If you haven’t already, check out this awesome new book trailer for Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons, written by award-winning historian Sylviane Diouf.
So I’d like to make a suggestion to jettison the Firsts, Festivals, and Foods trio of Black History Month for a different style of learning about Black and American history. Kids learn who the First Black astronaut was, the First Black senator, and so forth. But what happens after the First? I suggest we do away with how we teach about ‘Firsts,’ and I’ll leave the Festivals and Foods to other, more creative minds.
When we focus on the Firsts, and not What Followed, we allow ourselves to be seduced by the silence in between milestones of Black History. If we do not look into the gaps between the Firsts, then we fail to see the ways that other individuals, institutions, and social practices worked—often quite deliberately—to crush the spirit of those Firsts, and to make it plain that Black people who wanted to follow in their footsteps would be met with massive resistance.
So I ask that we pair the question ‘What Followed and Why?’ with each First, to ensure that our students can understand the reasons why we still celebrate Firsts, why they remain rarities decades after slavery and Jim Crow.
What happened after Benjamin Banneker made plans for our nation’s capitol, the First Black engineer to be recognized as such by white folks? Why the gap in Black urban planners between Banneker and… well, I must admit I cannot bring to mind a famous Black urban planner. What stymied efforts to bring up generations of Bannekers to design welcoming, sustainable urban spaces to be shared by people of all colors? Why are so many urban areas still segregated, decades after the First Black mayors were elected?
Until we look closely at What Followed, and try to learn lessons from that part of our American history, our celebrations of Firsts will feel less festive and more frustrating as time goes by.
Excerpt from “Black History Month, post-racial style," by Catherine R. Squires (@catupnorth), author of The Post-Racial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century (NYU Press, 2014).
This is one of the reasons…it’s so difficult to be a female executive…Everything you do is hyper-scrutinized. And you are…judged if you don’t put a particular social agenda—advancing women—incredibly high on your priority list in a way that men don’t have to. [Yahoo CEO Melissa] Mayer bans flexible work and we can’t stop talking. Men do this all the time and we just never hear about it.
The first book on Maroons in the United States is coming out today. Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons is the work of Sylviane A. Diouf, an award-winning historian who is also the Schomburg Center’s own Curator of Digital Collections and Director of the Schomburg-Mellon Humanities Summer Institute.Based on years of research Slavery’s Exiles presents a detailed portrait of the maroons; from isolated individuals to families and large communities. Who the maroons were, what led them to choose this way of life over alternatives, what forms of marronage they created, what their daily lives were like, how they organized themselves to survive, and how their particular story fits into the larger narrative of slave resistance are some of the many questions that the book seeks to answer.
Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons
Sylviane A. Diouf
January 2014, Cloth
Read the introduction here.
In the context of the privileged boys prep school in Dead Poets Society, such rhapsodizing is a romantic and affordable indulgence: cultivating bohemian fantasies for the kids who will inevitably grow up to become Masters of the Universe.
"Same Love," or same old shit?
—KAREN TONGSON takes on Macklemore’s “Same Love” in this critical,
much-read (and hotly debated) piece.
Celebrating women of color, one girl at a time
—ANDREANA CLAY responds to The Onion, after the magazine
posted a tweet calling nine year old Quvenzhané Wallis the c-word.
—ILENE KALISH, Executive Editor for Social Sciences at NYU Press, shares her single most valuable tip for authors: rewrite.
See the full list here!
We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality…an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’ domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see the future beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of the moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds … Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.