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Article

Qrescent Mali Mason

Adoption traditionally refers to the legal act of permanently placing a child under the age of eighteen with a family other than the child's birth parents. Often, in the United States, these children are taken from the foster care system. There are various obstacles to the adoption of foster children, specifically black children. Among them is the lack of communication between foster care and adoption agencies, the fact that there are fewer black social workers than there are black foster children, and the understaffing of foster care agencies.

Difficulties in the foster care system affect the growth and decline of adoption rates. For example, in 1967 a study conducted in Washington, D.C., concluded that it was harder for black women to give their children up for adoption than white women because many of the women were young and lived in low-income neighborhoods. Between 1969 and 1971 the United Black ...

Article

Margaret Wade-Lewis

the first African American female linguist, early theorist in Pidgin and Creole linguistics, and educator, was born Beryl Isadore Loftman in Black River, Jamaica, West Indies. Her mother, Eliza Isadore Smith Loftman, was a teacher, and her father, James Henry Loftman, was an educator who became an inspector of schools. Because she was of the middle class, Beryl Loftman was expected to converse in Standard Jamaican English. Nevertheless, she valued the rhythm, music, and style of Creole: “Though I was forbidden to speak Jamaican Creole in the home during my childhood, my use of Standard Jamaican English was restricted to the earshot of my parents, teachers. … With my playmates, brothers and sisters, household help, and the country folk, I conversed always in Creole” (Bailey, “Creole Languages,” 3).

Loftman was the eldest of six children and she and her siblings Lucille Myrtle Kenneth Seymour and Howard who died ...

Article

Amritjit Singh

Black-Jewish relations represent a richly layered chapter in twentieth-century U.S. history and, depending upon the area of activity or the time period involved, convey distinctive lessons not just for Jews or blacks but for all Americans with commitments to fair play, social justice, and human rights at home and abroad. The active engagement of Jewish Americans in civil rights struggles on behalf of blacks—from the establishment of the NAACP in 1909 to the freedom riders and other civil rights events and actions in the 1960s—is an inspiring narrative of interethnic cooperation.

At the same time the participation of blacks and Jews in the labor movement and the Communist Party USA during the 1930s and 1940s has since the 1960s produced multiple ambivalent readings of motive and attitudes on both sides And at least since the 1990s an exasperating level of open conflict and ugliness has emerged between the two groups ...

Article

Class  

Graham Russell Hodges

Class as a factor in the lives of African Americans in the twentieth century created mixed reactions. In a society that in some ways generally regards itself as classless, many Americans regard economic inequality as a social problem that needs fixing—through government programs or, preferably, individual initiative. For African Americans, the massive impact of race and racism seemed to render all blacks victims of white prejudice. W. E. B. Du Bois's dictum that the color line would be the major problem of the twentieth century had the effect of underscoring that African Americans were behind a racial veil apart from white Americans: material conditions made this analysis convincing. Until the late twentieth century, few African Americans could be described as wealthy, and fewer owned the means of production.

By the early twenty first century for the first time there were significant numbers of blacks with money and power In addition ...

Article

Kevin D. Roberts

The demographics of African Americans fluctuated greatly from the era of segregation to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Factors with a particular impact on African Americans—such as segregation and limited work opportunities in the South—as well as tumultuous events that affected all Americans—such as the two world wars—exerted significant force on the demographic structure of the African American population in the United States. Age, infant mortality rates, regional location, social stratification, income, and education were all affected by the wholesale changes of the period.

Article

Detroit  

Tyronne Tillery

The year 1900 marked a turning point in the history of Detroit and in the character of its growth. By the turn of the century, its commercial and trade preeminence had been replaced by dynamic industrial growth anchored in the automobile industry. Detroiters long before Michigan achieved statehood in 1837 African Americans were affected by these changes The romantic recollections of a city where African American teachers taught black and white children in the same public schools and the races lived worked and played together were quickly giving way to the twentieth century reality of northern racial castes Racial attitudes ranging from simple ethnocentrism to hate based philosophies of racial superiority fed institutional discrimination limiting black opportunities in employment housing education and public accommodations Waves of non Anglo Saxon European immigrants seeking to share in American social and economic mobility made the most of the growing obsession with race ...

Article

Anne K. Driscoll

painter, printmaker, and illustrator, was born in Gardens Corner, South Carolina, the second of seven children of Ruth J. Green (a home manager) and Melvin Green (occupation unknown). Green is possibly the first person of Gullah descent to train at a professional art school. The Gullah are the descendants of West African slaves who lived on and near the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina.

