Saturday, May 31, 2008

“Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia”

JOHN W. ‘BUD’ FOWLER Photo Credit: National Baseball Library

Keokuk, Iowa, baseball club featuring JOHN W. ‘BUD’ FOWLER, Date: 1885 Photo Credit: National Baseball Library Photographer: Unknown

Bud Fowler (March 16, 1858 - February 26, 1913), born John W. Jackson, was a baseball player and baseball club organizer, the first known Black professional player. He played more seasons and more games in Organized Baseball than any black man until Jackie Robinson in 1946.
Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum Opens “Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia”

From the mid-19th century, baseball was played on sandlots, public parks and white-owned ball fields across the District of Columbia. But the most popular teams, accomplished players and thrilling games, whether professional or amateur, neighborhood or citywide, came out of the black community. Long before Jackie Robinson integrated the Brooklyn Dodgers, exceptional players like Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard and James “Cool Papa” Bell were setting records and drawing capacity crowds as players for the Homestead Grays, one of the Negro Leagues’ top teams.
Ballplayers such as Satchel Paige and Roy Campanella, who were eventually recruited by major league baseball, played in D.C. honing their skills in the Negro League games.

The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum exhibition “Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia” chronicles and celebrates the history of African Americans in baseball in the nation’s capital despite segregation. “Separate and Unequaled” is accompanied by a traveling exhibit “Discover Greatness: An Illustrated History of Negro League Baseball,” both on view from May 18 through Oct. 5 at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., located at 801 K Street N.W. The society is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Baseball Negro Leagues, Morris Brown College. Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-114266]

African American baseball players from Morris Brown College, with boy and another man, standing at door, Atlanta, Georgia
The story of black baseball in Washington begins as early as the mid-1800s when the game was “a perfect mania” in the city, according to a Sept. 11, 1866, Daily National Intelligencerarticle. Baseball clubs formed throughout the city as citizens young and old eagerly participated in the sport. But neighborhood and organized African American teams, unable to own ballparks, played wherever they could and often requested the use of white-owned fields,
such as the White Lot located on the grounds of what would become the Ellipse. Teams such as the Washington Mutuals and the Washington Alerts held games there until the use of the park by blacks was abruptly ended in 1874. Charles Remond Douglass (son of Frederick Douglass) played on both those teams. Griffith Stadium, the home of the major league Washington Senators, and located in the one of the District’s major African American neighborhoods, became the city’s primary venue for black and white games—with segregated seating when white clubs played. Black semi-pro clubs, such as the Washington Potomacs, frequently rented the stadium and their games drew larger crowds from the general citizenry than those of the hometown team. But black baseball really took off when the Homestead Grays from Pittsburgh became known as Washington’s hometown Negro National League team playing at Griffith’s stadium beginning formally in 1940.

“Separate and Unequaled” features more than 55 photographs, paintings, documents and artifacts illustrating the proud history of black baseball in the area. The show notes the various amateur, collegiate (Howard University) and semi-pro black baseball teams and leagues, as well as the community teams that gave rise to them. Highlights include large, original paintings of Grays ball players by artist and author Kadir Nelson’s that are replicated in his book, “We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.” Uniforms, signed balls and bats, gloves, news clippings, correspondence and other memorabilia document the record-setting accomplishments achieved and tribulations endured by these early players—many of whom never got to play in the majors. Recognition is given to the club owners who successfully organized their teams into million dollar enterprises through the onset of baseball’s integration, which ultimately signaled the Negro Leagues’ demise.

The exhibition also highlights the critical role played by sportswriters, such as Sam Lacy, of the Washington Tribune and the Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, and Art Carter, sports editor of the Washington Afro-American and Gray’s publicist in promoting the team and Negro League games. The Negro League participation by woman owner Effa Manley, who in retirement fought for Baseball Hall of Fame recognition for Negro Leagues players, is discussed in the exhibition. Providing an interactive experience, the exhibition offers visitors authentic historic stadium sounds, audio and film interviews with legendary players, and the opportunity to take a photo with a life-size Grays player cutout.

Anthony A. Gualtieri, museum specialist in history, is exhibition curator; Gail S. Lowe, senior historian, is co-curator; and Ryan A. Swanson, doctoral candidate at Georgetown University, provided additional research and writing for “Separate and Unequaled,” which was developed by the museum and presented in collaboration with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

“Discover Greatness,” a traveling exhibition from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., provides a broad national overview of the Negro Leagues. A timeline accompanied by images and artifacts offers a contextual perspective on this historic sports movement. “Discover Greatness” is presented by the museum in collaboration with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and is sponsored by Bank of America.

The Anacostia Community Museum opened in southeast Washington in 1967 as the nation’s first federally funded neighborhood museum. The museum has expanded its focus from an African American emphasis to documenting, interpreting and collecting about the impact of historical and contemporary social issues on communities.

For more information about the museum, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or (202) 633-5285 (TTY); for tours, call (202) 633-4870. Web site:

Contacts Media only: Marcia Baird Burris (202) 633-4876 Public: (202) 633-1000

Friday, May 30, 2008

Unexpected duality in attitudes of black youth in America

Cathy Cohen

Cathy Cohen David and Mary Winton Green Professor in Political Science and the College; Deputy Provost for Graduate Education

Cathy Cohen's general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements.

She is the author of the book The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University Of Chicago Press, 1999), and the co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (New York University Press, 1997). Her work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes, including the American Political Science Review, GLQ, NOMOS and Social Text.

Cohen also is editor with Frederick Harris of a new book series from Oxford Press entitled Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities.

In Prof. Cohen's new role as Deputy Provost for Graduate Education, she leads a critical assessment of the graduate experience across the University, considering new programs and paradigms necessary to define graduate education for the future.
Black youth want to be politically active but believe government ignores them; they back sex education in schools and practice safe sex; they’re top consumers of rap music but disapprove of its violence and portrayal of women.

Although African-American youth are just as politically motivated as Hispanic and white youth, believing that they have the skills to participate and can make a difference, they are skeptical of the political process, asserting that, “leaders in government care little about people like me.” This conclusion is the result of a new comprehensive national study of youth opinions, which also shows that black youth are more likely than Hispanics and whites to use protection during sex, are critical consumers of rap music and videos, and are more conservative in their social attitudes than other youth.

The study, titled the Black Youth Project, was launched to provide a more comprehensive and complex perspective of African-American youth, said Cathy Cohen, leader of the project and Professor in Political Science at the University of Chicago. “There has been a lot of talk about African-American youth from people like Bill Cosby. Unfortunately, most of these comments are not grounded in any type of empirical reality. Similarly, there have been a number of other studies of African-American young people, largely focused on the outcomes of their behaviors that do not include the voices and views of young black people.

“The Black Youth Project is committed to making the ideas and attitudes of young people our central focus. By asking young people themselves about important issues like sex education, police discrimination, abortion or same-sex marriage, the Black Youth Project is able to provide data that will help build effective policies that can significantly improve the lives and prospects of young black people. This study is about research, not ranting,” said Cohen.

The team surveyed 1,590 black, white and Hispanic youth nationwide between the ages of 15 and 25 to ask them about their sexual behaviors and attitudes, about their views on social and cultural issues, and their opinions on government and politics, as well as other topics. The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with about 40 young black people who completed the survey.

On political issues, the team found both hopeful and discouraging signs of political engagement among black youth.
For example, the study found that 79 percent of young blacks feel that participating in politics can make a difference, a figure similar to that of Hispanics and whites. At the same time, a majority of young blacks and Hispanics agreed that leaders in government care very little about people like them. Similarly, nearly half (48 percent) of black young adults and adolescents agreed with the following statement: “The government treats most immigrants better than it treats most black people in this country;” while only 29 percent of white youth and 18 percent of Hispanic youth agreed. “Black young people are trying to reconcile two conflicting perspectives. One perspective is based in the rhetoric of the government and other institutions, which suggests that we now exist in a color-blind society where everyone is judged merely on merit. The other perspective is rooted in the reality of discrimination that confronts far too many young black people. Given their reality, it is not surprising that a majority of black respondents also said that it is hard for young black people to get ahead because they face so much discrimination,” said Cohen.

