Broadly Speaking Summer Edition!

Hey Y’all! Welcome back! After an hiatus in May, Alison and I are excited to usher in summer with some new posts!  Keep ur eyes peeled for posts every Wednesday morn this summer covering topics from sex ed, pieces from Alison’s project “Body/s in Question,” colonial geographies, nostalgia and a long time coming piece on Pauli Murray…stay tuned!

Black Archives in Southern Spaces

Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia

Intro Panel Image

On View April 28 – July 31, 2015

Chapel Hill, North Carolina- April 28, 2015- The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is honored to unveil the exhibit Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia. Using never-before-exhibited material, the exhibit tells the story of what “home” has meant to a generation of people that grew up in an African American coal mining community in the famed Harlan County, Kentucky. The exhibit is based on the SHC’s inaugural participatory archive, the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP). Being the first participatory archive at UNC, the SHC hopes to use EKAAMP as a model for future archival projects.  Building this archive has meant fostering open dialogue among all the people who created this archive. Gone Home celebrates a little-known slice of Americana and the communities of coal-mining sons and daughters, researchers, and scholars that came together to make the EKAAMP archive possible.

Gone Home starts with the fact of the land, coal, and changing landscapes of America from the end of slavery to the beginnings of the industrial revolution.  In the early 1900s, coal mining recruiters came through parts of Alabama to recruit African Americans to work in the coal mines of Appalachia.  Between 1910 and 1930, while many African Americans moved to northern urban regions in the Great Migration, tens of thousands of African moved to the coalfield areas of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky for one generation.  After the coal industry tanked, African Americans were the first to be laid-off and forced to find jobs and homes elsewhere.  Because of this peculiar layover in the Great Migration, however, many African Americans around the United States still call Appalachia “home”.

What gives “home” its meaning? This question drives many of the displays in Gone Home. Using photography, oral history material, and many artifacts ranging from coal mining and garden tools to sports jackets and diplomas, Gone Home explores the textures of what home meant from the inside out, the memories of the Lynch Colored School, and what leaving this community felt like for the new generation.  The exhibit focuses on remembering a community forgotten in American History, but Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia also brings to light the ties people continue to hold to their hometowns and to each other today.

About the Eastern Kentucky African American Mining Project

Karida Brown is a descendent of a family that grew up in the coal town of Lynch, Kentucky.  When she began her research as a PhD student in sociology at Brown University, she turned toward her roots and began interviewing people across the country who used to live in Harlan County, Kentucky.  In addition to their stories, individuals often gave Brown manuscripts and artifacts concerning their time in Harlan County.  Having no place to store these valuable materials, Brown approached UNC’s Southern Historical Collection and, together, they founded the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP) archive.

EKAAMP takes a different approach than most traditional archives. The participatory nature of the EKAAMP archive brings researchers, archivists and donors themselves into conversation with one another. EKAAMP works to bring relationships and conversations about informational exchange into open dialogue.  The archive now has over 200 oral histories and material culture artifacts.  The exhibit opening will happen in concert with a gathering of individuals whose interviews and their belongings are in the archive for continued conversations about their experiences in Harlan County and the future of the archive.

About the Southern Historical Collection

The Southern Historical Collection is home to a vast array of archival collections all relating to the history and culture of the American South.  Founded in 1930, the Southern Historical Collection holds over 5 million items which are organized in over 4,600 discrete collections.

The exhibit is free and open to the public from April 28th-July 31st, 2015, and is located in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room at the Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC Chapel Hill. For more information, visit http://ekaamp.web.unc.edu/.

Who’s Mapping Who: Civitas’s “Mapping the Left Project”

Switching it up with a Broadly Speaking weekend edition, y’all.  This time with a meditation on what it means to be extreme.

—————————–

Dots, blotchy and disease-like, covered the page. The “map” I was looking at more resembled a terribly complicated STI transmission web or a bad case of chiggers than anything else. As my biologist roommate passed by, she offered, “What is that? A shitty illustration of blood cells?” As I hovered my mouse over each red blemish, a person’s name appeared alongside the name of an organization.

