Tag Archives: African-American

The Fight of the Century–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: This is cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson

By the turn of the century, the color line in sports was firmly in place, but the charismatic and controversial Jack Johnson smashed this line with a firm one-two to the jaw. Though boxing had long roots, it was a fairly new sport to Americans in the 1880s, and though banned in many states, one law which was standard across the board was to deny black boxers the right to spar with white opponents. To circumvent this rule, many African-Americans traveled to France, where mixed-race bouts were not illegal, which is where solid contenders such as Johnson, Sam Langford, and Joe Jeannette built their reputations. This law was relaxed to an extent in the late 1890s, but black boxers were still barred from fighting for the world heavyweight championship. Jack Johnson refused to accept this restriction, and he worked hard to prove his mettle, winning at least 50 fights against both white and black opponents in 1902, and beating “Denver” Ed Martin over 20 rounds for the World Colored Heavyweight Championship in 1903.

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#51 Fascinating Women: Meta Warrick Fuller–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: Cross-posted with permission from Edwardian Promenade.

Meta (mee-tah) Vaux Warrick Fuller was not the first African-American sculptress–that would be Edmonia Lewis–but she became the most prominent. She was born in 1877 to a prominent Philadelphia family, her father a successful barber and her mother an equally successful beautician. Raised in relative financial comfort, and educated in the typical feminine graces of the time, Fuller’s career as an artist began in high school, when one of her projects was chosen for inclusion in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. This work won her a full scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Art, where she received her diploma and teacher’s certificate. During her time at PMSIA, one of her first original pieces in clay was a head of Medusa, which “with its hanging jaw, beads of gore, and eyes starting from their sockets, marked her as a sculptor of the horrible.” She won further prizes for her work, receiving a prize for metal work with a crucifix upon which hung the figure of Christ torn by anguish, and an honourable mention for her work in modeling. She then won, in her post-graduate studies, the George K. Crozier first prize for the best general work in modeling for the piece “Procession of Arts and Crafts.”

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Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #6

Work has been hectic as of late, and I’m also in the midst of preparing for Dragon*Con. I don’t have as much new stuff planned out for this week as I had hoped, but have you checked out my essay series about multiculturalism in steampunk yet? And see the links below for more good things to read/watch/run in the streets shouting about.

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Beyond Victoriana Special Edition Odds & Ends #5

This weekend I’ll be at ConnectiCon instigating havoc with my steampunk friends and helping out with several panels. On top of that, “Steam Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana” is making a comeback! I’m wicked excited to be presenting this panel again. For all attendees, feel free to stop in–

Saturday, July 10th
7:30 – 8:30 PM
Room Location: Check your schedules

And for those of you in the area, I will also be at the Steampunk Bizarre on Sunday for the steampunk meet-up. There should be some nifty artists presenting their work, so I hope to see some of you there too.

In the meantime, check out the collection of links for your viewing/reading pleasure.

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#32 Wounded Range, Part 2 — Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum

Note from Ay-leen: This is part 2 of Noah Meernaum’s essay about minority representations in Weird West.  Part 1 can be read here. For those interested in the Works Cited resource information for the full essay, please contact me.


7. Occidental Outlines – Asian defacement in American popular periodicals, run from the story papers and bound ‘yellow-backs’, to the periled portrayals wrapped in America pulp. 1

For even as the Occident regards the Far East, so does the Far East regard the Occident, – only with this difference: that what each most esteems in itself is least likely to be esteemed by the other.–Lafcadio Hearn/ Koizumi Yakumo, Kokoro 2

The stereotyped imprint of Chinese immigrants was initially contentedly rendered in the pictured accounts in mid-nineteenth century America through publications such as Harper’s New Monthly in the 1850’s that showed the distinctive pig-tail and conical basin hat of “John Chinaman’” and this picturesque “Celestial” was a widespread Western rendition in American periodicals, drawn from imparted occidental accounts of the “mystical men of the Orient”. 3 With the increased influx of Chinese people entering the American west, specifically within California, in search of golden prospects, promises of abundant land, and industrious opportunity their expanding population was leading to unsettling the sedate Western imprint of removed mysticism shown of oriental representation as the advancing closeness of Chinese residents were informing fearful features upon its distantly complacent cast.