The study also found young people embracing newer forms of political involvement. A quarter of black youth, nearly the same amount as those in the other groups, reported “buycotting” during the last 12-months (buying a product because of the company’s social or political values). Smaller but significant percentages of all young people reported signing either paper or e-mail petitions, and sending an e-mail or posting on a political blog.
When asked about their sexual attitudes and behaviors, the team found that most young people have positive attitudes toward sex and feel relatively in control of their sexual activities. Consistent with previous studies, the overwhelming majority of young people ages 18 to 25 in each racial/ethnic group reported having had sexual intercourse.
About one third of the young people ages 15 to 17 reported having sex. Among all black youth, 77 percent reported using protection every time or almost every time they had intercourse, compared with 64 percent for Hispanics and 66 percent for whites.

A majority of young people, mostly young African Americans (76 percent), reported feeling very sure they could tell their partners what they felt comfortable doing sexually. Nearly 90 percent of young people in each ethnic and racial group felt they could convince their partners to use protection before having sex, the survey showed. More than 90 percent of all young people surveyed agreed that sex education should be mandatory in high schools.

Young people also reported confidence in their ability to pick up on negative messages in rap music, which is listened to daily by 58 percent of black youth, compared with 45 percent of Hispanic youth and 23 percent of white youth.

“The overwhelming majority of young people agree with the statement: ‘Rap music videos contain too many references to sex,’” Cohen said. The study found that 72 percent of black and Hispanic youth agreed with the statement, which was supported by 68 percent of white youth. Similarly, the majority of all youth agree that, “rap music videos portray black women in negative and offensive ways,” with black women and girls more likely to strongly agree with this statement. The study showed that 62 percent of black youth, 54 percent of Hispanic youth and 62 percent of white youth think rap music videos are degrading to black women.

On social issues, the surveys found that African-American young people are more likely to agree that homosexuality is always wrong (55 percent for blacks, 36 percent for Hispanics and 35 percent for whites). A majority of African-American youth also opposed legalizing same-sex marriages, (58 percent for blacks, 36 percent for Hispanics and 35 percent for whites).

More information about the survey is available at The Ford Foundation financed the Black Youth Project. The data was gathered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Press Contact: William Harms (773) 702-8356 WEB: University of Chicago News Office 5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200 Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473

Thursday, May 29, 2008

E-Activism: Analysis of Black Bloggers in the Blogosphere

Dr Antoinette Pole

Antoinette Pole is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. From 2005-2007she was Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University, and she received her Ph.D. in Political Science from CUNY Graduate School and University Center. She has expertise in information technology and government and state politics.

She is currently writing a book on political blogs titled, Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society (Routledge, forthcoming), as well as co-authored book about New York state politics titled, New York Politics: A Tale of Two States, Second Edition (ME Sharpe, forthcoming). Professor Pole has published in several journals including Public Choice, International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, State and Local Government Review, and Spectrum the Journal of State Government. Additionally, Professor Pole serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, and sits on the Executive Committee of the American Political Science Association’s Technology and Politics Section.She has been interviewed by the Boston Globe, Rhode Island Monthly Magazine, and WBRU (radio), Silvio Canto Talk (web-based radio), for her work on blogs.

Professor Pole resides in New York City, and her interests include travel, music, fiction, yoga, NY Times Crosswords, Scrabble, photography, red wine, fashion, film and food. For additional information access Professor Pole's Curriculum Vitae 2008.doc or contact her at
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In the first scholarly research examining the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere, Brown University researcher Antoinette Pole assessed how bloggers of color use their medium for purposes related to politics. She found that black bloggers are, in fact, mobilizing readers to engage in political participation. Additionally, Pole found that black bloggers do not feel discriminated against or excluded by other bloggers. These findings appear in the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society.

Among the top political blogs, Pole says blogging has primarily been undertaken by white men, coined by Chris Nolan as the “Big Boys Club.” She says blacks comprise approximately less than 1 percent of political bloggers.

“Though they are less numerous, examining the role of minorities in the blogosphere is important if blogs are being used to engage in political discourse and discussion, and more importantly, political action that has real-world implications,” Pole said. “Who has influence in the blogosphere and how bloggers are using this new medium to undertake political action merits study.”

Based on in-depth interviews with 20 black bloggers, Pole’s study found that 85 percent of respondents use their blogs to engage in political advocacy and to raise money for charitable causes. A majority of the bloggers said they encouraged their readers to vote or to register to vote; 40 percent of the bloggers asked their readers to contact elected officials; 35 percent suggested that their readers sign a petition or attend a rally, protest, or march. Several of the bloggers mentioned using their blogs to endorse candidates for office. Compared to other research examining blogging and political participation, black bloggers appear to be engaged in these online advocacy efforts and philanthropic endeavors to a greater degree than their white counterparts, according to the paper.

“I assumed these bloggers were writing about politics and policy issues, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the authors mobilize their readers and use blogs as a conduit for political participation,” said Pole.

When black bloggers were asked whether they felt discriminated against or left out by other bloggers, a majority of respondents said they do not. “While black bloggers face challenges such as not being linked by more popular bloggers or not receiving as much traffic as other bloggers, they perceive the blogosphere as inclusive.”

Pole also found that black political bloggers do not necessarily blog about issues that are unique to minorities, though at times, they emphasize how issues affect blacks in particular. Respondents commonly reported writing about a variety of topics including race and ethnicity, party politics, and campaigns and elections.

“Findings from this research suggest the blogosphere can be an avenue for greater political participation on the part of blacks and other minorities, given the relatively low threshold to entry and what appear to be low levels of discrimination,” Pole concludes.
This paper is part of Pole’s forthcoming book titled Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society, which examines the impact of political blogging on politics and participation.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476. ######

Contact: Deborah Baum (401) 863-2476 WEB HOME: Brown University Home. NEWS HOME: Media Relations Home

Biography and Image Credit: Antoinette Pole, Ph.D. FrontPage

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Untold stories of African-Americans in World War II

Joel William Beeson is an assistant professor at the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism.

Joel William Beeson Assistant Professor 304-293-3505 ext. 5422

Joel William Beeson is an assistant professor at the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Beeson's specialty areas are visual journalism, multimedia and documentary fieldwork. He brings nearly 15 years of professional experience as a photojournalist, photo editor and designer to the classroom.

His photography has appeared in USA Today, Southern Living magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Phoenix Gazette, The Times of London and the Dallas Morning News, to name a few.

Beeson has M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and pursued doctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego in communications. He is presently a doctoral candidate in Ethnic and Media Studies at the Union Institute and University researching how digital technologies can be used by communities to document, preserve and promote their local cultural resources.

Beeson has also served as a photography instructor to homeless children in the after-school program San Francisco Boys and Girls Clubs Cultural Arts Program. Beeson strives to equip students with critical thinking and real-world skills they need to practice visual communication in today's new media environment.
WVU SOJ veterans project reveals untold stories of African-Americans in World War II

Black soldiers not only risked their lives battling German and Japanese forces during World War II but, in many cases, had to fight a more insidious enemy – racism.

New revelations about the dual battles they fought in the war and other untold stories are featured in the documentary, “Fighting on Two Fronts: Untold Stories of African American Vets from WWII,” by Joel Beeson, an assistant professor in the West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. The documentary aired on West Virginia Public Television.

“There are some really fascinating stories that have come out of this,” Beeson said. “Many of these veterans told me this was the first time they had talked about some of these things. A lot of this information has never been put out there anywhere.”

