News

‘The Humanity of Blackness' Missing From History Classes: How to Transform Black History Education in Schools

by Cathy Rainone | June 29, 2020

The history of African Americans begins on the African continent where diverse empires thrived for thousands of years and traded gold, ivory and salt with people from other civilizations. But in the majority of classrooms K-12 across the U.S., students learn about the African American heritage starting with the enslavement in the U.S. colonies, a system that erased the identity of the enslaved and treated them as property. Read more...

'The worshipping of whiteness': why racist symbols persist in America

By Alexandra Villarreal | June 30, 2020

Abolitionist Harriet Tubman was supposed to supplant Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Then came the Trump administration. Photograph: AP

Tributes to a checkered past exist all over the US, even as Confederate statues are removed and brands reconsider racial stereotypes.

In life, the seventh US president, Andrew Jackson, and his family accrued their wealth at the expense of hundreds of enslaved people. Now, even in death, Jackson still wields the power to haunt Black Americans whenever they pull a $20 bill from their wallets.

“Racism isn’t always abrupt. It isn’t always in your face. Sometimes, it’s very insidious,” said Franklin Eugene Forbes II, an architect and urban planner. “Why am I, a Black person, using a bill where a man who believed I was inferior to somebody else as a way to buy things, the same way people that look like me were bought by him?” Read More...

A Black Women’s History of the US: An Interview with Kali Gross and Daina Ramey Berry

By J.T. Roane | June 26, 2020

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J.T. Roane: What does centering all manner of Black women’s voices, from the enslaved and activists and organizers to outlaws do to rewrite the historiography of US and African American history?

Kali Gross & Daina Ramey Berry: Centering Black women’s voices, especially using a wide cross-section of figures, expands the historiography. It’s really that simple and at the same time that essential. Much of what many know of African American and US history is based on the same exclusionary notions of race, sex, gender, and class that have oppressed our people, and masses of people of color, throughout history and the historiography. It also helps bring otherwise-marginalized experiences into high relief—as we examine women who were differently abled and we look at Black queer women. Read More...

Great Moments in Black Her-story: 10 Books That Celebrate the Presence, Power, and Legacies of Black Women

By Maiysha Kai | March 2, 2020

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Black History Month may be over, but for black women (and those who love them), the party’s only half-over, because March is Women’s History Month—and ain’t I a woman? Nestled at the intersection of blackness and womanhood, we know black women’s histories are rich and varied; we may not be anyone’s mules, but we are arguably the backbone of the United States and myriad social justice movements within it. Historically, ours were the hands that raised not only our own families but generations of America’s leadership. Now, we are one of the most powerful voting blocs in the country. Read more...

BitchReads: 17 Nonfiction Books Feminists Should Read in 2020

By Evette Dionne | January 10, 2020

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All reading sharpens our understanding of ourselves and the societies we inhabit, but nonfiction books, in particular, deepen that understanding in a way few other mediums can. Well-researched and well-written nonfiction books, like the 17 on this list, leave us with more information than we came in with about history, politics, sleep cycles, and even the ways we socialize boys about sex and masculinity. As an added bonus, these books have the pacing and storytelling typically associated with novels, making them even more engrossing.

Want more seasonal reads? Make sure to sign up for our email list and we’ll send you a new BitchReads list, every quarter, in partnership with Powell’s Books! Read more...

10 Notable Brand Blunders From 2019

By Robert Klara | December 30, 2019

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It’s easy to hate on brands. Today’s mega corporations probably send their labor offshore, while likely paying seven-figure salaries to top executives and booking untold millions in profits. And when those corporations make a mistake, lambasting them becomes a kind of sport for the rest of us. Frankly, why shouldn’t it? Read more...

Histories of Violence: Slavery in America

Brad Evans interviews Ana Lucia Araujo | December 23, 2019

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This is the 35th in a series of dialogues with artists, writers, and critical thinkers on the question of violence. This conversation is with Ana Lucia Araujo, a Brazilian-born writer and professor of history at Howard University. She has worked extensively on the history and memory of the global slave trade, and has authored and edited some dozen books on the subject. Her most recent book is Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade (Bloomsbury, 2017) and her next, Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2020. Read more...

Texas board may add African American studies to high school curriculum

By Raga Justin | November 13, 2019

A little over a year after the board in charge of Texas public education passed a controversial high school Mexican American studies course, deliberations have resumed again — this time, for a course in African American studies.

Frank Genova teaches about the slave trade during his African American Studies class at the Bridgeport Military Academy in Bridgeport, Conn. on Thursday, October 4, 2018.

At a State Board of Education meeting Wednesday in Austin, the board heard testimony from countless students, educators and scholars on the proposed course, with most in overwhelming support of its implementation.

During a public discussion that lasted more than two hours, Pat Hardy, a Republican board member who represents part of Dallas County, said there was no hesitation among the board as to the fate of the course. Read more...

UT professor explores ‘overlooked’ history of sexuality, slavery in book talk

By Aria Jones | September 20, 2019

History professor Daina Ramey Berry said throughout recorded history, people wrote about slaves like objects. But in her new book, she is trying to shift the narrative by exploring the personal lives of slaves instead.

“It bothered me,” Berry said. “So, I just committed myself to say that I’m a scholar of the enslaved, and the institution of slavery just happens to house the people I’m interested in studying.”

Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie M. Harris, discussing their book

Berry spoke about her book Sexuality & Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas at Patton Hall on Thursday with co-editor Leslie M. Harris, a history professor at Northwestern University. Berry told the crowd of a couple dozen people that she is exploring sexual practices and intimacy in the history of slavery in her book.

“We wanted to get in spaces that often are sort of overlooked,” Berry said.

Berry said she and Harris wanted to talk about romantic intimacy in the book and not just sexual violence. Read more...

Penn, complicit in slavery and displacement must engage in reparative action

By Abdul-Aliy Muhammad | August 29, 2019

The University of Pennsylvania’s legacy is interlocked with the commodification and brutalization of enslaved people. Far from the glossy imprint of grandeur and the lore of exceptionalism lives the University's complex history of complicity in the institution of slavery, despite previous claims by University officials that Penn was not directly involved in the slave trade.

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Previously, a Penn spokesperson has said that, though the University had explored potential connections to slavery "several times over the past few decades," it had never found any "direct University involvement with slavery or the slave trade." Ultimately, the University corrected the record after the student-led Penn and Slavery Project produced clear evidence of Penn’s complicity. The Penn and Slavery Project upended a denial that had been gripped tightly by school administrators for over a decade. When Brown University and other universities began to wrestle with their historical participation in slavery, Penn unequivocally stated there was “no connection” between the University and this grotesque institution. The project began in 2017 when a group of undergraduate students embarked on an independent study to see if there was a connection. Read more...