest, to the maids, cooks, and other "foot soldiers" who carried out the struggle. With a deft narrative hand and editorial touch, Burns weaves their testimony into a riveting story that shows how events in Montgomery pushed the entire nation to keep faith with its stated principles.

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De León, a Tejano Family History

By Ana Carolina Castillo Crimm

Combining the storytelling flair of a novelist with a scholar's concern for the facts, Ana Carolina Castillo Crimm here recounts the history of three generations of the de León family, one of the founding families of Texas.

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Death in the Delta

Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret

Molly Walling

Growing up, Molly Walling could not fathom the source of the dark and intense discomfort in her family home. Then in 2006 she discovered her father's complicity in the murder of two black men on December 12, 1946, in Anguilla, deep in the Mississippi Delta. Death in the Delta tells the story of one woman's search for the truth behind a closely held, sixty-year old family secret. Though the author's mother and father decided that they would protect their three children from that past, its effect was profound. When the story of a fatal shoot-out surfaced, apprehension turned into a devouring need to know.


Each of Walling's trips from North Carolina to the Delta brought unsettling and unexpected clues. After a hearing before an all-white grand jury, her father's case was not prosecuted. Indeed, it appeared as if the incident never occurred, and he resumed his life as a small-town newspaper editor. Yet family members of one of the victims tell her their stories. A ninety-three-year-old black historian and witness gives context and advice. A county attorney suggests her family's history of commingling with black women was at the heart of the deadly confrontation. Firsthand the author recognizes how privilege, entitlement, and racial bias in a wealthy, landed southern family resulted in a deadly abuse of power followed by a stifling, decades-long cover up.


Death in the Delta is a deeply personal account of a quest to confront a terrible legacy. Against the advice and warnings of family, Walling exposes her father's guilty agency in the deaths of Simon Toombs and David Jones. She also exposes his gift as a writer and creative thinker. The author, grappling with wrenching issues of family and honor, was long conflicted about making this story public. But her mission became one of hope that confronting the truth might somehow move others toward healing and reconciliation.

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Defending White Democracy

The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965

Jason Morgan Ward

After the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in 1954, southern white backlash seemed to explode overnight. Journalists profiled the rise of a segregationist movement committed to preserving the "southern way of life" through a campaign of massive resistance. In Defending White Democracy, Jason Morgan Ward reconsiders the origins of this white resistance, arguing that southern conservatives began mobilizing against civil rights some years earlier, in the era before World War II, when the New Deal politics of the mid-1930s threatened the monopoly on power that whites held in the South.

As Ward shows, years before "segregationist" became a badge of honor for civil rights opponents, many white southerners resisted racial change at every turn--launching a preemptive campaign aimed at preserving a social order that they saw as under siege. By the time of the Brown decision, segregationists had amassed an arsenal of tested tactics and arguments to deploy against the civil rights movement in the coming battles. Connecting the racial controversies of the New Deal era to the more familiar confrontations of the 1950s and 1960s, Ward uncovers a parallel history of segregationist opposition that mirrors the new focus on the long civil rights movement and raises troubling questions about the enduring influence of segregation's defenders.

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Democracy, Dialogue, and Community Action

Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro

Spoma Jovanovic

On November 3, 1979, five protest marchers in Greensboro, North Carolina, were shot and killed by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. There were no police present, but television crews captured the shootings on video. Despite two criminal trials, none of the killers ever served time for their crimes, exposing what many believed to be the inadequacy of judicial, political, and economic systems in the United States. Twenty-five years later, in 2004, Greensboro residents, inspired by post-apartheid South Africa, initiated a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to take public testimony and examine the causes, sequence of events, and consequences of the massacre. The TRC was to be a process and a tool by which citizens could feel confident about the truth of the city’s history in order to reconcile divergent understandings of past and current city values, and it became the foundation for the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States. Spoma Jovanovic, who worked alongside other community members to document the grassroots effort to convene the first TRC in the United States, provides a resource and case study of how citizens in one community used their TRC as a way to understand the past and conceive the future. This book preserves the historical significance of a people’s effort to seek truth and work for reconciliation, shows a variety of discourse models for other communities to use in seeking to redress past harms, and demonstrates the power of community action to promote participatory democracy.

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Democratic Theorizing from the Margins

Marla Brettschneider

Democratic Theorizing from the Margins lays out the basic parameters of diversity-based politics as a still emerging form of democratic theory. Students, activists, and scholars engage in diversity politics on the ground, but generally remain unable to conceptualize a broad understanding of how "politics from the margins"-that is, political thinking and action that comes from groups often left on the outside of mainstream organizing and action-operates effectively in different contexts and environments. Brettschneider offers concrete lessons from many movements to see what they tell us about a new sort of democratic politics. She also addresses traditional democratic theories and draws on the myriad discerning practices employed by marginalized groups in their political activism to enhance the critical capacities of potential movements committed both to social change and democratic action.

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