One such story is told by Marcus Cranford of Charles Town. During the monthlong Battle of Iwo Jima, Cranford’s Navy Seabee battalion of black soldiers was deployed to the island, unarmed, to unload supplies on the beach for U.S. forces while some of the deadliest fighting of the war was going on around them.

“This all started in boot camp in Virginia. He was in a segregated unit with white officers,” Beeson explained. “There was an armed standoff over segregation in the mess hall, and afterward, their officers refused to issue the black troops ammunition even when they were sent onto the beaches of Iwo Jima.”

There are no existing records of the boot camp incident in the Navy’s National Seabee Archive and Museum at Port Hueneme, Calif. The Seabee Archive is the main repository of the unit’s history, and all records of the camp during that period are missing.

Beeson heard similar stories from other blacks who were denied ammunition or weapons at other points during the war.

“I’ve interviewed other African-Americans who told me the same thing,” he said. “Some of these vets believed the white officers were afraid to give them small arms for protection for fear of retaliation or rebellion.”
Most black troops served in service or labor units but, like the Seabees or truck drivers supplying front-line troops, were often in harm’s way.

The role minority groups played in World War II also came to light following criticisms of Ken Burns’ epic documentary series “The War” for its lack of minority representation. Prior to its release, criticism from minorities surfaced, and Burns added content in response to those concerns.

Beeson said he was working on his documentary long before the criticism surfaced on Burns’ film.

“This documentary isn’t in response to that,” he said, “but if it serves to add something to the understanding of the World War II experience of all citizens, then I think I’ve done my job. I feel good about that. Whether it had a bearing on PBS’ decision to air the work, I don’t know. I do know that they’re very interested in having an inclusive American history presented on World War II.”

Another filmmaker, Spike Lee, is also exploring blacks’ roles in the war. He is currently shooting a film based on James McBride’s novel, “Miracle at St. Anna.” It is the story of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Division that fought against Nazi occupation in Italy.

Beeson’s documentary will add to the historical record of minority contributions but in a different style of storytelling than Burns’ piece and a different genre than Lee’s film.

“I let them tell their own stories,” Beeson said. “There is no narrator saying African-Americans did this or Americans did that. I just wanted to let them tell their own stories without somebody interpreting it for them. These are men and women who have kept this information – a lot of times – to themselves for 65 years. Many of them are haunted and have had nightmares about this stuff. I thought it was only right and fair to let them tell their stories.”

In addition to Cranford, three other veterans are featured in the documentary: Madelean McIver of Charles Town, one of only 3,000 blacks in the Women’s Army Corps during the war; John Watson of Beckley, a crew chief with the Tuskegee Airmen; and Hughie Mills of Las Vegas, who volunteered for the 761st Tank Battalion after the Battle of the Bulge.

The documentary grew out of Beeson’s work as director of West Virginia’s Veterans History Project, a collaboration among the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, the American FolkLife Center and the Library of Congress to collect the oral histories of West Virginia’s more than 202,000 veterans. The effort is especially significant in West Virginia as the state has the highest number of veterans per capita in the nation.

Beeson was awarded a media grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to produce a documentary about West Virginia black veterans.

More than 40 veterans were interviewed over six years for the project. Choosing the final veterans to be featured in the 56-minute documentary, which was whittled down from 30-40 hours of interviews, was a difficult task.

“It’s been a challenge,” Beeson said. “We chose the ones to be featured based on their experiences, and they had to be good storytellers. We looked for patterns and things in common with other African-American soldiers’ experiences. All of them were born in West Virginia, but this isn’t a story exclusive to West Virginia. The scope of it is not about a region. It’s about a range of personal experiences that represent common themes and stories. I think we’ve captured that.”

Many of the veterans Beeson interviewed told him that once they returned home, the discrimination continued.

“When they returned from the war, they still had to deal with racism and segregation in a pre-civil rights era,” he said. “For a lot of these men and women, there wasn’t any closure. There was a lot of unfinished business, and I hope this documentary helps to close that or at least start to heal their wounds.”

Beeson was honored by the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans’ Braintrust in September for his work on the film. The Veterans’ Braintrust is one of the most powerful political and educational groups advocating on behalf of blacks serving in the armed services and veterans.

Contacts: Kimberly Brown Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism Office: (304) 293-3505, ext. 5403

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Illegal immigration hurts African Americans; Vanderbilt professor believes Congressional Black Caucus is ignoring the issue

New research by a Vanderbilt professor of law and political science found that illegal immigration is hurting African Americans and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is not doing enough about it.

In a new book of essays called Debating Immigration, which Carol Swain edited and contributed to, Swain said that African Americans are losing more jobs to illegal immigrants than other racial or ethic groups, yet low income black workers don’t have political input in the debate.

“African Americans have been left devoid of a strong black voice in Congress on a topic that affects them deeply, given their high unemployment rates and historic struggle to get quality housing, health care, education and other goods and services,” said Swain.

Carol Swain, professor of law and political science

Carol Swain, professor of law and political science
Swain used a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, which found high unemployment rates among African Americans and Hispanics was partially attributed to the large number of low-skilled immigrants. Swain added that lax or non-existent immigration rules help businesses get away with hiring illegal immigrants instead of legal workers.

“The greatest competition occurs among people at the margins of society; a multi-racial group that includes poorly educated blacks, whites and Hispanics who compete against each other and against new immigrants for low-wage, low-skill jobs.”
Swain found that cuts in governmental programs, like student loans, make it harder for low-income African American students to train for higher paying jobs.

Swain also found that some African Americans feel threatened by surges of immigrants to the United States because of the immigrants’ potential impact on affirmative action.
Swain said any parallel between immigrant issues and the black civil rights movement is weak.

“Most illegal immigrants have willingly left their homelands to seek their fortunes in a more prosperous nation. They were not brought in chains,” she said.

Swain said that by not taking a stand on immigration, the Congressional Black Caucus is ignoring the interests of their constituency.

Swain found the CBC does not list immigration reform as a legislative priority and the CBC only mentioned immigration in one press release out of almost a hundred on its web site. Swain said some of the lawmakers in the CBC have large numbers of Hispanic constituents in their districts, which may lead to a conflict of interest.

Swain said unless there are big changes within the CBC, there will not be official black representation on the immigration issue and she believes that is hurting African Americans.

Debating Immigration is a compilation of essays from some of the world’s leading experts on immigration. It is the first of its kind to examine the issues of race and religion as they apply to contemporary immigration issues.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the News Service homepage at Media Contact: Amy Wolf, (615) 322-NEWS

[Media Note: Vanderbilt has a campus broadcast facility with a dedicated fiber optic line for live TV interviews and a radio ISDN line. A high resolution photo of Carol Swain is available at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Black Troops at Iwo Jima

Black combat support units took part in the assault on Iwo Jima, where, their presence confounded the policy of segregation. Because of the random intermingling of white and black units, an African-American Marine, carrying a box of supplies, dived into a shell hole occupied by white Marines, one of whom gave him a cigarette before he scrambled out with his load and ran forward. Here, too, black stewards and members of the depot and ammunition companies came to the aid of the wounded. A white Marine, Robert F. Graf, who lay in a tent awaiting evacuation for further medical treatment, remembered that: "Two black Marines . . . ever so gently . . . placed me on a stretcher and carried me outside to a waiting DUKW."

At Iwo Jima, the 8th Marine Ammunition Company and the 33d, 34th, and 36th Marine Depot Companies served as part of the shore party of the V Amphibious Corps. Elements of the ammunition company and the 36th Depot Company landed on D-Day, 19 February 1945, and within three days all the units were ashore, braving Japanese fire as they struggled in the volcanic sand to unload and stockpile ammunition and other supplies, and move the car go inland. Eleven black enlisted Marines and one of the white officers were wounded, two of the enlisted men fatally.

