Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she’d never met nor heard of.
Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.
Hobbs’ cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she’d graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.
“She was black, but she looked white,” Hobbs said. “And her mother decided it was in her best interest to move far away from Chicago, to Los Angeles, and to assume the life of a white woman.”
“Her mother really felt that this was the very best thing she could do for her daughter,” Hobbs continued. “She felt this was a way to offer opportunities to her daughter that she wouldn’t have living as a black woman on the South Side of Chicago.”
In California, the young woman passed as white. She married a white man, and they had children who never knew they had black blood. Then, one day, years later, her phone rang.
It was the woman’s mother with distressing news: Her father was dying, and she needed to return home immediately to tell him goodbye.
The cousin replied, “I can’t. I’m a white woman now.”
She missed her father’s funeral, and never saw her mother or siblings again.
Hobbs was haunted by the story, and constantly went back to it in her mind. It made her realize that all the tales she’d heard about passing over the years involved the gains that people expected for leaving their black identity behind. But through her research, she came to understand there was another, critical part of the experience:
“To write a history of passing is to write a history of loss.”
‘Who Are Your People?’
Loss of self. Loss of family. Loss of community. Loss of the ability to answer honestly the question black people have been asking each other since before Emancipation: “Who are your people?”
This famous photograph by Horace Cort shows a group of white and black integrationists in the former Monson Motor Lodge swimming pool on June 18, 1964. The photo was connected to the St. Augustine Movement, named for the town in Florida where it took place. Lots of peaceful protests and demonstrations were responded to with violence, which lead to more and more complicated protests.
On June 11, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr was arrested for trespassing at the Monson Motor Lodge after being asked to leave from its segregated restaurant. This (and other things) helped spurn on a group of protesters, black and white, to jump into the pool as a strategically planned event to end segregation at motel pools. The pool at this motel was designated “white only.” Whites who paid for motel rooms invited blacks to join them in the motel pool as their guests. This swim-in was planned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and two associates. The motel manager, Jimmy Brock, in an effort to break up the party, poured a bottle of muriatic acid into the pool, hoping the swimmers would become scared and leave. One swimmer, who knew that the ratio of acid to pool water was so great that the acid was no longer a threat, drank some of the pool water to calm the other swimmers’ fears.
51 years ago. How times have [not] changed!
Is he triangulating because his aides let him know how disastrous it would be to still support the Iraq War at this point, or is he actually expressing an honest opinion now? Who knows! In the 2015 GOP Clown Car, not even the clowns know what they really believe: Jeb Bush Fully Walks It Back on Iraq: ‘I Would Not Have Gone Into Iraq.’
After nearly a week of confusion over his position on Iraq, the Middle East, and the role of his brother as an adviser, Jeb Bush fully walked back his position that he would have gone to war in Iraq — even knowing what we know now.
“So here’s the deal,” Bush told an audience in Arizona, “if we’re all supposed to answer hypothetical questions, knowing what we know now, I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq. That’s not to say that the world is safer because Saddam Hussein is gone. It is significantly safer.”
The remarks come after Bush was asked on Fox, “Knowing what we know now,” would he have authorized the war. “I would have,” he answered, then pivoted to try and say that Hillary Clinton would have, too. Clinton voted to authorize the war as a senator, but has since called that vote a “mistake.”
Josh Marshall thinks this could be the end of the line for the few remaining Iraq War dead-enders: How Jeb Bush Triggered an Iraq War Watershed.
President Obama is being attacked from all sides for deciding not to use the word “genocide” when he speaks this Friday about the murders of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century. Armenians are especially upset, of course, but right wing media and politicians are seizing on this to accuse Obama of hypocrisy, because in his 2008 presidential campaign he vowed to recognize the Armenian genocide.
But as usual with decisions like this, there’s a political reason that has to do with the current situation in the Middle East.
After the meeting with Armenian American groups, White House officials released a statement that did not use the word “genocide.” The statement from National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. would use the anniversary of the onset of the massacres to “urge a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts that we believe is in the interest of all parties.”
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to comment on a diplomatically delicate issue, said the White House expects Obama to mark “the historical significance” of the Meds Yeghern, as the massacres are known in Armenian.
“We know and respect that there are some who are hoping to hear different language this year. We understand their perspective,” the official said.
But, the official added, “the approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one, both for acknowledging the past, and for our ability to work with regional partners to save lives in the present,” a reference to U.S. hope for cooperation from Turkey, particularly in the civil war in Syria.
Yes, it’s disappointing that real world politics prevents the Obama administration from using the word “genocide,” but on the other hand they’re strongly urging the Turkish government to acknowledge the truth about their involvement in this massive crime against humanity. This is the difference between running for President and being the President; campaign promises are easy to make, but once in office the reality of foreign policy sometimes necessitates difficult and controversial political choices.
Meanwhile, our stalker pal Chuck C. Johnson is latching onto this issue and attacking President Obama with a series of grotesque tweets that starkly illustrate Chuck’s historical ignorance.
Obama obsessed about Darfur “genocide” (300,000 dead) but won't recognize Armenian genocide (1,500,000 dead). Coward.
Notice that he puts the word “genocide” in quotes when referring to Darfur.
Which one of the presidential candidates will have the courage to call the Armenian genocide a genocide? Is it you, @tedcruz?