Great things were expected of Green from the time of his birth. He was born with an inner fetal membrane covering his head and for this reason was considered a “child of the Veil” (Green). In Gullah culture the Veil marks children “touched by uncommonness and magic that will bring inordinate grace to the community.” Traveling to New York seeking employment, Green's mother left Green in the care of his maternal grandmother, Eloise Stewart Johnson Green was interested in art ...

Article

Harlem  

Marcy S. Sacks

The black presence in New York City dates back to the earliest years of Dutch colonization in the early seventeenth century. Over the generations, as the population of Manhattan increased in size, the once relatively scattered black population gradually became more concentrated within fewer geographic regions of the city. The 1800s witnessed the beginning of an uptown march, as the black population that had been centered in the working-class district of Five Points on the lower tip of the island early in the century faced residential pressures, leading it to shift its hub into modern-day Greenwich Village, then to an area known as the Tenderloin situated approximately between Twentieth and Fortieth streets. Though racial prejudice limited their housing options, black New Yorkers in the nineteenth century nevertheless lived in fairly heterogeneous working-class communities alongside ethnic whites.

The turn of the twentieth century however witnessed a precipitous growth in the black ...

Article

Theodore W. Eversole

The range of American organizations that can be accurately labeled “hate groups” is wide, but in general they share a common ideological commitment to intolerance and racism. These groups often manifest a willingness to use violence or the threat of violence to achieve their aims. Such entities function on the political fringes of a liberal democracy and feed on the suspicions, hatreds, and frustrations of people who see minorities as the root of all evil. Such philosophies deny both reality and the rational. Hate groups thrive on assumptions of supposed racial superiority, and commonly see themselves as defenders of a threatened but undefined American culture.

Historically and conceptually these groups are not new but have in various forms and disguises existed for years They are a reactive force to changing domestic circumstances such as late nineteenth and early twentieth century Catholic and Jewish immigration as well as African American liberation ...

Article

Immigration has been part of U.S. history from the country's beginnings. In fact, the Declaration of Independence included the imputation that George III was “obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners [and] refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither.” Until 1875 or so the United States had an open-door policy that welcomed immigrants without any restrictions. Federal and state governments, as well as private employers, even encouraged immigration, and they found, for instance, German and Irish laborers to build canals and railroads in the United States. By the 1840s, one-third of regular soldiers in federal and state militias were also immigrants.

Race in its changing definition and significance has been a central element in immigration policy and experience throughout U S history The Founding Fathers contradistinguished themselves from Europeans as a republican people committed to liberty equality and self government but they did so while excluding women ...

Article

Jennifer R. Lyons

African Americans identify strongly with the Exodus narrative. The prominent black author James Baldwin wrote in Commentary magazine, “The Negro identifies himself almost wholly with the Jews … the more devout Negro considers that he is a Jew, in bondage to a hard taskmaster and waiting for Moses to lead him out of Egypt.” In response to social, economic, and political oppression following Reconstruction, African Americans such as William S. Crowdy, William Henry Plummer, and Rabbi Wentworth A. Matthew altered their Christian religious affiliation and embraced Judaism instead Theirs was a brand of Judaism quite different and sometimes opposed to the religious practices of European Jewish immigrants These men and their followers turned toward Judaism as a means by which to reject the religious tradition of the largely Christian white populace who had not only enslaved them but also subjugated them to inferior positions following the Civil ...

Article

Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

Since the late 1980s the term “Latino” has been used to describe all people residing in the United States who are of Latin American, Central American, or Spanish-speaking Caribbean descent, regardless of country of origin, ethnic origin, or race. In the early twenty-first century this term was beginning to supplant the term “Hispanic,” which also has been used to describe this group. Latinos in the United States can therefore be white, mestizo, Mayan, Aztec, black, mulatto, Peruvian, Bolivian, Venezuelan, and so on.

There has been a misconception about using the terms “black” and “Latino” together. The journalist and lecturer Roberto Santiago writes that for many years he was told there was no way that he could be black and Puerto Rican at the same time and that such a statement still perplexes him As a black Latino he has been shaped by his black and Latino heritages and he ...

Article

Thomas Jessen Adams

Los Angeles has proved to be one of the most important and unusual cities in African American urban history. Los Angeles was one of the principal geographical destinations in the mid-twentieth century Second Great Migration, and the history of African Americans there has both been shaped by and has helped to shape the distinctive economic, spatial, political, and ethnic history of Southern California.