Black Troops at Iwo Jima
High Resolution Image Seeking to rescue a Marine who was drowning in the surf at Iwo Jima, this sextet of Negro soldiers narrowly missed death themselves when their amphibian truck was swamped by heavy seas.

From left to right, back row, they are T/5 L. C. Carter, Jr., Private John Bonner, Jr., Staff Sergeant Charles R. Johnson. Standing, from left to right, are T/5 A. B. Randle, T/5 Homer H. Gaines, and Private Willie Tellie." March 11, 1945. S/Sgt. W. H. Feen. 127-N-114329

Negro Marines on the beach at Iwo Jima

High Resolution Image "Iwo Jima...Negro Marines on the beach at Iwo Jima are, from left to right, Pfcs. Willie J. Kanody, Elif Hill, and John Alexander." March 1945. C. Jones. 127-N-11383.

Carrying a Jap[anese] prisoner from stockade to be evacuated

High Resolution Image Carrying a Jap[anese] prisoner from stockade to be evacuated and treated for malnutrition. Iwo Jima." February 23, 1945. Don Fox. 127-N-110622.
The depot companies landed cargo attached by steel straps to wooden pallets to simplify stowage in cargo holds and unloading at the objective. Unfortunately, the black Marines had no tools, like bolt-cutters, that could easily sever the metal. An officer of one of the companies recalls that his men had to break the straps by hacking and twisting with their bayonets.

The hard-fought advance inland eased the pressure on rear-area installations but did not eliminate the danger to combat service support troops like the men of the 8th Marine Ammunition Company. On 1 March, for example, Japanese mortar shells started a fire in the ammunition dump operated by the company, but Second Lieutenant John D'Angelo and several black Marines, among them Corporal Ralph Balara, shoveled sand onto the flames and extinguished them.

During darkness on the following morning, another enemy barrage struck the dump, this time detonating a bunker filled with high-explosive and white-phosphorous shells. The exploding ammunition started fires throughout the dump, generating heat so intense that it forced D'Angelo and his platoon to fall back and warped the steel barrel of a carbine they left behind. Not until the conflagration had burned itself out, could the platoon begin the dangerous job of extinguishing the embers and salvaging any usable ammunition. Sergeant Tom McPhatter — an African-American noncommissioned officer, who after the war became a clergyman and a Navy chaplain, attaining the rank of captain — helped search the ruins of the dump. On 4 March, D'Angelo's platoon braved sniper fire at a captured airfield to retrieve an emergency load of ammunition dropped by parachute to replace what the blaze had consumed.

On the early morning of 26 March, 10 days after Iwo Jima was declared secure, the Japanese made a final attack that penetrated to the rear area units near Iwo Jima's western beaches, including the 8th Ammunition and 36th Marine Depot Companies.
The black Marines helped stop the enemy in a confused struggle during darkness and mop up the survivors at daybreak. Two members of the 36th Company — Privates James M. Whitlock and James Davis — earned the Bronze Star for "heroic achievement." One Marine from the depot company and another from the ammunition company were fatally wounded, but four others, two from each unit, survived their wounds. The African-American companies that fought at Iwo Jima shared in the Navy Unit Citation awarded the support units of V Amphibious Corps.

Conclusion: Of the 110,000 troops landed on Iwo Jima best estimates point to four companies comprising about 900 men

Image andText Credits:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites Has Grown Larger, Scholars Find

Melvin L. Oliver, professor of sociology and dean of social sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Melvin L. Oliver, professor of sociology and dean of social sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara
(Santa Barbara, Calif.) – Disparities in wealth – or net worth – have shaped the financial inequality existing between blacks and whites for generations even as racial income differences have somewhat narrowed. That was the authoritative view of a pair of prominent scholars 10 years ago when they published a groundbreaking book on the subject. Now those experts – Melvin L. Oliver, professor of sociology and dean of social sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Thomas Shapiro, professor of law and social policy at Brandeis University – have collaborated on an updated edition, in which they take a second, even closer look at the problem.
In a 10th anniversary edition of "Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality" (Routledge), which includes two new chapters, the authors address the increase in racial wealth inequality in the past decade and some of the state and federal policies that have been launched to address it. The authors have concluded that the gap continues to be large and that recent financial sector actions and national policy have had a negative impact on the ability of blacks to accumulate wealth. Once again, their major finding is that despite a narrowing income gap, blacks continue to have significantly less wealth than whites.

"In many ways, wealth is more powerful than income," Oliver said. "Income comes in and goes out every month. But wealth is what you use to strategize about social mobility. You can talk all you want about poverty and helping people move out of poverty, but that doesn't mean those same people will achieve social mobility."
Considered a classic in the field of sociology, the first edition of "Black Wealth/White Wealth" received the C. Wright Mills Award and the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award. Michael Sherraden, director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, said the book "changed the way social scientists and policy makers think about racial inequality.
This Tenth Anniversary edition brings the discussion up to date, especially with the addition of two new chapters, one on inequality trends, and another on the emergence of asset-based policy."

The wealth gap, Oliver and Shapiro contend, is at the core of many of the socioeconomic differences that have persisted during the post-civil rights era. According to Oliver, wealth creates opportunity, and whether or not parents can achieve the American dream of home ownership, a car, and a mutual fund is one of the best predictors of whether their children will do the same.

"Right now, almost 80 percent of black kids begin their adult lives with no assets whatsoever," said Oliver. "That's not the case for white kids. If they don't have financial resources in hand, they have access to them through their families. Most black kids don't have that available to them."

According to some researchers, as much as 80 percent of the wealth people accumulate over the course of their lifetimes actually begins as a gift from a relative, he added. That gift can come in the form of a down payment on a first home, a college education, or an inheritance from a parent or grandparent.

"If you look at lack of wealth, you find it among all sectors of the population," Oliver continued, "but even disadvantaged whites can generate more wealth and pass it on from generation to generation than disadvantaged African Americans."

"The overriding idea people bring away from this book is that the prism of wealth allows one to understand the historical accumulation of inequality and how it continues to structure the lives of African Americans differently from that of whites," Oliver said.

Oliver came to UCSB from the Ford Foundation, where he was vice president charged with making grants designed to reduce poverty and injustice. While at Ford, he focused the institution's poverty-related work on asset building as a strategy to reduce poverty, and supported a wide array of innovative grants that have had a significant impact on alleviating poverty, both in the United States and around the world. The new edition of "Black Wealth/White Wealth" reviews some of these initiatives, including individual savings accounts, affordable home ownership, and children's savings accounts.

Continuing his involvement in policy development, Oliver recently hosted a national gathering of experts of color that brought to UCSB some 100 researchers, policy analysts, practitioners, and academicians who work in asset-building or related fields. The conference, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and presented in collaboration with the National Economic Development and Law Center, focused on the topic "Closing the Racial Wealth Gap."

Notes Oliver, "Closing the racial wealth gap may well be the next major challenge facing the full inclusion of people of color in United States society." ###

CONTACT: Andrea Estrada 805-893-4620 FEATURED RESEARCHERS: Melvin Oliver 805-893-8354 WEB: UCSB Office of Public Affairs

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

ICU physicians less likely to discuss prognoses with African-American patients

J. Daryl Thornton, MD, MPH

J. Daryl Thornton, MD, MPH Assistant Professor Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine MetroHealth MetroHealth Medical Center CaseMed School of Medicine Case Western Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Daryl Thornton is a Pulmonologist and Intensivist caring for patients with respiratory disorders at MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland, OH. He also cares for patients admitted to MetroHealth in critical condition. Dr. Thornton is an Assistant Professor at the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, teaching medical students and doctors in training and supervising their practice with patients.