Chuck’s hero Ted Cruz has already jumped on this opportunity to bash Obama, of course. But here’s where Johnson really goes off the rails:
Even Hitler recognized the Armenian genocide.
All these people comparing Obama to Hitler get it wrong. Hitler recognized the Armenian genocide.
Did Hitler really “recognize the Armenian genocide?” Well, yes, but of course he didn’t use the word “genocide.” And as a matter of historical fact, Hitler wasn’t really “recognizing” the genocide — he was inspired by it. He reportedly cited the killings of Armenians in a statement to his generals in 1939, as a reason to believe the world would do nothing about his planned campaign of terror and murder against Poland:
Referring to the Armenian Genocide, the young German politician Adolf Hitler duly noted the half-hearted reaction of the world’s great powers to the plight of the Armenians. After achieving total power in Germany, Hitler decided to conquer Poland in 1939 and told his generals: ‘Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my ‘Death’s Head Units’ with the orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?’
So when Chuck unfavorably compares Obama to Hitler, he’s missing the entire point of Hitler’s bloodthirsty reference to the Armenians.
The new conservative cause is attacking history courses because they don’t teach enough “American exceptionalism,” and focus instead on liberal left wing progressive stuff like facts and truth. The latest example is taking place in Colorado right now, where the state Board of Education is under siege by idiotic demagogues like businesswoman Pam Mazanec.
Mazanec, who was elected to represent Colorado’s 4th Congressional district on the board, jumped into a discussion about the AP History course framework Saturday on a Facebook page that describes itself as “a place where teachers and parents are encouraged to speak freely about their issues, questions, and concerns in the Douglas County School District.” The Colorado Independent flagged her comment on Thursday.
Mazanec’s first posts in the thread raised the possibility that the AP History course framework may have been conceived by people with an “agenda,” prompting an AP English teacher to respond by explaining that experienced AP teachers compile the courses’ exams.
She then wrote that her concern for the course “is an overly negative view of our history and many of our historical figures (if mentioned)” and cited history professors with “impressive credentials” who told her that the AP History curriculum is designed to “downplay our noble history.”
She used slavery to illustrate the point:
As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH Framework support or denigrate that position?
Yes, remember that voluntary Civil War that killed 750,000 men in the North and South? Good thing it wasn’t compulsory. American exceptionalism!
Now for something completely different — strangely beautiful photos of desolation and abandonment from the ruins of the Worcester State Hospital, formerly known as the State Lunatic Asylum: The Kingston Lounge: Worcester State Hospital.
The Kirkbride building at Worcester State Hospital, a once-sprawling complex conceived in 1869, built between 1873 and 1877, and continuously used for well over a century, has suffered an unfortunate fate over the last 21 years. In 1991, a fire tore through the complex, destroying much of the original construction. Of what remained, the state decided to demolish all but the administrative pavilion - known as the Clocktower, due to its distinctive clock tower - and the Hooper turret to its left. With little fanfare, the three remaining wards and Gage turret were torn down along with several other historic structures in 2008. Now, the state plans to destroy the historic Clocktower, leaving only a hollow monument where it stands.
Four precious young lives cut short by hate.
Denise. Addie Mae. Carole. Cynthia. #Birmingham
Three of the girls were 14 years old, the other was 11. Had they not been brutally murdered they’d all be in their 60s today. They most likely would’ve had children and grandchildren by now, maybe even great grandchildren. Who knows what any one of them or their descendants might have gone on to accomplish?
Twenty-two other people were also injured that day. The case remained unsolved until 1971, when Bill Baxley was elected Attorney General of Alabama. He reopened it after requesting the original FBI files on the case and discovering that evidence had been withheld from prosecutors by order of J. Edgar Hoover. The case wasn’t brought to court until November 1977.
A paper-letter animation about the history of fonts and typography.
291 Paper Letters.
140 hours of work.
Thinking in Type by Ellen Lupton
Just My Type by Simon Garfield
If this video sparks any ideas, I would love to hear about them!
Archive is a documentary focused on the future of long-term digital storage, the history of the Internet and attempts to preserve its contents on a massive scale.
Part one features Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and his colleagues Robert Miller, director of books, and Alexis Rossi, director of web collections. On a mission to create universal access to all knowledge, the Internet Archive’s staff have built the world’s largest online library, offering 10 petabytes of archived websites, books, movies, music, and television broadcasts.
The video includes a tour of the Internet Archive’s headquarters in San Francisco, the book scanning center, and the book storage facilities in Richmond, California.
Directed by Jonathan Minard
Cinematography by John Behrens, Alexander Porter, and Fearghal O’dea
Produced at the Internet Archive on October 22-26, during the Books in Browsers Conference and 10 Petabyte Celebration. Project supported by Eyebeam
Michele Catalano used to have a blog named “A Small Victory,” always one of my favorites back in the early days of LGF because of her excellent writing, and she’s done a terrific piece for medium.com on the “warbloggers” and her personal awakening that the Bush administration’s rationale for the Iraq War was based on deception: The March to War and Back.
I won’t quote, just go ye and read the whole thing.
(Note: I agree and identify with every word of Michele’s piece. Before the 9/11 attacks, like Michele, I was very much a liberal. And I now greatly regret letting my grief and emotions after 9/11 blind me to a lesson I had already learned: that right wing administrations can and will capitalize on anger and fear to advance their agenda. That’s a mistake I’ll never make again.)