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Nellallitea “Nella” Larsen (April 13, 1891 – March 30, 1964)

American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance. Working as a nurse and a librarian, she published two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929), and a few short stories. Though her literary output was scant, she earned recognition by her contemporaries. A revival of interest in her writing has occurred since the late 20th century, when issues of racial and sexual identity have been studied. Her works have been the subjects of numerous academic studies and she is now widely lauded “not only the premier novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, but also an important figure in American modernism.” (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: Cover of An Intimation of Things Distant: The Collected Fiction of Nella Larsen. Edited and with an Introduction by Charles R. Larson With a Foreword by Marita Golden. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.

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People perceive black men as bigger, stronger than white men of the same size — and that’s dangerous.

  • According to a new study from the American Psychological Association, people tend to perceive black men as larger and more dangerous than white men of the same size.
  • In a series of experiments, the researchers showed over 950 online black and nonblack U.S. participants a series of color photographs of the faces of white and black men who were of equal height and weight. 
  • Participants then had to guess the height, weight and muscularity of the pictured subjects. Researchers found that the estimates were consistently biased. 
  • All participants saw black men as larger, stronger and more muscular than white men, even though they were the same. 
  • However, nonblack participants perceived black men to be more capable of causing harm in a fictional fight scenario, and, even more disquieting, that police would be more justified in using force to subdue the black men — even if they were unarmed.
  • That black men cannot even be perceived as who they actually are is a factor, according to researchers, in America’s police brutality epidemic.  Read more (3/13/17 12:16 PM)

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“I have as much muscle as any man and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed and can any man do more than that?” -Sojourner Truth

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, or National African American History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.

We are beginning by honoring Sojourner Truth, an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist who escaped slavery with her infant daughter in 1826. In 1828, she went to court to get back her son, who had been illegally sold into slavery at the age of 5. She became one of the first black women to go to court against a white man and win the case.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How to use rhetoric to get what you want - Camille A. Langston

Animation by TOGETHER

Celebrating African-American Social Dance

This is the Bop. The Bop is a type of social dance. Dance is a language, and social dance is an expression that emerges from a community. A social dance isn’t choreographed by any one person. It can’t be traced to any one moment. Each dance has steps that everyone can agree on, but it’s about the individual and their creative identity Because of that, social dances bubble up, they change, and they spread like wildfire. They are as old as our remembered history.

In African-American social dances, we see over 200 years of how African and African-American traditions influenced our history. The present always contains the past. And the past shapes who we are and who we will be.

Now, social dance is about community and connection; if you knew the steps, it meant you belonged to a group. But what if it becomes a worldwide craze? Enter the Twist.

It’s no surprise that the Twist can be traced back to the 19th century, brought to America from the Congo during slavery. But in the late ‘50s, right before the Civil Rights Movement, the Twist is popularized by Chubby Checker and Dick Clark. Suddenly, everybody’s doing the Twist: white teenagers, kids in Latin America, making its way into songs and movies. Through social dance, the boundaries between groups become blurred.

The story continues in the 1980s and '90s. Along with the emergence of hip-hop, African-American social dance took on even more visibility, borrowing from its long past, shaping culture and being shaped by it. Today, these dances continue to evolve, grow and spread.

Why do we dance? To move, to let loose, to express.

Why do we dance together? To heal, to remember, to say: “We speak a common language. We exist and we are free.”

From the TED-Ed Lesson The history of African-American social dance - Camille A. Brown

Camille A. Brown is a choreographer fusing dance and social commentary to explore race, sexuality and femininity.

Title Design by Kozmonot Animation Studio 

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