Dr. Thornton is also an epidemiologist in the MetroHealth Center for Reducing Health Disparities where he studies the effects of race and ethnicity on common respiratory diseases and their management. He has published articles and book chapters. He recieved his bachelor's degree from Williams College, his MD from Washington University in St. Louis, and his master of public health from University of Washington. Dr. Thornton is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care.
ATS 2008, TORONTO—An important study raises concern about the way intensive care physicians approach patients and families facing serious end-of-life medical decisions. Based on interviews with more than 1,200 ICU physicians at five major medical centers across the country, researchers conclude that physicians are less comfortable discussing end-of-life issues and do it less frequently with African-American patients and their families than with Caucasian patients and families.

J. Daryl Thornton, M.D., M.P.H., of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), an assistant professor at CWRU, will present the findings at the American Thoracic Society’s 2008 International Conference in Toronto on Wednesday, May 21.

One in five Americans will die in the ICU or shortly after a stay there, and, frequently, their deaths follow a decision made by families to withdraw life-sustaining therapies. “That is why it is so important that physicians are comfortable delivering difficult and sometimes complex diagnoses, potential outcomes and prognoses to patients and families in the ICU,” said Dr. Thornton. “Our study suggests there may be some underlying biases and/or discomfort among physicians, which impacts their ability to have these difficult conversations with families.”

“We had previously shown that ICU physicians, when predicting likelihood of survival of their patients, are less likely to predict that their African-Americans patients will survive,” he continued. “Ironically, those African-Americans were more likely to survive. These two studies, taken together, suggest we need to collect more information about what impacts the prognostic decisions by physicians, and whether any underlying biases are influencing the way they communicate with patients and families.”

The researchers examined data from the Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatment (SUPPORT), which was conducted between 1989 and 1994 involving a group of 9,105 seriously ill hospitalized patients and their 1,241 physicians at five major medical centers across the country.
On the third day of the study, physicians were asked if they had had prognostic conversations with their patients or their patients’ surrogates (the person appointed by the patient to make their medical decisions).

Patients or their surrogates were also interviewed at the same time to assess their functional level two weeks prior to being admitted to the hospital, income, race, age and insurance status.

After adjusting for a variety of potentially confounding factors, such as severity of illness and insurance status, physicians reported having had prognostic conversations with 58 percent of their white patients, but only 41 percent of their African-American patients. Furthermore, physicians were less than half (43 percent) as likely to report feeling comfortable during those conversations with their African-American patients. This was true regardless of the actual prognosis.

“We acknowledge that this study uses data that is dated. The findings should be replicated and would be an important area for health disparities research—understanding the effects of physician biases on decision-making, communication and patient outcomes in the ICU,” said Dr. Thornton. “By having a detailed understanding of the components of this intricate relationship, interventions can be implemented to enable the provision of more culturally sensitive and equitable care in the ICU.” ###

Contact: Keely Savoie 212-315-8620 American Thoracic Society

Friday, May 23, 2008

‘Black Arizona’

Black ArizonaASU, Urban League highlight ‘Black Arizona’

With the publication of a new report, “The State of Black Arizona,” ASU has joined with the Greater Phoenix Urban League to create a snapshot of the status of blacks in Arizona, the issues they face and the progress that has been made.
The report was released at a launch event earlier this year at the headquarters of Arizona Public Service. The report contains data, analysis and essays by many people in the African-American community.

It is meant to be a starting point for dialogue, according to George Dean, chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Urban League (GPUL).

“The project represents the culmination of more than a year’s work gathering input and ideas from African-American community leaders, professionals and academicians,” Dean says. “While this document isn’t a definitive and comprehensive scientific analysis of the status of blacks in Arizona, it is a starting point from which the community can determine what issues beg further research.”

The report reveals that African-Americans in Arizona do relatively well financially, with a median income slightly higher than that of African-Americans across the country. But they rank lowest among all ethnicities for overall health status, and problems with the education of youth are a recurring theme.

A significant concern that rings through many of the essays in the report is the perceived lack of an African-American community in Arizona. Although the state’s black population has increased by 141 percent since 1980, individuals are so dispersed that many African-Americans feel disconnected from one another.

The changing dynamics of Arizona’s African-American population have been an under-studied force in recent years. It became evident, as ASU staff and faculty compiled the report, that many details about the community are not readily available.

The collaborative project began when GPUL approached ASU with a request almost two years ago. The university brought its resources to bear, recruiting an advisory committee of 26 individuals from the community and ASU, sifting through available data to try to find reliable information on the local African-American community.

Ultimately, the committee members drew together statistical information on population dynamics, academic achievement, employment and income levels, health, crime and other indicators. Twenty-three individuals wrote essays, from a businessman calling for renewed African-American leadership to a high school student who struggles to define her African-American identity.

“ASU recognizes and appreciates the numerous contributions of African-Americans in Arizona and is proud in helping to present this innovative and useful resource, the first edition of ‘The State of Black Arizona,’ ” says ASU President Michael Crow. “The success of our state relies on our ability to strengthen our communities and empower them to meet and exceed their vast potential. To do so, it is imperative that we fully comprehend the existing state of affairs and work together strategically to create the progress needed.”

While the report is a major first step, according to Dean, it is meant to be a catalyst for increased dialogue and research into African-Americans in Arizona. More information is needed about where the community stands and what it needs to grow and prosper. Little data have been collected since the end of the state’s Black Town Hall in 1997.

“The time has come for continuing efforts to better understand this community, and to level the playing field so that African-Americans in Arizona have the same status as all other Arizonans,” Dean says.
  • Download the report in PDF format [ here ]
  • Download the Supplemental Essays in PDF format [ here ]
Publication of the report coincided with the Urban League’s 44th annual Whitney M. Young Jr. Awards Dinner, at the Marriott Camelback Inn, chaired by Crow. The Rev. George Brooks Sr., a civil rights activist and the founding pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church, will receive a posthumous award at the event. GPUL will give a corporate award to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, and another individual award will be announced that night.

Contact: Sarah Auffret, 480-965-6991 WEB: ASU Media Relations

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is the black family farm in danger of extinction?

Young Negro farmer working on the field

TITLE: Young Negro farmer working on the field of Mr. Miller's farm. Mr. Miller is the only Negro farmer on Rumsey Hill, submarginal farm area near Erin, New York.

The number of black-owned farms in the United States plummeted from 925,000 (14 percent of the total) in 1920 to just 18,000 (1 percent) in 1992. And the amount of land belonging to black farmers has dropped from 15 million acres to less than three million acres. White farmers have also seen substantial losses, but the rate of land loss among blacks is much greater.
UW-Madison researcher documents a dying way of life in rural America

If the family farm in America is thought of as a threatened species, representing a way of life that is slowly dying out, then the black family farm can be regarded as an endangered species, teetering on the edge of extinction.

The black family farm is disappearing in rural America, says Jess Gilbert, a rural sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is a victim of legal “shenanigans,” loss of land through heir property, and discriminatory practices by lending institutions and government agencies, according to Gilbert’s research.

The1999 USDA Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey revealed that blacks constitute less than two percent of agricultural land owners and own one percent of total ag acreage in the United States. Two-thirds of them do not farm their own land, but rent it to others, mostly whites. Gilbert and his colleagues want to do something about it.
“I work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and other black farm organizations in the South trying to preserve the land base of rural blacks,” says Gilbert, co-director of the Center for Minority Land and Community Security, a USDA-funded program jointly administered by the UW-Madison and Tuskegee University. The center’s main goal is to help minority landowners retain their land.

Black land ownership in the United States is almost completely confined to the so-called “Southern Black Belt,” a crescent-shaped area of 15 southern states extending from Virginia to East Texas and along the Mississippi river delta. Not surprisingly, this area coincides with former slave states, says Gilbert, who is studying black land ownership issues in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“This is a huge issue,” says Gilbert. “The peak of land ownership for blacks was World War I, when they owned more than 20 million acres of farmland. In 1920, there were close to a million black farmers, about one-fourth of them land owners. Now there are less than 20,000 farmers who own less than two million acres.”