Article

Miami  

Daniel Adams

The City of Miami was incorporated on 28 July 1896. In the early twenty-first century Miami was the seat of Miami-Dade County, formerly known as Dade County. Some of the first African Americans who migrated to Miami worked for the Florida East Coast Railway. Others were agricultural workers who moved south to Miami after all crops north of Lake Worth were destroyed by the great winter freeze of 1894–1895. Bahamian immigrants made up a substantial portion of early immigrants to Miami, having fled the Bahamas after the collapse of that nation's economy in the 1880s. By 1896, 40 percent of Miami's black population was Bahamian in origin. Unlike many of their southern U.S. counterparts, Bahamian blacks knew how to grow crops and trees in the rough coral-rock terrain.

Miami s first black neighborhood was Colored Town an area in the city s northwest quadrant officially known as ...

Article

Passing  

Karl Rodabaugh

Before and after 1895, passing among African Americans primarily was carried out by light-skinned persons who entered the white world, often permanently, and thus adopted a new racial identity. Other forms of passing have been relevant to African American history and culture: gay passing for straight and female passing for male. Yet racial passing has been the most significant. Passing for white has been carried out almost exclusively by persons whose skin color, features, and other attributes—including those related to social class—supported the deception. During the Jim Crow era, America's rigid color line permitted no designation except “black” for those people of some African ancestry known elsewhere as “mulattoes.” Passing has captured the attention of notable African American writers, including James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, Walter White, and Jessie Redmon Fauset who often portrayed the practice as a tragic choice made necessary by the color ...

Article

C. S'thembile West

dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Edward Primus and Emily Jackson, and migrated with her family to New York City when she was two years old. She majored in biology and premedicine at Hunter College of the City University of New York and graduated in1940. Seeking support for graduate studies, she solicited help from the National Youth Administration (NYA). Under the auspices of the NYA she was enrolled in a dance group, subsequently auditioned for the New Dance Group in New York, and earned a scholarship with that institution.

During Primus's tenure at the New Dance Group, she began to do research on African culture. She visited museums and consulted books, articles, and pictures for months to produce on 14 February 1943 her first significant dance work, African Ceremonial which she had asked continental Africans to judge ...

Article

Darshell Silva

(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...

Article

Bethany K. Dumas

linguistics professor, was born in Georgetown, Guyana, the youngest of the ten children of Eula (nee Wade), a homemaker, and Russell Howell Rickford, an accountant and auditor. In 1968 he began studying in California on a U.S. scholarship at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). He worked closely with anthropology Professor Roger Keesing and Professor J. Herman Blake, an African American sociologist who was working on the biography of Huey Newton (whom Rickford later met). It was through a program of Blake's that Rickford first went out to Daufuskie Island, one of the South Carolina Sea Islands, in 1970, an experience that he described as “life/career changing in many ways” (personal interview with subject, 2007).

Rickford once said that as a mixed race person his black consciousness and identity crystallized when he came to the United States He was elected president of the ...

Article

Michael Phillips

The belief in white racial superiority and the innate inferiority of all other racial categories remained a central feature of the dominant American culture for nearly a century after the Civil War. White supremacy rested on the following assumptions: that racial categories like “white” and “black” represented distinct biological subdivisions of humanity; that races possess intrinsic qualities of intellect, character, inventiveness, and inclination toward democracy or authoritarianism; that racial mixing produces degeneracy, with the children of mixed-race unions inferior to either parent; and that the relationship between races represents a zero-sum game in which any advantage gained by one group represents a loss for other groups.

This ideology allowed even the poorest and most politically disfranchised white people to imagine that they belonged to a racial aristocracy with higher social status However the Northern victory in the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to ...

Article

Peter H. Halewood

Whiteness in American usage describes the general constellation of privileges and benefits public and private that attach to persons deemed white Though traceable to earlier black intellectuals whiteness studies achieved real currency in academic circles in the 1990s with the recognition that although racial subordination had been thoroughly studied racial privilege had not The central object of whiteness studies is to document and reveal the social construction of white racial privilege across a range of disciplines and contexts from law to literature and from architecture to film Within these discourses and disciplines and in society more broadly whiteness is an ideology that fosters and protects white privilege a privilege that runs throughout society and forms a baseline for analysis of any social problem involving race Whiteness offers the promise of racial status and advantage even to economically disadvantaged whites who might otherwise make common cause with nonwhites Although formal ...