Some examples:

Catherine Maxwell, NC Center for Voter Education

Mary Lee, NC Advocates for Justice Foundation

Greg Lytle, NC Conservation Network

Katherine Selvage, Appalachian Voices

Sketched out yet?

Mapping the Left” supposedly “combines data, research and news articles to show the magnitude of the radical Left’s infrastructure in North Carolina.”

                                       Data. Magnitude. Radical. Cooties.

I suppose you could expect something like this from Civitas, an organization whose slogan is “The Conservative Voice of North Carolina.”

I would say that the map was poorly designed and executed; it provides a very user un-friendly experience, but it seems like it’s not about being able to use at all. Why would anyone want to look at more than five or so dots? Unlike the Hate Map that the Southern Poverty Law Center puts out every year, something Civitas seems to be attempting to emulate here, the Mapping the Left Project is unsynthesized and largely uninformative.  Other than perpetuating the conflation of and confusion about the terms “radical” and “liberal,” what is this map intended to do?

It almost reads ironically. Despite the visually over stimulating and icky impression (especially for those of us who have trypophobia, ahem) the map gives off initially, I found my repugnance quickly replaced by the warm-and-fuzzies. “What a great resource!” I began to think. But, given how things are going in North Carolina right now, it seems this is a good example of a watered-down neo-conservative scare tactic. One that serves as a warning: you too can be “added to the list.”

One thing is for certain: this shit ain’t new.

“In North Carolina, left-wing nonprofit advocacy groups for decades have wielded an alarming amount of power in the media, state politics, and government. They work together, both in loose coalitions and organized networks, to influence and control public policy.

Only now, however, is there a user-friendly online database that sheds light on this vast, shadowy network”-excerpt from intro page.

Just ‘cause you wrap up old slop in an “online” package with rudimentary graphic design doesn’t make it new. Civitas claims that the map is their attempt to report on the “extreme, liberal/progressive agenda,” that the media has failed to address.

                                        Extreme. Agenda. Terrorist.

The rhetoric the website’s authors employed oddly reminded me of the beautiful and prescient “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. which I had the pleasure of recently rereading. After laying out a thorough response to a letter 8 white Christian leaders in Birmingham had written about MLK, civil rights activists and organizers during their effective Birmingham Campaign, Martin Luther King speaks to their use of the word “extremist.” I implore you to read the whole letter again, but here’s a piece:

“I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

Black Studies scholar, George Lipsitz, points out that neo-conservative media outlets seem unable to address context and power.* Here, Dr. King eloquently pulls the concept of extremism back into its proper context. In the spirit of his words, I ask: Who and what does this “map” actually map? Even if any of the organizations and people included on Civitas’s map were extreme, what kind of extreme are they? For hate or for love?

 

 

*”Precious and Communicable,” Chapter 2 from George Lipsitz’s book Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture

New Models: North Carolina Women in Food

In 2015, every 5th Wednesday of the month we’ll be serving up a “Ways with Food” piece. Today, it comes to us via the New York Times and Kim Severson’s article, “The North Carolina Way: A Food Sisterhood Flourishes in North Carolina.”

It seems that all eyes are on NC at the moment, for reasons of both celebration and struggle. As a North Carolina native, it is important to me that writing, images, and portraits that honor and reflect the complexity of the state I call home.

In this piece, Severson amplifies some amazing women voices and makes some interesting points on why this unique women-powered food scene has emerged in North Carolina, including:

  • NC’s food ecology and economy
  • the role of creativity and inventiveness
  • the reshaping the identity of “Southern” food
  • the gender dynamics of the food world, and
  • shifts from competition to models of collaboration, connection, and community.