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#31 Wounded Range, Part 1 — Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum

Note from Ay-leen: This is the first of a two-part essay from Noah Meernaum of the Steampunk Empire about minority representations in Weird West. Part Two of this essay will be posted next Sunday.

Wounded Range: A backtracking survey into the outlandishly penned or set trail of the Weird Western in American popular culture proposed to readdress its multicultural representations, taking in its past shadowed forms cast of lone two gun heroes, (or antiheroes), curious carriages, disfigured renderings, dying curses, sundered souls, vengeful spirits, and other unnatural varmints sifted from lost lore to the ragged pages of dime novels, pulps, and other two bit books. A notorious twisted trail turned inward with an outlook toward its past and present course.

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#30 Anti-Racism in 19th Century Britain–Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published under the pseudonym Sandrine Thomas. Since then, the author has requested to change the authorship to her original name Evangeline Holland.

Ida B. Wells-Bennett. African-American activist who worked with anti-racist British Quaker Catherine Impey. Image courtesy of eqadams63. Click for source.

The concept of the British Empire arouses pride, pomp, and nationalism, but the darker side of the spread of English customs and mores across the globe was the specter of racism. Though British society focused more on class than race as their home-grown minority population remained small, and the relationship between the ruled and the rulers ran more towards paternalistic respect, racism and race prejudice cannot be denied. Much of the conditioning to promote and advance Imperialism had the tinge of social Darwinism, and the growing interest in eugenics (1890s-1900s) further enhanced the notion that race was biological, and whites were biologically superior to “savage blacks and yellow.” Since post-colonial studies are more interested in breaking through the influence (bad or good) the British had on their colonial possessions, it ignores the existence of people who actively fought not only slavery but racism.

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#27 The Pan-African Movement — Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published under the pseudonym Sandrine Thomas. Since then, the author has requested to change the authorship to her original name Evangeline Holland.

Henry Sylvester Williams, one of the leaders of the Pan-African Movement. Image courtesy of 100greatblackbritons.com

The close of the nineteenth century saw a cementing of ideals among the African Diaspora. From history, we learn strictly about Jim Crow and the “Scramble for Africa,” which not only erases the humanity of black peoples of this period, but also pries their autonomy from their hands and paints them as victims of circumstance, or worse, passive receptacles of degradation. A deeper look reveals a surprising texture to the turn-of-the-century, where African-Americans, West Indians, and Africans exercised their rights as citizens of their respective countries while at the same time, working to forge a uniquely “African” culture on which to find strength and unity.

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#13: Black Victoriana and Thensome

Kicking off my crazy February schedule, this week is Beyond Victoriana’s small contribution toward Black History Month.  In the United States and Canada, this is celebrated in February, but in England, this month is in October, so I guess I’m giving away my biases a bit, eh?  Now, a linkspam about African/African-American history would be easy to do. And there are many great black figures who lived during the Victorian Era who should be mentioned right now.

But instead, I’ll review an interesting book about a view of black history that I don’t hear about as often: a series of essays about the lives of both extraordinary and everyday Black Brits in Victorian England called Black Victorians/Black Victoriana, edited by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina.

Book Description:

Black Victorians/Black Victoriana is a welcome attempt to correct the historical record. Although scholarship has given us a clear view of nineteenth-century imperialism, colonialism, and later immigration from the colonies, there has for far too long been a gap in our understanding of the lives of blacks in Victorian England. Without that understanding, it remains impossible to assess adequately the state of the black population in Britain today. Using a transatlantic lens, the contributors to this book restore black Victorians to the British national picture. They look not just at the ways blacks were represented in popular culture but also at their lives as they experienced them-as workers, travelers, lecturers, performers, and professionals. Dozens of period photographs bring these stories alive and literally give a face to the individual stories the book tells.

The essays taken as a whole also highlight prevailing Victorian attitudes toward race by focusing on the ways in which empire building spawned a “subculture of blackness” consisting of caricature, exhibition, representation, and scientific racism absorbed by society at large. This misrepresentation made it difficult to be both black and British while at the same time it helped to construct British identity as a whole. Covering many topics that detail the life of blacks during this period, Black Victorians/Black Victoriana will be a landmark contribution to the emergent field of black history in England.

Also check out her book Black London as well.

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