But not all of the changes have been bad for blacks, says Gilbert. The drop in some of the figures reflects the dismantling of the share cropper system and forced labor in the South.

It’s the unwilling loss of land Gilbert is concerned about. “The disappearance of black farms cannot be explained by general economic trends alone. Blacks are hit harder than other groups because they are small-scale farmers. Black farms tend to be between 50 and 100 acres, with less than $10,000 in gross annual sales. The size of the holding matters. Small farms decline at a more rapid rate than do large farms.

“The loss of land in the South as a result of legal problems still continues today,” says Gilbert. “Over half of black land owners die without leaving a will.”

Gilbert’s research revealed that black landowners experience discrimination by lending agencies that are unresponsive to their needs, reject their loan applications at higher rates than whites, or loan them only a portion of the money they need. In addition, historically blacks have not been represented in local USDA committees nor have they participated in federal government farm assistance programs to the same degree as their white counterparts.

In the article, “The Loss and persistence of black-owned farms and farmland: A review of the research literature and its implications,” published in the journal Southern Rural Sociology in 2002, Gilbert and co-authors Gwen Sharp and M. Sindy Felin found that despite the declining numbers and dire predictions-at one time it was predicted that by the year 2000 there would be no black farmers left in the U.S.-black farmers and landowners want to hang on to their land and make a go of it.

Pride and a sense of well-being are two sentiments blacks list as important dividends of owning land. But Gilbert and his co-authors have discovered even greater implications from their literature review. “The importance of property ownership goes hand in hand with active citizenship and social independence,” they wrote. Black landowners were some of the first to support the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Their children tend to be high academic achievers: many become doctors and lawyers. And blacks who own land contribute to the economy in rural areas by patronizing businesses in their communities and paying property taxes.

Some of the solutions that could potentially keep agricultural land in the hands of black owners include increased access to legal assistance, putting idle land back into production, better utilization of county extension resources and an end to racial discrimination in local USDA offices.

“For black farmers, agriculture must be a viable business, but it is also a way of life. Black land loss is a loss not only of potential income, but even more a loss of wealth, with deep consequences for social inequality and political power, especially in the rural South,” concluded Gilbert and his co-authors. ###

contact Jess Gilbert at (608) 262-9530 WEB: UW-Madison News

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New study finds glamorization of drugs in rap music jumped dramatically over two decades

Denise Herd, Ph.D. Associate Professor University of California, School of Public Health Berkeley, Californina

Dr. Herd is an associate professor in the school of public health at the University of California, Berkeley. An anthropologist by training, Dr. Herd’s research has led to a greater awareness and understanding of the drinking patterns and drinking problems in African-Americans.
BERKELEY – A new study finds that references to illegal drug use in rap music jumped sixfold in the two decades since 1979, the year Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" hit the charts and introduced to a mainstream audience a music genre born from inner-city America.

Moreover, illegal drug use became increasingly linked during this time period to wealth, glamour and social standing, marking a significant change from earlier years, when rap music was more likely to have depicted the dangers and negative consequences of drug abuse, according to the study authored by Denise Herd, associate professor in the division of Community Health and Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health.

"This trajectory in rap music raises a number of red flags," said Herd, who also is associate dean for student affairs at the School of Public Health. "Rap music is especially appealing to young people, many of whom look up to rappers as role models.
As a public health researcher, and as a parent of a 7-year-old, I'm concerned about the impact that long-term exposure to this music has on its listeners."

The new study, published in the April issue of the peer-reviewed journal Addiction Research & Theory, is the first scientific survey to analyze the content of rap music over two decades.

Herd and her team examined the lyrics of 341 of the most popular rap songs - as determined by Billboard and Gavin music rating services - from 1979 to 1997. Researchers coded songs for drug mentions, behaviors and contexts surrounding the mention of drugs, as well as the attitudes and consequences stemming from illicit drug use.

Of the 38 most popular rap songs between 1979 and 1984, only four, or 11 percent, contained drug references. In the early 1990s, the percentage of rap songs with drug references experienced a sharp jump to 45 percent, and steadily increased to 69 percent of the 125 top rap songs between 1994 and 1997.

The study found that drug references in early rap songs - "White Lines" by Grandmaster Flash, "Crack Monster" by Kool Moe Dee and "Night of the Living Baseheads" by Public Enemy - often depicted the destructiveness of cocaine and, particularly, of crack, its freebase form.

This cautionary tone about cocaine gave way to rap lyrics in the early 1990s that increasingly portrayed marijuana use as a positive activity. The UC Berkeley study documented a threefold increase between 1979 and 1997 in rap songs' mentions of marijuana and marijuana-stuffed cigars, or "blunts," and noted marijuana's association in those songs with creativity, wealth and status.

Herd noted that the study puts hard numbers to a trend that has long been noted anecdotally among observers of the music industry. She referenced a 1996 article in Vibe, a magazine that covers hip hop culture, highlighting the success of Cypress Hill's 1991 debut album celebrating marijuana use as a turning point in rap music's popularization of the drug. The Vibe article noted that other rap artists, including Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, soon followed suit with their own references to marijuana as an appealing drug to use.

Herd said that after rap albums celebrating marijuana use started going platinum in the early 1990s, drug references became increasingly common in rap music, as if they were a key ingredient to success.

"There is a common perception that drugs and rap music are inextricably linked, but that wasn't always the case," said Herd. "The fact that rap music didn't always have those drug references is compelling because it shows that this music didn't depend on that as an art form. The direction of the music seemed to change with the music's growing commercial success."

Herd's analysis stopped at 1997, but she noted that a recent study suggests the continued prevalence of substance abuse references in contemporary rap music. That study, led by Dr. Brian Primack from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, found that of Billboard's 279 most popular songs in 2005, a staggering 77 percent of the 62 rap songs portrayed substance use, often in the context of peer pressure, wealth and sex. He also found that only four of the 279 songs analyzed contained an "anti-use" message, and none of them was in the rap category.

Notably, other music genres had far lower rates of substance abuse references. Country music came in a distant second to rap with 36 percent of songs referencing substance abuse.

Herd noted that the image that rap artists portray of drug use in the African American community distorts reality. "Young black people actually have similar or lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse compared with their white peers, but you wouldn't guess that based upon the lyrics in rap music," said Herd.

The reasons behind rap music's shift in drug references are complex, said Herd. They may reflect the nuanced interplay of changes in the drug use habits of rappers and listeners - particularly the growing popularity of marijuana during the study period - greater commercialization of rap music, and the rise of gangsta rap and other rap music genres. It could also be a reflection of social rebellion stemming from the disproportionate punishment of African Americans in the U.S. government's War on Drugs.

"Rap is inherently powerful," said Herd. "It has experienced phenomenal growth in many sectors of society in this country and even abroad. Rap artists have become key role models and trendsetters, and their music serves as the CNN for our nation's young people by providing them with a way to stay current. But we have to ask ourselves whether there are other kinds of messages rap music could deliver. We need to better understand how this trend got started so we can find effective ways to counter it."

Herd did not study whether rap music's glamorization of illegal drugs actually led to increased drug abuse, but the debate about the potentially negative influence on young people of various media, from movies to music to video games, that depict drug and alcohol use in a positive light is certainly not new.

Herd's paper cited other studies linking certain movies and music videos to the onset of smoking, alcohol and drug use. One study specifically linked greater exposure to rap music videos to a greater risk of alcohol and drug use among adolescents over the next 12 months, while another survey associated the use of codeine-laced cough syrup among some at-risk Houston teens with an emerging form of rap music called "screw music," in which cough medicine abuse was promoted.

"Most adults have very little idea about what's going on in music these days," said Herd. "This new study reinforces the need for adults to pay closer attention to the music children are listening to."

This study is part of a larger research project analyzing changes in rap music funded by the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropic organization devoted exclusively to health care.

Through this project, Herd published an earlier study that found a significant increase in references to alcohol in rap music over the years, and she is now analyzing rap music's depiction of violence.

By Sarah Yang, Media Relations WEB: UC Berkeley NewsCenter

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marriage In Early African America

Francis Smith Foster

Francis Smith Foster - Chair, English Department and Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Women’s Studies. She regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in African American literature and culture and in women’s literature and culture. Recent course offerings have been “The Profession of English,” “Family, Marriage and (Sexual) Morality in 19th century America,” “Slavery and the African American Literary Imagination, “Becoming a Woman,” and “African American Prize-winning and Prize-worthy Literature.”

She has edited or written more than a dozen books, including Love and Marriage in Early African America, Written By Herself: Literary Production by African American Women, 1746-1892 and Witnessing Slavery: The Development of the Ante-Bellum Slave Narrative.

She has edited, alone or jointly, works that include The Oxford Companion to African American Literature and The Norton Anthology of African American Literature as well as editions of several African American women’s texts including Minnie’s Sacrifice, Sowing and Reaping, and Trial and Triumph: Three Rediscovered Novels by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Behind the Scenes by Elizabeth Keckley.
A new anthology about love and marriage in African American history edited by Emory University English professor Frances Smith Foster challenges popular belief that the horrors of slavery are the root cause of family crisis in current African American culture.

"Love and marriage were serious investments in the 18th century, and are so in our own contemporary experiences," Foster writes in the newly published "Love and Marriage in Early African America." "I now see how the rhymes and sayings, the folk stories we absorbed, were our heritage being passed down, particular values being enforced or espoused."

Foster, a senior fellow of Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR), compiled the anthology as part of the CSLR research project, "Sex, Marriage and Family & the Religions of the Book." Her research uncovered African American writings spanning the 100 years between the slave era and the Harlem Renaissance, and she found the works to be a testament to those who came before, revealing "the strength of African American families and to the many ways in which love lives in them."

Many of the writings are taken from publications and newspapers written by African Americans for African Americans, dating back to slave times.

"I can't believe I studied African American literature for years without knowing that in the 18th and 19th centuries we had a viable print culture," writes Foster, who is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and chair of Emory's English department. "Even before Phillis Wheatley's book of poems appeared in 1773, African Americans were writing and publishing sermons and minutes of meetings, poems, essays and autobiographies."

By 1817, when the African Methodist Episcopal Book Concern was chartered, "we had black editors and publishers, printers and marketing agents, journalists and correspondents, and enough people who could read and had money to buy books, newspapers and magazines," says Foster.

This early print culture was often bound up with the Afro-Protestant church, Foster discovered. The earliest known newspaper, Freedom's Journal, was started by a consortium of African Americans who lived in several states and cities, probably half of whom were ministers, she says.
The book, which Foster intends as a popular volume that will "work for many kinds of people with many kinds of intents and purposes," is arranged into five sections to represent the ideals and models for love and marriage that she sees reflected in 19th- and early 20th-century African American print culture.

"Most of the selections I liked best are funny—affirmative, but not pretentious," she says. And by no means do all of the selections idealize love and marriage. In fact, many offer keen insights into how small slights and careless ways can seal a couple's fate.

Foster says the idea for this anthology came about nearly 20 years ago when she was researching for a different, more academic work on the writings of Frances E.W. Harper, with her sister, Cle, near their parents' home in Ohio.

"Cle, who is a retired deputy sheriff and has little patience with fluffy stuff, kept finding these writings [about marriage, courtship and love] in the archives and reading them and saying, 'Hey, this is interesting! You ought to make a book of it,'" Foster recalls.

"Love and Marriage in Early African America" was the result of that journey. "The stories we tell each other shape how we behave toward each other," says Foster. "These writings show that 'children of the sun' can love romantically and deeply. These writings weren't secret, but they weren't written for outsiders either. They were written for people like themselves, by themselves, so were much more candid and honest." ###
Love and Marriage in Early African America brings together a remarkable range of folk sayings, rhymes, songs, poems, letters, lectures, sermons, short stories, memoirs, and autobiographies. Spanning over 100 years, from the slave era to the New Negro Movement,
this extraordinary collection contradicts or nuances established notions that slavery fractured families, devalued sexual morality, distorted gender roles, and set in motion forces that now produce dismal and dangerous domestic situations. A culmination of twenty years of diligent research by noted scholar Frances Smith Foster, this anthology features selections on love and courtship, marriage, marriage rituals, and family. A compelling introduction places the primary texts in their social and literary context. A bibliography offers suggestions for further reading.

Contact: April Bogle, 404-712-8713, Contact: Elaine Justice, 404-727-0643 WEB: News@Emory - University Media Relations

Monday, May 19, 2008

Maternal Respect Stronger Among African-American and Latina Girls

Julia A. Graber, Ph.D. Associate Professor Developmental Area Director & Associate Chair 502 McCarty C (352) 392-7001 (352) 392-7985 (fax)

Mailing Address: Department of Psychology University of Florida P.O. Box 115911 Gainesville, FL 32611-5911
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Young African-American and Latina girls treat their mothers with greater deference than do whites but their mothers take it harder when tempers flare, according to a new University of Florida study.

“Within African-American and Latino families, children follow a cultural tradition that places a high value on respecting, obeying and learning from elders, and in our study they did indeed show more respect for parental authority,” said Julia Graber, a UF psychology professor.

However, when African-American and Latina girls do act up, their mothers consider the arguments more intense than those reported by white mothers who clash with their daughters, said Graber, whose study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.
Hispanic and black mothers, who value strong family connections, a deep sense of family loyalty and the importance of extended family and social support networks, seemed to be much more upset if daughters fell short of cultural, good girl expectations, Graber said. “It may be just the kind of issue that pushes their buttons more, thinking of their daughter as no longer being the good, respectful daughter,” she said.

For all girls, discipline was the only factor that influenced how much conflict they perceived in the relationship. The stricter and harsher mothers were, the less conflict their daughters reported, Graber said. However, as girls get older, stricter discipline may lead to greater conflict if girls try to disagree, she said.

The study differs from other research on mother-daughter conflict in that instead of looking at adolescence, it examines girls in middle to late childhood, at an average age of 8½, Graber said. The teenage years are naturally turbulent times for families, but understanding what happens immediately preceding them sets the stage for a smoother or rockier transition, she said.

Teen conflict is a risk for other behavior-related problems, Graber said. “It does seem that when there are higher levels of conflict, those daughters are more likely to have adjustment problems in terms of feeling more depression, sadness, anxiety and those problems,” she said.

The intensity of the conflicts aside, the study found that mothers’ and daughters’ reports of the frequency of conflict were similar, Graber said. The study, which Graber did with Sara Villanueva Dixon, a St. Edward’s University psychology professor, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a Columbia University child development professor, involved 45 African-American, 23 Latina and 65 white girls recruited through fliers while in the third grade and their mothers. The girls and their families were from racially integrated, working and middle-class communities in a large metropolitan area.

The girls’ respect for authority was observed during a series of videotaped interactions with their mothers. Daughters were scored on their listening behaviors, which included attending to their mothers when their mothers were speaking, acknowledging their mothers’ comments and not interrupting their mothers. They also were evaluated for defiant behaviors, such as disobeying their mothers’ requests, being unwilling to cooperate with their mothers and ignoring their mothers during the interaction.

Not only do children need to be more aware of the expectations their parents have for them, but mothers may also want to reassess their feelings about particular issues, she said.

“The challenge for African-American and Latina mothers is they are in an environment where their children are potentially getting messages at school, on television and elsewhere about what normal childhood behavior is like that may conflict with their own expectations for these behaviors,” Graber said.