I am ALL ABOUT celebrating these women powerhouses. YES! AND ALSO this article also leaves me hanging. Food is connected to everything, so even when we’re talking about a high-end niche market (as this article is), we cannot pretend it doesn’t impact every part of the network. How can there be no discussion about race and class when we are talking about shifts in power, particularly those related to agriculture, land, food justice, and cultural traditions? Also, where is the voice of Mama Dip a black woman who put NC on the food map almost 40 years ago? Women who are cooking in NC have not emerged out of an empty void, they are walking in the footsteps of women like Mildred “Mama Dip” Cotton Council and many others! And I just have to say it – the rich food tradition and scene in NC is not dependent on NYC transplants.

That said, this article has me mulling how we can take some of the lesson’s that have emerged from this sphere, into broader conversations on social justice, alternative models for leadership, and collaborative economies. My big question is:

How can we take advantage of gaps and opportunities to invent more just models for our businesses, our economies, our communities, and our livelihoods? And how can we ensure that as these new models grow, they don’t fall into the old power dynamics?

Rather than write and article about an article, below are a few highlights. What are your thoughts? Please share!

– – – –

“They are not beleaguered by how they will move up through
the system because they are the ones who are inventing it.”

– Marcie Cohen Ferris, professor of Southern and food studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and author of “The Edible South,” which chronicles in part the role of women and feminism in Southern food

“We definitely don’t adhere to any rules about what Southern food should look like,”

– Vivian Howard, chef and owner of the Chef and the Farmer – Kinston, NC

“There are more high-quality farmers per capita in these
50 square miles than maybe anywhere else but
Northern California. If you cook here,
you are automatically part of that network.”

Andrea Reusing, Lantern – Chapel Hill, NC

“As women have moved into positions of leadership and ownership, we began learning more about
community and how to take better care of
each other and our staff”

– Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Downtown Diner – Raleigh, NC

“This is an oddly progressive state that speaks of possibility.
We as women here embrace that naturally.”

– Eliza MacLean, Cane Creek Farm – Snow Camp, NC

“The women who cook there just own it, and they live so much better than us.”

– Alex Raij,  El Quinto Pino, Txikito & La Vara – New York, NY

– – –

Ways with Food is a place to stir up, marinate and serve up our questions, reflections  and stories about food.

Sourcing Things Southern

CALLFORTOPICS: Anything on your mind about the South, southern identity, or the fuzzy lines around southerness that you want us to write/know about? Seen, read or experienced anything lately that you thought we might want to think about?  We’d love to hear about it!
We created Broadly Speaking as as a way to challenge us all to think more about what the South means and to spark conversation and community for our readers. In that spirit, please shoot us an email at broadlyspeakingthesouth@gmail.com with what southern things are on your mind!

Censoring Southern Space

Recently (if you haven’t picked up on this already) I’ve been thinking a lot about the South as a moral geography*, or as a place that is made up of cultural and political practices instead of a physical borders.  What are the stuffs that the South is made of beyond what I imagine it to be and what it looks like on a topographical map? What are the political practices that both shape the South and are read as southern political practices?

While pondering these questions, a friend sent me the following link. The long of the short is this: in December 2013, local archivists in Franklin County, NC uncovered a variety of documents in the Franklin County courthouse dating back to 1840.  As they began the arduous process of sorting through the papers, the North Carolina Archives became involved and halted their work.  The next thing they knew, someone had come in and burned all of the documents.  There are lots of ways to speculate about what these documents could have been, what they could have meant.  Some people reason that these documents contained records relating to the brief moment of property distribution to former slaves just after the Civil War.  Since most of that land was subsequently reclaimed by whites, these documents could have proven some land in North Carolina to be owned illegally today.  We won’t know what they meant besides the that they contained information important enough to be destroyed.

The story here is complicated and unclear, but it is just one example of the practices that censor the political and physical landscape of the South today.  Who owns and does not southern lands now did not arise out of nothing. It arose from the cultural and political practices of today and the cultural and political practices that make up the South’s history.

https://stumblingintheshadowsofgiants.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/boxes-burned.jpg?w=676

Some of the worst of the mold damage

To read more about this story, click here.

*Term coined in the works of Michael Shapiro, a political science scholar at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa