Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Letter To My Son”

Coates, possibly the most important writer at this moment in America, wrote a long letter to his son about growing up and being Black:“I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not. I knew that some inscrutable …

Clive Bundy, White Supremacy, and the Historical Reality of Slavery

It shouldn’t really be a surprise that Cliven Bundy, leader of the absurd Nevada cattle tax stand off against “the Feds,”* also is problematic on other fronts. As Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes from a NY Times piece, Bundy had this to say about poor Black people:  “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now …

Look, without our stories, without the true nature and reality of who we are as People of Color, nothing about fanboy or fangirl culture would make sense. What I mean by that is: if it wasn’t for race, X-Men doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the history of breeding human beings in the New …

When Vanilla Was Brown And How We Came To See It As White : Code Switch : NPR

Kat Chow on NPR’s code switch blog wrote a great article on the history of vanilla. As with so many things originating on the American continent, the history is inextricably connected to colonialism, slavery, and appropriation by whiteness. For instance, the Totonac Indians of Mexico had the knowledge how to efficiently cultivate vanilla beans, a …

Nwords As Terms Around 1820

Alisse Portnoy’s Their Right To Speak is a fascinating book about women’s activism in campaigns against antebellum Native American removal and parallel efforts in the abolition movement. In a passage on abolition and slavery rhetoric, Portnoy explains that “negro” was never a neutral term. In addition, “negro,” instead of the other nword, was used in …

Cool has come a long way, literally. In a 1973 essay called “An Aesthetic of the Cool,” art historian Robert Farris Thompson traced the concept to the West African Yoruba idea of itutu—a quality of character denoting composure in the face of danger, as well as playfulness, humor, generosity, and conciliation. It was carried to …