“In the higher conflict families where mothers and daughters are arguing much more often there seems to be less productive resolution going on and less learning of those skills,” she said. “Everybody feels mad afterwards rather than feeling the potential of moving forward.”

“This is a fascinating study that enhances our understanding of ethnic and racial differences in parent-child relationships,” said Judi Smetana, a University of Rochester psychologist. “One of its strengths is that it examines in a very careful and detailed way how different cultural values are expressed in mother-daughter interactions and how those values influence the quality of family relationships.”

Writer: Cathy Keen,, 352-392-0186 Source: Julia Graber,, 352-392-7001 WEB: UF College of Liberal Arts and Science

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Black Womanhood Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

Hood Explores Views of Black Womanhood Through Time and Across Continents

HANOVER, NH--This spring, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College will open a major traveling exhibition that explores the historical roots of a charged icon in contemporary art--the black female body. Black Womanhood: Icons, Images, and Ideologies of the African Body was organized by the Hood Museum of Art and will be on view from April 1 to August 10, 2008.

The exhibition will explore the complex perpetuation of icons and stereotypes of black womanhood through the display of over one hundred sculptures, prints, postcards, photographs, paintings, textiles, and video installations by artists from Africa, Europe, America, and the Caribbean. Presented in three separate but intersecting sections, Black Womanhood reveals three different perspectives--the traditional African, Western colonial, and contemporary global--that have contributed to current ideas about black womanhood.

Black Womanhood Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body Providing an in-depth look at how images of the black female body have been created and used differently in Africa and the West, the exhibition explores themes such as ideals of beauty, fertility and sexuality, maternity and motherhood, and women's identities and social roles. Collectively, these overlapping perspectives penetrate the complex and interwoven relationships between Africa and the West, male and female, and past and present, all of which have contributed to the inscription of meaning onto the black female body.

The first section of Black Womanhood balances traditional African art objects made by both male and female artists.
While some of the objects made by men are used predominantly by men, other are used by women to represent, for example, ideal female beauty, such as a Mende mask, while others teach young boys about womanhood and fertility, such as a Makonde breastplate. African women's traditional arts, which are generally non-figurative, often evoke women's body painting and scarification, which are reproduced as motifs on pottery from the Kabyle, Kurumba, and Ga'anda cultures, for example. As also with men's art forms, women's art forms mark a woman's passage through stages of her life, such as an Iraqw skirt made by a female initiate preparing for marriage and a Zulu apron worn by a pregnant woman. Viewed together, objects made and used by both men and women give us a more balanced understanding of the different ways in which gender defines how African womanhood is expressed in traditional cultural milieus.

Juxtaposing traditional African with Western colonial-era images of African women, the second section of the exhibition reveals how the female form was used in photographic media during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to promote and disseminate racist notions about African women and black womanhood. Visitors will encounter historic photographs and postcards of the black female body created by both Western and African photographers, whose images of African and African-descended women conveyed racist messages, especially when shown out of context in the West. Ranging from ethnographic depictions of sexualized racial "types" to "Mammy" figures, from Josephine Baker in Banana Skirt to an African mother carrying a child on her back, the perpetuation of such colonial icons in the Western imagination contributed to the negative black female body images that continue to impact people today.

The third section of Black Womanhood features works by contemporary African and African-descended artists from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States. New works by emerging South African artists Zanele Muholi, Senzeni Marasela, and Nandipha Mntambo will be exhibited for the first time in this country, as will a new sculpture created especially for this exhibition by the African American artist Joyce Scott. Also featured in the exhibition are well-established contemporary artists living in Africa and Europe such as Hassan Musa, IngridMwangiRobertHutter, Etiyé Dimma Poulsen, Sokari Douglas Camp, Emile Guebehi, Magdalene Odundo, Berni Searle, Fazal Sheikh, Angèle Essemba, Malick Sidibé, Penny Siopis, and Maud Sulter. African and African-descended artists living in the United States include Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Lalla Essaydi, Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, Alison Saar, Carla Williams, Carrie Mae Weems, and Renée Cox.

By contrasting historic representations of the African female body with contemporary representations of black womanhood, the exhibition peels back the layers of social, cultural, and political realities that have influenced the creation of stereotypes about black women. Over the last two centuries, representations of the black female body have evolved into obstinate stereotypes, leaving behind a trail of romanticized, eroticized, and sexualized icons. For example, since the end of the nineteenth century the Mangbetu woman, with her elongated forehead and halo-like coiffure, has been an icon of the seductive yet forbiddingly exotic beauty of African women. This is due both to the Western colonials who portrayed the beauty of Mangbetu women in widely disseminated photographs and postcards, and to the innovative Mangbetu artists who capitalized on this European fascination by decorating their non-figurative arts, such as musical instruments and pottery, with the sculptural form of the Mangbetu female head. Today, contemporary artists such as Magdalene Odundo and Carrie Mae Weems are recycling African and Western representations of Mangbetu women from the colonial era to comment on different aspects of black womanhood. While Kenyan-born artist Odundo creates ceramic sculptures that celebrate the enduring beauty of Mangbetu womanhood, African American artist Weems critiques the complicity of colonial-era photography in the creation of stereotypes of black womanhood in her installation From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.

The exhibition is not an attempt to present a survey of images of the black woman throughout human history, nor is it a survey of black female artists. Rather, Black Womanhood offers a focused examination of a selection of iconic representations of the black female body that reveals how these images have affected African and African-descended artists. In this manner, the exhibition promotes and encourages a deeper understanding of the various ways in which ideas about and responses to the black female body have been shaped as much by past histories as by contemporary experiences. Curator Barbara Thompson states, "The exhibition provides the opportunity to raise awareness about the history of stereotypes of black womanhood and the continued impact they have not just on artists today but on all of us living in the global community."

The exhibition will be accompanied by a 370-page illustrated catalogue published by the Hood Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press in April 2008. Curator and contributing editor Barbara Thompson has compiled essays on representations of and ideologies about the black female body as presented through traditional African, colonial, and contemporary perspectives and written by artists, curators, and scholars including Ifi Amadiume, Ayo Abiétou Coly, Christraud Geary, Enid Schildkrout, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, Carla Williams, and Deborah Willis. More than two hundred historical and contemporary images illustrate the essays that reveal the multiple levels through which social, cultural, and political ideologies have shaped iconic images of and understandings about black women as exotic Others, erotic fantasies, and super-maternal Mammies. The exhibition and its accompanying catalogue make a valuable contribution to ongoing discussions of race, gender, and sexuality, promoting a deeper understanding of past and present readings of black womanhood, both in Africa and the West.

The exhibition is generously funded by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Hall Fund, the Leon C. 1927, Charles L. 1955, and Andrew J. 1984 Greenbaum Fund, the Hanson Family Fund, and the William Chase Grant 1919 Memorial Fund.

About the Hood

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and is cited by AAM as a national model. The Hood is located in the heart of downtown Hanover, N.H., in an award-winning building designed by Charles Moore. The museum’s outstanding and diverse collections include American portraits, paintings, watercolors, drawings, silver, and decorative arts, European Old Master prints and drawings, paintings, and sculpture, and ancient, Asian, African, Oceanic, and Native American collections from almost every period in history to the present. The Hood regularly displays its collections and organizes major traveling exhibitions while featuring major exhibitions from around the country. The museum provides a rich diversity of year-round public programs.
General Information

Admission is free of charge. Operating hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. The Hood Museum of Art Gift Shop offers items inspired by the collections and exhibitions. The Hood is wheelchair accessible and offers assistive listening devices. For further accessibility requests, please contact the museum. For more information about the collections, exhibitions, and programs, visit

Contact: Sharon Reed, Public Relations Coordinator (603) 646-2426 On the Web: Black Womanhood Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body